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Uhuru: State not meeting needs of my office

Tuesday, June 11th, 2024 04:30 | By
Kanze Dena, a spokesperson for retired President Uhuru Kenyatta, at the Uhuru Kenyatta Institute in Nairobi yesterday. PHOTO/Kenna Claude
Kanze Dena, a spokesperson for retired President Uhuru Kenyatta, at the Uhuru Kenyatta Institute in Nairobi yesterday. PHOTO/Kenna Claude

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta has been fighting a quiet battle with the government over the past year and a half over the funding that he is entitled to as a retired head of state.

But now he has decided to go public about it.

Kenyatta’s office received a meagre Sh28 million out of he allocated Sh655 million during the 2022/2023 financial year, comprising 4.4 per cent of the total budget for the office, said his spokesperson Kanze Dena at a press briefing in Nairobi yesterday.

Dena responded to government spokesperson Isaac Mwaura’s assertion that the former President received a lump-sum payment of Sh48 million as gratuity.

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

She said Kenyatta receives his personal monthly allowances, which are paid by the Pension Fund at the Treasury, and has a medical cover.

Mama Ngina’s security

Kenyatta’s office also rejected claims that the security of former first lady Ngina Kenyatta was reinstated after it was withdrawn in June 2023.

Mama Ngina’s bodyguards and vehicles were withdrawn via a phone call last year and haven’t been reinstated, Dena said.

“Contrary to media reports, security personnel haven’t been reinstated,” Dena stated, lamenting that President William Ruto’s administration had not provided vehicles even though the former first lady is entitled to them.

Mama Ngina is the widow of founding President Jomo Kenyatta, who died in office in 1978.

She now relies on three vehicles provided by previous governments, with fuel cards blocked since March 2023 and appeals for the vehicles to be maintained denied, Dena revealed.

Furthermore, benefits equivalent to 50 percent of those of a retired President haven’t been given to the former first lady as required by law.

Dena highlighted the government’s failure to address the needs of the retired head of state that he is entitled to under the Constitution during a press briefing aimed at clarifying the situation at Kenyatta’s office.

Furnished 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 Uhuru Kenyatta’s entitlement to a fully furnished 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.

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

The statement that Uhuru Kenyatta has an office fully furnished and maintained by the government is misleading and incorrect, Dena added.

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

On vehicles the former President is using, Dena said these are the ones he had when he was still at the State House.

They include two Toyota Land Cruisers, one Mercedes Benz, one Subaru Forester and one Range Rover that is used by former First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.

There are also four Toyota Prados, three used by Uhuru 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.

Fuel cards

On the number of fuel cards given to Kenyatta’s office, Dena said it is true that each of the vehicles has a fuel card but they are not used as they were blocked by the State House in March 2023.

She added that 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, the government spokesperson was correct that the retired President is entitled to 34.

The list provided, however, accounts for only 32 workers, as two are still waiting for their contracts to be renewed.

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

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

“Since [his] retirement … only two such trips have been honoured. From Mwaura’s statement, we did get to know that the issue is the size of delegation, a matter that was communicated verbally,” Dena said.

“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?”

Foreign trips

On the issue of seeking approval for trips, 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 trips he could take.

“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 said.

She said the office of the former President was also concerned about the way the State House was communicating official matters - doing it verbally instead of through correspondence generated by her office.

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