news analysis advocacy
No Easy Victories: African Liberation
and American Activists over a Half Century
New book discount offer!
tips on searching
   the web



Visit the AfricaFocus
Country Pages

Burkina Faso
Cape Verde
Central Afr. Rep.
Congo (Brazzaville)
Congo (Kinshasa)
Côte d'Ivoire
Equatorial Guinea
São Tomé
Sierra Leone
South Africa
South Sudan
Western Sahara

Get AfricaFocus Bulletin by e-mail!         Read more on |Kenya||Africa Politics & Human Rights||Africa Economy & Development|
URL for this file:

Print this page

Kenya: Corruption Fight Stalling

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Feb 11, 2005 (050211)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

The resignation of respected anti-corruption campaigner John Githongo from the Kenyan government has touched off new political furor that seems certain to escalate in coming weeks. In its two years in office, President Mwai Kibabi's government has initiated numerous anti-corruption investigations. But there is widespread skepticism that it has the will to deal with high-level corruption within its own ranks.

In a speech in May 2000, Githongo, who was the head of the Kenyan branch of Transparency International (TI), before joining the new government in early 2003, distinguished between the petty corruption of bribery among minor officials, grand corruption at senior ranks, and "looting" - scams of such a scale that they have macroeconomic impact. TI-Kenya's 2004 opinion survey on bribery indicated that some progress was being made against petty corruption. But Kenya still ranked 129 out of 146 countries in TI's 2004 global survey of perceptions of corruption. (Among African countries, Botswana at 31 and South Africa at 44 ranked the most free of corruption; among developed countries, Finland ranked first and the United States in 17th place.)

The United States suspended assistance to Kenya's anti-corruption program after Githongo's resignation, and other donors issued strong statements. Foreign Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere and Justice Minister Kiraitu Murungi vociferously denounced the criticism as foreign lies. But several other cabinet members, including Health Minister Charity Ngilu and Planning Minister Peter Anyang' Nyong'o, joined civil society critics in demanding that top officials involved in corruption should resign.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains a February 8 statement from Kenyan civil society and private sector organizations, a summary of recent developments from the UN's Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), excerpts from the 2004 Kenya Bribery Index report, and an extract from TI's 2004 Corruption Perceptions Index, with data on African and selected other countries.

For additional background and news links on Kenya, see,, and

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++

Civil Society and Private Sector Statement on the Resignation of the Permanent Secretary, Governance and Ethics, Office of the President

Press Release

Nairobi, 8 February 2005

[available on]

We, the undersigned civil society and private sector associations and organisations would like to express our anger and outrage at the implications of the resignation of John Githongo from the position of Permanent Secretary for Governance and Ethics under the Office of the President.

As the founder of the Kenyan chapter of Transparency International (TI), Githongo brought to the government ethical credibility and legitimacy whose financial benefits can only be said to be indisputable. Thus his resignation, despite already being framed by the government as being the result of 'professional opportunism' sounds the death knell on this government's purported anti-corruption effort.

The implications of his resignation are many, however much this government may try to dispute them:

First, his resignation makes it clear that the influence of reform-minded civil society actors in government with respect to accountability is over. We are particularly concerned about the fate of other former civil society actors in anti-corruption initiatives as well as in the Law Reform Commission and Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNHRC);

Second, his resignation makes it clear that of the two parallel imperatives within this government-the first being ethical and reform-minded and the second being corrupt and
politically-expedient-the latter is winning. We are especially concerned about the future of the so-called 'war against corruption' in this dynamic;

Third, his resignation makes it clear that the plethora of so-called anti-corruption initiatives need harmonisation and legal standing. We no longer believe in this government's commitment to hold individuals and institutions accountable for corruption. The Attorney-General's office, responsible for public prosecutions, has failed to use its Constitutional powers and has hence become an accomplice to corruption;

Fourth, Githongo's resignation from the position of advisor to the President on matters of ethics and governance, makes its clear that the President has lost interest in the anti-corruption effort in this country. We no longer have faith that the President's personal commitment to anti-corruption exists.

We therefore demand that:

  1. The President immediately dismisses all Cabinet ministers and suspends all senior government officials against whom substantive allegations of corruption have been made;
  2. The President immediately re-constitute his government on the basis of competence and integrity rather than the ethnic/regional considerations he clearly took into account in his last Cabinet expansion;
  3. Parliament consider a vote of no confidence in this government in the absence of Presidential action on the above;
  4. Parliament insist on the right to freedom of information and demand to subject to public scrutiny the budget for anti-corruption initiatives in this country and outcomes thereof;
  5. Civil society organisations, including the private sector, re-consider its engagement in smokescreen reform efforts such as the Governance, Justice and Law and Order Sector (GJLOS) programme until such accountability measures are taken;
  6. Citizens, local businesses and other civil society organisations halt the payment of all taxes until such accountability measures are taken.

In addition, we demand that the President and the rest of the Executive guarantee the personal safety of Githongo and that all human rights and media organisations in this country and elsewhere mobilise around his personal safety as a matter of urgency.

