President Uhuru Kenyatta Has Not Shown Political Will To Fight Corruption

Jared Odero

Jared Odero

This is a follow-up to an article by Cecilia Bäcklander, Swedish independent journalist and film maker posted at here at the Nordic African Institute

The level of impunity in Kenya is beyond description, especially on corruption issues that touch upon senior government officials and politicians. However, it is not surprising in a country that elected former President Kibaki who (during his inaugural speech on December 31, 2002) promised to wipe out corruption, yet in his ten years of leadership, presided over some of the worst financial scandals in the country’s history. The documented losses during his term dwarfed those of his predecessor, retired President Moi.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is not different so far, since he has not acted decisively on the promise he made last year, of weeding out the corrupt officials in his office. Some senior Government workers mentioned adversely as having carted away Ksh8 billion from the Central Bank of Kenya towards the end of Kibaki’s tenure, are still working under him. He may not fight corruption effectively because he was part of both Moi’s and Kibaki’s governments, and has maintained such employees for political mileage. It is about tribal affiliation.

At the end of October 2013, Uhuru launched a web portal to encourage users to report incidents of corruption directly to him. However, there has been no public feedback on its contents and a cursory check shows it is out-of-function – “Sorry, the post you are looking for is not available.” Error 404 – page not found:
On the other hand, the website created in 2011 for a similar purpose by Kenyan Antony Ragui, indicates 7114 bribe reports valued at KES 218,951,440 = USD 2,432,795.724. It is noted that: “Traffic bribes account for the majority of self-reported soliciting on the Kenyan website I Paid a Bribe.”

A report published by the anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International (Kenya Chapter) on 25th October, 2013 asserted that: “Despite the fact that bribery remains high in Kenya, only seven in 100 Kenyans will report or complain if they encountered bribery according to the East African Bribery Index 2013. Only 7% of respondents who encountered bribery said they would report. When asked why they did not report any of the bribery incidences they encountered, majority of the respondents (27%) said they knew no action would be taken if they reported. Other reasons given included ‘I did not know where to report’ (17%), ‘I was a beneficiary’ (16%), ‘it did not occur to me that I should report’ and ‘fear of intimidation/reprisal’ each at 13%.”

Kenyans are generally losing confidence in President Kenyatta who seems to be more concerned about his image – too much public relations –traveling across the country and abroad, while busy attacking the West, yet he cannot control insecurity. There are no-go zones in the country because Kenyans risk being robbed or fatally attacked. Uhuru’s answer to the recent brutal murders of policemen and some civilians in Kapedo, was to send the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) who are reportedly looting property, killing livestock and burning down villages. It has not occurred to him that the murderers can be easily arrested by applying intelligence gathering tactics and other effective forms of interrogation. No suspects have been arrested in the Kapedo clampdown, just as in the earlier Mpeketoni-Lamu killings. Recently, Deputy President William Ruto ordered the arrest of men who stripped naked a woman in Nairobi, then posted her video online. A female activist who participated in the street protest yesterday against the heinous act, told the media that nobody has been arrested. Both Uhuru and Ruto are known to ‘bark’ orders, threats and warnings, yet many are hardly obeyed.

Former anti-corruption tsar John Githongo, who went into self-exile after revealing the Anglo-Leasing corruption scandal, recently mentioned that: “Ever since we started engaging our Chinese colleagues in business, transparency has crashed, and that is causing considerable concern vis-a-vis corruption and its potential implications with regards to governance problems. Corruption is ultimately causing poverty. It’s poisoning our politics. It’s increasing the level of violence in our politics. It’s causing Kenya – despite all our growth, the shiny buildings, all the nice cars – to head towards failure.” See:

Findings from various studies reveal that fighting corruption in a country requires political will from the top leadership. Though many supporters of Uhuru keep defending him as corruption-free, by virtue of having been the Finance minister under Kibaki, a lot of money was embezzled through shady deals. For instance, his policy of changing from fuel guzzling vehicles to lower capacity engines (for all senior government officials), was eventually more expensive since they had to be equipped with other accessories, like body armor. A new public accounting report shows many of the luxury cars surrendered by the officers are still in an open yard because they were not sold, and have thus lost their resale value. Under Uhuru’s presidency, his ministers drive fuel guzzlers, to the chagrin of poor Kenyan taxpayers.

A chapter in the 2013 report published by the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission in Kenya, mentioned that some close relatives of Uhuru had over the years, acquired vast pieces of land illegally. Apparently, some State House operatives forced the Commissioners to redact the information so as not embarrass him. Are Uhuru’s relatives above the law? How then, can he implement its recommendations with such bias?

William Ruto has equally no moral grounds to fight corruption since he has a trail of past land theft allegations and illegal activities. Last year, the High Court in Nairobi ordered him (as deputy president), to pay a fine of Ksh5 million to a Kenyan whom he had grabbed his 100-acre farm in Rift Valley, having fled the post-election violence of 2007/08.

Finally, a recent article by Jacob Kushner argued that: “One prominent investment risk consultant,  Daniel Wagner, predicted that unless the country’s leaders change their tune and decide to tackle corruption with the resources and prowess that requires, “Kenya will continue to muddle along as it has for decades, failing to address the corruption issue in any meaningful way, and squandering the opportunity to become a genuine regional economic powerhouse.” In:

Jared Odero


  • women leaders in Africa
  • TJRC deleted chapter

    The following statement by three members of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) laments the doctoring of the Land Chapter by the Office of the President. The authors point out ‘the irony of a Commission dedicated to truth, justice, and reconciliation suppressing the voice of a minority in clear violation of agreed upon procedures.’

