Tough on graft, Jubilee deserve another five years

Tough on graft, Jubilee deserve another five years

 

When asked which issue they most care about, Kenyans place the issue of corruption second just after the cost of living.  While it is indeed one of the most dangerous diseases plaguing our country, the last four years have been nothing short of revolutionary.  While Rome was not built (or destroyed) in a day, the revolution has begun, as Kenya finally gets tough on graft.

Since 2013, the Jubilee government has done its utmost to bring the government to the people in the most open and transparent manner.  With devolution, many of the administrative channels and platforms which serve the public have been moved out to the counties.  This has demanded a higher degree of accountability and supervision, and we have seen some serious results.  Nonetheless, there is much more work to do!

During the last four and a half years, nearly all public service delivery systems have been digitized rendering them more efficient, open and accessible to the public.  One cannot fail to acknowledge the Huduma Centres, which stand proudly, efficiently serving every single county across the country.  The centres, combined with the e-Citizen and i-Tax platforms, plus digitalized land registry services and procurement through IFMIS, are already making government more personal and proficient. Crucially, in addition to saving the average Kenyan hours in queuing time, these services have eliminated much financial irregularity.

From ‘up above’, a Multi-Agency Team was set up, coalescing the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), the Financial Reporting Centre (FRC), the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and the Asset Recovery Agency (ARA).  This is no simple matter in our large and often complex bureaucracy.  However, the result of this cooperation and hard work has been striking – Ksh3bn in grafted funds has been recovered or preserved; by far the largest amount ever witnessed in the battle against corruption in Kenya. 360 criminal cases already stand before the courts. These results are unprecedented.

All the while, the national government has invested a great deal of time and effort into training both the public sector and elements of the private sector to better identify suspicious activities and report wrongdoings.

Institutional reforms in the judiciary – an independent body by its very nature – will of course take time to trickle down, but we are certainly moving in the right direction. Kenya, unlike many of its neighbors, now has 90 Special Prosecutors for economic crimes and corruption related offences in the Judiciary.  Our Chief Justice established a Special Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Division of the High Court, appointing 13 Special Magistrates to deal with anti-corruption and economic crime cases.  NASA’s criticism has completely overlooked these effective and, in some cases, groundbreaking actions.

To add legislative weight to an already complex battle, it must be noted that Jubilee have addressed many of the legal loopholes that used to undermine this struggle. The Bribery Act, 2016; The Public Audit Act, 2015; The Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2014; are all serious pieces of legislation facilitating the ongoing fight.

Perhaps the most important piece of legislation was crafted to bring justice to our vulnerable members of society, those who have been victims of corruption: The ground breaking National Legal Aid Act 2016. Thousands of Kenyans have already benefited from this legal protection in the last year since it was legislated.

So this week, when the Jubilee Party released their long-awaited manifesto, I was intrigued to see how the fight would continue. And I wasn’t disappointed.

The Jubilee Party has promised to “Significantly expand the automation of public service delivery systems, digitize all payments for public services and enhance deployment of technology in the delivery of law enforcement.”  Digitizing fines will take money straight out of the hands of corrupt officials.

Jubilee has committed to increasing the severity of punishments to include significant jail time for economic crimes.  Likewise, there is a clear commitment to stamp down on judicial foot-dragging, with judges concluding cases of economic crimes in less than 6 months.

Enhanced protection for whistleblowers, greater transparency in procurement processes and tender awards, and the detailed roll-out of a service charter framework for the delivery of public services that will provide for specific timelines within which services are to be rendered, will all contribute to this fight for a clean Kenyan future.  Any mechanism which holds individual officers responsible for delay or failure to render public services, demand illegal payments or hint at any nefarious business will be ruthlessly rooted out.

Despite great efforts over the last few years, decades of corruption cannot be stamped out overnight.  It is still one of the greatest diseases afflicting the very core of Kenyan society. However, when analyzed in detail, the steps taken by Jubilee during the last four years, and the subsequent commitments espoused in the new manifesto will help ensure that Kenya is at the forefront of our continent’s ongoing fight against graft.

Rachael Nyamai , MP Kitui South Constituency