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Jubilee losing the war on corruption

By Editorial | March 17th 2014

Kenya: It is one year since Jubilee took power yet there is a growing sense that it is spending too much time fighting shadows, and not enough on the real problem behind its abject 12-month report card.

It was expected that with a professional Cabinet and a more “digital” approach to doing things, we would see faster completion of pending projects from the previous administration, and less talk.

Instead, the Government has gotten itself bogged down in fighting the wrong battles that do little to move forward its agenda based on the Jubilee manifesto. But the biggest failure of the Government so far is in fighting corruption and ethnicity in Government.

State contracts are the focus of a network of corrupt Government officials working on behalf of politicians and business people with powerful political links. From fertiliser to maize, sugar and big energy and infrastructure projects and education, nothing is off limits.

Taxpayers are being forced to shell out billions of shillings to finance inflated Government tenders that have increased the cost of recurrent spending on development. The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission is woefully under-financed, severely limiting its ability to pursue and prevent economic crimes.

Until recently, the same applied to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, which finally got more money to hire professional prosecutors to replace some of the police officers blamed for the collapse of many cases in court due to their limited understanding of the law.

The Government now has its first mega scandal in the shape of the laptop for schools project, where it has been established by the procurement watchdog that shortcuts may have been taken to influence award of the tender.

To date, the Government is yet to successfully prosecute or send home any senior official mentioned in corruption cases, raising fears it has been held hostage by those who bankrolled Jubilee’s presidential campaign last year.

The Government does not need to wait for the courts to send such officials packing.

It does not matter how lyrical the Executive waxes about going digital when a ministry puts out a tender for typewriters, the last of which was manufactured in April 2011.

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