Kenya: Odinga Wades Into Covid-19 Funds Scam, Insists on Audit First

25 August 2020

Nairobi — Orange Democratic Party leader Raila Odinga has defended the party's position on the need for an audit of COVID-19 funds before investigations can be conducted.

Wading into the already murky debate sparked by his party Secretary General Edwin Sifuna, Odinga said he supports calls for an audit before investigations.

The party has come under sharp criticism from various leaders, including Deputy President William Ruto, for calling for an audit amid ongoing investigations by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) on suspected misappropriation of more than Sh7 billion on emergency expenditures in fighting the pandemic.

"The pretentious (former) Opposition, now turned Lords of corruption, attempted defense of the COVID-19 grand larceny is NOT shocking. It confirms the worst of Kenyan's fears that their side of the handshake was never interested in the people's good but opportunity to loot. What a shame," Ruto tweeted, soon after Sifuna's statement last week.

But the position was asserted Monday, when Odinga, the party leader said it is only by starting with an audit that meaningful accountability will be established.

"The position of the party in the current allegations of corruption in COVID-19 related resources is that the government needs to conduct a thorough and urgent audit of all the funds that have been put at the disposal of various state agencies, departments and ministries to fight the pandemic with a view to establishing the facts on usage of such resources," Odinga said.

He cited past successful investigations like the maize scandal, Arror and Kimwarer dams among others as classic examples on the effectiveness of audits ahead of investigations.

Odinga further warned that the party will not defend any of its members or their family members found culpable in the alleged misuse of COVID-19 funds that led to the suspension of the Chief Executive Officer of the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA), Jonah Manjari and three other officials over the scandal.

Activists have been on a frenzy in Nairobi, Nakuru and Kisumu, holding demonstrations to press for prosecutions against officials involved in the multi-billion scandal.

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