Should Wetangula step aside?

Posted by on 27th October 2010

Categories:   Members of Parliament Political Parties

Last week Thursday Adan Keynan, MP for South Wajir Constituency and Chairperson of the Parlimentary Committee on Defence and Foreign Affairs, moved a motion for adoption of the committee’ s report on the Wetangula scandal.   The report indicts the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Moses Wetangula and his PS Mwangi Thuita for the fraudlent procument of property for an embassy in Tokyo, Japan – due to numerous irregularities in the purchase of this property we, the Kenyan tax payers, lost over 1.1 billion shillings in the transaction.  The report further recommends that the minister step aside
pending investigations into the matter.

When the motion was moved last week the Minister of Foreign Affairs asked for more time to study the report and prepare his response. Yesterday was D-day and the house was packed.    Yatta MP, Charles Kilonzo, seconded the adoption of the Parliament report outlining of the irregularities in the procurement of the property in Japan .   Among other things, no valuation on the property despite the fact the Ministry was advised that it was paying an inflated price for the property. No negotiations were carried to bring down the price of the property and no further experts were consulted. The Ministry went ahead and made an advance payment of the 80% of the purchase price of the property to the vendors. This payment is 60-70% more than the usual 10-20% usually paid in advance for such transactions. More worrying than the lack of consultation however is the existence of two disparate sale agreements for the same parcel of property and the fact that the 80% advance payment was made over the counter
to the vendor and in cash.

Given the magnitude of the irregularities in the Ministry’ s dealings in the acquisition of the Tokyo mission, there is no doubt which way House
should vote on the adoption of the report.  However, interpreting the outcome of debates in our parliament is hardly an exact science. Voting patterns our parliament are an intricately connected in a political equation that includes personal interests, promises for future support, community politics and loyalties which shift quite literally from debate to debate. This equation makes it difficult to predict with any certainty whether the report will be adopted or not.

Yesterday, the Minister argued that he does not deal with day to
day running of the Ministry and therefore was not privy to information of what actually transpired in Tokyo.  So what exactly is the Minister responsible for then?  The passing of the buck by the Minister to the technocrats in the Ministry is unacceptable.

The debate continues today. Which side are you on?