Anxiety has gripped and taken immeasurable routes at City Hall following information leaked out that the government, using Kenya Revenue Authority, is planning to plant undercover spies to monitor and streamline operations at the authority.
The spies are to be deployed in strategic departments to dismantle what Uhuru Kenyatta called cartels blamed for the mess at City Hall. Weekly Citizen has information to the effect that, a one Mr Mugambi, known to supply air at City Hall, tops the list of the cartels.
According to highly placed sources, using KRA, the state has finalised plans to deploy the spies who are credited with dismantling tax cheats at Times Towers to the Nairobi county government to collect information on top officials who are in the payroll of cartels that have been bagging all the major tenders but doing little work or none at all after payment. KRA is currently collecting taxes for the county.
Sources intimated to us that KRA commissioner general. James Mburu, a former intelligence officer and newly appointed Nairobi Metropolitan Services Director General Major-General Mohammed Badi Ali, have discussed modalities of deploying the spies to break the cartels at City Hall.
Insiders added that those to be put on the spot include top officials at the public health department, city inspectorate, environment department, engineer’s department, city planning department, housing development department, human resource department, procurement and legal services.
They add that the spies will also comb through the bank accounts and other financial details of ministers and chief officers appointed by Governor Mike Sonko.
They will collect financial details of the ministers’ and chief officers’ spouses, close relatives and business associates.
Before Sonko handed over the key functions to the government, he had reshuffled his cabinet and placed his loyalists in key departments that will now be run by the government.
The governor had fired two executive members and reinstated the ones he suspended last year.
CEC finance, Paul Kahiga and Winfred Gathangu of agriculture had been sent packing though they had refused to leave office even after the governor placed a notice in local dailies cautioning the members of the public against dealing with them.
The governor had nominated Karen Nyamu as CEC agriculture and George Fredrick as CEC trade, commerce, co-operatives and tourism.
Charles Kerich who had been suspended was also reinstated to the lands, urban planning and housing department together with CEC roads, transport and public works Mohammed Dagane, while Hitan Majevdia was appointed to the county ministry of health.
Those the governor retained in their dockets include Newton Munene, ICT and E-government docket and Lucia Mulwa, education, youth and sports.
Larry Wambua, a former Machakos county CEC was moved to environment, water, energy and natural resources docket from devolution and public service which was taken over by Veska Kangogo.
According to sources and those in the know, one of those the spies will probe his operations is county secretary Justus Kathenge.
Kathenge, formerly the urban planning chief officer, made a comeback in January after more than four months in the cold following his suspension last August.
He was appointed as county secretary by Sonko to replace Leboo Morintat.
Kathenge is said to have amassed a fortune while serving in the urban planning department, one of the dockets where corruption is said to be the order of the day.
Of interest to the spies is that Kathenge was appointed the county secretary at a time the governor was preparing to battle an impeachment motion tabled by minority whip leader Peter Imwatok the Makongeni MCA.
Kathenge replaced Leboo Morintat who interestingly retained his position as deputy county secretary, a position that is not anchored in law, as well as being the public service management chief officer.
Morintat was calling the shots and chairing meetings at City Hall after the governor was barred from office.
But Sonko-Morintat relationship was strained by investigations at City Hall which saw the former summoned on numerous occasions to record statements and provide documents at the offices of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.
Last week, Uhuru appointed Brig Ali as the NMS Director-General to be deputised by Enosh Momanyi.
The two were asked by the president to lead in ending corruption in the capital city.
According to sources, a move to deploy spies in the City Hall’s lucrative departments such as revenue collection to identify and eventually arrest revenue tax cheats in what will be the biggest crackdown on cartels and their clientele at City Hall is the core.
The spies to be deployed were instrumental in KRA’s detection of wealthy individuals and companies who had dogged paying taxes to the tune of a whopping Sh250 billion.
The crackdown followed an order from the president for KRA to keep a watch on high networth individuals whose lifestyles are not in tandem with the taxes they pay.
The spies broke up the networks which resulted in about 80 KRA middle-level and top managers summoned by detectives for abetting fraud.
They were questioned by a multi-agency team based at the DCI Training School in South C, Nairobi.
The probe unearthed how they had aided up to 600 individuals and companies to either avoid paying taxes running into billions of shillings or pay less than is due.
Later 30 more managers lost their jobs at KRA following interdiction on tax evasion.
Speaking at State House, Uhuru tasked Ali with eliminating corrupt cartels hindering service delivery to residents of Nairobi.
He tasked him and his deputy with streamlining urban renewal projects, for example Jevanjee estate in Ngara, Pangani and Bachelors estate in Nairobi among others.
It was at the State House function that Sonko officially transferred some functions of the county to the government, 21 days after the execution of the deal on February 25.
KRA is now overseeing revenue collection in the county while the public service board takes over the county’s affairs.
The transferred services include health, transport, planning and development, and public works.