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Matiang’i is a ‘rogue’ minister, say MPs

By Moses Nyamori and Daniel Psirmoi | Jun 27th 2018 | 4 min read

National Assembly Agriculture and Trade committees co-chairs Adan Haji (second right) and Kanini Kega (right) and fellow members address reporters outside the Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters on Tuesday. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Legislators have accused Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i of showing contempt to Parliament and described him as a “rogue” State officer who was out to undermine other arms of Government.

The lawmakers vowed to assert their authority and warned that they would not hesitate to invoke powers and privileges of Parliament to punish any officers undermining their oversight role.

National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi said the CS had succeeded in undermining the Judiciary – in reference to Matiang’i’s defiance to the High Court orders in the Miguna Miguna’s deportation saga – and was now targeting Parliament.

“Parliament has been nice to this CS and he has started showing rogue behaviour. A message needs to go out to Matiang'í that we expect him to account to the people of Kenya. Matiang’i is getting used to this. He has undermined the Judiciary before and he is now targeting Parliament,” said Mbadi on the floor of the House.

Yesterday, the CS skipped, for the second time, an invite by the joint committee of Agriculture and Trade, which is investigating the contraband sugar. He also snubbed an invite by departmental Committee on Administration and National Security, attracting the ire of the lawmakers.

It was not the first time the CS was snubbing a meeting with the MPs.

The probe team said the no-show by the CS was in bad faith given the ongoing investigations were triggered by his claims that some of the seized sugar were contaminated with mercury, claims that have since been refuted by Trade and Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohammed, and Kenya Bureau of Standards.

The House team said it was irresponsible of a CS to make remarks that had sent the country into panic but decline to provide evidence to back his claims.

It was the same feeling of anger among members of the departmental Committee on Administration and National Security after he also snubbed their invitation.

Some MPs said the CS should quit his Cabinet job if he felt too important to work with MPs.

“This is not the first time the CS is snubbing parliamentary committees. He is looking down upon Parliament and MPs. If he cannot respect Parliament he should quit,” charged Samburu Woman Representative Maison Leshome.

The joint team co-chair Adan Haji (Mandera South) said the CS had taken the House for granted and called for action against him.

“I read mischief in the letter. This House should not be taken for granted. He (Matiang’i) kept us waiting yesterday (Monday) and today. We are dealing with a grave matter; Kenyans are not taking sugar because of the remarks he made that have triggered panic among Kenyans,” said Haji, who is the chair of the Agriculture Committee.

He said the confusion as to whether the imported sugar was poisonous was being exploited by the police to extort genuine traders.

The members further said the price of sugar had gone up as a result of shortage, as traders stopped transporting the commodity over fears of being seized as contraband.

Also, the joint team wants Matiang’i to table reports of results carried on some of the sugar that he said contained mercury.

Another issue is the statement by Mohammed on Monday blaming Interior Ministry for porous borders and lack of intelligence sharing in the smuggling of sugar and other commodities.

On Monday, only Matiang’i skipped the invitation, as his colleagues – Mohammed, Mwangi Kiunjuri (Agriculture) and Henry Rotich (National Treasury) appeared to give evidence in the sugar importation saga.

Yesterday’s meeting was scheduled for 10am, but a letter by Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho informing the committee that the CS was engaged in the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State Summit was received at about 11am.

“On the account of the Cabinet Secretary’s active involvement in the ongoing East African Community (EAC) Head of State Summit, he requests deferment of his appearance before the committee. We, therefore, request that the committee reschedules the meeting to a later date,” said Kibicho in the letter.  

Without fail

The joint team ordered that Matiang’i appears tomorrow morning without fail. This was after the members unsuccessfully pushed Kega to issue summons to the CS.

In the Kiambaa MP Paul Koinange-led Administration and National Security Committee, the members slammed Matiang’í, pointing out that he had snubbed invitations several times.

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