  • Uhuru's many advisers wasting money

    Uhuru Kenyatta wastes taxpayers’ money on too many advisers:

    1. Ms Nancy Gitau is listed as senior political adviser in charge of the Office of Political Affairs at the Executive Office of the presidency.

    2. Former Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny is also a presidential adviser working under Ms Gitau, as the director of political affairs.

    3. Former Mandera Central MP Abdikadir Mohammed, is in charge of the Office of Constitutional and Legislative Affairs in the Executive Office of the President.

    4. Former Education assistant minister Kilemi Mwiria, is a presidential adviser on Education.

    5. Mr James Nyoro, is the presidential adviser on Agriculture and Food Security.

    6. Joe Nyagah is the presidential adviser in charge of regional integration – (National coordinator, Northern Corridor Integration Project).

    7. Korir Sing’oei, former legal adviser in the Office of the Deputy President, heads the Office of Legislative and Inter-Governmental Public Engagement.

    Three departments at the unit are headed by:

    8. Jasper Mbiuki, the Legislative Affairs.

    9. Former Kisauni MP Anania Mwaboza, the Parliamentary Affairs division.

    10. Public policy expert Patita Tingoi, the inter-governmental affairs department.

    11. Prof Hiroyuki Hino, an economic consultant in Mr Ruto’s office.

  • Genesis of Kapedo killing
  • Genesis of Kapedo killings
  • sleeping on the job
  • UK court exposes corruption ring at Kenya poll agency

    In a legal battle that exposes one of the best documented international corruption networks in Kenya’s history, UK prosecutors have filed in court loads of written evidence implicating senior election officials in the corruption ring, including Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan.

  • Wapi laptop na maziwa?

  • IEBC and corruption

    UK court exposes corruption ring at Kenya poll agency

    Kenyan election officials pocketed millions of shillings in bribes to award lucrative printing contracts to a British company over a two-year period, prosecution documents filed in a London court show.

    In a legal battle that exposes one of the best documented international corruption networks in Kenya’s history, UK prosecutors have filed in court loads of written evidence implicating senior election officials in the corruption ring, including Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan.

    The documents show that the Kenyan taxpayer paid dearly for the illicit dealings between senior Smith & Ouzman (S&O) officials and the senior managers and commissioners in the defunct Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC), putting to shame Kenyan prosecutors and the anti-corruption agency officials who have yet to nail anyone for the offences.

    “The scale of the corruption alleged by the prosecution is worth £349,057.39 (Sh50 million) in Kenya,” the prosecutor Mark Bryant-Heron says in court filings.

    For many of the printing contracts, costs were inflated by up to 38 per cent mainly to cater for the kickbacks — commonly referred to in the mails as ‘chicken’ — to senior election officials, the UK prosecutors say.

    The prosecutors say “the corrupt payments were built into S&O’s pricing of the printed materials so that the inflation in the price as a result of that corruption was passed onto those funding the institutions that contracted with S&O.”

    Forensic investigations by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) show that top IIEC officials, the predecessor of IEBC, variously asked for bribes codenamed ‘chicken’ to facilitate S&O’s winning of seven tenders to supply election materials such as ballot papers, voter registration forms, voter ID cards and nomination forms.

    Energy secretary Davis Chirchir, who worked as a senior manager at the IIEC, tops the list of senior government officials named in the corruption racket.

    The list includes suspended IEBC chief executive James Oswago, former Judiciary registrar Gladys Boss Shollei (deputy CEO), lawyer Kennedy Nyaundi (commissioner), Kenneth Karani (senior procurement officer) and the finance director.

    The SFO is the UK’s independent agency that investigates and prosecutes serious and complex fraud cases, including bribery and corruption.

    The UK managers have been charged under the European nation’s Prevention of Corruption Act (1906) which prohibits use of inducements to employees of foreign governments to influence decisions and win business deals.

    The prosecutor’s case is that senior managers at S&O, including Christopher Smith (former chairman), his son Nick Smith (sales and marketing director), Tim Forrester (international sales manager) and Trevy James Oyombra, the Kenyan agent, made hefty payouts to Kenyan officials to influence the award of printing contracts to the UK firm.

    The kickbacks, amounting to Sh49.3 million at the current exchange rate, covered election materials for the 2010 Constitution referendum, four parliamentary by-elections held in Shinyalu, Bomachoge, South Mugirango and Matuga as well as a host of civic polls.

    S&O is one of the oldest printing firms in the UK, specialising in security documents such as examination and ballot papers. It lists some of its top customers in Kenya as IEBC, KNEC and other government agencies.

    The fresh allegations of impropriety at the Issack Hassan-led IIEC, which morphed into the IEBC in November 2011 following the enactment of a new Constitution, come in the wake of a recent wave of arrests and prosecution of senior IEBC officials over the procurement of materials for last year’s election.

    The fact that a number of senior officials alleged to have benefited from the corruption ring, including the chairman, transited from IIEC to IEBC, puts the integrity of IEBC to question. S&O was single-sourced by the IEBC to print ballot papers and supply other electoral materials for the March 2013 General Election.

    “Corruption in the public sector hampers the efficiency of public services, undermines confidence in public institutions and increases the cost of public transactions,” the SFO says in a statement.

    The blow-by-blow account of the multi-million-shilling international corruption ring claims that S&O transferred the payments to Mr Oyombra, its Kenya agent, who would draw the money and distribute to senior election officials.

