President Uhuru Kenyatta last week appointed former Vice President Moody Awori to the board of the Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund, irking many Kenyans who objected to the appointee’s advanced age.
The President defended picking the 91-year-old Mr Awori, a seasoned politician, arguing that younger public officials have been implicated in corruption and an old hand is best placed to look after the fund.
“Put yourself in my shoes, when you see how people are stealing… I’d rather appoint the old man to look after that money so it can be used appropriately rather than appoint a young person,” said Uhuru.
An analysis of data from several past and ongoing corruption cases and allegations in Kenya, however, reveals the often-repeated claim that elderly and seasoned politicians are more prudent at managing public resources. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Recent data from the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) quarterly reports and media exposes indicate that old politicians and public officials are overwhelmingly implicated in the majority of the alleged procurement-related graft. Most of the cases remain unsolved and cumulatively run into the tens of billions of shillings.
In the period between April and June 2018, for example, the EACC forwarded 91 files to the Director of Public Prosecutions recommending prosecution in 66 of the cases.
Some of the high profile officials involved include Nyandarua’s former Governor Daniel Waithaka and sitting Governors Cornel Rasanga and his Busia counterpart Sospeter Ojaamong.
This is excluding ongoing probes into multi-billion-shilling scams at the National Youth Service, Ministry of Health, National Hospital Insurance Fund and Kenya Pipeline Company where senior government officials, some of whom still occupy public office, have been implicated.
When former Permanent Secretary John Githongo blew the lid on the multi-billion-shilling Anglo-Leasing scandal, a probe by the Parliamentary Accounts Committee in 2006 recommended then VP Awori alongside former Finance Minister, the late David Mwiraria, and then-energy minister and current Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi be investigated for their role in the scam.
In 2013, the EACC conducted a survey that collected data from 573 pre-qualified Government suppliers, 377 public procurement officials and examined 369 public files from 13 counties and found out that senior public officials and well-connected politicians were at the centre of procurement corruption in public offices. The President’s assertion that Awori’s appointment to the board of the Sports Fund was done to deter corruption is thus false.