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Principals lead Cabinet to Coast to put house in order over graft claims

BUSINESS
By | November 10th 2010
By | November 10th 2010
BUSINESS

By Martin Mutua

Stung by the unfolding allegations of massive corruption in government, President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga lead ministers to the Coast Thursday for a two-day retreat.

Following unrelenting onslaught by legislators on graft within the Executive, a recent Cabinet meeting reached a decision to hold a meeting for ministers so they can get their act together.

The two principals took the decision last week during a Cabinet meeting chaired by the President at State House, after it emerged that tension was high within the ministries following the hounding out of office of two Cabinet ministers through pressure generated via Parliament.

Sources within Government told The Standard the ministers would fly out to the Coast tomorrow evening for the retreat set for Friday through to Saturday. Suspended Higher Education Minister William Ruto and Moses Wetang’ula, who is under investigation for fraud committed in the Foreign Affairs Ministry, will miss the retreat.

"It was decided there was need for the Cabinet to be taken through civic education on the way to use the existing institutions like Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission and Controller and Auditor General efficiently and effectively because both are investigating agencies," added the sources.

The ministers will also go through the new law to understand articles that each ministry is obliged to know for its day-to-day operations.

"The idea is to find an efficient and effective way of managing the presidency and forestall what has taken root of late," said the sources.

Senior officials from Government departments and agencies are also expected to attend the meeting to be held at Leisure Lodge in Diani, South Coast.

Plans finalised

A minister who did not wish to be named told The Standard plans had been finalised and that Head of Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Muthaura alerted ministers on the arrangements.

Ruto was last month suspended after a constitutional case he had filed seeking to stop a Sh96 million fraud case against him and other individuals was thrown out by a three-judge Bench. The judges ruled that Ruto prepares to go for full hearing of the case, arguing that his constitutional rights would not be violated.

Sooner, a section of MPs and the Civil Society called for his exit, saying his continued stay in Cabinet was against the spirit and letter of the new Constitution pertaining to Chapter Six on leadership and integrity.

He was subsequently suspended.

The Departmental Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations followed by tabling a damning report indicting Wetang’ula and his PS Thuita Mwangi over the controversial Sh1.7 billion purchase of the Kenyan embassy land in Tokyo.

According to the report, Kenyan taxpayers lost Sh1.1 billion and pressure was exerted by Parliament for the two to take political responsibility and step aside to allow investigations.

Before the House adopted the report, Wetang’ula and Mwangi announced they had stepped aside to pave the way for investigation. Wetang’ula has since been quizzed three times by KACC.

Within the corridors of Parliament, it seems momentum is gathering to have more ministers mentioned in corruption cases forced to step aside.

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