Mr. Githongo goes to Washington

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We should thank Kenya for at least two things with regard to the world wide fight against corruption; for the very courageous Mr. John Githongo, former anti-corruption chief of Kenya and the its links with the formation of Transparency International. According to Sebastian Malleaby, “Peter Eigen, the World Bank’s former representative in Kenya, grew so frustrated with the Bank’s refusal to confront corruption that he left to set up Transparency International, a corruption watchdog, in 1993. Several of his former colleagues wanted the Bank to back his experiment with a donation, but this was opposed as a violation of the Bank’s apolitical charter by the chief counsel.” (p. 417-18, The World’s Banker).

Githongo in a recent event at Cato explained in more detail the ongoing corruption sagas that are continuing in Kenya and offered his insights in the fight against corruption. A couple of points he made are well worth highlighting; that security related procurement has become the last refuge of the corrupt and retribution not prosecution should be the focus. The corrupt politicians are more than happy to go to court and more often they have better paid lawyers.

Professor George Ayittey was actually the more accomplished speaker at the event; he pointed it out that in a lot of countries the governments are in effect vampire states ruled by bandits and thugs. As he says, “We remove one rat from office only for the next cockroach to do the very same things!

So what does this all mean for well-meaning westerners who are dieing to help Africa; more foreign aid says Bono and Sachs.

"Foreign aid has done more harm to Africa than we care to admit. It has led to a situation where Africa has failed to set its own pace and direction of development free of external interference. Today, Africa's development plans are drawn thousands of miles away in the corridors of the IMF and World Bank. What is sad is that the IMF and World Bank "experts" who draw these development plans are people completely out of touch with the local African reality."

- Dr. Joshat Karanja, a former Kenya member of parliament, in New African, June 1992, 20.

Ayittey suggests smart aid focusing on developing a free and independent media, a vigilant civil society and improve the rule of law by directly assisting the people.

The opportunity costs of corruption are huge; according to George Ayittey, African Union estimates it costs Africa 148 billion dollars a year. In Kenya a recent report highlights,

The Kibaki government had spent $12.5 million on luxury cars, largely for personal use by top Kenyan officials. That is enough to pay for eight years of school for 25,000 children or provide anti-retroviral treatment for an entire year for nearly 150,000 people living with HIV/AIDS

It heartening to hear that recent set backs for democracy in Kenya haven’t led to general apathy among the people, ‘people even pity the politicians’ and even civil servants have come forward with complaints of misuse. Too often civil servants forget public service means serving the people not individuals.

One has to be aware that corrupt governments are often able to talk the rhetoric that the international community likes to hear and will enact elaborate anti corruption laws and as Ayittey jokingly says, “If you tell government to reduce spending, they will open a 'Ministry of Less Government Spending”

Related Links:

- George B. N. Ayittey presentation at Princeton on his book ‘Africa Unchained’ (webcast)

- The New Path for Africa: Establishing Free-Market Societies (audio of Ayittey at Independent Institute)

- Githongo’s Report on Kenya corruption and an interview with him at TI

- Two Kenyan bloggers comments on the Githongo Speech; Whisperin Inn and Medusa

- TI Kenya

- Rhetoric and Reality- An AEI conference on Africa; one of the presenters is George Ayittey (webcast)

- Interview with Robert Guest, African editor of the Economist

1 Comment

Extremely good links and good reading.
Kenyamoto managed to get a face-face interview with Mr. Githongo. Although there was no "new" information on the scandals,the interview and subsequent views of kenyans in attendance is a must see for all Kenyans concerned about our country.

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This page contains a single entry by Paul published on April 2, 2006 11:27 PM.

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