Politics and policy

Defence nominee Raychelle Omamo defends military spending secrecy

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Defence nominee Amb Raychelle Omamo (left) takes a question from Nyeri town MP Esther Murugi during the Committee on Appointments vetting at KICC on May 9, 2013. Photo/PHOEBE OKALL

Defence nominee Amb Raychelle Omamo (left) takes a question from Nyeri town MP Esther Murugi during the Committee on Appointments vetting at KICC on May 9, 2013. Photo/PHOEBE OKALL   Nation Media Group

By CHARLES MWANIKI

Posted  Thursday, May 9  2013 at  18:55

In Summary

  • Proposed Defence Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo said she would ensure that all military procurements were subject to the country’s procurement laws.
  • She defended the conduct of military procurement processes saying that while there have been concern that corruption could be the reason behind the secrecy, there was need to understand the sensitivity of procuring security equipment.

The unaccountable nature of military procurement is unlikely to change much under the stewardship of the proposed Defence Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo who Thursday launched a defence of the secrecy.

Kenya’s security procurement has remained shrouded in secrecy, a fact that prompted MPs vetting the nominee to ask whether she would change that.

She was asked by the Committee on Appointments if she would ensure that all military procurements were subject to the country’s procurement laws. The committee brought together the warring Jubilee and Cord coalitions which have previous refused to sit together.

“Procurement procedures in defence are not the same as in other areas. I have the impression that they follow the right procedures. We know in the Constitution there are limitations in regard to information on the defence forces, although that will not prevent compliance with procurement laws as much as is possible,” said Ms Omamo.

She defended the conduct of military procurement processes saying that while there have been concern that corruption could be the reason behind the secrecy, there was need to understand the sensitivity of procuring security equipment.

“It may not be corruption per se or someone trying to bend the rules, but rather may be a lack of official training or lack of coordination in procurement processes,” she added.

She was answering questions from Cord members of the committee Leader of Minority Francis Nyenze and deputy Whip Jakoyo Midiwo.

The nominee said that from her initial interactions with the military since her nomination, she has not come across information on high incidence of single sourcing of military equipment or supplies.

Kenya is ranked among the countries with high defence budgets (and corruption) in Africa, having increased its military expenditure consistently in the past two decades to modernise its military hardware.

The country’s defence budget in the 2013/14 estimates is Sh60.44 billion, and is projected to rise to Sh63.56 billion in 2014/15 and Sh67.85 billion in 2015/16. Under the specific items in the breakdown of the budget estimates, the programmes to be undertaken are listed under one item, labelled ‘Maintaining and Safeguarding of National Security’.

Kenya has in the recent past been faced with threats from armed militias conducting cross-border raids in the north, as well as the threat from the Al Shabaab militia against whom KDF launched an operation in 2011.

The country procured attack aircraft, helicopters and armoured cars ahead of the Somalia incursion.

Kenya is also said to have procured and refurbished second hand F-5E combat aircraft from Jordan and new M-4 rifles from the USA, and also received one ex-French P-400 patrol aircraft at an undisclosed price.

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