IJs Grilled on Investigating State Capture
African investigative journalists have been challenged to put on a “tough skin” when dealing with organized crime, such as plunder of state resources involving public officers – a case of cash-gate.
In one presentations at the on-going 15th African Investigative Journalism Conference in South Africa, a top Kenyan investigative journalist, John Allan Namu, said in most African countries the ruling class and senior government officials are using their positions of influence to defraud government through dubious contracts and tempering with procurement processes.
John, Chief Executive Officer and Editorial Director of African Uncensored, admitted the situation has gone out of hand as senior government officials use close relatives to steal from public coffers.
In his presentation titled “The Entrails of State Capture” – a story focusing on a corruption scandal in Kenya—John highlighted the fact that corruption in government in a number of African countries has become more complicated, as it involves senior public officers conniving with private entities.
He said, based on his experience, senior government officials deliberately award contracts to their own companies registered in other people’s names, who may include family and friends.
“I think what is happening across Africa is that those people who are guardians of our laws and legislature and the political elite have realized that the positions they hold can grant them certain benefits and have used that overtime to meet their personal gains,” John said.
“You see it in Zambia, in South Africa the Gupta, In Kenya, Uganda and, of course, Malawi. It is something that is really worrisome.”
This is a familiar story in Malawi where government lost billions of Kwacha in what is now known as cashgate.
In Kenya, it was also a case of government officials awarding contracts to non-existent companies or making payment for services that were never provided.
John, who has reported extensively on corruption in Kenya, said the situation has become worse in most African countries, as these government officials are developing that long chain of private companies or projects where close relatives are put to manage, for purposes of swindling the state.
John said this is posing a difficult time for journalists to ably dig and help in ending the vice after exposing the issues.
He then urged journalists to grow a “tough skin” and go beyond the surface to expose such malpractices, which are crippling public service delivery and national development as a whole.
The veteran investigative journalist said if applied to the full, investigative journalism has the potential to protect the public from state plunder.
“It is time Journalist started gathering the evidence, what exactly has happened, and provide goon narratives and share it with the public,” John said.
At the conference, journalists have also been tipped on investigating NGOs which it was noted are left out when reports show that they are also at the centre of mismanaging donor funds meant for the poor.