Ideas & Debate

Citizen apathy a weak link in anti-graft fight

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) receives the ODPP’s performance reports from the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • The office of the DPP has a wide mandate that goes beyond fighting corruption, but because the vice is impeding national development, the key take-away from the annual reports is the progress made in the fight against corruption.
  • It has documented the many steps taken in the fight against corruption in the last three years.
  • Hundreds of public officials, among them Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and heads of parastatals, are now in court facing corruption charges.

Imagine what Sh224 billion would do to the education or the health sector. From constructing hundreds of new classrooms and equipping them with desks and watering points to building new hospitals and supplying them with drugs and kits or increasing isolation facilities, the money can do wonders.

Unfortunately, this is the much of public money that has been embezzled in the last three years, according to performance reports recently released by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP)

Sadly though, Kenyans appear to move on, as if the money does not belong to them.

The office of the DPP has a wide mandate that goes beyond fighting corruption, but because the vice is impeding national development, the key take-away from the annual reports is the progress made in the fight against corruption.

It has documented the many steps taken in the fight against corruption in the last three years.

Hundreds of public officials, among them Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and heads of parastatals, are now in court facing corruption charges.

The prosecutions office also points to a number of measures put in place to better to combat the vice. For instance, the ODPP has been strengthened to improve efficiency. For the first time, there are nine regional offices in the country, devolving the functions of the ODPP.

The number of prosecutors has been increased to a reasonable ratio to that of investigators. Prosecutors are also exposed to world class training at the newly established Prosecution Training Institute (PTI) where they are equipped with the skills they need to keep pace with emerging and complex crimes.

The newly rolled out Uadilifu Case Management System is meant to stamp out the problem of lost files that bedevilled the administration of justice for a long time.

Uadilifu allows for effective and efficient service delivery in urban and remote areas across all nine regions. The digitisation of case records has now opened up avenues for the use of technology in ensuring a smooth flow of cases.

But even the best tools and technology will not be able to bring about change without citizens discharging their civic duty.

When former President Mwai Kibaki took over the reins of power from retired President Moi in 2002, with the promise to fight corruption, Kenyans actively took part in the fight and many were captured calling out corrupt public officials especially the errant traffic cops.

What changed? Can we honestly say that we are all pulling our weight in the the fight against graft?

In the annual report the DPP’s office raises a lot of questions about our interest as citizens in the war against corruption. As a country, we have made it part of the national conversation, but our actions are not helping in the fight against the vice.

A corrupt-free Kenya will remain a mirage if we do not take the fight as a patriotic action. The work of slaying the dragon is too heavy to be left to one office or one man. One office cannot correct the wrongs we make every five years when we elect corrupt individuals to manage our national resources, for example.

The uncomfortable truth that we must face as a country is that we are active actors in propagating corruption, and this starts from the leaders we elect. The ballot is our weapon when it comes to slaying the dragon. We can’t elect corrupt leaders then cry foul when they steal, and shout even louder when they do not pay for their sins.

We each have a role in this war.

We need to be cognizant of the fact that each of us has a role to play in slaying the beast that is corruption.

It would be impossible to see a change in the justice system without all of us taking ownership of the process.

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