Kenya Kwanza leaders speaking at cross-purposes

Government spokesman Isaac Mwaura briefs the media responding to critics of the Government-to-Government oil deal saying fuel prices in the country will reduce soon. November 23, 2023. [David Gichuru, Standard]

Biblical accounts depict how humanity conceived a dumb idea of constructing a tower whose top would touch heaven.

The Tower of Babel became a failed mission after God caused it to come tumbling down. People who hitherto spoke a single language started speaking in tongues and could not understand each other.  

That scenario is playing out in the Kenya Kwanza government after controversy arose over ownership of an obscure Sh17 billion oil consignment. What was initially contested was ownership between businesslady Ann Njeri, Galana Oil and the government. Questions later arose on the said ‘government to government’ oil deal between Kenya and the Saudi Arabia government.

Claims by Azimio that the government is pulling wool over the eyes of Kenyans; and that there is no deal between Kenya and Saudi Arabia were vehemently denied by National Assembly majority leader Kimani Ichung'wah who explained what a government-to-government oil deal entailed.

President William Ruto came out to defend the deal, warning the opposition it would not find any scandal in it. Earlier, Energy Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir had claimed that the 100,000 metric tonnes of oil belonged to Galana Energies Limited and not Njeri who has availed requisite documentation.

UDA Secretary General Cleophas Malala has introduced a new twist; that the real owners of the Sh17 billion oil are former President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga. Malala claims Uhuru irregularly took Sh16 billion from the Treasury in the last days of his presidency, which he used to purchase the oil.

The veracity of Malala’s claim is yet to be established, but its sensationalism detracts from the serious issues at hand. Such recklessness portrays Kenya Kwanza's leadership as disjointed. 

Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah claims that through Gazette Notice No. 9734 of July 13, 2023, the “Ministry of Finance withdrew from the Consolidated Fund some Sh17,224,718,632 in June 2023, at the closure of the FY 2022/2023, for subsidies to private financial enterprise” and challenged Energy CS Davis Chirchir and his Transport Counterpart Kipchumba Murkomen to come clean on their relationship with Njeri. 

We are yet to get to the nitty-gritty of the contentious oil deal, but clearly, Kenya Kwanza’s disunity has been exposed. Anybody with a title attached to his name feels inclined to defend the government even without a clue about the issues at hand.

While listening to different versions of the same story from Kenya Kwanza, the need for a centralised messaging unit for the government cannot be overemphasised. 
That need has never been more urgent than now that Kenya Kwanza is fumbling every inch of the way trying to give explanations on why the rosy campaign promises it made to Kenyans have not been actualised.

Government mandarins should stop running around in circles contradicting themselves. Their feeble attempts to mask the truth only fuel speculation. 

-The writer is a sub-editor at The Standard. [email protected]