23 April 2019

Kenya: Odinga is Stingy - Clergymen Turn Heat on Ex-PM in Harambee Debate

Photo: PSCU
Opposition chief Raila Odinga.

Two religious leaders have lashed out at opposition leader Raila Odinga following his claims that churches were being used as avenues for money laundering.

Head of Episcopal Church in Kenya Bishop Joshua Koyo and the Head of the Anglican Church of Kenya Maseno Diocese Bishop Charles Onginjo told Mr Odinga to respect institutions.

On Saturday, opposition leader Raila Odinga took a swipe at religious leaders saying they have allowed churches to be used for money laundering.

The Orange Democratic Movement leader said huge amounts of money were being donated to some churches every weekend by people of questionable character.

He accused the church of hosting politicians of questionable integrity and receiving their donations without questioning the source of such huge amounts. He alleged that public funds meant for development and service delivery was being stolen and being splashed in fund raisers in churches.

'ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE'

"This is money which should have could been used to pay for medical services to Kenyans, to pay salaries for teachers, to construct roads and schools and hospitals. These are enemies to the people of Kenyans," Mr Odinga stated in Kisumu.

In an apparent reference to Deputy President William Ruto, the ODM leader challenged him to disclose the source of his income, terming it immoral for him to continue contributing money in numerous harambees without disclosing his other source of income.

"He moves from church to church over the weekend to make contributions while members clap to him and nobody dares to ask where the money is coming from," Mr Odinga said.

"We know that his salary is only one million per month while he goes ahead to give out up to 100 million per month," he said.

"We cannot fight corruption if we cannot fight its tentacles. We have said in the past that those who are corrupt should look for somewhere else to take their ill-gotten money," he added.

However, Bishop Koyo told the Nation in a phone interview that it is high time the former Prime Minister stopped blaming churches in the war against graft.

NOT A GOOD GIVER

He pointed out that churches have development projects to undertake that needed support financially from well-wishers. He said Mr Odinga was not a good giver to the churches, hence the attack.

"We have a forum to speak against the corruption but we do not have the power to apprehend the culprits and take them to court. Therefore, we should not be blamed," said Bishop Koyo.

He also warned that war against graft will only be won if those pushing for it are genuine.

Bishop Onginjo questioned why sometimes it is inconvenient for certain people to speak or contribute in church, but when other people are given the same platform, they feel it is not right.

"If we say we are not going to entertain politicians in church, let it be across the board. As per now it is however not clear who to receive and who not to receive," said Bishop Onginjo.

He, however said as the church, they need to come up with restrictions that are implemented fully admitting that they have been giving politicians unnecessary prominence which could be mistaken to mean they are favoring them.

Speaking after a church service at Dago, in Kisumu West, the Bishop however warned that the knee-jerk reactions in fighting graft by not allowing some people accused of corruption, from accessing and contributing 'stolen' funds to the church, may not work.

"We have been listening to this corruption song for a very long time. What we are seeing now is public lynching. If there is evidence implicating an individual, let him be charged before court of law," he said.

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