Editorials

Back Bill to deny officials on graft probe allowances

corruption

The legislative proposal to deny State officers under investigation or who have been charged with corruption their salaries, allowances and other office perks is commendable.

The law currently allows suspended public officers facing graft or economic crime charges to receive half of their pay and the full amount of any allowances pending the conclusion of the case.

But this has yet to yield the desired impact as day by day, the Auditor-General and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) continue to unearth high-level corruption involving billions of shillings across all levels of government.

Every stolen or misdirected coin robs the poor of opportunities for a better life, erodes trust in government institutions — including the taxman, and those in charge of security and justice — and fuels violence and conflicts.

Litigation, while an important facet in the fight against corruption, is often lengthy and usually does not serve as a deterrent.

That is why changes in the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) Bill 2022 are laudable. The Bill empowers the anti-corruption agency to silently apply for a High Court order to bar an officer under investigation or who is charged with graft or economic crime from accessing his or her office.

It also blocks such officers from exercising their powers, including participating in decision-making and supervising staff.

Several top government officials are battling the EACC and the Director of Public Prosecutions in court over various charges related to corruption. But they continue to enjoy juicy perks, which double or triple their regular pay.

Clearly, cutting salaries leaves no dent in their pockets. We must make corruption painful and expensive through proactive policies, and legislative action like the kind proposed in the Bill will dissuade officials from engaging in it.

We urge MPs to back the Bill as political will can turn the tide against graft through building strong and transparent institutions. But that’s not all. Efforts must be focused on the broader context of governance and accountability.

For instance, tainted officers must not be allowed to dodge by seeking political offices to sanitise self or seek personal protection, as has become the norm in Kenya.

Slaying the corruption dragon requires drastic measures.