It has widely been acknowledged that a severe, even crippling drawback to Kenya’s overall wellbeing is the cancer of corruption which is truly and well embedded.
It is further generally agreed that Kenyans have individually, collectively and institutionally not done enough to salvage the situation; at least not consistently, nor with strident conviction.
But that does not mean that efforts have not been stepped up, more singularly so in the past one year nor does it mean absence of framework and support structures in attempts to tame graft. In fact, this country has numerous legislations in place aimed at neutering the toxicity and venom of corruption.
This week, Leader of Majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale announced plans to introduce an amendment to the eight-year-old Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) Act which is charged with education, preventing and investigating corruption, so that it has timelines within which every case under investigation should be concluded.
His concerns are due to the unacceptably long delays between arrest, investigations and forwarding the file to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Duale’s apprehension is also informed by the suspicions that some rogue investigative officers drag their feet for self-gain, specifically extracting bribes, ultimately subverting the course of justice.
However, the broad question that must be addressed is this; is the EACC Act a sufficient substantive anti-graft law? Inherent are auxiliary issues such as resources, human and material, more so those with bearing on why investigations take too long only to falter after presentation to DPP or when they go to courts, fail to nail convictions, making the Act appear ineffective.
It’s not for lack of laws that we fire blanks when it comes to fighting graft. Laws on their own are of no use if instruments of enforcement are weak, or if ethics are short-circuited.
If EACC is inadequate in skills or material endowment, then that can be tackled within the existing law. Lets not forget that between 2003 and 2011, this law has been subjected to several amendments and strengthening with addition of Acts like Public Officer Ethics, Public Procurement and Disposal, Leadership and Integrity.
Duale rightly reminded that in the current budgetary provisions, EACC was given Sh2.9 billion while related agencies in the war against crime, namely DCI got Sh17.9 billion, DPP was given Sh3 billion. Kenyans want results from such investments. The political will at the highest level already stands out.