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Public officials should stop using state resources for personal interests

Transparency International-Kenya would like to strongly condemn the use of public funds by public officials in ways that are neither in public interest nor aligned to the common good.

In the last one month, notwithstanding the outcry by the public expressed through appeals by various non state actors, the Vice President led a high-level lobbying mission to key African nations to win support for Kenya’s bid to defer the International Criminal Court trials. The Foreign Affairs assistant minister has disclosed that his ministry has spent over Kshs 3.6 million on the said missions to date. A large proportion of the money was reportedly used to cater for the allowances paid to officials engaged in the shuttle diplomacy. However, the expenses spent by the Vice President and his entourage on the same mission are yet to be disclosed, it is hence anticipated that Kenyans will dig deeper into their pockets to service costs incurred to further the interests of a handful of public officials.

On Wednesday 2nd February 2011, the Prime Minister and Vice President used print advertisements in all the mainstream newspapers to extend their war of words over the recent contentious nominations for four key constitutional offices. The Vice President published his statement on an entire page while the Prime Minister used two pages; a full-page advert costs no less than Kshs 400,000. Both statements had the coat of arms, raising concerns that taxpayers’ funds were being applied to the advertising costs.

On December 16th 2010, the Head of Civil Service placed a one-page advertisement in the daily newspapers with the coat of arms to deny any involvement in the post-election violence after being named a key suspect by the ICC Chief prosecutor. He later denied that public funds had been used to pay for the advertisement but gave no explanation for the use of the coat of arms in what was essentially a personal statement. It is noteworthy that the statement continues to be hosted on a Government website, maintained by tax payers’ money.

These actions seemingly constitute misapplication of public resources and may well constitute abuse of positions of public trust to further courses that are of a personal or partisan nature. They do not answer to the constitutional requirements that public resources be used prudently and responsibly.

TI-Kenya calls for responsible use of public resources. In particular, public officials should cease using public resources, monetary or non-monetary including state symbols, office space, vehicles and personnel among others, to advance personal interests. The line between the public interest for which public resources can be applied, and private interests that should be funded privately should be clear for all. Finally, citizens should closely monitor public expenditure and demand the reimbursement of any public resources used to advance personal interests.

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Sheila Masinde
T: +254 20 2730324/5 or 2727763/5 +254 722 948348
E: [email protected]