March 31, 2005
Nairobi: The Canadian government warned Kenya on Thursday it faced an uphill task in persuading donors to pledge aid at a meeting next month because of concerns over high-level “grand corruption”.
Many Kenyans and donors complain that graft is worsening despite President Mwai Kibaki’s 2002 election promise to wipe it out.
“The sad reality is that allegations of grand corruption involving senior levels of government are holding back donors like Canada from deepening their assistance to Kenya,” Jim Wall, Canada’s High Commissioner to Kenya, told reporters.
He made the comments before an annual meeting on April 11-12 where donors usually make new financial pledges. Wall said Canada was likely to make no new pledges at the meeting, but added he was keen to hear the Kenyan government’s defence against allegations of corruption involving top officials.
“Pending more facts and more actions . . . Canada will probably review the situation as opposed to announcing new commitments,” Wall said at a ceremony where Canada gave Kenya 800 million shillings for education and governance efforts.
The meeting could also influence the outcome of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission in the country to review its programme with Kenya, government officials said.
Donors have demanded answers regarding passport and security contracts awarded to a shadowy company.
Analysts said the position taken by Canada, which is considered one of Kenya’s more sympathetic donors, foreshadows much lower overall pledges from the meeting – significantly less than the $4.1 billion pledged at the last meeting.
Donors have been slow to release the pledged funds due to the corruption concerns and sluggish pace of economic reforms such as privatisation and new procurement laws.
Kenya’s Finance Minister David Mwiraria said the corruption charges had badly damaged Kenya’s image. He told Reuters that some donors were pushing the visiting IMF mission to take a harder look at its Kenyan programme as a result.
“The problem is the perceived corruption which is not there,” Mwiraria said. “We hope that at the end of the two-day consultative meeting there shall be a better understanding between the government and the donor community.”