How forces plotted to kill KACC
By David Ohito And Alex Ndegwa
Cabinet sub-committee on implementation of the Constitution crafted clauses that compromise the war on corruption, The Standard can report.
The legislation ultimately stifles the anti-graft agency, which replaces the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC). KACC Director Patrick Lumumba’s continued tenure at Integrity Centre appears in doubt after MPs hatched and executed a plot to send him home. [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]
KACC Director Patrick Lumumba’s continued tenure at Integrity Centre appears in doubt after MPs hatched and executed a plot to send him home. [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]
Members of the sub-committee crafted flawed clauses on transition and financial provisions in a manner that would compromise the gains in fighting corruption.
To begin with, MPs are plotting the removal of KACC Director PLO Lumumba by amending transitional provisions in the Bill to establish the new Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
Some MPs proposed that the clause providing for all KACC staff to transit to its successor – the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission – be amended to require senior officials to undergo fresh recruitment instead of automatically moving to the new body.
This emerged on Tuesday night when MPs concluded debate on the Bill with accord the new anti-graft agency should not be granted powers to prosecute cases as proposed.
The MPs attacked Prof Lumumba and alleged his tenure is marred with witch-hunt and failure to tackle grand corruption.
The rage left no doubt he could be the target of a purge in the amendments. Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni said: "The issue of transiting all the staff to a new commission cannot be allowed. We must deal with them because this is an opportunity that may not come our way again."
Minister for Water, Charity Ngilu, said: "I am happy that we all seem to be united that we are not going to allow the same body to investigate, and prosecute because they can abuse those powers. If the current director was going to be given those powers, I do not think there would be anybody sitting in this Parliament."
Minister for Education, Sam Ongeri, said: "You cannot give somebody the opportunity to investigate and prosecute. The next thing is to pronounce judgement on you."
Minister for Transport, Amos Kimunya, said the KACC had failed in its mandate, and it was no longer tenable to continue paying officials hefty salaries.
"All they are doing is marking time, earning huge salaries, knowing that, as long as they do not ruffle any feathers, they would continue for five years and then retire with good packages."
Gwassi MP John Mbadi said, "The person we have in this body is a letdown." Assistant Minister Peter Munya said KACC was hounding MPs over Constituency Development Fund, "as if they run it when there are accounting officers in CDF offices".
On the bribery saga, Assistant Minister for Education, Ayiecho Olweny accused KACC of hounding MPs under the guise of investigating graft. "It is sad for this country if the people who are given the job of fighting corruption can go around looking for money from us yet they have bigger salaries."
Nominated MP Rachael Shebesh said: "The man, whose name I cannot mention, was taken through this House through a lot of pressure because of an impression he created that he speaks good English and can articulate issues. We can know see where that has taken us."
Mars Group Executive Director Mwalimu Mati on Thursday reminded Kenyans that the Government has never been keen on having an independent anti-corruption commission.
"The enemies of Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission have never wanted an independent body," he told The Standard yesterday. They want weak systems where files are handed over to the police for investigations," Mati said.
"The war is from within. You can never have a clean Government until you elect people who have not been tainted by corruption," Mati added.
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), and Civil Society Congress has termed the move a political plot to derail justice.
KNCHR commissioner, Hassan Omar, citing Article 31 of the sixth schedule, said that the KACC director should continue holding office, even as the commission moves into the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
"Any plot to remove PLO Lumumba is unconstitutional as his office is protected and recognised by the old Constitution. He continues to hold office," said Omar.
He further said the removal of PLO would compromise the cases KACC is handling.
A statement signed by Transparency International, African Centre for Governance, Fida and the National Council of NGOs asked Parliament to handle transitional clauses cautiously.
"The corrupt will seek to take advantage of the transition to viciously plunder public resources, defeat justice by interfering with investigations. Transition of cases must necessarily involve transition of officers handling them," the statement said.
The non-State actors in the anti- corruption and good governance movement warn the fight against corruption is most vulnerable during transition.
The NGO Council, Transparency International, African Centre for Open Governance, and Fida reject clauses that undermine the fight against corruption.
On Thursday, the Executive Director of the African Centre for Open Governance, Gladwell Otieno, said what stakeholders proposed as clauses were cleverly dropped and there is risk of creating loopholes for corruption.
"It was not necessary to rush the Bill and Parliament needed to have been cautious not to pass a flawed legislation," Ms Otieno argued.
"Previously, the Attorney General failed to prosecute hence the push to give KACC prosecutorial powers. But now we have a Director of Public Prosecutions. He must just do his job and do it right," Otieno said.
She raised issues with financial provisions and a clause that suggests the administrative and other expenses of the commission, including the salaries, allowances, gratuities, and pensions of the members and employees of the commission shall be charged to the Consolidated Fund.
"We proposed that the Bill be amended to provide that only salaries of members of the commission as provided by the Constitution are provided in the Consolidated Fund," Otieno said.
Meanwhile, to manage the transition, the current KACC Advisory Board has been saved for 90 days or until the new commission comes into place, whichever comes first.
MPs voted for a lean anti-corruption commission of three commissioners, including the chairperson who will serve full time. However, the director and four deputy directors have been sent packing.
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