Archive: Kenya copying SA defence reforms

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Kenya is copying and customising South African defence reforms, policy and planning to suit its own circumstances in a bid to stamp out corruption.

FEATURE-AU-DEFENCE-KENYA by Leon Engelbrecht
   ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia May 1 2005 Sapa
   KENYA COPYING SA IN ATTEMPT TO STAMP OUT CORRUPTION
   Kenya is copying and customising South African defence reforms, policy and planning to suit its own circumstances in a bid to stamp out corruption.
   Officials, speaking on the periphery of a conference on military budgetary processes in Africa, said corruption was rife in the Kenyan military that was unaccountable for decades under Kenyan African National Union (Kanu) rule.
   The meeting, held at the African Union (AU) conference centre in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, was organised by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), the African Security Dialogue and Research institute of Ghana and Ethiopia’s InterAfrica Group (IAG).
   The trio called the conference to disseminate findings case studies conducted in eight countries, including Kenya.
   That study found a new parliamentary practice was established after the fall of Kanu, requiring that the official leader of the opposition also chair the Public Accounts Committee, the Kenyan equivalent to the South African Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
   The military sector in Kenya consists of the army, the air force and the navy. The armed forces are managed by the Department of Defence (DOD), which, rather than constituting a separate ministry, is located in the Office of the President.
   There is a minister of state in the Office of the President who is in charge of defence matters and also acts as the chairman of the Defence Council under powers delegated by the commander-in-chief (the president).
   Responsibility for the day-to-day running of the armed forces is assigned to the chief of general staff (CGS), who is in charge of command and control of the DOD.
   The position of CGS is established as the most senior in the military under the 1968 Armed Forces Act.
   The formal process of military budgeting is guided by a good legal framework for obtaining and accounting for funds, researchers Julius Karangi and Adedeji Ebo found.
   “The formal process has also been improved by the introduction of the MTEF (medium term expenditure framework), which has made roles and responsibilities clearer. Moreover, openness seems to have been structurally enhanced by open parliamentary hearings, which by design are geared towards facilitating the participation of civil society-the press, individuals, companies and private institutions.
   However, there is still some work to be done.
   “Beyond the general recognition that the role of the Kenyan armed forces is the defence of the nation against external aggression and to assist the police in the maintenance of law and order, there is no documented articulation of the basis for military budgeting in Kenya: the country has no official defence policy. This renders the strategic assessment phase of the budgetary process rather elastic and fluid,” the study found.
   From 1969 to 1992, Kenya was a one-party state, with direct, negative, consequences for transparency in the budgetary process.
   “Communication within government and between government and the larger society was highly dependent on the whims of the rulers. National security was seen as being synonymous with regime security.”
   Yet, despite the adoption of a multiparty political system in 1992, the single-party tradition and practice in government, including among technocrats, appear to be very resilient, the study lamented.
   “Specific oversight of military budgeting is constrained by the (mis)perception that military matters are ‘state secrets’. Although a legal framework for transparency and accountability exists, in practice its applicability is suspect. For example, it has been noted that ‘in some instances many of the officials who are required to follow these laws are unfamiliar with or unaware of their existence’.”
   The exercise of an oversight function by the various agencies, actors and institutions, especially Parliament, was found to be weak in practice.
   “This weakness arises mainly from inadequate or absent information on budget and financial matters across government departments, including the DOD. In addition, material and information relating to budget matters are relatively expensive and are given in formats that make their scrutiny unattractive and difficult for parliamentarians, civil society and the press.”
   A 2004 report on military expenditure of countries in eastern Africa also revealed serious oversight inadequacies in Kenya.
   This report noted that the controller and auditor-general were seriously limited by inadequate power of prosecution and an acute institutional incapacity as evidenced by late submission of audit reports.
   The study also found the MTEF process was, six years after its introduction, still not functioning properly.
   “The introduction of new and apparently clearer rules for procurement has hardly stemmed the tide of procurement scandals; this is not unexpected, given the flagrant derogation from rules and procedures and the corrupt practices in the public sector, including the military.
   “There have been various media reports on military expenditure in Kenya, such as the over-inflation of contracts for the procurement of four Russian military helicopters in 2001, the botched procurement of Czech military aircraft in 2003 and persistent rumours of corrupt practices in a US100 million purchase of military communication equipment,” the writers observed.
   The writers therefore recommended that:
   – Kenya adopt a “well-articulated people-based defence policy”.
   – The DOD should embrace modern management techniques to enhance efficiency in the use of the department’s allocated resources and budget. “This could be achieved by modernisation of equipment and the maintenance of a small but highly effective and efficient force capable of maintaining the equipment and facilities but still able to fulfil its core primary and secondary roles.”
   – The Kenyan security forces maintain an environment that is more conducive to the progressive development of tourism and an increased in-flow of foreign investment.
   – All personnel who handle the DOD budget at all levels should be professionally trained and re-trained in order to minimize audit queries and wastage.
   – The capacities of oversight institutions be strengthened, internal and external control mechanisms be bolstered, and information dissemination and participation by civil society groups promoted.
   Sapa
   /le/np