EDITORIAL: Walk the talk by curbing the theft of public funds

It is good to note an increase in prosecution of public officials accused of corruption.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) says more than 300 cases involving alleged corruption by officials are currently pending in the courts. But if past conviction rates in such cases is anything to go by, the increased anti-corruption campaign may not yield much.

The public has for long been frustrated by the dismal number of convictions, especially those of top officials executing fraud running into hundreds of millions of shillings.

The EACC is apparently shifting blame to the courts, saying it is doing its best to bring the suspects to book. But it must be remembered that courts rely on evidence to find a person guilty and subsequently hand out punishment according to the law.

The burden of proof is therefore on the anti-corruption agency, which must carry out thorough and watertight investigations that will support convictions.

If this is done, it will soon become clear that corruption has a price and end the long-running perception that the worst fate a crooked official faces is loss of employment or a tainted name.

If at all there are weaknesses in our laws that allow the corrupt to game the system and walk free then we must eliminate them promptly.

The courts also need to hasten the speed with which they hear and determine corruption cases since, as the legal maxim goes, justice delayed is justice denied.

While it is up to the courts to determine who is guilty and who is not, it is not lost on the public that there is a growing class of current or former public officials with inexplicable wealth.

Failure to convict the so-called big fish has led to despondency among Kenyans who justifiably question the usefulness of various watchdogs, including the EACC.

While the anti-corruption agency must up its game, we also call on the political leadership to also join in an all-out fight against graft.

It is not unusual in this country to see people named aersely in various scams appointed to new positions by the same or different governments, leaving one to wonder whether leaders are willing to walk the talk as far as graft is concerned. The ethical bar in public appointments must be high if we are serious about taming corruption.

The various government arms must all redouble their efforts to stop theft and wastage of public resources. Anything less and we are assured of the well-documented consequences of corruption including rising inequality and potential social unrest.

SOURCE: BUSINESS DAILY