Members of the Kenyan Parliament have called upon the former Interior Cabinet Secretary, Fred Matiang’i, to shed light on matters concerning the shutdown of Kenyatta University’s Kigali campus in Rwanda. Matiang’i’s anticipated session will be before the National Assembly’s Public Investments Committee on Education and Governance, where he will be questioned about his 2018 directive to close the institution without involving other key players.
In an official communique dispatched to the local news portal, Kenyans.co.ke, the head of the Committee, Moses Kirima Nguchine, emphasized the significance of holding decision-makers accountable. He stated that this was a proactive measure to avert potential mismanagement in the future. The panel also expects an elucidation from Professor Olive Mugenda, who held the position of Vice-Chancellor at Kenyatta University and was the principal financial official during the time the Rwandan campus was set up. They seek a detailed account for the significant sums of Ksh314 million and Ksh54 million expended on buying and renovating the property, respectively.
The statement from the committee underscored the imperative of being transparent, accountable, and exercising due diligence, especially concerning financial matters tied to public establishments. The content of the report’s findings and suggestions is pivotal in fortifying good governance, deterring fiscal malpractice, and maintaining the confidence of the public.
Last month, following an audit anomaly flagged by Auditor General Nancy Gathungu for the fiscal year 2019/2020, the committee made an on-site visit to the Rwandan campus. The audit highlighted that even after an expenditure of Ksh420 million, the campus was shut down. The Auditor General voiced concerns, indicating that both the closure and the financial outlay appeared unjustifiable, hinting at possible financial mismanagement.
The audit report detailed that the university’s original intent was to acquire a ready-to-operate property, making the Ksh54,073,302.81 disbursed for refits and partitioning seem unreasonable. This expenditure signaled financial mishandling and a deviation from the initial acquisition blueprint.
Furthermore, the method used to acquire the land in Kigali raised eyebrows. The property was obtained through a single-sourced method, devoid of any price comparison across different potential options. This absence of competitive tendering sparked worries among the Members of Parliament, suggesting the property price, which stood at Ksh314 million, might have been inflated. The committee’s inspection of the facility unearthed poor-quality renovation work. Prematurely worn-out tiles were just one of the signs pointing towards subpar work, hinting at negligence and a disparity between the quality and the sum allocated for renovations.
The committee voiced concerns over the challenges the university might face in recovering the funds invested if they opted to sell the property, especially given its seemingly inflated acquisition cost.
In the wake of these revelations, the committee strongly suggested that a comprehensive audit be undertaken. This should evaluate if the funds spent on the property’s purchase, and the subsequent costs, truly represented value for money. The audit is also expected to delve into any signs of financial mismanagement during the stated fiscal year.