News / Africa

‘War on Graft’ Becomes Political in Kenya

Kenya's industrialization minister Henry Kosgey appears at the High Court in Nairobi. The Kenyan government minister pleaded not guilty to a dozen counts of abuse of office, hours after resigning to allow for an investigation into a scam involving imports
Kenya's industrialization minister Henry Kosgey appears at the High Court in Nairobi. The Kenyan government minister pleaded not guilty to a dozen counts of abuse of office, hours after resigning to allow for an investigation into a scam involving imports
Michael Onyiego

As the Kenyan government returns for the New Year, the 'War on Graft' is heating up in the capital, but some are hitting back at allegations, accusing opponents of playing politics with the anti-corruption crusade.

Just four days into 2011, the Kenyan Anti-Corruption Commission added yet another member of Kenya’s Cabinet to its list of high-profile targets.

On January 4, Industrialization Minister Henry Kosgey was charged by the KACC with abuse of his office for his role in the illegal importation of used automobiles into Kenya in 2010.

Facing removal from office under the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, Kosgey instead decided to step aside later in the day.

"I have today written to his excellence the president and the right honorable prime minister, offering to step aside as minister for industrialization to allow for these charges to be fully investigated," he stated.

Kosgey is the fourth Cabinet minister to be hit with corruption charges since late 2010.

The list also includes Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetang’ula, Higher Education Minister William Ruto and Water Minister Charity Ngilu.

His resignation makes him the fourth Cabinet minister from the Orange Democratic Movement to be targeted by the anti-corruption body.  The Orange Democratic Movement is the country’s main opposition group and part of the Government of National Unity formed in 2008 after the country’s post-election violence.

Some members of the Orange Democratic Movement are charging the so-called "War on Graft" is unfairly targeting opposition members.  Parliament Member John Mbadi called Kosgey’s case harassment and declared Wednesday the party would not allow the victimization of its members.

Appointed Parliament Member Rachael Shebesh further demanded an investigation into some of Kenya’s other infamous corruption scandals.  "When will the big issues be dealt with?  When will Kenyans see Anglo-Leasing be dealt with?  When will we see issues of Goldenberg being completed?  When will we see issues of Triton being hit on the nail?" she asked.

The ruling Party of National Unity hit back instantly, accusing the Orange Democratic Movement of playing politics with anti-corruption efforts.  But many fear the tenure of Anti-Corruption chief Patrick Lumumba, which has been praised by both local and international observers, could become mired in Kenyan politics.

Government Spokesperson Alfred Mutua is calling for calm on both sides. “The president and the prime minister have been very clear for a long time that the fight against corruption is not targeted at any particular group,” Mutua says, “or any particular political association, or any particular religion.  The fight against corruption is a fight against individuals."

Mutua told reporters the anti-corruption investigations would target anyone suspected of graft, regardless of political affiliation.

Anti-Corruption Chief Lumumba also assured Kenyans that other "big fish" are under investigation for graft.

But there are still concerns that the country’s largest players will evade prosecution.  Recently leaked cables from the US Embassy in Nairobi identified both President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga as part of the problem, with vested interests in the status quo. Both leaders have vehemently denied involvement in theft or corruption.

Kenya has struggled with corruption during its nearly 50-year history.  In 2010 Kenya was ranked 154 out of 178 countries in Transparency International’s annual corruption perception index.   The Berlin-based organization also ranked Kenya’s police, Judiciary and Nairobi City Council as among the most corrupt institutions in East Africa.

Kenya’s Finance Ministry has estimated about $3.3 billion, more than one quarter of Kenya’s national budget, are lost through corruption annually.

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs