31 May

Kenya’s president vows to recover resources lost in corruption scandal

Kenya’s public prosecutor said on Wednesday 24 civil servants and business people charged with involvement in the theft of nearly $100 million of public funds will stay in custody pending a June 4 hearing on their application for bail.

The suspects, who include the public service ministry’s principal secretary, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to magistrate Douglas Ogoti to charges that relate to theft at the government’s National Youth Service (NYS).‏

“Accused to be remanded in custody until Monday 4th June, 2018 when court will rule on their bail application,” the office of the director of public prosecution said on Twitter.

The NYS is a state agency that trains young people and deploys them to work on projects ranging from construction to traffic control.

It is rare for prosecutors to bring such a large group of public officials to court to answer corruption charges.

President Uhuru Kenyatta pledged to stamp out graft when he was first elected in 2013 but critics say he has been slow to pursue top officials and ministers.

In the wake of the latest NYS scandal, the president vowed to recover all resources that have been lost to corruption schemes.

“These people who are corrupt should be jailed and we recover all the stolen funds to deliver on the things we promised Kenyans,” Kenyatta told residents of the capital Nairobi while launching a government project on Wednesday.

The president also called out any Kenyans that might entertain the notion of defending people implicated in the scandal, based on their ethnicity.

“I do not want to hear anybody defending those caught in corrupt dealings. A thief is a thief irrespective of the tribe he/she comes from,” said the president.

Chief prosecutor Noordin Mohamed Haji on Monday named 54 people, 40 of them government officials, to face charges including abuse of office and conspiracy to commit an economic crime. Some of those charged remain at large.

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25 Jan

Ramaphosa Sees Progress in South Africa’s ‘Mammoth’ Corruption Fight

South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said the authorities are intensifying their attack on pervasive corruption in the state and are having “positive” discussions with investors about the future of Africa’s largest economy.

“The wheels of change are moving now and they are going to start speeding up,” Ramaphosa said Wednesday in an interview with Bloomberg Television at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“Cleaning up clearly is going to be quite a mammoth task, but we have to start somewhere. Our people are clamoring for a clean government, and that is what we are going to give them.”

Ramaphosa, 65, was elected leader of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress last month, positioning him to succeed President Jacob Zuma, whose almost nine-year tenure has been marred by scandal.

While Zuma’s second term is due to end in mid-2019, the ANC has said its newly elected top six leaders will determine when he should step down.

“We have taken a view that this is a very, very difficult matter,” Ramaphosa said, when asked if Zuma would serve out his term.

“We have decided we are going to manage this transition very carefully. What we don’t want to see is him treated with disrespect. We will manage it so well so that it does not divide the nation.”

Increasing Influence

The rand has rallied on optimism Ramaphosa can bring in change and revive an economy that sank into its second recession in a decade last year.

It’s the best performing currency tracked by Bloomberg since he won the party leadership, trading stronger than 12 to the dollar on Wednesday for the first time in almost three years.

A lawyer and one of the richest black South Africans, Ramaphosa has already shown his increasing influence over the government.

His office announced sweeping changes to the board of cash-strapped state power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. on Jan. 20, including the appointment of Jabu Mabuza, one of Zuma’s most outspoken critics, as chairman.

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18 Jan

S. Africa Moves to Tackle Corruption as Zuma Loses Influence

South African prosecutors moved to freeze the assets of suspected allies of the politically connected Gupta family more than a year after the nation’s top graft ombudsman outlined the depth of state looting in the country.

The National Prosecuting Authority is targeting U.S.-based consultancy McKinsey & Co. and South African financial services firm Trillian Capital Partners Pty Ltd. for what it says was unlawful work for the state power utility.

It’s expected to be the first of many moves to tackle corruption more broadly. Trillian used to be majority-owned by an ally of the Guptas, who were accused by former Public Prosecutor Thuli Madonsela of wielding undue influence over the government to make money.

The three Gupta brothers, who are friends with President Jacob Zuma and in business with one of his sons, are alleged to have used those relationships to win contracts from state companies and influence government appointments. They and the Zumas have denied wrongdoing.

The NPA’s move “is good news, because people were becoming despondent as nothing was being done about corruption in the country,” Madonsela said by phone on Wednesday. “I hope that the bad guys will be taken to task and that people will start thinking twice before engaging in corrupt activities.”

The court filing by the NPA was made just two days before South Africa’s ruling African National Congress elected Cyril Ramaphosa as its new leader, picking him over Zuma’s preferred candidate and ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Ramaphosa, 65, is now on track to become the country’s next leader and has promised to fight corruption as one of his main priorities, helping the rand rally by almost 6 percent against the dollar since his victory. The currency was little changed at 12.3099 per dollar by 7:23 a.m. in Johannesburg on Thursday.

“Ramaphosa has enjoyed a warm welcome by capital markets,” Adrian Saville, chief executive officer of Johannesburg-based Cannon Asset Managers, said on Wednesday. His “point of departure is rooting out corruption and purging the malicious agents of state capture. The steps taken by the NPA are pivotal to restoring the institutional credibility that has been decimated under Zuma’s presidency.”

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