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It started with a speech…then the hammer fell….

Posted by Business in Ghana on March 30, 2015

Contributed by an Anti-Corruption Crusader

It was on Thursday last week that President Uhuru Kenyatta made his second State of the Nation address.

Most of it was fairly ordinary, but he saved the action for the end when he announced to a standing ovation that he was attaching a confidential dossier compiled by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).  The document contained the names of almost 170 individuals in all tiers of government from cabinet ministers, governors, principal secretaries, secretary to the cabinet, senators, MP’s and heads of parastatals (state businesses), that are under investigation for corruption.

The case files are to be submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Here is what he said (I have copied the relevant paragraphs of the speech)

“As I have indicated, constitutional officer holders, State Officers and every public servant, are bound by the values enshrined in our Constitution. They are required to uphold the highest standards of personal integrity in the discharge of their official functions. In view of the oath of office that I took as the President of this republic, let it be known that today I draw the line. No one will stand between Kenyans and what is right in the fight against corruption and other monstrous economic crimes….

Three weeks ago, I issued Executive Order Number Six (6) on Ethics and Integrity in the Public Service. In it, I directed any civil servants to get in touch with my Office should they receive any pressure to engage in unethical or illegal conduct regardless of the status of person pressuring them to do so. I want to reiterate this personal commitment, which is also provided for in the Constitution…

The latest report I have received from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission contains a catalogue of allegations of high-level corruption touching on all arms and levels of Government. It is the view of the CEO of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission that the institution and especially its Secretariat are under siege because of the nature of the cases they are currently investigating. I know that Parliament is seized of this matter and urge them to deal with it expeditiously.

(a) Today, I take the extra-ordinary step of attaching the afore-mentioned confidential report from the CEO of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission as an annex to my annual report on Values to Parliament.

(b) Consequently, I hereby direct that all Officials of the National and County governments that are adversely mentioned in this report, whether you are a Cabinet Secretary, Principal Secretary, or Chief Executive of a state institution, to immediately step aside pending conclusion of the investigations of the allegations against them. I expect the other arms of Government, namely the Legislature and the Judiciary, to do the same. “

What was next?

The President on tabling the dossier then asked those in the list to step aside for appropriate investigations to be conducted.

So far:

5 Cabinet secretaries: Felix Koskei (Agriculture), Michael Kamau (Transport), Kazungu Kambi (Labour), Davis Chirchir (Energy) and Charity Ngilu (Lands) have all stepped aside

Other scalps so far collected are: Cabinet Secretary Francis Kimemia, Deputy Chief of Staff to the Deputy President Marianne Kitany, and principal secretaries in defence, transport, mining and waterWhile they are investigated the functions of the relevant ministries are to be taken over by serving cabinet secretaries (e.g. energy to be looked over by treasury).

Who else is on the list:

o   11 Governors – including the Governors of Nairobi: Evans Kidero, Bomet (Isaac Rutu), Machakos (Alfred Mutua) and Mombasa (Ali Hassan Joho) – Governors still in office.

o   Top civil servants – these include the Investment Secretary Esther Koimett, Deputy Head of Mission to South Africa (Jane Waikenda) – They have been suspended.

o   Heads of parastatals: Agricultural Finance Corporation, Patrick Osero, managing director Geothermal Development Company Dr Silas Simiyu, Managing Trustee of the National Social Security Fund Richard Langat, chief executive officers Kentrade Alex Kabuga and acting CEO National Water Conservation Board Evans Ngibuini. Also on the list are Kenya Airports Authority Managing Director Lucy Mbugua, Kenya Pipeline Company Managing Director Charles Tanui and the Chief Executive Tourism Fund/Catering Levy Trustees Allan Chenane.

 Why Now?

Simple really, the president had started to feel the heat over allegations that grand corruption had re-surfaced in his government.  Recent scandals such as the ‘land grabbing’  of land belonging to a public school in Nairobi and the subsequent tear gassing of protesting children had not played out well at all.  There were rumours that the DP was the faceless figure behind the scandal and interestingly enough he has lost a good number of lieutenants in this purge.

What is the next step?

Ideally the officials have to stand aside for up to 60 days as the investigations are conducted and if found to have merit prosecuted by the DPP.

The governors, senators and MPs have yet to step aside saying that because they are elected officials (cabinet secretaries are appointed) the process should be different. However, State House differs, saying that as public officials they are captured under the same scope of the law as the affected cabinet secretaries and civil servants.  Expect to see more noise around this, but the pressure is on…

Is this time different?

This is not the first time there has been an attempted purge or ministers (as they were called then) asked to step aside.  However, what differs this time is the scope (the number of names), the scale (the power of those affected), the speed (how quickly State House has moved to communicate and push aside) and the method (by attaching to his speech he bypassed any parliamentary interference).

There was always a tacit understanding that because Uhuru is not only from the wealthiest family in Kenya but amongst the top tier of wealthy in Africa he would run a clean government.  Simply because he does not need ‘to eat’ as much as everyone else before him.  Additionally his family money is very much tied into the business community with interests in large scale farming, a large dairy business (Danone is a co-shareholder), banks (CBA), and property. With the yoke of the ICC he seemed somewhat trapped, however, with the case now dismissed we are beginning to see a more assertive State House.

If he manages to deliver tangible results in his current purge and instil fear in the rank and file then 2017 will be easier to be re-elected.

What about the DP?

Clearly the elephant in the room…his cases are on-going at the ICC, and he has lost lieutenants in this crusade.  He has publicly come out in support (you wouldn’t expect him to publically complain though).

His vote stronghold is the Rift Valley area populated by the Kalenjin, however, lately you are starting to see him under attack there.  Also the public sees him as the ‘more corrupt’ factor in the Uhuru/Ruto axis (the school fiasco did him no favours)  – a partner in what was an expedient marriage to win the elections but one with strange bedfellows, in my view.

What does this all mean…?

my view clearly this is a positive development in ensuring service delivery. Most importantly if corruption can be kept at bay (I think it is almost impossible to defeat in a country with 40 different ethnic groupings who all want to feel favoured at times) then the big infrastructure projects – Lamu Port/LAPSET, JKIA extension, Railway, Pipelines, Power plants, Roads, will have a greater chance of being built without too much cost overruns and a to a good standards.  Which means the cost of business will decrease dramatically.

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One Response to “It started with a speech…then the hammer fell….”

  1. Concerned said

    With this Kenyan initiative and a great lesson in ‘what can be’ from Burkina faso recently one has to ask if Ghana can avoid the Burkina route by initiating a Kenyan approach to our own proven-by-AG corrupt and poor service delivery civil service.

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