Raila in a fix over au­dit of Cord coun­ties

Odinga has made anti-cor­rup­tion his 2017 elec­tion cen­tre­piece but is de­fend­ing Cord gov­er­nors against Au­di­tor Gen­eral find­ings that they mis­used pub­lic cash

The Star (Kenya) - - Front Page - JAMES MBAKA @onchir­im­baka

Op­po­si­tion chief Raila Odinga is walk­ing a tightrope.

The former Prime Min­is­ter is grap­pling with ac­cu­sa­tions that he at­tacks the Ju­bilee ad­min­is­tra­tion for cor­rup­tion but de­fends Cord gov­er­nors whose spend­ing of pub­lic funds is in ques­tion.

Se­lec­tive con­dem­na­tion and an ap­par­ent dou­ble stan­dard threaten to crash his long po­lit­i­cal ca­reer.

The Au­di­tor Gen­eral’s ex­plo­sive 2014-15 re­port has put on the spot gov­er­nors across the po­lit­i­cal di­vide over mas­sive ir­reg­u­lar spend­ing.

Raila has vig­or­ously sup­ported Cord gov­er­nors while mak­ing state cor­rup­tion the cor­ner­stone and mantra of his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

To main­tain his cred­i­bil­ity and pres­i­den­tial am­bi­tions he must strike a bal­ance be­tween sus­tain­ing his anti-graft mo­men­tum and en­sur­ing friendly gov­er­nors are not de­stroyed.

Raila has been un­der in­tense pres­sure from Ju­bilee hon­chos and church lead­ers to pub­licly con­demn county graft.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Her­man Many­ora yes­ter­day said Raila must tread care­fully so he can con­tinue “light­ing up the cor­rup­tion fire rather than putting it out”.

Many­ora, from the Univer­sity of Nairobi, told the Star Raila is walk­ing a tightrope be­tween build­ing his army to con­sol­i­date his strongholds and tak­ing the anti-graft bat­tle to the next level as a cen­tral cam­paign theme.

“There is an un­for­tu­nate re­al­ity in Kenyan pol­i­tics — the same gen­er­als Raila wants in the war are also en­gaged in graft,” he says.

Gov­er­nors and Raila’s de­fend­ers say not so.

On Wed­nes­day Raila sought to ex­on­er­ate Kil­ifi Gover­nor Ama­son Kingi from an al­leged Sh1 bil­lion heist. The county says Sh51 mil­lion, not Sh1.1 bil­lion, was stolen and wired into ac­counts of five Nairobi-based com­pa­nies on Septem­ber 29.

Raila flew to Kil­ifi where he heaped blame on the In­te­grated Fi­nan­cial Man­age­ment Sys­tem, Ifmis, the Trea­sury’s on­line pay­ment plat­form. He said coun­ties from his strongholds are vic­tims of its loop­holes. He cited Homa Bay, Si­aya, Nairobi and Kakamega.

Paint­ing Kingi as a cor­rup­tion fighter, Raila said, “Gover­nor Kingi and his gov­ern­ment have not sought to spread the blame and pass the buck. They have not sought ex­cuses by say­ing who else is sus­pected of cor­rup­tion where,” Raila told the press in Kil­ifi.

Na­tional As­sem­bly Ma­jor­ity Leader Aden Duale on Wed­nes­day sen­sa­tion­ally claimed Raila was on the pay­roll of coun­ties led by ODM gov­er­nors who fi­nance his trav­els.

He said he had proof of pay­ments, in­clud­ing Sh20 mil­lion for Raila to at­tend last year’s swear­ing-in of Tan­za­nian Pres­i­dent John Magu­fuli.

“I am ready to ap­pear be­fore the Se­nate and Raila Odinga must ap­pear be­fore the Se­nate,” Duale told jour­nal­ists. “I’ll only speak to you if Odinga does.”

Yes­ter­day, three gov­er­nors dis­missed Ju­bilee claims Raila ben­e­fits from mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tions.

Okoth Obado (Mig­ori), Jack Ranguma (Kisumu), Wy­cliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) called Duale’s al­le­ga­tions base­less and cor­rup­tion claims un­founded.

“Raila hav­ing cham­pi­oned de­vo­lu­tion, it is in his best in­ter­est that de­vo­lu­tion suc­ceeds, un­like the Ju­bilee gov­ern­ment that per­sis­tently has frus­trated de­vo­lu­tion,” Ranguma said.

How­ever, yes­ter­day Kakamega Se­na­tor Boni Khal­wale (Ford Kenya) warned Raila there should be no dou­ble stan­dard in fight­ing mas­sive county cor­rup­tion.

He urged Raila to con­demn “ram­pant graft be­ing per­pet­u­ated by the Kakamega county gov­ern­ment with­out minc­ing words” when he meets to­day with ODM del­e­gates from Western Kenya.

“I wel­come Raila in Kakamega and thank him for break­ing his si­lence on cor­rup­tion in Kil­ifi. As I told him, he must break his si­lence on the col­lapse of Bukhungu Sta­dium and the stage­m­an­aged steal­ing of com­put­ers in pro­cure­ment in Kakamega,” Khal­wale said.

Ki­tutu Masaba MP Ti­mothy Bosire yes­ter­day de­fended the Cord leader against claims of shield­ing cor­rupt gov­er­nors.

The ODM na­tional Trea­surer said the pres­i­den­tial duel will fo­cus on Ju­bilee’s fail­ure to tackle run­away graft mu­tat­ing into a “can­cer­ous catas­tro­phe”.

“The elec­tion will be won on the bat­tle­front of cor­rup­tion. I com­mend the Prime Min­is­ter for tak­ing the war on graft to the doorstep of the per­pe­tra­tors,” he said.

He de­nied Raila’s anti-graft war was strate­gi­cally se­lec­tive. “Cor­rup­tion knows not party al­liance. Our vi­sion as Cord is to wipe out cor­rup­tion. The party leader is not favour­ing Cord or Ju­bilee,” he said.

How­ever, Many­ora says Raila, just like Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta, has found him­self in a pre­car­i­ous sit­u­a­tion.

“You find the same peo­ple we ask Raila or Uhuru to deal with firmly are the same peo­ple they need to win the elec­tion,” he said.

/EM­MANUEL WANSON

ODM leader Raila Odinga ad­dresses a press con­fer­ence on Capi­tol Hill, Nairobi, yes­ter­day.

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