Kenya president sets up name-and-shame anti-graft website

Kenya president sets up name-and-shame anti-graft website

NAIROBI - Kenya's presidency on Thursday launched a website allowing users to report corruption directly to the head of state in a bid to tackle rampant graft and improve the country's reputation.

"The president is committed to clean government and this site advances his intention to act strongly against corruption," a spokesman for President Uhuru Kenyatta, Manoah Esipisu, said.

The website allows users to remain anonymous and to upload video, audio recordings or other documents, with a drop down menu providing a long list of civil service or government departments to complain about.

A mobile telephone service to receive graft complaints from the public by SMS text message has also been set up.

Kenya is ranked 139 out of 176 countries by the campaign group Transparency International on its global corruption perceptions index.

Transparency International said early October that while bribery remains high in Kenya, only seven people in 100 reported it or complained.

Over a quarter of poll respondants felt "no action would be taken if they reported" an incident. Many victims were also reluctant to complain because bribing an official is in itself an offence.

The country's police force was rated the government branch most likely to demand a bribe.

Kenyatta's office said hours after the website's launch that "corruption reporting has started off quite well with a good number of well documented incidences being submitted."

It is not the first website in Kenya set up to tackle corruption. Last year, an activist, Anthony Ragui, set up an "I paid a bribe" site, posting accounts of demands by corrupt officials and the schemes people used to escape them.

That website, www.ipaidabribe.or.ke, gives a running total of all the bribes paid submitted to the site, but also lists positive stories of honest officials.

Recent stories on that website include a man being asked for a "little something" by Nairobi traffic police because his car had hit a bird, and another in which a driver was asked to pay a fine because he had stopped to check for a puncture in a street where the officer said stopping was not allowed.

Kenya has been mired in multiple corruption scandals since independence in 1963, but despite political promises to crack down on graft, high-level suspects have seldom faced justice.

Two key corruption scandals include the Goldenberg affair in the 1990s - when US$1 billion dollars was lost from the central bank through false gold and diamond exports - and the Anglo Leasing case in 2002, which involved overpaying government tenders for passport machines.

However Transparency International found in its most recent survey that many Kenyans pay bribes willingly, with more than third saying they did so to speed up service.

But a third also said they paid only to "avoid trouble with authorities" or because it was expected.

 

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