Tuesday, December 9, 2008



By David Ohito and Peter Orengo

Can the Government and the MPs stand up against corruption?
The country has lost more than Sh200 billion through mega corruption deals in Government in the last two decades.

Outstanding statements by leaders on corruption express willingness to tackle the vice, but political will has never been visible from the Kanu regime through the successor Narc and now the Coalition Government.

President Kibaki, on December 30, 2002 at the beginning of his tenure at Uhuru Park said: "We want every Kenyan, who is trustworthy and patriotic, to decide that we will fight corruption in all ways and that we will have no sympathy for anyone who will try to loot public property".

Prime Minister Raila Odinga – in December last year, said: "The Government has failed to bring those involved in Goldenberg grand larceny before courts of law. Anglo Leasing was fraudulent contracting and procurement".

Political will lacking

And in July he said: "There is lack of political will to fight graft".

Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka on July 18, attacked the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (Kacc) for being docile in the onslaught against the vice.

Kalonzo hit out at Kacc boss Justice Aaron Ringera, saying he and his commissioners were highly paid and had no reason not to be effective in the fight against corruption.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Martha Karua on July 16, said: "The Executive has failed to live up to its promise and commitment to fight graft."

Kenyans Judge

"Kenyans will be the judges of our success. They should ask us any questions because they have a right to know and we must not answer them grudgingly."

Kacc Powers Questioned

Justice Ringera said on November 10: "The decisions emanating from some courts have questioned Kacc’s powers in the exercise of its investigatory mandate and stopped the Commission in its tracks from continuing investigation into mega-scandals like the Anglo-leasing contracts".

Members of Parliament must be aware of the enormous impact of corruption and the bad picture it paints globally of the country.

The legislators, who are in the glare of Kenyans for declining to pay taxes, ought to know they have responsibilities to public resources.

"Parliamentary oversight is one of the core democratic roles an MP can play," says Roy Cullen, a Canadian MP and author of The Poverty of Corrupt Nations.

MPs’ duty

In their oversight role, MPs have a duty to review all sources of public revenue and expenditure including tax expenditures.

Cullen argues that legislation and other parliamentary rules related to Government budgeting, debt management operations and financial reporting are the duty of MPs.

Central Imenti MP Gitobu Imanyara says, "There are many payments in this year’s Budget in relation to Anglo-Leasing contracts. These must be probed through all available means."

But MPs abdicated their primary duty when they passed the Budget without proper scrutiny, and failed to question the payments.

Laws opposing taxation

The MPs have passed laws opposing taxation of their allowances and slept on the job by endorsing payments to questionable deals, the naval ship (Sh4.9 billion) and the Ken-Ren fertiliser project (Sh4.3 billion).

If MPs had attempted to block payments, the country could have enough savings to provide maize meal for Kenyans at less than Sh40 for a two-kilogramme packet.

Parliamentary oversight is the duty of parliamentarians to prevail on the Executive to follow rules of financial operations; openly report to Parliament on the exercise of its powers and public resources.

MPs failed Kenyans by abdicating their oversight role in the use of resources, management of assets, debt, revenue, and Government reporting.

It was gross neglect of duty for Parliament when payments were passed even for contracts the Public Accounts Committee and Public investments Committee, the Controller and Auditor General had queried.

Corruption can be reduced through improved governance and MPs have avenues of building networks to fight corruption effectively.

MPs boost the will of a nation in three key roles: Legislation, parliamentary oversight and representation of citizens. To carry out these roles, they are provided with a degree of immunity from certain legal actions to protect them from improper or excessive influences. They have no excuse for not being good public watchdogs.