For the past three weeks, the Public Accounts Committee has been in the limelight, following allegations raised against its members and Chairman Ababu Namwamba.
Some of the members decided to pass a vote of no-confidence in their chairman on grounds that PAC reports were often altered at the behest of people being investigated and that he was high-handed ,with a habit of leaking reports to the media before approval.
On February 26, members met to debate the motion of no-confidence, which became a theatre of name-calling, mind games emotional outbursts and counter accusations of high-level bribery. Here are the excerpts from the meeting held at Parliament Buildings.
Ababu: Mheshimiwa (honourable) Abass, you do not have to interrupt me. Let me finish.
Abass: You have spoken these things. You remember even the last time when we gave you….
Ababu: Mheshimiwa Abass, this is a special hearing on this matter and I am on record.
Abass: You are not the chairperson.
Ababu: You are not the chairman either.
Abass: So, why are you telling me not to talk?
Ababu: Because I have the floor.
Abass: Do not assume that you are the chairperson.
Ababu: I have the floor.
Director of Committee Services (Ms Abonyo): Sorry, honourable member (Abass), I have not given you the floor.
Mohamed Abass: Yes, even before you give me the floor, he (Ababu) starts shouting at me. What is that?
Abonyo: What is your point of order? I thought we had reached a point where we were giving the chairperson a chance to respond. Why can’t we give the chairperson a chance to respond?
Ababu: Mheshimiwa Abass, you cannot accuse me and then tell me that we should move because we do not have time.
Abass: What I had an issue with is what he claimed. He says that in the last sitting of this committee, that matter was dropped. That is not true, it was never dropped.
Abonyo: But the position is if it was not substantiated then how do you ….
Member: It was never dropped. We were there. We were all there and finished that meeting.
Ababu: I think Honourable Nyamweya chaired the session and he will be in a position to comment on that. For the record of the House, I plead with you.
Abass: We were all seated there. You know you cannot change facts that have happened. This is a problem with this committee.
Abonyo: Abass, just for clarification. I have minutes of the committee before me here and it is indicated. Let me read:
“MINUTE 619/2015: In-house meeting under Item 2: Bribery allegations.
‘The committee declared admissible allegations that were not substantiated as guided by Standing Order 91. The allegations were therefore dropped.’
This is what is minuted.”
Abass: Exactly just like they changed the report of this committee. That is what our chair if fond of doing. Members are here. We never agreed to drop that allegation. It is not true. It is not for us.
Ababu: May I proceed?
Joel Onyancha: Outside the committee I have listened to quite a number of members and I know that these members are not with you. If I were you, I would have resigned yesterday because of your own name and image even if you were right or wrong.
Nyamweya: If there are issues regarding the chair, we need to talk to him and show where he has gone wrong as a person. That way, we will be able to work together. To me, the issues that have been raised here are mere allegations.
Some of them are personal opinion. The allegation of high handedness is an opinion, which one is entitled to make. We need facts so that we are able to move.
Junet Mohammed: If I move to (4) high-handedness and making unilateral decisions, it is good if we can pinpoint one. You know the character of someone and the way God has created someone cannot be changed.
Kama Mungu alikuumba na kichwa kubwa, kichwa hicho ni chako (If God gave you a bid head, it is your head) We cannot deform or change you. But at least one unilateral decision that the chairman has made that made the committees angry and it was against the wishes of the committee …
Peter Edick Omondi Anyanga: Personally, I have been in all those meetings. I want my colleagues to listen to me very carefully. I signed this document before knowing the content.
I have gone through the body of this particular document and tried to reflect on what we discussed here last time, but things are not adding up for me … This document was brought to me minus the content and then the content was drafted after the signing.
Anyanga: On a point of order, madam presiding chair.
Abonyo: Order! Order, please!
Anyanga: On a point order, madam presiding chair. Please, my name has been mentioned.
Member: You are at the heart of this matter, Anyanga. You are the instigator of this issue. You are the source of the bribe. You are the receiver of the bribe. Now you are getting worked up! On this one, you will sink with your crime. You will sink with your evils!
Abonyo: Order! Order, honourable members!
Anyanga: Madam presiding chair, listen to me. About two days ago, on February 24, Ababu wanted me to defend him. He gave me this particular document, on which he has written in his own handwriting, for me to defend him.
Chairman: Of what relevance is that document?
Anyanga: Listen! I just want him to listen to me, madam presiding chairlady. I refused to defend him. He then decided to bring in (Samuel) Arama. On that day, he called me at night and promised to bring Arama back to the committee. Arama had to tell you some nasty things about all these members. We want the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Committee to investigate this matter.
Committee vice-chairperson Cecily Mbarire: Presiding chair, allow me to finish my response, I am on the floor.
I do not see how, if a certain report is supposed to come out in a particular way because somebody is interested, you work with four members in a committee of more than 20 people. How would I, as Mbarire alone, help in a committee of 26 members? Therefore, I want whoever told you to come here. I also want Mr Mutea Iringo, the PS, to come here and confirm that he met me, because I have never been at any forum where M’Kareke with Bett and Anyanga, of all people, and that Arama man, were.
