Wabukala exits EACC to question of how well he tackled corruption

Outgoing EACC chairperson Eliud Wabukala. [File, Standard]

Six years after he was picked to helm the country's much-scrutinised anti-corruption body, Eliud Wabukala's tenure came to a quiet end Tuesday with many struggling to identify exactly what legacy he has left behind.

It would not be an understatement to say that expectations were sky-high after the retired archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya was appointed chairman of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission in January 2017.

When he was sworn into office, Wabukala said fighting corruption should not be left entirely to the commission but Cabinet secretaries, principal secretaries, Executive officers, governors and accounting officers should take responsibility for what happens in their respective dockets.

After his exit, commission CEO Twalib Mbarak said commissioners, executive management and staff appreciated the chairperson’s "focused and steady leadership instrumental in shaping policy direction".

"EACC appreciates that Archbishop Wabukala leaves a stable, professional and reliable anti-corruption agency committed to effective discharge of its mandate to Kenyans. His contribution towards the fight against corruption is commendable,” said Mr Mbarak.

The commission comprises a chairperson, four members and a secretariat headed by the CEO.

EACC vice chair Monica Muiru will act as chair. The other commissioners are Alfred Mshimba, Dr Cecilia Mutuku and John Ogallo.

The recruitment of a fresh chairperson is expected to commence soon.

The anti-graft body was formed in September 2011 after Parliament disbanded the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACA).

KACA was formed in 1997 and former Kilome MP Harun Mwau appointed as its first director, only to be kicked out of office six months later following a public spat with Finance Minister Simeon Nyachae after he filed charges against four high-ranking Treasury officials.

Retired Justice Aaron Ringera took over as KACA director in March 1999 promising to end corruption. But in December 22, 2000, his office was rendered useless following a court ruling that KACA undermined constitutional powers of the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Police.

In September 2010, PLO Lumumba took office after President Mwai Kibaki signed the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Bill into law, creating EACC. But on August 24, 2011, the outspoken lawyer left after falling out with MPs, who passed a no-confidence vote against him.

Mumo Matemu took over as chairperson in May 2012 with a promise to tackle corruption but left in May 2015 without achieving his target. This paved way for Phillip Kinisu, a former senior partner, CEO and chairperson of audit firm PwC.

Mr Kinisu had the shortest stint as EACC chairperson. He resigned in August 2016 over allegations that a company linked to his family had business dealings with the National Youth Service. The National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs recommended his suspension and investigation due to conflict of interest.

Speaking to The Standard, Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina said the commission had failed in the fight against corruption because of Executive meddling in its mandate. On Wabukala's impact, Mr Kina said the retired prelate "did his best but did not achieve much during his tenure".

“The EACC needs a radical and no-nonsense person to head it, and a Judiciary that cares about future generations. We have seen rot in various State agencies and county governments going unpunished yet people behind them are supposed to be in jail,” said Kina.

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna said while he respected Wabukala, "he did not make meaningful progress in the war against corruption".

Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua argued that the fight against corruption had been "weaponised to achieve selfish political ends with the EACC reduced to a convenient tool in the hands of those wielding political power to slow down and silence political dissent".

“The good bishop may have meant well for the country but he was too good for the institution he chaired. I thank God that he has exited with his spiritual calling intact. The fight against corruption should never be used to achieve selfish political gains,” said Mr Wambua.

Tharaka Nithi Senator Mwenda Gataya said Wabukala’s six-year term in office has witnessed a "sober entity devoid of internal wrangles". He added that he was hopeful the next chairperson "will learn from him and make the commission even better".

According to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Act, a person shall be qualified for appointment as the chairperson of the commission if he meets the requirements of Chapter Six of the Constitution and holds a degree from a university recognised in Kenya.

A candidate for the position must have knowledge and experience of not less than 15 years in any of the following fields: ethics and governance; law; public administration; leadership; economics; social studies; audit; accounting; fraud investigation; public relations and media; religious studies or philosophy; and has had a distinguished career in their respective field.

The Standard
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