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Graft report on military shows work to be done

By Editorial | November 18th 2013

Kenya: While it is commendable that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has come out to dispute its designation as the most corrupt public institution in the recently released Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) corruption survey, regrettably, its defence does not pass muster.

It is not enough for MoD spokesman Bogita Ongeri to argue that the Defence ministry’s officers are directly involved in corruption.

Arguments that cartels outside the ministry were responsible for the widespread corruption are, at best, mere sophistry because the methods he describes have long been the signature of drug kingpins around the world.

This could very well explain the recent case of fraud in the recruitment of soldiers involving a city engineer who paid Sh400,000 to individuals to admit two of his children to military school. The individuals demanding the money are reported to have turned out to be conmen.

The truth may, however, turn out to be more complicated than the events may appear at first sight. A closer examination may reveal that there would have been no conmen had some real MoD officers not been involved in the despicable vice. No cases have ever, for example, been reported of people faking Sh300 or Sh400 notes because real ones do not exist.

In the same vein, an institution or firm whose personnel do not demand bribes before hiring new people cannot attract conmen.

This means the top echelons of DoD have their work cut out for them if they want to banish their tarnished image locally and internationally.

When a United Nations body accused DoD troops in Somalia of replacing the Al-Shabaab as charcoal dealers in Kismaiyo, many Kenyans shrugged their shoulders and gave the soldiers the benefit of doubt.

 But considering the EACC survey was carried out last year, long before the Westgate tragedy that soon descended into a farce, it is not hard to predict what the 2013 results will show. There is work to do DoD. Accept it and get to work.

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