NAIROBI, Kenya Jun 4, 2012, Capital FM
Prime Minister Raila Odinga has surrendered gifts given to him while on an official foreign visit.
Speaking while surrendering the three items which included a handmade decorative Turkish glass bowl, glass and brass ewer and plate, Odinga said he was doing so in accordance to Article 76 (1) of the Constitution and Section 11 (3) of the Public Officer Ethics Act which bars a public officer from keeping a gift or donation he received while on public or official visits.
The Public Officers Ethics Act 2003: 11 (3) states “A public officer may accept a gift given to him in his official capacity but, unless the gift is a non-monetary gift that does not exceed the value prescribed by regulation, such a gift shall be deemed to be a gift to the public officer’s organisation.”
Article 76 (1) of the Constitution states: “A gift or donation to a State officer on a public or official occasion is a gift or donation to the Republic and shall be delivered to the State unless exempted under an Act of Parliament.”
He said he hoped it will set a precedent for other public servants who have been ignoring the Act even though it was enacted in 2003.
‘’Some people will ask why now? But there is always a beginning to everything. Wherever we travel you usually get gifts but we ignore specific provision of our Constitution and laws,’’ he said.
The Act defines a public officer as any officer, employee or member, including an unpaid, part-time or temporary officer, employee or member, of the Government or any department, service or undertaking of the Government; the National Assembly or the Parliamentary Service; a local authority; any corporation, council, board, committee or other body which has power to act under and for the purposes of any written law relating to local government, public health or undertakings of public utility or otherwise to administer funds belonging to or granted by the Government or money raised by rates, taxes or charges.
Odinga who is accountable to the National Assembly said the twin laws are meant to discourage corruption among public officers who might be influenced by donors who might need favours from the government.
The PM explained he was surrendering the gifts to the National Assembly in accordance to Section 3 (2)(a) which determines the National Assembly as the responsible Commission for a member of the executive such as members of the National Assembly including, for greater certainty, the President, the Speaker and the Attorney-General.
“We have seen sometimes in the rural areas, public officers receives cows, goats which they just go and slaughter, that will be going against the law.
We are saying this law must be respected,” Odinga stated.
National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende commended the premier for the act but added that the Public Ethics Officer Act needs to be strengthened to ensure compliance by all public office holders.
“The Act envisages that there will be regulations, which will provide for value for example of gifts that must be surrendered, but as it is now it very clear you surrender those gifts that are of non-monetary value or if they are souvenirs you don’t surrender,” he said.
The Speaker who received the gifts as the chairperson of Parliament’s Powers and Privileges Committee subsequently handed over the gifts to the Director General of the National Museums of Kenya, Idle Farah.
Raila haters and opponents who never see anything good he does will, of course, find something nasty or otherwise negative to say about this noble deed by the PM but most Kenyans who are neither and even opponents capable of calling a spade a spade would appreciate and commend as I do the PM for doing this and hope the rest of the political class will follow suit.