Kenya: Bill Spells Doom for Civil Servants Convicted of Corruption

(file photo).
13 November 2019

Government officers found culpable of looting public coffers risk being blocked from holding public offices should a proposed amendment to the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act (Aceca) become law.

The amendment proposed by Moiben MP Silas Tiren, and currently before the National Assembly, wants individuals involved in misappropriation of public funds to be held personally liable.

ECONOMIC CRIMES

The Aceca Bill, 2019, targets managers, chief executive officers and directors of public institutions.

It seeks to bar anyone convicted of an offence committed under the Act from holding any public office. In what will cause tectonic shifts in the governance sphere, those convicted of corruption or economic crimes shall stand disqualified from seeking political seats or appointment into public offices for 10 years immediately they are convicted.

"A person convicted of an offence of corruption or economic crime, and was involved in the management of a public company, institution or State organ that suffered pecuniary loss as a result of the corruption, shall be personally liable for such loss," the bill says.

Currently, those who occasion or oversee the loss of public funds are cushioned from individual responsibility under the doctrine of collective responsibility in government offices.

The bill has already undergone first reading in the National Assembly.

If passed in the current form, it will be a big boost to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption (EACC), the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in fighting rampant corruption within the public service.

The bill seeks to provide a framework for publishing the names of those disqualified from assuming public offices in the Kenya gazette at least once every year so that it becomes easy to weed them out during electioneering period.

END CORRUPTION

It also provides that a person who is personally liable is jointly and severally liable in terms of all the losses incurred by the public institution.

Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro had a similar amendment to this law -- to have individuals found culpable of corruption subjected to capital punishment, which includes either death or life sentence. The bill flopped in the second reading when MPs ganged up to shoot it down.

"I urge my colleagues, regardless of their political affiliations, let us pass this law as it is if the change we desire has to be realised," Mr Tiren said.

He said the agriculture sector is the worst hit in embezzlement of funds.

"We have seen those accused of looting public institutions elected as governors, MPs or even MCAs. Others have been appointed chairmen of parastatals and chief executives, while others land envoy positions abroad. This must surely come to an end," he added.

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