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Uhuru fury that ignited action against graft

Mukalo Kwayera @kwayeram

Top insiders in government confide that the flurry of activities by law enforcement and investigative arms to crack down on graft may have their rooting from a closed-door high-level meeting President Uhuru Kenyatta held with representatives of the business community last month in which he gave express orders for action.

It may have taken the general public by surprise that senior government officers in the justice system have suddenly swung into action to do what should have been acted upon a long time ago, but members of a delegation, composed of the top leadership of the Kenya Private Sector Association (Kepsa) who met Uhuru on May 10, knew what was coming.

On that day, the Kepsa caucus was witness to a furious President reading the Riot Act to State officers present  while bitterly lamenting high-level improprieties and glaring lethargy in crucial government institutions.

The forum was a round-table with the President and Kepsa, specifically to discuss the private sector involvement in the Big Four agenda, but it ended up largely as a dressing down in which Uhuru demanded swift action against many loopholes in government.

He pointedly put to task top officers charged with curbing tax evasion and proliferation of counterfeit goods, says a Kepsa insider.

Uhuru put on the line one principal secretary whom he asked to lead the anti-counterfeit war. The source reports Uhuru asking the PS: “How much time do you need before we can start seeing action?”

The PS said a duration of three months to which the President cut him short by saying it was too long. He picked out another head of a State agency who stuck to three months to deliver the job, which the President got impatient with.

He then turned to Deputy Head of Public Service Wanyama Musiambo whom he asked to handle the job, to which he said three weeks would be action time-line.

Immediately, Musiambo was added the role of leading efforts towards eradication of corruption and illicit trade, counterfeits, fake business stickers, dumping and trafficking of fake goods through all ports of entry mainly the Port of Mombasa.

Even before the first week was over, containers bearing counterfeits were being destroyed under the new initiative.

The last three weeks have literally thrown top officials in the country’s justice system into a spin, owing to a flurry of activities that have seen previously terminated criminal and civil cases being revived, heads of corruption-infested State corporations being quizzed and contraband goods being impounded amid a plethora of other measures aimed at restoring public confidence in government’s capability to tame wanton impropriety.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji, Director of Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti and Attorney General Kihara Kariuki — all who were appointed to their offices only early this year — have noticeably gone into over-dive to stamp authority in their respective work stations in a perceived bid to tackle malpractices within government institutions.

“Those of us who were in the first Kepsa meeting (the President held another session with the business lobby on May 18) are not surprised by what is happening now. After the day-long deliberations, it was clear to us that he was agitated and drastic action would soon follow his remarks,” one of the participants told the People Daily.

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