Ex-adviser accuses Kenya of graft "free for all" | world | Hindustan Times
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Ex-adviser accuses Kenya of graft "free for all"

A corruption "free-for-all" is the glue holding together Kenya's fragile coalition government, a former anti-corruption adviser was quoted as saying.

world Updated: Feb 08, 2009 19:59 IST

A corruption "free-for-all" is the glue holding together Kenya's fragile coalition government, a former anti-corruption adviser was quoted as saying.

President Mwai Kibaki and his former opponent turned premier, Raila Odinga, were forced into a shaky union in 2008 to stop the killing that followed a disputed presidential election.

But their administration has failed to stamp out the corruption that has pervaded east Africa's biggest economy for decades, political analysts said.

"The kind of free-for-all graft that is being reported about is what keeps everyone at the feeding trough. This is honey badger season and all the badgers have their snouts in the honey," former anti-corruption adviser to Kibaki, John Githongo, told the Sunday Standard newspaper.

"Corruption is the glue holding together the coalition since it is clear it's not any reform programme, ideological platform or shared values."

There was no immediate comment from the government. "I haven't read the report yet. Let me read it then we can talk later," government spokesman Alfred Mutua told Reuters.

Kenyans have been angry about news of graft in the maize and fuel sectors that emerged in the middle of a food shortage.

Githongo fled to Britain in 2005 after blowing the whistle on the "Anglo Leasing" affair, one of Kenya's biggest graft scandals, in which state contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars were awarded to phantom firms.

"GHOSTS DON'T DIE"

Kenya asked Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to investigate some of the contracts and British investigators carried out searches at a number of private and business addresses in May 2008.

But the SFO said on Thursday it had ended the inquiry because Nairobi had failed to supply them with evidence.

Githongo said the SFO decision was a stinging indictment of the government's commitment to end corruption. He said the faces behind the phantom firms would eventually emerge.

"Ghosts don't die. That is why they are ghosts and I have always insisted these ghosts have faces and people in this government are their good friends."

In response to the SFO decision to drop investigations, the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC) pointed a finger at the high courts which it said had ordered a halt to the inquiry. But Githongo said the KACC was a hindrance.

"If you want to walk scot free, send your case to the KACC and a cloud of bureaucratic dust and legalese will be thrown up obscuring even truths that are apparent to the man and woman on the street," he said.

Kenya is facing a serious shortage of the main staple maize after reserves were depleted in deals. Some MPs have asked Agriculture Minister William Ruto, a key Odinga ally, to resign to allow an inquiry.

"It is almost as if the country has been occupied by aliens prepared to destroy those from whom they profit. However, the widespread public outrage is heartening," Githongo said.