    The funds were mostly transferred from the UK to Mr Oyombra’s accounts held at KCB for further distribution to beneficiaries.

    STORY THREE: How local agent assisted graft syndicate to deliver cash.

    Mr Oyombra previously worked as a procurement officer with the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) and therefore had access to privileged information at IIEC.

    Court documents show that Mr Hassan on December 3, 2009 emailed Mr Smith inviting S&O to tender for a contract to produce 18 million voter registration cards in a deal valued at £278,838 (Sh39.4 million) but Mr Oyombra had already emailed his bosses the tender invitation two days earlier on December 1, 2009, indicating that he had the information ahead of publication of the tender.

    “This tender for IIEC will be ours thanks to Dena pushing,” Mr Smith said in an email after discussing the matter with his local agent, Mr Oyombra.

    Dena, whose other name is not given, is described in the suit papers as an ‘individual who assisted S&O to arrange bribes for Kenyan officials.’

    One other individual said to have been pivotal in the working of the bribery ring is Hamida who the UK prosecutors describe as ‘an individual connected to Oswago’.

    SFO detectives retrieved a trail of damning e-mail exchanges between S&O and Kenyan election officials, shipping invoices and local purchase orders (LPOs) used by the procuring entities to build the case against the UK managers.

    The documents show that Kenyan election officials in one instance inflated the price of each of the 14.51 million ballot papers ordered for the referendum in 2010 by a margin of Sh0.75, translating to £105,193.82 (Sh14.8 million) in kickbacks paid back to them through Mr Oyombra.

    Mr Oswago, Mr Smith and Mr Oyombra’s alleged negotiation of the bribes is captured in a series of emails exchanges and telephone conversations held in May 2010 — barely three months to the plebiscite.

    “My guys are after money yes, but this should not make us not win the tender. These people are only in IIEC till the end of the year so they are after making money and they will play game with whoever puts what they want,” Mr Oyombra wrote in an email to his bosses in the UK.

    The cost of the bribes to Mr Oswago and the IIEC team and a further inducement of Sh0.08 per ballot paper to Mr Oyombra, inflated the original printing price of Sh2.30 for every ballot paper by 36 per cent to Sh3.13.

    “The prosecution’s case is that the defendants (S&O) used commission payments to these agents to mask corrupt payments to public officials who were in a position to influence the outcome of the tender for the business.”

    Those named as having benefited from the fresh voter registration deal ahead of the 2010 referendum include Mr Chirchir, who is said to have travelled to London to visit S&O’s factory and ‘review progress’ on the tender.

    “Dena and Chirchir will be in London and would like to meet you on Monday,” Mr Oyombra said in an email to Nicholas Smith dated February 4, 2010 adding that Mr Chirchir and fellow electoral officials “were looking for a figure of Sh10 million for emself (sic), commissioners and others.”

    The email correspondence reveals that S&O was to ‘take care of their travel expenses of the IIEC officials within the UK in case they need to roam around and maybe hotel.’

    And in a line that suggests widespread knowledge of the corrupt payments within the IIEC, Mr Oyombra wrote to Nick Smith warning him not to pay any money directly to the visiting officials as they were accompanied by government officials who were not aware of the ring.

    “If we had Shollei, CEO [Oswago], Chirchir, Nyaundi and the finance dir, proc man [Karani] they would understand as they are the ones driving this [sic] orders to us,” said Mr Oyombra.

    The prosecutors claim that the Kenyan officials, including Mr Chirchir and Mr Oswago, received bribes totalling £88,840 (Sh12.5 million) which was coded as ‘chicken’ to be shared by the commissioners and senior IIEC officials

    “I’ve spoken to the CEO on delivery of forms and he will get back to me tomorrow. He’s so happy I’ve mentioned that chicken will be with me on Friday or Saturday. I hope you will be able to make the debit transactions to me today to facilitate me to have the payments done to them by Saturday latest,” said Mr Oyombra in an email.

    The prosecutors further allege that Mr Oswago and other IIEC officials deliberately tilted tender decisions in favour of S&O and kicked out other competitors on frivolous grounds.

    “Trevy stated that Oswago told him he did not want to work with one of S&O’s competitors, Lithotech. By contrast, Oswago had assured Trevy (Oyombra) that he would continue to work with S&O, who had paid him bribes in the past and would continue to pay him bribes in the future,” Nicholas Smith says in an email to his father Christopher.

    EARLIER: Smith & Ouzman called its bribes ‘chicken’, court told.

    “He (Mr Oswago) believes in S&O and that’s what is important and we’ve given him money for the voters’ card and after payment for balance and pouches we are set to give him £21,000 Sh2,100,000. So he knows we can deliver both materially and money and I think this goodwill is important,” Mr Oyombra said in an email he wrote on May, 1, 2010.

    The prosecution also alleges that prices of election materials for the Matuga and South Mugirango by-elections and for various civic polls jumped 34 per cent to £69,626.04 from an initial price of £52,079.80 after factoring in the kickbacks to Kenyan election officials.

    The prosecutor told the London court that the kickbacks from the by-elections deal totalled £12,686.61 (Sh1.8 million).

    “Following a further meeting between Oswago and Trevy (Oyombra) the value of these contracts rose again. This was done, the prosecution suggests, to enable the payment of bribes to officials whilst maintaining some profit for S&O.”

