One name kept coming up during the impeachment trial of Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru before the Senate committee - Pauline Kamau.
Pauline was thrust to the core of the impeachment hearing, at some point being described in the proceedings a key member “of a network that has been used to carry dirty work in Kirinyaga.”
Her name was so conspicuous in the hearing that several senators wanted to question her role in the running of affairs in the county.
She was a subject of intense exchange between the lawyers as the ouster of Waiguru was deliberated on by the 11-member Senate Committee led by Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala.
But who is this Pauline?
Very little is known about Pauline, with reports indicating that she comes from Nyeri County, and only surfaced in Kirinyaga during Governor Waiguru’s 2017 campaigns.
Described as Waiguru’s close confidant, Pauline started off as a Personal Assistant (PA) to the governor before she was swiftly elevated into the position of director of administration, edging out a more qualified Rose Wanjiru Wachira from the position.
According to ward reps, her new position made Pauline so powerful that she was involved in most of the tendering at the county.
Participation of the governor’s former PA as the chair of several tender evaluation committees was among the evidence the county assembly presented to show Waiguru’s interference with the tendering process.
Kennedy Ngiavi, the chairman of the Kirinyaga Public Service Board, told senators how Pauline was brought on board and made director irregularly.
Ngiavi told the senators Pauline lacked the bare minimum qualifications for the job. “I told the governor that Pauline was not qualified for the directorship but she (Waiguru) was adamant. She has no undergraduate degree required for the position, but she was hired for the job,” Ngiavi told the committee.
He testified that the board had written a protest letter “about her (Waiguru) coercion in ensuring that unqualified people were hired to hold certain positions.”
“The position that Pauline held also required 10 years’ experience, which she did not have. The board was angry because in case the matter was brought to the attention of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) it is us who would be in trouble. The governor was failing to follow the law,” said the witness.
Ngiavi said according to procedure, Pauline was not supposed to sit in any tender committee. But she did.
Among the charges leveled against Waiguru was a scheme to control major county tenders and award them to her preferred contractors.
In their submissions, the ward reps indicated that Waiguru used her powers to influence formation of irregular tender evaluation committees composed of her cronies, including Pauline and ICT advisor Wayne Gichira, contrary to Section 46 of the Public Procurement and disposal of Assets Act 2015.
Senators heard that the two chaired nearly every tender evaluation committee dealing with multi-million shilling contracts.
Pauline was said to have chaired about five tender committees, which according to witness testimonies, only awarded tenders to certain companies.
In the impeachment hearings, Kinyua Wangui, a Ward Rep, told the Senate committee that Pauline and Wayne took instructions directly from the governor and that they conveniently alternated as chairpersons of all major tender evaluation committees to award tenders to the governor’s preferred bidders.
In his testimony, the county director of supply chain management Joseph Carilus Otieno was put to task to explain why Pauline’s name appeared as the chair in almost all committees handling huge tenders.
One of the tender committees Pauline is said to have chaired was for a Sh30 million project for construction of phase one of Kagio Matatu Park.
Senators heard that the tender was supposed to have been reserved for persons with disabilities as per the Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) policy, but it was awarded to Jipsy Civil and Building Contractors limited despite the company being not listed in the AGPO certified list at the time.
“The evaluation committee noted that Jipsy Civil and Building Contractors Limited was not AGPO certified, yet they went ahead to find the bid responsive. Pauline recommended that the award of tender be given to the company,” testified Wangui.
Tender evaluation committees
“The governor’s actions of interfering with the constitution of the tender evaluation committees is meant to compromise the integrity of the tendering process and the same is driven by nepotism, favoritism, improper and ulterior motives, and for corrupt purposes in complete disregard of the provisions of the constitution,” said Wangui.
Pauline is also said to have chaired the committee that awarded a Sh 11.9 million tender for the proposed water works for South Ngariama to Eva Trading Agencies Limited- a company associated with a brother to Waiguru’s chief finance officer, Mugo Ndathi.
“The tender committee chaired by the governor’s partisan staff recommended the award of tender to be given to Eva Trading Agencies Limited whereas Tornjim Investment Limited posted the lowest bid of Sh11.6,” said Wangui. “This in total disregard of conflict of interest and in furtherance of a corrupt and joint criminal enterprise overseen by the governor,” testified Wangui.
Others tenders that Pauline’s committee was said to have awarded include supply and delivery of pipes for Kenera Water project in Murinduko Ward, Mwea Makima project and Sh9.9 million Riagicheru irrigation project.
Senators also heard that another Pauline-led committee irregularly awarded a Sh10.9 million tender for construction of phase one of Kagio Matatu park Phase One to a company that did not meet the threshold.