Stolen Presidency: Who is Francis Muthaura?
Born in 1946, there is no debate that Ambassador Francis Muthaura had a wide experience within the diplomatic and civil service. But when he was appointed as Head of the Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet, he should have been heading for retirement because it appeared as though he had already served the nation and was ripe for pension. Not only has he worked as a District Officer in Mombasa but he has also worked as Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, had a stint at Kenya’s diplomatic Mission in New York and Brussels, worked as Under Secretary and Head of Economic division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs while he has also been Kenya’s Ambassador to Belgium, Luxemburg and the European Community. At the UN office in New York, he worked as Kenya’s Permanent Representative.
He has also served as the PS in the Ministry of Transport and Communication, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Provincial Administration and National Security in the Office of President. Despite these impeachable credentials, Muthaura still allowed himself to be sucked into the Mafia cartel that suddenly surrounded Kibaki and to be used to defend a corrupt regime simply because it was being headed by a member of his own ethnic group. Once in government, Muthaura teamed up with “likeminded” colleagues like Kiraitu, Murungaru, Michuki, Karume, Joe Wanjui and a host of Kibaki’s sycophants to take over control of the Kenyan government allegedly as Kibaki slept at State House.184 After the NARC 2003 January takeover of State House, the key agenda of Muthaura and company was to ensure that the MoU was dumped and the idea of delivering a new Constitution defeated.
At the height of the crisis on a new Constitution, Muthaura surprised Kenyans when he kept writing letters to the Constitution of Kenya Review asking them to reduce the number of Commissions that had been recommended in the Bomas draft.185 One MP who was very irritated about Muthaura’s antiques was Kenneth Marende of Emuhaya Constituency. When Muthaura became notorious, Marende questioned the capacity with which Muthaura was trying to intervene in the Constitutional review process as other MPs accused Muthaura of interference with the Executive.
Mr. Muthaura’s interventions were contrary to provisions in the Review Act, which only gave the government a facilitatory role in the Constitutional review process. However, it was the explosion of the Anglo-Leasing scandal that exposed Muthaura’s intention to help in the cover-up of grand corruption. When it became known that Anglo Leasing, a phantom company, had been paid Ksh91 million for a Ksh2.1-billion project, it is Muthaura who broke the news through telephone to Githongo on the evening of May 14, 2004, that the money had already been returned.186 It looks like Muthaura had been monitoring developments around Anglo-Leasing very closely, not to help in further exposures and quicken the exit of corrupt Ministers who were tainting the Kibaki administration but to cover up scandal. He was so concerned about informing Githongo that the money had been returned that on May 17, three days after he broke the news about Anglo-Leasing refunds, he availed a receipt to prove that the money had indeed been returned.
Why was Mr. Muthaura so enthusiastic about a huge amount of money that had been returned to a government account by a phantom company that had sent money from a source that could not equally be traced? Shouldn’t he, as Head of Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet, have been calling for more investigations? And what did he do instead? He engineered the firing of Mr. Magari and Mr. Silvester Mwaliko, PS in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Treasury,187 from their jobs on the same day that he informed Githongo that the Ksh91 million had been refunded. This was an attempt at damage control — fire the small man down for the big bosses who authorized and probably benefited from the dirty deal to survive but this strategy never worked in keeping the Anglo-Leasing scandal underground. After firing the small men, Muthaura’s brain kept on working overtime. The PAC Report on Anglo-Leasing says that on May 25, 2004, Muthaura called Githongo to complain that the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission “had too much powers.”
On May 24, 2004, the PAC Report proceeds to say that Mr. Gideon Mutua, the then acting Director of the KACC, had called Githongo and informed him that Mr. Muthaura had called his office to complain about the powers of KACC. Apart from the complaints, Muthaura informed Githongo that he had made a discovery — that the Office of President had entered into a contract of US$55 million with Anglo-Leasing to provide a Forensic Laboratory. When Mr. Dave Mwangi, PS at the Internal Security Ministry, met Githongo on May 27, 2004, he told Githongo that he had discussed the issue of Anglo-Leasing with Muthuara and that the two had decided “to deal with the matter administratively” because although the contracts were signed in 2001, no actual work had been done.188 The question that could be posed is: Who was Muthaura to deal with a case of mega corruption scandal “administratively” especially after evidence emerged that Anglo-Leasing did not exist?
