Kenyan auditor general warns of high-level corruption

15 Jun 18

Corruption across all levels of the Kenyan government is threatening the integrity and basic function of the state, according to the country’s auditor general.

His warning comes amid a flurry of scandals involving public officials in Kenya who are alleged to have been stealing from the state since president Uhuru Kenyatta took office in 2013.

The government announced earlier this month that procurement and accounting chiefs would have to take lie-detector tests in the latest move to root out corruption in the East African state. Kenyatta said that senior government officials should undergo “fresh vetting”.

Edward Ouko, Kenya’s auditor general, told Reuters in an interview on Thursday: “If we don’t watch out, [corruption] will engulf us.”

His audit findings have suggested that the involvement by civil servants and other officials to steal billions of Kenyan shillings annually is coordinated at a high level, he said.

Ouko, who is an accountant and was appointed in 2011, has a mandate to promote accountability and transparency in the public sector.

In 2014, he recommended the system to be reformed but was ignored by the Kenyan parliament and his programme was never implemented, he said.

“It makes me angry that the weaknesses which we had revealed about the Integrated Management Information System’s potential abuses were not acted upon,” he added, speaking about the government’s payments system.

The most recent scandals in Kenya have involved fake tenders and suppliers, allegedly resulted in hundreds of millions of shillings being stolen by state officials.

Dozens of officials and individuals are in custody over theft at the National Youth Service, which aims to train young people and create jobs.

Ouko said he produced a report for parliament on a scandal in the same agency in 2015, where he believed roughly 1.6bn shillings “had gone out of the window”.

But he said the parliament did not take any action to tackle what he had identified, including faulty procurement and payment systems.

“My report was completely ignored,” he said.

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