Friday, July 4, 2008



Published on July 3, 2008
By Okech Kendo
The Standard

Amos Kimunya talks too much. Ministers who have walked this path said less and only when it was necessary. That way, they extended their stay to amass personal wealth.

But even as Kimunya says the offer on Grand Regency was "too good to resist" he does not say which pockets enjoyed the sweetness. Because taxpayers believe they did not, they are not clapping. Instead, they are yelling at Kimunya.

Perhaps Kimunya is overwhelmed with power in a ministry his patrons did not want to release, not with its pending projects.

The projects could include the controversial sale of Safaricom shares, the privatisation of Telkom, and the Grand Regency deal.

But no public servant has resigned or been suspended a week after Lands Minister James Orengo unmasked the ‘Grand Deception’.

Paving the way

Yet it will be remembered that on May 9, while opening an induction seminar for Grand Coalition ministers, President Kibaki said: "Those who will be implicated in corruption will have to temporarily relinquish their positions to pave way for investigations."

Even with allegations of impropriety swelling around him, Kimunya is still belligerent. He is reacting as if it is only him who knows value for money.

Everyone else, including his Cabinet colleagues, he dismissed as "ignorant and incompetent" for making accusations against him. In the same way, he once told Prime Minister Raila Odinga, then the ODM presidential candidate, the Nairobi Stock Exchange is "not a fish market".

Now Kimunya must understand wananchi do not tolerate impunity. A minister cannot hawk a public asset and expect his colleagues and wananchi to "clap for him for securing the best price".

It is only Public Health Minister Beth Mugo who has defended Kimunya, perhaps believing it is business as usual. Or it is Mugo who does not understand, as yet, the problem and its implications on good governance?

Too bad, but when a man has been caught with his pants flying at half-mast and the victim of his villainy crying for rescue, it is pointless looking for alibis. So would one found with a bloodied knife deny he had anything to do with the crime. Such evidence should, if the official rant against corruption means anything, send these power hawkers packing for breaching public trust.

Kimunya tried on Friday to ‘reveal’ what he had previously denied as an allegation by people he believed were ignorant. When allegations began to fly in April that the Grand Regency had been irregularly sold, he dismissed serious questions of probity as "bar talk".

One of Kimunya’s bar talkers, Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara, was dismissed as one who loves to cry "smoking gun" when there is none.

But Kimunya did not deny Orengo’s claim last week the hotel had been sold and the discharge done at night in Ardhi House. Instead, he shifted from dismissing the allegations of the hotel’s secretive sale to celebrating the transaction.

The hotel was sold because the "offer was too sweet to resist". He tabled no evidence to substantiate the claim Libya was the highest bidder. There is no proof that the sale would make Libya love Kenya more.

Kimunya did not involve other ministers (probably to ensure the sweetness was not lost). That also meant breaching procurement rules. So, the Treasury and Central Bank Governor Njuguna Ndung’u were involved.


But the Attorney-General, Amos Wako whose office endorses the sale of public assets by treaties was by-passed. He did not know, as usual, although he is paid to.

The Minister for Lands, the official custodian of titles, was not informed. But junior officers were involved in the nocturnal discharge, speeded up by political civil servants, through name-dropping.

The issue is not the sale price of Grand Regency. It is not the manner of transaction. It is not the "deepened love between our two countries". It is not even Central Bank’s right to sell what Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission director Aaron Ringera described as "the most precious acquisition". It is the deceptions from Integrity Centre, the Central Bank and the Treasury.

Behind this troika lurks the brain behind Goldenberg, Kamlesh Pattni. Goldenberg is the Original Sin that haunts the five-star gem.

Finally, about three weeks ago Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka claimed he could see "masters of grand corruption" regrouping. It can now be supposed he had this all-star team in mind, with Treasury leading the queue. If he did then it could be asked if he recorded a statement with the police, apart from telling the Press.

The writer is The Standard Managing Editor, Quality and Production