While Muthaura told Mr. Githongo that he (Muthaura) had briefed the President about the Forensic Laboratory Project, Githongo said in his Dossier that this had not been done because when Githongo met the President, Kibaki told him that he had received no briefing from the Civil Servant boss and requested that he (Kibaki) be furnished with details of the Forensic Laboratory Project, which Githongo did. If Githongo’s assertions are to be accepted, then what emerges is that Mr. Muthaura was deliberately lying to Githongo on the Anglo-Leasing type scandals especially with his (Muthaura’s) contacts with the President, a signal that Muthaura must have known a lot about the Anglo-Leasing scam and that there was something he was trying to hide.
A member of a wider Mafia cartel
Just like interference in the Constitutional review process, Muthaura used his position to defend his interests be they political or private. In an incident that was widely covered in the Kenyan media, Muthaura’s neighbors at Rimpa in Ongata Rongai once found themselves spending time in a police cell after a land dispute. Dan Kamau, Joseph Mwangi, Leonard Arimi and Gathui Wamanyara were arrested by police and thrown into a cell at Ongata Rongai police station after they demolished a fence Muthaura had erected to demarcate the disputed land. The dispute led to protest by residents of Rimpa who accused Muthaura of encroaching on a piece of road leading to their homes.189 The bone of contention was that Muthaura had erected the fence at a time when talks were still going on and in response, the residence took the law on their own hands and uprooted the poles and a barbed-wire fence Muthaura had set up. After their arrest, Muthaura recorded a statement with police and put the damage at Ksh20.000. This may have been a minor incident but it demonstrated Muthaura’s ruthlessness in dealing with his enemies regardless of their stations in life. Just as he was interfering when Constitutional review talks were continuing, he was also doing the same in his backyard over a land dispute with neighbors.
In the end, it was the Anglo-Leasing scandal that brought Muthaura’s attempts to cover up corruption into the open and awakened the public about the corrupt nature of members of Mount Kenya Mafia who allegedly controlled government policy through the back door. Muthaura went on record as being one of the first members of Kibaki’s inner circle to dispute press reports about the existence of the Anglo-Leasing scandal. Omingo Magara, the then Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, accused Muthaura of attempting to cover up the fraud and summoned the Civil Servants boss to appear before the Committee to answer questions.
A report carried in the Daily Nation said in part: “Civil Service head Francis Muthaura was yesterday accused of trying to cover up attempted fraud in the Sh7 billion contracts involving the shadowy Anglo Leasing Finance company.”190 When the scandal exploded in a way that it could no longer be covered up, Muthaura gave up his campaign to defend colleagues as he was named by Githongo as having been involved in the scandal.191 Once again, it became possible to demonstrate that as part of the fat cats who surrounded Kibaki, Muthaura was a leading player but he is one of the cartel members who survived as his compatriots were hounded out of office. Muthura continued with his arrogance after the postelection crisis by issuing contradictory and unacceptable statements that irritated millions of Kenyans who came to grips with the reality that the Mount Kenya
Mafia was still determined to control government even after PNU rigged elections thereby plunging Kenya into crisis.
Other members of Mount Kenya Mafia who suddenly surrounded Kibaki after he took power and who had different levels of influence over the President included, Martha Karua (Cabinet Minister), Amos Kimunya (Finance Minister who took over from Mwiraria), Alfred Getonga (President’s Personal Assistant), David Mwiraria (former Finance Minister who resigned as a result of involvement in the Anglo Leasing scandal), Nat Kangethe (Chairman, Kenya Meat Commission, which collapsed under him), Chris Kirubi (a rich friend of Kibaki) and Joe Mwangi (PS Ministry of Internal Security). In the background was Lucy Kibaki
who pulled strings as others danced.
Others in the periphery were Ephraim Maina, owner of Kirinyaga Construction company, which forms part of the “Cow Boy Contractors” named by Raila Odinga192 as having fleeced the government of millions of Kenyan shillings; Peter Munga, Chairman, Equity Bank; Peter Mwangi, Managing Director, ICDCI also suspected to have been involved in the collapse of Uchumi supermarkets;193 Duncan Wachira, former Police Commissioner and Eddy Njoroge, Head of KenGen. It is not possible to name and detail all activities of fat cats who wielded power from the background during Kibaki’s presidency but the names already mentioned formed the core where Kibaki harvested ideas to help him build his kitchen cabinet.