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Can Lumumba team make a difference in KACC’s anti-corruption crusade?

TURNING POINT
By | July 27th 2010

Public Watchdog

Last Friday, President Kibaki appointed Patrick Lumumba the new Director of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC). Also appointed were Assistant Directors Pravin Bowry (Legal Services and Education Research) and Jane Osongo (Preventive Services).

John Mutonyi, who was the acting Director, returns to his position as Assistant Director, Investigation Services at the anti-graft body. The new appointments followed a competitive recruitment process by KACC’s Advisory Committee, as well as vetting by a Parliamentary Committee and approval by Parliament. President Kibaki, as the designated appointing authority, has now met in full the requirements for the process laid out in the Kenya Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act.

Public Watchdog congratulates the trio on their appointments to unenviable positions, given the enormity of their responsibilities, and the entrenched culture of corruption in our society.

Business as usual

But we hasten to add that the choices before them and the KACC Advisory Board are not whether, but how to change course in the resolve, form and tactics of dealing with this cancer.

In their new roles, their conscience must guide them on the right course of action to lead KACC into making an enduring and positive difference. How can KACC re-navigate its course in confronting corruption so as to engender public confidence?

Firstly, it can no longer be just ‘business as usual’ at the anti-graft body, because Kenyans have become so sceptical of efforts by the Government to fight corruption, that personnel changes in the implementing agencies are seen as hoodwinking measures.

In the past, Justice Ringera, and the organisation preceding KACC, raised high expectations following their appointment. How far they went is a matter of conjecture and anything else is history without value! Today’s reported corruption cases involve multibillion shillings worth of transactions in nearly every sector of society, with favours expected in kind and in cash.

Secondly, with respect to the new KACC appointees, it now matters little who contributed to their appointments — whether friends, foes, appointing authority, or persons of influence. What matters is that they display firm resolve to discharge their responsibilities transparently, without favour or fear, and in a just and fair manner.

KACC must never be used as a tool of intimidation to serve vested interests, or to share in the proceeds of corruption. Thus, any malicious prosecutions amount to persecutions that and are themselves a form of corruption. Lumumba and team must resist such pressures, if they hope to gain peoples’ trust and confidence.

In executing KACC’s mandate, the team must be resolute and strategic, and tackle short and long-term challenges decisively to reverse the corruption syndrome. This demands short and long-term institutionalised interventions, with both proactive and multivariate measures and public partnership.

Elusive dream

Thirdly, as a people, we must accept our individual and collective responsibility in condoning and embracing a corrupt society. Any giver must be as guilty as the receiver of corruption proceeds, with similar severity in consequences. The pursuance of ill-gotten gains must be as ferocious as the prosecution of suspects. This way, there will be no incentives for corruption.

Corruption has made Kenya’s dream of prosperity elusive, influencing all spheres of society, including national policies and development agendas. The people vote in leaders in every election who promise to fight corruption.

However, after elections, such leaders protect the corrupt and share in the proceeds of graft. It matters not whether we have a single or multiparty government, or the current Grand Coalition Government.

Proactive partnership

Multiplicity, quantum and frequency of corruption cases attest to this fact. We desire a corruption-free democracy to deliver prosperity, fairness, justice and accountability to all Kenyans. While this has remained an elusive quest for our nation, today is another day. We have a new team at KACC, soon to be followed, hopefully, by a new constitutional dispensation.

But there are burning questions. Will the new KACC team make a difference by building a proactive public partnership with the Kenyan people? Will they deal with the process and discretions that give rise to corruption?

Will they engage in a public education programme to sensitise the public through the media, schools and churches among other communication channels, on the ills of the vice?

The ball now rests in the court of Lumumba and team on this a matter of compelling public interest!

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