Kenya: Graft Hurting Kenya's Image

A Kenyan, Baktash Ibrahim Akasha, is awaiting sentencing by a court in New York, US, having been convicted of drug trafficking and other related serious crimes.

The protracted trial has been riveting and has gripped global attention as the drugs menace transcends boundaries.

There is, however, an aspect of the trial that should get Kenyans thinking really hard.

In it, Kenya is being depicted as an incorrigibly corrupt nation, where the wicked, the immoral and the corrupt always get their way.

Thus in the sentencing, the US judges will consider the fact that Baktash did not corrupt Kenya, but merely took advantage of an environment conducive for his illegal pursuits.

Defence attorney George Goltzer argued in a court early this month that bribes paid by Baktash "did not corrupt already corrupted Kenyan officials".

DELAYED JUSTICE

Coming just weeks after a report of Kenyans running a global academic fraud syndicate, doing academic assignments for the highest bidder, Kenyans must surely hang their heads in shame.

It should also be remembered that the Kenyans implicated in the "Chicken-gate" scandal -- officials of the defunct Interim Independent Electoral Commission and the Kenya National Examinations Council -- have never been prosecuted locally, yet their counterparts in Britain have completed their jail terms.

Some two Kenyans, Mr James Gichuru and Mr Chris Okemo, have for years, successfully dodged extradition to the New Jersey Island where they are wanted for money laundering charges.

This badly damaged international reputation ought to jolt the government into revving up the fight against corruption currently being waged locally against the high and mighty.

A faulty image on the global arena comes with far-reaching repercussions, including diminishing investor confidence and travel restrictions for citizens.

The government must take drastic actions on corruption and other crimes locally to save Kenya's image abroad.

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