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Hold to account those who steal public funds

By ELIUD OWALO | March 20th 2016 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

It is now beyond doubt that the Government has done too little to contain the re-emergence of corruption cartels which are looting public funds with abandon. Every corner of the country is awash with glaring evidence of corruption. Yet the law enforcement agencies appear reluctant to act, or are unconcerned.

Indeed, it is mind-boggling to hear and read about the plunder of colossal amounts of public funds by holders of public office. Such officials have generally gone scot-free because they have either compromised law enforcement agencies or enjoy political protection by the establishment. This has greatly motivated them to engage in large scale theft of public funds while most poor Kenyans starve.

Some of the scandals that have bedeviled the Government include the Eurobond, Chickengate and National Youth Service project.

Yet conviction rates remain low. Instead, the public is often treated to TV footage of suspects being escorted by rented crowds whenever they appear before investigating agencies.

Although the country has independent state organs that were established to protect public funds, little progress has been made in the war on graft. Such offices or institutions include the Kenya Police Service, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), the Judiciary, Treasury, Central Bank and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions. Most of these state organs engage in musical chairs and their contribution in the war on graft has had little impact. The lack of political goodwill to fight corruption is fuelling the vice to new heights. Where does the buck stop?

Understandably, the Kenyan public has expressed outrage and the donor community has cautioned that the vice is pushing the country into an economic comma. No one seems to care and yet the Constitution is very clear on what awaits looters of public funds.

Both Article 201(d) and Article 226(5) of the Constitution focus on public finance. The former states that: “Public money shall be used in a prudent and responsible manner”, whereas the latter stipulates that: “If the holder of a public office including a political office directs or approves the use of public funds contrary to laws or instructions, the person is liable for any loss arising from the use and shall make good the loss whether the person remains the holder of the office or not”. That is the clear language of the supreme law. What is lacking is commitment or capacity to prosecute.

Thus, looters are hereby put on notice that even in the future, prosecutors can act to recover looted public funds.


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