Stamp out bursary theft

The Auditor-General has over the years unfailingly unearthed and chronicled the theft of public resources by those entrusted with managing them. In what has become an annual ritual of shame, these findings just confirm that many Kenyans are, indeed, incorrigible thieves.

In the latest episode of the soap opera on sleaze, Sh1.2 billion in bursaries has been confirmed to have gone missing in some counties and constituencies. The latest report also exposes misuse of funds, denying assistance to those who badly need it.

According to the report, some crooked Kenyans made sure that money wired to some schools never reached them. In other cases, the money reportedly disbursed does not correspond with the number of successful applicants. And the rot does not end there. Some undeserving students receive multiple bursaries, thanks to opaque processes.

The looted funds, the experts explain, could have been enough to sponsor some 22,794 students in the national and extra-county schools, where each pays about Sh50,000.

Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu and her team deserve kudos for the revelation of the damning findings at a time when bursaries are being processed ahead of the reopening of schools for the new academic year in a few days.

Some 16 counties have been targeted over the spending of Sh423 million in the 2020/21 financial year, with compelling evidence of possible theft of the funds or illegal use. Scrutiny of the National Government-Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) for some 50 constituencies in 2019/20 has revealed that up to Sh797 million may have been lost or given to undeserving students. Mark you, these are the funds that MPs are fighting so hard to control.

The biggest joke is that nothing much happens after these revelations. The culprits should be pursued and punished to serve as a deterrent to would-be culprits. For as long as nothing happens, the ritual will continue and so will the thieving.


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