In Summary
  • Numerous corruption allegations rock 10-month old Jubilee administration
  • It was reported the deputy president spent Sh100 million of taxpayers’ money to hire a luxury jet but the government maintained that the actual cost was Sh18.5 million. Auditor General Edward Ouko has, for example, said his officers are unable to get some documents liked to the deal.
  • Last December President Kenyatta caused a storm when he appointed 26 people to chair various state corporations. Most of them were politicians linked to the Jubilee coalition who had been beaten in the elections and retired civil servants.

If Michela Wrong decided to evaluate the performance of the Jubilee government, perhaps the British journalist and author would want find out if the ‘It’s our Time to Eat’ mindset has been purged. 

But just like the previous government, the Jubilee government is battling questions over controversial public appointments, procurement deals and government intolerance to criticism. Furthermore, there is a general sense of the entrenchment of wheeler-dealers, tender peddlers and powerful government officials fighting to pocket public money. 

On Thursday, civil society groups staged a demonstration in Nairobi to protest the state of affairs.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has on various times voiced concern over the influence of unnamed “brokers” and corruption in his office, warning of a crackdown.

“In my office, there are people who think that it is a house for making money. We must agree it has to come to an end,” the President warned as he launched Security Sector Rapid Results Initiative (RRI) on February 7. “Watu wajipange (Let them be ready). Something will happen soon.”

He said that the money allocated for security must go to equip the police and fuel their vehicles and not find its way into individuals’ pockets.

But as the government moves to implement it election pledged it is not escaping from procurement controversy and allegations of high-level corruption.

The government’s skewed public appointments that ignore ethnic balance have also been criticised.

“It is a serious matter,” said former Vice President and Cord co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka. “It is a terrible situation and I am not saying so because I am in the opposition but I see the country in dire straits.”

According to former Ethics Permanent Secretary in the Narc government Mr John Githongo, there is a widespread perception of major “eating” driven in part by the size of the infrastructure projects and the bizarre contradictory explanations by different government of officers regarding their cost, implementation and financing.

“So the public is hugely sceptical. Ironically, corruption is 50 per cent perception and 50 per cent reality. This government is at the point where it’s going to lose the perception battle. After that even buying bottled water will cause suspicion,” said Mr Githongo, who now runs Inuka Kenya, a civil society organisation.

Mr Githongo said it’s a deeply unfortunate condition for the government to face such negative perceptions less than one year into office.

But State House defended the government arguing that those who were criticising the infrastructure projects were soar losers.

“There is no law that has been broken and if the law was broken, this country has mechanisms to deal with the same,” said Mr Munyori Buku, director of public communications in State House.

Despite State House’s position, Mr Githongo hopes the President will act on the corrupt senior officers in his office in order to regain the confidence of the nation.

“They say a fish rots from the head. The President has been clear and forceful of late with regard to the fact that corruption in the Office of the President and the embedded networks are a problem he’s determined to deal with. So let’s watch closely,” he said.

According to the executive director of Transparency International-Kenya Mr Samuel Kimeu, procurement, especially those involving huge sums of money have not always been handled well.

“When you look at Jubilee, they want to do things swiftly without respect for the law because there is a feeling that the country’s procurement laws are long and winding. I know these are legitimate concerns, but that is not a reason to skirt around them,” said Mr Kimeu.

The TI-Kenya boss added: “Often, procurements that attract huge sums of money are the ones that are easy to manipulate and these are mainly in the infrastructure sector,”

President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have also faced criticism over government spending. It started with the hiring of a luxury jet, later nicknamed “hustler jet”, used by Mr Ruto for a West African tour.

SPENT OVER SH100M

It was reported the deputy president spent Sh100 million of taxpayers’ money to hire a luxury jet but the government maintained that the actual cost was Sh18.5 million. Auditor General Edward Ouko has, for example, said his officers are unable to get some documents liked to the deal.

Currently, the standard gauge railway project has been the talk of the town even though the President has defended. The contract was awarded to China Roads and Bridges Corporation (CRBC) in what has become commonly referred to as a government-to-government deal between Kenya and China.

The President had on January 28 said the EXIM Bank of China will provide a commercial loan of $1.6 billion and a concessional loan of $1.63 billion – a total of $3.23 billion (nearly Sh300 billion ) – for development of Phase 1 of the project covering the 609 kilometres from Mombasa to Nairobi. The cost of the contract was initially said to rise above a trillion shillings with the planned extension to Malaba.

Mr Buku said the trillion shilling budget was a creation of rival companies.

Then on Thursday, the Registrar of Companies Bernice Gachegu lifted the lid on the identities of two Kenyans, Peter Gatere and Leonard Mwangi, who had also registered a local company by the name China Roads and Bridges Corporation-Kenya.

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