That Kenya’s politicians have a corruption problem is not news. That Kenya’s politicians will stop at nothing to evade accountability is also not news either. So much so that it became normal for them to interfere normal law and order institutions like the police, state law office and the courts to protect themselves.
That is probably why, it seemed such a good idea when it was suggested that there ought to be an independent commission to specialize in fighting corruption. Twenty years later Kenyans have the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), working in concert with a ‘reformed’ Judiciary to vanquish corruption.
Yet the EACC is not vanquishing corruption as an institution like it probably should. Often times it finds itself behind the curve, playing catch up and overtaken by events.
In its current incarnation, Kenya’s Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission has, like its predecessors seen itself trapped in the same paradox that its predecessors the Kenya Anti-Corruption Authority and the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission were in, and ultimately led to their demise.
Work a little too hard, show a little too much diligence, act a little too independently and the political class will gang up on you. Refuse to act in the face of high-profile graft, and the public turns on you giving the political class an excuse to sack you anyway.
Yet even as allegations of bribery, embezzlement begin to dog high-profile individuals without an obvious connection to the political class, the EACC still seems slow on its feet at best, or unwilling to at least grab these ‘low hanging fruit.’
For instance In the last week, two Kenyan athletes claimed that the CEO of Athletics Kenya demanded bribes to shorten the doping suspensions as a result of failing drugs test at the IAAF World Championships. Everybody with a stake in the issue has issued a statement on these allegations. Everybody that is, except the EACC
This adds to accusations of misappropriation and embezzlement of funds, not just in Athletics Kenya, but also in the Kenya Rugby Union, Football Federation and so on, that have been brought to light by local and international sponsors, global bodies, and whistle blowers.
So where does this leave the fight against graft in Kenya? While the commission go through the motions doing its jobs, these efforts are not helped by accusations of favouritism when the commission appears to go easy on some issues.
It is not by martyring themselves by getting mixed up in lopsided, doomed to fail, publicly visible investigations of the damn near untouchables that is going to help the EACC become an asset to the war on corruption. They have got to show that they can solve the open and shut, routine prosecutions of the small fish, as well.