Kenya cemetery row rears its head

March 9, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 9 – The government was on Tuesday put on the spot to explain why a “senior Cabinet Minister” and City Mayor Geoffrey Majiwa were still in office despite being adversely mentioned in the fraudulent purchase of a cemetery plot.

Subukia MP Nelson Gaichuhie sought a Ministerial Statement in Parliament from the Minister for Justice to explain why no action had been taken against the two despite being indicted in a report by the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission.

Mr Gaichuhie claimed that the report had accused the Minister of receiving Sh59 million of taxpayers’ money while the Mayor got Sh11 million in the Sh259 million scandal.

“The Minister should explain the role of Newton Osiemo who, according to the report, represented the interests of the said Minister and received Sh59 million on his behalf,” he said.

“Now that the two are being investigated by KACC, the Minister should confirm when the two are going to step down in line with the remarks of the Prime Minister that the war against corruption must be personalised.”

On Monday, President Mwai Kibaki interdicted 13 civil servants over the matter and ordered the immediate prosecution of the officers and the recovery of the funds.

The action followed recommendations by the Controller and Auditor General Anthony Gatumbu and the Departmental Committee on Local Authorities.

The government auditor’s report released to Parliament last week implicated the officers accusing them of overvaluing the proposed cemetery land.  It said the officers ignored a valuation by the Ministry of Lands which quoted the market price for the 120 acres of land at only Sh24 million.

The reports called for disciplinary action against the officers who were involved in the procurement and those who perpetuated the overpayment and quick recovery of the lost funds.

There was heated debate in the House over whether the Ministerial statement could be delivered yet the MPs hadn’t discussed the two reports. 

“The statement makes allegations about reports that are not before this House. If they have allegations then they should table them,” argued Industrialisation Assistant Minister Nderitu Muriithi.

“Can we allow this House to debate the reports then if there is any supplementary questions then they are answered then,” urged Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang.

Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim however ruled that the statement was legitimate and ordered that it be delivered next Wednesday.

“The report does not in any way take the responsibility of the government to Kenyans to perform its duties in a transparent and corruption free manner,” ruled Mr Maalim.

The plot was meant to be an alternative for the inadequate Langata Cemetery. According to the audit, Sh175 million went to other parties but not the vendor of the land in Athi River who on his own, cooled his heels with Sh105 million.

In its report the Departmental Committee on Local Authorities had besides the suspended officers called for Local government Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Mr Majiwa to step aside.


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