Like many other Kenyans, I have doubted whether the EACC and other anti-corruption law enforcement agencies are up to the task of stopping the mass theft of public money and property in Kenya.
Those doubts have been settled after seeing the useless charges preferred on Moses Kuria Gatundu South M.P who by the evidence provided so far literally cleaned millions of shillings from Gatundu South NG-CDF budget and had part of that money poured into his pockets in this incident investigated by the EACC.
It is ridiculous that there is no charge of theft for Moses Kuria in this case.
Instead, the EACC has recommended that Moses Kuria be charged with “fraudulent acquisition of public property, conflict of interest and dealing in suspect property”
Now let us look at the details of the case and see whether the EACC is setting themselves up for failure and even if they win, opting for charges that will let Kuria go Scott free.
The details emerging from this Moses Kuria case to grab millions of shillings from the CDF budget for their personal benefit are truly frightening in their simplicity. It is like a kid walks into a candy shop, grabs some candy, and walks out cheerfully.
These are not complicated thieves and they make no effort to hide the fact that they are stealing Gatundu South NG-CDF money and it is easy and quick for them.
According to media reports, EACC launched investigations in 2016-17, Gatundu South NG-CDF after they received a budget allocation of Sh66,970,689 out of which Sh15 million was allocated to the Gakunju Memorial Primary School project.
The NG CDF Committee then awarded Sh14,956,320 of the school money to Stamic Agencies presumably to build the school.
After getting the money Stamic Agencies turns around and transfers Shs 9,177,000 to the chairman of the Gatundu NG-CDF committee which awarded him the contract.
After the chairman of the Gatundu NG-CDF gets his cut he deposits Shs.3,700,000 to account number 0660263591736 at Equity Bank, Gatundu Branch belonging to Moses Kuria the M.P of the area, who was also at the committee meeting that awarded the original contract to Stamic Agencies to start the money flow to all parties.
This is what trickle-down theft of public money from Kenyans looks like and it is killing our country.
Here we have a case where Kuria, the Gatundu South M.P sits down with his own NG CDF Committee to allocate funds from a budget of Shs. 66,970,689. The committee comes up with a scheme where the chairman of the CDF Committee gets Shs. 9,177,000 in the budget to do nothing. Give some to Kuria and eat the rest. Those are the instructions with the money from the committee which the same people run.
Moses Kuria gets cash deposited in his personal account and the school which was supposed to be built gets nothing. That is our CDF at work every day in every part of the country where there is an M.P. They grab your money and yell at you about development. Nonsense.
Now Kuria has been charged with “fraudulent acquisition of property.” In this case. Money is not property to be acquired. Money is just money and that is what Moses Kuria stole from his constituents.
How is this a case of “fraudulent acquisition of property”?
And the deposit in Kuria’s account was cash. Here they played like pros by putting loads of cash in Kuria’s account because you don’t want to deposit a cheque that can be traced.
Moses Kuria should be charged with theft. He was involved in the scam from the beginning to the point the money landed in his account. The charge of “fraudulent acquisition of property” makes no sense.
Kenyan M.Ps do this all the time. These are the skills you need to be an M.P in Kenya and some fools keep talking about having a university degree for M.Ps. Who needs a degree to steal money? All you need is a crook’s instincts and acting fast. And of course, you have to be in good company. That is it.
And what charges has the EACC recommended for the chairman of Gatundu South NG-CDF Committee who allocated money for building the school to Stamic Agencies and signed the cheque knowing full well that 3/4 of that money is coming to him and he doesn’t intend to build Gachunju Memorial Primary School?
The EACC has recommended that the chairman of the committee at the centre of this money grab from the budget be charged with one count of conflict of interest and another count of failure to disclose a private interest.
Conflict of interest would occur if there was a legit contractor who got the project and is doing a good job, but somebody did not disclose to the committee of which he is the chairman at the time of awarding the contract, that he will get a big chunk of that money transferred to a company he personally owns.
