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Anti-graft body must now redeem its image



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Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Mr Twalib Mbarak is set to become the new chief executive officer of the Ethics and Antic-Corruption Commission (EACC).

Parliament last week approved his nomination, and in effect, paved the way for his appointment.

But even as Mr Mbarak waits to know his fate, what is not in doubt is that he has the requisite academic qualifications and experience for the job.

He boasts of an impressive CV and work experience that includes stints in such key institutions as the military intelligence, security and integrity dockets in a number of blue chip corporates and, at one time, he served in the defunct Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission — a forerunner of the current EACC.

Mr Mbarak also routinely demonstrates his keen grasp of security issues through writing newspaper opinion articles regularly, including the Sunday Nation.

From the foregoing, Mr Mbarak seems to have the wherewithal to lead the EACC to discharge its core mandate of combating and preventing corruption and economic crime in the country, as spelt out in the Constitution.

But, as has been proved after previous high-level appointments, reality is usually more complicated. This is especially true when dealing with a problem as intractable as corruption that, in its most vicious form, involves influential individuals and institutions. The challenge for Mr Mbarak, if he gets the job, is that he will be assuming office at a time Kenyans have low regard for the agency that is supposed to spearhead the fight against runaway corruption. The perception is largely that EACC has, instead, over the years watched impotently as graft lords continue to operate with impunity.

This poor rating has some justification for since its formation decades ago and its rebranding to the current organisation in 2012, the EACC, just like its fore-runners, is yet to convince Kenyans that it is value for money spent in keeping the highly paid executives and staff in office.

The recent robust efforts by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the anti-corruption fight appears to have further exposed EACC, as the two agencies have secured high profile arrests and arraignments in court. The magic seems to have been in the appointment of new heads for the two institutions.

This has entrenched the view that EACC has been sleeping on the job. Once he assumes office at EACC, Mr Mbarak must change this perception.

He must vigorously pursue individuals who have looted public funds and fight tooth and nail in court to secure convictions by providing solid evidence to prosecutors. Only then will he restore confidence in EACC and leave a legacy as an anti-corruption tsar who made a mark beyond merely making the numbers.