By J Sigei NMG
The shocking affidavit by businesswoman Josephine Kabura against former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru in the National Youth Service saga in which about Sh1.6 billion was lost, has turned the spotlight on the extent to which governance institutions were deployed in defence of the CS.
Ms Kabura, who says she was Ms Waiguru’s hair dresser, is seeking to be enjoined in a case filed by the Asset Recovery Agency against eight individuals alleged to have benefited from the millions looted from the NYS.
The saga first came up last March at a time when nearly a third of the Cabinet and several other senior officials were out of office, having been suspended by President Uhuru Kenyatta because they were adversely mentioned in an Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission list.
The unprecedented move against such a high number of senior officials got many thinking that the dragon that has been identified as the single biggest threat to Kenya’s advancement, would be finally slayed.
However, when it came to Ms Waiguru, the presidency initially kept quiet before coming to the minister’s defence.
State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu told a press conference on June 25 that “the issue of Sh826 million has been twisted in order to execute a well-choreographed scheme”.
BLOW TO ANTI-GRAFT CREDENTIALS
The President would later say she was targeted only because she was a performer, a line that dealt a blow to the anti-graft credentials he had tried to nurture with the high profile suspensions.
Then came her appearance before the National Assembly Finance Committee, during which the minister was received like a pop star by members, and other MPs calling themselves Friends of the Committee, who shouted down anyone who as much as tried to question her.
When she appeared before the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee on November 4, she told off chairman Nicholas Gumbo after he asked how she failed to question when her ministry was buying ball point pens at Sh8,700 a piece.
“Just like you walked into this room, you did not ask the price of the chair you are sitting on,” she told Mr Gumbo, making light of the weight of duty expected of one who was the custodian of taxpayers’ billions.
Her presence in all these committees now appear to have been mere formalities undertaken by someone who knew all along that she was beyond the reach of the same law that, according to Ms Kabura’s affidavit, she wantonly unleashed on those she deemed suitable to be offered as sacrificial lambs.
Even when she finally bowed to pressure and resigned on November 22, all stops were pulled to paint her as leaving on her own volition and terms, and not because the President had pushed her to resign.
The raid of homes of 12 people among them that of Ms Waiguru, in a dawn operation two weeks later by anti-corruption detectives, also appeared too choreographed to be taken seriously.
Curiously, the detectives found money “in the millions” in other homes, but not in that of the former minister, prompting many to insist the whole operation was done to achieve a desired effect, rather than a genuine effort to recover public money.
Ms Kabura’s affidavit says as much and this appears to have been lent weight by the announcement, out of the blue, on February 8 that EACC did not find any wrongdoing on Ms Waiguru’s part in the NYS scandal.
Was the EACC covering up for her? Why was the letter absolving her addressed to the President’s Chief of Staff, Joseph Kinyua? Was it meant to pave way for her appointment to “lighter duties” that Ms Waiguru had requested for when she was resigning?
RUNNING THE SHOW
In the new revelations by Ms Kabura, Ms Waiguru was literally running the investigative agencies of government, deciding who gets arrested and what charges to face.
Painted as an architect of the NYS scam in Ms Kabura’s court papers, Ms Waiguru was turned into a witness by EACC.
What are we supposed to think of all those Kenyans who have either been convicted or acquitted on the basis of these organs’ findings?
If Ms Kabura’s affidavit is to be believed, and there is little to suggest otherwise, so far, Ms Waiguru had all these supposedly sacrosanct institutions under her beck and call. Would she have bestowed such sweeping powers on herself?
Why did the President jump to her rescue?
Why was NYS budget scaled up from Sh13 billion to Sh25 billion in a span of one year?
It is noteworthy that no other ministry, let alone department, got anything near this massive raise, an allocation which economists warned only militaries going to war can justify and effectively absorb.
While first indicating her intention to run for the Nairobi governor’s seat, the former CS announced she would be consulting the President, leaving no doubt as to what vehicle she would be riding, and that she never quite fell far from the Head of State’s corner.
Her continued stay outside official government circles seems to be only in theory, but she remains a powerful political mover in fact.