, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 15 – Water Minister Charity Ngilu has appeared in public for the first time in several months to give evidence before a parliamentary committee that is investigating corruption allegations under her docket.
Mrs Ngilu denied any involvement in corruption and instead accused Assistant Minister Mwangi Kiunjuri of malice and pursuing his own personal interests. The Minister said on Tuesday that she has been at the forefront in fighting corruption she found in the Ministry.
Appearing before the committee on Lands and Natural Resources she said Mr Kiunjuri was in fact the corrupt one, and should face charges in court.
"The Ministry of Water and Irrigation has been dragged into mud by somebody who has interests in the matter," the Minister said.
Mr Kiunjuri last November accused the Minister of failing to stop blatant corruption in her Ministry and the National Water Conservation and Pipeline Corporation, a parastatal under her watch.
"These were attempts to malign my name. They are baseless," said Mrs Ngilu in her defence.
She exonerated herself and said she had in fact stopped payment of dubious claims amounting to over Sh1 billion.
Mr Kiunjuri raised the flag days after he was transferred from the Water Ministry to that of Public Works. He attributed his transfer to ethical disagreements with the Minister.
"Is it that he (Mr Kiunjuri) saw the corruption after he was transferred? I think there was excitement at the transfer," Mrs Ngilu said.
The Assistant Minister reported his claims to the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission after the transfer, but Mrs Ngilu questioned the motive of the whistle blower.
"You wonder what it is he did not see when he was at the Ministry that he saw when he was transferred," she said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Kiunjuri appeared before the Committee on Lands and Natural Resources and accused its members of engaging in underhand deals to absolve Mrs Ngilu of any blame. He was however forced to withdraw the allegations.
Mrs Ngilu, in exonerating herself, said she joined the Ministry at a time when corruption was at an all time high and she has instituted measures to fight the vice.
"Terrible things used to happen there. Bills were being paid without LPO\’s (Local Purchase Orders)," she said.
Follow the author at https://twitter.com/waitheras