Murkomen, often bashed for opulence, now proposes new lifestyle audit law

Kipchumba Murkomen.

Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Stung by public criticism of his social life, Cabinet Secretary for Roads Kipchumba Murkomen has called for the enactment of a law to guide lifestyle audits of public servants.

Mr Murkomen said as it stood, the approach to lifestyle audits was boring and people were making wild allegations against those holding public office, which were gaining currency and there was no channel for them to correct the position.

The CS said the ongoing conversation on lifestyle audit in the country was a good one, but it was time to anchor it in law to avoid mob lynching of public office holders.

“In line with the current National Conversation and to address the concerns that state and public officers are living beyond their means, I propose that Parliament urgently introduces and passes Lifestyle Audit Bill to provide the parameters of auditing the state and public officers and to investigate their living standards to ascertain consistency with their lawful income” Mr Murkomen later wrote on his X account.

“The Bill, should among others, set the maximum cost of personal wear/outfits, cars etc. I submit” Mr Murkomen stated.

As it stands, public servants are supposed to declare their wealth every two years, failure to which they are prosecuted, laws of which were enacted by parliament in which Mr Murkomen served as Elgeyo Marakwet Senator for two years.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) have been using the declaration forms to investigate and prosecute those found to have acquired wealth through dubious means, taking advantage of the positions they hold.

“Instead of looking at Cabinet Secretaries and others and discussing what shoes, shirts and houses they have bought, why don’t we pass a law on audit on those holding public office so that it does not become Kipchumba alone being focused on over what he wears” Mr Murkomen said.

Mr Murkomen has recently come under fire from critics over the watches and shoes he wears, the donations he makes at harambees and the way he travels, which lately has been by helicopter like most cabinet secretaries.

President William Ruto has banned civil servants from attending harambees in the country until guidelines on their contribution are released by the Attorney General Justin Muturi.

Mr Murkomen was speaking at Kapkatet Primary School grounds in Kericho County during the funeral of former Lands Permanent Secretary Joseah Kimutai Sang, the father of former Bureti MP Japeth Kiptergech Mutai.

The CS suggested that a national discourse on development projects and programmes should be held annually so that Kenyans can understand the state of government.

"Cabinet Secretaries and their ministries should be held accountable in an annual forum - a national discussion - where they can account to Kenyans for the performance of their respective ministries," said Mr Murkomen.

He said the forum on the state of ministries should be held annually so that Kenyans can understand how their government has performed and hold those in office to account.

“As the Ministry of Roads and Transport, we have done a fantastic job. For the last two years. I can account for what we have done for the last two years. It should be the tradition in government” Mr Murkomen said.

“It is important for the people of Kenya to understand the status of their country. When President William Ruto took over power (from former President Uhuru Kenyatta on September 13, 2023) there was Sh 165 billion debt for road contractors that had not been paid for two years” Mr Murkomen.

Mr Murkomen said it was unfortunate that many contractors had gone bankrupt as a result of debts owed to them by the government.

Mr Murkomen said the debts were still outstanding and the government was struggling to pay the debts while carrying out other development projects.

"We have literally had to sit down with the contractors to discuss how to deal with the outstanding debt and get them back on site to start the projects they have been working on," Mr Murkomen said.

Mr Murkomen said to demonstrate the performance of his ministry, he was ready to engage Kenyans on a public platform on the rollout of the Kenya Kwanza development agenda.

"I am ready to engage with Kenyans on X and any space available on the issues affecting my ministry and the progress we have made. I am ready to engage even tomorrow so that we stop the misinformation that is being spread."

He said, "I am ready to account for the performance of my ministry in the last two years and I can account for the time from 6am when I come into the office to 10pm when I leave to serve the country".

The CS said those who hold public office are subjected to a lot of criticism, yet they sacrifice a lot for the country so that the people can enjoy the fruits of their taxes.

"Public servants sacrifice a lot for the country at the expense of the family unit. They get up early, come home late (because of their duties). Then they are insulted....When everything is gone, all you have left is your family. The unity of Mr Sang's family is an example to us all," said Mr Murkomen. 

Cabinet Secretary for Energy Davis Chirchir, Senate Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot, Kericho Governor Erick Mutai, Members of Parliament – Mr Kibet Komingoi (Bureti), Nelson Koech (Belgut), Mr Hillary Koskei (Kipkelion West), Mr Brighton Yegon (OKonoin) and Mr Johana Ngeno (Emmurua Dikirr) among others attended the ceremony.