Political leaders and civil society groups have petitioned President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga to ask two Members of the National Assembly to withdraw amendments to Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act (ACECA) 2003, saying the changes would frustrate efforts in fighting corruption.
The MPs, under African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption (APNAC)-Kenya Chapter, and Civil society groups, including Mzalendo Trust and Transparency International (TI), have also written to Speaker Moses Wetang’ula and the National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee to reject the amendments and proposed mutilation to anti-graft laws.
The two bills, Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes (Amendment) Act number 3 of 2023 and Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes (Amendment) number 40 of 2023 are sponsored by MPs Peter Kaluma (Homa Bay Town) and Geoffrey Ruku (Mbeere North) respectively.
The Kenya chapter of an African formation of Members of Parliament fighting corruption has faulted the Kenya National Assembly for its intention to mutilate the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act 2003 after two decades of existence, to suit the whims of the corrupt crop of leaders.
According to the African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption, Kenya Chapter (APNAC-Kenya), parliament received a proposal to amend the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act (ACECA 2003) requiring them to delete Section 64 of the Act which provides for the disqualification of persons convicted of corruption from being elected or appointed to public office.
Saying the Act has played a crucial role in the fight against corruption, the legislators said if passed, the proposed amendments risk negating Kenya’s efforts in combating corruption and violating constitutional principles and international commitments.
“We MPs, who are members of APNAC-Kenya strongly oppose this proposed amendment which is inconsistent with the constitution of Kenya and offends several constitutional provisions including our national values and principles of governance under Article 10 and principles of leadership and integrity under Chapter Six of the constitution, among many other provisions in law that would be inconsistent with the proposed amendment.” Kisumu Town East MP Shakeel Shabbir, chairman of APNAC-K, told a media conference yesterday.
The MPs further alleged yet another proposed amendment to ACECA 2003 under section 45 (2) (b) and (c), which seeks to remove accountability by public officials for offenses related to non-compliance with procurement laws, procedures and guidelines and the implementation of unplanned projects.
“APNAC-Kenya recognizes the need for continuous improvement in our legal framework to combat corruption effectively. However, these amendments as currently proposed, raise serious concerns that could hinder our progress in the fight against corruption. We urge the government and all stakeholders to consider the potential consequences of these amendments carefully.” He added.
The legislators recognized Kenya’s international commitments to combating corruption, including signing of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and the African Union Convention on Prevention and Combating Corruption (AUCPCC).
Other members present were Lillian Gogo (Rangwe), Amos Mwago (Starehe), Catherine Omanyo (Busia Woman MP), Beatrice Adagala (Vihiga Woman MP), Edith Nyenze (Kitui West MP) and Busia senator Okiya Omtatah, all of whom appended their signatures to the joint statement.