The charging of National Treasury Cabinet secretary Henry Rotich and his Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge over the Sh63 billion Arror and Kimwarer dam scandal could mark the beginning of the end of their careers in the public service.
The two have been placed in the middle of a theft syndicate that siphoned billions of shillings meant for the construction of two dams in Elgeyo Marakwet county.
Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji fingered Rotich and 27 others for charges ranging from conspiring to defraud and financial misconduct, and urged them to resign immediately.
Analysts are in agreement, saying this is in tandem with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s proclamation that those mentioned in corruption, including CSs and heads of parastatals, should step aside immediately.
Rock the boat
They say this is compounded by the fact that Treasury’s centrality in Kenya’s economic growth and Uhuru’s Big Four agenda, relied heavily on a functional and efficient Treasury providing financial leadership and advice.
Michael Mburugu, a partner at consulting firm PKF, says the prosecution of the Treasury heads was the kind of action the country has been waiting for, given the depths detectives and prosecutors went to, to seek evidence including travelling overseas.
“For now, the least we expect is an acting minister. I also expect more arrests,” he said.
Francis Kamau, a partner at Ernst Young audit firm, says with Uhuru seeking to leave a clean legacy, he is not bothered about friendships, and anyone trying to rock the boat has no place in his Cabinet.
“He might actually take advantage of that to target other ministries involved and dissolve Cabinet,” he said.
Kamau says given the limited time the President has left in his tenure, he could look for someone with a high turnaround, probably an insider.
“Uhuru wants to leave a legacy and he needs a technocrat who can hit the ground running,” he added.
Samwel Nyandemo, who teaches economics at the University of Nairobi, told People Daily that the government was moving in the right direction in the fight against corruption by targeting the so-called big fish.
He, however, warned that while this is the first time since independence a Finance minister is in court over corruption, fiscal and monetary policy, the demonetisation process, budget actualisation and payments processes expected to stimulate economy cannot wait longer.
Nyandemo says, going forward, the office needs to adopt a bolder approach to business to command fiscal discipline and build confidence locally and internationally.
Kamau says as it stands, Chief Administrative Secretary Nelson Gaichuhie is the most senior civil servant at Treasury.
During his term in Parliament, representing Subukia from 2007 to 2017, he served as vice-chairman of the Finance Planning and Trade Committee, and a member of the Budget and Appropriations Committee and Appointments Committee. He would easily take charge and ensure continuity at Treasury.
Kamau also named old hand Dr Geoffrey Mwau “who is clean and can hit the ground running if called upon”.
The experts also mentioned Esther Koimett, Transport PS and former Investment Secretary at Treasury as a possible replacement for Rotich.
The name of Justus Nyamunga, the Secretary, Budget and Policy Strategy at State House, was also mentioned. Others are ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi, Former Devolution PS Irungu Nyakera, Industrialisation CS Adan Mohamed and Central Bank of Kenya Governor Patrick Njoroge.