Corruption is a big problem in most African countries and a lot of incumbent Presidents have been able to win their seats by promising to come down hard on corruption offenders.
The report card on how various African governments have performed to that end cannot be currently conclusive, but the efforts of Tanzania’s President Magufuli against corruption offenders are possibly the most lauded.
With the eyes of the International Community fixed on Africa’s progress on this front and an increasingly vocal populace, even governments who seemed lax on curbing corruption in their countries seem to be making moves. A country riddled with corruption would bring down the wrath of citizens as well as stifle investments.
In Kenya, for instance, frequent demands for bribes by public officials and a weak judicial system often leads to an increase in business costs for foreign investors. There is also fraud in public procurement and widespread tax evasion all of which work to hinder Kenya’s long-term economic growth.
On Tuesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta had dramatically interrupted a session of the fortnightly State House Summit and berated senior government officials for waging a seemingly half-hearted fight on corruption.
His impromptu address went on for almost 20 minutes and while he lamented about the lackluster performance of the Judiciary, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Attorney General, the Auditor General and the Directorate of Criminal Investigation, the President also defended his administration claiming that they had done beyond what any other administration in the country’s history had done to fight corruption.
On Thursday, the President made an announcement that seemed to echo his administration’s dedication to the war against corruption. He announced the release of 7,000 prison inmates to make room for corruption offenders.
Speaking on National Heroes’ Day, the President said that the 7000 prison inmates to be released would have been convicted of minor offenses and would be close to the end of their jail terms. Kenya Prisons Service says the country’s 118 correctional facilities hold 56,000 inmates, double their capacity.
His announcement followed his statement made at Tuesday’s meeting that he would decongest prisons to allow judges to send more corruption offenders to jail.