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Why ODM cannot walk the talk on fighting corruption

Published on December 13, 2007, 12:00 am

By Dr Peter Kagwanja

The ODM manifesto promises to provide Kenyans with an “accountable leadership and an ethical governance agenda”. But some of its leaders are tainted by decades of involvement in corruption. The manifesto shows a monumental gap between the party’s promise and capacity to deliver.

More critically, the document exposes the nerve to smoother issues of integrity. The integrity gap in the ODM manifesto is even more egregious in the slipshod pledge to give Kenya a new Constitution within six months “to ensure executive accountability, equity and devolution of power”. ODM, like other parties, has its share of leaders implicated in high-profile corruption.

The manifesto seems designed to re-brand its leaders as anti-corruption paragons, enabling them to gatecrash into the national moral high ground. Some of the axial players in ODM are in their fourth reincarnation — from Kanu to Liberal Democratic Party, which secured them a new lease of life in the National Rainbow Coalition, as part of the team that promised zero-tolerance to corruption.

The ODM manifesto is rewriting history. It whitewashes the party leadership and repackages them as anti-corruption knights. The party is turning corruption into an electoral endgame; closing its mind to the old adage that those living in glasshouses should not throw stones.

It fi nds itself in this conceptual mire for simply missing one crucial point: Corruption pervades the entire population. The ODM manifesto is tall as a vote-catching document, but short on strategy. Its architects seem not to come to grips with the national context of corruption, a sine qua non (prerequisite) for a watertight anti-graft strategy. The manifesto tees off by trashing the offi ce of ‘corruption czar’.

Yet ODM has always feted Mr John Githongo, the former Permanent Secretary for Ethics and Governance, now crowned as “anti-corruption czar” for whistle blowing. It is this office, which nabbed new entrants into the mega-corruption game.

The party promises to rationalise the expensive tenure of the Anti-Corruption Commission. I am afraid this appears like a sharpening of the axes to bring down Justice Aaron Ringera and his team.

The ODM pledges to establish a Truth and Restitution Commission to bring closure to past corruption crimes. But it is not clear how it intends to proceed on asset recovery, amnesty and restitution.

Does the ODM plan to resort to presidential fiat in recovery? The manifesto undertakes to work with the UN and the World Bank under the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative. How does ODM plan to execute this in regard to its own?

The party pledges to review public procurement laws and procedures to make them transparent and corruption-free. The Government has already reviewed procurement laws and procedures in the civil bureaucracy. ODM promises to implement the Public Offi cer Ethics Act and transparency, but isn’t the party not acknowledging that these instruments have been implemented?

Again, rather than focus on the missing links in the system, the ODM sets out on a fl ower-catching rendezvous.

The writer is based in Pretoria, South Africa

About SG

Secretary general of Chama Cha Mwananchi. This blog www.chamachamwananchi.wordpress.com, is based in Sweden.


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