  • Kenya on the brink

    Kenya on the Brink

    Somali terrorists, tribal divisions, and political opportunists are conspiring to put the east African nation in a dangerous spot.
    BY Mike Pflanz

    JULY 7, 2014

    NAIROBI, Kenya — On a chilly Saturday 24 years ago, political leaders angered by the dictatorial rule of Kenya’s President Daniel arap Moi led 6,000 protestors to a rally at a dusty sports field north of Nairobi’s city center. Speaker after speaker demanded political reforms, democracy, and transparent government, driving the crowd into a frenzy. Then security forces moved in and pushed people back with batons and tear gas. Riots followed, first across Nairobi and then nationwide. After a four-day crackdown, 20 people were dead and most of the opposition leaders were under arrest.

    That day, July 7, 1990, became known as Saba Saba — “seven seven” in Kiswahili. In Kenya, it is still synonymous with violent suppression of popular protest against political despotism. This year, Saba Saba and all of its connotations are on Kenyans’ lips again. Opposition leaders once more called their supporters to a rally this July 7 in central Nairobi, where grievances ranging from soaring costs of living to rising insecurity were vented under the watchful eye of 15,000 armed police summoned to keep the peace. Fears the rally would turn into a riot were so deep that people fled flashpoint towns, diplomatic staff and private sector workers were encouraged to work from home, and shops stayed shuttered.

    In a democracy like Kenya there should be room for protests and dissent. But six years after post-election violence here killed 1,200 Kenyans, the country is once again girding itself for violence as dangerous political divisions in what is supposed to be East Africa’s most stable country are widening again. A recent spate of terror attacks is only fueling the political fire. In a country where partisan affiliations are driven by tribe, political conflict pushed by self-serving politicians could result in deadly ethnic conflict. While the July 7 rally passed peacefully, hostility between supporters of rival leaders remains high.

    Mistrust between two groups stretches back to the birth of independent Kenya in 1963. On the one side are President Uhuru Kenyatta’s supporters, drawn from his Kikuyu tribe, the country’s largest ethnic group and the most politically and economically powerful. On the other, the Luo, a tribe from the country’s west, are massed behind Raila Odinga, one of the original Saba Saba firebrands and now leader of the opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD). The Luo complain that they and other tribes have been marginalized since the Kikuyu took power in the 1960s. Luo leaders have since played second fiddle to presidents from other tribes, never quite reaching the top spot. The ill-feeling between the Kikuyu and the Luo, with allied tribes, erupted into violence following the 2007 elections.

    The worry was that Monday’s Saba Saba rally could have sparked the fire again, that politically-driven scuffles could swiftly morph into deadly intertribal attacks. Church leaders, business groups, foreign envoys, and newspaper columnists called for calm.

    Kenya can ill afford to stumble into unrest. If the situation really explodes the biggest beneficiary would be al-Shabab, the Somalia-based al Qaeda affiliate.

    Kenya can ill afford to stumble into unrest. If the situation really explodes the biggest beneficiary would be al-Shabab, the Somalia-based al Qaeda affiliate.

    Kenyatta’s 15-month-old administration faces criticism over its handling of myriad internal and external crises. The most egregious, many Kenyans say, is the inadequate response to a burgeoning threat from terrorism. In September 2013, 71 people died when al-Shabab militants attacked the Westgate mall. But violence has picked up recently. On May 16, 10 people were killed in blasts at a Nairobi market. Seven people died two weeks before that in explosions on buses in Mombasa and Nairobi. Iin June and the first week of July alone, more than 100 people died in five attacks on three towns along Kenya’s coast. At least 29 died in two assaults against Hindi and Gamba, two towns on Kenya’s northern coastline on July 5. Similar raids killed 69 people over eight days in June in and around Mpeketoni town, in Kenya’s coastal northeast close to the Lamu archipelago. In Mpeketoni, Hindi and Gamba, non-Muslims were singled out and executed. Businesses including hotels, banks, and gas stations were torched. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for all these attacks, and says they will halt their offensives only when Kenyan troops leave the African Union force fighting Islamists in Somalia.

    Kenyatta, however, has insisted the gunmen were not Islamist terrorists, but local political networks opposed to his government.

    Many analysts — and average Kenyans — say that intertribal clashes and political violence would be a deadly distraction for a government that should be focused on stopping al Qaeda’s east African proxy. But the political elite in Nairobi may not have their priorities in line with what is best for the country.

    “First; that there is simply no genuine political will to respond to the increasing insecurity threats,” wrote Peter Aling’o of the Institute for Security Studies in Nairobi, in a recent op-ed. “And secondly; that insecurity has become a tool for political manipulation by the government, state security agencies and opposition groups.”

    This politicking was most obviously on display when Kenyatta went on live television on June 17, two days after the Mpeketoni raids — which al-Shabab had already claimed as their own. The attack, Kenyatta said, was the work of “local political networks,” not the Islamists. Regional police made similar pronouncements after the Hindi and Gamba assaults on July 5.

    In the president’s interpretation, the attack on Mpeketoni, a Kikuyu enclave, was aimed at terrorizing his tribesmen to leave the coastal region where the indigenous tribes, allies of the Luo, claim they were given land illegally. Those coastal groups largely side with Odinga’s party. To many Kikuyus, Odinga is hell-bent on igniting an ethnic war so that he can get into power either in some sort of national unity government, or simply through a revolution that overthrows Kenyatta. Mpeketoni was the first salvo of that war, they say. (Odinga has denied this).

    The blame game over Mpeketoni brought otherwise latent anger between each side of Kenya’s political-ethnic divide into the open. Following Kenyatta’s television address, comments on Kenyan media websites erupted into bald stereotyping of tribe and ethnicity. Facebook and Twitter feeds took dark turns. Threat and counter-threat flowed. A leaflet circulated in some areas demanding all Luo leave within seven days.

