Political goodwill key in anti-corruption war

Wednesday, September 20th, 2023 05:50 | By
EACC offices where Njue is being grilled.
Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission building. PHOTO/EACC

The suspension of the Director-General of Communications Authority Ezra Chiloba underpins the push by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the civil society for State officers under investigation to step aside.

And it should not end with stepping aside. Should they be found culpable, they should be barred from holding any public office, besides being subjected to the due legal process.

The appointing authorities and the National Intelligence Service (NIS) should also be held responsible for the appointment of persons with questionable past to senior positions.

On Monday, the CA board chaired by Mary Mungai suspended Chiloba over alleged abuse of office and misuse of funds in the authority’s mortgage scheme. The suspension came as EACC was undertaking investigations into the operations of the CA Staff Mortgage Scheme that is believed to have lost millions of shillings through fraudulent actions perpetrated by those in authority.

In what is likely to open the pandora’s box, the report used by the CA board to send Chiloba home has also sucked in President Ruto’s Secretary to the Cabinet Mercy Wanjau.

For years, Kenyans have been treated to a circus in the war against graft. While the President has been talking tough about dealing with senior officials in his administration implicated in graft, that has not been matched with action.

That Chiloba and Wanjau have continued to be in office as EACC investigated them for issues bordering on abuse of office and misuse of public funds leaves a lot to be desired about the government’s commitment to fighting graft.

That Wanjau’s involvement in the CA Staff Mortgage Scheme scam calls into question NIS’s ability to undertake background checks of persons nominated for appointment to public positions.

Questions also arise on whether the appointing authority ever takes into consideration such information.
For the country to move away from the ping-pong approach to corruption and abuse of office, the law needs to be amended to make it mandatory for public officers under any form of investigation related to graft to step aside immediately.

Similarly, a better background checking mechanism should be in place to ensure all persons with a tainted past are not appointed to public office. And the law should apply to everyone irrespective of their political affiliation or proximity to power.

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