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Graft fight deflated, NGOs say
10 January 2011
Capital FM

Nairobi: Anti-Corruption activist John Githongo says not enough is being done in the fight against corruption despite commitments made by politicians under the new constitution. Mr Githongo said on Sunday that impunity was still prevalent in government and not solid action was being taken against individuals implicated in graft. He called on both private and public organisations to unite in putting pressure on the government to weed out corruption.

"We have pledged to work together to defend the constitution, to fight corruption, to promote reconciliation among our diversity of peoples. We pledge to vigorously oppose and by every constitutional means available, those who would undermine the constitution," he said. "We similarly pledge to directly resist those who steal from us, those who actively work to ruin the future of our youth."

He was speaking during a press conference where he emphasised the need for the government to live up to its pledge to fight corruption.

"Having assessed the situation in our beloved country, we are like most Kenyans dismayed by the number of issues that persist, a national tragedy of a successful wave of IDPs, the persistence of impunity and corruption, the entrenchment of a culture of drug dealing with the connivance of top leaders," he said.

Constitutional expert Yash Pal Ghai on the other hand said that any individual implicated in graft should vacate office immediately to allow for investigations to take place. Prof Ghai said this would be in line with provisions in the new constitution requiring any public official implicated in graft to resign. He accused the government of failing to live up to its word in the war against corruption.

"Unfortunately the promises have not been kept so far. People who should be in jail are still in the Cabinet. The government is now trying to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) and they do not really have the guts to face the due process," he stated.

Prof Ghai said Kenyans were dismayed at the little progress being made in the war against corruption. "It is also a moment when people after their enthusiasm for the constitution are beginning to despair of any change. They feel that the same political class will stay on in power and continue with the oppressive rule that they have carried on ever since independence," he observed.

Meanwhile, Kenyans are being urged to take the initiative in the fight against corruption in various facets of their lives. According to a civil society organisation, everyone's involvement in the fight against graft will have a huge impact on the vice. Africa Centre for Open Governance (AFRICOG) executive director Gladwell Otieno said the present politicians cannot be trusted to follow through with the pledges they made to Kenyans.

"Kenyans need to realise that they cannot entrust their future and the implementation of their constitution to this political class. We have seen this political class engaging in increasingly desperate and irrational antics in the recent past showing that they have not answers for the problems of Kenya," she said.

She stressed the importance of various stakeholders to unite in the effort to implement the new constitution. "Indeed they are a large part of the problem. Therefore I am here together with other Kenyans to emphasise that it is our responsibility. This is our country and our constitution. It will not be implemented or if implemented will not be done so in the spirit of justice if we leave it to the political class."

Keywords: anti corruption, Kenya, parliament, civil society
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