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KACC must not let up war on corruption

By | January 17th 2011

From the soothing stanzas of Shakespearian prose of Aaron Ringera to the tantalising and bombastic diction of PLO Lumumba, the hallowed halls of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) has a story everyday. The corridors have had their share of laughs, shivers, suspects, ultimatums and even, at one time, raised the collective hopes of an entire country as the bastion of truth and trumpeter of salvation from some fiery dragons called corruption and impunity.

Yes, the beneficiaries of ill-gotten cash have in years past managed to wiggle their way through the system and, with a slap on the wrist, laughed heartily all the way to the bank.

But those days seem to have been numbered and a very public audit is starting to make thievery a very frightening career indeed.

Lumumba has struck at the previously untouchable offices of Cabinet and fished out some very interesting ‘specimens’. And as an expectant public applauds, his officers have crossed into various Constituency Development Fund offices to nail looters of the public purse.

KACC’s list of suspects has been from Nairobi, Kisii, Mbooni, Narok, and from several ministries. Several officers have earned suspensions or stepped aside to allow impartial investigation into allegations of impropriety and abuse of office, but still the public wants more.

National interest

Last week, veteran constitutional law expert Yash Pal Ghai and former Ethics and Governance PS John Githongo, urged the KACC sleuths to expand their microscope to parastatals and even NGOs. The reasoning is that any institution that serves wananchi must be ready to account for its activities.

An excellent idea since corruption and impunity, just like hate speech, knows no social class, ethnic background, race or gender. Basically, thieves come in all shapes, sizes and colours.

The renewed vigour of the Lumumba-led team is riding the crest of a wave of public goodwill, as an increasingly sceptical and more vocal taxpayer demands value and excellence for every shilling he/she parts with. Public servants are increasingly being urged to serve the national interest rather than their own or that of godfathers, old boy networks or their tribes.

Transparency and accountability are becoming by-words for the Second Republic, spawned by promulgation of the new Constitution, last August 27th. Most departments have not disappointed and there is genuine change in the air.

However, some commentators have been of the opinion that a Mr Lumumba risk becoming a casualty of his success as his management style is fast mirroring that of the — mainly — politicians he is targeting. Effective and efficient, though his team is being touted, the KACC Director could perhaps tone down his rhetoric and let the results of his ‘dragon’ harvest speak out for him.

His forays into political podiums are what are giving his detractors ammunition to boldly censure him and some are even muttering about shutting down the commission. They accuse Lumumba’s team of all manner of vested interest, witch-hunt, vendetta and underhandedness in choosing which offices to probe. This would be laughable if not for the fact that all cases the KACC has worked on appear, in their eyes, to target their allies. Would a public communications department for the KACC release its director from seeming to micromanage the various investigations?

Radical surgery

Can a list of current and intended candidates for audit be made public and letters of intent sent out instead of leaving it in the court of public opinion? What became of the probe into the wealth of public officials and the source of some of the openly displayed ostentation?

Does KACC have the capacity to cut through the many ‘rotten cakes’ on offer for radical surgery?

One thing is clear though, the public seems largely satisfied that KACC has taken the window of opportunity and goodwill granted to it and has hit the ground running. Criticism, constructive or otherwise, will continue to flow regardless, and corruption networks will always fight back. That is the sad reality.

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