“You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family”, so an old saying goes. Well, quite so, but at least in Kenya you can give your family low cost housing and a job (allegedly) if you work for the NHC or the NHIF. Raila Odinga it seems isn’t the only person facing allegations of “keeping it in the family”.
Miguna Miguna you may recall, accused Raila Odinga of favouring the employment of members of his family citing the ‘formal employment’ of the PM’s elder brother, three sisters two sons, three cousins, ‘and many, many others’ – ‘Peeling Back the Mask’, page 345*.
THE NATIONAL HOUSING SCHEME FOR RELATIVES…
Now it is the National Housing Corporation (NHC) which has become ‘embroiled’ in allegations that over 200 housing units were allotted to senior staff and their relatives at the NHC together with ‘senior civil servants and politicians’, including, it is alleged, Dr Mohamed Isahakia, the PS in the Prime Minister’s office (see ‘Civil Society goes to court over NHC house allocations’, Sunday Nation).
The NHC (then called the ‘central Housing Board’) was originally set up way back in 1953 under the old colonial administration, ‘to promote the development of houses for Africans’. The NHC is now supposed to be the Government’s main agency through which taxpayers’ money is funneled to provide ‘low cost housing’, and so its mission statement says, ‘play a leading role in the efficient provision of adequate and affordable housing and related services’: adequate and affordable housing for a select few it now seems and perhaps ‘related services’ should now be termed ‘services for relatives’!
INTERNAL AUDIT REPORT UNCOVERS “SUPER LANDLORDS”
An internal audit report that investigated the NHC uncovered a situation whereby senior staff at the NHC had become “super landlords” whereby 78 staff members had got their hands on 209 units out of a total allocation of 260 from one housing scheme (i.e. about 80 per cent of the allocation).
One NHC senior staffer, the report found, had acquired seven houses under her own name whilst 14 others had been allocated to her relatives.
Senior government officials, it was alleged, had not missed out on the scheme. In addition to the allegation against Dr Mohammed Isahakia, acting head of public service Francis Kimemia, and medical Services PS Mary Ngari were said to have benefited from an NHC scheme in Kileleshwa.
The Kileleshwa list also included Assistant Minister Margaret Wanjiru, Kenya Railways MD Nduva Muli, whilst a relative of Andrew Mondoh (Special Programmes) who was also a staffer at the NHC, was said to have ‘got several housing units’.
To muddy the waters further, the wife of Housing Minister Soita Shitanda, it was alleged, had been allocated a unit in a housing scheme in Kakamega as had Lands PS Dorothy Angote (who served on the NHC board).
THE NHIF – MEDICAL COVER FOR ‘DEPENDENTS’…
The National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) does not have the longevity of the NHC having been originally set up in 1966 under the Ministry of Health and thereafter placed under a Act of Parliament in 1998 ‘to provide medical insurance cover to all its members and their declared dependents (spouse and children)’.
Now it seems that mandate has been extended to trying to provide jobs for a spouse and other dependents at the NHIF.
The NHIF had already been placed under a ‘caretaker board’ established to try and clean up the mess of the previous NHIF board whose Chief Executive Officer Richard Kerich and board chairman Richard Muga had been suspended following discrepancies in the multi-million Shilling civil servants medical scheme and the NHIF’s Sh4.6 million Outpatient Medical Scheme.
IT’S A MYSTERY – HOW DID CEO’S WIFE APPEAR ON EMPLOYMENT LIST?
The CEO of the caretaker board, Adan A. Adan has, however, now had to stand down following allegations that he ‘sanctioned’ the employment at the NHIF of his wife and some relatives.
Adan, it is alleged, recommended the employment of his wife and at least two other relatives (see ‘NHIF boss sanctions hiring of his wife, relatives’, The Standard).
“My wife is a qualified senior nurse”, Aden is reported to have told a Standard reporter, but “We cancelled her name when we discovered her name was on the list”. As the Standard’s report adroitly pointed out however, that did not explain how her name got on the list in the first place.
IT’S WHO YOU KNOW…
How often have we all heard the phrase the runs something like, “You can’t get a job unless you know someone”? Add to that now it seems, is ‘affordable housing’!
Approaching 50 years since Independence and with a new constitution in place, this should not be the case, says the Kenya Forum. However, the Forum notes that both sets of allegations resulted from internal audits and both were fully reported by a responsible media (so “hats off” to The Nation and The Standard in particular).
If the allegations are proved to be true then heads should roll and in some cases prosecutions should result as a warning to others.