Kenya National Assembly
Nairobi Wednesday, 25th February, 2015
RE: INTEGRITY AND ETHICAL ISSUES IN THE PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE (PAC)
On Wednesday, 18th February, 2015, in your chambers, I briefed you at length on the happenings in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which have pretty much crippled operations of this key Committee. Among the measures you and I agreed on was that the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) be invited to investigate allegations of impropriety attributed to some members of the Committee. You subsequently attended a meeting of the Committee that same day, where a section of the members vehemently opposed my motion to call in the EACC.
In view of the very loose, unhelpful and manifestly speculative dimension this matter has since taken, am obliged to put on record the gist of the issues discussed with you at the said 18th February meeting, together with further details that have since emerged.
From the outset, let me reiterate my already stated view that the issues here are weighty and deserve substantive attention; but the issues now unfortunately run the risk of being clouded by partisan politics and self-serving pontificating. The issues primarily revolve around three investigations by the Committee, namely:
- Confidential Expenditure under the 2012/13 annual audited accounts of government;
2. Inquiry into diverse transactions by the Judiciary; and
3. Inquiry into procurement of five sets of electoral equipment by the IEBC in the run up to the 2013 General Elections.
Let me enumerate here four key issues emanating from these three investigations that have come to my knowledge, and which touch on both ethics and integrity of the Committee:
- FAILED CONSPIRACY TO SAVE MR. MUTEA IRINGO ON KSHS 2.9 BILLION “CONFIDENTIAL” EXPENDITURE
I have reliably gathered that even as a majority of us in the Committee worked overtime to clear the 3-year backlog of audited accounts, some members of the Committee were apparently busy engaging persons under investigation with the motive of soliciting for and/or receiving favours to improperly influence findings of the Committee.
I have it on record that Defence PS, Mr. Mutea Iringo, met four members of the Committee at Silver Springs Hotel for this purpose. They were Hon Omondi Anyanga, Hon James Bett, Hon Abbas Ahmed and Hon Samuel Arama. At the meeting, it was agreed that Mr. Iringo would provide money and facilitate business opportunities at the Department of Defence (DoD). At least Kshs 1.5 million is confirmed to have been collected in cash from Mr. Iringo by Hon Anyanga, who shared with the members named hereinabove, together with Hon Kareke Mbiuki and Hon Cecily Mbarire. I was to be strictly kept in the dark, because I am not “flexible”.
The assignment for these members was to ensure that anything adverse to Mr. Iringo would be expunged from the Committee’s final report. This, however, was not achieved. Mr. Iringo is reportedly upset that he paid for a service not rendered, a fact that has left the involved members quite shaken, and upset with me for firmly protecting the integrity of the report, which returned a damning verdict on the PSs in office when the questionable Kshs 2.9 billion expenditure was undertaken.
A recorded audio confession in my possession, and phone records of the named members, especially Hon Bett and Hon Anyanga, easily and unequivocally confirm the liaison between Mr. Iringo and the named members. The findings and recommendations in the final report tabled in the House in December, 2014 by myself on behalf of the Committee confirm that this scheme failed, to the chagrin of the plotters.
- REPORTED BRIBERY ALLEGATIONS IN RESPECT OF THE JUDICIARY INQUIRY
At a sitting of the Committee held on Tuesday, February 17th, 2014, the Committee Vice-Chair, Hon Cecily Mbarire tabled the February edition of the Nairobi Law Monthly (NLM), which had published allegations of bribery. The story, on page 17 of the magazine, reported that bribes linked to the former Judiciary Chief Registrar, Mrs. Gladys Boss Shollei, had been conveyed to some members of the Committee through “a vocal female MP from Eastern…known for corrupt dealings”. The last tranche of the bribe loot was reportedly Kshs 4 million collected by this member to be shared with others.
Hon Mbarire submitted that this inference pointed to her. She further claimed that she had reliable information that this story had been leaked by myself to Mr. Ahmednasir Abdullahi, the NLM publisher. After defending myself against this allegation, Hon Mbarire withdrew her accusation. But the serious bribery allegations published in the respected Nairobi Law Monthly remains on the Committee record.
Curiously, my motion to invite the publisher of the Nairobi Law Monthly to shed more light on this matter before the Committee was strongly opposed by Hon Mbarire. Tellingly, in her opposition, Hon Mbarire was stridently supported by Hon Anyanga, Hon Abbas and Hon Bett.
