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By not acting on audit reports, State is setting dangerous trend

By Editorial | December 9th 2018

Auditor General Edward Ouko may have survived all the tumult to unearth myriad financial scandals but he remains a marked man.

In the eyes of tenderprenuers and cartels within the Jubilee government, Ouko is merely the proverbial frog that croaks loud to claim its territory but cannot prevent the cows from quenching their thirst.

Between 2012 and 2016 alone, the auditor and his team have flagged questionable expenditures in ministries, counties, departments and parastatals pointing to possible loss of close to a trillion shillings.

To make it worse, the auditor has warned that the recovery of the colossal amounts of money lost or unaccounted for would be an uphill task. But instead of being hailed for a job well done, Ouko is an everyday punching bag. At one point, the Jubilee-dominated Parliament had trained its guns on him.

Loss of funds have hit the public purse hard and now, the taxpayers are saddled with a serious cash crunch and debts that only a few people may have benefited from. It’s time to say enough is enough to the grand theft of public resources.

That about 87 per cent of all the government spending has not been properly accounted for within a period of five years is a shocking trend that should make all Kenyans concerned. 

Systemic failure

Significantly, it shows that there is a serious systemic failure on how public money is spent and accounted for. Surprisingly, those supposed to react to such queries by the AuditorGeneral, starting from Parliament, have never shown any concern.

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It costs a lot of money to keep the National State Audit Office operational and when no action is taken on audit reports which show gross siphoning of public funds, it becomes catastrophic.

As pointed out by religious leaders on Friday, it will be impossible to slay the corruption dragon if it is seen that the war is not being applied evenly. 

Although the Directorate of Public Prosecutions have shown some intent on bringing to book those accused of plundering public money, there must be support from all the responsible agencies.

For instance, it is utterly frustrating that the Ruaraka land and sugar reports were thrown out in the very Parliament that has been unable to recommend for prosecution of people suspected of corruption for a long time. It’s notorious.

We believe that for the war on graft to succeed, it must be honest and not be laced with political malice. We miss out on public interest when we wage an anti-corruption war with the sole end game of ‘fixing’ particular individuals or achieving certain selfish goals.

Watered down by politicians

Corruption architects will always fight back. It will be remembered that the push to get public officials declare their wealth was watered down by politicians when they weakened the Integrity and Leadership law. 

And, a report by the Efficiency Monitoring Unit showed that nearly 25 per cent of public servants do not file their wealth declaration forms.

Some of the worst offenders are legislators and the judicial staff who adjudicate over cases. For the fight against corruption to bear meaningful results, let everyone found culpable, irrespective of their political, cultural, religious and economic status carry their cross. Corrupt individuals will not take any fight against them lying down. It is therefore not surprising that Auditor General’s reports are never acted upon. The result is that the tendency has promoted a culture of non-accountability which has emboldened those who loot the country. This has to stop. 

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