It has now emerged that the immediate former Director General of communication authority of Kenya Francis Wangusi was kicked out not because of staffing issues but other matters relating to irregular requests by the Communication ministry that he apparently refused to approved- this is pure corruption.
The fights at the ministry started way back in 2016 after Wangusi appeared too ‘mean with his resources’ and at times outright defiant. Sunday Standard has seen over 30 financing requests placed by his parent ministry at his doorstep, some that he accepted as a whole, partially or rejected all together.
Last year the ministry requested him to provide Sh25 million to go towards the swearing in ceremony of President Uhuru Kenyatta, despite the function being fully budgeted for. Wangusi did not immediately act on the request as was required, in what put him in the line of fire. The request was later cancelled and he was asked to ‘ignore and cancel the letter’. Sunday Standard contacted the ICT Ministry regarding the letters. ICT Principal Secretary Sammy Itemere, who authored most of the letters, said the specific request for the swearing in was later cancelled. “We cancelled that request because it was a state function that had a budget,” Mr Itemere said.
The requests include sponsorship for the State House summits, the agricultural shows and conferences. One such conference was the fourth world internet conference in China. Itemere requested the CA to fund ministry officials among them the Cabinet Secretary, himself and their personal assistants.
It is not clear why the ministry did not utilise its travel budgets. But the PS requested the funds on grounds that the government was implementing austerity measures and his ministry was not able to raise the funds. “Due to austerity measures implemented by the government, the ministry is unable to raise funds to cater for their travel to attend this important meeting,” Mr Itemere wrote.
The other request had arrived on his desk in June last year regarding preparedness of the General Election. Itemere asked the director general to convene a special board meeting to approve a tender for a system that would operate independent of existing network operators in case of a terror related attack during the electioneering period. “Terrorist attacks have been noted to follow the election calendars as the cases in France and England have shown. Telecommunication providers can also not guarantee full operations during such times,” Itemere wrote in the letter copied to the CS. It is understood that the contentious issue was the procurement method to be used. The ministry preferred a restricted tendering process. This only made already strained relationships worse.
In May last year, Itemere again wrote to Wangusi seeking sponsorship to attend the conference in Geneva on information and knowledge societies. The letter copied to Mr Mucheru was forwarded to the director general’s office on May 18. In July last year, Itemere asked Wangusi to fund his entourage of six to attend the Kisumu International Trade Fair where he had been invited to represent the CA board. The PS asked the CA to foot the bills for five other people who would accompany him among them his personal assistant, the chief assistant office administrator, his driver, security and a driver to his personal assistant. Wangusi only approved funding for three – the PS, his driver and security, leaving out the office administrator and the driver to the principal secretary’s personal assistant.
The other request came a month later. This time it was the Mombasa Agricultural Show. To avoid the previous embarrassment, the PS this time put in a request for three members of his team – himself, his driver and a security officer. However, he asked for a more extended stay in Mombasa, from the previous two to five to accommodate a board retreat scheduled after the agricultural trade fair. Wangusi approved this request and forwarded it to his juniors at the Authority with instructions to ‘deal and revert.’
Another of this requests would come in November 2017. This time Itemere was seeking sponsorship for five officials to attend a workshop in Arusha, Tanzania. Arusha is one of the most lucrative destinations for government officials given that it pays the best per diem rates in the region. The PS would earn $603 per day in per diem, which translates to Sh60,000 per day. His bodyguard and driver would earn Sh25,000 each ($253) while a personal assistant to Itemere would draw Sh33,000 or $332 per day. They were attending the conference for four days and this would see them earn between Sh100,000 and Sh240,000 each in per diems. As the battle appears headed to the courts, history seems to be repeating itself at the CA as Wangusi appears headed on the same path his predecessor walked. He took over from Mr Charles Njoroge who left after the board failed to renew his term.