Kenya: Corrupt Politicians Using Churches to Buy Popularity - Odinga

ODM leader Raila Odinga with Anglican Church Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit in Siaya County on July 21, 2019.

Politicians are using church fundraisers to "buy popularity" among the public, Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga said on Sunday in a veiled attack on Deputy President William Ruto.

Mr Odinga said those who take part in church harambees are the very ones who refer to themselves as hustlers, a word the DP often uses to describe himself and his followers.

He went on to say that while Kenya's economy suffers due to corruption, some politicians are going to churches with money in sacks.

"Some politicians are now bribing church officials to invite them for fundraisers at which they donate more than what they earn. The money is to corrupt society and buy support from people," said Mr Odinga.

"MONEY LAUNDERING"

Mr Odinga further said these activities by politicians amount to money laundering, not mere church contributions.

"Not even philanthropists like Vimal Shah and Manu Chandaria can afford to donate such kinds of money to churches and sustain it," he said.

He regretted that despite these huge donations, churches still ask faithful to give offering.

SUSTAINABLE WAR

But Mr Odinga noted that in his Memorandum of understanding (MOU) with President Uhuru Kenyatta is an agreement for a sustained war on corruption.

He pointed out that wastage is still rife in government agencies, with money going into individual's pockets, so the vice must be dealt with for this money to reach the people.

"Corruption is a cancer that, if not tamed, will destroy our country. We cannot develop with the kind of corruption we have today," he said.

He noted that Kenya can save up to Sh800 billion every year, an amount which he said lost to corruption.

Mr Odinga spoke in Siaya County during the thanksgiving and retirement ceremony of Reverend Joseph Otieno Wesonga, the second bishop of the Diocese of Maseno West and the dean of the province.

He was accompanied by Governor Cornel Rasanga, EALA MP Oburu Oginga, Senate minority leader James Orengo (Siaya) and MPs Samuel Atandi (Alego Usonga), Opiyo wandayi (Ugunja), Elisha Odhiambo (Gem) and Otiende Amollo (Rarieda).

SAPIT'S STANCE

The former premier praised Anglican Church Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit who has spoken sternly about politicians' use of churches for selfish interests.

Mr Sapit had asked churches to keep politicians away from the pulpit by banning donations and only accept offerings.

There has been a debate on the millions of shillings politicians take to churches, with Mr Odinga and the Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji saying it is a platform for rogue and corrupt politicians to clean their 'dirty' money.

Mr Odinga recently said he had asked ODM's National Chairman John Mbadi to move a motion seeking to limit the amount of money people can give churches in the form of donations.

Mr Mbadi, who is Suba South MP and National Assembly minority leader, wrote to Speaker Justin Muturi proposing amendments to the Public Officers Ethics Act to cap harambee contributions at Sh100,000.

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