United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
February 16, 2005
Nairobi: Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki shuffled his cabinet on Monday, just days after western donors had urged his government to act on reports of corruption and bad governance.
In a statement announcing that two permanent secretaries had been dropped, the president said the changes were aimed at improving government service delivery, accountability and efficiency, and called for greater transparency and speedy implementation of social programmes.
Among others, the changes saw Chris Murungaru go from the ministry for internal security in the president’s office to the transport portfolio. He was replaced by John Michuki, who had been the transport minister. Several other junior ministers were also moved, while some departments merged.
On Thursday last week donors had said graft was hurting Kenya and affecting efforts to put the East African country on track to achieving development goals. The European Union said in a statement that institutions created to fight corruption had been impeded in their operations.
The EU statement followed a scathing attack on official corruption on February 2 by the UK high commissioner in Nairobi, Edward Clay, who told reporters: “Corruption is the single biggest impediment to good governance in Kenya . . . Many stones remain unturned . . . many, many stones.” He said he had given Kibaki a dossier of 20 new corruption cases, which were expected to cost Kenyans millions of dollars.
Following Clay’s attack, John Githongo, a well-known anti-corruption crusader, resigned his job as Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President in charge of Governance and Ethics. In a message to Kibaki, sent from London on Monday, Githongo said he was no longer able to carry out his duties.
The US ambassador to Kenya, William Bellamy, told a business meeting in Nairobi the next day that the US government would withhold US $2.5 million in aid to Kenya’s anti-corruption campaign until it “could gain a clear picture of the government’s true intentions.”
Local NGOs and church leaders joined the fray, saying the government was not doing enough to fight corruption. Twenty NGO leaders called a news conference on Tuesday and insisted the government come clean on allegations that some senior officials had been involved in corrupt acts.
Kenya’s current government came to power in 2003 after campaigning against corruption and other perceived ills. It appointed Githongo, who was working for the anti-corruption NGO, Transparency International (TI), to head a new department that would advise Kibaki on fighting corruption, and declared a “zero tolerance” for graft.
In a report on global perceptions of corruption released in December 2004, TI ranked Kenya 122nd out of 133 nations on a scale of least to most corrupt countries.