Protesters marched in Nairobi Thursday after revelations that more than $100 million in public money has been stolen. The protest comes one day after 24 government workers and business people were charged in a Kenyan court over the theft.
Dressed in red t-shirts, chanting “we want our money back,” protesters took to the streets of the Kenyan capital to register their anger with the runaway corruption in the country’s youth agency.
It’s the second scandal in three years to hit the agency, which provides job training and other services for young people. In both instances, workers in charge of buying supplies for the agency’s projects allegedly transferred millions of dollars to their own bank accounts.
Mildred Atieno Owiso, one of the protest organizers, told VOA they have come out to express their displeasure.
“We are tired of spiraling level of corruption that has been happening in Kenya. As citizens we’ve had enough,” she said. “I know we have done it before, people have come out and demonstrated. The kind of demonstration we are doing now is something that is going to be sustained.”
On Tuesday, more than 20 suspects including the public service principal secretary appeared before a judge. The suspects were accused of stealing a total of over $100 million, a charge they all denied.
In the first investigation in 2015, all the suspects were acquitted, except for one whose case is still pending.
Beth Mukami, a protester in her twenties, said the corrupt are treated differently.
“The money that should bring jobs on the ground, they are the ones are taking it,” she said. “So a thief is supposed to be killed because of snatching a phone and someone is protected by the state who is stealing billions.”
Michael Owino, one of hundreds of Kenyans who attended the protest, said “we are tired. We are frustrated, and we need this corruption to end or else we will refuse to pay taxes, because something has to give.”
On Wednesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta said his government will recover the money lost and redirect to the intended development projects.
Since 2013, the Kenyatta administration has been hit a series of corruption scandals. In 2015 the president declared a corruption as a national security threat.
In its yearly corruption perception index, Transparency International gave Kenya a low ranking, 143rd out of 180 countries in the world.
Source: Voice of America