How this initial allegation against Hon Mbarire swiftly mutated to a full-blown accusation of impropriety against myself was the masterstroke in the grand conspiracy to save Hon Mbarire from published allegations, by casually dropping false accusations against me in a cynical, careless unsubstantiated manner that grossly violated Standing Orders of the House.
This matter is alive and cannot be wished away. Whatever political games are played, we must get to the root of the matter.
- ATTEMPT TO PROCURE IMPROPER FAVOURS FROM A SUBJECT OF INQUIRY IN HYDERABAD, INDIA
In December, 2014, I led a delegation of six (6) members of the Committee and two clerks to India on the final leg of our preliminary inquiry into the five IEBC transactions. The members, besides myself, were Hon John Sakwa Bunyasi, Hon Jessica Mbalu, Hon Kyengo Katatha Maweu, Hon Omondi Anyanga, Hon James Bett and Hon Gonzi Rai. Logistics for our stay in New Delhi were made by the Kenyan High Commission.
When we transferred to Hyderabad, we were received by officials of 4G Identity Solutions, the Indian firm at the heart of our inquiry. As leader of delegation, it came to me as a shattering shock when Hon Anyanga demanded that the delegation accepts favours from 4G Identity Solutions, specifically payment of hotel bills, meals and local travel. I flatly rejected this on ethical grounds, and got the hotel to cancel a bills payment arrangement they had already made with 4G. Apparently, this did not go down well.
Hon Omondi Anyanga was particularly upset with me, for rejecting what he described as the “common practice everywhere we travel”. Hon John Sakwa Bunyasi, other honest members of the delegation, 4G Identity Solutions, and TRIDENT Hotel, Hyderabad can all corroborate this information.
To be fair, the rest of the delegation accepted my verdict, except Hon Anyanga. He has never stopped hounding me over this incident. As recently as two days ago, Hon Anyanga told me this “rigid principles” is one of the reasons some members have a problem with me. Indeed this “rigid” narrative of Hon Anyanga is consistent with subsequent evidence that has emerged as this saga has unfolded.
In my recorded evidence in respect of the confidential expenditure, a member clearly says the bribery schemers could not involve me because I was too rigid and would not accept to play ball.
- INTERFERENCE IN INVESTIGATIONS BY COMMITTEE CLERK, MR. GEORGE GEZEMBA
The full picture of the integrity crisis in PAC, and the National Assembly by extension, would not be complete without paying attention to the serious crisis in the committee clerking services. As PAC chair, I have on numerous occasions complained to the Director of Committee Services, Mrs. Florence Abonyo, over the conduct of one particularly notorious clerk, Mr. George Gezemba, who, quite unfortunately clerked PAC for about three years.
My complaints touched on Mr. Gezemba’s questionable integrity, poor work ethic, indolence, incompetence and disrespectful demeanour. After myriad complaints from myself and other members, I literally threw out Mr. Gezemba from a Committee retreat in Kisumu last December that was to discuss the draft report of the Judiciary inquiry. I duly briefed the Director of Committees, who finally withdrew Mr. Gezemba from PAC and replaced him with Mr. Mutunga.
Among the serious breaches of integrity and ethics by Mr. Gezemba include:
- Disappearance of supporting documents submitted by auditors and witnesses. While concluding the report on Confidential Expenditure and Housing Units for police, some key documents tabled by lead Auditor, Mr. Esau Ndeda just vanished. We had to desperately fly Mr. Ndeda to Mombasa to fill in gaps. We also made frantic efforts to have the Director of Committee Services dispatch to us raw electronic recording of Committee proceedings in our desperation to salvage critical evidence that appeared to have been deliberately “lost” by Mr. Gezemba.
- Mr. Gezemba also deliberately drafted the Judiciary report in a manner suspiciously intended to favour a key person under investigation. On three occasions, I personally led the Committee to see that his drafts were grossly at variance with evidence and testimonies rendered to the Committee. These mischievous yet dangerous games by Mr. Gezemba seriously compromised the pace of the key Judiciary inquiry, as two report writing retreats aborted because of doctored reports that I found unacceptable. These are among the key reasons why I insisted Mr. Gezemba be removed from the Committee.
PAC TAKEN HOSTAGE BY MULTIPLE INTERESTS AND FORCES
I submit that the crucial Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has been taken hostage by five distinct interests:
- Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC):
This week PAC was scheduled to commence open hearings on procurement of 5 sets of equipment used in the 2013 general elections. Chairman Mr. Isaack Hassan was listed as the first witness to appear before the Committee, to testify based on a special audit report prepared for PAC by the Auditor General and reports of independent preliminary inquiries conducted by the Committee.
