Raila Odinga’s ODM has made an about-turn over the probe into the alleged corruption at Kemsa over Covid-19 funds and resources.
In a statement on Monday ostensibly to set the record straight on the party’s position on claims of graft at Kemsa, Raila said his party’s record of commitment to fighting corruption and safeguarding public resources is well documented.
“ODM never did and never will tolerate corruption in all its manifestations, no matter who is involved,” Raila said.
He added that ODM’s position in the graft allegations in Covid-19 related resources is for the Jubilee government to conduct a thorough and urgent audit of all the funds put at the disposal of various state agencies, departments and ministries to fight the pandemic.
This, he said, is with a view to establishing the facts on usage of such resources.
On Saturday, ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna issued a statement to defend Kemsa against graft allegations, saying higher prices for Covid-19 equipment alone cannot be a basis for doubting the probity of those who undertook the procurement.
Sifuna went ahead to attack Deputy President William Ruto, claiming that he went public with ‘the juvenile and improper statement that ‘at least now nobody will blame me for stealing Covid-19 funds’”.
“We have pointed out before that the DP’s recalcitrance and lack of political emotional intelligence are a hindrance to the smooth running of government. At a time when he should help the President crack the whip on corruption cartels within government, he holds campaigns at his residence while cheering wrong doing within government, in the mistaken belief that any perceived failures by H.E. the President will raise his (DP’s) dwindling profile.”
Sifuna’s statement caused uproar from Kenyans, to which Raila’s ally and Siaya Senator James Orengo said they were justified to express fury and rage.
“I admire Ramaphosa’s understanding of the anger outrage & disillusionment in SA regarding govt. response to corruption about COVID19 pandemic. Kenyans are justified to express fury and rage as COVID19 crimes border on genocide. NYS MES Dams & COVID19 cannot be our DNA as a people,” he said on Twitter.
Senior Counsel Ahmednassir Abdullahi said the statement on the Kemsa heist proved that the “robbery was a joint effort or collaboration between my beloved Jubilee and ODM. First joint exercise since the handshake.”
Political analyst Prof Edin Kisiangani said the statement doubting the veracity of looting of Covid-19 funds and equipment at Kemsa and at the Ministry of Health was a perfect example on how to construct a persuasive discourse in the field of political and moral sanitisation.
Adding his voice on the development, Lawyer Waikwa Wanyoike said it was time to stop ODM from getting public money from political parties fund.
“The fund was established to make multi-partism robust. The public pays ODM to be vigilant against Jubilee’s illegalities. Not to be Jubilee’s 2nd Cyrus Oguna [government spokesperson]”, Wanyoike said.
In a rejoinder on Sunday, the DP blasted ODM for supposedly taking advantage of the handshake between Raila and President Uhuru Kenyatta for “personal gain” and to defend corrupt activities at the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency.
“The pretentious (former) Opposition, now turned Lords of corruption, attempted defence of the Covid19 grand larceny is NOT shocking. It confirms the worst of Kenyans’ fears that their side of handshake was never interested in the people’s good but opportunity to loot. What a shame,” Ruto tweeted.
The pretentious (former)Opposition,now turned Lords of corruption, attempted defence of the Covid19 grand larceny is NOT shocking. It confirms the worst of Kenyan's fears that their side of handshake was never interested in the people's good but opportunity to loot.What a shame.
— William Samoei Ruto, PhD (@WilliamsRuto) August 23, 2020
But Raila said ODM has always advocated systematic approach to fighting corruption.
“In the Grand Coalition Government, the party successfully pushed for the systematic audit of the sale of Grand Regency Hotel and attendant consequences. ODM pushed for the systematic audit of Anglo Leasing Scandal by Kroll and Associates, leading to appropriate legal action on culprits,” he said.
He went on to list other scams such as the Maize Scandal, Arror and Kimwarer dams, the National Youth Service scam.
He said now, none of the people taking to the podium or social media to condemn theft of funds has any evidence.
“The so-called condemnations of theft could well be part of a cover-up,” he said.
“Our experience in this country is that the best way to bungle and cover up corruption investigations is to have many different voices each with its own version of truth. We saw that noise with regard to Arror and Kimwarer dams and the NYS scams, among others,” he added.
He noted that it is with this background that ODM wants a speedy professional audit that can lead to prosecution instead of a political shouting match that creates more confusion and end up clouding the issues and even covering up for the thieves.
“ODM will not defend anyone, including members or relatives and friends of its officials, found to have benefitted from funds and other resources meant for fighting the coronavirus pandemic.”
Activist Ndungu Wainaina, Executive Director of International Center for Policy and Conflict, said the statement by ODM has historical context about the party leadership defending corrupt authoritarian in it’s quest for power.
“When Raila Odinga and his NDP started cooperation with despot [Daniel ] Moi in 1998 and later merger, he did not only become de facto defender and propper of Moi-KANU authoritarianism but also its enforcer. He unleashed his political supporters on anyone challenging Moi dictatorial rule,” Wainaina said.