NAIROBI, July 3 – A meeting of the full Cabinet Committee on Finance, Administration and Planning that was sifting through recommendations of a sub-committee on the controversial sale of the Grand Regency Hotel, has okayed the suggestions.
The meeting at Treasury Buildings approved proposals of a five-man team led by the Attorney General Amos Wako, which recommended that the Finance Minister Amos Kimunya step down to allow a full investigation into the ‘fraudulent’ transaction.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who chaired the meeting, said the report handed to him on Wednesday would now be discussed at the next Cabinet meeting.
The Cabinet was due to meet on Thursday morning but the convergence was postponed due to what the PM said were unforeseen circumstances.
“The report should now go to the main Cabinet that is going to be convened soon,” he said.
The Committee meeting came a day after Parliament passed a vote of no confidence in the Finance Minister.
The motion, passed easily in an acclamation vote, requires that Kimunya resign or be sacked on account that he violated the Public Procurement and Disposal Act and related regulations governing sale and disposal of public property.
The mover of the motion, Ikolomani MP Dr Bonny Khalwale, told the House that the Minister had not been faithful to the law in the transaction.
However speaking after the meeting at Treasury, the PM said Kimunya would remain in office.
“He remains a Minister for Finance until he resigns or is relieved of his responsibilities by the President.”
Odinga stated that Kimunya had not given indication that he intended to resign.
At the same time, he clarified that the passing of a vote of no confidence in Kimunya was not one against the government.
The PM said the government still enjoyed the support of the public and would do everything possible to fight corruption.
The sale of the Regency has elicited an emotive reaction from Kenyans after revelations that it was sold to a Kenyan registered company for Sh1.8 billion, contrary to earlier claims by Treasury that it was sold to Libyan investors for Sh2.9 billion.
Defending himself in Parliament, Kimunya said his ‘hands were clean’ and that he had never been involved in any underhand dealings regarding the hotel’s controversial sale.
Amid frequent interruptions by backbenchers, Kimunya said he had a history of fighting graft in the country and therefore could not have engaged in the same.
Kimunya also told the House that the Prime Minister and the Lands Minister James Orengo were constantly briefed on all transactions relating to the sale of the establishment.
Odinga later admitted to the press that he was briefed by the Central Bank Governor Njuguna Ndung’u.
"I was re-briefed by the governor of the CBK on the basis of which I did then write to the Director of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission seeking more information on the matter. What I don’t say is what I was told by the commission’s Director who also responded to my letter," he said.
The Prime Minister also accepted that he asked Parliament Chief Whips George Thuo and Jakoyo Midiwo to postpone the motion to Thursday next week to give the government time to respond to the motion.
However he said he did not in any way intend to weaken or interfere with the motion.
Earlier, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka sought, on two occasions, to have the motion adjourned until Thursday but was over-ruled by Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim after a section of MPs objected to the proposal.
Kalonzo argued that the House should postpone the debate to give time to an initiative by Prime Minister Raila Odinga to unravel the issue outside Parliament.
The members blocked his attempts saying the House was not tied to the executive urging the government to stop blocking the motion.