By: RAPHAEL WANJALA
The campaign against Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru accused of corruption was on Friday taken to the grassroots as leaders from across the political divide continued to pile pressure on President Uhuru Kenyatta to sack her.
President Kenyatta has been accused of remaining mum over the matter many feel will cost him politically, even in his own bastion.
On Friday, he chaired a Cabinet meeting but there was no indication that the matter was discussed.
A release by his press service said the meeting approved the establishment of the African Export Import Bank and opening of a branch office in Kenya to serve the East African Region.
The Cabinet also approved Kenya’s hosting of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management’s World Conference on Public Relations in Emerging Economies that will be held in Nairobi, between 14th and 18th this month.
Jubilee and Cord MPs who spoke during the funeral of Teso North MP Arthur Odera’s mother in Busia , were united in asking the President to act.
And the issue is likely to dominate political rallies that will be addressed by Cord leaders Raila Odinga in Kericho and Moses Wetang’ula in Busia this weekend.
President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto will be in Nandi for a rally where they will be under pressure to address the Waiguru issue.
In Busia, on Friday, Kieni MP Kanini Kega said one person should not hold back the government’s progress.
Mr Kanini said Ms Waiguru should leave to pave way for investigations into suspect deals in her ministry.
Ms Waiguru has since admitted that Sh791 million was lost in National Youth Service supply contracts and there was another attempt to steal another Sh800 million.
The money was mainly paid to suppliers in the Kibera slum upgrading projects who inflated prices, at times by adding more zeros to the contract sums.
And this week, her PS John Mangiti presented a document to the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee, which showed the ministry purchased items at highly inflated prices, including pens which cost Sh8,700 each.
“One person wants to cause us to fail as a government. Even in Biblical times, Jonah had to be tossed out of a vessel for it to be steady and now we are asking the modern day Jonah to disembark from the ship for us to be steady,” Mr Kanini said.
PAC Chairman Nicholas Gumbo said documents seen by the committee on purchase of equipment were very shocking and pointed to high levels of corruption in the ministry.
He said Ms Waiguru should not abdicate her responsibility as a Cabinet Secretary as she is using taxpayers’ money.
Mr Gumbo questioned why Ms Waiguru was receiving preferential treatment yet her colleagues stepped aside over allegations of corruption in their dockets.
“We have seen five Cabinet Secretaries step aside over graft allegations. Why is she abdicating her duties or is she so special?” Mr Gumbo said.
DON’T SHIFT BLAME
Chuka/Igamba Ngombe MP Muthomi Njuki said Kenya should not burn because one person is facing corruption allegations.
Ms Waiguru, he added, should take full responsibility for the happenings in her docket.
“When a guard is assigned duty to watch over certain premises, he is held responsible. When things go wrong he doesn’t say ask the neighbours he is held responsible for the breach in his duties,” he said.
His Teso South counterpart Mary Emase said government officials must take individual responsibility for the mess in their ministries.
“Ms Waiguru cannot pass the buck to her Principal Secretaries,” Ms Emase said.
The chorus against Ms Waiguru has been gaining momentum since Wednesday.
Politicians from the President’s backyard of central held two meetings in Nairobi to discuss whether or not they should ask him to ask her to step aside, a political euphemism for suspension, while the allegations were being investigated.
The first took place at the Boma Hotel in South ‘C’. The second meeting at Pan Afric Hotel in the evening was attended by Ms Waiguru.
At the Boma Hotel, Nyeri Town MP Esther Murugi was candid, declaring there are many competent people from central Kenya who would take up Ms Waiguru’s place, arguing the CS has become a liability to the President.
“Let Anne Waiguru do the honourable thing and step aside so that the ministry can be cleaned where there is a problem. There are no sacred cows, the country has good women and men who can still do what Cabinet Secretaries do. It is not a one-person show,” said Ms Murugi.
LIST OF SHAME
Mukurweini’s Kabando wa Kabando posed: “What is so special about Waiguru? Other cabinet secretaries stepped aside. Conscience requires her to step aside even if the allegations are not true.”
Other MPs at the meeting, Wanjiku Muhia (Nyandarua Woman Representative), Kigo Njenga (Gatundu North), Alois Lentoimaga (Samburu North) and Humphrey Njuguna (Gatanga), were categorical that time had come for the President to crack the whip.
The second meeting at Pan Africa was less unanimous. It split the group of MPs from Central Kenya into two camps.
By: that time, Ms Waiguru had appeared before the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly and responded to some of the allegations levelled against her.
Some MPs, including Kabete’s Ferdinand Waititu changed tune and supported the CS.
Mr Waititu felt that the PS, Mr Mangiti and not Ms Waiguru, should be punished over claims he is undermining the minister.
Ms Waiguru’s department has been implementing some of Jubilee’s flagship projects, including the one providing daily jobs for the young men and women under the National Youth Service, especially in slum areas.
Opposition coalition Cord complained that Jubilee is using the programme to undermine its support in its strongholds.
And President Kenyatta is in the eye of the storm for not acting on corruption allegations against Ms Waiguru.
President Kenyatta’s defence of Ms Waiguru while other suspended Cabinet secretaries remain in the cold since March has given the Cord ammunition against the government.
CSs Felix Koskei (Agriculture), Davis Chirchir (Energy), Michael Kamau (Transport), Charity Ngilu (Lands) and Kazungu Kambi (Labour) were suspended after their names were included in an Ethics and anti-Corruption Commission List of Shame.
In July, President Kenyatta defended Ms Waiguru over the NYS scandal.
This attracted criticism, especially among supporters of those on suspension and the opposition.
Some MPs from URP have accused the President of selectively fighting corruption.
Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter, whose efforts to impeach Ms Waiguru have so far failed claims URP appointees were being targeted.
They say despite being cleared of corruption allegation Mr Koskei, Mr Chirchir and Mr Kazungu Kambi have not been reinstated.
On Friday, ODM Secretary for Political Affairs Opiyo Wandayi said: “Whatever the President decides to do with Ms Waiguru is up to him, the die is cast and Kenyans are wiser now. The CS is the face of impunity and where we have reached, the government is not salvageable, they just need to pack up and leave”.
The Ugunja MP said the Opposition had been vindicated by their assertion that the government did not have what it takes to steer the country successfully.
In Kisii, two MPs also maintained that Ms Waiguru must leave office to facilitate investigations into the claims. Kitutu Chache’s Richard Onyonka and Richard Tongi of Nyaribari Chache want the President to act against corruption.
“My constituency is among those that benefited from the NYS programmes. The works are going on well but when it comes to corruption, I will call on Ms Waiguru to resign from office and allow for investigations,” said Mr Onyonka.
“Let us not pretend that all is well when there is massive looting of public money. We are putting an unnecessary burden on the tax payer,” added Mr Onyonka.
He added: “We are tired with this drama and we call for action to stem the tide of corruption in our country.”
“Teachers and county employees are yet to be paid. I haven’t received my salary as well, yet corruption continues to thrive unabated,” said Mr Onyonka.
Mr Tongi called on Ms Waiguru to step aside for investigations and possibly recovery of the lost millions of tax payers’ money.
“If the Kenyan leadership was committed to the war against corruption, there would be enough resources for development,” said Mr Tongi.
“There is corruption everywhere, from the national offices to CDF and we are just winking at it,” added the MP.
Mr Tongi called on President Kenyatta to use his power to sack Ms Waiguru.
“The President has been silent even as corruption continues to ravage out country. This should not be allowed.”