Kenya: Fund Anti-Graft Agencies Well to Win Against Vice

30 September 2020
editorial

Fighting corruption and punishing the culprits remain the greatest challenge facing the country. Corruption has become a national pastime. Billions of shillings in public funds is lost every year but the tragedy is that the culprits are hardly seized and punished.

However, we cannot despair. No effort should be spared to curb this malaise and return the country to sanity. The financial haemorrhage must be stopped. A starting point is to critically evaluate the factors that catalyse the vice and craft strategic responses to them.

This week, the chief executive of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), Twalib Mbarak, laid bare some of the causal factors and cautioned that, unless they were tackled, the war will not be won.

Among these are inadequate funding for the investigative and prosecuting agencies, specifically EACC, Directorate of Criminal Investigations and office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, together with the Judiciary. Individually and collectively, the agencies require proper funding and adequate human resource to empower them to fight graft.

It is not lost on us that Chief Justice David Maraga has often complained of strangulation of the Judiciary through budget cuts, which means less staff and inadequate resources and, consequently, delays in arbitrating disputes.

Added to these are legal ambiguities and overlaps and political interference. This necessitates an urgent review of the applicable laws to create harmony and strengthen the institutions to carry out their work effectively.

For instance, EACC has a broad mandate to curb corruption but this is unwieldy. In other jurisdictions, such agencies are restricted to dealing with serious fraud, making it easier for them to focus on what matters. Pursuing EACC's broad mandate dissipates energy and does not give value to taxpayers.

We reinforce the voices of Mr Mbarak and Justice Maraga, who has said on several occasions that investigative and judicial agencies should be properly funded. Corruption fights back and does so viciously. To curb the vice, the government should allocate adequate cash to the agencies.

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