    “The potential for violence is very much present,” says Gladwell Otieno, head of the Africa Centre for Open Governance and a former chair of Transparency International Kenya. “The ethnic rivalry and hostility card feeds into Kenyatta’s narrative and keeps his base heated up and supporting him. But it’s a very dangerous game to play. At what point do things spill into violence that probably cannot then be controlled?”

    There is little evidence that political militias have been readied for mass violence as they were around the 2007 elections. But sporadic violence could persist over months, spreading security forces thinly when they should be focused on tackling al-Shabab. Ethnic divisions would become even more deeply entrenched. Rumbling domestic political violence, with further Islamist terror attacks, could chill the confidence of foreign investors, who have so far largely ignored rising insecurity. Tourism, which drives 10 percent of Kenya’s economy, is struggling, with visitor numbers down 12 percent following the Westgate attack and hoteliers reporting mass cancellations as terror strikes increased in 2014. A shaky economy and high unemployment are fertile ground for political agitators and radicalizing imams alike. Al-Shabab could find its ranks swelled, and will certainly celebrate the Kenyan government’s insistence that the country’s greatest threat is not global terror, but political enemies within.

    Whether violent skirmishes break out or not, Kenya is again starkly divided, at a time when it needs unity to cope with the difficulties it faces. Without that solidarity, the only ones who benefit are al-Shabab and, arguably, Kenya’s political elite. Strange bedfellows indeed.

  • Kenya, corruption and terrorism

    Kenya, Corruption, and Terrorism

    by Daniel Wagner June 19, 2014

    Shortly after Uhuru Kenyatta was elected president of Kenya early last year, I published an article pondering whether his election and indictment at the International Criminal Court would ultimately make the country more isolated. At the time, Kenya was becoming increasingly important in the regional fight against militant groups such as Al-Shabaab, and a transit point for aid and goods to South Sudan, so the country’s potential to impact other states in the region was significant.

    Given the subsequent and ongoing terrorist attacks throughout the country, Kenya has now become a lynchpin in the fight against terrorism in the region. The stakes are high because Al Shabaab has become stronger, in spite of all the resources devoted to fighting against it, and crosses the region’s borders with impunity. The presence of endemic corruption is important here because it can impact a country’s ability to combat terrorism. Kenya has regrettably become a paradigm for what can happen when corruption becomes so ingrained in a nation that its security forces are unable to effectively protect its people.

    Kenya is not the worst country in Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index. It is rated 136 out of 177, on a par with Bangladesh and the Ivory Coast. But it is not far from one of the worst, and is in a rotten neighborhood, battling one of the most savage terrorist organizations on the planet.

    The vast majority of Kenya’s people do not trust the police. Ninety percent of respondents in a 2011 TI survey in Kenya considered security services to be either corrupt or extremely corrupt. It is widely believed that last year’s horrific attack on the Westgate shopping center was as prolonged as it was because troops were busy looting the place before ending the siege.

    An article in Foreign Policy magazine last month posed the question “Is East Africa’s economic powerhouse becoming the continent’s newest lootocracy?” The article reminds us that Kenya has a decades-long history of kleptocracy (dating from British times, it is worth adding), and that Kenya was actually the inspiration for the creation of TI. Following the frustration of a former World Bank Director at seeing numerous Kenyan development programs undermined by graft, he created TI to attempt to combat it.

    It is bad enough, of course, that the Kenyan people are denied a better state of development and higher standard of living as a result of the institutionalized corruption in the country. Now they are denied the right to live in a country free of terror. According to the FP article, even the importation of equipment specifically designed to enable police to identify suspects is subject to corruption. A $100 bribe will get a terrorism suspect out of jail. It is a sad state of affairs, to be sure.

    The government has generally done a poor job of hunting down terrorism suspects. Left unanswered are questions about how military grade explosives often used in the attacks are acquired in the first place. Could the military be involved? There is talk in Nairobi that some of the recent terrorist attacks are actually the work of domestic political forces, either seeking to make a stronger case for more foreign anti-terrorism funding (some of which will presumably ‘disappear’ upon arrival), or to attach blame to the President and his political party for political purposes. In his first comment on the attacks this week in Lamu Province, President Kenyatta denied they were the work of Al Shabaab and instead blamed domestic forces for the atrocities.

    The result is that the depths of corruption in Kenyan society permit terrorism to potentially threaten the very fabric of the nation. Kenya is already 17th on the list of Failed States Index — sandwiched between Nigeria and Niger. Number one on that list is its neighbor, Somalia (home base for Al Shabaab); number four is another neighbor, South Sudan (one of the world’s newest nations, at war with its sister nation, Sudan); and next to that is number nine, the Central African Republic (currently imploding, and a magnet for terrorist groups). In fact, Africa is the home of 15 of the top 20 failed or failing states on the Index.

    There is a very real risk that Kenya could become part of a swathe of states — from Africa’s east coast to West Africa — that are effectively ungovernable, what I have dubbed the ‘African Confederation of Failed States.’ It may be argued that this is already the case. For example, despite its support from France and the UN, the Central African Republic is in a state of anarchy. At issue now vis-à-vis Kenya is whether the country shifts from being a shield against Al Shabaab or a potential base of operations. Given its porous border with Somalia, the group’s base of operations already (de facto) includes parts of Kenya.

