In Summary
  • The move by the Judiciary to redeploy staff in response to attacks at the recent national conference on corruption concerns me.
  • It proves that the DCIO and the DDP will take a lap of honour merely for forcing changes in the Judiciary without really gathering evidence and prosecuting any cases.
  • The government must break the real incentives to corruption.
  • Heaping blame on the Judiciary is easier but shows that they are unaware of why their well-meaning efforts remain ineffective.

A visitor to Kenya, a forthright ago, would have wondered what would come out of the national conference on corruption.

Based on the coordinated blame of the Judiciary by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCIO), the Chief Justice has unwittingly accepted the subtle nudge by redeploying staff.

This change in the Judiciary concerns me because it proves that the DCIO and the DDP will take a lap of honour merely for forcing changes in the Judiciary without really gathering evidence and prosecuting any cases.

While the conference was sold as an attempt to reset the ''fight against corruption'', the highlights revealed that the primary aim of the executive was to apply pressure on the Judiciary to lower thresholds for evidence, get scrupulous judges out of the way and perhaps allow prosecution an elevated probability to record a victory from that walkover.
HYPE
Again, the conference generated some buzz and forced a shuffling of the chairs on the deck but lacked big ideas that will raise risk for the corrupt professionals in the public sector and their counterpart outside. This proves that Kenya’s anti-corruption policy cannot succeed with proclamations of blame and promises to fight harder. Instead, the fight against corruption is good illustration of effort and money behind bad ideas.

The first change required is for the republic to update the view that corruption is foremost a moral crime. That is true but it underpins the uninformed approaches such as encouraging children to learn ethics in school, religious admonition in churches and temples and trying to shame people into being less corrupt. No meaningful change will occur by viewing it thus.

By acknowledging that the most harmful forms of corruption in Kenya’s public sector are through procurement fraud and diversion of public property for private purposes, we accept that this is a crime of asset-building. Unlike the more common bribery and extortion witnessed when some policemen harass motorists, the former are more harmful and cause dysfunction in public institutions.

There are numerous offences in the penal code and other statutes that are intended to reduce the level and effects of corruption. The incentives to steal from government bears risks but at present these are so low that even if only a few would take those odds, the public sector as a whole would still be losing vast amounts of public funds.

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