Sackings start this week — PM

Published on 25/03/2009

By James Anyanzwa and David Ohito

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has said top Government officials — including Cabinet ministers — would be shown the door before the end of the week.

Raila said he would “make a major announcement” that would show Government’s commitment to fighting corruption, which could include the sacking of heads of state corporations implicated in graft. Increasingly under public pressure to crack down on corruption and reign in on bickering Cabinet ministers, President Kibaki and Raila have been closing ranks on the need to fire corrupt and non-performing top officers in the civil service.

Speaking to The Standard after opening the Euromoney Kenya Investment Conference at Laico Regency Hotel in Nairobi, Raila said ministers and Permanent Secretaries implicated would also be sacked, hinting at an impending shuffle.

“We have investigated 12 State corporations and as a result, six chief executives have been sent home. Next in line will be senior Government officers, including ministers and PSs,” said the PM.

President Kibaki jointly opened the investment conference with Raila. A tough-talking Raila said those implicated in corruption would not be spared. “We are not going to condone any form of corruption. Those found implicated will face the law,” he said.

Raila’s sentiments come in the wake of a much-anticipated Cabinet shuffle. Currently there are 42 ministers and 50 assistant ministers.

Suspicious rulings

At the same time, the PM berated the Judiciary claiming it was “a major impediment” to the Government’s efforts to root out corruption.

“Although it enjoys security of tenure, the Government is exploring avenues of dealing with the Judiciary,” he said.

Raila said there were court rulings, which were “raising eyebrows” and singled out the Anglo-Leasing cases, which the courts issued, restrain orders barring the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission from investigating, as a case in point.

Under fire

The Judiciary has been under fire lately after the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) petitioned the President to institute a tribunal to investigate the conduct of Chief Justice Evan Gicheru.

Yesterday, Justice Minister Martha Karua hit out at the Chief Justice, allegedly for standing in the way of reforms in the judiciary.

But yesterday Raila questioned the independence of the Judiciary saying: “It is organically part and parcel of the Government and drawing funds from the Executive.

Raila maintainted that the Government would take decisive action. “It is not like it is popularly believed that the leadership is unable to crack the whip,” Raila said.

During his tour of the larger Kisii districts last week, President Kibaki gave a stern warning Cabinet ministers who criticise the government in public and yet do not raise the same issues at Cabinet meetings.

In what was seen as calling his ministers to order, President Kibaki said such members of Cabinet should either shut up or quit or he would show them the door.

Raila’s statement yesterday came a week after the US Government permanently banned a “top Government official” from travelling to the US for engaging in “official corruption.”

Raila also said no civil servant would be allowed to engage in private business while on Government payroll.

“If you want to be a business person then resign and go do business full time,” Raila said.

A number of parastatals have been rocked by corruption in the recent past. They include Kenya Pipeline Company, Kenya Tourist board, National Social Security Fund, Kenya Airports Authority, National Cereals and Produce Board and the Pyrethrum Board of Kenya.

In a recent interview to explain his position pushing for the implicated in corruption to step aside, Raila said: “Where that arrangement has been exploited for public good and not malice, it has worked well. But it creates confusion and weakens the war on corruption when used to settle scores and score political mileage.”

“We need to move from exposing and firing people to prosecuting and jailing those found guilty of corruption,” he said.

Cautious donors

The move comes after the international community expressed concern over official corruption in Kenya and urged the Government to take action. A fortnight ago UK Secretary for International Development Alexander Douglas expressed concern over official corruption during a visit to Kenya.

Cautious donors have opted to route their help in hunger and other interventions through UN agencies and others international NGOs.

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