Thursday, August 12, 2004

Kenya: new anti-corruption deputy connected to current grain crisis

The man at the centre of a series of maize deals condemned by the parastatals' watchdog has been chosen by MPs as new deputy head of Kenya's Anti-Corruption Commission.

Now Dr Julius Rotich's suitability for the post could be called into question, as a devastating report by the Inspectorate of State Corporations recommends that he should repay from his own pocket nearly Sh4 billion lost by the cereals board during his term as its managing director.

[...] Unknown to the anti-graft group's board of directors which recommended Dr Rotich's appointment, he featured prominently in the report by the Inspectorate of State Corporations over the alleged mismanagement of the grain reserves.

Dr Rotich was appointed head of the cereals board after its previous director, Major (Rtd) Wilson Koitaba, and its general manager were sacked after resisting plans by the Ministry of Agriculture to sell off two million bags of maize from the strategic food reserves.

They had warned that the sale would lead to the board losing a large amount of money.

When they were replaced by Dr Rotich, and with Mr Kiprono Kittony as general manager, the sales went ahead however.

The board lost more than Sh1 billion on the deals [....]

The report by the Inspectorate of State Corporations recommended that besides being surcharged for the money NCPB lost during their management of the parastatal, Dr Rotich and Mr Kittony should, face disciplinary action "for their improprieties.

The report was produced after both Dr Rotich and Mr Kittony were suspended from the cereals board by Agriculture minister Kipruto arap Kirwa in August last year for what the minister termed "serious mismanagement" of the State corporation.

[...] The minister [Agriculture minister Kipruto arap Kirwa] also conceded that had the maize that was sold by the board been kept as part of the strategic grain reserve, the famine would not have been as intense as it is today.1
1: Njoka, Mwenda. (2004, August 12). Revealed: Graft Chief in Sh4bn Maize Sale Scandal. The Nation.