    So what does the future hold for a country in a bad neighborhood, unable to break free of the disease of corruption and being infiltrated by a terrorist organization wreaking havoc throughout the region? That depends on how effectively anti-terrorism assistance can be integrated into Kenyan society, and how long such assistance will continue to flow to the government. How effectively can the security forces deploy those assets, and to what degree can the government become proactive, rather than reactive, about the problem. Is that even possible? To date, regrettably, the security services have been relegated to the role of firemen.

    My best guess is that Kenya will continue to muddle along as it has for decades, failing to address the corruption issue in any meaningful way, and squandering the opportunity to become a genuine regional economic powerhouse. In the process, its people will endure even higher unemployment (currently at 40 percent) and crime rates, while the terrorism threat continues to rise. Crime is out of control. On a trip to Nairobi this week literally every person I spoke with – Kenyan or foreigner — had either been robbed, carjacked, or both.

    Kenya is too important to fail. The government knows it, and so do donor governments. So its dependence on foreign aid will also continue. Let us hope that Kenya does not become part of the African Confederation of Failed States. As of now, there is just as much chance that it will, as that it will not.

  • KDF now accused of scaring away villagers, looting at volatile Tiaty
    BY VINCENT MABATUK AND LEONARD KULEI Updated Sunday, November 23rd 2014 at 00:00 GMT +3

    Tension was high Saturday between residents of Chesitet in Tiaty, Baringo County and Kenya Defence Forces ( KDF) officers undertaking a security operation. The officers reportedly stormed Natan, Chesitet, Chepkow and Napeikore villages, in Silale ward and drove more than 2,000 goats and unknown number of cattle to Chesitet barracks.

    Residents claimed the military launched missiles, scaring residents who had been mobilised to confront the officers. Mr Carlos Kapkoikat, a resident who escaped the swoop, said about four choppers hovered in the skies for the better part of yesterday as soldiers on foot moved from one homestead to the other and rounded up women and children.

    “They are holding our children and women at the barracks,” he said.

    East Pokot Deputy Commissioner Daniel Kirui confirmed the attack, but, could not comment on the matter, saying ‘the military head of operation was best placed to comment on the matter’.

    Kapedo East chief Lomunasiwa Lotlemuria, who spoke to The Standard on Sunday from the bush where he was hiding, said KDF was continuing with the raids rounding up villagers with their livestock. “Men are in the bush. It is a disaster here and we fear the worst is yet to happen,” Lotlemuria said.

    Nelson Lotellah, Silale ward representative, where the assault took place, said the incident was a provocation of the community. “Livestock in Pokot is an equivalent of life. Taking their animals is an abomination. This is utterly unfair,” said Lotellah. He appealed to the military to release the families and find other ways of flushing out criminals.

    “The community has surrendered the 21 guns, which were taken from the slain 21 officers. We appeal that the military be withdrawn if they are now mistreating our women and children,” said Lottellah.

    Mysterious discovery

    Yesterday’s military assault comes two days after a section of Pokot leaders demanded an investigation over a mysterious discovery of 38 cows at Lanet Barracks in Nakuru County. The cows, according to the leaders, were snatched at Chesakam area during in incident in which 78 cattle were allegedly shot dead by suspected KDF soldiers along Chemolingot- Kapedo road.

  • corruption and anti-corruption in Kenya

    Overview of corruption and anti-corruption in Kenya

    Since independence, Kenya has suffered from widespread corruption that is evidenced in most sectors of public life and has led to an apparent culture of impunity. Although the former president, Mwai Kibaki, was elected on an anti-corruption platform in 2002, his regime was itself engulfed in several corruption scandals.

    Petty bribery, embezzlement, and electoral irregularities are some of the main corruption challenges Kenya faces today. In 2007, Kibaki’s announced victory amidst widespread allegations of electoral manipulation provoked violent turmoil causing the deaths of more than 1000 people. While the 2013 presidential elections were relatively peaceful, there were further allegations of vote- rigging. The elected president, Uhuru Kenyatta, also faces charges of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court in connection with the 2007 election violence.

    Together with a seeming lack of political will, the government has had a poor record in convicting high-level officials. The previous and current government have carried out a series of anti-corruption reforms, including successfully voting in a new constitution in 2010 as well as tightening its anti-money laundering regime. Nevertheless, many have reportedly observed a watering down of anti-corruption legislation and a lack of implementation.

    Author(s): Samira Lindner, Transparency International,
    Reviewed by: Marie Chêne, Casey Kelso; Transparency International Samuel Kimeu, Transparency International Kenya
    Publication date: 3 November 2014
    Number: 1432

  • Cash-strapped Government: CS Henry Rotich’s uphill task to oil wheels of our economy

    BY James Anyanzwa
    Updated Tuesday, December 2nd 2014 at 00:00 GMT +3

    The wheels of Kenya’s economy are moving over rocky ground, with the optimism that followed last year’s peaceful polls diminishing by the day. Monetary authorities have already revised downwards their growth forecast, with National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich acknowledging that the economy is not in a very promising state.

    He downgraded the Government’s growth forecast for this year from 5.8 per cent to between 5 per cent and 5.5 per cent, citing weak earnings from tourism, which has been hard hit by the volatile security situation in the country.

    Mr Rotich added that the inability of both the national and county governments to utilise the development funds allocated to them has also slowed down the level of economic activity.

    Slowing down The Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO), which is staffed by established economists and experts on fiscal policy issues, has also warned the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth will slow down this financial year.

    In the 2013-14 year, it said, an estimated 1.7 per cent (Sh80.87 billion) of the value of goods and services produced in Kenya was wiped out due to county governments’ failure to spend all the development funds allocated to them. This translates to a loss of Sh6.7 billion in economic activity each month.

