Kenya: Raila says House Watchdog Committees have failed

Opposition leader Raila Odinga on Tuesday accused members of two Parliamentary watchdog committees of failing to push the government to account for taxpayers’ money.

Mr Odinga claimed that members of the committees have often been compromised in order to ignore corrupt deals.

He spoke as the Cord secretariat revealed that the coalition’s presidential candidate will be picked during a meeting with a committee of experts which will present information on the strengths and weaknesses of the key players ahead of elections.

Mr Odinga, former vice-president Kalonzo Musyoka and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula are eyeing the Cord presidential ticket.

Mr Odinga, a former Prime Minister, said the Public Accounts Committee and the Public Investments Committee were doing so little to expose corruption cartels in the government despite the vice rearing its head.

Speaking when he addressed the 2nd African Organisation for Public Accounts Committees at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi, Mr Odinga said corruption had shot up during President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration.

He expressed fears that the current parliamentary watchdogs were not doing enough to push his administration to explain how public funds were being spent.

“Corruption is more rampant in Kenya now than has been seen in many years. Parliament has not fully exercised its mandate as a guardian of sanctity of public finances. MPs are too divided along party lines to stand up for the public good. We have seen MPs defend blatant theft of public funds,” he said.

The conference brought together members of public account committees from across the continent and is set to end on Friday. President Kenyatta addressed it on Monday.

The two committees are chaired by MPs belonging to the Orange Democratic Movement led by Mr Odinga. Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo chairs PAC and his Eldas counterpart Adan Keynan heads PIC.

Mr Gumbo did not address the concerns raised by Mr Odinga regarding his committee, choosing instead to wish Mr Odinga success in next year’s polls.

“We pray to God that he may grant you the desires of your heart next year,” Mr Gumbo said after the address.

Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba, also a member of ODM, is a past chairman of the public accounts committee, but was kicked out following corruption allegations against him and members of the House team. Mr Namwamba repeatedly denied the allegations.

In Kisumu, head of Cord secretariat Norman Magaya said parties in the coalition: ODM, Wiper Party and Ford Kenya will first conduct conventions to settle on their candidates.

He said the nominated party presidential candidates will then meet the committee of experts to review a report on the various scenarios to be presented to them.

PICK CORD FLAGBEARER

“The question of who will be the flag bearer is the easiest issue for us to deal with. Cord has three principals but at the end of the day, a decision on who will be the flagbearer will be made and that is next year,” Mr Magaya said.

Mr Magaya explained that presidential candidates will first be nominated by their individual parties through a National Delegates Conference.

“They will then come together to choose one as the first among equals to take on Jubilee in the next polls. This person shall be unveiled to Kenyans at Uhuru Park,” he said in an interview with theNation.

Mr Magaya indicated that the experts had been agreed upon by the coalition partners. He said the process will be carried out within the frame work of the coalition agreement.

Mr Odinga said PAC members affiliated to the ruling Jubilee Coalition were normally summoned to State House and asked to “defend blatant theft” of public funds. “The majority of members should be from the opposition.

The government can never be trusted to do oversight over itself. Members of the ruling party are summoned to state house and given instructions to vote in a certain way. In our days it was automatic that a majority of our members of PAC and PIC were from the opposition and the chairman the leader of the opposition,” he said.

“We have been given authority by voters and we should use that authority to make sure public funds are spent well and accounted for,” said Ms Nthabiseng Khunou, the Chairperson of the Southern Africa Development Community Organisation of Public Accounts Committees.

Daily Nation

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