Odinga in funding probe

2011-11-12 17:00

Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga is facing a parliamentary probe over the alleged loss of more than
$10 million (R79 million) in World Bank funds, which was meant for youth job creation.

Odinga is expected to appear before a parliamentary committee to explain how the money, administered by his office, disappeared or was used to pay allowances to senior officials in his office.

The money, for the Kazi Kwa Vijana (“jobs for youth”) programme, was meant to create casual and mainly menial jobs for millions of unemployed young people, and was funded to the tune of $100 million by both the Kenyan government and the World Bank.

It was intended to engage young people in jobs such as cleaning, road repairs and tree planting in both urban and rural areas as a short-term employment solution.

But a leaked audit report last week showed that massive amounts of the funds have been misappropriated in Odinga’s office, prompting calls for him to take political responsibility.

Odinga resisted the calls, saying he was not involved in administering the money and could not take any blame.

He is expected to contest the presidency in general elections slated for late next year, but the scandal has dented his image as the only “clean man” of all seven top contenders.

His popularity ratings plummeted to 34% this week from 48% late last year.

His office was embroiled in another multimillion-dollar scam last year in which thousands of tons of bad maize were imported to the country from South Africa.

In the latest scandal, leaflets and emails are being circulated, alleging that senior officers had used the money to acquire themselves beach properties, cars and businesses.

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