Date: February 8, 2005

Signed by the following civil society and private sector associations/organisations:

  1. African Women's Development and Communication Network (FEMNET): L. Muthoni Wanyeki, Executive Director
  2. Centre for Governance and Development (CGD): Kennedy Masime, Executive Director
  3. Centre for Legal Advocacy and Research International (CLARION): Winnie Mitullah, Executive Director
  4. Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness (CREAW): Ann Njogu, Executive Director
  5. Children's Rights Advocacy, Documentation and Legal Education (CRADLE): Millie Odhiambo, Executive Director
  6. Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW): Ms Kamau
  7. Constitutional Reform and Education Consortium (CRECO): Wambua Kituku, Coordinator
  8. EcoNews Africa: Grace Githaiga, Executive Director
  9. Institute for Education in Democracy (IED): Koki Muli, Executive Director
  10. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ): Philip Kichana, Executive Director
  11. Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM): Betty Maina, Chief Executive Officer
  12. Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC): Wanjiku Miano, Executive Director
  13. Kituo cha Sheria: Harun Ndubi, Executive Director
  14. Legal Resources Foundation (LFF): Jedidah Wakonyo, Executive Director
  15. Mazingira Institute: Davinder Lamba, Executive Director
  16. National Council Executive Committee (NCEC): Kepta Ombati, Executive Director
  17. Release Political Prisoners (RPP): Kangethe Mungai, National Coordinator
  18. Transparency International (TI)-Kenya: Gladwell Otieno, Executive Director
  19. Urgent Action Fund: Betty Murungi, Regional Director
  20. Youth Agenda: Danny Irungu, Chief Executive Officer

For further information, please contact Gladwell Otieno, Executive Director, TI-Kenya, Tel: 2727763/5

Kenya: Western donors urge action on reports of corruption and bad governance

Thursday 10 February 2005

IRIN, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

[This material may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.]

NAIROBI, 10 Feb 2005 (IRIN) - Western donors on Thursday urged the Kenyan government to act on reports of corruption and bad governance. They said graft was hurting Kenya and affecting efforts to put the East African country on track towards achieving development goals.

"We share the deep concern felt by the Kenyan people about lack of good governance and the damage it causes to the nation's welfare and the effective operation of its institutions," the European Union (EU) said in a statement signed by representatives of its member states and the European Commission's delegation in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

"The creation of the machinery to fight corruption was welcomed," it noted. "These institutions have been impeded in their operations and this week's resignation of the PS in the Office of Governance and Ethics has further emphasised the loss of credibility of the government in its political will to fight corruption."

"The government of Kenya must take the lead by addressing governance and especially corruption as part of an urgent effort to try to put Kenya back on track towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals," the statement added.

The statement followed a scathing attack on official corruption on 2 February by the UK ambassador in Nairobi, Sir Edward Clay, who told reporters: "Corruption is the single biggest impediment to good governance in Kenya [...] Many stones remain unturned ... many, many stones."

Clay said he had given President Mwai Kibaki a dossier of 20 new corruption cases expected to cost Kenyans millions of dollars.

Days after Clay's attack, John Githongo, the highest ranking anti-corruption official in the government, resigned 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.

On Tuesday, the US ambassador to Kenya, William Bellamy, told a business meeting in Nairobi: "Corruption in Kenya isn't a matter of 'kitu kidogo' [literally 'something small' in Kiswahili; a euphemism for 'bribe'], or of a few ministers skimming off commissions. It is big enough to cause macro-economic distortions."

Bellamy said 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 needed to come clean on allegations that some senior officials had been involved in corrupt acts.

Several cabinet ministers, however, told reporters in this week that despite the attack by Clay and Githongo's resignation, the will to contain corruption was still very strong within the government.

Foreign Minister Ali Makwere told a news conference on Tuesday: "Our audit reports show clearly that we are fighting corruption ... the ambassador [Clay] seems to know more that what he is telling us. The corruption fight is ours, not his."

Local Government Minister Musikari Kombo said the government would "not give up the fight", while Labour Minister Newton Kulundu said those making allegations of corruption against unnamed government officials needed to provide evidence.

On Saturday, Vice President Moody Awori had urged "some western envoys not to malign Kenya's name".

The 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, to head a new department in the presidential office that would advise Kibaki on how to fight corruption and declared "zero tolerance" for graft.

However, in a report on global perceptions of corruption released in December, Transparency International ranked Kenya 122nd out of 133 nations on a scale of least to most corrupt countries. It estimated that corruption could have cost Kenya up to $ 975 million in the last three years.

Kenya Bribery Index 2004

Transparency International-Kenya

[based on survey conducted in December 2003. Full survey report, including tables and comparative data for different government agencies and for urban and rural areas, available at]

Overview of the Findings

The survey indicates a very significant decrease of bribery from 2002. The percentage of encounters in which bribes were demanded or offered declined from 65 to 40 percent. Rural respondents reported a more significant reduction, from 67 percent to 36 percent, while the urban respondents reported a reduction from 64 percent to 44 percent. The experience is reflected across all socio-economic categories, that is across age, employment and income groups.

