EDITORIAL: Graft – Let’s see some sackings for a change

President Uhuru Kenyatta has introduced a raft of new measures to fight the runaway corruption that has given Kenya a bad name in the family of nations.

This follows a series of mega scandals involving public funds that almost brought down a government that came to power in 2013 on the platform of probity and youthful approach to governance.

The new measures will tighten oversight on usage of public funds, block blacklisted companies from doing business with the government, strengthen institutions that are charged with fighting corruption, and hold accounting officers directly responsible for the loss of public funds.

Besides incorporating the private sector in the war against draft, the government is also considering creating a single account to hold all monies paid to all government agencies, to be monitored by both the Treasury and the Central Bank of Kenya.

Various sectors of Kenyan society have lauded these measures as a move in the right direction, but warn that a change in attitude of the citizens is the most critical approach in the fight against graft.

The challenge is whether these new measures will be implemented and followed to the letter, given that Kenya is a country known for circumventing existing rules. For instance, some of the blacklisted companies can easily dissolve themselves, form new companies and present themselves afresh with new faces. 

The widespread corruption — both in the public and private sectors — has seen Kenya come in for ridicule as country that has lost its moral fibre.

Most Kenyans have abandoned any moral stance in regard to graft because for many years, corruption has been tolerated as a means to the good life and perpetrators of mega corruption scandals are venerated and even elected to political office.

Thus, it is encouraging that the government is also considering introducing examinable ethics and integrity subjects in the school curriculum in an attempt to shore up morality among the coming generations.

The new measures coincided with the three-day visit of Pope Francis, who also noted that corruption is a major threat to the future of the youth and the county’s natural resources.

Most Kenyans have welcomed the sacking of five Cabinet secretaries who had been suspended in March over allegations of corruption, with President Kenyatta appointing new individuals to take their places, ahead of the Pope’s visit.

The resignation of former Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru following the loss of $7.6 million belonging to the National Youth Service, has also eased pressure on the Kenyatta government, which had been accused of shielding her from scrutiny.

However, the government must take seriously Waiguru’s assertions that she was singled out for vilification while all the government ministries were losing more money through corruption than hers.