RAILA WARNS UHURU OF TOUGH TIMES
Cord leader Raila Odinga has told the Jubilee administration not to expect any leniency from the Opposition in its push for transparent and corruption-free government.
Raila instead told Jubilee to prepare for robust leadership by the Opposition in the fight against graft and for accountability.
In a speech read on his behalf by nominated MP Dr Oburu Oginga during the closing of the Accountability Kenya conference in Kisumu yesterday, the former Prime Minister said the planned referendum on a raft of is issues is part of the war.
“Corruption is at the centre of land conflicts in various parts of our country today. Corruption is at the centre of the insecurity that has claimed hundreds of lives and led to the closure of numerous businesses. Corruption is pushing our debts to unprecedentedly high levels as we borrow astronomical amounts to finance hugely inflated projects to accommodate the appetites of rent-seekers,” Raila said.
Corruption has stifled recruitment of honourable police officers because people had to pay to join the force, he said. Ordinarily, this is the job of the patriotic and the committed, not of the highest bidder. That is how badly we need to reinforce accountability,” he added.
Raila said this is the reason the Opposition is making land an issue in the planned referendum to come up with “water tight and lasting ways to ensure people who lost lands to grabbers get them back on well-defined terms and to ensure no one ever musters the courage to steal land from individuals and the public again.”
He appealed to institutions of the National Government to strengthen audit offices in counties. He complained that county governments have become the “punching bags” over corruption by bureaucrats keen to deflect attention from the vice in the National Government.
“While corruption must be fought at all levels, the focus on governors who have only been in office for a year looks suspicious and can be viewed as part of the wider scheme to kill devolution. This is why we are taking devolution to the referendum. We want to harness and protect devolved units and enable them stand firmly on their own feet so that they are not victims of acts of ‘magnanimity’ of officials of the National government,” he said.
He called for increasing counties’ investigative and prosecution capability, in addition to greater scrutiny of their expenditure through county assembly oversight and civil society engagement.
“We must stop the idea that county governments exist to be supervised by National Governments before it is taken to destructive levels. Instead, we must invest in helping counties address corruption in their ranks,” he said.
County governments as viable units of investment must also be supported in tackling money laundering and fraud, as well as corruption by foreign investors and companies seeking county business, Raila said.
Thus, Cord is keen to give governors some say in and control over aspects of security to enable them to trace, seize and recover illicit financial flows into their areas and tackle bribery and fraud by foreign companies and individuals.
Jubilee is steadily backtracking on its promise to run an open, collaborative and participatory government, Raila said.
The routine information that citizens require to make informed decisions is being classified as top government secrets, he said, citing the difficulties PAC faced in seeking information on a jet hired by the government to fly its officers on a six-nation trip within the first month in office.
Similarly, it was difficult for the Public Investment Committee to get information on the company that won the tender to construct the Standard Gauge Railway when files disappeared from the office of the Registrar of Companies, he said..