East Africa, it would seem, is now determined to rid itself of the corruption dragon after years of false starts with Uganda becoming the latest country in the region to tackle the vice.
Kenya has for years shown motion with no movement, until the defunct Kenya Anti-Corruption Authority (KACA), which was legislated out of existence in August 2011, developed an appetite for pursuing politicians and Cabinet ministers.
These developments come as a report by the prestigious World Bank Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) project ranked Rwanda the fourth least corrupt African country.
Kigali scored 70.8 percent, which is the fourth highest score, behind Mauritius with 73.2 percent and Cape Verde with 74.6 percent. Botswana took the crown as the least corrupt African country with a score of 79.9percent.
The 2010 World Bank WGI Report released earlier in the week indicated that Rwanda has made good progress compared to other Sub-Saharan Africa countries in combating corruption.
In Uganda’s case, the government of President Yoweri Museveni has cracked the whip on two fronts: It has charged three Cabinet ministers with abuse of office and causing loss to the government over the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in Kampala in 2007.
High fliers Sam Kutesa, John Nasasira and Mwesigwa Rukutana stepped down from their Cabinet posts of Foreign affairs, Chief Whip and state for Labour respectively and were charged before the Anti Corruption Court.
They allegedly committed the government to fund the construction of walkways, parking lots and the marina at the Speke Resort Munyonyo causing government to lose Ush14 billion.
They successfully applied for bail and were ordered each of them to deposit Ush40 million in cash for bail and each of their 15 sureties bound at Ush1 billion.
In the second case, a parliamentary committee is in London to investigate questionable deals in the country’s infant oil sector in a case in which Heritage Oil has sued the government over a tax dispute worth $404 million.
In Kenya, Parliament in a fit of anger, decided to abolish the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission and replaced it with the Ethics and Anti- Corruption Commission, which is yet to fully find its footing. But officials of the Commission say it will continue with the high profile investigations and prosecutions instituted by its predecessor.
Among the cases are criminal charges against Billy Indeche, a son-in-law of Water minister Charity Ngilu and Dennis Apaa, who is the husband of Cecily Mbarire, an Assistant minister for Tourism.
An investigation into the sale of Kenya’s embassy in Japan under unclear circumstances is also ongoing and targets Foreign Affairs minister, Moses Wetangula and his Permanent Secretary, Thuita Mwangi.
Both are lawyers and had stepped down from office in October 2010, but were reinstated into their previous positions in August this year before they were cleared of any wrong doing.
This has provoked a storm with the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Relations and Defence saying it was yet to complete the part of its investigation involving the Japanese government.
MPs have threatened to paralyse government operations in the House unless President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga reverse their decision. The matter is yet to be resolved.
In Tanzania, a power crisis that has seen the country endure a nine-month damaging electricity rationing regime end the political career of the influential and wealthy politician, Rostam Aziz. He quit both his seat in parliament and in the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi where he was Treasurer.
The clamour for his ejection from public life came from opposition and human rights groups over the manner in which companies, that he is said to own, were involved in the crisis besetting the energy sector.
He was the MP for Igunga and owns Richmond Development Corporation, which, in 2005, bid for the supply of generators to assist the Tanzanian Electricity Supply Company (Tanesco) to bridge a debilitating power shortage that had hit the country in the wake of the 2005 drought.
Tanesco, however, preferred dealing with Songas Ltd, which had also bid for the project. Both Songas Ltd and Richmond had dealt with the government, but it would appear that the government had reservations about Richmond which had failed to deliver on a pipeline project between Dar es Salaam and Mwanza.
Songas, however, stated that it was unable to service the contract on its own and passed on the project to its partner Globeleq Ltd. The Tanzania government then signed a five-year contract with the Songas/Globeleq consortium. But before the two could fully service the contract, the government had a change of heart and reopened the tender for fresh bids.
Richmond prevailed this time around and was awarded the multi-million dollar tender in early 2006, as the drought and power crisis worsened. It failed to deliver, and the government, after much dilly dallying, warned Richmond that it would cancel the contract if it did not meet its obligations.
Unknown to the government, Richmond had quietly sold the contract to Dowans SA, a fact which only came to light after the government, in frustration, cancelled the tender.
Dowans SA, which has since been identified as a Vulture Fund, came to the Tanzanian government with a demand note seeking millions of dollars in compensation over the cancellation of the tender.
The government dismissed the demand, stating that it had no dealings with Dowans SA Ltd.
Vulture Funds are companies which buy distressed debts at discount and then pursue the debtor for twice or even thrice the original amount using the international courts of arbitration.
Once they get a favourable ruling they then embarrass government, for example, by attaching money streams or assets not protected by immunity. Many governments opt to pay up quietly.
Dowans SA took the Tanzanian government to the International Chamber of Commerce’s Arbitration Chamber in London in 2007. The court ruled against the Tanzanian government, but a new issue surfaced; Dowans SA was not domiciled in Tanzania and had no presence in the country.
Aziz then came to the court with a Letter of Attorney authorising him to represent Dowans SA in the matter. Dowans TZ Ltd also quietly registered and claimed its place in the case.
The Tanzanian Attorney General also weighed in with a legal opinion stating that the government was under obligation to meet its contractual commitments. He recommended that the government pays up.
But before the government paid up, human rights activists and environmental groups stepped in and sued the government. The matter found its way into the public arena in much of 2010 and 2011, leading to the Aziz’s departure from the party where he was Treasurer and from Parliament. The matter is still stuck in court, but chances that are the government will pay up.