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Kenya Government Financing Political Campaigns, says Transparency International - 2002-12-18

With Kenya's elections just nine days away, an anti-corruption group accuses the government of financing political campaigns. The group, Transparency International, is calling for stricter control of government resources.

The Kenyan branch of Transparency International says public resources are being used by political parties for their campaigns and to reward party loyalists.

It does not say which parties are involved, but says it is those with access to government funds. That would only be the ruling KANU party of President Daniel arap Moi.

Transparency International Program Officer Wamboi Washusha says part of the problem is a lack of proper rules.

"What this report shows is that there is need for regulation to stem this kind of looting if you would like to call it," he said. "By virtue of having no campaign expenditure regulation in this country we find that it is an open field politicians source money from anywhere and everywhere a lot of financing is done through various mechanism that we have listed in this report."

One of the mechanisms used to illegally divert resources for political purposes is the theft of transit goods. Such goods are released from the port of Mombasa without paying duty. They are supposed to be sent out of Kenya, but they end up being sold in Kenya at market prices. Part of the sale price should have been duty that would have gone to the government.

Transparency International says one government report tells of a case in which ten tankers loaded with fuel from the western town of Eldoret meant for export to neighboring countries were diverted into the local market, denying the government $120,000 in tax revenue.

The anti-corruption lobby says the Controller and Auditor General's office in Nairobi has over the years detected and recorded such thefts but the government has taken no action.

The opposition's presidential candidate, Mwai Kibaki blames the ruling KANU party, and says the looting of public funds goes beyond small-scale operations to fund the election campaign.

"KANU has been looting taxpayers' money for all these years and now in the final days in office and without any hesitation thay have decided to pay what they have called pending bills," he said. "These are bills which are supposed to have been paid over 10 years ago some of them even over 12 years but because a dispute arose over them whether they were authentic or not authentic a committee was set up and these bills have not been approved but four billion nearer five billion has been released. It is looting of taxpayers money, the biggest crime that the Kanu government has committed."

Transparency International says that in many such cases money is paid to contractors who support the ruling party, with some of the money diverted to the political campaign.

Kenyan Vice President Musalia Mudavadi denies the ruling party is looting the treasury.

Transparency International is calling for stricter tendering and investment procedures in government departments. It also wants to see more transparency in the appointment of senior government officials and punishment of those who abuse public office.