EAC & The HornNews

Arror dam scandal deals big blow to Kenya’s war on graft

Kenya has registered a concerning decline in the latest Corruption Perception Index (CPI) dropping three points to the 126th position out of 180 countries globally. Kenya’s score of 31 points out of a possible 100 reflects a noticeable deterioration from the 2022 score of 32 points, reported by Transparency International (TI).

The decline in Kenya’s ranking is attributed to the limited number of successfully prosecuted graft cases in recent times. Transparency International’s 2023 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) notes that these cases either suffered excessive delays, were withdrawn by the prosecution, or resulted in acquittals without visible efforts to review or appeal.

One glaring example highlighted in the report is the Kes63 billion Arror-Kimwarer dam graft case where former Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich was acquitted recently for lack of evidence.

TI said the acquittals were indicative of a broader pattern of controversies surrounding the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) in tackling corruption cases.

The collapse of such high-profile cases has significantly eroded public confidence in the ODPP’s ability to uphold the rule of law, TI noted.

Transparency International points out that the controversial handling of corruption cases has been a contributing factor to Kenya’s drop in global ranking.

Furthermore, attempts to waterdown regulations aimed at fighting corruption have played a role in Kenya’s decline.

In 2023, lawmakers sought to repeal provisions of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act (ACECA), 2003, which governs the investigation, prosecution, and punishment of corruption and economic crimes.

Such attempts to trivialize anti-corruption legislation raise concerns about the government’s dedication to combating corruption effectively.

This decline raises alarms about Kenya’s commitment to combating corruption at a time when the country is marketing and positioning itself as an investment destination of choice globally.

Transparency International’s CPI measures the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 signifies highly corrupt and 100 indicates very clean.

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Sub-Saharan Africa corruption score

Kenya’s score of 31 falls below the Sub-Saharan average of 33 and the global average of 43, signifying serious levels of public sector corruption in Kenya.

Rwanda leads the East African region with a score of 53 points, followed by Tanzania with 40 points, Uganda maintaining a score of 26, and Burundi showing a slight improvement with 20 points compared to 17 in the 2022 CPI.

In contrast to Kenya’s decline, Transparency International reported significant improvements in Seychelles (71), Angola (33), and Côte d’Ivoire (40) across the African continent. Countries that scored above the global average in the Sub-Saharan Africa region include Seychelles (71), Cabo Verde (64), Botswana (59), Rwanda (53), Mauritius (51), Namibia (49), and São Tomé and Príncipe (45).

However, the majority of African countries continue to display stagnation, maintaining the region’s consistently poor performance, with an unchanged regional average score of 33. A staggering 90 percent of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa scored below 50.

Notably, Equatorial Guinea (17), South Sudan (13), and Somalia (11) performed the lowest, exhibiting no signs of improvement in the fight agaisnt corruption.

As Kenya grapples with its diminishing standing in the global fight against corruption, urgent and decisive actions are required to restore public confidence, strengthen anti-corruption institutions, and ensure the swift and just prosecution of corruption cases.

Measures to fight corruption

The government must address the systemic issues contributing to the decline and demonstrate an unwavering commitment to combating corruption at all levels.

“Preserving the independence of the judiciary is paramount, and any investigation into allegations of corruption should be conducted transparently, impartially, and with utmost respect for due process,’’ Sheila Masinde, Executive Director, Transparency International Kenya said.

The courts must be resolute to help ensure that justice is served, and individuals whose conduct offends the Constitution and other laws are barred from holding public office, Transparency International said in a statement.

What’s more, the ODPP must ensure that it upholds the highest professional standards in its handling of cases. In doing so, it must ensure that cases brought before the court are properly investigated and analyzed to ascertain that they meet the evidentiary threshold for a conviction beyond reasonable doubt.

Making corruption expensive

Part of the solution will also include ensuring that Kenya’s legal system makes corruption expensive and unattractive for perpetrators by facilitating quicker adjudication of corruption cases, the imposition of stiff fines, and mandatory jail sentences.

Transparency International adds that investing in continuous ethics sensitization for public officials is crucial and mandatory, to inculcate and emphasize the importance of upholding integrity, honesty, and responsibility in the execution of public duties.

Other measures include ensuring the public is informed of the effects of corruption to make more objective and thoughtful choices, especially during elections.

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