Wetangula back in the frying pan on Wednesday

October 27, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 27 – Parliament is Wednesday afternoon expected to resume debate on a proposed amendment to expunge the name of Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula from a report on the Sh1.1 billion embassy scandal.

Mr Wetangula\’s allies launched a bid on Tuesday to delete his name from the damning report arguing that as Minister, he was only concerned with policy formulation while the technocrats should be held accountable.

Kimilili MP Simiyu Esieli initiated the move to defend Mr Wetangula, with Cabinet Minister Dalmas Otieno and Assistant Minister Ndiritu Muriithi rushing to the defence of the Minister.

In their contributions both Mr Esieli and Mr Otieno told the House that the Committee had lacked the input of financial and foreign exchange experts which would have enabled them to establish that Kenya did get a fair deal in the purchase of the Tokyo mission.

Mr Esieli said: "As a member of an investigative committee – the Parliamentary Investments Committee – we actually have the services of auditors accompanying us… probably the committee could have benefited from the services of such people if they had been available to them."

But most MPs led by Gichugu legislator Martha Karua, Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim and Assistant Minister Mwangi Kiunjuri were up in arms opposing any amendments.

Ms Karua differed with the Motion saying that the Minister was trying to pass the buck to his juniors adding that the he must accept to take political responsibility and step aside to facilitate free investigations.

She urged the House to reject the amendment citing past cases where technocrats had been sacrificed for the political seniors had not yielded much.

"We are asking that the top officers take political responsibility… after investigations we will know whether there is any criminal responsibility.  This is a hazard that goes with job," she said.

"Before we came into the Chamber Mr Speaker there was a rumour that was milling around here which I don\’t want to share but then we can be accused of cutting deals," added Mr Maalim.

Mr Wetangula had earlier tried to absolve himself from blame saying the technocrats in the Ministry should be held responsible for the loss of Sh1.1 billion following the purchase of the diplomatic property abroad.

The Minister said he deserves a fair hearing since he was innocent and never even participated in the purchase of the Kenyan embassies in Nigeria and Pakistan.

He argued that the deals were above board, and that the Foreign Relations Committee headed by Adan Keynan never gave him the adequate opportunity to clear his name.

Earlier, Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo who seconded the Motion described the Tokyo deal as "irregular and outright theft."

He argued the Japan deal was suspect since it was not overseen by a lawyer or a valuer.

National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende had earlier cautioned members against making unsubstantiated claims when contributing to the highly charged debate.

Transport Minister Amos Kimunya attempted to have the House extend its sitting to allow the MPs conclude debate on the matter, but it was defeated when it was put to vote.

The House adjourned its business at 6.30pm without putting the matter to vote.


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