Bribery, nepotism, tenders lead in county corruption

An Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission survey conducted in 39 counties has exposed rampant corruption owing to lack of transparency in ser...

An Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission survey conducted in 39 counties has exposed rampant corruption owing to lack of transparency in service delivery.

The eight counties not surveyed are Garissa, Lamu, Mandera, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Turkana and Wajir.

The survey recommendations range from the development and implementation of an anti-bribery compliance policy at the county level to enhancement of public participation in the budgeting and project implementation process and ensuring value for money in road and other infrastructure construction to reduce corruption.

The report says corruption in the counties is manifested in bribery, abuse of office, conflict of interest, nepotism, favouritism and absenteeism, among other factors.

According to the county survey, analysis shows that corruption is most prevalent in Narok, Kisii, Homa Bay, Bomet, Embu, Bungoma, Kirinyaga, Kakamega, Mombasa, Migori and Nairobi.

The survey reveals that bribery, favouritism, procurement irregularities, bid rigging, embezzlement of public funds, shoddy implementation of projects, abuse of office, conflict of interest, misuse of public resources, delay in service delivery and discrimination are the most prevalent forms of corruption in the counties.

Entitled “Corruption and Ethics in Devolved Services: County Public Officers’ Experiences, 2015", the report finds that Narok is dogged by lateness among 70 per cent of its staff, misuse of county vehicles for personal gain, contractors offering up to Sh100,000 for faster processing of payments, side- stepping of IFMIS to forge cheques, collusion between contractors and supervisors, resulting in poor road construction and bribery of Public Service Board personnel and employment of unqualified personnel.

Kisii county, on the other hand, is afflicted by shoddy road construction, political interference in recruitment, health workers selling drugs, employees receiving payments for free services and MCAs irregularly allocating themselves land.

Bomet has experienced conflict of interest in the award of contracts, fraud in the Finance department, forgery of employment documents, employing people without interviews, use of Sh150 million without county assembly approval, embezzlement of tea factory and Youth Fund cash and bribery in recruitment of security officers.

In Embu, the EACC survey revealed Sh70 million fraud in the Finance and Accounting departments, loss of funds at the Embu Level 5 Hospital, recruitment without advertising, misappropriation of county executive funds and irregular procurement of stadium, water and road construction projects.

Mombasa, Taita Taveta, Kwale and Kilifi have been mentioned in the list of counties where corruption is most prevalent.

In Mombasa county, the EACC says there was bribery in procurement, with amounts ranging from Sh1,000 up to Sh1 million.

The consequences of this, the survey reveals, are poor, low-quality goods being supplied and loss of revenue.

The departments most prone to corruption are Finance and Economic Planning, Procurement, Public Services, Human Resource, Lands and City Inspectorate.

In Taita Taveta, the survey reveals there was corruption in the hiring of survey machines in the Lands department.

There was also favouritism in revenue collection, and those who tried to fight the practice were intimidated. The MCAs were also found to be uncooperative. The most affected departments are Procurement, the Public Service Board and Human Resources.

The EACC has recommended a systems review.

The survey was conducted between April and June, with structured questionnaires and interviews being used to gather data where county public officers were the target respondents.

There were 4,965 county employees interviewed.

In Kilifi county, the report says MCAs were drawing allowances not worked for in the Finance department.

The MCAs were also found to have influenced the recruitment process. There was also conflict of interest in awarding tenders.

The departments most prone to corruption are Finance, the Public Service Board, Procurement, Roads, Public Works and Infrastructure.

In Kwale, the worst-hit departments are Finance, the Public Service Board, Procurement, Lands, Roads, Public Works and Infrastructure. The most frequently cited forms of corruption are bribery, favouritism, procurement irregularities and embezzlement of funds.

Other counties outside the Coast region did not fare well either.

In Kirinyaga, it was noted that it takes bribes of between Sh15,000 and Sh1 million to award procurement tenders while in Nairobi bribery for the same ranges from Sh5,000 to Sh500,000.

In Bungoma, it was noted that county staff have to pay a bribe of Sh10,000 for every Sh100,000 imprest while in Kakamega the EACC found that contractors have to pay between Sh10,000 and Sh1 million bribes, depending on the magnitude of the contract award sought.

All the counties face corruption challenges in the Roads, Public Works, Infrastructure, Public Service Board, Finance, Economic Planning and Lands departments.

Most people believe that county officials are involved in corruption for lack of transparency in service delivery, misuse of power by top officials and the fact that graft has become a culture.

In a speech read by Devolution Principal Secretary Mwanamaka Mabruki, CS Mwangi Kiunjuri said the launch of the survey report is critical in the war on corruption and promotion of ethical standards in the county governments.

“This is a forum that allows sharing of corruption experiences in the county governments and I believe this will go a long way to help combat and prevent corruption in the devolved governments," Kiunjuri said.

He said the county governments are expected to plan the delivery of services in their respective areas and utilise the available resources for administration and development programmes.

EACC commissioner Dr Dabar Maalim said Kenya's fiscal decentralisation has faced numerous challenges, such as inadequate accountability mechanisms and poor planning. He noted corruption has emerged as a major stumbling block in the three-year-old devolved units.

Dr Maalim said the majority of graft cases involves procurement malpractices in the county governments.

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