August 21st 2017

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Resign if you can't fight corruption, Kenyans tell president

“The posture of helplessness doesn’t inspire the war against corruption. What is then the message to ordinary Kenyans? That they should live with corruption that takes away their livelihood?” asked Mr Mudavadi.

By Soilan Kenanaskenana@kenyafreepress.comWednesday, 19 Oct 2016 17:03 EAT

President Uhuru Kenyatta speaking at the State House Anti-Corruption, Governance and Accountability Summit on Tuesday. (Photo: Courtesy/the President's Facebook page).

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s admission yesterday that he had been frustrated in the fight against corruption has elicited divergent reactions from Kenyans. Many expressed shock that the President was helpless in the face of the most important challenge the country faces, with some telling him to resign for failing in his governance responsibilities.

CORD leader Raila Odinga said Kenyans need to come to terms with the fact that the Jubilee government cannot fight corruption. "Let us accept that the crooks milking Kenya dry operate from the heart of the Jubilee government, with the office of the president and that of his deputy leading from the top when it comes to stealing from Kenyans. We have a crisis called corruption in Kenya."

Constitutional lawyer Ekuru Aukot, who was among the Committee of Experts that wrote the new constitution, pointed out that the President did himself a disservice by saying he was frustrated by corruption. Speaking during an interview on television channel KTN, Dr Aukot noted that in light of the President's remarks his only option then was to resign from office.

At the same time, Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi stated that Kenyatta's remarks gave corrupt individuals more power. “The posture of helplessness doesn’t inspire the war against corruption. What is then the message to ordinary Kenyans? That they should live with corruption that takes away their livelihood?” asked Mr Mudavadi.

Former vice president Kalonzo Musyoka also blasted at the President’s admission of a cartel he could not in the fight against corruption. “The government has literally thrown their hands in the fight against draft. It has now become a blame game and everyone is pointing fingers at each other,” said Mr Musyoka.

During the State House Summit on Accountability and Governance, the president said: “If there is one issue that has frustrated me, it is corruption because the pressure is on me to do something about it.” This portrayed the president being unable to take action on the people he was aware were  involved in graft.

It all appeared blame game as he pointed out that his responsibility was to provide resources in the fight against graft which he noted he had fully executed. “The only thing you should be able to ask me is have you given us the resources to do our work. The answer should be yes or no. And I challenge because I remember specifically even in last year's budget as a result of us agreeing in this we added money through supplementary to support a multi-agency fight against corruption,” he stated.

President Kenyatta highlighted that bodies involved in the fight against corruption had failed, adding that the Executive cannot be blamed for the failure. “Mimi silindi ufisadi ni nyinyi mmeshindwa kufanya kazi yenyu...(I am not condoning corruption, you are the ones who have failed in your duties)," the president stated.

His sentiments at the State House session caused many to question whether he was capable of eliminating corruption. He defended his administration saying that he has done everything in his power to fight corruption. “Show me an administration since independence that has taken action on corruption like I have done,” posed Uhuru during the summit.

The fight against corruption turned into a blame game with the president blaming the judiciary, the director of public prosecution, the attorney general, the auditor and director of criminal investigation for not doing their part. The obviously annoyed Uhuru went ahead to say that he even fired the cabinet secretaries that were listed in corruption cases and the judiciary did not come up with evidence of their corruption cases. 

The judiciary was blamed by the president for being slow in handling corruption cases. He said that he did not have the power to fire the judiciary. “What do you want me to do? Do you want me to have a firing squad at Uhuru Park to make people happy?” asked the president with an aim to defend his administration.

Civil society was dismayed at the president's assertions, pointing to the many solutions he could offer. Former chairperson of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Catherine Mumma, said, "He could begin by not allowing the covering up of those close to him and asking all those adversely mentioned not to run for office in his party or to be his party's political strategists."

"It is very sad when the president of the republic decides to undermine and subvert constitutional oversight organs," said Francis Kuria.

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