NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenya’s president said Tuesday he is not shielding corruption suspects and blamed officials for not dealing with malfeasance in his administration, saying he has done all he could and asking, “Ladies and gentlemen, what do you want me to do?”
President Uhuru Kenyatta last year declared corruption in this East African country a national security threat. Speaking to a conference on governance and accountability on Tuesday, Kenyatta said he has done all he could within the constitution to fight graft.
“I have removed everybody, everybody who has been named or touched upon (by corruption),” he said. “I have done my part at great expense politically.”
But then the driver of one of the privately owned minibuses that are country’s main source of public transportation addressed the conference, in front of Kenyatta, about his own experience.
John Macharia said he has to have a minimum $8 to pay police bribes in order to pass checkpoints on a one-way trip from the city center to one of the city’s low-income suburbs, Kayole.
“I believe the problem is traffic police officers do not wake to do what they are mandated to do, they wake up in the morning to collect money from buses, period,” he said.
After Macharia spoke, the head of the country’s police, Joseph Boinnet, told the audience that he should be arrested. But the head of the Independent Police Oversight Authority, Macharia Njeru, replied that he would defend the driver if that happens.
Kenyatta’s nearly three-year-old administration has come under heavy criticism for inaction against graft, which U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec last year described as a crisis. Kenya ranked 139 out of 168 countries in the Transparency International 2015 index of perception of graft.