Why ghost staff, huge bills alarm fresh governors
The Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) yesterday put county governments on notice as it launched investigations into the alleged hiring of ghost workers and fraud in the procurement of motor vehicle insurance at the Kisii County government.
In a statement, EACC said it was looking into the alleged theft of money meant for insurance covers for county cars. It added that officials in transport and finance departments at Kisii county government allegedly allocated cash for comprehensive covers but procured third-party covers.
It will also investigate the reported hiring of excess drivers at the devolved unit following revelations that there were 257 drivers against 72 motor vehicles.
“We have taken note of the serious allegations of ghost workers and fraud in the procurement of motor vehicle insurance in Kisii and have taken up the matter. People found culpable will be dealt with in accordance with the law,” said EACC chief executive officer Twalib Mbarak.
He added that EACC would extend the investigations to other counties.
The probe follows claims by newly elected Kisii Governor Simba Arati that the county government had been paying comprehensive insurance for all county cars despite the fact that the majority were under third-party covers, while others had been grounded because of lack of covers.
The commission wants all new governors to share with it all reports on suspected corruption in their counties.
“We hope that they will not fall prey to temptations to run down their counties like some of their predecessors did. The commission expects the governors to strengthen internal controls in public procurement, capital project management, recruitment of staff and payment of pending bills. These are high-risk areas for corrupt activities,” Twalib stated.
Two days before she was sworn in, Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga raised concern over suspected irregular recruitment, warning the public to be wary of dubious employment deals during this transition period.
“As we prepare for the assumption of office later this week, our attention has been drawn to suspicious acts involving irregular recruitment of staff to the county government of Homa Bay ... Any irregular recruitment letters being offered to the public at this time, whether backdated or current, will be considered irregular. The officers masterminding these acts will be compelled to take responsibility,” she said.
In Taita-Taveta, Governor Andrew Mwadime said he would conduct a forensic audit in the human resource department to weed out suspected ghost workers responsible for an inflated wage bill.
“The workers are key to effective service delivery. To streamline the challenges faced, we will establish their numbers, authenticity and suitability in the payroll. We’ll ensure that money needed to sort out workers’ issues is not getting lost,” he said.
Nyandarua Governor Moses Badilisha has already indicated that he will not pay pending bills that he inherited from his predecessor, Francis Kimemia, amounting to Sh800 million. He said the bills do not reflect work done on the ground, and most of the jobs were corruptly awarded.
“I traversed this county during my campaigns but noticed no ongoing or completed jobs reflective of the said amounts. I fail to understand why Nyandarua has the highest amount of pending bills in Central Kenya region, compared with Nyeri and Nakuru counties where one can see some work was done,” he said.
His Embu counterpart, Cecily Mbarire, who took over from Martin Wambora, lamented that pending bills surpass the county’s annual development budget, and maintained that forensic audits would be conducted before making any payment.
A similar position was taken by newly elected Murang’a governor Irungu Kang’ata, who also promised a thorough audit of pending bills (close to Sh2 billion) as he takes over the county’s leadership from Mwangi wa Iria.