Debate begins on Wetangula censure

October 22, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 22 – Parliament on Thursday began debate on a parliamentary committee report that seeks to indict Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetang\’ula in a deal where Kenya is reported to have lost Sh1.7 billion

In what is perhaps the most comprehensively prepared report by a committee in the Tenth Parliament, Defence and Foreign Relations Committee chairman Adan Keynan took the House through shocking revelations of purchases of Kenya’s diplomatic missions in Nigeria, Cairo, Pakistan, Brussels and Tokyo and called for Mr Wetang\’ula and his Permanent Secretary Thuita Mwangi to be removed from office.

Mr Keynan said that Parliament had already set precedents where Cabinet Ministers including David Mwiraria, Amos Kimunya and Kiraitu Murungi who were implicated in graft were forced to step aside until they were cleared.

“There must be something abnormal in our missions we want the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate,” Mr Keynan said, adding that since Mr Wetang\’ula wants to vie for the presidency in 2012, he should be a person of unquestionable moral standing.

National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende adjourned the debate to Tuesday after Parliament concluded its sittings at 6.30pm.

Mr Keynan took MPs step by step into how Mr Wetang\’ula, Mr Mwangi and other Foreign Affairs officials were involved in irregularities in the procurement of Kenya’s missions abroad where tax-payers allegedly lost billions of shillings.

It also emerged that the committee might have saved the country close to Sh800 million and Sh1 billion after it queried plans by the Ministry to construct presidential villas in Nairobi in 2004.

Mr Keynan said that there’s been a deliberate attempt by the Ministry to overvalue properties it attempted to buy, and undervalue those to be sold while conniving with senior officials.

In Tokyo, he said, Kenya acquired an embassy without necessary departments such as valuation being involved, leading to the purchase of property that could have cost Sh450 million at Sh1.75 billion.

"Why would you opt for a place located in a remote place like Ruai while the country had a chance to buy one in CBD where 80 other key missions are located," he said.

The MP accused Mr Wetang\’ula of misleading the House by claiming that it was Kenya’s former Ambassador to Japan, Dennis Awori, who signed the deal and yet it was a mission official only identified as  Allan Mburu.

“We don’t have a valid agreement. The title we have is a product of fraudulent means, we would like to ask the AG to look into this on behalf of Kenya,” Mr Keynan said.

Mr Keynan explained how Japanese lawyers withdrew from the deal after the Kenyan government insisted on paying 80 percent of the Sh1.75 billion in cash through an account of a private company owned by Mr Mburu, without an agreement.

In Cairo, Egypt, some money said to have been used to buy Kenya’s embassy could not be accounted for.

In Islamabad, Pakistan, the construction cost that was slated to be Sh366 million has been varied twice to Sh523 million yet the contractor had only done 40 percent of the work and was not on site.

In Brussels, Belgium, although Kenyan valuation put the property at three million euros, 850,000 more was paid for second hand furniture for a building constructed in 1920 “which we cannot use as we want".

In Nigeria, Kenya sold its premises in a prime place in Lagos after the headquarters was moved to Abuja.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was to use the money to build a chancery and residence in Abuja but this was not done. The country now wants to rent an office as it is now housed by Kenya Airways in Lagos.

Minister Wetangula will have his chance to table his defence before the MPs decide on his fate next Tuesday.


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