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Splits - State officials taking polygraph test to curb rampant graft

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyans are divided on an announcement by President Uhuru Kenyatta that the government will subject all its procurement and accounting officers to lie detection test to curb spiraling corruption.

Kenyatta on Friday announced that all the officers would be subjected to the polygraph test by June 30 as his government works to curb corruption that has rocked his administration.

Officials in five public institutions are currently being investigated for corruption scandals.

The institutions are National Youth Service (NYS), Kenya Pipeline, Kenya Power, National Cereals and Produce Board and the Youth Fund.

Some 40 suspects linked to the theft of 90 million U.S. dollars at the NYS were this week arrested and charged in court with the crime.

A furious Kenyatta used the Independence Day celebrations on Friday to announce the new measure by his government to tackle graft.

"All heads of procurement and accounts in government ministries, departments, agencies and parastatals will be vetted afresh, including taking a polygraph test, to determine their integrity and suitability," said Kenyatta.

Some Kenyans believe the radical step would eliminate the vice but others are cynical, noting that is another scheme to wane public anger but would yield little results.

"Lie detection test is out of this world and would be a first in Kenya.

"I really support it.

"Any move that would help fight corruption in Kenya is welcome," Joseph Kimenyi, a public transport vehicle (matatu) driver, said Saturday.

Kimenyi suggested that the test should be extended to the traffic police department, which has been ranked the most corrupt institution in Kenya for ages.

"In fact, they should start with the police.

"As matatu operators, we lose a lot of money to the officers and this has become a way of life.

"This should stop," he said.

Georgina Musavi, a salonist was hopeful that the lie detection test would eliminate corrupt people in government and allow the employment of honest persons.

However, critics say a lie detection test is the last thing that Kenyans need to fight corruption.

"What Kenya needs to fight corruption is political goodwill not lie detectors.

"Kenya is gripped in corruption because the political class is benefiting from it and has allowed it," said Dismas Okoth, a youth leader in Kayole on the East of Nairobi.

Okoth said if government was keen on fighting corruption, Kenyatta would have ordered for the incarceration of all people linked to graft, including his close allies.

"So many people including top politicians and government officials have been named in graft scandals but they continue to serve.

"Are they going to take a lie detection test?"

He posed, noting the best way to fight corruption is to start from the top.

On social media, Kenyans have debated the pros and cons of the lie detection test that the government has said is urgent.

"One big flaw of polygraph testing is the fact an honest person may be nervous and a dishonest person may be non-anxious.

"You can fool a lie detector test with just one simple movement and get away with it," said Kinyan Boy on Twitter.

Analysts noted the announcement of the test had caught the country by surprise.

"It is radical. It is innovative but citizens’ chances of eliminating corruption with the gadgets are fifty-fifty.

"Corruption is so rooted in Kenya that a polygraph test is part of the solution but not the cure of the menace," said Ernest Manuyo, a business management lecturer in Nairobi.

Manuyo observed that to eliminate corruption, Kenyans first need to have a sense of nationhood so that they can see graft as a threat to their country and existence.

"Currently, people seek services from government offices expecting to bribe.

"This is what public officials exploit.

"Though I welcome the detector, we need a major culture shift as Kenyans to eliminate graft," he said.

James ole Kiyiapi, a professor of environment and a political analyst, noted that to end corruption, the country must not only punish those complicit in graft, but also return the money.



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