Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, who has been questioned by the anti-corruption watchdog over the awarding of a Sh100 million contract, has said politics is behind his woes.
“We can fight corruption but the challenge sets in when we politicise the war. I am being blackmailed for political reasons,” he told the parliamentary Committee on Sports, Culture and Tourism on Thursday.
Mr Balala, who has been in the news since Saturday, said that after he had recorded a statement with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), an officer of the agency approached him and questioned him about his 2022 political interests and desire to become Mombasa governor.
He described this an attack on his fundamental rights.
Confirming that he had been questioned over payments totalling Sh100 million made during the American Society of Travel Agents (Asta) Destination Expo in Nairobi in 2017, Mr Balala said there was nothing strange about him being questioned as the investigation into the matter had been going on for the past six months.
Mr Balala sought to absolve himself of blame as the ministry also issued a statement defending him against any wrongdoing, pointing out that he joined the ministry in November 2015 after the Tourism Recovery Strategy had been implemented.
“Upon his appointment, Mr Balala lent his support to the Tourism Recovery Strategy which was being rolled out and he supported the implementation of the same,” the ministry said in a statement signed by Mr Mulei Muia, the director of public communications.
In Parliament, Mr Balala told the committee chaired by Machakos Town MP Victor Munyaka that he read malice and politics in the reports carried by some news outlets that his offices and homes had been raided.
“There is nothing wrong for me to write a statement with the authorities,” the visibly angry minister told the committee.
“Is it possible that my home and office can be raided and it is only known by one person?” he posed, referring to the reports as fake news,
He told the committee that the accumulated matter of Asta was based on misinformation, which he said had created the confusion leading to the involvement of the EACC.
“I never single-sourced anything. There was no tender to award anything because everything was about the bid to host the expo,” Mr Balala said.