Last week Kenyans were falling over themselves on social media trying to comprehend how Sh.5billion could disappear at the Health Ministry, following what the government now calls an interim audit report. People were in uproar and irked at the wanton theft. Meanwhile those sensible couldn’t comprehend how the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is always playing catch up; having not a single major scandal successfully closed and culprits jailed.
Institutions that in one way or another facilitate governance, Justice, law and order like EACC, Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Parliament, Judiciary and the Police are quite a let-down despite receiving Sh154billion in the 2015/16 budget up from the 105billion in 2013/14 financial year when the Jubilee regime begun. Does it make sense to keep increasing the budget ceiling for a sector that continues to fail Kenyans in every conceivable way?
A report funded by the World Bank Institute gives insight into why tax-payers will continue funding these toothless institutions. The report dubbed Anti-Corruption Commissions: Panacea or Real Medicine to Fight Corruption? John R. Heilbrunn author of the report puts it that these institutions exist only to hoodwink donors into cooperating.
“Governments in poor countries need international investments and donors require that they reduce corruption and improve their management of the economy. An anti-corruption commission may therefore represent an effort to satisfy international donors and placate domestic calls for reform, if only for a short while.” Part of the report reads.
This begs the question are Kenyans being taken for a ride? Is this why corruption scandals are mostly revealed through the media rather than the institutions that gobble up tax-payers money in the name of resources to fight graft? With the exception of the office of the Auditor General the rest of the scandals have been either as a result of a whistle blower within government or investigative journalism.
While we expect interviews for the new IEBC commissioners to begin next week, the Chickengate scandal that soiled the reputation of the then newly formed IEBC remains thick in the air as nobody has been jailed for it. Meanwhile a court in UK sentenced to jail two directors associated with the printing firm Smith and Ouzman Ltd involved in the same scandal. And that the outgoing commissioners and the chair gave a condition that they could only face the charges while still in office as was revealed by the media is nothing short of disturbing. This goes to confirm only how compromised these institutions are.
Meanwhile the Health ministry has since given itself a bill of clean health and revised the amount in question down to 3bn from the 5bn earlier reported. Needless to mention the focus on the main issue has been lost in the hullabaloo as government and media houses trade accusatory fingers at each other; some government officials going as far as trying to smear mud on the media house that broke the news.
It appears having a legal framework is not enough to fight graft in Kenya. This year alone Parliament has passed a number of laws aimed at fighting corruption in Kenya but things seem to be getting only worse. The MPs in watchdog committees too it appears have little interest in serving the public other than playing party politics. While speaking to a local journalist, Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr confirmed the fears of many when he said sometimes it’s always about which party the person under scrutiny comes from. No wonder the NYS scandal has been an ongoing circus.
Until we find ways to strengthen our key institutions and minimize the influence the executive have over them, they will continue to gobble up our hard earned money and serve to create a donor-friendly environment while achieving nothing.