Ambassador Godec’s Launch of
the Multi-Sectoral Forum Anti-Corruption Initiative
Thursday, August 9, at 7:30 a.m., Intercontinental Hotel
Ladies and gentlemen;
Mabibi na mabwana;
Hamjambo! Habari zenu?
I am very pleased to be with you today to help launch the National Multi-Sectoral Forum’s Anti-Corruption Initiative! I want to thank all the organizers for hosting this event, and congratulate the National Multi-Sectoral Forum for undertaking this important initiative. Thank you to everyone here, as well, for attending and committing to this effort.
Today’s meeting is a bold response to a problem that all Kenyans know: rampant corruption. I’m particularly pleased that The Forum includes members from all corners of society, including the private sector, religious community, media, youth, women, trade unions, civil society, academia, diaspora, and others. The broad, inclusive, and energized community participating this morning is the best solution – the only solution – to corruption.
This initiative offers welcome support to the critically important anti-corruption push underway by President Kenyatta and by other top Kenyan government officials, including the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Director of Criminal Investigations, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Auditor General, and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission. I welcome and commend their efforts to address this scourge. But to end corruption, end theft, and end plunder, Kenya needs a national movement and sustained war on corruption.
We all know the terrible cost of corruption. It diminishes government services. People don’t get the benefit of their taxes, because the money has disappeared into someone’s pocket. A road isn’t built; hospital equipment isn’t purchased; schools don’t receive the basic tools they need for education because the allocated funds have been stolen. Roads are less safe, hospitals are less able to treat patients, and schools cannot educate the next generation. In the end, everyone suffers… except for the criminals.
Put simply, corruption is a cancer that is killing Kenya and it must end. I urge every Kenyan to reject it completely. And, corruption is not just the problem of one sector of Kenya’s economy, of one tribe, of one county, or of one profession. Corruption is every Kenyan’s problem. And the solution to it – and to making Kenya stronger and more prosperous – is not the work of one business, one politician, one NGO, or one branch of government. It must be addressed by all leaders, by all citizens, at all levels across various fields, which is why the multi-sectoral approach is vital.
Kenya is not, of course, alone in struggling with corruption. My country is not perfect; we too have faced corruption throughout our history. Some of our great cities and states have had to fight long and hard to gain the upper hand against it. But, we have made progress though strong actions by our FBI and local police, by our work to build strong, transparent institutions, and by efforts to ensure the rule of law. The lessons from our efforts are clear: winning this fight requires strong law enforcement, strong institutions, and an enduring commitment by leaders and citizens. It requires a national effort by everyone.
In Kenya, the next steps in this fight are also clear. Officials should continue and redouble efforts to thoroughly investigate reports of corruption. When there is evidence of corruption, law enforcement officials need to investigate and prosecute those responsible regardless of political party, social stature, or personal connections. Individuals found guilty must be punished, including with jail time and forfeiting the proceeds of their crimes. The judiciary should act swiftly to hear them and render judgments. Every Kenyan needs to stand up and refuse to pay or accept bribes. And, Kenyans should continue work to build strong, reliable institutions and systems that reduce the opportunities for corruption. There are many opportunities for further progress in our shared fight to kill the cancer of corruption.
And, the United States will stand with all Kenyans committed to winning this fight.
In 2015, the United States and Kenya entered into a Joint Commitment on Good Governance and Anti-Corruption Activities in Kenya to work together to confront this problem. We continue our efforts under this framework. We have a multi-year, multi-million dollar effort to help Kenya reduce the risk of corruption in the counties, where there are reports of serious problems. We’ve funded programs to help Kenya’s customs authorities root out smuggling at the Port of Mombasa. We’ve expanded our assistance to help Kenya develop new tools to fight money laundering; deepen engagement with international anti-corruption initiatives; increase the transparency of its procurement system; and strengthen anti-corruption and whistleblower protection legislation. And, we continue to deny visas to Kenyans who are involved in corruption. In short, American support for anti-corruption efforts is broad, diverse, and sustained.
In the spirit of our cooperation, I would like to offer this morning our support for a National Conference on Corruption to help weave together the strong, separate efforts underway to fight it. I believe such a conference, under the leadership of the Multi-Sectoral Forum could help launch a true, “Whole of Nation” campaign to end corruption. It is time for a movement. It is time for a war on corruption. And the time is now.
Kenya’s battle against corruption can be won – but it will require hard work and sustained commitment by all Kenyans. The United States and other international partners cannot win it for you. There remains much more work to do, and Kenyans must do it. But my six years in Kenya and my travels in this extraordinary country have given me great confidence in the Kenyan people. I know Kenyans can stop corruption if they work together and commit themselves to the principles of the constitution and the rule of law. Kenya’s future can be secured with good governance and a commitment to transparency. I wish the Forum, Kenya, and all of you here today the greatest of success in your efforts. If you join hands now and take decisive action, you can win the fight against corruption.
Pamoja tusonge mbele.