Joe Mucheru: Buying back Telkom Kenya was the best decision by former government

Former ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Former ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru has told Parliament that buying back Telkom Kenya by the government was the best decision made by the previous administration.

Mucheru who appeared before the joint National Assembly Finance & Planning and Information Communication and Innovation Committees in Parliament buildings on Tuesday, April 4, said that he was not involved in the transactions directly with his role mainly being advisory.

The former CS said that Telkom was not a parastatal under his ministry but was an Investment by the government under the National Treasury and that it was important for the government to control its data centres and cable loading stations.

"I fully support the government owning Telkom Kenya 100 per cent since it is very important for it controlling its National Security Communication Infrastructure since even in other jurisdictions governments have their own internal secure networks," said Mucheru.

Helios Investments Partners Chief Finance Officer Paul Cunningham who appeared before the two committees said that their transactions with the government of Kenya was above board with the organisation having investment worth over Sh300 billion in over 30 countries.

Cunningham who was accompanied by two advocates to the committee was put to task to explain why he claimed that he had never met any officials from Telkom Kenya yet some of them were listed in Jamhuri holdings which was used to deal with the Kenya government.

He told the committee that he was a British national and his organization have practised due diligence in its engagement with the government and that they saw a sleeping giant in Telkom Kenya that required awakening since it was under-utilized and they were better placed to resuscitate it.

"I would like to inform parliament that Helios Investment Partners started engaging the government of Kenya more than one year before the financial transaction was carried out last year, I can therefore say that it was not hurried as it has been claimed," said Cunningham.

He was at pains to explain to the committee why he had never met Telkom Chairman Eddy Njoroge who had been appointed as Helios and Jamhuri nominee saying that he was not directly involved in the decision since they have several portfolio companies.

Cunningham also told the Members of Parliament present that former President Uhuru Kenyatta was not a shareholder in Jamhuri Holdings and that there was no legal basis for their account in Mauritius to be frozen after they got information about it two weeks ago.

National Assembly Finance and Planning Committee Chairperson Molo MP Kuria Kimani gave Cunningham seven days to present some crucial documents about the transactions carried out between his company and the government so that it could come out clear.

"We are yet to be convinced that it is necessary for the government to acquire institutions that can be run privately, we need to understand the urgency of this transaction between the government of Kenya and Helios Investments Partners," said Kimani.

National Assembly Information, Communication and Innovation Committee Chairman Dagoretti South MP John Kiarie said that they were not out to victimize anyone but they wanted to know if Kenyans got value for their money in the Telkom Kenya transaction.

The session ended at around 7pm on Tuesday.

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