The posse of Kenya’s development partners known as
the Consultative Group was in town again in April to assess the Government’s record in implementing economic reforms and fighting graft. The Kenya government
had asked the World Bank to convene this parley after it was put on the defensive
over corruption allegations, which ended with the resignation of the presidential
advisor on fighting graft, John Githongo.
It has since been on a diplomatic offensive to convince development
partners that its resolve in fighting corruption is as strong as ever.
The Government received a timely
boost just before the meeting, with the
World Bank stating that it is yet to see
evidence of the much-hyped increase in
corruption in official circles. The French
envoy to Kenya, Hubert Fournier, also
issued an upbeat assessment, saying
the French Government was satisfied
with the Government’s programme of
For British envoy Edward Clay,
this must have
sounded like betrayal.
Normally donors talk as one and
talk tough! In line with this, he had
picked several opportunities to voice
choice insults at certain cabinet
ministers, declaring that looting on an
unprecedented scale was taking place
within the Government. It has not been lost on most, however, that the man
was very quiet indeed about corruption during the ousted former regime when
corruption on a grand scale defined the
country’s body politic. This was also
the period when all contracts involving
security projects in Kenya were supplied
by British firms.
This has led to accusations that the British envoy had a case of sour grapes,
because since the new government has come in, British companies have badly
As such, the envoys of countries that
are now getting the security contracts
at the expense of Britain cannot be
expected to be very sympathetic. This is
probably why at the Consultative Group
meeting, the Government had
supporters among her development
partners. Mr Clay himself maintained a
very low profile during the meeting.
Kenya’s development partners also
agreed with the Government’s position
that to fight corruption, it was necessary
to build strong institutions, and that that
was what the Government had been
concentrating on. The Government noted further that it had put in place
the necessary legislation to fight graft. The development partners, however,
stressed that it was now time to move into action.
Of course, the fact that the economy
is showing signs of robustness was a big
boost to the Government’s case. Real is
expected to grow at 3.7% in 2005, up
from 2.4% last year.
A much-heralded showdown over
corruption failed to materialize, and the
Government seems to have overcome
the worst from the crisis that had been
occasioned by Clay’s outbursts. Even
the move by American and German
governments to stop financial assistance
to the Government’s
bodies because of Githongo’s resignation
now seems to have been hasty and
ill-advised. Clearly, nobody wants to
upset a turnaround in all spheres of the
country’s body politic.
As World Bank country director for
Kenya Makhtar Diop pointed out, the
current Government had inherited deeprooted
problems from the previous regime
and it was in the process of economic and
The Government had issues of its own with donor countries. It wanted
them to assist repatriate money stolen by members of the former regime and
stashed in Western countries abroad. It said it had identified at least $1bn, which
it wanted frozen and returned to Kenya.
The return of these monies would give the Government a healthy kitty for her
various development projects. Indeed, on the sidelines of the
Consultative Group meeting, churches dismissed as hypocritical the onslaught
by Western donor countries against the Kenyan Government, when they
silent over wealth that had been stolen from poor nations and stashed in their
They said that if these countries were as honest as they wanted others to
believe, they had to repatriate such money stashed abroad by corrupt African leaders. The development partners maintained a deafening silence on this issue.
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