Kenya: President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto have come under stinging criticism over high-level corruption in the country, which security and legal experts say is the genesis of rising insecurity.
They warned that the controversial Security (Amendment) Act 2014 will not translate to an end to lawlessness unless Jubilee cracks down on corruption in the Police Service, military, Judiciary and Departments of Immigration and Registration of persons.
Mombasa Senator Omar Hassan Omar and security expert, Col (rt) Banjamin Mwema warned that resorting to legal instruments to combat lawlessness is inconsequential unless systemic graft and ethnicity in the Office of the President, Parliament and security agencies are tackled boldly.
They argued that loopholes in immigration, military and police service procurement must first be sealed to stave off potential security threats. “Insecurity is a consequence of corruption because terrorists bribe their way into the country,” says Mwema.
The president has in the past publicly complained of a clique in his administration inherited from former President Kibaki’s regimes that runs a ‘parallel’ government. Last month, State House also complained of the existence of ‘Sky Team’ within the echelons of powers that is involved in high-level corruption.
The Auditor General in his current report on security services spending raises serious questions about spending by the Department of Defence.
“There is a fixation in government to remain in the past. Without reforms, we are heading to a police state where power is concentrated in the Executive. The Jubilee government would rather disregard human rights for national security. The digital team continues to take us back as they argue that freedom and democracy we enjoy today is the cause of runaway insecurity,” the Senator said.
Mr Omar said corruption in the security sector must first be addressed before the country undertakes legislation. “They have refused to open up procurement to public scrutiny. Talk of doing a fresh national registration is intended to perpetuate fear in the name of securing the country,” he says. He claimed that fear is the principle factor in ensuring those who demand accountability are suppressed.
On Tuesday, the Executive caused further jitters when it de-registered 510 non-governmental organisations, after some were accused of complicity in terrorism. Human rights groups, journalists, faith groups and pro-democracy groups have accused the government of encroaching on freedoms and civil liberties.
Corruption has been blamed for activities that feed terrorism. For instance a UN report and another by the US government accused Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) of illegal exports of charcoal from Somalia to the Middle East. The allegations have since been denied by KDF. Illegal charcoal trade has been a major source of Al Shabaab funding.
Closer home, poaching, cattle rustling, drug trafficking and trafficking in ivory from elephants are among lucrative businesses that finance crime.
Early this year, a British newspaper, The Independent, citing investigation by The Elephant Action League, reported “white gold of jihad” is “fuelling conflict in Africa by helping groups such as al-Shabaab to mount more deadly attacks.”
The report reinforces findings by Belgium-based International Peace Institute which links insecurity in Kenya to corruption and ethnicity. The report titled Termites at Work was published in 2012 as drug trafficking and terrorism became a subject of concern in Kenya.
It says, “Criminal networks have penetrated the political class and there are growing concerns about their ability to fund elections and to exercise influence in Parliament and in procurement processes. In penetrating government and political institutions, transnational organised crime and corruption are the flipsides of the same coin.
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The ability to ‘persuade’ and then ‘buy’ a senior police officer or a judge to work for a criminal network requires a significant degree of sophistication and a lot of money. This is corruption at its most dangerous. But the sophistication and the ability to corrupt with large amounts of money, is often confined to those involved in transnational organised crime networks.”
Ndung’u Wainaina, the executive director of the International Centre for Policy and Conflict, agrees the biggest challenge the country faces today in ensuring security is graft and Jubilee’s unwillingness to confront it head on.
“The President promised, including tabling a report in Parliament, major police reforms as a priority in efforts to strengthen the rule of law and effectively combat crime in the country. This has never happened,” Mr Wainaina said.