Uhuru orders officials named in corruption cases to step aside
President Kenyatta on Thursday announced a corruption purge that could see 50 public officials, including at least five Cabinet Secretaries, six governors and two senators, step aside to pave the way for investigations.
The officials are named in a confidential report handed over to National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi by Mr Kenyatta.
The list might include all 26 members of the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament, among other MPs, heads of parastatals and various principal secretaries.
Even after the President handed over the list to the Speaker, it was not made public, leading to speculation that some people might still be added or removed.
According to MPs who claimed to have seen the report, two of the governors are from the former Eastern Province, two head counties with large metropolitan areas, one is from the Rift Valley and another is from Nyanza.
The officials named will be expected to step aside to pave the way for an investigation based on the confidential report the President said he had received from the chief executive officer of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, Mr Halakhe Waqo.
“The time has come to send a strong signal to the country that my administration will accept nothing less than the highest standard of integrity from those that hold high office,” he said.
ANGLO LEASING SCANDAL
The report contains a “catalogue of allegations of high-level corruption touching on all arms and levels of government”, he said.
On Thursday evening Parliament’s leadership was reported to be negotiating whether to make the report public, with Speakers Justin Muturi and Ekwee Ethuro locked in a meeting with National Assembly Clerk Justin Bundi and Majority Leader Aden Duale, among other MPs.
President Kenyatta said after he authorised the payment of Sh1.4 billion to firms linked to the Anglo Leasing scandal, he took a personal interest in the matter and pushed for investigations.
“These investigations bore fruit,” he said, but “obstacles have appeared, threatening the prosecution of the perpetrators”.
He said it was as a result of this that the EACC is now embroiled in infighting and finger-pointing, “a state of affairs likely to cripple the investigative capacity of the institution, with the likely outcome of subverting the course of justice”.
“From reports I have received, I strongly believe that this is a further attempt to subvert the successful prosecution of the Anglo Leasing cases. It is the view of the CEO of the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission that the institution, and especially its secretariat, are under siege because of the nature of the cases they are currently investigating,” said President Kenyatta.
He said he had asked the Attorney-General to liaise with the Council on Administration of Justice to focus on coordination within the Justice, Law and Order sector.
He also asked Parliament, where the National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee is handling a petition filed last week for the removal of EACC Chairman Mumo Matemu and his deputy Irene Keino, to deal with it expeditiously.
FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION
President Kenyatta’s statements could spell doom for the tenure of Mr Matemu, whom some MPs have claimed is behind the push not to have suspects in the Anglo Leasing cases prosecuted.
Mr Kenyatta also appeared to criticise the EACC when he said that despite pledging support for institutions that are supposed to tackle the scourge, they had not lived up to expectations.
“From the commission charged with the responsibility in the fight against corruption, Parliament’s premier oversight committee, the corridors of justice, and the security organs charged with the safety of this nation, Kenyans are witness to the betrayal of their trust,” said the President.
Mr Kenyatta said he received the report from Mr Waqo after he issued an Executive Order three weeks ago, directing any civil servant to get in touch with his office should they be put under pressure to engage in unethical or illegal conduct.
While he is only required to present reports on security and the government’s progress in the fulfillment of international obligations, he also took the unusual step of attaching the report on corruption to be studied and discussed by the Senate and the National Assembly.
Fifty minutes into his one hour, ten minute-speech, President Kenyatta had appeared to be avoiding the subject, which has been the trending topic over the past month.
When he began talking about it, impatient Opposition MPs told him in Swahili to sack the EACC officials. He stopped reading the prepared speech and told them: “Hiyo sio kazi yangu, ni yenu (that’s not my job, it’s yours).”
Minutes later, when he announced the steps to take in the fight against corruption, there was a standing ovation from both sides of the House.