Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Predictability of Stupidity

A good many years have passed since President Mwai Kibaki instituted the National Anti-Corruption Campaign Steering Committee under the chairmanship of the Rev. Mutava Musyimi. Last year, the President challenged the members of the largely dormant and ineffective Committee "to come up with innovative ways of ensuring that the general public become an active partner in the fight against corruption". The response? Well apart from the launch of District Anti-Corruption Civilian Oversight Committees (whatever those are) in 9 out of 71 districts in February, precious little has been heard from the supposed anti-corruption stalwarts.

That is, until today. The Daily Nation reports on yet another brilliant innovation. A report from the NACCSC recommends that "a list of shame of people involved in grand corruption like the Anglo Leasing and Goldenberg scandals should be made public and the culprits prosecuted". Ummm.... Hello...! Which planet have these guys been living on? We have had Lists of Shame ad nauseum and simply compiling another one will neither deter nor ensure punishment of the evil-doers.

The Committee goes on to recommend the setting up of kangaroo courts (which Jed Pittman, Pasco County Clerk of Circuit Court, defines as "sham legal proceeding[s] in which a person's rights are totally disregarded and in which the result is a foregone conclusion because of the bias of the court or other tribunal") to deal with cases of illicit brews. Yikes!

According to the Standard, after stating that many Kenyans "feel the Government has done "very little" to combat graft despite overwhelming information on the vice", the committee commended the Government for establishing the Ombudsman’s office, saying reports received from district and national levels "can now be acted upon swiftly". Well, I am yet to see evidence of any accelerated action on cases of grand corruption.

To be fair, some recommendations, such as the proposal to driving licenses be accepted as forms of identification for the purpose of voter registration, as well as the push to initiate a system where traffic fines are paid immediately at specific points to minimise cases of corruption in the traffic department, seem to make sense. However, even there the devil is in the details. Issues of double registration, fake DLs and location of payment points for traffic offenders (I am assuming that the arresting officer is not the intended recipient of fines -that would defeat the whole purpose), need to be sorted out.

All in all, it seems that the NACCSC, like the rest of the myriad outfits set up by the Kibaki administration to fight graft, is nothing more than a very expensive paper tiger (any ideas on their budget and salaries?). Its sole purpose appears to be to generate the impression of an active war on corruption while obscuring the reality that no such conflict exists.

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