In this case, the chairman of the committee got money stuffed in his account not to build any school but to spread the wealth and that is how people like Kuria got their cut.
These people had no intentions of building any school and the EACC should have checked if the school for which the money was allocated was ever built at all as part of their investigations because the 2016/17 budget is six years ago.
How is Gakunju Memorial Primary School and the students there doing? Did they get their money?
From these shoddy charges and incomplete investigations, it begs the question how is the EACC doing with their investigations and who prepares charges at the EACC?.
The EACC needs to get its act together and if they need more investigators and judges they should sort that out quickly with the Justice Service Commission and Parliament and of course the executive which allocates the budget for the EACC.
The really dreadful thing about this Moses Kuria case is that this reckless and in-your-face robbery of CDF money we see happens every day in just about all the constituencies in Kenya.
The CDF money even though it comes from the national government and is meant to directly assist in the development of the citizens in every constituency in reality is used exactly the way Moses Kuria and his buddies did with that school budget.
It is death by a thousand cuts for the budget/plans so everybody who matters gets something. In the Gatundu case, the chairman of the NG CDF Committee and the M.P for the area gobbled all the money and it is done. Next.
The CDF is effectively pocket money for M.Ps and their fellow crooks in their CDF committees whom they appoint.
A few M.Ps like Benard Okoth Imran of Kibra constituency in Nairobi are doing amazing things with the CDF money like this school built in the area and so many other things.
Okoth Imran the M.P doing this good job gets the same amount of money as the M.P next door to his constituency and some of those M.Ps cannot build even a toilet in the schools in their constituencies leave alone put an entire tuition block.
On the other hand, some M.Ps who talk loudest about bottoms up development like Moses Kuria are the ones directly stealing the money in the CDF which should be the best example of bottoms up development because each and every constituency gets more or less the same amount every year and it is right at the grassroots.
So if the M.Ps, including those screaming about setting up money for their bottoms up fantasy have been stealing all the money from the CDF bottoms up initiative, does that mean they just want more money allocated for them to steal?
CDF is not enough to fill those pockets.
The CDF was established in 2003 and has been around for almost 20 years. What do we have to show for it for that time?
The Kenya government today spends more than Shs. 14 billion per year from the national budget on CDF and the M.Ps steal and eat all of it.
And when they are caught they claim the state is “blackmailing, threatening and intimidating them” because of their political affiliations.
Their big man has taken that cry all the way to the White House in the US. Hopefully, Joe Biden is going to stop all the harassment of our lovely M.Ps who would never steal a penny from their constituents.
But honestly, until we can get the CDF audited in all the constituencies once every year let us stop talking about development of any kind.
The national government that hands over money to the M.Ps to grow local economies and bring about development at the grassroots level should not abandon their oversight responsibilities to make sure the CDF money is spent for the good of the constituents of each M.P, and not stolen by the M.Ps.
Parliament is not going to provide oversight on CDF because the same thieves grabbing CDF money are the ones talking in parliament, and that is why for all the twenty years since it was established, the only time you will ever hear M.Ps talk about CDF in parliament is when they want the amount allocated increased. We know why.
Our parliament has never at any time discussed how CDF is used and how effective it has been and what problems need to be addressed to make it better. Those are taboo topics in parliament. So the CDF spending is perfect all the time despite all the concerns of the theft going on.
That is money at the door of their constituents who never see a penny used to help them and their M.Ps are not interested in that discussion. As far as the M.P’s are concerned the CDF is their personal money and that is the end of the story.
Until the national government allocates enough resources to have independent audits in every single CDF all over Kenya and take action on misuse CDF will remain pocket money for M.Ps and they will double it soon.
Right now the M.Ps are trying to set up other pots of money that they will control and deep their fingers into as soon as they are set up. They are working on those new pots of money now in the campaign trail. Watch out. They are going to call them development money.
Kenyans know where that ends. That is where they want to clean up first on August 9, 2022. It could be done.
Adongo Ogony is a Human Rights Activist and a Writer who lives in Toronto, Canada