Political interests ahead of the next general election have been blamed for the removal of two senators from a powerful watchdog committee that is a thorn in the flesh of governors, due to its revelations that they are engaged in massive wastage of public funds.
Nyamira Senator Kennedy Mong’are has accused the Senate leadership of ejecting him from the Senate County Public Accounts and Investment Committee (PAIC) because of his strong criticism of failures in the government and the opposition.
“I know I have been kicked out of the committee because I have resisted the push to blindly sing and dance to the tune of party positions and parochial interests that have little benefit to ordinary Kenyans,” he told the Nation on Monday.
Mr Mong’are and Vihiga Senator George Khaniri, did not make it to the list of the newly constituted members of the committee after they were placed by nominated senators Liza Chelule and Paul Njoroge respectively.
Mr Mong’are, who recently launched his presidential bid, said he is a victim of sycophancy politics where a lawmaker is always expected to blindly obey the party viewpoints without questioning.
Last year, Cord removed the Ford Kenya Senator from the influential committee after he successfully vied for the committee’s chairmanship position without the party’s blessings.
The House Business Committee chaired by the House Speaker, and whose membership is drawn from jubilee and Cord coalitions, decide who sits in the parliamentary committees.
Political parties play a major role in the identification and nomination of members to serve in committees and have powers to remove a members whom they feel is not advancing the interests of their parties.
The new members of the committee are Senators Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu), Stephen Ole Ntutu (Narok), Muriuki Karue (Nyandarua), Prof John Lonyangapuo (West-Pokot), Martha Wangari (nominated),
Others are, Dr Boni Khalwale (Kakamega) Hassan Omar Hassan (Mombasa), Amos Wako (Busia), Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu), and Henry Ole Ndiema Henry (Trans-Nzoia).
Mr Khaniri wondered why his term had not been renewed but challenged the committee to fast track the interrogating audit reports for counties to reveal corruption that is rampant at the devolved units.
“I would like to state that I do not think I was dropped because of non-performance but I think it is because of other political considerations.
“I accept the decision of the Jubilee Party because I was nominated to that committee by it. At that time, I was a Member of the United Democratic Forum (UDF) which was working with Jubilee,” Mr Khaniri said.
He said the committee has just completed looking at the accounts of 2014/2015 and requires adequate support as it embarks on the 2015/2016 auditor general’s financial accounts, to ensure they provide checks and balances to what is happening in the counties.
Dr Khalwale said the committee was at a crucial stage of compiling reports based on what governors, who appeared before it over the audit queries, said.
Mr Mong’are and Mr Khaniri, he said, have the institutional memory of the progress the committee has made and it is wrong for them to be removed because of party interests, when they were working for the common good of Kenyans.
“We need them to be reinstituted for them to help us write these reports. I am not saying that Senator Chelule and, indeed, Senator Njoroge are not up to it. They are up to it, but they do not have the memory that we have had over the last four years,” Dr Khalwale said.
He said Jubilee coalition was punishing Mr Khaniri because he has been voting with the opposition consistently, whereas Mr Mong’are has declared that he want to unseat President Kenyatta.
Mr Karue said the committee faced frustrations in discharging its duties due to failure by the Office of the Auditor General to forward financial reports on time due to inadequate funding to enable them move fast.
“In future this House and the National Assembly have to ensure that the Office of the Auditor General is given enough funds to do their work,” he said.
Deputy Speaker Kembi Gitura observed that it is exactly two months to party nominations and a few more to elections yet majority of the reports on how governors utilised funds allocated to counties has not been made public.
He challenged the committee to consider coming up with law that will ensure those who misappropriate public are not only prosecuted but, their ill-gotten wealth is repossessed.
“We still do not have in the law, for instance, a lifestyle audit against governors who embezzle public funds, a traceability system where assets that have been founded on corrupt practices can be traced and the wealth returned to the people,” Mr Gitura said.