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We End Up Spending Taxpayers’ Money In What
I Seriously View As A Homegrown ‘Soap Opera’!

Coastweek -- The boss of the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission has resigned and the Police Vetting process is now setting up to ostensibly re-vet those higher level officers it had passed but who now appear tainted as a result of the outcomes of the vetting of the lower officers, writes Teti Kamugunda.

The issue of ‘vetting’ is a vexing one simply because the way it is set up does not really hold the person being vetted accountable for completeness of information that could compromise their position.

The process is based on depositions by members of the public to the vetting team as well as what they can gather through a standard set of documents.

The current process for vetting of the boys in blue will be used as an example to illustrate why the process will most likely not achieve the intended outcome.

This is how it goes.

The person to be vetted is required to complete a self-assessment and wealth declaration form to indicate their income, assets and liabilities.

They are also expected to provide a set of prescribed documents such as bank statements and all income statements from whatever source.

These documents should include ones for their dependents and spouse (s).

They should also supply tax compliance certificates, educational proof as well as a certificate of good conduct.

The person has to indicate that they are willing to go through the vetting process.

This latter requirement covers the potential problem that one’s human rights are being infringed by being forced to take part in a vetting process.

Once all this information is available and the person has signed up on the prescribed form, the vetting organization then publishes the person’s name in the media and asks all and sundry to submit to the vetting panel any information that they think the panel should know.

As this is going on, the panel also seeks information from key institutions (for police vetting) like Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC), Kenya Revenue Authority (KR), Public Service Commission (PSC), Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA), KNHRC, HELB, CRB amongst many others.

This information is complied and then sent to the person being vetted for them to respond and provide further information, clarification and evidence as the case may be.

The vetting panel then analyse the data and also carry out any investigations required.

Once all this has been completed then the person is invited for the public crucifixion – the oral vetting interview.

The vetting process will interrogate the persons qualifications, professional conduct, integrity record, human rights record and financial probity.

The issues to be probed will come from the self-assessment form, personal file (employ-ment history/ record), income declaration forms, bank statement and information received from members of the public.

The proceedings are recorded verbatim.

The outcomes from the initial submissions, the investigation and clarification process and the oral interview are then collated and a score given to the person being vetted.

The vetting panel then sits and makes a decision on the suitability of the candidate.

Once they decide, then the decision is communicated to the person concerned with reasons for arriving at the decision.

The decision is then made public.

The person is allowed an opportunity to appeal the decision.

If one looks at the process for vetting of judges and magistrates, the process is similar but there is a bit more guidance on what should be considered.

These include professional competence, written and oral communication skills, integrity, fairness, temperament, good judgement, legal and life experience and demonstrable commitment to public and community service.

This process in the main also relies on documents and in-formation gathered from records and personal interviews.

There are however several things lacking in almost all the vetting protocols.

The first is that the candidate only signs an affidavit that confirms that all that they have submitted is true and correct to the best of their knowledge.

This is standard legal speak.

They are not asked to state whether there is anything that could compromise their integrity, whether they have been involved in dishonest acts that could set the office they are seeking into disrepute, whether they have had extramarital affairs or received money when they should not have.

They are not asked to state whether they have cheated in any way or corruptly acquired any property or assets that they have.

They are not asked whether they have broken any law and got away with it (the normal process asks whether they have any criminal records!).

These kinds of declarations will make the candidates think harder and it will also make the public a lot more vicious in what they deposit as statements.

The second item is that of investigation.

None of the vetting panels and processes has any investigative powers.

They only receive submissions.

It means that if there is any suspicion of malfeasance or similar situation, they will have to pass it on to the relevant sectors of the public service that has prosecutorial powers.

These organisations them-selves have serious confidence issues in the eyes of the public.

The degree of success in investigating and carrying through to prosecution of high public interest cases is very dismal.

In fact I cannot remember the last time the then Attorney Generals chambers and now the Director of Public Prosecution have successfully prosecuted large complex cases.

This means that if there is any deposition that merits investigation and has strong evidence, it is unlikely to see the light of day.

All this means that the vetting process is all a show rather than a proper process for establishing that a person has the right moral character, sets of values as well as qualifications to discharge the duty they are trusted with on behalf of the public and the state.

We end up spending a lot of taxpayers’ money in what I seriously view as a homegrown ‘soap opera’ of vetting and which in the end does not produce the desired result.

All that vetting does now is to provide entertainment to wananchi, it ridicules the individual and removes any dignity they may have (even thieves have a certain dignity!!).

Looking up the meaning of vetting the most common definition is - to appraise, verify, or check for accuracy, authenticity, validity, etc.

It does not meet the objective of what we as

a public in Kenya perceive the process is supposed to deliver.

Our view is that we should suspend vetting till the pro-cesses are reviewed and made really fit for purpose.

There should be one common structure for vetting irrespective of who is being vetted.

The first part should deal with character and values and question thoroughly the integrity and ethical compass of the person.

The second part should deal with the professional ability, demeanour and all the parts that go towards the technical delivery of the mandate.

If either part is questionable then the person should not be engaged.

Both parts must come out strong for someone to be seen as suitable.

As Kachumbari says, there is vetting …… and then there is vetting.

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