What you need to know:
- Unity between Kibaki and Raila to be severely tested when a censure motion against the minister for Industrialisation comes up
- No-confidence motion in Industrialisation minister Henry Kosgey over importation of cars in breach of rules coming up
The unity between coalition partners Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga will be severely tested by a no-confidence motion on Industrialisation minister Henry Kosgey expected to be brought up in Parliament as early as this week.
Mr Kosgey is a key ally of Mr Odinga and is the chairman of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).
Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni, from the President’s PNU party, wants the House to force out Mr Kosgey for his alleged role in the importation of dozens of cars in breach of rules which forbid the importation of vehicles that are more than eight years old.
According to a copy of the notice of motion seen by the Sunday Nation, Mr Kioni says Mr Kosgey allowed the same individuals to exploit a loophole in the law to irregularly import hundreds of cars worth millions of shillings.
“Considering (that) according to provisions of the Standards Act (Cap 496) the minister may only exempt any import from this order on the advice of the Standards Council and after he is satisfied that it is in the national interest to do so, this House censures the minister and resolves that it has no confidence in him and demands that he resigns as minister of the Government of the Republic of Kenya with immediate effect.”
Mr Kosgey admitted in Parliament on Thursday that he had cleared the importation of an old vehicle for his bodyguard’s friend.
The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating additional claims that Mr Kosgey was responsible for the importation of hundreds of other vehicles.
But the censure motion is likely to turn into a political battle that runs the risk of dividing the coalition and reigniting old cross-party animosities.
Mr Odinga is especially under pressure because it is his key allies -- including Mr Kosgey, Water minister Charity Ngilu, Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Immigration minister Otieno Kajwang’ -- who have come under scrutiny over dealings in their ministries.
The fact that the censure motion has been filed by a close ally of Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta, who has lately enjoyed warm relations with Mr Odinga’s rival in ODM William Ruto, will complicate matters even further.
The Sunday Nation understands the motion was filed shortly after Mr Kosgey told the House he had allowed importation of an old vehicle belonging to a friend of his bodyguard. Mr Kosgey said he had given in to his bodyguard’s persistent requests to help the friend import an old car.
But the minister was adamant that he would not resign or step aside.
“The question of my stepping aside does not arise. I am not ready to step aside. My visit to KACC (headquarters) is now public knowledge,’’ stated Mr Kosgey, saying he had no personal interest in the matter.
He was responding to questions by Mr Kioni and Ikolomani MP Boni Khalwale on whether it was right for him to continue being in office as investigations continued.
The minister’s suspended bodyguard, Mr John Kipng’etich, now faces a criminal charge for soliciting a Sh30,000 bribe to help the importer get an exemption letter.
In addition to the vehicle importation controversy, Mr Kosgey has been in the news over claims of nepotism in the recruitment of the Kenya Bureau of Standards boss, Mr Joseph Koskey.
In his motion, Mr Kioni wants the House to declare it has no confidence in Mr Kosgey -- the ODM national chairman -- and consequently force his immediate resignation.
Mrs Ngilu, who has been accused by her former assistant Mwangi Kiunjuri of corruption, is also under pressure from sections of MPs to step aside.
A group of MPs comprised mainly of back-benchers and assistant ministers have been demanding that Mr Kosgey and other Cabinet ministers under “active” investigation by KACC and other agencies resign to allow for a probe.
Speedy and unimpeded
Some 26 MPs from across the political divide, among them Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim, have demanded that such ministers "resign to pave the way for investigations”. They have also demanded that the President drops any minister who does not volunteer to step aside.
“The fight against corruption follows directly from Chapter 6 on Integrity and Leadership and must be stepped up,” they said in a joint statement.
However, indications are that divisions along party lines may make it an uphill task in bringing down Mr Kosgey and even Mrs Ngilu.
After Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetang’ula was forced out by investigations of a House committee, some MPs have been advising caution, asking colleagues to rise above the desire to hound each other out of office.
There are also indications that some MPs have taken that position on realising that the next targets could just be members of their parties.
Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga have put up a united front in the last few months, a fact credited for the relative smooth running of government in recent times.
But while Mr Kibaki has been forceful in his calls for corrupt public officials to be sacked, Mr Odinga has taken a more cautious line.
The pair called for greater accountability during the Cabinet retreat at the Coast which ended yesterday, but that position will now face the ultimate test when Mr Kioni’s motion is debated in the House.