By Alex Ndegwa
Former Central Bank of Kenya deputy governor Jacinta Mwatela testified before a parliamentary committee behind closed doors about a controversial multi-billion shillings currency printing deal.
Ms Mwatela who opposed the suspicious contract while at CBK requested to give her testimony in camera citing threats to her life and was granted permission by the House Public Accounts Committee during a hearing at Parliament Buildings on Thursday.
PAC is probing claims the Government may have lost more than Sh2 billion in questionable short-term contracts with Ruaraka-based British currency printing firm, De La Rue, after the cancellation of a competitive international tender in 2006.
Mwatela asked the MPsâ committee chaired by Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale to assure her of her security as the evidence she would give touched on people she worked with while at CBK.
Former Central Bank of Kenya deputy governor, Jacinta Mwatela on Thursday testified to the Public Accounts Committee in Camera on Controversial De La Rue contracts. (Photo:File/Standard)
"I am very uncomfortable to discuss what I know in public," she said. "I would like to be assured that my life is protected. I lost a job and the only thing I have is my life."
Mwatela was moved from CBK in 2008 to the Ministry of Northern Kenya Development and Arid Areas as a Permanent Secretary, a post she declined. She then linked her being moved from CBK to the contentious deal now the subject of the inquiry.
"There is real fear in me about being called here to give information about an office I left two years ago," Mwatela told the committee.
Khalwale assured her she was "extremely safe" within the precincts of Parliament. He added she was protected under the Witness Protection Act and that the Constitution guarantees the sanctity of life.
Journalists were consequently asked to leave before she began testifying.
In an earlier hearing, Khalwale had indicated Mwatela would appear to explain her opposition to the controversial contract.
The committee heard Ms Mwatela had in a letter to the Finance Minister on August 2006, expressed reservations on the design, manufacturing and supply of the new generation notes by De La Rue and asked for the cancellation of the contract.