    The Jubilee Government is facing a delicate balancing act in its bid to grow a stagnating economy, control the public sector wage bill, reach out to the poor and vulnerable, and deliver on pre-election promises that could determine the likelihood of winning a second term in office.

    Further, recent incidences of terrorism, the most recent being the bus massacre in Mandera that left 28 people dead, have raised questions about the effectiveness of the country’s security machinery among potential investors. The economic pillar for the Government’s long-term development plan was crafted to improve the prosperity of all Kenyans by attaining sustained economic growth of at least 10 per cent by 2012.

    But there have been persistent hurdles to achieving this goal. “Indeed, for Vision 2030 to become a reality and for Kenya to become an industrialised country, economic growth must be accelerated and the contribution by the manufacturing sector to GDP increased significantly,” said the PBO in a recent report.

    “However, as a result of high costs of doing business and flooding of the local market with cheap counterfeit products, the contribution of manufacturing to GDP and the growth of this important sector has remained largely subdued.” Latest data The economy grew by 4.6 per cent in 2012, and 4.7 per cent last year. The Treasury had projected a growth rate of 5.8 per cent this year and seven per cent by 2017. The latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), after the rebasing exercise, shows the economy grew by 5.8 per cent in the first half of 2014.

    This was attributed to the improved performance of the construction, manufacturing, financial and insurance sectors. However, this was a notable slowdown from growth of 7.2 per cent in the first half of 2013. This dip was attributed to a significant contraction in the sectors of information and communication, wholesale and retail trade, agriculture, finance and insurance.

    The under-performance of the agricultural sector was partly a result of a drop in the export of vegetables and cut flowers. This was further exacerbated by low international auction prices for tea and coffee in the first half of the year.

    After rebasing of the country’s GDP in September, Kenya gained lower middle income status and became Africa’s ninth-largest economy. However, whether the country will be able to sustain a high growth trajectory depends to a large extent on the direction the counties take in relation to economic growth and policy. “Moreover the rebasing of the country’s GDP does not mean that the lives of ordinary Kenyans have improved.

    The economic conditions on the ground are still the same,” noted the PBO. “Indeed, there is no significant impact on the prosperity that Kenyans will experience from the economic growth resulting from rebasing.” But the economy has registered some positive statistics.

    For instance, the overall cost of living eased in the month of November, with inflation falling to 6.09 per cent from 6.43 per cent in October. This was the third consecutive drop in the cost of a basket of consumer goods.

    In September, inflation was at 6.6 per cent, while it was at 8.43 per cent in August, the highest level registered so far this year. The contraction in the cost of living last month was attributed to a decline in the costs of fuel, electricity, transport, food and non-alcoholic drinks. The drive to increase energy production is also expected to lead to a further decrease in costs of living.

    According to the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), the economy saved about Sh9 billion between July and September as a result of adding 210 megawatts of geothermal power to the national electricity grid, with consumers expected to pay 40 per cent less for power. This should have a positive impact on the cost of goods.

    KenGen will this month add the final 70MW of 280MW of renewable geothermal power it commissioned. “Geothermal power displaces the more expensive power from diesel-run generators, which saves the economy Sh100 million a day,” said KenGen Chairman Joshua Choge. “Once we switch on the entire 280MW, Kenya will save Sh42 billion a year.”

    The Government’s overall plan is to have Kenya’s installed capacity reach 5,000MW by 2017, up from the current levels of around 2,000MW. Although this additional power will reduce inflationary pressures over time, for its effects to be fully felt, there is need to address transmission losses, which currently stand at 20 per cent.

    Further, the power needs to be distributed to homes and industries, or else it will be a huge waste. According to Kenya Power’s recently released full-year financial results, the distributor sold 6.7 billion units of electricity in the period to June 2014, up only 10 per cent from June 2013.

    Erratic weather

    The economy is in dire need of more good news, but it appears this will be elusive, at least in the short term. The economy is currently burdened by a weakening shilling exchange rate, dwindling foreign exchange earnings, insecurity and negative travel advisories, and erratic weather patterns.

    The shilling has weakened against the dollar, with the performance attributed to the decline in activity in the tourism and agriculture sectors, which are among the country’s top foreign exchange earners. The dollar’s performance has also been boosted by the US Federal Reserve terminating its expansionary monetary policy, which has resulted in higher interest rates, attracting additional capital inflows to the US.

    Additionally, according to the PBO, the country’s food security situation remains precarious due to below-average long rains as well as the maize lethal necrosis disease attack, which affected harvests across thousands of farms. “Furthermore, increased demand for goods and services associated with the festive season is likely to edge inflation upwards,” added the PBO. “In view of the above fundamentals, it is projected that inflation will hit the 8 per cent mark by close of January 2015.”

    The National Treasury is also wary of public expenditure pressures, particularly linked to a growing wage bill and the cost of implementing the Constitution that provides for a devolved system of government.

    According to KNBS Chairman Terry Ryan, the economy is currently affected by both domestic and external shocks, making growth beyond the six per cent level difficult. “Europe is not very healthy at the moment” he said, adding that “insecurity is affecting our tourism sector and that is a real worry.” This has left the Government struggling to fund a Sh1.8 trillion Budget for the current financial year.

    It is already staring at a Sh342.6 billion deficit. The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) hopes to collect Sh1.12 trillion in the 2014-15 fiscal year, leveraging on technology, innovative practices and implementation of staff performance improvement measures.

