Football Kenya Federation president Nick Mwendwa ferried dozens of his staff, including his personal assistant, to watch the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, gobbling up millions of shillings of taxpayers’ money in travel and allowances, the Nation has established.
The continental football tournament was staged in Egypt between June 21 and July 19 and Mwendwa — by virtue of his position — was the man tasked with preparing the men’s national football team Harambee Stars to compete in this tourney.
The government paid FKF Sh244 million to prepare Stars following the nation’s excitement after the team qualified to play in the tournament for the first time in 15 years.
But there is no way the federation employees would be left out of the travelling party, it has emerged.
Documents in our possession show Mwendwa received the highest allowances — he pocketed Sh50,000 daily, an amount that is more than what senior government officials receive while on duty.
But he was not alone.
His deputy, Doris Petra, was paid Sh45,000 daily, while each of the eight National Executive Committee (NEC) members who travelled was rewarded with Sh40,000 for every night spent in Cairo.
FKF’s then chief executive Robert Muthomi, who has since been sacked, was paid Sh35,000 each day, with the lowest-paid federation member, named “support staff” on the accountability checklist, pocketing Sh10,000 every day.
PLAYED IN EGYPT
Harambee Stars camped in Cairo for 13 days and featured three group stage matches against Algeria, Tanzania and Senegal.
This implies FKF might have spent upwards of Sh5 million to pay its staff, most of whom had no role to play in Egypt.
Other officials who made the four-and-a-half-hour trip from Nairobi to Cairo are NEC members Chris Amimo, Joseph Andere, Muriithi Nabea and Tony Kweya.
Others are powerful Nairobi East Branch Chairman Michael Ouma, Mwendwa’s personal assistant (PA) Sylvia Mumbua, Muthomi’s PA Juliet Nyambura, Frank Ogolla, the federation’s head of competitions, and finance director Christine Ojode.
The Nation is yet to verify whether Mwendwa consulted the government on this pay check or if these rates are in tandem with those earned by government officials as per the rates set by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.
“It is a policy of the federation that it caters for accommodation for the branch officials who can pay their air tickets to attend a major tournament. The NEC is the highest decision-making organ of the federation so they had to attend especially given Kenya was making a return to the tournament after a 15-year absence,” explained Barry Otieno, who has since replaced Muthomi as CEO.
Besides these allowances, a statement of accountability prepared by FKF erroneously states that this championship was held in Cameroon.
The tournament was played in six cities across Egypt.
Another inconsistency in FKF’s accountability is its claim that Sh18 million was channelled towards preparing the U23 men’s national team for an Olympic qualifier.
This amount had earlier been allocated towards preparing Stars to compete in a friendly match against Togo. But that match never took place.
“We were supposed to play Togo as part of our preparations, but they cancelled at the last minute and we couldn’t find an alternative. We ended up using the money to prepare and cater for the junior national team’s travel and accommodation expenses as they faced Sudan at home and away in the Olympics qualifiers,” added Otieno.
It is not clear whether the government gave Mwendwa the nod to divert funds meant for preparing Harambee Stars for the Nations Cup towards preparing another football team competing in a separate tournament.
The two-leg U23 game versus Sudan was played on March 20 and 26, a month before the government had approved the Sh244 million budget request that had been tabled by FKF, which implies that the federation might have placed it in this accountability note as an afterthought.
Meanwhile, FKF paid OneGoal Pro agency Sh106 million to prepare the Harambee Stars camp in France. OneGoalPro is owned by one Joe Kamga, who doubles up as then Stars coach Sebastien Migne’s agent.
This raises the question whether it was appropriate for FKF to use Migne’s agent to help the team prepare for this tournament. Secondly, how did FKF, Migne and Kamga specifically settle for France as the camp site? FKF also says in its report that Stars played three friendly matches that gobbled up a whopping Sh63 million.
This is not entirely factual as the team only played against DR Congo and Madagascar. Why was the third match not played but still accounted for?
