February 25th 2018

Opinion / Commentaries

Our corruption investigation systems have become a joke

A civil servant has got no reason to take more than two weeks before responding to an audit query if at all there is nothing to hide.

By Mutinda KavembaMonday, 31 Oct 2016 14:29 EAT

It's the high time that Kenyans avoid the political sideshows from both sides of the political divide and focus on what needs to be done to end this vice of corruption that is eating away into the opportunities for a good and quality life for all Kenyans.

This is because in relation to corruption, politicians are more of the problem and thus cannot solely be relied on to provide solutions.

As a Jubilee member and supporter. I kindly and humbly urge my President to help in fighting corruption by first, ordering his Finance CS to do an internal memo to all accounting officers in the civil service instructing them not to take more than two weeks without fully and effectively responding to any audit query that is raised within their dockets.

This story about audit queries in the Public Service not being responded to in time is leading to production of negative audit reports must stop forthwith. It is threatening the very legacy of the President himself.

A civil servant has got no reason to take more than two weeks before responding to an audit query if at all there is nothing to hide.

The last time the Auditor General, an independent constitutional office released its report as is required by law, rather than issuing instructions to all the civil servants implicated in the report to respond to the matters the report was raising or risk administrative disciplinary action, the Finance CS Rotich instead adopted a defensive and antagonistic attitude towards the Auditor General’s report even going to the extent of putting up a full page newspaper advert disparaging and casting aspersions on the report.

That is not the behaviour expected of someone determined to fight corruption and especially from the person in charge of the Treasury.

Such behaviour in truth only emboldens the civil servants not to cooperate thus encouraging impunity.

Reports from our independent constitutional offices should be treated with the respect and seriousness they deserve as they are not only legal but also funded by tax payers to provide checks and balances meant to ensure that public interest at all times is protected.

Administrative disciplinary action should be taken promptly against any public officer who is negatively implicated in any audit query especially if they fail to timely, adequately and satisfactorily respond to the queries raised.

This simple administrative action by the President and the Finance CS has got the ability to reduce corruption by 50% even without the involvement of any outside forces and players like the Police or the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

Besides the in-house administrative action I have suggested above, the other focus should be on how to effectively hold accountable all those offices meant to stop or fight corruption in government. It should not be business as usual for any public officer who is not delivering on their mandate.

As the Kenyan Nation, we fixed the hardware by passing the 2010 constitution (Katiba) but are yet to fix the software.

The structures and constitutional framework is fine but the implementers are clearly not up to the task. 
We made the Police Service independent in the Constitution but operationally it has been largely business as usual. The citizens are yet to enjoy the benefits of a fully independent and professional police outfit.

We made the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) independent and even gave him an eight year non-renewable term with security of tenure so that he could deliver on his mandate without fear or favor.

Unfortunately there has been completely nothing to write home about the achievements of his office, no serious prosecution of any big personality involved in corruption and yet it is becoming a national disaster.

The Judiciary was also made autonomous by the Constitution but has completely failed to deliver on its mandate. Justice in the Judiciary is not for the poor and ordinary citizens but only for the affluent and rich.

The Judiciary actually offers refuge and sanctuary to the influential and rich whenever the other arms of government charged with dealing with corruption or crime threaten to catch up with them like as has been the case in the Kidero vs EACC involving inspection of his bank accounts, Kidero's attempted impeachment by MCAs which the court stopped, failure to bank locally collected revenue in Nairobi County in violation of article 207 of the Katiba which has been pending in court for more than a year notwithstanding the seriousness of the offense and the implications of a delayed ruling on the matter.

The implication of this delay has been that despite seeking redress from the courts, our locally collected revenue in Nairobi continues not being banked in the constitutionally approved CRF account and thus its safety not guaranteed.

The Controller of Budget in all her reports has raised the matter of failure to bank locally collected revenue in Nairobi County since devolution but the trend still continues with impunity, four years down the line.

Clear Symptoms of a failing system!

It's the high time that we as citizens start asking the difficult questions to the holders of the independent offices which we created hoping to benefit from, we have to start demanding accountability  from those holding those offices.

That's the only way to also fix the software.

So far, the only Offices that seem to be keen on delivering on their mandate are that of the Auditor General and that of the Controller of Budget. Maybe because their mandate only requires them to produce periodic reports on how government resources are utilised and whether the budget approval and implementation process is in order.

Action on the reports they produce is meant to be undertaken by other offices and there seems not to be proper linkages to ensure that all matters raised in the reports are promptly and conclusively dealt with on time.

If that was happening, the runaway corruption we are currently witnessing at all levels of Government, both National and County would not be taking place, it would effectively be checked.

Citizens need to start presenting petitions to public offices as provided for in the Constitution whenever they feel that they are performing below expectations or wherever they feel that an important matter needs urgent and special attention.

We as citizens have to behave in a manner that puts life to the Constitutional article that puts all sovereign power in the hands of Kenyans. As citizens, we have to own our struggle to make our country better by being at the frontline and pro-actively dealing with issues of national importance.

That is the only way that we will achieve the dream of an equitable and prosperous Nation. I believe that the above approach might be what is needed to change things for the better and I commit to abiding by it.
Accountability is a must if we are to end impunity!

God bless Nairobi County.
God bless Kenya.

The writer lost his bid for senator of Nairobi in the just-concluded Jubilee Party nominations

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