Ongoing war on corruption emboldens Kenyans to fight the vice


KENYANS are pushing for the investigation and prosecution of more corruption scandals as the fight against graft emboldens citizens to speak about the vice.

So far, the government has arrested and is prosecuting suspects involved in the $90 million National Youth Service scandal.

The over 40 suspects were on Tuesday denied bail, with the Judiciary promising the fast-tracking of the trial, which continued on Wednesday.

However, investigations into other scandals at various government agencies are yet to pick up, with Kenyans calling for action.

The corruption scandals include alleged theft at the National Cereals and Produce Board, Kenya Pipeline Company, Irrigation Board and Youth Fund.

More graft scandals have been reported in county governments, with the Auditor-General flagging numerous suspicious payments.

Over the years, Kenyans have been apathetic about the corruption, choosing to focus on other challenges mainly due to inaction from government.

But President Uhuru Kenyatta’s latest actions have psyched up citizens, with newspapers getting bolder in reporting about the vice.

In the last two weeks, the Kenyan media has been awash with scandals in various government agencies, with information mainly coming from whistleblowers thanks to the ongoing war.

‘We must sustain this war on corruption to eliminate the vice. And it is us the public who will do it,’ Naomi Mukuria, an activist who took part in anti-graft protests last week in Nairobi, told reporters on Wednesday.

The protests organised through social media saw tens of people dressed in red pour out on Nairobi streets to call for action against the government.

‘I am looking for a job and I have sworn not to offer any bribe in any government office. If I am asked, I will shout about it. It is the only way to fight crime,’ said Calvin Osano.

As the government takes stern action against corruption, Kenyans are fully behind it, urging Kenyatta not to relent.

They have for instance supported the move to ask all accounting and procurement officers to step aside for fresh vetting that would be extended into their business associates and relatives.

‘The government should even ask all its officials in various ministries to step aside for vetting to get rid of corruption,’ said Mukuria.

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission chief executive Halake Waqo noted on Wednesday that one of the things that had hindered fight against graft was the low willingness by citizens to take part in corruption.

‘The citizens have been unwilling to come forth with information, instead participating in the vice. This has made our work a little difficult,’ he told a Senate committee in Nairobi.

However, according to Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr, there has been apathy from public over the years because the anti-graft body has been slow in fighting graft.

‘Right now the cases are being investigated and prosecuted by the Director of Criminal Investigations and the Director of Public Prosecutions, a move that has restored confidence to the public. Kenyans are now ready and eager to fight graft like never before,’ he said.

Henry Wandera, an economics lecturer in Nairobi, noted that Kenya’s economy has been stifled by corruption over the years and citizens have been the biggest losers.

‘In 2013, Kenyans would arrest corruption suspects and take them to the police. But this enthusiasm stopped due to inaction from government. If the current drive continues, citizen arrest may come back and this would help end graft,’ he said.

However, according to Wandera, more top officials involved in the vice should be prosecuted if the war against graft is to be won.


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