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Vol 45 No 11

Published 28th May 2004


Kenya

Fighting mighty magendo

After 18 months in power, the government faces some critical tests in its anti-corruption struggle

'Anti-corruption campaigns are good politics ­ they're popular with the voters!' a smiling senior official told Africa Confidential last week. That's true only if the campaigns work: Kenyan voters are a sceptical lot. The anti-corruption credentials of President Mwai Kibaki's government are under heavy scrutiny on two counts: holding to account those responsible for the grand corruption of the 1990s and early 2000: the fake export schemes, the land grabs, the extorters of commissions on contracts and trade; and more urgently, to stop those corrupt practices from continuing under the new order. A new cabal ­ of business, politicians and civil servants ­ is trying to push through lucrative deals. Procurement is big business: about half of the government's budget of over 200 billion Kenya shillings (US$2.3 bn.) is spent on it and now subject, in theory, to more stringent rules, introduced last year. Previously, procurement decisions had been devolved to individual ministries: the new rules centralise decision-making in the Treasury with decisions taken by the Permanent Secretary, subject to final assessment by the Finance Minister.

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