Date: Fri, 20 Jan 1995 22:45:57 -0500
Sender: The African Global Experience <>
From: Nyanchama Matunda <matunda@GAUL.CSD.UWO.CA>
Subject: Kenya: Land of Waving Palms (fwd)
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From Fri Jan 20 11:47 EST 1995
Date: Fri, 20 Jan 95 18:44 EET
From: Inter Press Service Harare <>
To: Multiple recipients of list <>
Subject: Message from Ipshre

Land Of The Waving Palms

By Horace Awori, IPS, 20 January 1995

NAIROBI, Jan 20 (IPS)—How bad is corruption in Kenya? Pretty bad judging from the fact researchers into the problem we re asked for bribes and other favours from people they attempted to interview.

Some of the respondents asked us to buy them beer or give them money, lamented one of the organisers, Smokin Wany ala. In the process of discovering how corruption manifests itself, we even participated in it.

Addressing a seminar this week on the studies findings, Wanyala said: We were in church premises for the research e xercise in one part of Kenya. We gave out 76 pens for filling in the questionnaires, and only got back two.

Apparently, even in the confines of a church, people had no pangs of conscience over such an act.

The 319-page report, 'The anatomy of corruption: legal, political and socio-economic perspectives' was undertaken by the centre for Law and Research International (LARION)—a local non-governmental organisation made up of lawyers and s ocial scientists.

The findings are a riveting if depressing account of a culture of graft. The report concludes: Corruption permeates every nook and corner of Kenyan society with the public sector recording the highest percentage of corrupt practices.

The detailed account argues the political arrangement in Kenya, based on a patron-client system, cannot help but enco urage corruption.

Other points cited include the ineffectiveness of the police and legal system, the weakness of democratic institution s, ethnicity along with nepotism, and, quite simply, lack of patriotism and sin.

The LARION project was funded by the Danish Development Agency, DANIDA, to the tune of about 112,000 dollars.

Counselor at the Danish embassy, Niels Severin Munk, said its conclusions justified DANIDA's decision to slash its a id allocation to Kenya in 1995 by almost 50 percent.

Funding by the development agency has fallen to around 13 million dollars for this year, compared to 25 million in 19 94, because of the pervasive and significant corruption at all levels of government. Next year, it will drop to 10.8 million dollars.

Danish aid is concentrated on water, health and poverty alleviation programmes. We hate to freeze funds for such pr ojects for the poor, Munk said, but pointed out the experience of fraud and government political interference.

That meant the management of Danish aid has taken on a neo- colonialist flavour forcing external audits on funding utilisation. But even when embezzlement was detected, the authorities could not be counted on to investigate and prosec ute.

In the political arena, the report points out that appointments to the civil service, parastatal firms and corporatio ns do not generally take into account ability, or competence. Quite often its the loyalty to the executive and desire to dispense favours and patronage that are critical.

It notes, in the extreme cases, tribalism and ethnicity became the basic criteria of appointments.

Parliament and other institutions, particularly the judiciary, have become merely symbolic, as most parliamentarian s and judges succumb and become fools to the monolithic power of the executive.

Fear of political competition and defeat also increases corruption as those in power spend lavishly on elaborate ca mpaigns, bribing the electorate by money siphoned from the public treasury.

Western donors have been shouting themselves hoarse in an attempt to get the government of President Daniel Arap Moi to clean up its act.

But, because his political position and the influence of the ruling Kenya African National Union depends on an abilit y to dispense patronage, he has turned a deaf ear.

Most donors however prefer to believe the government's assurances that reforms are underway.

At the seminar this week, called to discuss the study, Kenyan university Prof Katam Mkangi told IPS that to combat co rruption, strong independent institutions were needed.

Prof Kivutha Dibwana of the University of Nairobi law faculty stressed the problem of over-statism in Kenya.

His call for a public awareness campaign (otherwise we can talk until the cows come home but corruption will still be with us) was taken up by the seminar.

It concluded there was a need for the school curriculum to contain concrete programmes on social ethics and good citi zenry. It also pointed out that an end to over- bureaucratisation, which offered the temptation to cut corners with a bribe, would go a long way to curbing corruption.