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Kibaki summons State officials

BUSINESS
By | February 5th 2010

By David Ochami

President Kibaki has summoned all Permanent Secretaries, Provincial Commissioners and chief executives of State corporations to discuss the fight on corruption. Graft is one of the areas the Kibaki administration has not shown any significant achievements in the two terms.

With only three years to the end of his second term, it is hoped he will use the meeting to boost confidence on the fight against the vice that has eroded economic gains and cast Kenya in negative light in the international community.

The meeting follows intense pressure from the donor community after recent reporting of high profile cases of corruption.

However, in most of the mega-corruption cases civil servants have been the ‘small fish’. Most of the major scandals have been linked to high-ranking politicians.

At previous meetings on corruption, PSs have been warned that being the chief accounting officers, they would take full responsibility for corruption in their ministries. However, corruption has continued unabated.

Donor countries have in recent weeks stopped funding education programmes after it was reported that Sh1.2 billion meant for Free Primary Education was looted from the Ministry of Education.

There has been a chorus calling for the resignation of Education Minister Sam Ongeri and the PS Karega Mutahi.

The two, just like other Government ministers and accounting officers accused of similar misdeeds in the past, refused to step aside.

Endemic corruption

Other high profile corruption cases that the Government has failed to deal with conclusively and recover stolen funds include the Anglo Leasing and Goldenberg scandals.

Today’s meeting will be the first time President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga will be sharing a forum to tackle endemic corruption in the recent past.

The two leaders are expected to meet the officials at Kenya Institute of Administration in Nairobi this morning to "review and take stock of the fight against corruption", according to a report from State House, Nairobi, last evening.

Public Service minister Dalmas Otieno will also address the meeting.

The summons followed Thursday’s Cabinet meeting where the Executive proposed new ways to promote efficiency and accountability in the construction sector, the hotspot for public and private sector graft.

On Jamhuri Day in December, President Kibaki instructed PSs to take action against public officers found to be engaged in graft.

According to the State House report, today’s meeting "will focus on the steps being taken to streamline Government procurement systems that are especially prone to corruption".

Amid rising local and international criticism the Kibaki administration has lately had mixed success in the war against graft following the impeachment of Justice Aaron Ringera who the President unilaterally reappointed to lead the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) without Parliament’s approval.

Replacement of Ringera and two deputy directors awaits the reopening of Parliament.

In the meantime, the Government has been assailed following reports of monumental pilferage of billions of shillings donated by foreign donors towards the free primary education.

The US and British governments have cut aid to protest this theft with the Americans banning Attorney General Amos Wako from entering their country for allegedly impeding anti-corruption efforts.

Meanwhile the Government’s anti-corruption agency has detained and interrogated dozens of officials in the Education ministries in connection to the theft of funds.

Early this year, a judge was charged for theft in a public court, which is unprecedented in Kenya in recent times, but the public through opinion polls remains sceptical of the Government’s commitment to ending graft especially in the public procurement sector.

Parliament’s defence and security committees said secrecy procurement policies in the security sectors promotes corruption at a time when the Government is under intense scrutiny over the controversial concession of its railway system to the Rift Valley Railways.

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