The United States has announced the designation of former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko for involvement in significant corruption, including bribes and kickbacks. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement the illicit gains were in exchange for Sonko’s awarding government contracts to his associates. “His actions undermined the rule of law and the public’s faith in Kenya’s democratic institutions and public processes,” Spokesperson Price wrote.
Sonko’s immediate family members, including his wife, Primrose Mbuvi, daughters Saumu Mbuvi, and Salma Mbuvi were also designated, along with Sonko’s minor child. The designations were made under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operation and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2021 and render Sonko and his immediate family as ineligible for entry into the United States.
As the most recent State Department Human Rights report on Kenya maintains, serious acts of corruption remain a significant problem, as is “impunity at all levels of government.” Mike Sonko was charged with various corruption crimes in 2019 and removed as Governor of Nairobi in 2020 for gross misconduct and abuse of office. He has yet to stand trial.
According to Transparency International, Kenya ranks 128 out of 180 countries in the world for corruption, and “Kenyans are still frustrated by the slow turn of the wheels of justice as corruption cases have dragged in the courts.”
President Joe Biden has made countering corruption a core component of U.S. foreign policy. The White House made clear why. “Corruption is a cancer within the
the body of societies – a disease that eats at public trust and the ability of governments to deliver for their citizens,” said the White House in a statement. “It exacerbates social, political and economic inequality and polarization…[It] degrades the business environment and economic opportunity; drives conflict and undermines faith in government. Those that abuse positions of power for private gain steal not just material wealth, but human dignity and welfare.”
As Spokesperson Price said, the designations of former Nairobi governor Mike Sonko and his immediate family “reaffirm the commitment of the United States to combatting corruption and supporting the rule of law while strengthening democratic institutions in Kenya. We will continue to use all available tools to promote accountability for corrupt actors in this region and globally.”