The State of Integrity in Kenya

Translating Commitment into Results

National Conference on Integrity 26th - 27th May 2016

Over the year 2015, significant challenges and opportunities emerged to protect and advance the constitutional promise of integrity. These opportunities were availed and experienced across the board by citizens, leaders as well as the private sector grappled with the rising cases of grand corruption across many state departments.

In March 2015, President Kenyatta inspired the nation with a #ListOfShame that included high ranking public officials adversely mentioned in corruption. In November 2015, the President issued a National Call to Action against Corruption, highlighting procurement as a key channel for effecting the theft of public monies. Alongside the President, the Chief Justice, faith-based, private and non-profit leaders, diplomats and even high level visitors such as Pope Francis and President Barack Obama spoke repeatedly about the cancer of corruption in Kenya.

The public pressure for decisive action found partial relief in the amendment of several laws, the dismissal, arrest and prosecution of 350 public officials, a reconstituted Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and a new business Code of Ethics. However, the continuing failure to conduct effective investigations and secure convictions especially in high profile cases point to continuing paralysis within the National and County Governments. New revelations of public theft in 2016 on a grand scale indicate that corruption is once again set to headline 2016.

It is against this background that a section of civil society organisations[1] held a National Conference on Integrity to track progress against the Presidential directives, spotlight the progress and challenges of reforming public procurement and create new strategies and relationships required to reclaim Kenya from the cartels of impunity and grand corruption. Conference participants included representatives from the public sector, academia, development partners, media, professional associations, faith and business community as well as civil society. Following two days of deliberation, the conference issued the following calls to action:

  1. Act on the recommendations of the ‘Sealing Corruption Loopholes in Kenya’s Health Procurement System’ Policy Brief – The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, the Public Procurement Oversight Authority, the Office of the Auditor General made commitments to look at concerns raised on the risk of overpricing of medical supplies on the Market Price Index platform. We intend to follow each of these undertakings to put our health procurement system on the recovery track;
  2. Better public procurement oversight: Institutions such as the Public Procurement Oversight Authority (PPOA) should enhance oversight at both county and national level to deter procurement based corruption;
  3. Meaningful public participation: Citizens should seize the opportunity and utilise tools such as the Ministry of Devolution & Planning (MoDP) Public Participation Guidelines to enhance accountability and integrity. Developing or improving public participation mechanisms should include enhancing or broadening the channels of communication employed to get citizens to participate in national and county processes. The government and frontline institutions should ensure that these guidelines are widely disseminated in easy to understand formats;
  4. Enforce zero tolerance on corruption: Both levels of government should enforce the policy of zero tolerance to corruption to ensure the country’s limited resources are prudently utilized. This should include strict enforcement of the Leadership and Integrity Act and other relevant laws; and enactment of requisite legislation on access to information and protection of whistleblowers. County governments should create effective social sanctions against those involved in corruption by enforcing moral codes of conduct as dictated by cultural norms;
  5. Permanent civic vigilance: Civil Society and citizens must embrace a new spirit of active citizenship that participates, monitors and audits the utilization of public resources. Citizens must remain vigilant and consistent in reminding those in power of their greatest responsibility in fight corruption. The state, civil society and communities must consciously identify, celebrate and support integrity champions within local communities. Only in this way can we begin to inspire a broader, inclusive and more powerful movement against corruption.

Finally, we are emboldened and inspired by the fact that since January 2015, hundreds of citizens, students, unionists, public servants and elected leaders have risked their lives to repeatedly take action to reclaim grabbed public lands or to blow the whistle on grand and petty corruption nationally and at the county level. It is a basic assumption of the conference that champions for integrity exist both within and outside the state. While #ActiveCitizenship is key to detecting, disrupting and deterring corruption and demanding greater accountability by both leaders and citizens, we know that open, accountable and responsive governance is critical not just in the fight again corruption but also in achieving the devolution promise of effective service delivery. #INAWEZEKANA!

 


[1]Society for International Development (SID), Social Ministry Research Network Centre (SOMIRENEC), Community Research in Environment and Development Initiatives (CREADIS), Institute for Civic Education and Development in Africa (ICEDA), ActionNow Kenya (ANK), the Kenya Ethical and Legal Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (KELIN) and Transparency International Kenya (TI-K)

 

The State of Integrity in Kenya: Translating Commitments into Results

National Conference on Integrity 26th-27th May 2016. Desmond Tutu Conference Centre, Nairobi. Summary conference report compiled by Leonard Wanyama.