Sh7 trillion down the toilet, and counting…

In the last decade, thieves in government have stolen – and borrowed to steal – the equivalent of five years of our annual budget. And this is only the figure they have been careless enough to reveal

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By NLM Writer

Kenya’s perennial near-bottom scores in Transparency International’s Corruption Index has not always been out of nothing.

An online forum, Corruption Tracker, “an archive of corruption stories in Africa”, has documented 142 reported scandals since 2004 revealing a staggering figure of Sh6.92 trillion of mony stolen or misused.

This translates to a conservative figure of Sh461.4 billion every year since 2004 (some recent estimates have placed the annual average at more than Sh1 trillion a year lost or unaccounted for). As the monies are stolen or misused, several capital projects have stalled. The tracker records that in 2018 alone, some 11 projects consisting of hospitals, markets, High Commissioner’s residence in Islamabad, Pakistan, courts, and stadiums among others were reported stalled. The tracker puts the total cost of the stalled projects at Sh15.4 billion.

A crunching of numbers from the periodic annual reports by the Auditor General in recent times reveals that, on average, Edward Ouko has queried more than Sh1 trillion lost, misappropriated or stolen outright since 2014. 

A report published in the third quarter of 2018 revealed that Kenya’s super-rich are holding more than Sh5 trillion in offshore tax havens across the world. The individuals, who the report by American think tank National Bureau of Economic Research did not name, form the cream of Kenya’s wealthiest, and mostly use the offshore accounts to hide ill-gotten trillions, evade taxes and steer clear of Kenyan laws.

The irony, however, is that while the country is being plundered to bare bones and projects remain completed, external debts have kept on rising. In the period between 2013 and 2018, the country had taken loans amounting Sh524.3 billion from China, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The staggering cost of corruption comes in the form of bribes, embezzlement, tax evasion, crooked procurement practices that inflates product prices, and outright stealing from public coffers.

Since 2010 when the current constitution was promulgated, Auditor General Edward Ouko has been reporting at least a trillion shillings every year which the government departments misused or cannot support expenditure with documentary evidence.

Despite the reports coming out every year and with more damning findings every time, no action is taken on those involved. Instead, the Auditor General becomes the punching bag for those who cannot account for the public monies entrusted to them.

Kenya dropped one point in the 2018 global Corruption Perception Index (CPI) by the Transparency International that came out in January 2019.

According to Transparency International, the country obtained a score of 27 out of 100, a decline from 28 points scored in 2017 (with zero perceived to be highly corrupt, and 100 very clean). The 2019 score was 16 points is below the global average of 43 and five points Sub Saharan Africa’s mean of 32.  

The below-par score placed Kenya at position 144 out of 180 countries and territories listed in the CPI.

“In the past five years, Kenya’s score has ranged between 25 and 28, having scored 28 in 2017, 26 in 2016, and 25 in 2015 and 2014, demonstrating that efforts to tackle corruption have borne little results,” Transparency International Kenya said in a statement during the release of the CPI.

Every year, the Auditor General’s Office presents eye-watering figures of funds stolen by state actors.

Under the corruption tracker, one of the biggest scandals listed are the first Eurobond that raised Sh250 billion but which money has never been properly accounted for and President Uhuru Kenyatta was very angry when the Auditor General Edward Ouko announced that he wanted to follow the international money trail.

“With investigations never even started, the Auditor General beaten down by the President and a marked lack of enthusiasm from the US (especially by the New York Federal Reserve) it is unlikely that we will know who stole nearly US$1billion of taxpayers’ money,” the African Centre for Open Governance (Africog) concluded in their report, State Capture: Inside Kenya’s Inability to Fight Corruption.

Others in the list include the Sh17 billion a Chinese contractor is demanding from the Ministry of Transport for the aborted second terminal at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), popularly known as Greenfield Terminal, the question Sh40 billion Kipevu Oil Terminal which is currently under investigation, the contentious Sh63 billion Medical Equipment Leasing Scheme which counties were forced to sign up to and which has resulted in counties being deducted annual fees for equipment some of which they don’t need and are lying idly at warehouses across the country.

Also in the list are the Sh15 billion deposit for Itare dam which the Italian company, CMC Di Ravenna, has gone under with, Sh9.2 billion the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Sh81 billion some 12 counties could not account for in the 2016/2017 financial year, as well as the embarrassing Sh13.7 billion mobile clinics that the Ministry of Health procured but to date, have not been distributed. The name of a member of the First Family prominently featured in the scandal as the containers used in making the mobile clinics were grossly over-priced.

“Corruption has been a persistent problem in Kenya since before independence but it has flourished and put down robust roots since the country’s return to multiparty politics in 1992. With more democratisation, the government’s infirmity in fighting corruption has also grown proportionately. Corruption cases are routinely reported in the press, in the Auditor General’s reports and to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) but these are rarely fully investigated let alone resolved satisfactorily,” the Africog report observed.

In the Corruption Tracker, land grabbing also emerges as a major problem. Two of the recent famous land grabs both involve the Deputy President William Ruto – the attempt to grab the playground of Lang’ata Road Primary School by the DP’s hotel, Weston, and the much-publicised case of Gilbert Adrian Muteshi who accused Mr Ruto of grabbing his 100-acre farm in Eldoret North after he fled the 2008 post-election violence.

Some of the projects listed to have stalled include National Social Security Fund’s Hazina Towers within Nairobi’s Central Business District that had a cost of Sh6.9 billion, the Sh814.9 million Lodwar Law Courts, Sh436.3 million Othaya Sub-District Hospital, Sh443.1 million High Commissioner’s residence in Islamabad Pakistan, and Sh360 million Kenya Industrial Training Institute (KITI) in Nakuru, among others.

“The Executive continues to speak strongly against corruption but the results are yet to be seen judging from the 2018 score. It is time to translate anti-corruption commitments to action. Some of the key institutions in the anti-corruption chain have faced significant challenges in delivering on their mandates mainly because of a pervading culture of impunity among the political and economic elite,” Samuel Kimeu, the Executive Director of Transparency International Kenya, said when he released the CPI in January this year. (

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