Former PS: Waiguru introduced changes that led to corruption

By JOHN NJAGI
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By JOHN NGIRACHU
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Former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru is expected to appear before a committee of Parliament on Thursday, a day after her former Permanent Secretary accused her of introducing changes that led to massive corruption in the National Youth Service (NYS).

Ms Waiguru has been summoned by the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee over the Sh1.8 billion that the NYS lost in questionable expenditure.

On Wednesday, former PS Peter Mangiti said Ms Waiguru introduced changes that sidelined him and the NYS leadership from decision making. He said the scandal started when Ms Waiguru introduced staff changes that included having personal advisers report directly to her.

MPs led by committee chairman Nicholas Gumbo, however, took Mr Mangiti to task over his role after he appeared to blame everyone else regarding the theft of taxpayers’ funds, especially over a letter he signed sanctioning the appointment of one of the key suspects, Mr Adan Harakhe, as NYS senior deputy director-general.

Mr Mangiti said the NYS Senior Deputy Director-General position was tailor-made for Mr Harakhe as it did not exist in the NYS Act.

“Mr Harakhe was headhunted by Ms Waiguru with the help of the chairman of the ministerial committee at the Ministry of Devolution, Mr Hassan Noor, in a scheme to sabotage the leadership and organisational structure at the NYS, which is the essence of the corruption that took place,” said Mr Mangiti.

HIS BOSS

He said Ms Waiguru, who reportedly wrote the letter, was his boss. Citing executive orders by President Uhuru Kenyatta that all PSs were to report to the Cabinet Secretaries, who had executive oversight over ministries, he said that meant he was under a “legal obligation to follow the instructions” of his boss.

He said Ms Waiguru asked him to sign the letter and he had no choice but to oblige.

The former PS in charge of State Department of Planning under the ministry, also accused Ms Waiguru of unilaterally requesting Parliament for a Sh3.5 billion supplementary budget for the NYS, whose spending she directed through her advisers.

Another channel for graft blamed on the former minister — who resigned from office under pressure of mounting graft allegations — was the centralisation of procurement at the NYS, “which insulated the service from oversight, including by ministry headquarters”.

Mr Harakhe has been cited as the centre of the scam. Accused of using his access to the Integrated Financial Management Information System (Ifmis) to manipulate figures paid to suppliers by adding zeroes, he was to later allege that his password to the system was stolen and used to commit theft at NYS.

HELPLESS MAN

On Wednesday, Mr Mangiti cut the figure of a helpless man, even though he was the ministry’s accounting officer, in the face of a new organisational structure and reporting lines that pushed him to the periphery.

The Consulting House, a firm associated with political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi, which was reportedly paid Sh102 million for drawing up a five-point programme for youth empowerment, also featured prominently in his submissions. He said it formed part of the “personal advisers” to Ms Waiguru.

Mr Mangiti said the advisers, who took up the running of key departments such as procurement, finance and human resource, reported to the minister, after which he would summon officials against whom complaints were raised for disciplinary action.

He denied any role in payment of Sh791 million for construction of a road in Kibera, which was grossly inflated by an addition of zeroes from Sh78 million and payment of Sh609 million for goods that were reportedly not supplied by firms belonging to one of the scandal masterminds, Ms Josephine Kabura, saying he had no access to Ifmis and did not know when payments were being made.

MONEY DIVERSION

Other questionable transactions included the diversion of Sh240 million Sacco savings for NYS cohorts into recurrent expenses, procurement of publicity services from the Out of the Box Solutions at Sh302 million and Sh241 million paid to supplies using forged documents.

Mr Mangiti called for PSs to be “given more teeth” — including access to the Ifmis, which is the government online payment system, ironically put in place to curb corruption — so as to be in a position to unearth questionable transactions often done behind their backs.

It also emerged that Mr Ngunyi’s firm was set to get a Sh192 million contract with the NYS before the current scam was exposed. Mr Gumbo said the committee has seen minutes of a tender committee that approved the award.

The committee has been critical of the manner in which Mr Ngunyi got the contract to design the restructuring programme for the NYS.

“From what the committee knows, The Consulting House plagiarised a plan done under (former Cabinet minister Mohammed) Kuti,” said Mr Gumbo. “The Consulting House was parachuted in.

“Ngunyi told us he didn’t ask for the job; he was called from the 11th floor of Harambee House.”

Former NYS head Japhter Rugut told the committee that the plan Mr Ngunyi delivered appeared to have been copied from one that was developed when he was in charge.

DEFENDED PLAN

Mr Mangiti, however, defended the plan, which was executed under his watch.

“The five-point plan crystallised the ideas we had on revamping the NYS and it was the sabotaging of systems by the Cabinet Secretary that made it hard to work,” he said.

Mr Mangiti said there was a plan for The Consulting House to stay on for a year to supervise the implementation of the plan. That, however, did not go through because things started falling apart.

Meanwhile, more questions emerged about the integrity of Ifmis after Mr Mangiti described it as opaque and said it was difficult to tell through it when fraud was taking place.

He said the configuration of the system made it impossible to detect when officers were intentionally changing things to steal public money, as it happened in the case where zeroes were added to documents and the cost of materials for a road project in Kibera increased from Sh79.1 million to Sh791 million.

The beneficiary of those transactions was Ms Kabura.

Doubts about Ifmis’ integrity have become a central feature of investigations into corruption cases, with PAC saying in its last report on government expenses that there is no value for money evident in the Sh5 billion spent on Ifmis so far.

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