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Citizen Weekly

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

SONKO HEEDS UHURU'S ORDER, STEPS ASIDE



President Uhuru Kenyatta insisted on Wednesday that all public officers on the corruption list — whether elected or appointed — must temporarily leave office.
But governors have said they will not leave office.
Only Nairobi Senator Gideon Mbuvi Sonko and Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba, who are elected, heeded the President’s directive and stepped aside to pave the way for investigations by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
At the commission, chairman Matemu Mumo and deputy Irene Keino are walking a tightrope following revelations that powerful officials around the Presidency had asked them to resign.
Speaking at a diaspora conference in Nairobi, President Kenyatta asked public officers opposed to his directive to step aside to “carry their own cross” and allow investigations into their conduct.
However, he clarified that he will not sack the officers in the list he presented to Parliament last week unless they have been found guilty.
“An accusation is not a sentence. And so, I am repeating; those named should step aside. I can’t sack people if they haven’t been proven guilty. Kila mtu abebe msalaba wake (everyone should carry their own cross),” he said.
The list was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday and contains a list of 175 state and public officers accused of being corrupt. It includes Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries, heads of parastatals, governors, senators, MPs, county assembly members and senior public officers.
Cabinet Secretaries Davis Chirchir (Energy), Kazungu Kambi (Labour), Michael Kamau (Infrastructure), Felix Koskei (Agriculture) and Charity Ngilu (Lands) have stepped aside. Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kimemia and Principal Secretaries Nduva Muli (Transport), Mutea Iringo (Defence), James Teko (Water) and Patrick Omutia (Mining) have also heeded the President’s directive.
However, Governors Isaac Ruto (Bomet), Peter Munya (Meru), Evans Kidero (Nairobi), Hassan Joho (Mombasa) and Cyprian Awiti (Homa Bay) have said they will not step aside. A total of 12 governors are in the list.
NO ONE IS SPECIAL
But the President said no one was special and everyone mentioned ought to leave office.
“Corruption is corruption. It affects you whether you are a jubilee supporter or whether you are an ODM supporter. It affects you whether you are from eastern, whether you come from western Kenya, whether you come from wherever. Let us do this together.”
Lawyer Nzamba Kitonga, who chaired the Committee of Experts which authored the Constitution, said it was almost impossible for the President to enforce his directive requiring governors to step aside.
He said the last Parliament erred in passing a weak law on integrity and leadership which failed to specify consequences against public officers under investigations and those facing trial in court.
“MPs passed very weak legislation because they wanted to vie for political seats. There was also the issue of the President and the International Criminal Court. We are now in that log jam of passing weak legislation,” he said.
But he said with the goodwill to fight corruption exhibited by the President, he should marshal MPs to pass tight laws which could lead to suspension of governors under investigation.
“Now that the lacuna has been discovered and the President is willing to fight corruption, Parliament should come up with legislation to fight corruption,” he said by phone.
SONKO STEPS ASIDE
On Wednesday, Mr Sonko stepped aside and vowed not to vie for any political seat in future if found guilty by the anti-corruption agency. The report links him to a Sh46.14 billion tender at the Kenya Pipeline Company.
“I have written to the Speaker of the Senate requesting for absence from Senate sittings during the period of the probe which is 60 days” he said in his office.
He also requested to step aside as the Deputy Chief Whip and as a member of three Senate committees.
But he denied allegations made against him by the anti-corruption commission report and alleged that his name was included at the behest of his political enemies.
“I have no influence over Kenya Pipeline Company and its procurement system. The only connection I have with the parastatal is that it is headquartered in the county of Nairobi where I am the Senator,” he said.
Mr Namwamba, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee, wrote to Speaker Justin Muturi to be excused from attending House and committee sittings. “I do this well aware that I have not been named as an individual. But I consider the probe of PAC members a probe into the integrity of the 26 of us,” he said in the letter. In a fresh twist, however, the letter was withdrawn.
SPEAKER'S PERMISSION
Mr Muturi directed that an MP who chooses to step aside would be required to get the Speaker’s permission to be away from Parliament
“If you want to be away for 60 days, I would have no problem. I would give the permission,” said Mr Muturi.
“It is really up to him to know whether by being away for such a long time is doing service to his people,” he added.
On Wednesday anti-corruption commission chief executive officer Halakhe Waqo and Mr Matemu explained how the 130-member team from their commission, the Directorate of Public Prosecution and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations is preparing to work on the allegations against public officers.
“We have constituted teams to pursue the many cases of corruption. For those who are complaining that they were not informed (of the allegations against them), I leave it to the process. Some have been informed, others are being informed and others will be contacted,” said Mr Waqo. He said they were ready to conclude investigations.