Former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru
Sharp differences have emerged in a parliamentary committee over plans to bar key suspects in the National Youth Service scandal from holding public office.
Bitter exchanges that almost degenerated into fist-fights characterised proceedings of the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as members differed over far-reaching recommendations in the NYS report. Among the recommendations is that former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru be barred from holding public office. She is also to be surcharged for the alleged loss of the money in the NYS scam, which according to committee estimates runs into billions of shillings.
Mentioned in relation to the scam are Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and Mr Farouk Kibet, an aide of Deputy President William Ruto. Others are former Devolution Principal Secretary Joseph Mangiti and former NYS Senior Deputy Director General Adan Harakhe.
The amount of money lost was said to be Sh791 million, but investigations by PAC found that the figure could be much higher. Waiguru, who resigned at the height of the scandal, has declared her candidature for the Kirinyaga governor’s seat.
Waiguru has denied any wrongdoing in the scam and claimed that her action to call in investigators to look into suspicious payments stopped the theft of some funds.
BANGING OF TABLES
Scandal of 2,238 strangers at NYS
“There were exchanges, including the banging of tables, as some members accused one another of betrayal and having been infiltrated by powerful individuals to let those responsible for the scandal get off scot-free,” said a source in the committee who did not want to be named as the team has yet to agree on the findings.
Trouble in the committee reportedly started when one of the members who wants Ms Waiguru and other senior government officials included in the report was said to have confronted his colleagues, accusing them of watering down the report and giving “vague recommendations” that were inconsistent with the committee’s investigations.
During the closed-door session, members were said to have shouted at one another amid accusations of a cover-up plot.
Fuelling the controversy on the recommendation touching on Waiguru is reportedly a 2014 letter from State House that gave Cabinet secretaries a wide-ranging mandate in procurement. Members who want Waiguru sanctioned are using this letter as grounds to have her take responsibility for the pilferage at the ministry.
Those opposed to the recommendation say that as the CS, her role was limited to policy direction and that the role of procurement fell in the hands of ministry technocrats.
In one of its draft findings, the team noted that at the height of the scam, senior NYS officers received conflicting instructions from senior officers in government, some of whom were later implicated in the scam.
The latest reports come in the wake of revelations that the committee may have been infiltrated and some members compromised to write a favourable report.
Contacted for comment over the alleged rifts in his committee, PAC chairman Nicholas Gumbo (right) termed the reports as “wild imaginations”. He said the committee was putting the final touches to the report before its tabling in the House.