Defence Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma has dismissed allegations that the recent Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) recruitment drive was marred by high-level bribery, saying that some of the claims are excuses for those who lost out.
While Dr Juma admitted that cases of bribery exist and are always raised, she declared that the Ministry of Defence does not condone corruption, pointing out that the penalty upon conviction is summary dismissal from KDF.
“The ministry and KDF have a zero tolerance policy on corruption. The policy is in place and is being enforced,” she said even as she encouraged the public to report cases of recruitment malpractices and provide evidence of such cases.
“Bad elements are everywhere and hard to identify. All cases of bribery and corruption that have been reported and those involving military personnel have been investigated and are being dealt with.”
The CS was speaking when she appeared before the Senate’s Committee on National Security to respond to lawmakers’ allegations of malpractices in last February's recruitment drive.
The matter was raised in the House by Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina, who argued that corruption in recruitment into security forces compromises national security.
Demanding a statement from the ministry, the senator told the House last February that KDF officers demand heavy bribes of between Sh300,000 and Sh700,000 to enlist recruits.
“This is not only criminal but a threat to our national security,” he told the House at the time, adding that KDF is supposed to uphold national values and principles of governance with high standards of professionalism.
“The recruitment has already been determined therefore causing many youths to be disillusioned and dejected,” Mr Ole Kina told the House, challenging KDF to offer a fair opportunity to all young people.
Acknowledged bribery claims
Yesterday, Dr Juma acknowledged there are cases of bribery but disagreed that its extent is so deep as to compromise national security and that of KDF.
“KDF has endeavoured to ensure its recruitment achieves the face of Kenya, which has been successful to a greater extent,” she told the committee chaired by Kisumu Senator Fred Outa, adding that this is achieved by ensuring that all parts of Kenya are reached and considered.
Some 22 bribery claims were reported in relation to the February recruitment drive, involving 12 civilians and 10 military personnel.
The Military Police compiled the case files and forwarded them to the directorate of military prosecutions. As a result, the 10 army men are facing a court martial at the Kahawa and Lang’ata barracks for various recruitment malpractices.
Dr Juma said the cases of the 12 civilians are being handled by the public prosecutor and police investigators as the military has no jurisdiction over them.
But Mr Ole Kina was not satisfied with the response, accusing the CS of behaving as if everything she said was true.
“You have merely attempted to answer the question but it is not satisfactory,” he said, demanding that Dr Juma make public a list of all individuals recruited during the February drive.
But the CS refused to provide the details, arguing that they touch on national security and she could only do so in a closed-door session.
Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula said there is nothing sensitive about the number of people recruited from sub-counties and threatened to invoke Article 35 of the Constitution to compel the CS to provide the information.
“You are a stranger in the palace. There is a strong cabal of uniformed officers at the Defence headquarters that is running bribery rings on recruitment and which you can’t know,” he said, urging the CS to investigate bribery allegations.