Inside Politics

Uhuru’s security to be enhanced after complaint

Wednesday, June 12th, 2024 03:45 | By
Former President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses residents of Kayole, Nairobi, when he visited the area to launch Soweto Level 2 Hospital and community water projects in February 2021. PHOTO/Print
Former President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses residents of Kayole, Nairobi, when he visited the area to launch Soweto Level 2 Hospital and community water projects in February 2021. PHOTO/Print

Retired President Uhuru Kenyatta will have his security enhanced at all his residences where the government had withdrawn the personnel.

This was the outcome of a telephone conversation between Kenyatta and President William Ruto a day after the former President said his office was not getting enough funding.

It also emerged that Kenyatta will have an office at the Uhuru Kenyatta Foundation Centre, which was at the centre of controversy between his office and State House.

Security will also be reinstated for former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta, a source at State House said.

Question of dignity

Kenyatta and President Ruto discussed concerns about facilitating the functioning of the retired President’s office, a State House spokesperson said on the social media platform X.

“This morning, President William Ruto had a conversation with his predecessor in office, the 4th President, President Uhuru Kenyatta, regarding concerns about facilitating the functioning of the retired president,” wrote State House Spokesman Hussein Mohamed on his X page.

“President Ruto has consequently constituted a team, led by the Head of Public Service, to immediately address all the issues raised, including the location of the retired President’s office and the attendant staff establishment.”

Kenyatta had expressed concerns that the Ruto administration had failed to accord him the dignity of a retired President according to the law. 

The major contention was the location of his office, remuneration of his staff and allocation of resources such as vehicles.

A senior source familiar with President Ruto’s thinking suggested to People Daily that the issue of vehicles was not a major headache.

“Cars befitting the retired President can easily be made available,” said the source, who sought anonymity to allow him yo speak freely on the matter.

Nyari office

But the source indicated that Kenyatta’s preferred office will have to be evaluated to ensure it fits the status prescribed by law.

The government had been demanding that Kenyatta  use a property in Nyari estate that was purchased to to house the office of retired Presidents. But Kenyatta had expressed his desire to use his office near State House.

But the thorny issue of vehicles that Kenyatta was reported to have said he needed did not arise during the phone conversation between the two leaders.

Kenyatta on Monday evening had a meeting with Head of Public Service Felix Koskei to discuss issues related to the facilitation of his office that that had been raised during a press briefing held by his Director of Communication Kanze Dena.

Kenyatta’s office, Dena said, had not been receiving the facilitation it is entitled to by law in the past year and a half.

The office, she added, had received only Sh28 million of the allocated Sh655 million in the 2022/2023 financial year, about 4.4 percent of the total budget it was expecting.

Gratuity

Dena dismissed a statement issued by government spokesperson Isaac Mwaura that indicated the former President had received a lump-sum payment of Sh48 million as gratuity.

“I would like to emphasise that gratuity is an entitlement accorded to every public service officer on contract once their terms of office expire,” Dena said.

The monthly allowances that Kenyatta receives are paid by the Pension Fund at the Treasury, she said, adding that he also has a medical cover.

The retired President’s Office also rejected claims that former First Lady Ngina Kenyatta’s security had been reinstated after it was withdrawn in June 2023.

Mama Ngina’s security detail and vehicles were withdrawn via a phone call last year and had not beed restored, Dena added.

“Contrary to media reports, security personnel haven’t been reinstated,” she said, lamenting that the Ruto administration had not provided vehicles to Mama Ngina that she is entitled to as a former first lady.

She now relies on three vehicles provided  by previous administrations, with fuel cards blocked since March 2023, and vehicle maintenance denied, Dena revealed.

Furthermore, benefits equivalent to 50 percent of those of retired Presidents, have not been accorded to the former first lady as required by law.

False claims

Dena highlighted the government’s failure to address the constitutional needs of the retired head of state during a press conference aimed at clarifying the situation at Kenyatta’s office.

Mwaura, the government spokesman, assured the public that the former President and his family were well taken care of as stipulated in the law.

On the issue of the retired President enjoying a fully furnished and maintained office of his choice, Dena said the office was surprised by claims that she described as untrue.

“It is public knowledge that the State House has been very clear on the position of the office in Nyari estate as the office of the former President should be used based on the fact that the office was bought by the government, the position clearly articulated by the State House spokesperson,” she said.

Old vehicles

She noted that the Nyari office was selected by President Mwai Kibaki as a suitable space for himself.

The claim that Kenyatta enjoys an office fully furnished and maintained by the government was misleading and incorrect, she said.

“To date, the office matter remains unresolved and has not been discussed in any quarter in the recent past,” she added.

On the issue of vehicles, Dena said Kenyatta is using vehicles that he had when he left State House.

They include two Toyota Land Cruisers, one Mercedes Benz, one Subaru Forester, and one Range Rover used by former first lady Margaret.

There are also four Toyota Prados, three used by Kenyatta’s security detail and one used for office operations.

“What the government spokesperson did not clarify is that the vehicles allocated to the former President for personal use are not new. They were part of his motorcade when he left Kasarani stadium after handing over power,” Dena explained.

On the number of fuel cards given to the office, Dena affirmed that each of the vehicles has a fuel card but the cards are not operating as they were blocked by the State House in March 2023.

 She also said the three fuel cards given to Mama Ngina, and three Range Rovers in her custody were allocated to her by President Daniel Arap Moi and President Kibaki.

“No facilitation has been accorded towards repairs and maintenance of all vehicles in the office of the former President,” Dena said.

“We are aware that an incomplete requisition form has been circulated by the State House as evidence of facilitation towards repairs and maintenance.”  

On the issue of staff, Mwaura correctly stated that the number Kenyatta is entitled to is 34.

The list provided, however, only accounts for 32 workers, leaving out two, who are waiting for their contracts to be renewed.

The two include administrator George Kariuki and Dena herself, who is the senior director communication.

On the issue of foreign travel, she said, the Presidential Retirement Benefits Act stipulates that the former President is entitled to four international trips.

Only two such trips were honoured, she emphasised. “From Mwaura’s statement, we did get to know that the issue is the size of the delegation, a matter that was communicated verbally” Dena said.

She continued: “If the issue was truly the size of the delegation, why not then cater for the 10 persons as advised by the Foreign Affairs ministry?”

Regarding the matter of seeking approval on which trips to undertake, she said, this was communicated by the Office of the President that Kenyatta’s office could only submit requests for international trips and wait to be cleared on which he could embark on.

“It begs the question: was the decision not to facilitate the former President because of his entourage or that State House did not deem it fit for him to undertake those trips?” she posed.

Kenyatta’s office, she said, was also concerned about the way the State House was communicating official matters - doing so verbally instead of through correspondence generated by her office.

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