MPs bay for Wetangula’s blood

October 14, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 14 – Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula temporarily escaped the wrath of MPs when debate on a report by a Parliamentary committee that has recommended his resignation was put off.

Mr Wetangula told Parliament that he only received the report – which recommends that he and PS Thuita Mwangi step down over the controversial purchase of embassy property in Japan and Belgium – on Thursday morning, and had not had time to peruse it.

"The report makes far reaching recommendations that touch on me personally. Under the rules of natural justice (and) parliamentary etiquette based on comparable jurisdictions a matter as weighty as this requires the respondent to have ample time to prepare to make a reasoned response," he said.

The report tabled on Tuesday has cited the Minister and the PS over alleged graft that saw the country lose Sh1.18 billion in purchase of property abroad.

The committee also recommended that the officers be investigated by the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission KACC and if found guilty barred from holding any public office.

Gichugu MP Martha Karua and her Juja counterpart William Kabogo pushed for the debate to proceed as planned in the Order Paper.

"I believe that this House in the eyes of the public will look like it is playing games. Let this matter be moved and let those who are not ready to contribute, contribute the next day before debate is concluded but why deny those of us who are ready now?" charged Ms Karua.

However, MPs led by Chepalungu\’s Isaac Ruto and Lands Minister James Orengo supported Mr Wetangula arguing that he needed more time to prepare himself for the debate.

Mr Orengo also said there were two Order Papers with different agendas.  There was one that had debate on the report and another that did not, creating confusion.

"We might wish to run away from a fundamental position but the House must clean itself; we are in a crisis. There are two Order Papers and the circumstance under which they reached members must be explained," Mr Orengo said.

Mr Ruto added; "Is there confirmation that the HBC (House Business Committee) sat and that this Order Paper is properly before the House because we are informed of telephone calls."

Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim ruled that the supplementary order paper that contained the Motion was supplied late against the standing orders.

He has also directed the House Business Committee to allocate another date for the debate.

"Under the circumstances the chair now directs that this business will be determined by the HBC and as of now the chair has no further business to transact," he said, while adjourning the session.

The report indicates that Mr Wetangula lied that the procurement transaction in Tokyo, Japan and the purchase of a chancery in Brussels, Belgium was above board yet the government lost Sh1.18 billion in the deals.

The report states that the minister claimed that hiring a lawyer to oversee the transaction was expensive and would have cost the government three percent of the purchase price which was amounting to Sh45.7 million, yet a lawyer was available for only Sh3.4 million.

It says the minister breached the Public Officer Ethics Act by knowingly giving false or misleading information to members of the public through the committee.


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