Kenya news

Graft: Major setback as Senate amends Conflict of Interest bill

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Integrity Centre

The fight against corruption in Kenya has been dealt a major blow following Parliament’s U-turn in enacting the Conflict-of-Interest Bill.

This is after the Senate unanimously amended the bill by deleting the provisions that provide sanctions for conflict of interest in both the Bill and other existing laws such as the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, 2003.

According to the Anti-graft Commission EACC which has taken a swipe at the Senators for allegedly mutilating the key legislation, no action will be taken against state officials doing business with Government or giving tenders to relatives.

“In what experts have termed as a dangerous move, the Senate of the Republic of Kenya, by a unanimous decision (25 to 0) mutilated the Conflict of Interest Bill by shockingly, removing EACC as implementing agency, from the Bill and vesting implementation role on public entities themselves, meaning that officials will investigate themselves for conflict of interest, contrary to Article 79 of the Constitution which provides for establishment of EACC for such responsibilities” said EACC spokesperson Eric Ngumbi.

The key legislation was initiated by the Cabinet in 2023 to tame the rampant embezzlement of public funds by state officials who trade with the Government directly or through relatives, associates and proxy companies linked to them.

It was then forwarded to the National Assembly for enactment into law, as part of the conditions imposed on Kenya by development partners such as IMF.

Experts have termed the move dangerous, arguing that the legal provisions in existing laws to be deleted as proposed by Senate are currently the bedrock for investigating and prosecuting persons embezzling public funds.

“For example, most Governors currently in court face charges relating to conflict of interest, and are charged alongside family members” said Ngumbi.

The amended bill has been returned to the National Assembly for concurrence and transmission to the President for assent.

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