Kenya: Bar Officials in Graft Fight

11 December 2019
editorial

The most frustrating thing about the rampant corruption in the public service is the failure to follow through and punish officials, who, through omission or commission, abet the blatant looting. It is encouraging, though, that the Directorate of Criminal Investigation and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission have upped their game, but they alone cannot slay the rapacious monster.

It is encouraging to see more high-profile suspects being hauled to court to answer charges. But, unless some big fish are convicted and the proceeds of their economic crimes impounded, the graft war will fail. Corruption is, of course, not a preserve of the public sector, but these are public funds siphoned to line the pockets of a few. Graft is immoral as it diverts public resources from programmes meant to benefit the majority.

The Auditor-General's reports are a useful tool that details the spending of public funds. Unfortunately, they have been reduced to a rite in which the wanton looting is just chronicled. Evidence of impropriety in public spending is revealed that should attract severe punishment, but hardly does. There are numerous reports of how public money was squandered, but the culprits continue to strut around like peacocks -- going scot-free.

Equally criminal is the impunity with which top government officials handle public funds, allowing their juniors and cartels to skim off and wallow in the proceeds of corruption. However, their days are now numbered. Accounting officers whose dockets have audit queries now risk being barred from holding public office after the National Assembly adopted the Public Accounts Committee (PAC)'s report. This is a welcome though long overdue measure to restore sanity in the management of public funds.

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