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Make asset recovery key in anti-graft war

Kenyans marked the African Anti-Corruption Day yesterday amid heightened focus on the ways and means of fighting and slaying the graft dragon.

It is imperative that the fight against corruption is enhanced and indeed escalated to spread tentacles in all social, economic and political spheres. It should have served as the perfect opportunity to focus the spotlight on how much has been done and what has been achieved in the journey to make Kenya, and by extension Africa, corruption-free.

Instead, the day passed almost imperceptibly, with by the government to showcase how it intends to run corrupt officials out of town. Granted, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission has planned a series of activities on awareness creation. However, we need to move beyond that and strive to make it painful for anyone to enjoy the spoils of corruption.

It’s unfortunate that the original version of Chapter Six on Leadership and Integrity that required wealth declaration before appointment was irretrievably watered down by Parliament.

It is against this backdrop that asset recovery must play a greater role in the fight against corruption. It is not enough to haul the culprits before courts of law. Stolen cash and property must be ploughed back to its true owners — the people.

It is remarkable that a total of Sh2.7 billion of graft proceeds has been recovered through asset recovery and court processes. This is an upbeat sign and signal that more can be done in this direction. Such efforts must be escalated if the anti-graft offensive is to gain the momentum and, in addition, act as a deterrent for those intent on dipping fingers in the public cookie jar. 

Less than a year ago, the President of the Swiss Confederation, Alain Berset, was in Kenya and among issues discussed with President Uhuru Kenyatta was to explore how the proceeds of graft stashed away in his home country can be repatriated.

Britain and the United States have expressed sentiments that they, too, support the anti-graft fight, with the US declaring that individuals fingered for graft will not be allowed on US soil. But it is even more crucial to tackle graft at its roots, which is where the evil starts its rot. 

National and county accounts should be audited at irregular intervals so that the country can move from unearthing graft after the horse has bolted from the stable. Such audits should be conducted in such a manner that the culprits are identified early and the rot stemmed before a lot of harm is done.

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