, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 19 – Coalition for Reforms and Democracy leader Raila Odinga will move to court to challenge what he terms as a new plot by the government to ‘muzzle’ the office of the Auditor General.
Odinga’s concerns are based on the Public Audit Act which weakens the Auditor General’s office and shifts some of its duties to Parliament.
“We have today instructed our lawyers to move to court and challenge the new move by the Jubilee Administration to muzzle the one office that is struggling to guard public interest in the era of grand theft of public resources by government officials,” he said.
“The move to significantly cut the powers of the Auditor General alter the structure of the office and remove his powers to hire staff, among other raft of measures arrived at by newly announced changes affecting the office of the Auditor General is the final evidence that Jubilee is not only not committed to fighting corruption, but is also hell bent on perpetuating a cover up for the corrupt.”
Under the Act, the Public Service Commission will have a direct role in hiring and firing staff at the Auditor General’s office and prohibits him from questioning government spending on matters of national security.
Odinga says it’s unconstitutional for the government to cut the powers of the Auditor General, alter the structure of the office and remove his powers to hire staff among other raft of measures arrived at by newly announced changes of the office.
The Public Audit Bill was signed into law on Friday by the President.
“This is part of a growing culture of impunity and distaste for accountability that has the patronage of the Presidency,” Odinga lamented. “The assault on this critical office is also unconstitutional.”
Odinga says the Auditor General must be empowered to appoint “on terms as he or she may determine, such number and such classes of officers as he or she may consider necessary to assist in the discharge of functions according to law.”
“The Auditor General must at all times be entitled to free access at all reasonable times to information requested from officers and other staff members of government departments or offices, or of bodies subject to audit, including security institutions and projects.”
According to Odinga, the security sector remains the deep black hole into which public money is hidden without trace.
He says the Auditor General must be empowered to carry out any type of audit, including financial and compliance audits, performance audits, investigative audits, as well as any other reviews he may decide to carry out.
“His office and his powers must be designed to facilitate, not inhibit this. Financial independence forms an essential element of the Auditor General’s independence,” he said.