Jan 26 2010

How bad is corruption in Kenya? Even stealing from poor school children is fine

Category: Uncategorized<ADMINNICENAME> @ 4:03 PM

Elite Kenyans are fond of lecturing me — an American — on how they ought to be trusted to manage foreign assistance as they see fit. They often go ballistic over what they see as the unfair intrusions of foreigners in the internal affairs of their beloved country. Well, they are going mega-ballistic this week, following a public blast by the U.S. ambassador about large-scale government corruption in Kenya.

Usually complaints about corruption nicely co-exist with the continued flow of American aid. Not this time. Ambassador Michael Ranneberger has suspended $7 million in support for free primary schools in Kenya, putting action behind his angry words.

A Bush appointee, Ranneberger was thought by many to be quickly replaced by the new president, Obama, who famously has family ties in Kenya. Rather than putting a close ally in Nairobi, Obama has stuck with Ranneberger who has supervised an increasingly tense relationship between the U.S. and the Kenyan government. American officials want Kenya to put through new election procedures that will guarantee a fairer election outcome — and reduce the chances of a replay of the violence three years ago that marred the re-election victory of Kibaki, Kenya’s aged and autocratic leader. Kibaki, while presiding over the liberalization of Kenya’s economy, has also encouraged massive corruption at the highest levels of government.

Ranneberger demanded an independent audit of the free-schools programme. “Those culpable for the fraud should not only be sacked – they need to be prosecuted and put behind bars,” he said, adding: “The US shares the deep concern of Kenya’s development partners and the Kenyan people regarding the continuous revelations of large-scale corruption.”

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