Embattled Devolution secretary Anne Waiguru on Wednesday shifted the blame for the alleged corruption in her ministry to Principal Secretary Peter Mangiti, arguing that only accounting officers should be made to answer for procurement irregularities.
Ms Waiguru told journalists that Cabinet secretaries do not oversee procurement in their ministries and should therefore not be asked to answer when things go wrong.
The minister said only accounting officers must shoulder the blame for all procurement irregularities – effectively shifting the blame to Mr Mangiti, who is identified in the ministry’s website as the accounting officer.
“The person who should be held responsible is the accounting officer. They are the ones to explain why they bought whatever they bought at whatever prices,” Ms Waiguru said.
The National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Tuesday unearthed a litany of procurement irregularities in the Devolution ministry, including the purchase of items such as touchscreen TV, pens, a piano, computers, a printer, telephone headsets and a water dispensers at inflated prices.
But Ms Waiguru denied any knowledge of procurement in her ministry, saying she is barred by law from getting involved.
“As a matter of fact, until yesterday, I wouldn’t have known how much a biro costs because they don’t bring their price lists to me. The minister never sees them, you’re never asked and you are never consulted on those matters.”
Documents before Parliament show that the ministry purchased 20 ball point pens for the Huduma Kenya secretariat at Sh174,000 — translating to Sh8,700 per pen, a revelation that caused public uproar and demand for firm action against rampant corruption in government.
The ministry also bought a photocopier at Sh1.4 million, 45 external hard disks at Sh11,102 each, a laptop (Sh206,000), 18 tailor-made male and female condom dispensers (Sh25,000 each), CorelDraw software for (S.4 million), a computer and personal laptop for Sh1.1 million and carpets at S.8 million.
The directorate also bought a Yamaha piano for office use at Sh235,500.
READ: Waiguru’s ministry buys ball pens at Sh8,700 each
Documents Mr Mangiti presented to Parliament on Tuesday also indicate that Ms Waiguru ordered a complete overhaul of her Harambee House office – complete with new fittings that included a Sh1.8 million touchscreen television and a state-of-the-art boardroom that cost taxpayers millions of shillings.
On Wednesday morning, Ms Waiguru took to social media, saying that the said piano and TV are not in her office. The expenses were discovered as the committee scrutinised the ministry’s file of replies to the queries raised in the Auditor-General’s report on the government’s accounts for the 20132014 financial year.
Ms Waiguru was back in Parliament on Wednesday, where MPs demanded to know ministers’ roles and responsibilities in the management of public resources in their dockets.
“You are the representative of the President in the Ministry of Devolution. Does it concern you that theft is occurring in the NYS, the Youth Enterprise Fund, Huduma Centres and now in the Directorate of Public Service Management, Ms Waiguru was asked during a meeting with PAC.
Nicholas Gumbo, who chairs the PAC, said President Kenyatta had issued instructions that Cabinet secretaries take full charge of their dockets and asked the minister to explain her understanding of the directive.
“It concerns me immensely. I think our concern for transparency and enthusiasm for good governance and accountability has returned to haunt us. If we did not blow the whistle on the Sh820m attempted NYS scandal, nobody would have known,” Waiguru said and asked accounting officers (PS’s Mangiti and Mwanamaka Mabruki) to respond to audit queries.
SOURCE: BUSINESS DAILY