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Kenya’s New Anti-Graft Chief Pledges Revitalized Corruption Fight

  • Peter Clottey

The new director of Kenya’s Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) has called on President Mwai Kibaki’s coalition government to demonstrate its desire and political will to help with efforts to root out “endemic” graft in the country.

Professor P.L.O Lumumba said his first objective is to regenerate and re-energize the interest of Kenyans in the fight against corruption.

“There is a sense in which people think that corruption is now a way of life and that it is a task that can only be performed by one organization. My aim is to recruit Kenyans in the fight against corruption and to convince them that perpetrators of corruption can, and will, be punished,” he said.

Lumumba officially took office Monday as the new director of the anti-graft body after the re-appointment of the former head was rejected by parliament.

A constitutional law expert, Lumumba is also a former law lecturer at the University of Nairobi and is widely seen by Kenyans as a vocal anti-corruption crusader.

The new anti-graft director said some senior government officials have been complicit in corruption cases.

“We know individuals in government to collude with individuals outside of government to rip-off the government. We have the history of the Goldenberg; we have the issue of Anglo leasing [graft cases] and there has been a sense in which individuals, who are known, are not touched because it is politically expedient not to do so,” he said.

But, Lumumba said that he aims to ensure that there are no ‘sacred cows’ adding that individuals engaged in corrupt activities will be dealt with in accordance with Kenyan laws.

In its latest report, the Transparency International chapter in the country rated Kenya as the third most corrupt nation in the East Africa Bribery Index closely following Burundi and Uganda in that order.

Some Kenyans have often accused the judiciary of being slow in punishing perpetrators of graft.

Critics say there are many corruption cases in the courts that have been dragging on for years without adjudication which they said weaken efforts to fight graft and emboldens those who engage in corrupt practices.

But, Lumumba said the scheduled August 4 referendum could help in the graft fight.

“It comes at a very good time when we are going to endorse a new constitution, which will give us the opportunity to clean up the judiciary which has stood in the way of the fight against corruption in many ways,” Lumumba said.

He also assured Kenyans that his commission will do what is necessary to punish perpetrators of graft adding that there is a need to create an environment where corruption will not be possible, as well as educating the public to resent graft.