MPs must reject two Bills seeking to keep corrupt leaders in office

Parliament Buildings, Nairobi. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

We are receiving mixed messages from two arms of government, the Executive and Parliament, regarding the fight against corruption and economic crimes.

The Kenya Kwanza government issued directives to public entities requiring them to lead the war against graft from the front.

The directives require that institutional values, culture and behavioural attitude must be set in line with the national values and principles of governance stipulated in Article 10 and 232 of the Constitution, and the principles of ethics and leadership set out in Chapter 6 of the Constitution.

They also invite the entities’ leadership to familiarise themselves with the administration’s priorities and aspirations, and engage in contributing to the overall achievement of set targets while supporting others to also meet their priorities and achieve their mandates.

They are also required to incorporate ethics and good governance in their organisation’s key performance indicators, objectives and to acknowledge whistleblowing while undertaking regular reviews of their compliance, monitoring and systems as part of preventive strategies.

A clear line of separation between boards and management is demanded with a warning to boards not to micromanage or engage in daily operations of the entities including in the processes of tendering, procurement, contracts or illicit payments and other activities such as interfering with recruitment processes and they are to guard against fake qualifications and certifications, conflicts of interests and corruption. Boards are asked to ensure compliance with laws, regulations, policy and other guidelines, human resources instruments and to provide strategic leadership, policy directions, approve budgets and all relevant activities/projects and the institutions reports.

While the Executive is busy plugging corruption holes and sealing loopholes and to hold its teams accountable and compliant, two MP presented to the National Assembly’s Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs (JLAC) two separate Bills seeking to delete Section 45(2)(b) & (c) and the entire Section 64 of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, 2003.

This will allow public officers get away with wilfully or carelessly failing to comply with procurement laws, procedures and guidelines or engaging in a project without prior planning that causes losses of public funds and resources. Section 64 provides that a person convicted of corruption or economic crime shall be disqualified from being elected or appointed as a public officer for ten years after the conviction and requires the commission to publish names of those disqualified under this section in the Gazette.

The deletion of section 64 deals a blow to the fight against corruption and economic crimes because disqualification from being elected or appointed into public office for 10 years after conviction of corruption or economic crimes is paramount deterrence. Also, publication of names of persons convicted of corruption and economic crimes in the Kenya Gazette helps to name and shame corrupt individuals and thieves.

Therefore, deleting section 64 means that one can be elected or appointed to public office while awaiting an appeal against conviction and if the punishment is a fine, one can pay and be elected or be appointed shortly thereafter.

This is also giving a carte blanche to convicted thieves and corrupt people once elected or appointed to public office to continue with the corrupt behaviours push back on fight against corruption and economic crimes because the very convicted people are the ones entrusted with making legislation and polices against corruption or are the ones responsible for implementing them.

These two amendments contravene articles 10, 232 and chapter 6 of the Constitution and the Act whose sections they seek to delete perpetuate corruption, theft, wastage of public funds, and allow public officers to get away with breaking law.

They also undermine and sabotage the good fight against corruption by the Executive. This is why the National Assembly must say no to repealing these two sections which are at the core of the fight against corruption and economic crimes. Their repeal will further glorify and reward corruption, theft, and economic crimes.