President Uhuru Kenyatta has said he will sack corruption suspects in his government once they are charged in court, putting the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations on the receiving end.
The Head of State, while making his second State State of the Nation address since he was re-elected, maintained his stance on “no turning back” on, among other issues, corruption and the Building Bridges Initiative but warned against taking any action outside the confines of the law.
“Mr. Speakers. I must say that I have been under so much pressure on who I am sacking,” the president told a joint sitting of parliament.
“My Administration has opened an all-out assault on Corruption. There will be no turning back in the War against Corruption and Impunity. There will be no sacred cows, no compromise. The fight against corruption is a fight for the soul of our nation.”
He added: “I must […] caution that the pursuit of the corrupt will be undertaken strictly within the remits of the law – and not through vigilante justice and pitchfork protest.”
President Kenyatta said accused persons will be heard first before being condemned, pointing out that the role of the media was to shape narratives to “rally our resolve as they should” but not define the outcome of the legal processes which are in the hands of different independent government institutions.
“My Administration has strengthened the investigative, law-enforcement and prosecutorial functions of Government and embraced the multi-agency approach to encourage joint intelligence sharing, investigation and prosecution.”
President Kenyatta seems to have learnt, the hard way, from his decision in 2015 to present a list of shame during his SOTN address sacking five Cabinet Secretaries, later admitting it led to him “paying a heavy political price”; and now wants to avoid taking that path ever again.
He is adamant that he will “act and remove from government any individual who will have a case to answer before court.”
This is the clearest indication that mere mention of involvement in corruption would not warrant action from the president, meaning DCI and ODPP must be expeditious in investigating and instituting charges for suspects to appear in court.
“I remain confident in our investigative and prosecutorial institutions to diligently deliver justice on the strength of the evidence and in fidelity to the law.”
His challenge goes beyond directing the ball at George Kinoti and Noordin Hajji’s doors, Uhuru charging at the other arms of government, who must play their critical role if Kenyans were to see more convictions and not the cynical theatrics during arrests, abuse of privilege and exploitation of judicial processes to protect suspects.
Corruption cases, he insists, must be heard on a priority basis.
“Kenyans have spoken loudly and challenged us as leaders to do all it takes to eradicate this cancer. This they did during the National Anti-Corruption Conference held in January this year, where they tasked me, the Speakers of Parliament, the Chief Justice and the Council of Governors to commit to various demands that would entrench and widen the fight against corruption.
“That is why we look to the Judiciary to do their part, to apply the law firmly and fairly; and for Parliament to uphold high standards, mindful of the strategic interests of the nation in the exercise of their legislative and oversight mandate […] Parliament should seek to selflessly serve in public trust and guard against pursuits of self-interests.”
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