The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) no longer has powers to investigate grand corruption committed before May 2003, where taxpayers could have lost billions of shillings.
This means suspects linked to mega economic crimes like Goldenberg and parts of Anglo Leasing have been let off the hook.With one fell swoop, Parliament endorsed a crucial clause buried in the Statute Law (Miscellaneous amendments) Bill, 2007 that effectively barred the anti-graft agency from probing corruption cases committed before it was established in 2003.
The move now weakens KACC but the AG has leeway to selectively use the Penal Code to punish culprits.
The amendment, engineered by Mr Paul Muite (Safina, Kabete), elicited animated debate from the Government side after the Opposition flexed its muscle to push through the clause.
When the matter was put to division by Deputy Temporary Speaker, Mr Kirugi M’Mukindia, the Opposition emerged victorious with 38 votes against the Government’s 27.Before the vote, Justice minister Ms Martha Karua, said the amendment would render the work done by the anti-graft body for the past three years useless.
In an animated argument, Karua pointed an accusing finger at Muite, saying he had an interest in the matter.
But Mr Kenneth Marende (Emuhaya, Narc) came to the defence of Muite, who is also the chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Administration of Justice and Legal Affairs.
“The chairman has no interest in the matter at all,” Marende said. But Karua hit back: “Unless the minutes of the committee are shown here, I am bound to believe there is personal interest in the matter.”She added: “Hon Muite’s interest is obvious and this amendment is mischievous.
“In the debate that lasted barely 30 minutes, several members rose on points of order, as the House at some instance endured unparliamentary language prompting Deputy Temporary Speaker, Mr Daniel Khamasi, to take charge.Karua cried foul, saying past economic crimes have not successfully been investigated and the amendment would give KACC a deadly blow.
The amendment thus recognises only economic crimes committed after the enactment of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, 2003.Parliament also denied the agency powers to summon suspects and their associates.By deleting sections 26, 27 and 28 of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, 2003, the MPs declared the end of any pretences to the war against graft.
These sections were the core of the Act and their deletion on the recommendations of the Muite committee means that KACC has no powers to perform its duties.Efforts by Karua to see KACC retain some powers fell to deaf ears from the Opposition MPs, who were in a hurry to dilute the anti-graft body.
And Kieni MP, Mr Chris Murungaru, was among those celebrating the reduced powers of the agency, saying he had suffered greatly under it.He said Integrity Centre, where KACC has its offices, had been turned into a secretariat to serve some selfish political interests.He revisited his past battles with KACC, saying he had won a major struggle when the agency previously summoned him to declare sources of his wealth.