By KENNEDY CHESOLI
(photo credit: Nation Media0
It may be dawning on Kenyans that the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) are appendages of State House. They are neither autonomous nor independent as expected.
We have a rich list of suspects arraigned or alleged to be under investigation which, if examined, paints a disturbing picture of bias.
It’s clear: sympathisers of the “Tangatanga” movement, which is allied to Deputy President William Ruto, have higher chances of being hauled to court over corruption allegations than any other group.
This weaponisation of the war on corruption is undemocratic and counterproductive.
Kenyans have the right to question the use of taxpayers’ money on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) — a private initiative by President Kenyatta and opposition chief Raila Odinga whose task force members were handpicked in secrecy.
The public neither vetted them nor reviewed and contributed to their terms of reference.
DOUBTS ON BBI
Critics have rightfully noted that the process itself undermines our collective aspirations for a democratic society anchored on constitutional offices and commissions.
Besides, it is foolhardy for 47 million Kenyans to stake their hope on just two individuals to find solutions to our deep-seated social and economic challenges.
Kenya, as much of Africa, has worked hard to rid itself of the debilitating ‘Big Man’ disease.
We have chosen the pathway of popular democracy, the rule of law and constitutionalism. It would, therefore, be a mistake to permit the rise, once again, of this failed system of governance.
Kenyans are increasingly speaking up regarding BBI. Some are asking the President and Mr Odinga to give up control of the process by expanding its task force to include all stakeholders.
Contrary to claims that the ‘Handshake’ united the country, Aden Duale, the majority leader in the National Assembly, now says it has a polarising effect.
Others see it as nothing more than unnecessary distraction from the financial hardship Kenyans face.
Worse, there are those who perceive it as part of the succession politics and a controversial pathway designed to birth political formations ahead of the 2022 elections.
Corruption engenders poverty and inequality through inept leadership, loss of public resources, failing institutions and crony capitalism.
There’s widespread abuse of office at both national and county levels. But while the public expects law enforcers to indiscriminately fight corruption, this may not happen.
It is unimaginable that the DCI could today investigate graft allegations against, say, the President or his close allies.
There is no sufficient firewall to guarantee real independence and autonomy to the DCI or ODPP.
On the contrary, the Executive can manipulate them to engage in partisan and biased investigation and prosecution.
Some see it as an overreach of authority for the President, through his national officers, to occasion the stepping aside of a sitting governor accused of corruption.
In the spirit of devolution, it would be imperative to guarantee the autonomy and independence of county governments.
The President could, essentially, force governors with divergent political and economic ideology to step aside by instituting frivolous cases against them.
There are plans for legislation that would give immunity to sitting governors. While it is a positive attempt, it’s problematic, especially for governors doing back-to-back terms.
We simply cannot wait for 10 years to bring a corrupt governor to justice.
One option would be to devolve DCIs and ODPPs to the counties as elective positions — as it’s the case in some jurisdictions.
That could empower counties to investigate and prosecute crimes and give citizens the capacity to hire and fire such officers with re-election chances based on performance rather than patronage.
Probably more importantly, it would protect devolution by creating a firewall to prevent national governments from interfering with county leaderships.
This article was originally published on The Nation.