From: Ouko joachim omolo
The News Dispatch with Omolo Beste
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2013
Members of Parliament are today (Tuesday) expected to adopt a parliamentary report touching on the conduct of Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu at the Lands ministry. This is the very Ngilu I had written to President Uhuru not to consider among his cabinet secretaries.
I wrote to the president not because I hate mama Ngilu, I wrote to him not to consider her because of corruption allegations she had been tinted with in all the governments she served in.
When she was Health Minister she made headlines when a conference held in Nairobi in 2004, ostensibly for people living with HIV/Aids, turned chaotic over misappropriation of funds, courtesy of Ngilu’s daughter who had been contracted to organise it.
Ngilu appointed a tainted Dr Florence Musau as the director of Kenyatta National Hospital. Musau was eventually kicked out in 2009 over corruption allegations. But the Government paid her a total of Sh1.5 million for one year, even as it paid Dr John Kibosia, who had been appointed to act in her place.
Musau’s departure was hastened by investigations of the Efficiency Monitoring Unit that revealed she had been involved in irregularities involving a Sh224 million tender for the procurement of equipment for life support, the Intensive Care Unit and the High Dependency Units.
Even when the corruption allegations were referred to Kenya Anti Corruption Agency for prosecution, Ngilu stood by the director, describing her performance at KNH as “exemplary”, and accused some unnamed enemies of undermining her at the ministry.
No sooner, when Ngilu was later moved to Minister of Water and Irrigation, the trickle of controversies grew into a torrent yet again. In 2007, reportedly she raided the Central Police Station and secured her activist friend Anne Njogu from lawful custody. Ngilu took the law into her hand.
Later in September 2010, Ngilu and Trade Assistant Minister Wavinya Ndeti were at it again, storming Machakos Police Station to demand the release of 12 of her supporters who had been charged for invading a private property in Athi River.
Ngilu’s next moment of disgrace came in November 2011 after eight of her family members were sucked in yet another corruption scandal. Four companies linked to her close relatives and children were accused of minting millions of shillings after they supplied goods to Tanathi Water Board, which was under Ngilu’s ministry, at grossly exaggerated rates, and without competitive bidding.
One of the companies, Kat Michaels, where the minister’s second daughter Mwende Keteithia Mwendwa was a director, was awarded lucrative contracts. Prime Minister Raila Odinga defended her and that saved her from being sacked.
The company, which was founded in May 2008, had been given a Sh1.8 million contract to supply polo t-shirts, caps, executive pens and carrier bags. The company was also paid Sh800,000 to supply “big diaries” sold to the Board at Sh2,500 each, while the “small” diaries fetched Sh1,500 each.
Enacting a similar script, another firm, Broad Visions Utilities Limited, was founded in April 2008. One of the company’s directors was Billy Indeche, husband to Ngilu’s first-born daughter, Jemi Mwendwa. They too got supply contracts.
Other kin of the minister have been involved. Ngotho Kasyoki Ithumbuti was a director of Timetrax Limited, where he served together with a cousin Patrice Mnene Munguti. This company won a tender to supply GI pipes at Sh23,815 per piece and ultimately supplied 65 pieces.
When the hour of reckoning came, eight people, among them the minister’s son in law, Indeche, and Tourism assistant minister Cecily Mbarire’s husband, Denis Apaa, were arraigned in court charged with a series of corruption offences.
The suspects were alleged to have defrauded the Ministry of Water and Irrigation of Sh26 million after violating the procurement procedures. Others who were charged included Lawrence Simitu, Isaiah Amwanzo Benjamin, Samuel Alouch Otieno, Robert Mati, Joseph Mucuku and Mwagambo Mwangombe.
Besides getting money through fraudulent means from the Government, Indeche and Apaa were accused of committing economic crimes by jointly conspiring to defraud the Water ministry by purporting to qualify for a tender to sink five boreholes in drought-stricken Machakos and Makueni districts at a time the residents were being by drought.
Apart from recording statements with anti-corruption agents, Ngilu had also to appear before the Parliament’s Committee on Equal Opportunities over allegations that she had violated the principle of equitable distribution of resources by favouring certain regions, especially her home area.
Now that Jubilee MPs have been advised to support the Motion by the joint committees of Lands and Delegated Legislation, which reverses contentious appointments by the Lands Cabinet Secretary, and because President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto have reportedly declined to intervene on behalf of besieged Ngilu, citing ‘non-interference’ with the legislature under the doctrine of separation of powers, will her arrogance help her this time along?
Because the action is tacit approval to express displeasure with the conduct of Ngilu, I don’t see it forthcoming. Ngilu is to go given the adoption of the report whose findings include an accusation that Ngilu breached the Constitution – one of the grounds for removal from the Cabinet.
Even though in Kenya democracy is defined in terms of numbers, the fact that Ngilu havs fallen out with sections of Jubilee leadership, she may not get enough number to defend her.
The fall out came about after Ngilu accused some Jubilee leaders of betrayal and plotting her downfall. This did not go very well, particularly with the leader of majority in parliament, Aden Duale, the one Uhuru listens than any other Jubilee member.
The report accuses Ngilu of violating the law by usurping powers of the Public Service Commission and failing to consult the National Lands Commission while appointing Peter Kahuho as Director General of Lands.
Ngilu’s effort to corrupt her way by meeting the President and Deputy separately to state her case was not fruitful either. This is after Uhuru and Ruto also met officials from the PSC led by chair Margaret Kobia and NLC led by Chair Muhamad Swazuri to independently verify the claims against her.
It gives the reason why Uhuru and Ruto have avoided commenting on the saga. The matter is not that simple this time as Ngilu always thought. To make the matter worse, when the question was raised by Kirinyaga Central MP Joseph Gitari last week, Duale categorically said Ngilu’s actions cannot be helped because it bordered on breaking the law.
Fr Joachim Omolo Ouko, AJ
Tel +254 7350 14559/+254 722 623 578
Real change must come from ordinary people who refuse to be taken hostage by the weapons of politicians in the face of inequality, racism and oppression, but march together towards a clear and unambiguous goal.
-Anne Montgomery, RSCJ