CSs Rotich, Adan on MPs’ chopping board as showdown looms in Parliament

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich delivers a speech during the signing ceremony of the the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) (2018-2022) .[David Njaaga,Standard]

Two Cabinet secretaries could face an uncertain future in the Government if proposed amendments to the sugar report are approved in Parliament.

The co-chairmen of the Joint Committee on Agriculture and Trade, Kanini Kega (Kieni) and Adan Haji (Mandera South), bowed to pressure from members of the team and introduced amendments that, if adopted by the House, could lead to the removal of Henry Rotich (Treasury) and Adan Mohamed (then in Trade) from the Cabinet.

But even before the changes are moved on the floor of the House today, there were reports of a looming showdown in a last-minute attempt to save the two CSs and former Agriculture Cabinet secretary Willy Bett, currently Kenya’s High Commissioner to India.

The joint team wants Mr Rotich held responsible for the excess importation of sugar into the country and consequent tax evasion while Mr Mohamed, who has been moved to East Africa Community, to be held responsible for failing to ensure the safety of the commodity.

Mr Bett has been accused of allowing 14 firms to import sugar after the expiry of the duty-free window and the MPs also want him held responsible.

“Notice is given that the co-chairs of the Joint Departmental Committees on Agriculture and Livestock and Trade, Industry and Cooperatives intend to move the following amendments …” reads today’s order paper.

“The Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury should be held responsible for the excess importation of sugar into the country and consequent tax evasion based on the Gazette Notice No. 4536, Gazette Notice No. 9801, Gazette Notice No. 9802 and Gazette Notice No. 10149,” it adds.

“The then Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives under whose docket Kebs falls should be held responsible for failure to undertake adequate market surveillance to guarantee the safety and quality of the sugar in the country.”

Doctored version

The report that had been tabled before the House last week recommended investigations by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations. However, some committee members claimed that it was a doctored version in an effort to protect the two CSs.

MPs said the recommendations were an open cheque that could have been manipulated to clear the State officers, implying that the changes would have much more serious implications on the CSs and their stay in the Cabinet.

Mr Rotich's woes were compounded by an impeachment motion being mooted by Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa.

Mr Barasa said Rotich should not continue serving in the Cabinet, citing his role in the sugar and Sh3.2 billion Ruaraka land sagas. In the latter controversy, the National Assembly's Land Committee has recommended that top officials at the National Land Commission, the Education ministry and National Treasury be investigated.

He claimed that 96 MPs had signed the petition but declined to show the proof, saying this would expose the lawmakers to intimidation from certain quarters.

Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati claimed there was a scheme to reject the entire document so that the three State officers are shielded.

“The power against this document is too big. I can tell you there will be war here tomorrow (today) to protect certain interests,” he said.

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