SEPTEMBER 27, 2021.
STATEMENT BY HON. JAMES OPIYO WANDAYI ON PROPOSALS TO AMEND LEADERSHIP AND INTEGRITY ACT AND ELECTION ACT TO FIGHT CORRUPTION:
Ladies and gentlemen of the media.
Thank you for joining me at this briefing.
I have called you today to discuss an issue that ordinarily should be, but is not, at the centre of our discussions as we approach 2022 elections. I am talking about corruption.
We all agree that corruption is a crisis in Kenya.
Our own anti-corruption agencies have estimated that up to a third of the government budget Kenya’s state budget is lost to corruption every year. But even that is just an estimate. The exact scale of corruption in Kenya remains unknown. But its impact is massive.
Corruption is one of the biggest obstacles for Kenya’s business sector. It scares away foreign investors, taking away over 250,000 jobs every year. These are jobs our people desperately need.
Other recent surveys have indicated that one-in-six companies have to pay bribes to get operating licenses, and one-in-three companies need to bribe to obtain a construction permit.
Yet despite this grave picture, the corrupt have somehow arm-twisted and blackmailed Kenyans into believing that the corrupt should be left untouched. That corruption should not be talked about and that anyone championing a war against corruption is wrong and is simply engaging in vendetta.
I refuse to share this cynicism. I reject this invitation to Kenyans to stand by the sidelines and cheer the thieves as they plunder our country.
I am, therefore, here to inform you and the country that, I have initiated a process to amend the Leadership and Integrity Act 2012 and the Elections Act 2011.
The thrust of the proposed amendments, and which I trust will successfully go through the requisite stages and eventually sail through in the National Assembly, is to ensure temporary suspension of a state officer (elected or appointed) who has been formally charged for corruption or other crimes related to corruption. Such officers will be required to relinquish office, pending clearance by the courts. By the same token, persons who are facing corruption charges in court will be barred from being nominated as candidates for elective positions.
I am concerned that as a country, and despite the very progressive Chapter Six of the Constitution, we have tended to believe that people of no integrity, people who are corrupt, can implement integrity and anti-corruption laws when elected to leadership positions.
The truth is that the corrupt don’t change on acquiring leadership.
Instead, they use their positions to entrench corruption, make it part of the national culture and to protect their loot.
Men and women of no integrity use their rise to leadership to invent complex schemes to steal from the government and the people of Kenya and to protect their loot.
The best way to stop corruption in government is to stop corrupt people from getting into office either as elected leaders or appointed bureaucrats. And when some are detected to have somehow found their way into leadership and are suspected of trying to steal from the public, they must immediately be chucked out until it is proved that they are, indeed innocent. The many scandals that have rocked this country have been devised by men and women trusted with positions of leadership to protect public property.
We know the commonsense position that one is innocent until proven guilty and my initiative is not meant to deny that. However, I am inviting Kenyans to undertake a holistic reading of our Constitution. Suspects of corruption need to stay out of office until they are otherwise proved innocent upon which they could sue for compensation for the days spent out of office.
Enacting such a law of laws will cost the public no financial expense. But it I believe it will save the country billions of Kenya shillings and thousands of jobs.
I am happy to report that the Speaker of the National Assembly has already cleared this effort. It now proceeds to the other stages.
I call on the people of Kenya to support this initiative.
Let us be shameless, ruthless and unapologetic in our fight against corruption.