NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 23 – The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) now says top government officials implicated in the skewed allocation of houses by the National Housing Corporation should resign from office even as it seeks to enjoin itself in a case filed by a civil society organization.
Speaking to Capital FM News on Monday, LSK chairman Eric Mutua described it as ‘deplorable’ that public officials abused the trust placed on them by Kenyans for their own benefit.
He pointed out that such action reverses the reforms that the country is trying to achieve.
“It is a pity and it is sad that – while everyone else is talking about integrity, good leadership and good governance – it is these public officials who are using their official positions to influence decisions in their favour and get allocated these houses. In my opinion, anyone who is named in these kinds of scandals, individually or through their spouses, needs to resign from their office,” he said.
He emphasised the need for those named to step aside until they are cleared by a court of law.
“In such kind of scandals in other countries where good governance is observed when you are named, you need to resign immediately because you have used and abused the office by influencing your being allocated those houses and I am surprised that they neither are really concerned nor moved. I am just seeing their pictures in the newspapers and that is just regrettable,” he stressed.
He indicated that LSK will seek to enjoin itself in the lawsuit against the officials when it is filed by Wednesday this week.
“We are aware that there is a civil society group which is going to take this matter to court for more interrogation and as a law society, we think that this is a good suit and once we look at the suit papers ourselves, then we should join into the suit so that we can set good precedence for this country,” he said. “Once it is filed then we will be able to bring our own input.”
He stated that such action was unfair since the scales were unevenly balanced in favour of the public officials.
“It is very unfortunate that public servants are taking advantage of the nation to kind of get themselves allocated houses because of the fact that they have got some status in life or they are officials in government and they unfairly compete with the common man because they can influence the allocation of those properties.”
Reports say top government officials including Permanent Secretaries, Members of Parliament, spouses and relatives were among beneficiaries of houses at a NHC scheme in Kileleshwa.
The reports said the officials paid for the housing units well after the deadline for settlement of deposits, elbowing out eligible members of the public and NHC staff.
The controversy was touched off by a damning internal audit report that found that the corporation’s management had abused the house allocation process to offer numerous units to senior government officials at the expense of NHC staff and the public.
The board audit committee found that senior staff had become super landlords owing to the lack of transparency surrounding the allocation process, with 78 members of staff of a total staff complement of 260 receiving multiple allocations totalling 209 units.
One senior staff member had seven houses in her name and 14 others allocated to her relatives.
The investigation exposed a pattern where top government officials were offered housing units.
The allocations also point to substantial conflict of interest by government officials.
Civil society organisations say the allocations were irregular because they came well after the housing allocation committee met on December 17, 2009 and finalised the list of successful applicants for the 105 units.
Eighty units were listed as sold and 25 were to be reserved for NHC staff. But in what the board audit committee called a process of handing houses to parachuted allottees numerous allocations were subsequently made to senior officials.