The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has maintained that parliamentary Standing Orders cannot oust Chapter Six of the Constitution.
In an interview with The Standard on Sunday, EACC chairman Mumo Matemu said the events that took place during the acrimonious passing of the security laws last year remain outside the purview of Parliament and squarely within EACC’s mandate.
In his justification of why EACC must act against MPs who misbehaved on that day, Matemu said all MPs are state officers and bound to uphold Chapter Six of the Constitution, on leadership and integrity in conduct of their affairs.
Besides, he added, parliamentary proceedings are themselves a public affair and MPs’ conduct is projected to the public.
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“MPs did their business and now it is upon us to do ours,” the anti-graft boss said.
Matemu opined that for Kenyans and MPs to appreciate why accountability for unethical conduct of that day is necessary, they should imagine worst case scenarios if the assaults were sustained to their logical conclusion.
“If it is true that some of the members were about to be tossed from the public gallery to the plenary, you can imagine how tragic that would have been and the scale of the misconduct. It was clear to all, and the Speakers acknowledged it, that the Standing Orders did not have the capacity to control the situation in the House on that day,” Matemu said.
He said MPs must take advantage of the new year to acknowledge that they crossed boundaries in their conduct and walk with the commission in enforcing integrity throughout the year.
Matemu pointed out that people tend to forget that besides the anti-corruption role, EACC has the mandate to enforce ethical standards for public and state officials.
“In the new year, we want to focus much more on the ethics pillar of our mandate. The ethics pillar is a preventive aspect of corruption.
“Once public officers uphold even the bare minimum of ethical standards, we will have very little corruption to fight.”
Matemu said the EACC was seeking partnerships with not just Parliament, but other institutions and the public as well. He said the commission appreciated President Uhuru Kenyatta and CORD’s New Year anti-corruption messages.
In his message, the Head of State said corruption remained a major obstacle to national development and promised that in 2015, government processes would become more transparent. “The war on corruption must and will be won. In 2015, I urge all Kenyans to join me in slaying the dragon of corruption,” the President said. In their message, CORD had a similar theme, calling for accountability on the ‘ChickenGate’ scandal involving Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission top officials and ex-officials of the Kenya National Examinations Council.
Matemu said the commission had taken advantage of the goodwill of both the Government and the Opposition in fighting corruption and appealed to Kenyans to work with it in 2015.
“In 2015, we are calling on Kenyans to strive to be the change they want, to avoid corrupt and unethical conduct, to uphold the rule of law, refuse to give or receive bribe, ensure transparency and accountability and to keep our environment clean and secure,” he said.
“We are also calling on Kenyans to participate in affairs that will promote common public good and to let integrity be their responsibility and commitment throughout the year.”
He said simple things such as failure to keep the environment clean set in motion avenues for corruption, which spirals into mega corruption later.
“We are operating right under the eye of the United Nations Environmental Programme. We have a duty to lead by example through taming all avenues of corruption in the environment sector by keeping our environment clean and secure. We will also be securing our future as a nation,” he added.
Matemu promised that this year, EACC would be firm on corruption of the present and the past. He said most investigations of past scandals were falling into place and Kenyans would start seeing the results.
He said his office together with the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions would be meeting in few weeks’ time to review the progress of the Anglo Leasing scandal investigations, which have reached a penultimate stage.