The Star (Nairobi)

26 February 2013

Kenya: Raila, Uhuru Fight Off Graft Allegations

Presidential candidates Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta defended themselves against corruption allegations during the final final TV debate last night.

Musalia Mudavadi, Peter Kenneth, Paul Muite and James ole Kiyiapi also fended off corruption allegations either raised by the moderator Udwak Amimo or by the other candidates.

Raila described the Kisumu Molasses Plant buyout by a company associated with his family was "a clean deal". He said the plant was put under receivership through Ernst & Young and auctioned after the government partnership with a foreign partner "turned sour".

"Full price was paid including the price for the land," said Raila. Raila defended himself over favouritism in punishing graft. He said he could not suspend Medical Services minister Anyang' Nyong'o of ODM over the NHIF scam because there was no evidence pointing to his personal involvement.

He said that despite suspending his two chief officers - his PS Mohammed Isahakia and chief of staff Caroli Omondi - over the maize scandal, his attempt to suspend the ministers William Ruto and Sam Ongeri was countermanded by the President.

Raila defended the Kazi kwa Vijana programme that provided jobs for young people. "Kazi kwa Vijana was undertaken in good faith to help the youth. It was a good lesson that bureaucracy can frustrate noble initiatives because when an audit was carried, double procurement was figured out," he said.

Uhuru on his part was put on the defence over the Sh9.2 billion error in the 2009 national supplementary budget when he was the Finance minister.

"There was no money lost, it was an error, we acknowledged that error," said Uhuru. The Jubilee Alliance presidential candidate said various organs including the International Monetary Fund and Parliament concluded it was just a printing error. He said he re-engineered the systems at the Treasury to ensure such errors do not recur.

On the Sh4.2 billion Free Primary Education cash scandal which took place when he was at the Treasury, Uhuru said action was taken against the officers who were found culpable.

Mudavadi said he has never been involved in any corruption, and absolved himself of blame in the Goldenberg, Anglo-Leasing and Nairobi City Council cemetery land scandals.

"I have never been involved in any misappropriation in government. This matter has been investigated and this happened years back and I have answered all questions and have been vindicated," Mudavadi said.

Kenneth defended the source of his wealth insisting that his only stints in public organisations was when he served as chairman of the Kenya Football Federation and Kenya Reinsurance where he said his records speak for themselves.

"I was never a director of Prudential Building Society and so the DPM please have your facts right," Kenneth told Mudavadi who wanted him to explain his role in the collapsed society.

Kiyapi defend himself against graft allegations. He instead said he had refused to approve contentious payments during his tenure as PS in the Ministry of Medical Services. Muite denied ever receiving a Sh30 million bribe from the Goldgenberg architect Kamlesh Patni.

"It is absolutely not to true. We broke the information. It was a well orchestrated campaign against me. The Bosire commission, despite its shortcomings did not mention me. There isn't an iota in truth in that. Individuals around me may have gotten money but not me and Pattni is on record denying the same," said Muite.

Raila criticised Karua for turning down a negotiated deal on appointment of members to the electoral commission prior to the 2007 election. He said he acted in the best interest of the country by agreeing to form a coalition with President Kibaki in 2007 rather than insisting on a fresh election.

Dida caused some humorous moments when he charged that none of the candidates involved in granft could be expected to own up. "Did you expect a thief to tell you he has stolen?" Dida asked thew moderator.

Dida accused Raila of having rushed into a coalition government with the people he claims to have rigged the election in December 2007. "The PM is guilty to dine with the very people he accused of having stolen his victory," Dida charged.

He maintained the best prescription was for Raila to reject the mediation and insist on fresh elections. Dida said Kofi Annan's peace initiative was just a suggestion and that Raila should have not have joined the government until he was sure that the "dead were buried" and IDPs were resettled.

Karua defended her handling of whistleblowers including John Githongo and the late David Munyankei. "I became Justice Minister in December 2005 and Githongo was not there to look for protection and Munyankei was no longer then. The only witnesses that came to me were the Charterhouse Bank and I stood up even when I was the lone voice," said Karua.

On the wage bill Mudavadi said that Kenya does not have a wage policy and the policies that exist have not been reviewed over the years. He said every Kenyan spends up to 70 per cent of their earnings on food alone, on top of housing.

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