Fighting corruption in Kenya

News of a great development in Kenya ran on the BBC.com and in other media outlets earlier this week. On Wednesday, anti-corruption czar John Githongo returned to Kenya after four years of self-exile. During his tenure as Kenya’s secretary for ethics and governance, Githongo earned the reputation for being tough on corruption— in 2005, one of his investigations forced the resignation of several ministers over a scandal that involved state contracts worth more than $1 billion being secretly awarded to non-existent firms. After exposing the scam, Githongo fled to the UK because of threats to his life.

Githongo’s return is an important step forward for Kenya’s new coalition government, which was put in place after controversial elections set off two months of violence earlier this year. He is back for only two weeks, but his return (at the invitation of the new government) is hopefully a sign that Kenya’s new government is serious about tackling corruption and addressing some of the underlying issues that caused the election crisis. Speaking to the Kenya Human Rights Commission on Wednesday, Githongo submitted the controversial proposal of offering amnesty as a means of closing old corruption cases and moving Kenya forward.

Whistle-blowers like Githongo are vital to beating poverty in Africa and across the world. The fight against corruption and efforts to promote transparency and good governance help ensure that aid is spent well and channeled to the people who need it most. ONE is also proud to note that John Githongo currently sits on our Policy Advisory Board and serves as an important advisor on issues of accountability and governance.

Excerpt below, full piece here.

Addressing a public forum on fighting graft in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, Mr Githongo said economic crimes must be resolved quickly and transparently. “The temptation to subject economic crimes to prolonged processes and the deliberation of committees not only delays justice but makes ultimate accountability less likely,” he said. Mr Githongo noted that there was a myth that corruption does not really matter as long as the economy is growing. “If you have high economic growth [and] a high level of corruption… then corruption causes political contradictions that leads to the kind of difficulties we had in Kenya at the end of last year,” he said.

-Chris Scott

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