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Last Updated: Monday, 30 January 2006, 12:56 GMT
Kenya rapped for luxury vehicles
Line of ministers' cars
It is easy to tell if top officials are meeting (Pic: East African Standard)
Two leading Kenyan lobby groups have criticised the government for its "extravagant" spending on luxury cars, when 4m people need food aid.

Kenya's government has spent more than $12m on new cars since 2002 - enough to send 25,000 children to school for eight years, their report said.

They groups said the government should buy smaller cars, possibly second-hand, to save money.

The government is already under pressure from a corruption scandal.

Judges are not cheap. Kenyan judges are entitled to vehicles which are commensurate with their status
Dola Indidis
Judiciary spokesman

The government has launched an international aid appeal, for four million people going hungry in the north after poor rains.

"Conspicuous consumption makes a mockery of poverty alleviation efforts, besides creating resentment in society," said the report by the local branch of Transparency International and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

"Additionally, the line between wasteful expenditure and grand corruption is very thin and because of this senior government officials continue to be perceived as corrupt."

'Thin line'

Half of the $12m was spent on 57 Mercedes Benz cars, the rest of it on four-wheel drive vehicles, said the report: Living Large: Counting the Cost of Official Extravagance in Kenya.

The High Court spent more money on luxury cars than any other government department, the report said.

KENYA'S LUXURY CARS
Mercedes Benz: 57
Land Cruisers: 42
Mitsubishi Pajeros: 17
Nissan Terranos: 13
Nissan Patrols: 3
Purchased Jan 2003-Sept 2004
Source: Living Large report
The judiciary, however, is not about to change its policy.

"Judges are not cheap. Kenyan judges are entitled to vehicles which are commensurate with their status," said judiciary spokesman Dola Indidis.

The authors said Kenya should copy the example of neighbouring Rwanda, which has severely restricted the use of luxury cars by public officials.

As well as buying cheaper cars, the authors recommended that Kenya use pool vehicles, rather than allocating cars individually.

Corruption was widespread under Kenya's former government, with the elite known as "WaBenzi" for their love of imported luxury cars.

President Mwai Kibaki promised to stamp out corruption.


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