Kenya's anti-corruption watchdog quits

KENYA'S LEADING anti-corruption official resigned yesterday in the latest blow to President Mwai Kibaki's administration, only days after the British High Commissioner accused the government of looting public coffers.

John Githongo said he "was no longer able to continue serving the government of Kenya" but gave no further reason for his departure as governance and ethics permanent secretary.

He was recruited in January 2003 from the anti-corruption non-governmental organisation Transparency International, to help President Kibaki's new administration tackle the fraud that became endemic under the 24-year rule of the former president, Daniel arap Moi. Privately, Mr Githongo told critics that his success in the clean-up should only be judged after two years in office.

Two years later, the country still remains close to the bottom of international corruption clean-up league tables. His exit is the latest blow to the government of Mwai Kibaki, which was elected in December 2002 on an anti- corruption ticket.

Donors have repeatedly warned that the country risks losing vital aid cash if it cannot clean up its accounts. Last night, Sir Edward Clay, British High Commissioner to Kenya and a persistent critic of the government's record, said Mr Githongo's resignation left a "large hole" in its anti- corruption efforts.

"Personally I respect John Githongo as a person of integrity, courage and principle," he said. "He was intensely committed to the patriotic task of clearing corruption out of government." Last week, Sir Edward reignited the debate over sleaze, launching an outspoken attack on progress so far.

He accused government officials of colluding with members of the previous Moi regime in milking cash from procurement deals. "We are not talking about minor corruption. We are talking about massive looting and/or grand corruption which has a huge impact on Kenya's economy," he said.

Sir Edward, who caused a similar furore with stronger language last July, said he had handed a dossier of 20 corruption cases to the government.

Other ambassadors echoed Sir Edward's criticisms. The US ambassador, William Bellamy, said corruption was costing the country millions in cash that should be used to fight Aids.

Many donors remain nervous that, without stronger guarantees, they cannot be sure where their money is going. They estimate sleaze has cost the country $1bn (pounds 550m) in the past three years - about a fifth of this year's budget.

The appointment of Mr Githongo was one of President Kibaki's first moves as he attempted to put his manifesto into action. His election ended the 24-year reign of Daniel arap Moi and brought the prospect of winning back lost foreign aid.

Mr Githongo, a former journalist, had previously led the Nairobi office of Transparency International. There were some signs of progress, with Kenya winning plaudits from Transparency International in its annual report last year.

The International Monetary Fund also resumed lending to the country after a four-year suspension. However, the Transparency International report still ranked Kenya 129 out of 144 countries last year and corruption officials are unable to point to a single high-profile conviction. Gladwell Otieno, who replaced Mr Githongo as the country's director of Transparency International, said that his departure was a blow for Kenya.

"If he has quit it is because there is nothing that can be done about corruption. Obviously, it has become apparent to him that there is no political commitment in the fight against corruption that would make a difference," she said.

Dr Alfred Mutua, a government spokesman, paid tribute to the work of Mr Githongo but added that Sir Edward's criticisms were nothing new.

"Almost all these contracts involved British companies working with unscrupulous Kenyans to rob Kenya blind," he said.

"When we have told development partners of where we are, and how we are conducting an internal audit, they are satisfied. Clay just comes up with the same old cases that we already know and pretends it is a new issue."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000+

£16000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map