Kenya’s Emerging Corruption Crisis and the Need for Accountability
Kenya is suffering a “crisis” of corruption, the US ambassador to the east African nation said in sharp criticism of the Kenyatta regime on Monday.
The Ambassador stated that:
‘Corruption is a crisis in Kenya. As I have said frequently, it is undermining the country’s future… threatens economic growth, the provision of government services and security.’
The ambassador’s comments follow a succession of stories that have emerged this year detailing a myriad of corruption scandals throughout government departments. These include a parliamentary inquiry into the devolution ministry, where officials are alleged to have massively inflated government purchases, including the much criticized case of spending $85 for a simple pen. The issue of graft was most clearly on display when earlier this year the government’s annual audit of public accounts could only correctly account for 1.2% of the countries $10.4 billion 2013-14 budget.
Kenya’s current corruption spree appears more blatant and could be attributed to a number of factors Kenyan politicians are undertaking early efforts to build war chests for the national elections in 2017. The economy is also growing rapidly, helping to fuel a real estate boom in the countries capital, Nairobi. This is leading to land grabs by those in power.
Of course corruption has always been one of the major obstacles to economic development in Africa. It is however highly discouraging to see levels of corruption on the rise in some nations. Too often throughout Africa, public office is seen as a route to private enrichment.
The best way to tackle this culture is for governments to subject themselves to greater transparency and put in place effective frameworks to hold public officials to account. Corruption at its worst can totally undermine a countries effort to achieve economic development. As a result governments must not be allowed to slip into a state of complacency.
Key to bringing down corruption is a willingness on the part of a countries top political leadership to implement anti-corruption measures. In conjunction pressure must be applied by the electorate. Civil society and the media are crucial in mobilising public opinion and pushing for accountable government. To make real progress in tackling its ‘corruption crisis’ Kenya is in need of both top-down and bottom-up pressure to produce a climate in which graft is steadily reduced.