MPs adopt embassy report

Wednesday October 27 2010

Fredrick Onyango | NATION Foreign Affairs PS Thuita Mwangi leaves the ministry premises in Nairobi yesterday after stepping down to pave way for further investigation into the scandal over controversial embassy deals.

Fredrick Onyango | NATION Foreign Affairs PS Thuita Mwangi leaves the ministry premises in Nairobi yesterday after stepping down to pave way for further investigation into the scandal over controversial embassy deals.  

By NJERI RUGENE, [email protected]

Parliament adopted the report on controversial embassy deals with a warning to the Executive that the country is in a new constitutional dispensation where accountability and transparency will be the order of the day.

Cabinet ministers and top public servants implicated in graft were asked to step aside to allow for investigation before they are forced to do so.

But the MPs praised the move by Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetang’ula and his PS Thuita Mwangi for opting to step aside to pave way for investigations into alleged claims of fraud in purchase of embassy property.

Before adoption of the report, Kimilili MP Eseli Simiyu withdrew a motion he had initiated on Tuesday, to delete any reference of wrongdoing against Mr Wetang’ula in the report by the House committee on Defence and Foreign Relations.

“To pursue it is to cause more damage than benefit to the country,’’ said the Ford-Kenya MP, a close ally of Mr Wetang’ula.

He praised members of the committee chaired by Wajir West Adan Keynan saying it comprised “some of the best brains in Parliament.’’

The adoption was preceded by a discussion over whether or not the House needed to continue debate with the report after Mr Thuita and Mr Wetang’ula opted to step aide in line with the report’s recommendations.

Crucial policy issues

Some backbenchers had insisted that the debate continue, arguing that it contained crucial policy issues and was not restricted to the two top government officers.

Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo argued that debating the matter would “easily’’ compromise investigations.

House Speaker Kenneth Marende then allowed a 30- minute debate but advised MPs against dwelling on the personal character of the two since they had complied with recommendations.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga and some Cabinet ministers also acknowledged that “we are in a new Kenya, which we must learn to live with.’’

“I am a very happy man today because this debate (on the report) confirms that Kenya has moved on,’’ said Mr Odinga.

“We want to create a culture of honesty in deliverance of public service and to own up if we make mistakes,’’ he added.

“It is an exercise that has jolted civil servants still asleep and sent a message that Kenya has changed.’’

The PM warned that the Legislature’s watchdog role should not be used to witch-hunt.

There were calls for MPs to be transparent and accountable in their operations, with Gichugu MP Martha Karua, Ndaragwa’s Jeremiah Kioni and John Mbadi of Gwassi, saying MPs too needed to raise their standards.

Ms Karua asked the President and Prime Minister to weed out those in the Cabinet who do not pass the integrity test.

“Please take action or Parliament will act. Don’t be seen as fraudsters who on promulgation day said we are in a new dawn while we remain in our comfort zones,’’ Ms Karua added.