Anti-corruption campaign should leave no stone unturned
By Myles Leo | July 1st 2020
It has come to light that six top officials at the Kenya School of Law have allegedly committed fraud at the institution valued at around Sh198 million.
It is claimed that CEO Professor Morris Kiwinda Mbondenyi along with five other staff members were caught colluding to have the school’s budget paid out to various companies owned by employees. On paper, it appeared that they were delivering goods.
But in practice, they are accused of being ringleaders of an elaborate scheme whereby money was stolen at the expense of students and other staff members. While the investigation has been ongoing since March, DPP Noordin Haji recently made the case public by ordering the arrest of the CEO and his cronies.
They will be prosecuted under the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, which was most recently amended in 2019 and allows the DPP and the Kenyan state to hold individuals accused of graft accountable.
According to the EACC, the economic fraud was carried out at the hands of bank signatories to Kenya School of Law accounts. Senior employees within the finance department are accused of hatching a scheme whereby they would sign for different entities that they were delivering goods - which were never supplied.
This is far from the first time in Kenya’s history that we have seen bureaucrats and businesspeople take advantage of their positions in order to make money off of innocent people in a deceitful way. There have been many famous examples of employees signing off on fake receipts and manipulating the budget to pay shell companies.
This kind of collusion was famously documented in past scandals.
But the difference between then and now is that in the past we more or less accepted it. Not only the Kenyan people, but the government - both at the upper echelons and the mid-level bureaucrats. It has oftentimes seemed such an insurmountable challenge that not one individual could fix. Even if someone noticed irregularities in the accounting books, who would rise to this challenge?
But since the launch of President Kenyatta’s anti-corruption campaign, we are finally starting to see real changes.
While it is a bad sign that officials of the Kenya School of Law thought that they could get away with such theft - from an educational institution - the truth is that the game is up. While it is likely that this style of collusion is probably taking place at many other Kenyan institutions and in government as we speak, it is only a matter of time before the DPP knocks them all down.
Haji has his work set out for him, but with the president’s mandate, it seems that good progress is being made. The anti-corruption campaign marks the first time in our country’s history that the push to put an end to graft and bribery once and for all is coming from the top. Rather than it being relegated to the business of activists and those personally affected, Uhuru has turned it into one of his administration’s most important policies and priorities.
Kenya is fundamentally at a crossroads right now, whereby we can choose to continue with the same self-destructiveness of passively allowing corruption to continue, or begin to hold people accountable and break off this yoke. It has gone on for far too long. It is deeply ingrained in our culture, a phenomenon widely documented in the BBI.
In fact, the BBI’s exploration of how pervasive corruption is in our culture as well as how damaging it is to our economy serves as an important lesson. Many things have slowed down our economic development over the past few decades, and have kept us from reaching the middle income status that is at the edge of our fingertips. At the moment Covid-19 is the biggest hindrance, but the longest standing problem has been corruption.
With a president who is intolerant of it, rather than being complicit, we are bound to make great leaps in the coming years. His recent purge of top advisors who are unwilling to work as hard for Kenya’s development as he himself, is a sign of how seriously he is taking the promises he made to the country regarding our development. Corruption must be the first to go, and will be the longest lasting legacy he leaves with Kenya.
Mr Leo is a public policy analyst. [email protected]
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