From: Nairobi Star (Nairobi)
26 November 2008
Posted to the web 25 November 2008
Transport minister Chirau Makwere has accused Prime Minister Raila Odinga of being evil and stealing the credit for his achievements, the Nairobi Star has exclusively learnt.
Their thorny relationship was exposed last week when Mwakwere appeared before the Public Investment Committee. Mwakwere was answering questions about the abrupt cancellation of the tender for a second bulk grain handler at Mombasa port.
Makwere told the PIC that Raila has claimed all the credit for everything he has done in his ministry.
Makwere accused Raila of continuing to interfere in the affairs of his ministry and plotting to block his election in December 2007 by supporting his ODM rival for the Matuga constituency, Hassan Mwanyoha, who he said was funded by Mombasa businessman Mohammed Jaffer.
Makwere belongs to PNU while Raila is party leader of ODM.
Jaffer owns Grain Bulk Handling Company Limited which has a monopoly of bulk handling imports and exports of grain. An eight year monopoly ended in February and the Kenya Ports Authority had tendered for a second operator to provide competition and lower charges. At the last minute, the opening of the tender documents was cancelled, allegedly on the orders of the Prime Minister who said it would discourage investors.
“Him and the Prime Minister have been evil to me,” Mwakwere told the PIC members. “They have been so evil to me that I am the only Member of Parliament in whose constituency the Prime Minister came with the Pentagon with the sole agenda to ensure the people did not elect me.
Their financier was Mohammed Jaffer”.
Makwere told the PIC members that he comfortably won the Matuga seat but Jaffer went ahead to fund the petition against him which was eventually dismissed by the court.
According to some PIC members, Makwere could not pinpoint when Raila got involved in the grain bulk handling issue but that he learnt of Raila’s cancellation of the tender when he was attending a hearing of the election petition in Mombasa.
“It is like a continuation of the political situation that we were in when we were vying for our political seats or may be one wanted to up stage (sic), what I had already started,” Makwere told members.
He complained that Raila had tried to upstage him on other occasions.
“It is not the first time. When I sent Mwaruwa (former Kenya Ports Authority Managing Director) on leave and appointed Mulewa to act, he was not involved in any manner whatsoever,” Makwere told members.
He said Raila jumped on the letter written by his Mwakere’s Permanent Secretary and copied to the Head of Civil Service, Francis Muthaura, and the PS in the Prime Minister’s Office.
In the letter Mwakwere said that he had convened a press conference for 1 pm the following day to announce Mwaruwa’s suspension and Mulewa’s appointment.
However, Raila announced the changes at Mombasa port at 11am, two hours earlier than Mwakwere’s scheduled press conference.
“He pre-empted it and said that he had appointed a managing director.
There he was, they gave him a standing ovation and everybody was looking at me wondering this fellow is just sitting there, this is how things are done,” Makwere told members.
Mwakwere also complained to the PIC how Raila had jumped on the open skies deal he had struck with the US government.
“Another time we were in America, for two years I was negotiating with them to bring their aircrafts here- direct flights to Nairobi, either from Miami, Atlanta or wherever,” Mwakwere told the committee.
He noted that the deal was tedious and took two years to negotiate.
Suddenly, Makwere told members, Raila visited the United States in May and claimed he had signed the deal for Kenya.
Mwakwere noted that it was just a coincidence that Raila had gone to visit friends just as the deal was being signed.
“The story was we all thank the Prime Minister, who has been in office for only two weeks and he has brought us goodies. There will be direct flights from America to Kenya. This is a wonderful job!” said Makwere.
“I was lost there. I was totally lost! He had nothing to do with it.
Absolutely nothing,” he said.
Mwakwere told members that he was therefore not surprised when Raila cancelled the grain bulk handling deal.
He said that he had planned to review that decision and Raila learnt of it through a memo to his PS.
“I do not think he had any strong reasons. The master plan is not a strong reason. Master plans are made and unmade,” stated Mwakwere. “A masterplan should not be the reason why we have a second handler or not,”
Mwakwere informed members that a 25-year port development masterplan was developed in 2000 and included the second grain bulk handling project. A decision was however yet to be made whether the facility would be established at Lamu, Ndongo Kundu in Kwale or at Kilindini.