Friday, January 23, 2009



January 22 2009

President Kibaki on Thursday read the riot act to four Cabinet ministers over disunity in government and the maize and oil scandals which have rocked the Grand Coalition Government.

He threatened to sack Cabinet ministers who quarrel in public and those who were unable to handle critical issues in their dockets.

Forestry and Wildlife minister Noah Wekesa came under sharp criticism for his Wednesday attack on Prime Minister Raila Odinga over the saga involving a second grain handling facility at the Mombasa port, oil and maize scandals.

Dr Wekesa later sent a note of apology to Mr Odinga expressing regret that he had discussed the issues in the media “without first examining the implications”.

“In view of collective responsibility that my office requires of me, I should not have associated myself with this party sentiments and I once again apologise and promise to work closely with you to uplift the image of Government,” the minister said in a letter addressed to Mr Odinga.

Dr Wekesa, one of the vice-chairmen of the Party of National Unity, had criticised Mr Odinga over the current maize shortage asking him to tell Kenyans what he has done to prevent the crisis as chairman of the Cabinet sub-committee on food security.

“The Rt honourable Prime Minister chairs the sub-committee on food security. Can he explain to Kenyans what action he has taken on the crisis or else we hold him culpable for neglecting duty and therefore failed the country,” Dr Wekesa said in a statement issued at a Nairobi hotel.

Lands minister James Orengo got a dressing down for statements he made in public regarding some Cabinet colleagues, which were interpreted as a breach of the government’s collective responsibility.

On the other hand Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi and his Agriculture counterpart, Mr William Ruto, were put on the spot for their handling of the recent oil shortage, the Triton scandal and mismanagement of the sale of maize from the National Cereals Board to millers.

The tough stand was uncharacteristic of President Kibaki as the Cabinet held its first meeting this year. Sources familiar with the proceedings described some of the session as “hot”.

Later in the afternoon, Mr Murungi and Mr Ruto faced a barrage of questions in Parliament as they tried to explain to MPs goings on in the oil industry and the maize sub-sector.

Triton Petroleum Company is accused of selling fuel worth Sh7.6 billion without the knowledge of international and local financiers who had invested in oil stocks held in their trust by the Kenya Pipeline Company.

The stocks, amounting to 126 million litres, were released to Triton, which is owned by Mr Yagnesh Devani, between November 2007 and November 2008 without the financiers’ consent.

The maize scandal revolves around the allocation of government stocks to brokers who posed as millers at a price of Sh1,750. They later sold the same maize to millers at Sh2,600. This has been said to be the reason behind the sudden increase in the price of a two kilogramme packet of maize flour from Sh55 to Sh130 in December.

The matter is being investigated by the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) and the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).

Sources said that Mr Ruto was told to take charge of matters in his ministry and give the true picture of the maize situation so that the Government could tackle current famine from an informed position.

The meeting, whose main agenda was implementation of the Waki report on post-election violence, also addressed the ongoing teachers’ strike that has paralysed learning in public primary schools. The Cabinet resolved that the government pays the raised teachers salary in two years.

The President is said to have demanded that any troubling issues in the Cabinet should be raised within the correct channels.

A source told the Nation: “We were seriously criticised and blamed for taking strong positions against the behaviour of some people in the government.

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“We were told to respect each other and stop attacks in public and that if there was any problem we should raise it in cabinet.”

The President ordered all ministers to attend a national reconciliation conference scheduled for Wednesday next week. The three-day conference titled; “One Kenya, One Dream: The Kenya We Want” which was initially scheduled to kick off on Monday, will be held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi.

On the Waki report, sources told the Nation that seven Cabinet ministers sought to amend a draft Bill for the Special Tribunal for Kenya to delete clauses that could end political careers of those suspected to have sponsored post-election violence.

The sources said that the ministers warned that the draft Bill could face opposition in Parliament if the clauses were not amended before it was published. Five ministers were from PNU and two from ODM.

The ministers argued that the Bill should not be used to settle political scores. The Waki Commission named six Cabinet ministers and five MPs among prominent people to be investigated for their roles in the post-election violence.

The list was handed to former UN secretary general Kofi Annan for safe keeping until a tribunal is been set up locally or to the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

But given that President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga signed an agreement to set up a local tribunal, it now means that the names will be handed over to the tribunal once it comes into operation.

Sources said the deputy PM Musalia Mudavadi, Mr Orengo and Justice minister Martha Karua strongly defended the contents of the draft Bill arguing that tough measures have to be taken to end the culture of impunity.


Submitted by chicano
Posted January 23, 2009

I second that guarantisticExE. Mr. President should act as he speaks for once in his life as president of Kenya. If only he had sacked those he was threatening or at least sent them on unpaid leave as you said. That would have woken a lot of people up.

Submitted by ogoli
Posted January 23, 2009

Now we are talking Mr. President. Please use your big stick and nobody will be crying out there. . Just back up your words with some action and I will be cheering you all the way to Statehouse.

Submitted by guarantisticExE
Posted January 23, 2009 1

Mr. President you don't read threats you put any minister whos ministry is under investigation on UNPAID leave of absence so that investigations go on without any outside influence. Thats what REAL LEADERS DO.

Submitted by naliweliwalo
Posted January 22, 2009

He has been saying this since 2002, but has only let ministers go if they do not share his political vision! Collective responsibility does not mean that there should never be criticism. About the tribunal, isn't it the sole reason of having this tribunal, to not only end the political careers of PEV sponsors, but to throw them in jail? Hot sessions but a lot of hot air! Bure Kabisa!

Submitted by Obwakemwatugul
Posted January 22, 2009

If you are not guilty, throw the first stone. If the state chief executives have to go, the ministers have to go, then Kibaki must go. Some of these barrons controlling the sugar industry, agriculture sector, oil industry and others are THE SAME FUNDERS OF ELECTIONS. You would be lying to say even the president doesn't know. In Asia, corrupt are executed.

Submitted by wilsonoketdh
Posted January 22, 2009

Sack all corrupt MPs. Kenyans will be happy.

Submitted by mtimle
Posted January 22, 2009

Kibaki wants to mask a fire in the house by hinding it under the bed. Even in the UK where this collective responsibility doctrine was borrowed from, ministers are allowed to take a different view in public (during debate) on matters of national importance. Surely looting of the national food reserves, and oil belong to this category.

Submitted by JOBWAPILI
Posted January 22, 2009

Why threaten, just suspend them till investigations are concluded. Ruto and Kiraitu don't deserve to be still sitting in the cabinet and meddling in investigations. Then the 5 PNU and 2 ODM ministers trying to rewrite the Waki tribunal law must be guilty of something. Impunity must end in Kenya whether political careers are destroyed or not. Ruto or Uhuru have no business dictating how to conduct the tribunal. Let suspects resign and face the STK.