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Kenya’s diplomat to Russia under probe for corruption

Thursday, May 16th, 2024 05:15 | By
Peter Mathuki
Kenya’s new ambassador to Russia Peter Mathuki who is now under probe for graft and abuse of office in his previous post of EAC secretary general. PHOTO/Print

Kenya’s new ambassador to Russia Peter Mathuki is facing a litmus test after the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) commenced investigations into allegations of corruption and abuse of office during his tenure at the regional body.

Mathuki is to be investigated over six allegations that include fabricated travel expenses, irregular imprest, irregular recruitment of staff, irregular additional security, victimisation of staff who never danced to his tune and irregular hiring of individuals close to him as consultants.

Investigations into Mathuki are likely to put the credibility of Kenya’s National Assembly into disrepute after it cleared him for the Russian posting despite having been made aware of the existence of the corruption allegations.

Mathuki served as the Secretary General (SG) of the East African Community (EAC) before he was recalled by President William Ruto early this year and appointed the country’s envoy to Russia.

The assembly’s committee on Legal, Rules and Privileges sitting in Arusha says it has been made to move into motion over the matter after one of the members Ayason Kennedy Mukulia (South Sudan) tabled documents alleging that Mathuki was involved in corrupt deals while he was the SG.

Mathuki assumed office as Secretary General of the EAC in April 2021 and had served for three years before he was nominated as Kenya’s ambassador to Russia in early March. He was supposed to serve for a five-year term that was to end in April 2026. “The East African Legislative Assembly’s committee on Legal, Rules and Privileges has been urged to investigate the immediate former Secretary General of the East African Community, Hon Dr Peter Muthuki for corruption and abuse of office during his tenure. The Committee sat in Arusha to consider documents that were presented to the Assembly by Hon Kennedy Mukulia on corruption allegations against the office of the former Secretary General of EAC during the 3rd Meeting, 2nd Session of the 5th Assembly in March, 2024 in Nairobi, Kenya,” a statement by the committee stated.

Mathuki was recalled when the Ministry of EAC, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands and Regional Development Cabinet Secretary Peninah Malonza notified member states of Kenya’s intent to withdraw Mathuki from his prestigious post after his appointment as Kenya’s Ambassador to Russia.

Leadership transition

In the communication Malonza added that President Ruto had nominated Caroline Mwende Mueke as Mathuki’s replacement, emphasising the need for a swift transition in leadership within the EAC Secretariat. “This has been occasioned by his nomination on March 8, 2024, for appointment as the ambassador of Kenya to Moscow, Russia, by the President. He is now to serve the Republic in a different capacity,” stated Malonza in the letter dated March 15, copied to all partner states.

The allegations tabled against Mathuki come after various recommendations by both Heads of State and Council of Ministers sitting on diverse dates recommending investigations into various activities that had occurred at the EAC following audit queries.

But speaking during the 3rd Meeting of the 2nd Session of the 5th Assembly in Nairobi, Mukalia laid on the floor of the House, documents containing damning allegations of gross corruption and abuse of office against Mathuki.

In the submissions before the committee Mukulia accused some of the members in Mathuki’s team of being collaborators who “ensured wanton expenditure of community resources.”

He claims that while allegations he tabled were only symptoms of abuse of office, impunity, and disregard for established procedures and mismanagement of community resources, he urged the Committee not to restrict itself to the symptoms, but to establish the officers whose deliberate efforts, or negligence facilitated these abuses to entrench themselves in the community. “The documents further revealed that the former Secretary General “could not have become a law unto himself unless he was assisted by some staff, persons who were employed by the council to safeguard the interest of the community, but they became willing collaborators of the Secretary General in disregarding the established financial rules and regulations and ensured wanton expenditure of community resources. Those who stood on their way, were either intimidated, redeployed and reassigned different duties or banned from travelling. The Council to the Community became a prominent spectator, leaving the community in the hands of one man.”

In the documents, Mukula tabled six allegations including EAC peace fund facility, fabricated travel expenses, irregular imprests, irregular recruitment of staff, additional security, redeployment of staff and assigning functions to staff as consultants that he wants the assembly to investigate

On the EAC Peace Fund Facility Fund, Mukalia claimed that the Directorate of Finance whose primary duty is to ensure that the expenditure complies with the Financial Rules and Regulations, spent funds whose utilisation was never disclosed to the Assembly as required by the Treaty and Financial Rules and Regulations since 2022.

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