Resignations follow Kenya embassy land deal

29 October 2010

29 October 2010 | Angeline Albert

A damning report into the purchase of land for the Kenyan embassy in Tokyo has led to the resignation of two politicians and the launch of an anti-corruption investigation.

Kenya’s foreign minister Moses Wetangula resigned following allegations in a parliamentary committee report over the procurement of the land. His decision came two hours after Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki accepted the resignation of foreign affairs permanent secretary, Thuita Mwangi, also criticised in the report.

The government of Kenya lost more than £8 million (KES. 1.1 billion) on land deals in Tokyo, which proved unsuitable for the embassy for which it was planned, the report said. It alleged that Wetangula disregarded advice from his own office that the land in Tokyo was over-valued and purchased the plot above its market value.

The report, out this month, recommended the two politicians and any other officials involved in the procurement be sacked. It also urged the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC) to investigate the Tokyo transaction.

The report said no valuation of the plot by an independent, reputable, local firm was commissioned, and that the purchased property was unsuitable and should be disposed of. It also said Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected a suitable plot offered by the government of Japan.

The committee also alleged that the ministry’s land deals in Belgium, Nigeria, Egypt and Pakistan were poor value for money and recommended they too be investigated by the KACC.

During a debate of the report this week, Wetangula denied any wrongdoing and told parliament: “The report also alleges that the negotiations for the property started before commencement of normal procurement procedures. This is not true. Negotiations, took place in May 2009, long after the commencement of the procurement procedures.”

Re-stating the government’s commitment to accountability in the use of taxpayers’ funds, President Kibaki said that the government would deal firmly with corruption. “All relevant government departments have been instructed to speedily conclude any pending cases [investigating] corruption,” he said.

The report can be viewed in sections here

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