Uhuru reaches out to Cabinet in bid to rescue image of the State

By: MUGUMO MUNENE

President Uhuru Kenyatta has held a series of meetings with his Cabinet and other key State officials, to stave off bad publicity from corruption claims and poor economic management.

The President called a Cabinet meeting on November 6 where he sought, from his ministers, answers to what was ailing their dockets and what could be done to fix it.

“The President recognised that there are challenges but we must not allow this fight to be preconditioned on hysteria, hype and hate,” said a senior State House official who requested anonymity.

The Sunday Nation has learnt that the meeting — which lasted from 10a.m. to 9 p.m. — arrived at a raft of measures including a deal on how to amicably end the long-drawn impasse over a pay deal for teachers.

It was at the Cabinet meeting that a proposal was prepared to present to teachers’ unions a deal to pay teachers their September salaries, pay a 50 per cent ex-gratia to those who actually taught while TSC and trade unionists work towards a Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Sources in the Presidency have told the Sunday Nation that the President was concerned that there was a lot of “noise” about government failings even when, in his view, Jubilee was succeeding on several fronts.

“The President understands and knows that no one charged with public trust should touch even a coin. But how does it become a crisis when the money mentioned in corruption is far less than one per cent of a Sh1.7 trillion budget,” the official from the presidency told the Sunday Nation.

The official spoke in a week of high octane activity against corruption.

In the past week alone, 72 individuals including a principal secretary and five managing directors were arraigned in court on corruption related offences.

This brings to 352, the number of people charged in court for corruption or abuse of office in the last six months alone.

THE SECRETARIES’ CHALLENGES

The official, who is privy to Cabinet meetings said that the President required, at the November 9 meeting, that each minister tables their achievements, what they will be able to deliver and point out impediments that they were facing in their work.

The President followed up the meeting with yet another Cabinet sitting on Friday November 13 in which one of the sticking issues identified for wanting performance pointed to Parliament.

“It was felt that CSs are sometimes seen as incompetent when they are summoned by different committees of Parliament at the same time or when they are asked questions impromptu,” said the State House official.

To this end, House Majority Leader Aden Duale and chairmen of various committees, especially those in Jubilee, were invited to State House to meet with CSs to iron out the issues concerning overlapping summons.

Deputy President William Ruto chaired the meeting between the political leadership and CSs.

At the meetings, it was informally agreed that Jubilee chairmen would liaise with CSs better, to avoid overlaps in which case ministers appear to fail in their duties when they are in fact unable to attend to parliamentary summons.

Separately, President Kenyatta met with House Speaker Justin Muturi and his Senate counterpart Ekwe Ethuro to emphasise the point that better coordination would lead to better results for Jubilee.

Last Thursday, President Kenyatta also held meetings with Chief Justice Willy Mutunga to pass the message that the different arms of government required more synergy “since we serve the same people.”

PROSECUTION OF CORRUPT OFFICIALS

President Kenyatta said that it was up to the Judiciary to deliver a high rate of convictions on corruption and if the cases coming in were weak, then the ball rolls back to the Director of Public Prosecution who in turn must emphasises to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to present water tight evidence.

On Friday, President Kenyatta met the anti-corruption task force he set up in March this year, which is chaired by Attorney General Githu Muigai and urged more coordination in the fight against corruption.

The agencies that form the task force are the State Law Office, the Directorate of Public Prosecution, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, the Director of Budget, the Auditor-General and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

The President, who spoke after receiving a report from an anti-corruption task force, said the success of the fight against corruption will be measured by the number of corrupt individuals who are successfully prosecuted and sent to jail and the size of the property recovered.

“It is possible to have successful prosecutions but the problem is clearly a lack of focus and coordination between the agencies involved in the anti-corruption war,” said the President in a news release from State House.

Sources privy to the meeting separately told the Sunday Nation that the President also cautioned the officials against leaking reports.

“He told them that it is the number of successful prosecutions emanating from a thorough job that count and not just leaked reports that amount to nothing,” said the official.

Plans are also afoot, as proposed by the private sector, to draft a Bill that would make it possible to confiscate the properties of those found to have bribed their way into corrupt deals.

“There has been a lot of activity and there will be more to keep the wheels of the economy moving,” said the official from the presidency.

Contacted by the Sunday Nation, State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu confirmed the series of meetings and said; “The President is concerned by both perceived and real corruption but he’s particularly concerned that the agencies mandated to do their job must ultimately ensure that the perpetrators of corruption go to jail. The President does not want to hear about investigations that do not end up with the culprits bearing full responsibility.”

SOURCE: DAILY NATION