Anti-corruption agency is designed to fail, must be reformed - insiders

Integrity Centre, the Ethics and Anti Corruption commission headquarters. /FILE
Integrity Centre, the Ethics and Anti Corruption commission headquarters. /FILE

A moribund intelligence unit, bureaucracy and rent seeking officers are among the biggest problems bedeviling the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, sources at the agency say.

EACC insiders opened up to the Star about their troubles as new anti-graft czar Twalib Mbarak took over yesterday for the next six years.

Mbarak, a former military intelligence officer, was sworn into office at the Supreme Court by Chief Justice David Maraga.

Multiple sources told the Star Mbarak will have to spearhead a radical house cleaning at Integrity Centre to succeed.

The EACC’s intelligence division is dysfunctional as it is headed by an incompetent person.

As a result, the commission mainly relies on whistleblowers, media reports and public pressure to commence investigations.

Bureaucratic red tape in the investigation chain has also been cited for long delay in investigations and the bungling of some critical cases.

Once a case is lodged at the agency, it is assigned to a team who gauge its merits.

If the complaint is compelling, it is then assigned investigators.

Once the investigations are over, the file is taken to the team leader, who analyses and forwards it to the departmental head of investigation.

If the head of investigations gives the nod, the file is sent to the legal department.

From there the file is forwarded to the deputy CEO and head of operations.

“This long chain opens the process to unnecessary delays and possible massive interference. It has made even a simple graft case that can be tied together in a day to take over six months. Others collapse,” a source said.

The feeling among some EACC insiders is that the long chain should be abolished and the teams made to work together.

“And once the file is ready it should come directly from the investigation directorate to the CEO for onward processing,” an insider said.

Mbarak has also been urged to spearhead vetting of staff that aborted in 2016.

Ex-EACC chairman Philip Kinisu had insisted that all EACC staff be vetted to ascertain their suitability but he left office before the exercise was done.

“EACC has been designed to fail and the top officials at the secretariat make sure this status quo remains,” another source said. They have converted the agency into a protection unit for persons who loot public coffers, the source said. The secretariat is said to have been deliberately weakened by poor placement, parallel reporting procedures and skewed employment based on patronage and ethnicity.

The new boss will also be confronted by the challenge of investigating his own staff. Some EACC top dogs have been adversely mentioned in scandals, with others accused of either hiding files or compromising investigations.

Also top on the list for Mbarak will be to normalise strained relations between EACC and other investigating agencies especially the DPP and DCI.