Is Uhuru Kenyatta Fit for The Presidency?
“Treasury dismisses Auditor-General (A-G) over missing funds” was the headline carried in the Daily Nation (DN) newspaper on July 30, 2015 as the official answer to the recent A-G’s report on the alleged misuse of Ksh450 billion during the financial year 2013-14. A signed statement by National Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich said: “We have since established that though most ministries, departments and state agencies provided the necessary documents to office of the Auditor General during the final stages of audit review, these were not taken into account before the report was submitted to the National Assembly.”
In my KSB article “Massive Plunder of National Treasury Indicates Bad Governance Under Uhuru Kenyatta”, I noted that the A-G reports have never been taken seriously by sitting governments. Apart from a few Kenyans interviewed by mainstream media houses and some angry online comments, the new report has already been archived and forgotten in the minds of the political class.
On October 13, 2013 the DN headline for the 2011-12 A-G’s report was: “Third of govt’s 2011/12 expenditure unaccounted for: audit.” I quote from the newspaper: “Edward Ouko told the National Assembly at a specially organised session last evening that of the Sh920 billion spent by government in that financial year, Sh303 billion “can be regarded as not having been properly accounted for.” In a presentation like that of the Budget Statement by the Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Mr Ouko said that of the 252 financial statements examined, only 15 (six per cent) could be deemed clean. This was however an improvement from the previous year, where there were no clean accounts.” The A-G mentioned that there were no “clean accounts” from the previous year – meaning that for the financial year 2010-11, the situation had been worse.
For the 2009-10 financial year, the DN headline read: “Auditor-General shows Sh16bn bills not settled.” I cite a section: “About 60 ministries and departments did not settle bills amounting to Sh16 billion in the financial year 2009/10, the Auditor-General has said. The money, part of which was Sh5 billion relating to recurrent expenditure and Sh11 billion to development, was carried forward to 2010/2011, according to a report. Some of them are Internal Security (Sh953 million), State House (Sh10 million), Foreign Affairs (Sh80 million), Home Affairs (Sh349 million) and Planning, National Development and Vision 2030 (Sh10 million). Others are Finance (Sh121 million), Defence (Sh197 million), Agriculture (Sh768 million), Local Government (Sh2 billion), Roads (Sh9 billion), Education (Sh319 million) and he Interim Independent Electoral Commission (Sh280 million).”
Uhuru as a leader
Uhuru Kenyatta was appointed by former President Mwai Kibaki as Kenya’s Finance Minister in January 2009 and resigned in January 2012, (due to mounted pressure for his alleged links to the post-election violence in 2007-8). He is therefore fully aware of the operations at the National Treasury, considering some of the steps he took to implement failed austerity measures, stimulus packages, and so forth. However, as president, he has not revisited those failed policies to make sure that grand corruption is reduced, to streamline the National Treasury. His Treasury Cabinet Secretary has already dismissed the latest audit report from the A-G, yet the current unaccounted sum of Ksh450 billion, is just an escalation of the Ksh303 billion reported by that office for the fiscal year 2011-12, while Uhuru was Finance Minister.
When he became president in 2013, Uhuru promised to curb public spending yet the public wage bill has not only risen, but he has created employment for his “politically correct” cronies for political expediency. Uhuru thinks that hand-outs and playing the populist card is what will advance Kenya economically. He is not short of personal wealth, having been brought up in immense wealth acquired dubiously by his parents, according to available documentation. Therefore, he should use that privilege to transform Kenya into an economically inclusive society by shedding off those who are hell-bent to acquire wealth behind his back using taxpayers’ money. He should atone the documented economic blunders made by his father, first President Jomo Kenyatta, which marginalized many parts of the country socio-economically.
Uhuru should take seriously the impact of global initiatives for development such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education for All (EFA), to know where Kenya is heading, since we are signatories. The world is soon moving towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Where do we stand? He needs to be surrounded by intelligent advisors and not noisemaking sycophants whom he often takes selfies with. He should be grounded in the country and not be traveling all over to every inauguration and birthday for dictators around the African continent. He should also stop the habit of being seen off and welcomed back repeatedly by a coterie of politicians and military bosses at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, since that amounts to wastage of public money by driving back and forth. It also disrupts the smooth flow of traffic which costs taxpayers who are hindered from meeting their obligations in time, in the name of Uhuru’s security.
Wastage of taxpayer’s money
The Business Daily on June 3, 2015 reported that: “Uhuru’s frequent flier diary strains State House budget”. A section read: “Official data shows that the Presidency has already exceeded its recurrent budget allocation for the fiscal year ending June 30 by Sh300 million with travel spending as the main driver. Concerns over the cost of the President’s foreign trips mounted last week after it emerged that 84 people would be accompanying him to the inauguration of Nigeria’s president-elect Muhammadu Buhari.” How much can Ksh300 million do for hungry schoolchildren who walk many miles to school wearing tattered school uniform? Paying school fees as Uhuru does to a few pupils and students, or bailing out a patient in hospital due to accrued bills is not the answer. It is being populist. He should see to it that public institutions deliver. It does not matter that county governments exist and claim separation of power. He can influence their productivity and quality of service.
When Kibaki’s henchmen plundered the National Treasury for 10 years, he never uttered a word and his sycophants said he was too old to control them. Many blamed his advisors. However, Kibaki knew the game and let them ‘eat’ as much as they could. He is the one who, in his December 2002 presidential campaigns, had promised to stump out corruption after the 24-years of looting by the Rift Valley cabal of Dictator Moi. His supporters always squeeze in Raila Odinga’s name (who shared the Grand Coalition Government as Prime Minister), to make Kibaki look good. However, records show that as Roads and Housing Minister in 2003-05, Kibaki’s political allies fought Raila’s efforts to eradicate “Cowboy Contractors” who billed the Government for fake road construction deals and were paid, despite his protests. Therefore, assuming that Raila later let loose his grip on fighting corruption, it was because he did not get support from Kibaki’s side of government.
The so-called ‘old and senile’ Kibaki must have laughed at the Kenyan taxpayers after he signed for himself a fat pension package. “The amended presidential retirement benefits law gave Mr Kibaki a lump sum of Sh25.2 million, a monthly pension of Sh560,000, entertainment allowance of Sh280,000, fuel allowance of Sh195,000 and a house allowance of Sh299,000. The former president also enjoys an annual in-patient medical cover of up to Sh21.2 million. Mr Kibaki’s upkeep in retirement will set the taxpayer back Sh82.86 million in the financial year ending June while Mr Moi’s total pay stands at Sh66.85 million. The Treasury’s estimates for 2015/16 year show that Mr Kenyatta and his deputy’s combined salaries and allowances increased by Sh4.29 million despite the duo’s announcement last year that they had taken a 20 per cent pay cut to contain the bloated wage bill” (Business Daily, May 13, 2015). Wake up, you foolish Kenyan Taxpayer.