Big-ticket arrests and prosecutions for corruption have largely been helped by State House’s support, a graft watchdog said yesterday, but warned against losing sight of low cadre officials.
Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) chief executive Halakhe Waqo said “passion” by President Uhuru Kenyatta since 2016 has been key in the arresting and arraigning of high profile officials, something he pointed out was lacking in previous years. Mr Kenyatta has promised to curb graft during his second term that started in November after critics accused his administration of being slow in nabbing top officials during in his first term.
“There has been tremendous improvement since 2016. In the last two-three years, the average conviction rate on matters concluded in courts is 79 per cent,” Mr Halakhe said during the launch of a multi-sectoral forum against corruption in Nairobi. Prosecution of private sector officials for graft is now possible after the Bribery Act 2016 addressed previous gaps in the judicial system that made it difficult to sue both the giver and taker of bribes.
Corruption has become the “biggest industry” in Kenya, gulping about a third of the annual budget, speakers at the meeting said, referring to an estimation by former EACC chair Philip Kinisu.
The anti-graft agency, which has over the years been accused of shoddy investigations against the “big fish” resulting in acquittals, registered a major win on May 15 when former Local Government PS Sammy Kirui and Nairobi town clerk John Gakuo were jailed for three years each for abuse office. Other convictions include that of former Kenya Ports Authority managing director James Mulewa who was last September ordered to pay Sh74.6 million for unexplained assets, including Sh63.6 million bank deposits he made between August 31, 2008 and May 20, 2010. “We are doing this for survival and prosperity of our nation. If we don’t, we will not have a country,” Nation Media Group chairman Wilfred Kiboro said.
“This war takes a lot of resources, but losing this war is even more costly. We have to wage this war as long as it takes.”