Mercy Mwai @wangumarci
Legislators, sugar barons and powerful individuals in government were yesterday locked in clock and dagger games to save two Cabinet secretaries and an ambassadorial nominee mentioned in the sugar report.
Sources within Parliament intimated to People Daily that a senior government personality had called several MPs in a bid to save CSs Henry Rotich (National Treasury) and Adan Mohammed (previously Trade but now East African Community). Willy Bett who was also indicted is nominee for High Commission to India.
MPs, who did not want to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter, also confirmed the individuals in government had approached them to have the CSs names dropped from the report on the probe of controversial imports of contraband sugar.
But in a sign of looming dogfight, a group of legislators, particularly from the Opposition—Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay), Rosa Buyu (Kisumu), Catherine Wambilianga (Bungoma), Samuel Atandi (Alego/Usonga) and Anthony Oluoch (Mathare)—speaking from Siaya county threatened to shoot down the entire report should the name of a prominent businessman implicated in the sugar scam be excluded.
At the same time some MPs, speaking on condition of anonymity, revealed that lobbying was intense and vowed to reject the entire report of the joint committee if an amendment is not introduced to save the trio.
It was understood the threats by the MPs came after the committee omitted the names of sugar barons alleged to have imported poisonous sugar yet may have been saved.
To muddy the waters further, it was also claimed that some companies alleged to have dodged tax were also lobbying the MPs to reject the report, as this would exempt them from taxes.
Said the MP: “I can confirm that senior government officials have been making rounds in this Parliament. They want us to remove the names of the two CSs.”
And amid all these conflicting positions, it also emerged that some members were plotting to indict another Cabinet secretary over the sugar report.
The MPs are scheduled to debate the report today after National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi last week postponed debate following claims that the original report had been doctored.
Kieni MP, Kanini Kega, who was also the co-chair of the joint committee, said he had done his part and it was up to the House to amend the report if it so wished.
He said: “I did my part; I tabled the report as it was and now it’s up to the House to do whatever it wants on it. If it wants to kill the baby, so be it.”
Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati confirmed there was a plot to have the report rejected by the House.
Said Arati: “There is huge interest in this report. We already know that there are plans to reject the report in total,”adding that the committee had planned to meet yesterday (Monday) to find out who had doctored the document but the meeting aborted after members failed to show up.
Aldai MP Cornely Serem said he could not understand why the report had attracted a lot of interest yet the committee did its work.
Serem said there was interference and emotion over the report because about Sh7 billion was involved. “How can you condemn an importer who is innocent? There are institutions that ensure importers meet all the requirements set by the Kenya Bureau of Standards.
“The said importer met all the requirements and there were also other importers so I don’t understand the obsession with this particular importer. It is not a crime to do business in Kenya.”
Matungu MP Justus Murunga, a member of the committee, also threatened to join forces with those pushing to have the report rejected unless it is amended to revert to its original version after claims that it was doctored.
He said: “I will join forces and shoot down the report if the report will not have been amended to its original form which we passed as a committee.”