The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: MPs Plot to Stop Kibaki Sacking Kimunya, CBK Boss Ndung'u

Debate on a report that recommends the sacking of Transport minister Amos Kimunya and Central Bank governor Njuguna Ndung'u over the De La Rue money printing deal started on a sour note yesterday with a section of MPs attempting to block it through constant interruptions.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman and Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale was constantly interrupted when he stood to move the motion which, among other things, recommends that President Kibaki appoint a tribunal to probe the suitability of Ndung'u as the CBK boss.

In an elaborate plan to poke holes on the report and save the two officials, several MPs constantly intervened as Khalwale moved the motion. They constantly dismissed Khalwale's explanations to the House. The constant interruptions ate into the time allocated to debate the report.By 6.30 pm when the House adjourned the day's session,Khalwale had barely concluded moving the motion.

However, temporary Speaker Gitobu Imanyara directed that the debate shall resume on Tuesday when the House convenes for another session. Among the first to take on Khalwale on points of orders were MPs Kiema Kilonzo, Kabando wa Kabando, Shakeel Shabbir, Rachel Shebesh, David Njuguna, Mwangi Kiunjuri, Wilfred Machage and Kimunya himself.

Kimunya complained that Khalwale was misleading the House over the De La Rue Currency and Security Print Ltd contracts. Temporary Speaker Gitobu Imanyara however directed Kimunya to give Khalwale a chance to move the motion and defend himself at the appropriate time.

Pleading for protection from the House Speaker, Khalwale complained that there was a plot to reduce the debate on the report to a "personality contest." He said the report and its recommendations were not personally directed against Kimunya and Ndung'u and pleaded with MPs to adopt it without any amendment.

Khalwale described Kimunya and Ndung'u as "Siamese twins" who cannot be separated claiming they jointly connived to loot and share public resources. "These are Siamese twins. It means that if you separate them, they will die because Siemens twins sometimes share vital organs. There was connivance between these two senior officers so that the spoils could be shared," said Khalwale.

Khalwale was however forced to withdraw the statement after Kimunya complained the MP was imputing improper motive on him without substantiation. Despite the interruptions, Khalwale enumerated to the House the key findings of his committee saying they were backed by credible testimony from many government officials including the office of the Auditor General.

He said the report has recommended that Parliament endorse a finding that Kimunya and Ndung'u are not fit to hold public office over their conduct in relation to the money-printing contract between CBK and De La Rue. He said the committee also recommended that the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission investigate Kimunya and Ndung'u over their role in the alleged loss of Sh1.8 billion.

He said the investigations should also be carried out with a view of taking appropriate legal action against the two and recovering the lost funds. Khalwale said his committee had found Kimunya and Ndung'u acted contrary to provisions of Chapter 6 of the Constitution of Kenya, the Public Officer Ethics Act and the Public Procurement and Disposal Act.

He said Ndung'u's appointment as CBK governor should be terminated and the President to appoint a tribunal to investigate his conduct. He said Kimunya, who was then Finance minister, had cancelled a 10-year money printing contract with De La Rue that would have been cheaper and instead canvassed for short term contracts. He also accused Kimunya of misleading the PAC when he appeared before it. "This is corruption, and if corruption is not wrong in Kenya, then there is no other thing that is wrong in Kenya," said Khalwale.

He claimed that Njuguna failed to resist Kimunya's pressure. Khalwale said it was through these short term contracts that the country lost the Sh1.8 billion. This is the second time a parliamentary committee is recommending that the President to appoint a tribunal to investigate Njuguna's conduct. In March this year, at the height of the rapid drop in the value of the Shilling, MPs ganged up and expunged Njuguna's name from a Parliamentary Select Committee report which probed the depreciation and which recommended the CBK governor's removal.

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