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Petition seeks to have public officers barred from government tenders

A petition has formally been presented to Parliament seeking to change the law to bar public officers from doing business with the government.

Mr Tony Watima said amending the Public Officer and Ethics Act to bar public officers from undertaking any commercial activity, while in office, will reduce corruption.

Both appointed and elected public officers can only engage in commercial activities with the government six months after resignation or being sacked from office, if the law is changed.

Some senators led by Mutula Kilonzo Jnr have supported the proposed amendments saying they are long overdue and could go a long way in tackling graft that has reached alarming levels.

He said that there was no reason to prescribe to a standard where officers can participate in public procurement, noting that such a move would attract corruption as the public officers can influence the award of contracts to benefit them, their relatives or friends

Mr Watima said the petition would regulate blatant conflict of interest and allow public officers to freely make government decisions based on public interest without undue influence from the private sector or personal interest.

He alluded to multiple and massive conflict of interest in many government institutions by public officers.

ABUSE OF POWER

“There is a pattern of unchallenged abuse of power by both appointed and elected public officers taking official action or making policy recommendations in areas where they are investors or have personal interests,” he said.

Mr Watima suggested that appointed public officers be given one month to comply after being employed whereas elected leaders should comply within three months after being sworn in.

The Commission on Administrative Justice (office of the Ombudsman), he said, should be entrusted with the mandate to ensure compliance.

“Officers who fail to adhere to the guidelines should be sacked and a gazette notice issued by the Ombudsman,” the petition that has been submitted to the Senate reads.

Mr Watima wants the office of the Ombudsman to make the public officers’ assets and declaration information available for public scrutiny, within a month, after presentation.

This, he said, is meant to deal with cases where some officers have been giving wrong information.

Mr Watima said such measures will enhance service delivery, accountability and increase public confidence in the public sector.

He regretted that the country is yet to formulate appropriate policies and regulations to tackle dual interest within the public sector.

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