Thursday, October 14, 2010



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

October 13, 2010

Moses Wetangula, Thuita Mwangi and one Mr. Mburu have been named in rather unflattering ways by the Parliamentary Committee that investigated public spending on buildings in Tokyo, Brussels and Abuja. After so many months of the Committee’s investigations, it now emerges that the deals in Tokyo and Brussels had not passed the test of integrity. Unauthorized individuals chose to overlook the laid down procedures of procurement and spent public funds without authorization. What is more, it is now emerging that the same officers have not been very honest with the Kenyan public in the past.

As an observer with no access to most of the documents that are in the hands of the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations, I have no business stating categorically that a crime was committed by the four gentlemen at the Foreign Office. However, after following the bitter exchanges between the accused and committee members, I have my doubts that some wrong was not committed in Tokyo and Brussels.

As a Kenyan who pays my taxes diligently to Kenya Revenue Authority, I welcome Moses Wetangula’ s invitation of KACC to jump in and carry out a thorough audit and where possible, take to court any individual, Wetangula included if found culpable of any wrong doing. However, inviting KACC to do their part is not enough. Personal integrity demands that once a public official’s integrity has been questioned publicly, the only honorable thing is to either resign or step aside as investigations are conducted. Remaining in office under such circumstances does not add value to our governance culture. It can only undermine it.

Just as we grappled with the Tokyo saga, another drama was unfolding at our KEBS offices where for months a war of words has been raging over the appointment of a new Managing Director. The players in this saga have been the Minister for Industrialization, his Permanent Secretary, an Assistant Minister in that ministry and the chairman of the Board of KEBS. In this tussle, the three gentlemen have taken the Minister on in his appointment of one Mr. Kosgey as the new CEO of KEBS. As the tussle intensified, the KPMG CEO joined in the fray in condemning the Minister for picking a candidate who was not shortlisted.

What sounded strange was that as the Permanent Secretary, an Assistant Minister and KEBS Board chairman ganged up to condemn the Minister’s decision, several Board members broke ranks with their chairman to support the Minister in this tussle.

We as Kenyan observers may never know the boardroom struggles that may have taken place behind closed doors before the war of words spilled over in to the public domain. However, one thing is for certain; the intrigues to secure the job for one of their own cannot be apportioned to the Minister alone. It would appear as if there was an elaborate plan involving the Permanent Secretary, an Assistant Minister and the chairman to secure that job for one of their own; and it would appear like the Minister and his confidantes in the board were all aware of these counter intrigues.

If one looks at the ethnic background of the CEO of KPMG, the KEBS board chairman, Industrialization Permanent Secretary and an Assistant Minister assailing his boss, one cannot help tracing an ethnic agendum even if one conceded that the Minister indeed flouted recruitment rules. One more thing; did KPMG indeed shortlist former retirees some of whom had been removed from public service under unclear circumstances? Did KPMG conclude the recruitment process or was the firm terminated before it submitted its final results? If indeed its services were terminated by the board, can they come out clean to tell Kenyans why such a reputable firm’s services were terminated prematurely?

As things stand, the fiasco at KEBS has left every player with a bloody nose. Personal and institutional integrities have gone down the drain. Nobody is going to come out a winner. Now we cannot trust that the candidates that were shortlisted were the best. The process tainted their integrity. The board of KEBS has not come out any better. In other countries such inept behaviour would have forced them to resign; but this is Kenya. The Permanent Secretary and the assistant minister would have been sent packing if indeed this was another era. Their ethnic ego has gotten the better of them and driven them to insubordinate their minister. And when you look at it, you must ask yourself where they draw their power from to insubordinate their Minister and still remain to serve in that same government. It is the kind of reckless impunity that has been the bane of this regime.

Much as we wait for KACC, NCIC and the CID to move in and probe the Tokyo saga and KEBS shame, the President should move in and show this nation who is boss. He should move with speed and read the riot act to these individuals who think this country owes them the air we breathe.

Okungu is the CEO of Kenya-Today