Carry your own cross, ministers tell Awori

VP Awori

VP Awori

Beleaguered Vice-President Moody Awori was last night looking increasingly isolated as calls mounted for his resignation over the Anglo Leasing scandal – and five of his Cabinet colleagues distanced themselves from his battlefor political survival.

The five said his conscience should guide him on his next course of action over allegations that he misled Parliament over the Sh2.7 billion security passports scandal, and was then complicit in attempts to conceal the extent of high-level corruption.

Mr Awori has steadfastly refused to resign, saying he was not guilty of any wrongdoing.

However, the ministers were confident he would not use his position to interfere with investigations into allegations against him.

But one of them, Prof Kivutha Kibwana, the Environment minister, added: "For those who do not resign, we cannot force them to resign. But there are other machineries which will ensure they are investigated properly." 

However, should investigations find him culpable, the VP would have to step aside.

"Even if you are close to the President, once investigations reveal that you indeed took part in corruption, you will have to go," Prof Kibwana said at Parliament Buildings.

And effectively saying the VP should be left to carry his own cross, Prof Kibwana added that Mr Awori's "conscience should guide him on his next course of action". 

But the five ministers also defended President Kibaki's corruption purge so far, which has seen one minister dropped from the Cabinet and three others resign; two over Anglo Leasing and one because of the Goldenberg affair.

They warned the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leaders critical of the Government's handling of corruption scandals that they too would soon be forced to explain graft allegations against them.

The five – Prof Kibwana (Environment), Mr Maina Kamanda (Sports), Mr Rashid Shakombo (National Heritage), Mr Abdi Mohammed (Regional Development) and Mr Gideon Konchella (Immigration) – accused the ODM leadership of using the snowballing issue of government corruption to wage their political battles.

Some of the Cabinet ministers and MPs who attended a press conference to defend the Government from allegations of coruption, at Parliament Buildings in Nairobi, yesterday.
Photo by Stephen Mudiari

The chief critics of corruption, the ministers said, were architects of some of the scandals facing the Narc Government in addition to what they called "their obvious roles" in the Goldenberg and illegal land allocation swindles.

"There is sufficient documented evidence that some of the politicians shouting at the top of their voices are indeed shenanigans of past looting, which has caused the country untold suffering," Prof Kibwana said.

The Government was lining up charges against prominent people adversely mentioned in the Goldenberg affair, the Ndung'u land report, for tax evasion, stashing money abroad and the Akiwumi report on land clashes.

The ministers were accompanied by assistant ministers Danson Mungatana (Foreign Affairs), Stephen Tarus (Local Government), David Mwenje (Cooperatives) and MPs Jimmy Angwenyi, David Nakitare, Alfred Nderitu and Patrick Muiruri.

Mr Mungatana said: "There has been a lot of rejoicing in the opposition in relation to corruption. They should now be prepared because they are next in line."

Mr Kamanda said attempts by the ODM leadership to "paint the Narc Government in a bad light" would not succeed and he warned that some of the movement's presidential hopefuls could be facing charges of graft.

"We should look at all cases of corruption so that we ensure Kenyans are not led by tainted leaders," he said.

Mr Mohammed added: "Let those in the Orange Democratic Movement and Kanu stop celebrating the resignation of other. The light is shining upon them now and the Government will not spare anyone involved in either scandal." 

Unlike the Kanu regime, they said President Kibaki was determined to end the malaise of corruption in the country.

And speaking separately at Eastleigh Social Hall yesterday, Mr Konchella said the President was in full control of the campaign against corruption and nobody will be spared.

"The Government is committed to putting an end to corruption in all circles. There are those ministers who have resigned and there are those named but are still working. We are a democratic country and those named either in Anglo Leasing or Goldenberg will not be spared." he said.

In a statement entitled In support of President Mwai Kibaki's decisive action on corruption, the four ministers speaking at Parliament Buildings praised the decision by former ministers George Saitoti (Education), Kiraitu Murungi (Energy) and David Mwiraria (Finance) to step aside to pave way for investigations.

Prof Saitoti resigned after being named in the report of the Goldenberg Commission, which looked into the loss of Sh20 billion of public money through a gold exports swindle, while he was Finance minister.

Mr Murungi and Mr Mwiraria quit after they were named in connection with Anglo Leasing type deals, which saw billions of shillings of public money paid to non-existent companies for work that was neither completed nor in some cases even started.

The ministers spoke out after Justice minister Martha Karua warned former ministers in the Narc Cabinet and the beneficiaries of corrupt deals in the Kanu regime to steer clear of ongoing graft investigations.

"Let nobody under investigation be persuaded to corrupt investigators, because one person is not going to stop the inter-departmental probe team from getting you... you better face the investigators because this merry-go-round will not succeed," she said.

Separately, Energy assistant minister Mwangi Kiunjuri asked the Government to set up a special anti-corruption court to speed up graft cases.

Such courts, he said, should not be subject to Constitutional references which some people had used to delay charges against them.

"This is a river and the river is flowing and it will carry most of us. But the greatest casualties will be those shouting loudest about corruption," he said.

Mr Awori, who spent part of the day at State House, Nairobi, donating money from his staff for famine relief, was not available for comment last night.

However his clearly stated position previously has been that anyone – including his Cabinet colleagues – were free to comment on any aspect of the corruption scandals bedevilling the Government, but that he would make no response other than to restate his innocence and repeat that there were no grounds for his resignation.