Sambili defensive over Coke stadium deal

May 28, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 28 – It was drama in Parliament after Sports Minister Helen Sambili and her two assistants embarrassed each other as the controversy on renaming of Nyayo National Stadium fired up.

Assistant Ministers Wavinya Ndeti and Kabando Wa Kabando accused their boss on the floor of the House of mismanaging the entire affair, running the Ministry single-handedly and creating the mess involving a naming deal with the Coca Cola company. Her deputies interrupted her as she gave a ministerial statement in Parliament accusing her of ignoring their opinion on the matter and the general running of the Ministry.

“In the last six months we have sought to meet the Minister unsuccessfully. She has not sought our assistance in the ministry,” Mr Kabando told the house standing on a point of order.

This is the second time the minister’s juniors are publicly contradicting her after Sports Stadia Management Board Chairman Joe Aketch openly differed with her on the cancellation of a contract and appointment of the new Chief Executive Officer of the board. Mr Aketch accused the minister of flouting the set rules of competitive sourcing.

The Clash

Kamukunji MP Simon Mbugua wanted the Minister to confirm that all was not well in her Ministry as there were no consultations in the running of affairs. Prof Sambili who had earlier said all was well unsuccessfully tried to save face accusing her assistants of being unwilling to help her.

 “Ms Wavinya is on record of having gone to a radio station and challenging the minister,” Prof Sambili said.

Temporary Speaker Ekwe Ethuro tried to cool matters down rejecting a plea by Ms Wavinya to further put her boss on the spot.

“You cannot bring the confusion in the government to the house,” he ruled.

Prof Sambili found herself in a tight spot as she failed to successfully clear the air on the cancellation of a naming deal with the Coca Cola Company in which the state would have received Sh118 million in naming rights to rehabilitate the stadium to international standards. In return the stadium had been named Coca Cola National Stadium. Ms Sambili however took issue with the dropping of the name Nyayo.

Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo had sought the ministerial statement last week following public uproar after the state cancelled the contract that had been approved by the Office of the Attorney General. There were fears that the way the Minister handled the matter was likely to undermine sports sponsorship in the country.

Prof Sambili had earlier accused the Sports Stadia Management Board (SSMB) of working the contract behind her back.

“SSMB did not originate a cabinet paper in order to seek cabinet approval for the intended change of names for the stadium,” she said while appreciating that the initiative was a noble idea of developing sports in the country.

She said that she had worked on an agreement with the beverage company to have the name included in the new name of the stadium but accused the board of sabotaging the deal.

The stand-in Speaker ordered the matter to be referred to the departmental Committee on Labour and Social Affairs for further scrutiny after the Minister contradicted herself.


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