Monday, February 16, 2009

SECRETS OF GITHONGO'S BOOK: "IT IS OUR TURN TO EAT"

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By NATION Reporter
February 15 2009

New book follows Githongo into the most secret corners of State House, through mega-scandals and on his dash into exile — with mystery hunters in pursuit.
Former PS explains how government officials tried to shut him up over graft

Two of President Kibaki’s closest allies travelled to Britain for a secret meeting with exiled Permanent Secretary John Githongo to try and persuade him not to reveal secrets of corruption in government, according to an explosive new book to be serialised in the Daily Nation starting Tuesday.

The meeting, at an Oxford restaurant, nearly ended in blows, after the emissaries warned Mr Githongo: “If you reveal what you know, your grandchildren will never forgive you,” an insinuation that if Mr Githongo made public government secrets, there might be no grandchildren.

It was one in a series of death threats Mr Githongo said he received from top government officials to dissuade him from pursuing the Anglo Leasing scandal in which the government contracted phantom companies.

The Oxford meeting was timed to fend off revelations before the 2005 referendum. In any event, Mr Githongo revealed nothing but the government lost.

The book, It’s our turn to eat: The story of a Kenyan whistleblower, is written by British journalist and award-winning author Michela Wrong and is a dramatic account of Mr Githongo’s controversial tenure as Permanent Secretary for Ethics and Governance and senior aide to President Kibaki.

Ms Wrong had a unique, ringside view of the Githongo drama as it unfolded: It was in her London flat that he first hid after he fled while on a tour of Europe and on her computer that he typed his resignation.

Mr Githongo speaks candidly in the book of his admiration for President Kibaki and his crushing disappointment at what he saw as Mr Kibaki’s lack of commitment to the fight against corruption.

For the first time, Mr Githongo reveals to the author details of life inside State House during the anxious early Narc days after, the book says, the President suffered a stroke.

Former British High Commissioner Edward Clay is quoted as saying of Mr Kibaki’s state of health at that time: “He had a genuine problem carrying on a train of thought from one meeting to another. I didn’t think he was himself again until early 2004.”

Story of escape

Mr Githongo resigned while on official business in Europe in February 2004 and went into hiding in London for a while, fearing for his life. He later got a job at St Antony College, Oxford.

The book tells the full story of his escape and how he was hunted down in London by people he believed to be Kenyan security officers.

Mr Githongo was, until his appointment as Mr Kibaki’s anti-corruption adviser, the director of the Kenya chapter of Transparency International, an anti-corruption organisation. He also wrote a column for The East African, a publication of the Nation Media Group.

After his resignation, he wrote a memorandum to Mr Kibaki, in which he revealed corruption in security contracting and accused some of the President’s closest allies of either being complicit or trying to cover up. The memorandum, popularly known as the Githongo Dossier, was widely quoted in the media and on the Internet.

According to the dossier, the government had given contracts amounting to almost Sh20 billion to companies which did not exist.

As a result, the Finance minister at the time, Mr David Mwiraria resigned and National Security minister Chris Murungaru and Kiraitu Murungi, the minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs were removed.

Dr Murungaru and Mr Mwiraria lost their seats at the last election but Mr Murungi was returned and re-appointed to the less glamorous ministry of Energy.

Though Mr Githongo had tapes of recorded conversations, the former ministers protested their innocence and accused him of releasing little, out-of-context bits.

But arising from Mr Githongo’s revelations, senior government officials, among them former Treasury Permanent Secretary Joseph Magari were sacked and prosecuted.

The cases have made little progress in the courts and there have been no convictions.

The Anglo Leasing scandals involved phantom companies which the government pretended to be borrowing money from. Instead, it paid large sums of money in advances which the phony companies used to service the contracts. Sometimes no goods were delivered and when they were, the cost was likely exaggerated.

Examples of irregular contracts included a project to issue new passports, another to build a forensic laboratory for the police and the purchase of a warship for the Kenya Navy. None of these projects was ever completed.

Foreign countries

They were paid for using irrevocable promissory notes, which is debt incurred in the name of the Republic, accompanied by a guarantee of legality by the Attorney-General, which the government has no choice but to pay.

During the Anglo Leasing investigations, the government requested the help of foreign countries. A week ago, the British Serious Fraud Office dropped its investigations into Anglo Leasing, accusing Kenya of having lost interest in the case.

The book, which will be available in local bookshops from February 27, will be serialised in the Daily Nation starting Tuesday.

COMMENTS:

Submitted by jwaikuwa
Posted February 16, 2009 12:11 PM

This is a gimmick, I am no supporter for corruption and will never be, neither do I support Kibaki and his cronies at all, even if he comes from my backyard, if anything, I hate everything about his government!!! but Githongo is just being an opportunist, and his works are just what we all know!

