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Let people of integrity head our parastatals

Having the right people at the helm of these State firms is the biggest weapon we have in the war against corruption.

EDITORIAL: Let people of integrity head our parastatals

President Uhuru Kenyatta has sternly warned corrupt parastatal chiefs that their days are numbered. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Judging by events of the past five months, Kenya’s fight against grand corruption, though not perfect, has definitely moved a notch higher, sweeping multiple heads of State-owned firms out of their offices. At least eight State corporations are now without substantive CEOs, giving their boards the hard task of filling the positions.It is this newspaper’s considered position that the government ought to use this opportunity to open a new chapter in the running of State corporations.This is because the ongoing purge has demonstrated the extent to which these parastatals have been turned into dens of corruption.To reverse this trend, we must get the right people to run State corporations. Such a shift demands that the next crop of CEOs and top managers be recruited competitively and in a transparent manner – away from political patronage and influence peddling.At the centre of all that is wrong with the running of State firms is the fact that politically-driven appointments breed patronage, which in turn fuel corruption.This means that for corruption to end, the door must be firmly shut on any form of political interference with recruitment of the executives.President Uhuru Kenyatta – who has sternly warned corrupt parastatal chiefs that their days are numbered – ought to directly ensure that those appointed to lead State firms must not only be up to the task but are also people of integrity.

Having the right people at the helm of these State firms is the biggest weapon we have in the war against corruption.In a nutshell, independently recruiting the right people to lead the eight parastatals will send the strongest signal about the shift in trajectory that is required to get the country on the right track.A radical change in the recruitment process, where merit and integrity will carry the day, will signal that we are finally getting it right in this fight.The alternative is that if the usual cocktail of politics, ethnicity, nepotism and patronage are allowed to prevail, all the energy and resources so far spent in the fight against corruption will be in vain.

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