Outrage has greeted vetting of the former Kenya Power Managing Director Ben Chumo for the chairmanship of Salaries and Remuneration Commission.
Kenyans on social media seemed baffled by his vetting despite facing graft charges over the Sh450 million scandal linked to purchase of faulty transformers.
Nairobi-based lawyer Donald Kipkorir led the chorus against his vetting, chiding Parliament for setting a low moral bar for public sector leaders.
“That Ben Chumo facing a multi-million corruption case is being interviewed by Parliament to be the chair of the [Salaries and Remuneration Commission] is taking absurdity to a new level. Our MPs would have set a new moral bar…by openly dismissing him,” said Mr Kipkorir.
Mr Chumo was vetted on Monday by the National Assembly’s Finance and Planning Committee following his appointment for the job by President Uhuru Kenyatta on June 27, long before the graft allegations surfaced.
Tweeting after the vetting was concluded, Ms Wambui, @Waambui who describes herself on Twitter as a social critic, said Kenyan MPs always want to determine their salaries and benefits, hence, Mr Chumo heading the salaries review commission would be a gift for them.
“They are not just vetting but also betting on him. They might as well discuss their salaries and get over with [It],” said Ms Wambui.
A local journalist, Mr Oliver Mathenge, was among many Kenyans who questioned the rationale of vetting Mr Chumo when he has pending integrity issues, casting doubt on the government’s war on corruption.
“The ongoing vetting of Ben Chumo is an indication that we are not serious about the war on corruption. President Kenyatta should have withdrawn his nomination once he was arraigned in court last week,” opined the political reporter.
Others thought the onus to stop the vetting should have been on Mr Chumo, who knowing he has been charged with graft should have withdrawn from the vetting to await the court outcome.
“How could Ben Chumo find the audacity to walk himself to Parliament for vetting for SRC job? After his arrest, [the] President ought to [have] revoked his appointment. We can’t make two steps ahead and four backwards yet claim to be progressing,” tweeted Kenya West @KenyanBoy.
Some Kenyans drew parallels with the election of President Kenyatta and his deputy, Mr William Ruto, in 2013 when they were facing criminal chagues at The Hague linked to the 2007/8 post-election violence. The cases were later dropped during their first term office.
“Why Kenyans are venting over Ben Chumo beats me. You overwhelmingly voted for UhuRuto in 2013. The two were facing worse criminal charges in ICC. You set the precedent and your legislatures are following suit,’ wrote King Fred Asira on Twitter.
But Mr Chumo fought off the corruption allegations against him, telling MPs the alleged faulty transformers were procured in 2011/12 Financial Year, long before he was appointed the managing director.
“I was appointed as the CEO in 2013. When I assumed responsibility…, we made a decision to stop payment for the transformers. However, the supplier moved to court and there was an out of court settlement,” Mr Chumo said.
The former MD told the vetting team, chaired by Kipkelion East MP Joseph Limo, that his net worth is Sh212m and that in his 32 years in public service, he has never misappropriated funds.
Mr Chumo said his wealth is invested in real estate and farming