|Noor Haji:The DPP stamping his authority|
The fight against graft in Kenya has picked momentum. It has beaten all other previous attempts in terms of speed, breadth, and potential impact. This round of investigations appears designed to be a precedent setter- a deterrent. Seems like the 40 days of the thief are over.
In addition to prosecution, the suspects could also lose the property acquired with proceeds from sleaze. This will be followed, if the example of the KPLC contractors is anything to by, by blacklisting the same firms so that they cannot do any business with the government in future.
Also, the banks through the funds were channeled arestaring at prosecution and heavy fines while the managers could find themselves jobless if they escape prosecution.
Some employees of the power distributor, Kenya Power and Lighting, have been sacked for their involvement in graft and 350 companies which they had approved to render services to the firm have had the contracts canceled and blacklisted. According to media reports, their names will be circulated so that they do not do any business with the government. This is the first time in Kenya where the ramifications of sleaze are so broad and far-reaching.
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The penalties imposed on those caught with their hands in the till so far is a measure of the government’s determination to slay the ghost. A few weeks ago, Five senior officers in the former Nairobi City council were jailed for a total of 15 years and fined a total of $86,000(KES86 Million), for their role in the purchase of a piece of rock for a cemetery. See also http://eaers.blogspot.co.ke/2018/05/graft-under-siege-in-kenya.html
This sets the precedent for 20 of 54 suspects in the plunder of US$90 million from the National Youth Service who have their day in Court today, just two weeks after the scandal hit the headlines. The 54, including 40 public servants and 14 traders, face huge fines and jail terms. It could go further for their property is also at stake. The lot is accused of stealing the Money from the National Youth Service department through fictitious supplies that were not even tendered for.
The speed of investigations and prosecution appears designed to ensure the cartels do not re-group and fight back as they have done in the past.
There are questions regarding the audacity of this gang, which involves lower cadre officers. They could be fronts for tenderprenuers who make huge money from the government for supplying nothing. The NYS money paid during the 2015/2016 f and 2016/2017 financial years, may have been used to fund the 2017 political campaigns, say analysts. If this be the case, politicians could be roped in in phase two of the investigations.
There is every justification for the ferocity with which the anti-graft campaign is being carried out. The audacity with which the corrupt steal public funds and the amounts involved is akin to sabotaging government projects.
In the case of NYS, 54 people stole US$90 million from public coffers. At the National Cereals and Produce Board, an estimated 18 traders flooding the NCPB with grain denying farmers the only market for their produce.
The National Youth Service, which is designed to equip the youth with marketable skills is now a cash cow for the corrupt. That means that the program is likely to be killed, denying the Youth an opportunity to learn a trade and thus condemning them to unemployment.
The country will also be denied critical skills in its development effort. That 54 people could conspire to enrich themselves at the expense of millions of poor Youth is unconscionable. Further, sabotaging agriculture, the backbone of the economy is, to say the least, treasonable.
At NCPB, 77 officials and traders in the NCPB saga should start bracing themselves for tough times ahead. Here the 77 colluded to flood the National Cereals and Produce Board with Maize of unknown origin locking out genuine farmers. The 77 include 18 traders and 59 managers. The CEO resigned.
The Director of Public Prosecutions has called for more resources to be deployed on this matter in order to expedite investigations. So far, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Authority is on the matter but the DPP wants more expertise including the Directorate of Criminal Investigation, Kenya Revenue Authority and the Assets Recovery Authority. This suggests that their property could also be targeted.
Given the current ferocity, a number of people are sitting on hot coals. These include officials at Kenya Pipeline and Kenya Power corporations. Even banks through which the money was channeled are under probe and risk a US$200,000 penalty for each offense committed if found culpable.
Pessimists wonder whether the war will succeed this time around, give previous failures. What is new, they ask. The war on graft has shifted from the witch hunt, engineered by politicians to ending the vice by targeting the real culprits- the junior officers who escaped the dragnet in the past investigations which targeted the so-called “big fish.”
The government is releasing the reports of graft to the media. That way it has removed the wind from the sails of Politicians and NGOs that in the past played the role of “watchdogs.” With politicians completely deflated, the war is no longer witch hunt but a professional drive to rid the country of corruption cartels.
The government says that the on-going investigations and prosecutions are the first phase of the war against sleaze. The second face is still on-going and could even catch the “big fish” if any. Let’s cross our fingers.