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I was not part of Waititu mess, former county staff tells IEBC panel

By Grace Ng'ang'a | July 14th 2021
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) commissioner candidate Dr Joseph Kang'ethe Ng'ang'a when he appeared before a selection panel for the appointment of IEBC commissioner position at KICC, Nairobi on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 [David Njaaga, Standard]

A former employee of ousted Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu had to explain whether he was allegedly part of his boss' graft case, at the interviews for the electoral agency commissioners.

Joseph Kang’ethe, a former Kiambu County Executive Committee member, distanced himself from the case against his former boss when he appeared before the Independent Election and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) selection panel.

Kang’ethe said he was busy working and fulfilling his responsibilities and had nothing to with what happened with Waititu.

Panel's vice-chair James Awori asked him how he coped with being at the centre of a government surrounded by all sorts of scandals.

“There were major scandals involving use of finances and resources and eventually the county government was suspended and you were part of that government, how did you survive?” he posed.

Kang'ethe dismissed any dis-functionality in the county government, arguing that the media fueled the matter. “That is one question I feared you would ask me because the media painted the county as chaotic with so many scandals.

He explained, "From the public eye, this was the case but to us, as CECMs, we did not play the game to those perceptions because we were guided by the county government Act and the Constitution."

Kang'ethe said he was busy in his office driving amendments to various sections of the law and disbursing bursaries to young people. He said he confined himself to his department.

“We could see that coming because it was clear that some units did not follow rules and such issues were highlighted during meetings but we had to carry out our responsibilities per department. We acted within the law lest we would have found ourselves in murky waters,” he said.

And Awori was puzzled more.

“In your opening statement, you said you were collectively responsible to the governor and you want to say you acted without taking note of all these things and they did not affect you at all, yet you were working as the cabinet of the county?” he posed.

He added: “Those murky waters you were avoiding involved expenditure and misappropriation of county government finances.”

Kang’ethe, who was executive in charge of education, said he was never called to answer any audit queries, despite being summoned by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

“There was one time we were called to explain our roles but my department was never questioned about misappropriation of funds. There was no chaos in my sector,” he said.

He, however, told the panel that from the experience and lessons learned while serving in the county assembly, as a commissioner he would work towards ensuring the rule of law is followed.

“I will ensure that for every activity, process, or stage rule of law will be strictly followed to the letter. I will work for the common good of the people,” he said.

Early last year, the Senate upheld Waititu's impeachment by the County Assembly, accusing him of graft and abuse of office.

He was found guilty of lack of accountability in management of county resources, awarding Sh2.1 billion towards road tarmacking contracts against the approved Sh1.4 billion and failure to establish the county budget and economic forum as stipulated in section 137 of the public finance management act 2012.

Also appearing before the selection panel was Mr Julius Rotich, who said should he appointed as a commissioner he would sensitise voters on dangers of voter bribery. "This problem originates from our political leaders because they are used to giving out goodies," he said.

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