Submitted by pulseke09
Posted February 16, 2009 11:39 AM

Look at the timing of the release of his book! its just perfect to market it...just when the anti-corruption feelings are so raw and nothing esle is dominating the airwaves but corruption! Githongo and his puplisher will be smiling all the way to the bank from next week

Submitted by asma_756
Posted February 16, 2009 11:25 AM

It is good for Githongo to publish his book - he will expose his flaws. Most of the evidence that could have been useful he never really took time to capture. Audio tapes are not always admissible evidence.What is worrying is that no one including Githongo is giving Kenyans the way forward "a recovery package". There are 10 million people starving and we are still busy feeding on scandals. Look at the US and EU, there were scandals yes - but they are focused on learning from them and MOVING ON.

Submitted by guess-it
Posted February 16, 2009 11:24 AM

You are kidding no one your life was never in danger. You will soon learn bad-mouthing your country from foreign capitals is not helping you.Your friends who used you are now "eating" and there don't have time for you anymore.

Submitted by Tolfo
Posted February 16, 2009 10:56 AM

Githongo is notthe type that will save Kenya. His problem with corruption in kenya is only when the British interests in are touched. Kenya needs somebody like him but loyal to Kenyans not working for the British.

Submitted by washeerer
Posted February 16, 2009 10:36 AM

I have nothing but admiration for Githongo and I have always wondered what it is that motivated him to make such bold steps. was it money, fame, international accolades, genuine concern for our country or was he used by Edward Clay to get back at the government that was suddenly turning East and belittling Britain? I admire him greatly and hope that he explains this in this book and also why he does not fault the government now that it is a grand coalition!!

Submitted by PMM75
Posted February 16, 2009 10:19 AM

Githongo is an opportunist and just like any Africans who run to the west in pretence that their life is in danger to get free goodies. The other day he was trying to say RAOs hands are tied,,Now secrets,,,,Surely let those who have money to waste do it on his book,,Both him n his book hve contain nothing new

Submitted by thezangi
Posted February 16, 2009 09:05 AM

The book will not add anything. It will only contribute to the belligerence with which the West continues to view Africa and the developing world. Githongo has no evidence that can convict a tea-girl leave alone the big thieves he is always talking about. What's he doing in the UK anyway?

Submitted by physics
Posted February 16, 2009 08:42 AM

Mutahi once said that Corruption should just be legalized in Kenya so that all of us can benefit rather than being a preserve for the top govt officials. We are really really fed up that is why no one even bothers to write comments on this!!!!!

Submitted by mugambibg
Posted February 16, 2009 07:46 AM

Thank you Nation reporter and Mr. Githongo. We cannot keep crying "corruption" all the years without taking action. What I wonder is if the American and British governments know that corruption in Kenya can seriously undermine the fight against terrorism. And if they do, and they are spending lots of money in Kenya to try and fight terrorism, can they spend some of it to help us fight corruption? I mean, do we have somebody who can stand up and say ENOUGH is ENOUGH-NO MORE CORRUPTION!

Submitted by swala nyeti
Posted February 16, 2009 04:11 AM

Amos Kimunya was crucified on the basis that the AG was never notified. Can the AG explain to Kenyans what his role was regarding these irrevocable promisory notes. IMPUNITY MUST BE SLAYED!!!!!

Submitted by Ijani
Posted February 16, 2009 02:16 AM

From the insights of such an exposed and informed author it would be great to read such work. Lets all lend an ear to one Kenyan who has led the fight against deep rooted vices in our nation. Kudos to you bwana Githongo from Kenyans based in the UAE. Keep up the good work and may God bless you, we are keen on what's happening happening back at home.

Submitted by werssylwer
Posted February 16, 2009 02:05 AM

Thats why we have to go to the Hague because court cases involving people in Githongo's revelations have have never gone anywhere. Look at the corruption cases against Ruto and the Molasses saga in Kisumu. Economic crimes in kenya are equivalent to crimes against humanity because they have caused the health system to collapse hence peole dying as a result and the corrupt road tenders have led to shoddy work leading to carnage on the roads with massive lose of human lives. Yet the kenyan people still vote these thugs back in office. Kenyans deserve the goverment they have. Peroid.

Submitted by kamwara
Posted February 16, 2009 01:34 AM

ur not the only kenyan learned to forsee corruption. you are boring us now.I think u are bringing up this to cover what is happening in the coutry now.

Submitted by Daniel08
Posted February 15, 2009 11:40 PM

I don’t truly believe this mans life was in danger or is in danger. Kibaki’s govt unlike the Moi regime cannot be linked to murders of political figures or members of any pressure groups. Africans exploit the welfare system in the west in the name of fear for life, to benefit from housing, healthcare, education for the children, and weekly cash handouts. This book is moneymaking venture not an eye opener for anyone. This man sold ODM to us, are they not also corrupt?

1 comments:

John Maina said...
February 26, 2009 at 3:03 PM  

I wouldn't be surprised that Githongo's critics have directly or indirectly been beneficially of the corrupt and illegal regime in Kenya or are just being naive and tribalist.
Whats is better writing a book on your experiences in government or being involved in scandals to create wealth. The latter is what i presume many of githongo's critics are accustomed to.
Githongo produced fool proof evidence only a fool would not see, of mega corruption by Kibaki and his cronies which was never acted on. Yet unsurprisingly, his critics are head over heals even before reading githongo's book.