Reports of wanton theft of public resources in Kiambu County continue to draw mixed reactions from leaders and ordinary Kenyans, with the majority expressing their displeasure with the plunder going on in counties.
This follows the unearthing by the Senate County Public Accounts and Investment Committee on Thursday of questionable spending of almost Sh2 billion by Governor Ferdinand Waititu’s government on fictitious and laughable projects, some of which fall under the national government,.
The report by Auditor-General Edward Ouko showed that the county allocated Sh973 million for coordination of State House functions, Sh58 million for the South Sudan peace process, and Sh804 million for free primary education.
All these functions fall under the national government.
And while Mr Waititu disowned the report, he has come under fire, both online and offline, as Kenyans condemned what they termed as “brazen theft of public resources” in Kiambu County.
While some ridiculed the Punjab University graduate, others called on the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to arrest the governor.
Thika Town MP Patrick Wainaina said President Kenyatta, the DCI and the EACC should intervene and save Kiambu.
“DCI, DPP, EACC, Uhuru Kenyatta .... If u don't act today, Kiambu will lose (Sh)7 million this Friday, another (Sh)7 million on Saturday....etc. A total of 2.2 billion every year, 11 billion by 2022! Got the picture? The season of handcuffs must officially begin! (sic),” he posted on his Facebook page.
CONDUIT FOR THEFT
Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi described the questionable expenditure as “a conduit for theft and plunder” of the county resources and successfully requested the Senate committee to order a special audit on the county accounts, including the controversial Kaa sober programme.
The senator also rubbished claims that he and nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura, who hails from the county, were behind the messy figures with the aim of “cornering” Governor Waititu, saying the documents were prepared by the Auditor-General based of the documents prepared by the county.
Kiambu Woman Rep Gathoni Wa Muchomba, who accused Mr Waititu of running a corrupt administration, read mischief in the governor’s position that he was not aware of the controversial items, yet the audit report has been in his office since February.
According to Ms Wa Muchomba, excuses about the controversial expenses are just hot air.
She said it was part of the governor’s plot to divert public attention from phony imprests, ballooning wage bill and the Kaa sober programme which highlights possible theft of money running into millions of shillings.
“Waititu knows exactly where those figures came from and you might be surprised that he was the one who fixed them,” Ms Wa Muchomba said.
“Waititu is trying to hide his own problem to create an uproar to (so as) to divert attention from the issues that are really contentious touching of graft.”
She said Mr Waititu should make public cash statements of the county to reveal how much was collected, how it was withdrawn and how it was spent.
“This is a game between the auditor-general and the county of Kiambu to introduce funny figures in the budget line so that they can divert our attention from the real issues,” she said as she backed the senator’s calls that Kiambu accounts be audited afresh.
“They wanted to create that kind of an uproar so that we forget about the burning issues.”
She also accused the Kiambu County Assembly of failing in its oversight role, saying MCAs went to bed with the executive a long time ago.
Three months after the report was published, she said, no single MCA has come out to raise the issue, meaning that they have not read it.
Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina said the ongoing theft of resources in counties will land some leaders in jail.
“Only in Kenya do some politicians believe in being immortal. The stealing and corruption in the two levels of government… my good lord... 80 percent of them will end up in jail,” said Mr Kina.
City lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi tweeted, “Is it true that the Kiambu County budget has an expenditure line for Sh250 million for those who went to Haj in Mecca?”
Lawyer Steve Ogola mocked the Kiambu County boss as an “honest leader”.
“We should be glad Governor Waititu did not camouflage county expenditures, a rare case of honest theft.”
But some Kenyans believe Mr Waititu could be innocent.
University of Nairobi lecturer Edward Kisiang’ani, for instance, defended the governor, saying even if he wanted to steal, he would have not have been so stupid to include national government functions in his budgetary allocations.
“I don't believe Kiambu Governor Waititu endorsed a budget for State House, South Sudan and retired presidents. He is not a fool. The report presented to Senate must be a deliberate narrative in financial comedy. Senate should verify reports before adopting them for discussion.
“Even if Kiambu Governor Waititu wanted to embezzle public funds he would not be foolish enough to bring in State House, South Sudan and former Presidents. Besides budget making, approval and execution are elaborate processes which involve more people and institutions (other) than the governor.”
Ikinu Ward Rep Stanley Wanjiku believes the executive and Mr Ouko’s office cooked up the figures to try and cover up irregularities.
“If monies were looted through irregular expenditure, which was done outside the Ifmis (Integrated Financial Management Information System), when doing the balance, they cooked the figures so that they can hoodwink the people of Kiambu.
“The county and Auditor-General are at the centre of the mess because the report which they prepared does not even reflect the true picture of what has happened in Kiambu,” Mr Wanjiku said.