In three successive administrations, the Kiambu County government continues to be stalked by the ghost of corruption with the latest being brazen theft of imprests, stipends and manipulation of procurement rules to fleece public coffers.
Embattled governor James Nyoro bares the responsibility of overseeing blatant theft orchestrated by his kitchen cabinet and technocrats after similar corruption schemes saw his predecessor Ferdinand Waititu impeached before his tenure lapsed.
Waititu was controversially elected in 2017 succeeding pioneer governor William Kabogo.
The office of the Auditor General Nancy Gathungu blew the lid to well-guarded corruption schemes involving fictitious imprest claims, exaggerated purchase of airtime worth Sh20million, irregular procurement and doubtful payments of conference facilities, trainings and double payments of allowances to County Executive Committee Members (CECMs) and Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) by both the Assembly and the executive.
In a glaring admission of budding theft patterns within the county administrative structures, Finance, ICT and Economic Planning CEC Wilson Kang’ethe inadvertently confirmed the rot through a memo to all accounting officers of confirmed manipulation and misappropriation public funds in what he attributed to “weak controls in imprest management” vide correspondence REF: KCG/FEP/79/01/ VOL I (82) dated January 14, 2021.
In what points to a possibly entrenched and guarded corruption schemes, through a separate memo REF: KCG/FEP/13/03/VOL I (20) addressed to all accounting officers, Kang’ethe flouted county government circular on the maximum costs of mobile phones and the officers’ cadre entitled to such privileges.
“It has been noted that the above regulations are not being adhered to. The county officers have been taking imprests on behalf of others in contravention of the regulations which requires each officer to take his/her imprest. This gives a room for manipulation and misappropriation for imprests.
“Further, officers in your department have been issued with multiple imprests again contravening the above sections. “ Kang’ethe said.
The Public Finance Management Act 2012 and the Public Finance Management Act (County government regulations) section 91 and 95 stipulates guidelines on management and control of temporary and standing imprests.
Gathangu’s office has further flagged irregular expenditure of Sh62 million paid to MCAs and county assembly staff to finance workshops and retreats in Mombasa and Naivasha.
This, the report said it’s illegal for the executive to fund MCAs who are supposed to oversight on the county because the County Assembly has its own budget which should have been used to cater for such expenses as per the finance management regulations.
Further, the report revealed irregular purchase of mobile phones at a cost of between Sh84, 000 and Sh198, 000 each, claims of dubious allowances for county staff and stipends for attendees during public holidays and irregular allowances for Ward Reps, where over Sh100 million could have been lost, are threatening to dent Kiambu County administration.
According to the confidential report dated December 30, 2020 authored by W.K. Kamula on behalf of Nancy Gathungu, the county bought eleven phones at a cost of Sh1.69 million, an amount the auditors said was above the Sh80, 000 for each phone as recommended by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC).
The phones include, two Iphone XS (max) at a cost of Sh198, 440 each, an Iphone X at a cost of Sh198, 000, and Ipad at a cost of Sh170, 689, two Samsung S10 at a cost of Sh146, 160 each, a Samsung Galaxy note 8 and a Ipad pro at a cost of Sh145, 000 each, and a Samsung Galaxy S 4 at a cost of Sh84, 100.
“The list of whom the mobile phones were issued to was not provided for audit. The stores records; S3, S11, S12 and S13 for the phones were not provided for audit. Therefore, it could not be confirmed whether the mobile phones were recorded/entered in the stores,” reads part of the report.
The President Uhuru Kenyatta’s home county will also have to defend itself alleged unsupported expenditure and unprocedural procurement of airtime and data bundles and according to the auditors, the authenticity of cash purchases of airtime for the Sh19,528,653that was incurred could not be confirmed.
Further, a requisition of Sh18.3 million shillings was made and allegedly issued to various officers as imprests advanced to facilitate various events in the county but auditors established that some of the people who has been listed as attendees did not attend.
During the audit, the report says that a list of participants had the names, cell phone numbers and signatures of the participants.
“However, a random selection of the cell phone numbers and subsequent calls to the cell phone number, the recipients of the calls confirmed non-attendance of the events,” said the report, noting that the risk was “loss of funds through embezzlement”.
During the during the Jamhuri Day celebrations held on December 12, 2019, and imprest of Sh1.152 million was allegedly advanced to one Simon Nganga Nyaga in order to buy lunch for the people at a cost of Sh1,500 stipend each.
“However, through a random call of the cellphone numbers in the list, the recipients of the calls denied ever attending the Jamhuri day celebration. Further, the recipient of the calls also denied ever receiving payments from the county,” the report indicated.
Another Sh952, 000 was advanced to during the Mashujaa Day celebrations but a random contact to the said beneficiaries revealed otherwise after auditors established that none of them attended the event, suggesting that the cash may have been pocketed by some county officials.
The auditor general’s office is also probing payments of Sh10 million-allowance payment to MCAs who attended a health capacity building workshop in Mombasa between 5th and 11th January 2020 when Nyoro was the acting governor after his predecessor was barred from accessing office and impeached by the County Assembly.
Approximately Sh11 million was paid for a workshop in Mombasa in October 2019, Sh9 million for a budgetary meeting, Sh3 million or a Naivasha seminar, with auditors raising concerns that MCAs may have never attended the events o received double payments-from the executive and assembly.
“The MCA’s might have been paid allowances for meetings that were not existent…allowances paid were unbudgeted for and unjustified…double payment of allowances may happen as the MCA’s might also have been paid from the county assembly budget,” notes the report.