Corruption Ghost Stalks ODM ministers.
The Deputy PM and ODM’s Minister for Local Government Wycliffe Musalia Mudavadi was the whistleblower of the Nairobi City Commission cemetery scandal. He purposefully wrote to the Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura to take action on some officers in his ministry implicated in the scam which he claims was engineered without his knowledge. Mudavadi has also been grilled by the Parliamentary Committee of Local Government, which interestingly made a recommendation that he be investigated for not bothering to visit the cemetery site!
Prime Minister Raila Odinga was last night reported to have asked both Mudavadi and Mayor Geofrey Majiwa to take political responsibility of the scam and step aside to allow KACC to undertake forensic investigations. Rumours have been flying around Nairobi this morning that Mudavadi will be handing over his request to temporarily step aside at any time if only to show his party ODM means business in tackling high level graft.
Many will recall that although President Kibaki suspended key officials of the Office of the Prime Minister over the maize scandal, the suspension came hours after the PM had already received resignation letters from Mohammed Isahakhia and Caroli Omondi. Therefore it will not be entirely a surprise if Mudavadi and Majiwa also hand in their resignation going by the commendable trend already shown by ODM.
While addressing the an International Monetary Fund forum on Africa’s Economic Transformation Prime Minister Raila Odinga maintained that politicians and leaders implicated in corruption must be held to account for the government’s war against graft to succeed. Raila told the forum that corruption had been the biggest impediment to development and that the war against corruption must be personalised by identifying individuals concerned and making them carry their own cross. Wise words indeed. But will ODM walk the talk?
Only yesterday, and more than a month after Mudavadi’s pleas for action to be taken on MoLG officials, the President reluctantly interdicted several government officials. President Kibaki who has been under intense pressure from his coalition partner and donors to crack down on high level corruption went to say that the Kshs. 259 million that was overpaid for purchase of the cemetery land must be recovered from the beneficiaries and “collaborators including lawyers and agents, should be prosecuted for the serious fraud which they have committed against the Kenyan public”. Music to my ears, I must admit.
However, keen observers will have not failed to notice that this is action of interdicting government officials was taken the same day the President was meeting the IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Interestingly, the directive by the president to demand that the stolen money be refunded is a historic and a first for Kibaki’s eight year old presidency. The Kenyan public are wondering if the thieves of Anglo-Leasing, Triton, Maize, FPE, Kroll and even Goldenberg will also be charged and asked to refund the hundreds of billions of public money stolen to line the pockets of a few individuals. At long last the public will appreciate the positive side of ever forming the grand coalition.
If Mudavadi and Majiwa do indeed step aside, the pressure will only be increased on Kibaki and his corruption laden PNU side. If they do not step aside, ODM will be seen to have lost credibility in the eyes of the public. The ODM Party Leader will also be placed in an awkward situation.
We shall then have to wait and see if the KACC will indeed find Mudavadi and Majiwa culpable and charge them in an anti-corruption court. Not much hope in that direction though.