Anthony Mwangi and Mercy Mwai
It is now straight from the horse’s mouth! Hardly a month since accusations of Members of Parliament pandering to the whims of cartels to undermine House business surfaced, at least 15 legislators yesterday alleged money changed hands to kill a sugar probe report.
And in what corroborates a People Daily expose—House of Bribes— detailing cartel-like behaviour by some House committee members, the legislators from the western Kenya sugar belt, called on the Director of Public Investigations(DPP) to order for probe Parliament which they claim is riddled with corruption and infested by bribe-taking MPs.
Addressing the press minutes after a report on the importation of toxic sugar was rejected, the MPs said cartels in the sugar industry literary “bought” members to vote against the report.
In a bold move at a press conference at Parliament Buildings, Justus Murunga (Matungu) last evening threw the dice claiming some of his colleagues had received as little as Sh10,000 to shoot down the report.
He was accompanied at the press conference by colleagues Ayub Savula (Lugari), Geoffrey Osotsi (Nominated) Tindi Mwale (Butere), Onyango K’Oyoo (Muhoroni), Bernard Shinali (Shinyalu), Godfrey Omuse (Teso South), Catherine Wambilianga (Bungoma Women’s Rep), Simba Arati (Dagoretti North) and Joyce Kamene(Machakos Women’s Rep).
“It is a high time the DPP comes in to Parliament and launch investigations, what we witnessed today is shameful, worrying and a dangerous trend to this country,” said Savula, adding that the “Handshake” has since lost its meaning to become the “stomach shake.”
He was referring to the Handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and National Super Alliance (Nasa) leader Raila Odinga on March 9 that ushered in the Building Bridges initiative to ensure peace and stability in the country after the hotly contested 2017 presidential poll.
On his part, Arati claimed to have “literally witnessed MPs being compromised to vote against the report”.
Mwale termed the bribe-taking scenes in the precincts of Parliament not only shameful but a concern to the institution tasked to make laws.
The report by the joint committee of the House co-chaired by Kieni MP Kanini Kega and Mohammed Haji indicted Cabinet secretaries Henry Rotich (Treasury) and Adan Mohammed previously Trade and (now East African Community) as well as former agriculture CS Willy Bett. But they can now breathe a sigh of relief after MPs yesterday shot down the report.
Two weeks ago, angry MPs sought a ruling from Speaker Justin Muturi on what they called misconduct by People Daily journalists, Anthony Mwangi and Dinah Ondari following the graft expose.
Muturi directed the Powers and Privileges Committee to hear the matter and report back to Parliament. However, he made it clear the scribes were not being summoned but were invited to assist the institution of Parliament to improve its status. “We are treating the two journalists as whistle blowers who will help Parliament to improve standing,” he said at a Media Council of Kenya forum.
Yesterday, the MPs shot down the report for targeting “innocent” Cabinet secretaries and failing to tell Kenyans whether the current sugar in the market has mercury or not.
Attempts by Homa Bay Women’s Rep Gladys Wanga to introduce new amendments for Rotich, Adan and Bett to be held responsible for the illegal importation of sugar flopped.
The MPs rejected all the amendments saying they are “malicious, ill-advised and illegal”.
Majority Chief Whip Benjamin Washiali supported the amendments saying the House should pass them to save farmers from their long suffering.
“I want to request MPs to sympathise with colleagues representing sugar farmers. Today, as we speak, farmers are doing literally nothing. Farmers have not been paid,” he said.
But Leader of Minority John Mbadi and Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya objected to the amendments saying there was no evidence in the report showing that the three erred.
Leader of Majority Aden Duale claimed Mohammed is being indicted for the wrongs of Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs), a State body that can sue and be sued while Rotich is being indicted for acting on behalf of the President.
“This report is trying to impeach CSs through the back door. It is unacceptable,” he said.
Ruaraka MP Tom Kajwang’ claimed the report was initially designed to fail because the members failed to carry out adequate investigations.