When The Independent’s headline mention iron lady Martha Karua on Friday last week, this time it was pushing her to a corner she has not been to before.
The reaction was prompt after the headline ‘British American Tobacco ‘bribed’ Kenyan politician Martha Karua to stop action against cigarette smuggling’ implicated the former justice minister in corruption.
British American Tobacco ‘bribed’ Kenyan politician to stop action against cigarette smuggling https://t.co/AyCWcJkIxV
— The Independent (@Independent) December 19, 2015
When she responded, through her lawyer Gitobu Imanyara, Karua did not deny the allegations. She said the money, Sh5 million less than quoted by the Independent, was given as a donation for her presidential campaign in 2013.
“I am aware that a businessman whose name I remember as Paul (Hopkins) affiliated with BAT made what I understood to be a personal donation to my presidential campaign. At no time did I ever discuss the award or influence of contracts/tenders whether at KRA or indeed within any other government entity with Paul or anyone else,” Karua said on Friday.
This was in response to questions by the Independent journalist David Connett.
“My recollection is that Paul’s donation was about Sh2 million. If any person within my campaign team or beyond purported to accept a donation in exchange for influence of government procurement (they were) acting beyond the scope of their authority, without my knowledge and in their individual capacity not for me or my campaign,” she said.
Karua denied that the donation was a bribe, allegations which set off a social media frenzy with many dismissing her anti-corruption crusade.
Despite her denial, the allegations are hard to shake off especially taking into consideration that the ‘donation’ was for political ambitions.
The Independent adds:
“It is understood that the key meeting – at which Mr Hopkins and BAT’s senior regional legal officer, Naushad Ramoly, negotiated the deal with a key aide in Ms Karua’s election team – was filmed. The Independent has seen emails between Mr Hopkins and Ms Mukindia’s campaign email address in which the KRA contract is openly discussed. The aide, Mary Mukindia, is now a member of the governing board of the Kenyan tax authority.”
Ms Mukindia’s legal representative confirmed she had attended the meeting but claims she did not know they were BAT employees. Ms Mukindia was
“clear that in her then role that she could not have had useful access to Government officials nor have been able to obtain any contract specifications.”
She said she was not aware “of any donations” BAT may have made.
Mr Ramoly, who has since left BAT and now works in the Gulf, was unavailable for comment but denied bribery allegations to the BBC.”
The allegations are a big dent on the Narc Kenya leader especially bearing in mind that she has been very vocal against corruption.
Here are some tweets which seem to indicate that Kenyans are tired of this corruption gravy which seems to have sucked in every Kenyan interested in political office.
I just like this BAT saga by the way.. the way people are being anikwaed over here… LQTM.. https://t.co/U0aUwnerxH
— Kikuyu Somali (@bettywaitherero) December 19, 2015
— Obar Mark (@Obar_Mark) December 19, 2015
Unfortunately for her, the allegations come at a time when she has been publicly seen with Cord whose co-principal Moses Wetangula was also adversely mentioned in the BBC report. The two have been very vocal calling for resignation of corrupt officials and it remains to be seen if any from their ranks will resign their position if need be for investigations to be unimpeded.
Already, some Cord supporters feel that Karua is a liability to the coalition and she should not associate with the party leadership.
The two have been very vocal calling for resignation of corrupt officials and it remains to be seen if any from their ranks will resign their position if need be for investigations to be unimpeded.
Martha Karua is a political Reject who adds no Value to CORD . Baba MUST use this chance to condemn her #BATBribedKarua
— Cyprian, Is Nyakundi (@C_NyaKundiH) December 19, 2015
Despite this, it seems like Kenyans like aligning themselves in political camps to support their own.
Where does our political hope lie?, Martha Karua linked to BAT corruption scandal is a big, a fat, a serious & a gigantic shame — C. Kimani™ (@cwkimani) December 19, 2015
I see CORD Soldiers Supporting Martha Karua & Weta in BAT Scandal, Waiguru Just needs to move to CORD for cleansing!CORD Cleanses all Sins! — AntiCorruptionKE (@ngigi_mburu) December 19, 2015
The BAT corruption scandal has touched almost every East African country and with the revelations now, the company may lose billions of dollars due to penalties in Europe and the US.
But, what happens to the public officers who breached their code of conduct as they served in Kenya may just be an addition to the long list of cases and personalities who are untouchable because of the financial and political power they wield.