In Summary

Auditor-General Edward Ouko made an even grimmer prognosis of the problem, asserting that corruption starts with budgeting.

That most of what goes into the budget are not projects to benefit citizens, but the corrupt networks.

Wheeler-dealers dictate to State officials what ought to be budgeted for and once funds are allocated, they roll out plans for execution that include manipulating tenders to favour them.

The public is becoming cynical about the war on corruption because of lethargy by the authorities. Graft, it is unfortunate, has become the norm. This is the thrust of a think tank report released this week, stating that the war on corruption is doomed to fail because of state capture.

The conclusion of the report is that the current administration cannot end corruption. Despite high-profile investigations and arrests, no one has been convicted for corruption and the stolen assets repossessed. All the hype, the report suggests, is a case of smoke and mirrors.

Entitled State capture: Inside Kenya’s inability to fight corruption, the report published by the Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG) exposes the depth of corruption networks and concludes that corruption networks have taken over the country. It is an indictment of the current administration. All the promises to end corruption appear to be vacuous. Government officials and agencies have been defanged and entangled in the corruption web.

State capture is a jarring description popularised by the World Bank in the early 2000 to depict contexts where corrupt individuals influence government decisions and budgets to their favour. Such individuals determine how budgetary allocations are made, dictate public appointments and influence the judicial system. When a country reaches that level, it means both its body and soul are lost. The war is gone - all relevant agencies are sucked in the mire and cannot extricate themselves to defend what is right.

Auditor-General Edward Ouko made an even grimmer prognosis of the problem, asserting that corruption starts with budgeting. That most of what goes into the budget are not projects to benefit citizens, but the corrupt networks. Wheeler-dealers dictate to State officials what ought to be budgeted for and once funds are allocated, they roll out plans for execution that include manipulating tenders to favour them. Huge sums of money are transferred from the Treasury for projects that are never implemented. The money is looted and distributed across the networks – top politicians, security agencies and private sector players.

Investigations into such cases drag for years and even when suspects are arrested and arraigned, the suits take too long to prosecute and worse, no convictions are obtained. This is a sad state of affairs that must worry all of us. We cannot allow this to continue. The public should be agitated and sufficiently angered to demand action.

As we have argued before, the buck stops with President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has to decide what he wants to do; either to fight the vice to logical end or carry up his hands in surrender. There is a sense of urgency; the President must come out and lead the fight and dismantle the corrupt networks that hold the State in captivity.