Revelations that businesspeople and analysts have expressed a dim view about Kenya’s renewed war on corruption is an indictment on the tame efforts that have so far failed to nail high-level corruption suspects. While the crusade against the menace has been dominating the headlines, the lack of any prison time for the major culprits has hampered the war to a great extent.
It just goes to show that high profile arrests amount to nothing if they are not followed by no tough convictions and attendant penalties. According to the Corruption Perception Index released last Thursday by Transparency International (TI), Kenya scored 28 points in 2019, the same as the previous year, out of a possible 100. The score, which is based on the perception of experts, analysts and businesspeople, runs from zero ( highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). The latest score put the perception of Kenya’s anti-graft efforts at position 137 out of 180 countries in 2019, which is an improvement from position 144 in 2018.The TI uses data from institutions such as the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the business school IMD to compile the index. In East Africa, Rwanda was the top performer with a score of 53 at position 51. Its score has, however, dropped from 55 in 2018. It was followed by Tanzania at position two with a score of 37 at position 96 globally followed by Kenya and Uganda which scored 28 points and was ranked 137. South Sudan was at the bottom of the pack with a score of 12 points at position 179.
We must, however, opine that it will take more than high profile arrests to win the war against corruption. While defending its lack of convictions, the Judiciary has questioned the quality of the evidence that is provided by investigators.
To succeed and totally eradicate the problem from the society, there is need to ensure that those found culpable not only do prison time but also have their assets seized by the State.
Time has now come to make partaking in graft a very painful exercise for those who dabble in it in order to act as a deterrent to others. We urge the policymakers and State agencies to treat the TI report as a wake-up call. They should also note TI’s statement that there is need for the relevant agencies to bolster investigations to recover stolen assets. The ball is now in their court.