Kenya: U.S. Envoy Called Cabinet ‘Rogue’s Gallery’


    The Nation (Nairobi)

    Peter Leftie

    3 March 2011

    Nairobi — US ambassador Michael Ranneberger said he believed that nine individuals named to the Cabinet by President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga were Kenya’s most egregious thieves and accused the two principals of handing them a new lease of life.

    Terming the Cabinet named in April 2008 as “a rogue’s gallery,” the US envoy told his superiors in Washington that the two principals had given the ministers a sense of impunity.

    “Somewhat lost in the dramatic political developments of the past several months is the fact that Kenya remains plagued by corruption, with government often driven more by callow self-interest and the need to dole out patronage than by the desperate need on the part of Kenyan taxpayers for improved public service delivery — or any service delivery at all,” Mr Ranneberger wrote in June 2008.

    Five of the nine ministers named by the envoy and who we cannot name because we could not reach them to respond to the specific allegations hail from the Rift Valley Province, two from Eastern Province, one from Western Province and the other one with links to Western, Rift Valley and Nairobi provinces.

    Mr Ranneberger linked two of the Cabinet ministers to the multi-billion shilling Goldenberg scandal and another to the equally monumental Anglo Leasing infamy.

    Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi, however, dismissed the claims saying the Goldenberg Inquiry chaired by judge Samuel Bosire had exonerated him from any wrongdoing in the scandal and even hailed his efforts to stop the scandal.

    “Why does he not say that I was cleared by the commission chaired by Justice Bosire if he is genuine in his views?” Mr Mudavadi asked.

    Mr Ranneberger wrote that the third minister “participated in or at least tried to cover up the Anglo-Leasing procurement scandals in the first Kibaki administration.”

    The envoy described the fourth minister, from the ODM wing of the coalition as enjoying “a reputation as a thug also alleged to have illegally acquired and sold GoK (Government of Kenya) property worth $10 million (Sh800 million).

    Suspended Higher Education minister William Ruto was said to be facing two pending court cases relating to illegal acquisition and sale of properties belonging to State corporations.

    But in a sharp rejoinder, Mr Ruto also dismissed the claims. “Who is Ranneberger? Investigator, prosecutor and judge?” he questioned.

    Mr Ranneberger claimed that yet another minister from the same province used immense influence in the Moi government to grab and sell land belonging to a State corporation. There are two cases pending in court.

    The ambassador said the seventh minister was “believed to have defrauded and stolen large sums of money from a number of parastatals during the Moi years.”

    He accused the late Kipkalia Kones, who had been named Roads minister two months earlier, as being “widely believed to have demanded huge kickbacks from road contractors, contributing to the dilapidation of Kenya’s road system under the Moi administration.”

    On the ninth minister who hails from Eastern Province, the envoy said: “A mere assistant minister, but the list wouldn’t be complete without him, he is widely believed to have amassed a huge fortune which he used to help win his seat in Parliament.”

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    Kenya: U.S. Envoy Called Cabinet ‘Rogue’s Gallery’