Oh, the corruption

Kibera Slums, NAIROBI

KENSUP implementers overlooked, either by design or oversight, the risk of corruption in the project. At the time the Soweto houses were being developed and allocated, in 2012, officials of the Economic Monitoring Unit (EMU), a department that investigates crime in state departments, discovered that 78 staff members of the National Housing Corporation (NHC) had allocated themselves 209 units in their projects countrywide, including Soweto. One staff member had allocated herself 7 units plus 14 to her relatives. Among the beneficiaries was also an assistant minister for Housing.

The investigation exposed an unwritten law in NHC to the effect that 20% of allocations should benefit the corporation’s staff – disguised as special cases.  It emerged that 50 per cent of the allocations benefit people who do not meet minimum requirements. The EMU called the big shots “parachute allotees”, and described the allocations as “highly irregular and arbitrary”. The scandal forced the then Housing Minister Soita Sitanda to suspend the NHC Board.

And then there was another. Most of the land initially earmarked for the transition camp for Soweto residents awaiting the new apartments was allocated (200 out of the 250 acres) to an unknown company based on a mysterious Presidential directive. The company directors had allegedly met with the then President Mwai Kibaki sometime in 2003, after which the President instructed the Minister for Land and Housing to identify land for the company.

The Minister, jointly with the Chief Physical Planner and an official of UN-Habitat, then met the company on December 17, 2004 and had offered it the land near Athi River. After a draft agreement between the government and the company was crafted, then area mayor Musau Mutuku accused Kenya and UN officials of sneaking the company into the project. No form of tender bidding had taken place.

Then recently, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission investigated the concerned Devolution Cabinet Minister Ann Waiguru (a close ally of President Kenyatta who has since resigned and is now running for governor), together with top officials in the ministry, 30 commercial banks, political operatives and senior staff of Central Bank for swindling the public of Sh1.86 billion in phantom and shady projects in Kibera in 2014. The projects included the construction of toilets and feeder roads, and street lighting never materialized. The money stolen was three times the amount the UN-habitat and government spent on the first phase of KENSUP that involved building 624 house units. A parliamentary watchdog that investigated the rot produced a damning report this May, demanding that the responsible minister be barred from holding any public office ever again.


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