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Oversight groups must do more to tackle graft

By Dennis Waweru | November 28th 2015

As President Uhuru Kenyatta pleaded with Pope Francis to pray for his genuine bid to fight corruption, I felt a tinge of disappointment. The institutions mandated to curb the vice have largely let down the Executive and Kenyans in general.

But when did the rain start beating us? During the drafting of the 2010 Constitution, it was wrongly assumed that a powerful Presidency had weakened independent public institutions.

Without advance preparations, institutions were suddenly delinked from the Presidency and accorded wide-ranging independence.

Five years down the line, and despite all the promise, the reality is different. Despite more authority given to institutions dealing with corruption — a vetted police service, an independent and well-funded Judiciary, an enhanced Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, an empowered Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, reformed prison system—the vice is still gnawing at our growth.

The Judiciary, on its own confession, has re-emerged more corrupt than ever before. Waving its independence flag, it has run amok. The corruption of the system is so brazen that one court has told off its employer — the Judicial Service Commission.

The bureaucracies in the other arms of government have taken advantage of the new-found freedom easily granted by the courts to loot from government. Procurement cartels have solidified their resolve to milk the country dry.

At the counties, an unholy union between the county executive and county assembly has enabled the corrupt in their midst to quietly choke the people’s desire for transparent and accountable governments at the grassroots.

At the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, decisions continue to be made which baffle one and all as to their considerations.

Yet the whole country is crying to the President for “decisive action” against corruption. The pressure is on the Head of State to move things in an environment where his hands are essentially tied by the new rules of engagement.

The President must be given the necessary oversight powers over these institutions. Since he bites the bullet for inefficiency of everyone — independent and non-independent, he must be empowered to act on corruption in a manner that insulates him from legal and political repercussions. The action-plan he announced to the country earlier in the week is a good starting point.

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