The survey indicates a very significant reduction in the cost of bribery to citizens, as measured by the average expenditure reported. This declined from an average of 3,905 shillings per person per month reported in 2002, to 1,261 shillings per person per month. Rural respondents reported a more significant reduction, from 3,254 shillings to 612 shillings translating to an 80 percent decrease. Urban residents reported a 56 percent decrease from 4,900 shillings to 1,960 shillings per person per month.

This reduction reflects reduced bribery activity, i.e., people are paying fewer bribes, than before, as opposed to smaller bribes. Indeed the average size of bribes rose from 2,300 to 3,960 shillings. The rural average bribe size increased more significantly, by 56 percent, while the urban average increased by 44 percent. This trend, a reduction in the average cost alongside an increase in the average size of bribes lends itself to two interpretations. First, it suggests a significant reduction in petty bribery. Second, it is also consistent with the perception of increased likelihood of being punished if caught, hence officials require bigger inducement to take the risk. The reduced bribery is reflected in an improvement in the aggregate index by 7.6 points, from an average 25.6 to 18. This in turn reflects a more significant improvement in the rural index, from 24.5 to 15.6. The urban index improved only marginally from 21.4 to 19.1.

Of the ten worst ranked organizations in 2002, the Ministry of Health registered the most significant improvement with an index score reduced from 34.6 to 12.7, a 63 percent improvement, followed by Other Local Authorities (excluding Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu) and the Immigration Department. Of the twenty worst ranked, the Ministry of Health, Other Local Authorities, Immigration Department and Public Hospitals retain the top positions, and are followed by Public Hospitals, the Registrar of Persons and the Judiciary.

Respondents were also asked to indicate their perceptions of change in the organizations that they dealt with as compared to the previous year. The perception of significant improvement increased from 5 to 14 percent of the responses, and perception of marginal improvement from 9 to 18 percent of the responses. Perceptions of significant deterioration declined from 23 percent to 9 percent and marginal deterioration from 11 percent to 4 percent of the responses. The percentage of responses citing no change did not register significant alteration.

The survey also sought to gauge citizen's willingness to report corruption to the authorities by asking respondents what kind of action they took, if any, on encountering bribery. The results show that in the majority of instances, the respondents bribed and kept quiet about it (58 percent), while in 18 percent of the cases, they declined to bribe and also kept quiet. In 14 percent of the cases, respondents bribed and talked about it to people other than the authorities, and in 5 percent of the instances, they declined and discussed it with people other than the authorities.

The overall results provide strong indication that the Government's campaign against corruption has had a
significant positive impact on the vulnerability of ordinary citizens to corruption, and petty bribery in particular. It is important to note however, that the survey does not adequately capture corruption at the higher levels - for instance, bribery in big public procurement projects. Similarly, a representative sample of the population will not adequately capture the bribery in an organization that affects a very specific, small segment of the population, even though this may be systemic and severe.

TI 2004 Corruption Perceptions Index

[African and selected other countries. For full index and additional data, see
CPI Score relates to perceptions of the degree of corruption asseen by business people and country analysts and ranges between 10 (highly clean) and 0 (highly corrupt).]
1.   Finland             9.7
5.   Singapore           9.3
11.  United Kingdom      8.6
12.  Canada              8.5
16.  Hong Kong           8.0
17.  USA                 7.5
20.  Chile               7.4
21.  Barbados            7.3
24.  Japan               6.9
31.  Botswana            6.0
39.  Tunisia             5.0
42.  Italy               4.8
44.  South Africa        4.6
48.  Seychelles          4.4
54.  Mauritius           4.1
54.  Namibia             4.1
64.  Ghana               3.6
64.  Mexico              3.6
74.  Gabon               3.3
77   Benin               3.2
77.  Egypt               3.2
77.  Mali                3.2
77.  Morocco             3.2
82.  Madagascar          3.1
85.  Senegal             3.0
90.  Gambia              2.8
90.  Malawi              2.8
90.  Mozambique          2.8
90.  Russia              2.8
90.  Tanzania            2.8
102. Algeria             2.7
102. Eritrea             2.6
102. Uganda              2.6
102. Zambia              2.6
108. Libya               2.5
114. Congo, Republic of  2.3
114. Ethiopia            2.3
114. Sierra Leone        2.3
114. Zimbabwe            2.3
122. Niger               2.2
122. Sudan               2.2
129. Cameroon            2.1
129. Kenya               2.1
133. Angola              2.0
133. Congo, Dem. Rep.    2.0
133. Cote d'Ivoire       2.0
142. Chad                1.7
144. Nigeria             1.6

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at Please write to this address to subscribe or unsubscribe to the bulletin, or to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please contact directly the original source mentioned. For a full archive and other resources, see