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Is Mathuki leaving EAC over financial impropriety?

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Peter Mathuki

Nairobi, Kenya | THE INDEPENDENT | The East African Community Secretariat has defended Secretary General Peter Mathuki against allegations of financial mismanagement.

The claims also suggest that it is the reason that Kenya President William Ruto has decided to withdraw him for an ambassadorial post, to prevent a crisis in case he was impeached.

He is poised to become Kenya’s Ambassador in Moscow, according to media reports in Kenya, and be replaced by Caroline Mwende Mueke, subject to approval by the next Heads of State Summit.

The nomination comes at a time when Dr Mathuki, who has been at the EAC since 2021, is facing impeachment over the alleged misappropriation of funds at the secretariat.

On March 6, during the opening session of the 5th East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) in Nairobi, addressed by President Ruto, allegations arose that the SG had spent 6 million dollars (23 billion shillings) without appropriation by the regional parliament.

According to Dennis Namara, Uganda’s representative to EALA, the money, like any monies coming through the consolidated fund, must be approved by parliament before being spent.

“The financial rules of the Treaty establishing the EAC, Budget Act, and all the legislation provide that every money coming into the Community must be appropriated. Over 6 million dollars that has been collected as far as I am concerned, that money has been spent and has never gone through appropriation. The SG never brought it to parliament for appropriation,” said Namara, also the chairperson of the finance sub-committee.

He said Mathuki must be made to answer for his actions, prompting a section of the parliament to commence a process of impeachment.

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The EAC Secretariat has dismissed the allegation as baseless and aimed at tarnishing its image. During the same meeting, it was also alleged by the MPs that Dr M Mathuki hired his son and paid him 31,000 dollars (121 million shillings), without going through the laid-down procedure, yet the office was already occupied by a substantive official.

The embattled SG did not respond to the claims. Mathuki is a businessman, politician and diplomat, who, prior to taking the EAC top job, was the Executive Director, East African Business Council and, before that, member of EALA representing Kenya.

Caroline Mueke

His replacement, Mueke, is a Kenyan public policy expert who has served at several UN agencies like UNDP, UNESCO and the UN Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan.

“We wish to state categorically that the allegations…are baseless, malicious, unfounded and an attempt on assassinating the character of the Secretary General of the East African Community,” says a statement from the Communications Department.

It accuses the media of not seeking the response of the SG or the secretariat before publishing the allegations, adding that none of the checks and balances in place, including the Council of Ministers which is the EAC policy organ, raised any issue about the alleged matters.

“At no point in time has there been any queries raised by the Council of Ministers as to the allegations on lack of appropriation of funds by the Secretariat as the Council always gives prior approval on expenditure of funds of the Community as stipulated in EAC’s Financial Rules and Regulations including what is published in the article,” says the statement.

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The same was said of the Audit Commission which prepares a report on all activities of the Community conducted by all Partner States.

“Since the Secretary General assumed office three years ago, there has never been any adverse audit reports on his part or the Secretariat and these audit reports remain available at the offices of the Community. The operations and activities of the Community are continually audited to ensure compliance with the laid down standards and procedures.”

Arising from the above, the statement says, it is evident that EAC is operating well and on course to achieve what it was established to do.

“The purported allegations and accusations are therefore false and the EAC remains a focused and formidable Regional Economic Bloc. We would like East Africans and all our stakeholders to remain confident about the status of the Community.”

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