For some reasons, IEBC-linked interests are scared dead of having me in the chair as we commence this crucial process. They have hatched a plot to remove me and install a puppet chair that would cause them no “headache”. Their choice is Ijara MP, Hon Ahmed Abbas, and for obvious reasons. Majority Leader Aden Duale is reportedly at the heart of this conspiracy.
- The Judiciary
The eruption of this saga was triggered by the Judiciary inquiry. Among the key Committee agenda for the week commencing February 16th, 2015 was to conclude the long-delayed report on expenditure impropriety in the Judiciary. With past games played by clerk George Gezemba in respect of draft reports, and the posturing of some members over this matter, it is certain that some very powerful forces are hell-bent on influencing the report in a particular direction. Those forces obviously do not trust I will play ball with them.
- Office of the President (OP)
President Uhuru Kenyatta is on record for admitting that corruption is endemic in government, with its tentacles firmly anchored at OP. The PAC report on government’s 2012/13 accounts clearly demonstrates this, particularly through the Committee’s exposé on the so called “Confidential Expenditure”. The Lords of graft and impunity have been shaken to the bone marrow by this exposure, which is the first time ever. Their panic is further manifest in efforts to tie the hands of the Auditor General through the Audit Bill 2014, whose shamefully unconstitutional provisions like clause 40 are tailor made to protect their theft from ever again being audited and scrutinised by PAC. This matter gets murkier by revelations that OP mandarins, through PS Mutea Iringo, bribed some members of the Committee to influence the PAC report. That their evil scheme failed has upset them. They have now brought pressure to bear on their marionettes in the Committee. Who in turn must remove me to demonstrate that they have dealt with the “obstacle”.
- Jubilee and ODM/CORD political intrigues.
Internal ODM/CORD feuds and supremacy wars have somehow found a perfect point of confluence with Jubilee interests of killing oversight in the National Assembly. The result is a crippled PAC with irreparably damaged public image.
- Systemic institutional weaknesses in the Kenya National Assembly
The conduct of clerk George Gezemba could be a microcosm of a deep-sited institutional crisis that has serious implications on integrity and ethical image of the National Assembly. It is also important to interrogate how PAC’s “Hustler” Jet Report, concluded and tabled in the House by myself on April 24th, 2014 has never been balloted by the House Business Committee for debate – a whole year since tabling. This is unprecedented. Majority Leader Hon Aden Duale has reportedly vowed that the “Hustler” Jet Report will never be debated, because it touched on his boss. I have complained countless times – on the floor of the House, to the Hon Speaker, to Hon Duale, and to the House Business Committee, to no avail. What kind of brinkmanship and impunity is this? What forces exactly control operations of the National Assembly? Who is this that can so casually and cynically decide to trash House rules and traditions with such abandon?
In conclusion, my submission is that I am a victim of the classical case of the vampire of corruption fighting back viciously. Indeed it’s quite ironical that it is me, the victim, the one known by members as inflexibly principled, that is in the dock. It feels like the trial of a lamb in the court of a pack of wolves with blood dripping from their murderous paws.
I am proud of my performance as PAC Chairman. In less than two years, under my stewardship, the Committee performed the unprecedented miracle of clearing a backlog of audited accounts going back five years. Besides five reports on audited accounts (our core mandate) tabled in a single calendar year (a first in the history of Parliament), we also successfully concluded the “Hustler’s Jet” inquiry. Curiously, though, the House leadership has stubbornly thwarted my efforts to have the “Hustler’s Jet” Report debated by the House, since I tabled it a year ago on April 24th, 2014. The Committee is also at a very advanced stage in the inquiry into the IEBC and Judiciary.
These impressive achievements have come against the difficult backdrop of political intrigues and selfish personal interests.
I implore you, Mr. Speaker, to use PAC as an example to tackle head-on the integrity and ethical issues enveloping the Kenya National Assembly. Am ready and willing to collaborate with the EACC and other agencies in this respect.
Hon.Ababu Namwamba,EGH, MP.
“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I shall fear no evil…” Psalms 23:4
Cc. 1. Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) 2. Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)
Post script: It should be pretty easy to track the trail of anyone compromised to influence the outcome of a committee investigation. An audit of the evidence and testimonies vis-a-vis the findings and recommendations should clearly show a disconnect.
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