OPINION: Kinoti is right, graft war can only succeed with cooperation of Judiciary, DCI, EACC and DPP
By Dr. Sam Kamau
A video of an agitated Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Director George Kinoti went viral recently, showing the no-nonsense sleuth fuming at how frustrations at the courts had tied his hands in trying to secure prosecution in many corruption cases.
Using the extreme example of how the Mafia – the Italian organised crime syndicate – was exterminated when all the arms of the justice department came together, Mr Kinoti prayed that in Kenya, the anti-crime agents vow to unite and put to a stop corruption which President Kenyatta recently admitted was costing the country Ksh.2 billion every day.
The DCI lamented that his agency had found it difficult to proceed with investigations, especially on corruption-related cases because the Judiciary was always issuing one injunction after another.
So, what did he propose as the way forward? He said the answer lies in these institutions working in harmony and reinforcing each other’s efforts. That they should find a way to support and not distract or undermine each other. It is common knowledge that corruption is one of the most intractable of the challenges retarding development in Kenya.
Numerous efforts have been made to root out this scourge with little success. One of the reasons cited for this motion without movement is the absence of a genuine commitment and goodwill among the leaders.
Also, key institutions that ought to work in tandem to fight the menace are pulling in different directions. As a change of guard takes place at the Judiciary, the focus now shifts to how the new Chief Justice, once in office, will go about cultivating a working relationship with the DCI, The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission as well other players in the battle against the theft of public resources.
The moment Kenya discovers a formula in which these institutions can work in unison, and speak in one voice, the fight against corruption will be largely won. Yet an office is as good as its holder.
The jury is still out as to why former Chief Justice Maraga had a difficult relationship with the Executive, but many have pointed to his obstinacy and naivety which often saw him stick to the letter of the law, even when it was its spirit that was needed more, and rubbed many stakeholders the wrong way.
This is a path that Chief Justice Martha Koome must not take. Fortunately for her, those who know her well have praised her as the kind of leader the judiciary needs to address the delivery of justice that Kenyans have been yearning for. Still, when she sets off on her onerous responsibilities, she needs to carefully interrogate the hurdles that stand in the way of a collaborative effort between and amongst anti-graft agencies.
Kenyans have great expectations from CJ Koome’s tenure. Her appointment is unprecedented given that she is the first woman to hold the office. Also, as a woman, she is expected to bring some measure of motherly softness to the rough and tumble of the corridors of justice which Kenyans have been familiar with for ages.
What this means is that justice will be delivered as efficiently as possible and be seen to be so. There is also a chance that under her watch, a better working relationship will be cultivated with all institutions that work in the realm of justice delivery. Judiciary, by its very place, plays a critically indispensable role in the war on corruption.
Mr Kinoti’s tirade is, therefore, a damning indictment against such an important institution. Ms Koome’s court must take a different trajectory. Globally, women are increasingly demonstrating that they are more than capable in providing leadership when called upon to do so.
Leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern are two of the rising number of women who are breaking new ground, bringing a breath of fresh air and new perspectives in the way societal challenges are addressed.
The two leaders have led their respective countries through prosperous epochs. Justice Koome is thus in good company and has a golden opportunity to go into the annals of history as the judicial leader who finally bent the arc of Kenya’s future towards justice, and an instrumental player in slaying the hydra-headed monster of corruption that has been mercilessly eating into the soul of the nation for ages.
Once Justice Koome settles into her new office, her plate will certainly be full, considering the challenges facing the courts. It would be advisable for her to make the fight against corruption one of her priorities. She needs to swiftly move to listen keenly to the grievances of stakeholders such as Mr Kinoti, the EACC chief, and find a workable solution that bring synergy and energy into the anti-graft war.
The writer is a Senior Lecturer at the Graduate School of Media and Communications, Aga Khan University. The views expressed are his own.
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