NAIROBI, Kenya, December 1- Parliament has ordered the Sports Ministry to be probed over the handling of All Africa Games bronze winner, Sarah Njoki, as the docket’s minister, Dr. Paul Otuoma found himself under fire on Thursday.
Otuoma, who was presenting his report on how the Government utilised funds for the September Pan African Games to the floor of the house, was at pains to fend off claims of financial impropriety as well as charges that joy riders made the Maputo trip at the expense of deserving competitors.
Rising on a point of order, the chairman of the Parliamentary Account Committee and Ikolomani MP, Dr. Bonny Khalwale, asked the minister to explain how Njoki and team mate Patroba Ojwang travelled five days by bus to Mozambique while he had told parliament that all members of the Kenyan delegation had flown to Maputo.
“They were denied a chance to fly to Maputo and Sarah Njoki won a gold medal and she was denied her entitlement of the Sh100,000 ($1,100) Presidential Award. Could this minister tell us what is going on in this ministry,” Khalwale added.
In his defence, Otuoma said only the names of the 396 he tabled to Parliament made up the official list of the Kenyan delegation to Mozambique insisting there were no joy riders in the All Africa Games party.
“As far as I have interrogated this list, these are the people who travelled to Maputo. All these travelled by air but the two travelled on private capacity, they were not part and parcel of the delegation.
“It came to my attention that the two were not accredited through the Chef de Mission. We did not recognise the bronze medal as part of our official tally and that is why it was not factored in the presidential award,” Dr. Otuoma told a charged house amid mild heckling from backbenchers.
The minister apportioned the blame for the spat on Kenya Tae Kwon Do Association (KTA) who declined to lodge Njoki and Ochieng as competitors with the Chef de Mission, Charles Nyaberi.
In Maputo, Njoki defied orders from Nyaberi to return home and ended up with a bronze medal in her lightweight category having been locked out from the Abuja (2003) and Algiers (2007) editions by the KTA.
As a bronze winner, she was due to receive Sh100,000 under the Presidential Award Scheme but during the presentation presided by Head of State, Mwai Kibaki in October; her name was not on the roll.
Temporary speaker, Gitobu Imanyara directed the matter to be taken to the Parliamentary Committee on Labour and Social Affairs to probe the matter and present the findings to the house within a month.
Khalwale also claimed that some in the Kenyan competing delegation slept on floors, toilets and shared accommodation in Maputo as he sought the minister to explain how the Sh42m ($511,000) spent on boarding and lodging was utilised.
However, supporting documents the Ikolomani legislator tabled were withdrawn after they were found to be unsigned.
In his disclosure, Otuoma said the Government spent Sh93.38m against a budget of Sh103.4m in allowances, Sh42m in accommodation and a further Sh37.4m on air tickets for the 396-strong delegation.