“We had budgeted for three friendly matches, but only played two. We indicated that there were three friendly matches played so that our documents would match with the ones we had tabled during the budget-requesting process. Flying the team to play DRC in Spain and back to France significantly raised the costs, so the money we had budgeted for three friendlies was used on those two matches,” said Otieno.
As part of their preparations, Stars entered a three-week residential training camp at the French Rugby Federation grounds in Marcoussis on May 31.
During that time, the team would play Madagascar on June 7 at the Stade Robert Robin Paris, 14 kilometres away from the Marcousis centre where captain Victor Wanyama and company were based.
Notably, Madagascar was also camping in France at Montdidier, just a two-and-a-half hour drive to the match venue.
The second friendly against DR Congo was played on June 15 in Madrid, where the team spent two nights, having flown out on June 14 and returned to its France base on June 16.
A separate entry under the title Training Camp in France has a Sh42.5 million amount attached to it. Assuming that this amount was inclusive of travel and accommodation in Paris, could it be that the national team spent Sh63 million in the three days they spent in Madrid? Whatever the case, the documents in our possession indicate that for the 18 days the national team was in residential training in France, they spent a whopping Sh106 million.
This was spent on “travel and accommodation in France” (Sh51.3m), “Training Camp in France” (Sh42.5m), technical bench allowances (Sh3m), and purchase of kits (Sh8.7m).
Who organised the two matches, was there external funding accorded to FKF for either or both of them? Who booked and paid for the air tickets to Madrid and back to France? Who paid for the match venues for the two friendlies? How much was spent on the Madagascar match, since the Barea of Madagascar were already camping in France and the match was played a stone’s throw away from Stars’ Marcousis base? How much was spent to fly Harambee Stars to Madrid and back?
Asked whether there was any appearance fee payable to Madagascar and DR or any extra costs that would justify the use of Sh63 million on two matches, Otieno introduced a new character.
In one of the documents seen by the Nation, the FKF procurement committee, chaired by Otieno, awarded Kamga the job/tender on November 9, 2018, citing that he was “relatively fair and competitive”.
During the interview, Otieno admitted that Kamga, a Cameroonian national, was selected at the recommendation of coach Migne in October last year, and that he was selected through single sourcing, which is a gross violation of government policy and procedure.
Curiously, none of the documents tabled in Parliament and at the Ministry of Sports bear any indication that the federation received upwards of Sh77 million from the Confederation of African Football and online betting firm Betin for use during Afcon.
Nation Sport has reliably established that while FKF president Mwendwa was putting pressure on the government to release the Sh244 million early this year, he was already assured of Sh26 million from the tournament organisers Caf, and a further Sh20 million as sponsorship from betting firm Betin.
“The partnership with Betin will see the Stars funded to a tune of Sh20 million for this year’s Africa Cup of Nations, with Sh5 million set to go into the purchase of the National Team’s kits and fans’ replica jerseys,” reads a statement dated March 12, 2019 on the official FKF website.
But on the documents in our possession, FKF indicates that it spent Sh8.7 million of taxpayers’ money on the “purchase of kits”.
Otieno clarified this contradiction: “We did not spend any money given to us by Betin on Afcon. We channelled the entire amount to administrative costs.”
And regarding the Sh57.5 million that the federation is entitled to for finishing third in their group, Otieno said: “We are still waiting for that money. Caf is yet to send us the money.”
The documents indicate that by the time the national team was setting foot in Cairo on June 19 in readiness for their opening match against Algeria, FKF had spent Sh211,867,928. Of the entire budget, only Sh33,930,770 remained for use at the month-long competition.
This amount is entered as the last item in the final document under the subheading AFCON TOURNAMENT (CAMEROON), though the tournament was played in Egypt.
Nation Sport has established that FKF spent Sh5,210,400 on air tickets to ferry the team from France to Cairo, and that Caf footed all local travel and accommodation bills for all teams for the duration of their stay in Cairo.
So, what expenses did the federation use the remaining Sh28 million on for the 14 days? Was this money used to host delegates and the federation’s secretariat in Egypt?