Chairman: Madam chair, I want to clarify two things.
Member: Madam presiding chair, let Namwamba proceed. After he finishes his submission, put the question to vote.
Ababu: Presiding chair, I want to clarify two things.
Member: If we continue this way, we will never vote today!
Ababu: You will vote.
Abonyo: Hon. members, the chairman is just concluding his submission.
Member: He will never conclude! He wants to speak until our sitting time comes to an end.
Mbarire: Instead of me naming him… I do not like dragging people’s names. The chairman told me that he is going to drag everybody in this thing. Little did I know that I was being set up on a matter. So, maybe, it may as well have been that I did not bring this. But even if I did, you people would be talking in whispers: “Uliona Ripoti ya Mbarire?” (Did you see Mbarire’s report?) That is why I brought it here. I thought that even if I keep it to myself then I would still be mentioned. Let me state the circumstances that apparently that guy claims. He says that when he was contributing on the floor of the House and he was busy bashing that issue of Office of the President, after he finished talking he was called and asked: “Why are you bashing me na nilitumana kitu kwenu mletewe na chairman wenu? (I sent your chairman to bring you ‘something’) The amount of money was mentioned. This guy later took this report and informed somebody else.
Ababu : Mheshimiwa Onyancha, you raised a question which I believe is fundamental. When this matter first came up, those of you who listened to me keenly, I told you this: “Let us not sacrifice each other on account of rumours.” I told you that even me I have information. I hear things. If you look at the record, you will hear me say that. I also have information, but I am not in the habit of dropping around people’s names on matters which I cannot substantiate. Even this matter of who meeting who and picking money, until I got a participant on record…
Onyancha: Whom you coached!
Ababu: There is nothing like coaching.
Ababu: Let me conclude by saying that, honourable members, we have such a fantastic opportunity… I really thank Hon. Cecily for finally…. In fact, mheshimiwa Cecily, if you had shared this piece of information, I believe this whole debate would have been different. By the way, I have always insisted that part of the matter at hand here are intrigues on my side of the political divide.
I want to conclude by saying that as a committee you have a choice and opportunity to either help rescue the integrity of this committee or send it into the drain.
Members: We cannot rescue. You have mentioned the names!
Mbarire: Let us be investigated. If you are not happy with my opinion, that is too bad. I feel this is too much. We have worked very well together. I repeat, that thing has come from one person and you can see what it has done. See where it has gotten us? “Hizi vita muko nazo kwenu, kwenu hiyo chama yako (The intrigues going on in your party).”
Ababu: Honestly chair, this is a House of records. I am willing to cease being your chairman. You are at liberty to elect another chairman even now. In fact I can see. But, honestly, put yourself in my shoes. Remove me over trips, high-handedness but honestly to have my name dragged like this because someone told someone, are you being fair to me?
Anyanga: Hon. Ababu, we have heard your stories let us…
Ababu: No. Please, Mheshimiwa Nyanga, is this fair? I am being crucified on a rumour that you cannot even get the source?
(Voting in process)
The results of the voting are as follows:
13 Votes for “Yes”
9 Votes for “No”.
The requirement for passing the vote is by majority of the membership of the committee which stands at 26 members. That should be 14 members. Therefore, the Motion is defeated.
Member: Now the committee (sitting) is over, we can go for a retreat.
Mbadi: There is no retreat! We bring the Kenya Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
Abonyo: It is important to make it clear that the majority of the membership of the committee; just like …..
Mbarire: Excuse me. Let me say something. I am ready – I repeat – I am ready for investigations to be initiated. But I want to end by saying this: If people have felt that…
Mbadi: You are talking as who? We have finished our business and we want to go home. The meeting is over.
Mbarire: I wanted to propose that we need a retreat.
Mbadi: You are the one who has suggested the party, by the way. If you voted “Yes”, we were finishing. Thank you very much.
Mbarire: Ukiongea hivyo, (When you talk like that) you make me look like a sell-out.
Mbadi: We have done the correct thing as a committee.
Ms. Abonyo: Okay. As committee moving forward, we do not just walk out like that. We need to adjourn the meeting formally.
Member: Okay sit down. The Director of Committees has said.
Mbadi: You know hii ni kuponea chupu chupu! Kura moja tu! (This is escaping by a whisker! Just one vote!) You Know for you to bring it back, it will be six months from now.
Member: The Committee has to be disbanded.
Abonyo: As it is now, the status quo remains. Therefore, moving forward, I heard some issue being raised about the retreat.
The directorate is ready to facilitate that, if it is possible. Reconciliation…
Mbadi: You are now going out order.
Abonyo: No, no!
Mbadi: You are now out of order. Adjourn the meeting. If there is any other business to be transacted; we have a Chairman. Yes.
Abonyo: Yes! But that was an issue that was raised and I wanted to comment on it. But hon. Mbadi, you are out of order! Okay.
The Meeting stands adjourned and the next meeting will be called on notice.
The committee adjourned.