Sunday, July 6, 2008



Sunday, July 06, 2008
Story by: Robert Chutha
Sunday Times

Set a thief to catch a thief. The 17th Century English proverb comes to mind in light of the Grand Regency saga. The Amos Wako led team has tried Finance Minister Kimunya, found him wanting and convicted him to resign.

What is quite clear is that somehow in some unspecified way, Kimunya is responsible for the “secret sale” of Grand Regency, an asset which we Kenyans owned without knowing until its sale.

So elated are we to be declared brand new property owners of a five star hotel that we are only too happy to engage in protest marches through the streets in chains and burn effigies that only vaguely resemble Kimunya with the application of extra mental creativity. What is not so clear is the competence of the team who convicted Kimunya.

The five-man team commissioned by the Prime Minister was led by Attorney-General Wako and includes Lands Minister James Orengo, Metropolitan Development Minister Mutula Kilonzo, Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission Director Aaron Ringera and Caroli Omondi of the Prime Minister’s office. Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, now says he was briefed on the sale of the hotel by Central Bank Governor Njuguna Ndung’u, but was confused by conflicting statements.

This admission came only after Kimunya disclosed in Parliament last Wednesday that the CBK Governor informed Raila both in writing and verbally about the sale. The team he appointed must have confused things further by not revealing that he was in the know about hotel sale. The sub-committee’s chairman, A-G Amos Wako has been around for a while, so he must have acquired much wisdom. Right?

Wako was around while the Goldenberg scandal happened. He stayed around for Anglo Leasing, which again happened right under his nose. Again, no one remembered to tell him about their evil actions and he did not make it his business to know. The buck stopped elsewhere. Now Grand Regency has been sold under his watch and the story is the same.

Give us a break A-G. Some responsibility, either for commission, omission, or downright incompetence must fall at your doorsteps. Minister Orengo gets all credit for blowing the scandal as well as the right to sit on the sub-committee. He is in a precarious situation for he cannot afford to be wrong or his credibility is shot. Either he’s right and Kimunya is wrong or he’s wrong and Kimunya is right. There are no two ways about it.

It's known that Mutula Kilonzo is a brilliant lawyer so he undoubtedly knows only too well about impartiality. He should have had the good grace to sequester himself from the sub-committee given a situation the likes of which would have him pounding the table and demanding justice if Kimunya were his client. Kilonzo represented former CBK governor Andrew Mullei who got the sack following corruption charges and objected to the replacement of Mullei by current governor Ndung’u – also currently under investigation by the sub-committee.

KACC boss Ringera is a participant in the saga, and at the same time a judge by virtue of his membership in the investigating sub-committee. It was Ringera who negotiated the surrender of Grand Regency by Kamlesh Pattni to CBK and remained silent for several days after the shit hit the fan at a time when he was in a position to shed some light on the matter. Though the cat apparently had his tongue for a while there, now he is only too ready to play judge against Kimunya.

Finally, we have Omondi who was recently appointed the Administration Permanent Secretary in the office of the PM who declared himself Chief of Staff. Aside from rubbing some the wrong way, he is the only one who is not obviously partial in this matter.

Given the above, is this sub-committee qualified to investigate and pass judgment on Kimunya or is it merely a lynch mob? You be the judge.