Economy, National Cohesion

How The Bribery Act of 2016 can re-energise Our Flagging War Against Corruption

On Octo­ber 18th 2016, dur­ing a State House Sum­mit on Gov­er­nance, the then Pres­i­dent Uhu­ru Keny­at­ta voiced his frus­tra­tion at the preva­lence of cor­rup­tion in Kenya. He famous­ly asked his audi­ence a sim­ple ques­tion, “what do you want me to do?” For empha­sis, he even repeat­ed the ques­tion in Swahili, “mnata­ka nifanye nini jameni?”. The state­ment exem­pli­fied what was seen as a state of nation­al res­ig­na­tion in the face of a mon­ster that con­tin­ues to eat up the future of many Kenyan children.

The Audi­tor Gen­er­al at the time, Edward Ouko empha­sized for the umpteenth time, that Kenya was los­ing a stag­ger­ing one third of its bud­get to cor­rup­tion every year.

Sev­en years lat­er, cor­rup­tion con­tin­ues to frus­trate every sin­gle Kenyan. On May 19th while attend­ing the bur­ial of David Waw­erū Ng’ethe father of Dagoret­ti South MP John Kiarie, Pres­i­dent Ruto warned that, “No one will steal or waste pub­lic resources. I will take them head on.” He added that not even his friends would be spared in this fight.

Evi­dent­ly, cor­rup­tion con­tin­ues to stran­gle Kenya’s soci­ety and econ­o­my. IMF econ­o­mists have revealed that low­er­ing cor­rup­tion and bring­ing sub-Saha­ran Africa’s gov­er­nance to the world aver­age could increase the region’s GDP per capi­ta by an esti­mat­ed 1 to 2 per­cent­age points a year. Evi­dent­ly, the eco­nom­ic stakes remain high even as we strug­gle to keep the fight against cor­rup­tion on track.

We must there­fore employ new strate­gies to slay what retired judge Aaron Ringera once called ‘the drag­on’ of cor­rup­tion. One such strat­e­gy is encap­su­lat­ed in the Bribery Act 2016. This Act is a clas­sic exam­ple of a pow­er­ful tool that remains unused in our tool­shed, con­stant­ly gath­er­ing dust.

What Kenyans often for­get is that cor­rup­tion is not just a pub­lic sec­tor issue. As a mat­ter of fact, the vice is fueled, con­doned and even facil­i­tat­ed by the pri­vate sec­tor. After all, as they say, it takes two to tan­go. Whether you think about Gold­en­berg, Anglo Leas­ing or more recent­ly, the NYS and KEMSA scan­dals, the com­mon denom­i­na­tor has been the promi­nent role played by pri­vate com­pa­nies and indi­vid­u­als in fleec­ing the pub­lic of its hard-earned taxes.

It was there­fore grat­i­fy­ing, when on Novem­ber 23 2015, the late Bob Col­ly­more, who was at the time Safaricom’s CEO, pre­sent­ed a pro­posed anti-bribery bill to Pres­i­dent Uhu­ru Keny­at­ta. Draft­ed by the pri­vate sec­tor, the Bill was a rare exam­ple of a sec­tor look­ing at the log in its own eye and tak­ing a deci­sive leg­isla­tive step to pluck it out. The fol­low­ing year, the Bill became the Bribery Act 2016.

With the old drag­on seem­ing­ly begin­ning to rear its ugly head again, I sug­gest that we reded­i­cate our­selves to this fight using every avail­able tool. A nat­ur­al begin­ning point is to ful­ly imple­ment the Bribery Act 2016 so as to close the loop of con­spir­a­cy between the pub­lic and the pri­vate sec­tors, which fuels the vice.

To strength­en the mus­cle of the pri­vate sec­tor in com­bat­ing cor­rup­tion, the Ethics and Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion (EACC) must assist pri­vate enti­ties to devel­op pro­ce­dures for pre­ven­tion of bribery, as required by the Act.

Fur­ther, the Bribery Act intro­duced a crit­i­cal dimen­sion that was not cap­tured in the Anti-Cor­rup­tion and Eco­nom­ic Crimes Act, 2003. It spelt out the role of pri­vate cit­i­zens in the fight against bribery by impos­ing on them, an oblig­a­tion to report instances of bribery. In essence, we must all be anti-cor­rup­tion watch­dogs and integri­ty cus­to­di­ans. If we do so, there will be no room, whether in the pub­lic or pri­vate sec­tor, for any­one to per­pe­trate the kind of run­away cor­rup­tion that we see today.

This is our col­lec­tive fight. Let us there­fore, heed the chill­ing warn­ing by the chair of Trans­paren­cy Inter­na­tion­al, Delia Matilde Fer­reira Rubio, that “people’s indif­fer­ence is the best breed­ing ground for cor­rup­tion to grow”.Think green, act green!

About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

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