Private sector workers in Kenya to sign anti-bribery code

Thousands of private sector workers are required to sign a binding anti-bribery code of conduct entered with their employers. More than 400 firms have already signed up in the fight against corporate fraud, a private sector lobby group has reported.

Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) has said the new code of conduct is expected to enhance the fight against corruption and bribery. “All professional associations and business member organisations that have signed up to the code will also make it a requirement for their members to sign up and abide by the Business Code of Conduct,” the lobby group said in a statement.

Private businesses have been accused of propagating corruption to influence the award of tenders, especially in public procurement. In such incidents which are commonplace, prices are often inflated and often, no actual deliveries are made.

It is the reason Kepsa had developed the Business Code of Conduct, which among other punitive measures prescribes lengthy bans for firms and business owners found to have given or received bribes. Kepsa also came up with the draft law expected to help the fight against bribery, through stiff penalties for individuals found guilty of soliciting or receiving a bribe.

It will also be the first law that acknowledges the giver and taker of bribes as equal criminals. When receiving the draft laws from Kepsa, President Uhuru Kenyatta said that 70 per cent of corruption in the country is in the procurement departments which do business with the private sector.

“Procurement departments involve none other than the private sector, because Government does not do business with itself, it does business with the private sector,” Kenyatta said in the November meeting with business leaders.

It is from that meeting that Safaricom Chief Executive Bob Collymore and his KCB counterpart Joshua Oigara, declared their salaries and wealth in an unprecedented step hoped to be a first in battling corruption in the private sector.

The proposed law that has now been tabled before the National Assembly also seeks to punish intermediaries of bribery and the recipients. Members of tender committees that oversee a corrupt process or stop tenders that have been rightly won will also be sacked and prosecuted as well as any company involved. The private sector called for the introduction of special tribunals to determine corruption cases and the president has already directed they be constituted.

Several independent surveys have painted the picture of widespread bribery and corruption with Kenya ranking among the worst hit countries around globally.

In one finding published by global firm Ernst & Young in November last, one in every four chief executives admitted to paying a bribe to win contracts. And in a more recent study done by PwC, Kenya was found to be third from last on the list of prevalence of economic crimes, globally.

Kepsa warned that Kenya is losing over a third of its annual budget to corruption and misappropriation of public funds and assets.