    In the previous financial year, KRA surpassed its revenue collection target of Sh963.7 billion by Sh100 million. However, this target had been revised downwards from Sh973.5 billion, following a weak GDP forecast. KRA attributed its performance to double-digit growth in collections from large and medium-sized taxpayers and customs duties. The taxman’s new target of Sh1.18 trillion is a 16.4 per cent increase from the previous year’s target.

    Debt ceiling

    The Government is also looking outside our borders to fund key projects, which has seen the Treasury seek a revision of the external debt ceiling from Sh1.2 trillion to Sh2.5 trillion. It has already got the approval of the Cabinet and the parliamentary committee on Finance, and is awaiting the approval of the House.

    However, some legislators have said the move would be tantamount to mortgaging the country. But some analysts say the debt ceiling is an archaic creation. For instance, financial risk analyst Mohamed Wehliye says it “adds nothing in the way of fiscal discipline and is redundant once Parliament makes spending and tax decisions”.

    In calling for legislation for its removal in his weekly column in The Standard, he added: “The National Assembly exerts full control over the budgeting process. Even if the current foreign debt ceiling is raised to Sh10 trillion, Rotich’s spending will still be determined by the budget set by the National Assembly, not by the amount of borrowing left below the debt ceiling.”

    The main worry over the country’s financing of key projects is whether counties, and State ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) will be able to absorb the funds.

    In a parliamentary report, the initial development budget for counties, for instance, was Sh100.4 billion in the financial year 2013-14, but only Sh36.6 billion was spent. This financial year, Sh494.9 billion (30.9 per cent) of the national Budget has been allocated to development expenditure, with expectations being that absorption will remain low. But international development and economic agencies are largely positive about Kenya’s future.

    Public finance

    According to the International Monetary Fund, Kenya’s medium-term growth prospects are favourable, supported by rising infrastructure investment in energy and transportation, the expansion of the East African Community (EAC) market, growing financial inclusion, which has fostered a more dynamic small and medium-sized enterprise sector, and the positive impact of large irrigation projects on agricultural productivity.

    But the institution warns that the country remains highly vulnerable to deteriorating security conditions, weather-related shocks and difficulties in implementing devolution. The Jubilee Government started the process of devolution at a fast pace, introducing a reporting framework that enables the monitoring of progress and challenges.

    Further, in its assessment of Kenya’s economic and political reforms, the institution said the slow growth in advanced and emerging economies could impact negatively on the country’s export and tourism earnings, while rising food prices and rapid credit growth might fuel inflationary expectations. “Kenya’s economic outlook is favourable, although the country remains vulnerable to exogenous shocks,” it said.

    To mitigate downside risks, the fund said Kenya must institute stronger policy buffers and enhance its structural reforms, including strengthening the business climate and improving security conditions. “The economy’s growth rate rose to 5 per cent in 2013-14 and is expected to gain further momentum in 2014-15, driven by higher domestic and external investment.”

  • Kenyatta should copy Kikwete

    Kikwete fires Tibaijuka for taking $1 million ‘bribe’

    Former United Nations Habitat executive director, Anna Tibaijuka, who went on to become a cabinet minister in Tanzania. PHOTO | FILE NATION MEDIA GROUP

    In Summary

    •Kikwete dismissed Anna Tibaijuka, minister of lands, housing and human settlements development, for accepting a $1 million payment.

    •The money was not paid directly to the school and was instead deposited in a personal bank account in her name, Kikwete explained.

    Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete fired a senior cabinet minister on Monday over a graft scandal in the energy sector that has already led to the resignation of the country’s attorney general.

    Kikwete said he had dismissed Anna Tibaijuka, minister of lands, housing and human settlements development, for accepting a $1 million payment from a Tanzanian businessman (James Rugemalira) linked to a controversial energy deal.

    Tibaijuka, 64, a former under-secretary-general of the United Nations and executive director of the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), had rejected calls for her resignation from parliament, saying the money was a donation for a school where she serves as the main fundraiser.

    “There were ethical shortfalls in her conduct… that is why we agreed to ask the minister to give us the opportunity to appoint someone else in her position,” Kikwete said in a national address late on Monday.

    “One of the biggest questions raised is why this money was not paid directly to the school and was instead deposited in a personal bank account in her name.”

    Tibaijuka said she had received the donation in good faith and presented it to the school.

    The Tanzanian president said the government was still investigating allegations of impropriety against the country’s energy minister and his permanent secretary and would make a decision on their fate after the conclusion of the probe.

    READ: The mystery Kenyan Kanu-era tycoon who shook Tanzania .

    Tanzania’s parliament last month called for the dismissal of senior officials, including the lands and energy ministers, over graft accusations.

    Attorney General Frederick Werema resigned on December 17, becoming the first political casualty in the scandal that has led Western donors to delay aid and weakened the country’s currency.

    The attorney general denied any wrongdoing and said he was stepping down because his legal advice on the transfer of at least $122 million of public funds to a private company was misunderstood.

    The funds came from an escrow account held jointly by state power company TANESCO and independent power producer IPTL and went to IPTL’s owner, Pan Africa Power (PAP) in 2013.

    Kikwete on Monday defended the transfer of funds, saying there was no wrongdoing by government officials in the deal and PAP said the payment was legal.

    A group of 12 international donors have said they will only pay outstanding pledges of budget support worth nearly $500 million to aid-reliant Tanzania if the report of the graft investigation is published and appropriate action is taken. — Reuters–1-million-bribe/-/539546/2566482/-/ap631f/-/index.html


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