This story in the Daily Nation caught my eye today. It’s common to write that corruption is endemic in Kenya: it’s no cliche – the list of financial misdemeanours just seems to get longer all the time.
The Daily Nation says that an audit by the Global Fund to Fight Aids, TB and Malaria, covering up to 2010, shows that various Kenyan government departments and individuals were involved in the misuse or theft of some $3.3 million. The Fund, unsurprisingly, wants the money back.
The article says that a draft of the Fund’s report was given to the Kenyan government to check the allegations.
“In February, Public Health and Sanitation permanent secretary Mark Bor, in a letter to Mr John Parsons of the Global Fund, said the country agreed with the contents of the report and was in the process of implementing some of the recommendations,” the paper said.
Apparently some individuals named in the report have already returned some of the money.
“The report indicates endemic levels of theft and corruption in all the programmes at all levels, from the Ministerial Procurement Committees right up to transport officers and drivers,” the paper said, adding that the worst offenders included the National Aids and STD Control Programme (NASCOP), the National Aids Control Council (NACC) and the Division of Malaria Control.
“The report accuses NACC of paying millions of shillings to briefcase organisations, unbudgeted for staff (sic) and employing unqualified people,” the Daily Nation says.
The Global Fund itself is battling to maintain its reputation, and its donors, following allegations of corruption in some recipient countries.Banker Gabriel Jaramillo took over as general manager in February, hoping to restore the Fund’s tarnished reputation and improve efficiency as well as win back sceptical donors.
Also, last week there was a demo in Nairobi by Kenyans living with HIV who want the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) to release unspent funds to Kenya.
Basically, $500 million was earmarked for Kenya but is stuck as part of a $1.46 billion pipeine backlog in Washington. PEPFAR officials in the US said the funds had not been released because of inefficient bureaucracies, and reductions in the cost of Aids treatment, among other factors.
Activists want the money to be spent on providing antiretrovirals to more of the 1.5 million Kenyans estimated to be infected with the virus that causes AIDS, and on HIV treatment for pregnant women for life, the so-called PMTCT option B+.
Last week, GlobalPost quoted US officials in Washington and Nairobi as saying that Kenya had trouble spending the PEPFAR money because of inefficiencies in its two ministries of health.
Perhaps the saddest thing of all is not that the stolen money from the Fund, and the unspent PEPFAR funds, are so badly needed in Kenya but that the news of theft/misappropriation is not that surprising. It’s not good for Kenya’s international reputation – but that is already suffering for various other reasons.
Cartoonist Gado put his finger right on the sore spot with his cartoon for the Daily Nation after former Liberian leader Charles Taylor was found guilty last Thursday of aiding and abetting rebels who committed atrocities in Sierra Leone.
Check his cartoon out here. It’s laugh-aloud-but-grimace-too funny.