Corruption in Kenya ‘worse than ever’ says veteran campaigner

Tristan McConnell, AFP © AFP Simon MainaCorruption in Kenya is sliding out of control, veteran anti-corruption activist and whistle-blower John Githongo, pictured in Nairobi on July 31, warned in an interview following a scathing audit of government finances Nairobi (AFP) – Corruption in Kenya is sliding out of control, veteran anti-corruption activist and whistle-blower John […]

We don’t have details of graft claims against you, EACC tells Felix Koskei

By Cyrus Ombati

Standard Digital

Suspended Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei arrives at EACC offices after he was linked to graft in a list presented to Parliament by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Nairobi, Kenya: Suspended Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei Monday said Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) officials had informed him they did not have details of graft allegations against him.

Koskei had presented himself at EACC seeking to know why his name was included in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s list of shame. He was directed to report back to EACC on Thursday.

Koskei, who was accompanied by six lawyers, arrived at the EACC offices in the normal escort of two chase cars and bodyguards.

Saturday, he announced that he had stepped aside for 60 days – following the President’s directive – to allow probe into graft allegations facing him.

 

“I have not been questioned by EACC but I decided to step aside after my name featured in its report. It is the role of every Kenyan to respect the rule of law and uphold the spirit of constitutionalism and as leaders we have to lead by example,” said Koskei while announcing his decision to step aside.

He was the first Cabinet Secretary to heed the President’s orders made on Thursday during State of the Nation address in Parliament.

Some legislators have since defended the Cabinet Secretary, saying he has worked for the interest of farmers and wondered why he has been listed among those linked with corruption.

“The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission has never summoned Koskei over corruption allegations. Koskei has assisted in eradicating cartels that have been influencing tea prices at Mombasa auction,” said Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter, who is also mentioned in the list.

Civil Society no longer with Wanjiku

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) were a shadow government 20 years ago.

Today, most are in tatters, lacking competent and cohesive leadership with little support from the public, government or faith-based organisations.

Whatever happened to those brave souls and movements that sent shivers down the spineless Moi regime? How has trust been eroded and suspicions prevail? How did careerism take over from passion? Are the proposed amendments to the Public Benefit Organisations (PBO) Act the final nail in the civil society coffin?

The struggle for change has been long and arduous in Kenya and it has had many casualties. Some went to an early grave carrying the wounds of Nyayo chambers in their bodies; others got tired; most got married and had to start paying the bills; finally, many took the easy route of government jobs and overseas studies.

Remarkably, a few heroes have remained steadfast at the frontline, consistent, relevant and just as much in personal danger under Jubilee as they were under Kanu. It is to their credit.

WELL-EDUCATED PROFESSIONALS

The present generation of human rights defenders, however, are a bunch of well-educated professionals who, for the most part, have joined the struggle as a career choice. They know all about strategic plans, M & E, indicators and budget appraisal but spend more time on overseas junkets and strategic retreats than comforting the afflicted and confronting the rot in society.

Civil society is a growth industry and an attractive career option. However, despite generous funding, many CSOs are making little impact at national or regional level. Some are just as prone to negative ethnicity and mismanagement as any government department.

Others would have you believe that activism and advocacy work are all about media events, lots of glitter but little or no substance, documentation or follow-up.

Despite the proliferation of CSOs, most have been unable to confront the excesses, corruption and mismanagement that have been part of the initial experience of devolution. Recently we received shocking reports from the World Bank revealing that 75 per cent of counties did not spend even 30 per cent of their annual budgets on development projects.

Amazingly, not a single whimper or protest was heard from groups that organise demonstrations routinely over other matters.

FAVOURITE CSO

Yes, CSOs also suffer from ethno-regionalism, afraid to challenge hegemonies on their doorstep but hitting national government from a safe distance. Every governor has his favourite CSO whose support and silence he can depend on when it matters. Patronage is encouraged by governors and courted by CSOs.

Churches, too, have gone absent in the struggle, not recovering relevance since their 2010 Constitution defeat. Then Jubilee wants to impart the fatal blows by a combination of scathing propaganda and the PBO amendments that restrict foreign funding to 15 per cent.

No rocket science is required to discover that this is a revenge mission aimed at those perceived to have hauled the President and his Deputy to The Hague.

It is a chastening time, when the wheat will be separated from the chaff. But the veterans will survive as they have overcome bigger challenges while activism will retain its space at the village level, where Wanjiku knows and defends her freedoms.

gdolan54@gmail.com @GabrielDolan1