Team Anna’s Hunger for Zero Corruption Should Inspire Kenyans

Today, August 25th 2011 marks the TENTH day of a hunger strike by an Indian man Mr. Anna Hazare.
Anna, as he is commonly known, is a 74 YEAR OLD anti-corruption activist who wants India’s Parliament to pass a new proposed law creating an independent anti-corruption agency called Jan Lokpal. Anna and his supporters want the proposed anti-corruption agency to have investigation and prosecutorial powers over every level and branch of government. Meanwhile, the government of India adamantly opposes this move and want to restrict Jan Lokpal to merely making recommendations, and to exempt judges, parliamentarians, and the Prime Minister. Anna, who is already being likened to Mahatma Gandhi was arrested prior to his hunger strike and presently he commands a large following of protesters mostly middle class indians who lament the rampant levels of corruption within the Indian government.

My fellow Indians, you are not alone in this war on graft. Here in Kenya too, we seem to be fighting the seemingly unwinnable war on corruption.

However, unlike in India, Kenya has a Bill pending before Parliament called the Independent Ethics and Anti-Corruption Bill, 2011 (IEACB) which proposes to replace the current Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC) with a new Commission with full prosecutorial powers.

As you know, the KACC has always blamed the Attorney General’s Office for their perceived inaction, inefficiency and ineptness in prosecuting corruption related cases based on the investigation files handed in by KACC. In response to these accusations, the A-G’s Chambers insists that KACC investigations are never conducted thoroughly enough to sustain a reasonable prosecution.

It is widely believed that this blame-game will finally be put to rest with the passing of the IEACB into law.

BUT until the IEACB is passed and signed into law, we are not out of the woods yet. Politicians are the same all over the world and there may be those in Kenya, both within the Executive and Parliament, that may feel threaten by this proposed law and attempt to water-down the provisions of this Bill by stripping the proposed Independent Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (IEAC) of its prosecutorial powers.

At the moment, the situation within the Kenyan government vis-à-vis fighting graft is demoralising to say the least. Our Anti Corruption Czar PLO Lumumba is investing precious time and energy investigating a paltry Kshs. 100, 000 bribery accusation and turning it into a media circus. But as Prof. PLO Lumumba’s predecessor Justice Aaron Ringera once put it:
” ‘big fish’, ‘small fish’, ‘fat fish’ and all manner of fish will be fried, unapologetically, only in the oil of the Constitution of Kenya and laws made under it.”
That said, PLO Lumumba, in his zeal to expose Cecily Mbarire as a corrupt high-ranking government official, has indeed gone slightly overboard and lost sight of his priorities.

Meanwhile, our members of Parliament are still refusing to pay taxes on their salaries and benefits. Yet, the MPs remain unable to meet constitutional deadlines set a year ago for the passage of key pieces of legislation giving effect to the new Constitution, including the IEACB.

Moving to our Executive branch of government, where the spectre of graft lives and breeds, recent events are most troubling. Moses Wetangula and Thuita Mwangi have been reinstated as Foreign Affairs Minister and Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs respectively despite being under investigation for Embassy scams which cost the Kenyan tax payer over Shs 1.2 billion. Wetangula’s return is widely seen as the clearest indication yet of the government’s zero commitment to fighting corruption within the highest ranks of government. Wetangula joins his Cabinet colleague Sam Ongeri who has been accused by the British Government and other development agencies of misappropriating over Kshs 8.4 billion within the Ministry of Education, which is under his charge.

The emerging trend in this regard is that the war on corruption within government cannot be waged effectively since both members of parties in the coalition government are equally to blame. Therefore it appears to be a case of the pot calling the kettle black or the guy with a log in his eye keen to point out the speck in the neighbour’s. Inevitably it seems, the coalition government would end up fighting itself; a situation we cannot allow to happen, for the sake of peace.

Looking forward, I believe the IEACB once enacted will give us the necessary legislative shield and spear in the fight against grand corruption in Kenya. Therefore, in the midst of all the challenges we are facing, I urge Kenyans to be inspired by the example of the thousands of folks protesting all over India under the banner “Team Anna”. This war must be won; let us remain vigilant and soldier on.

3 thoughts on “Team Anna’s Hunger for Zero Corruption Should Inspire Kenyans

  1. Honestly I was asking myself the same questions. At the time I wrote this post, Parliament hadn’t met to discuss the IEACB but I assumed that the logical thing for them to do was not to amend the transitional provisions of the IEACB. The transitional provisions are they were provided that the KACC Commissioners would complete their terms as members of the new IEACC.
    The amended provisions which have now been passed require that the current commissioners reapply for their jobs again where they will undergo vetting again if they are desirous of joining the IEACC. This is riduculous seeing that slightly over a year ago MPs debated on the floor of the House the nomination of Prof. Lumumba and his team and approved their nomination!

    The only explanation for this short-sighted amendment by MPs is that they felt threatened by Lumumba and his team and were hoping to take advantage of the creation of the formation of the IEACC to chuck them out and replace them with their buddies and others. Clearly no consideration was given to the cost implication of sending KACC home! The sad irony is these costs will be borne by us the tax payers yet MPs themselves refuse to pay taxes themselves.

  2. The problem we humans have is that we rarely learn from history! Sometime in the early 80s….donkey years ago… a bill that made Kenya a 1-party state was moved and passed in record time. A voice in the wilderness that Parliament has always been told them that passing that law would come to haunt the very supporters of the said law. Years later….those supporting the law were either shown out of KANU, detained or suspended from the party…..

    We are seeing the same shenanigans playing out on the KACC saga….. MPigs have passed a bill that emasculates the KACC and as if that isn’t enough, they have deemed it ‘wise’ to send the directors home….completely disregarding the Board of Directors. The reason this has happened is because close to 150 constituencies are being investigated for CDF Funds embezzling….and this act is meant to tame the KACC ‘roguishness’! But one question is…..what will happen if the said MPigs are voted out[as sure they will] and they are haunted by the new body with even more crimes? What will happen if their subjects decide they will not vote them back and demand a refund of the funds? These are just some rational questions…..but then again………..the current lot of MPigs is hardly known for rationality…..

    One thing I can take to Mwangi of Equity to bank on is that this will boomerang on them so badly, they will not know what hit them.

    I only hope that Kibaki in his newly found wisdom of keeping his Legacy intact will deem it unworthy to append his signature on the passed bill and return it to parliament for debating again. That, or a case in the new Supreme Court.


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