A former IEBC commissioner is on the spot for spending Sh1.7 million to attend a leadership training in London that had no relation to the commission’s work.
The four-day training at London Graduate School, that was attended by Ms Margaret Mwachanya, was fully funded by the electoral commission in April, just 12 days before she and two other commissioners resigned.
Ms Mwachanya was at pains on Wednesday to explain to the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee why the IEBC fully paid for her trip, including an air ticket and allowances for four days.
She defended the training saying her honorary doctorate was awarded due to her work in public service, not just at the electoral commission.
Ms Mwachanya added that the skills she gained at the session helped the commission in various ways, but she did not elaborate on this.
Before joining the IEBC, she served in the public service board of Taita-Taveta County and taught Kiswahili in various schools around the country.
She holds a master’s degree in Kiswahili studies from the University of Nairobi, having earned a bachelor’s degree in Kiswahili from Catholic University of Eastern Africa.
The former commissioner shocked the MPs when she admitted that she could not remember the name of the university that awarded her the honorary doctoral degree.
Suna East MP Junet Mohamed asked, “Are you telling this committee that you cannot remember the name of the university that gave you an honorary doctoral degree after four days in April this year?”
When she was told to submit all the documents related to the training for verification, Ms Mwachanya said, “I surrendered all the documents, including the invitation letter, to the commission but I can get you a copy of the certificate that I was awarded.”
Committee chairman Opiyo Wandayi said, “[Did] The people from that university, out of the blues, just picked you out of other commissioners and gave a PhD? Was it official because this is outright abuse of officer as spelt out under Article six of the Constitution.”
Ruaraka MP TJ Mr Kajwang’ added, “This was a private issue which ought not to have been funded using taxpayers’ money.”
Mr Wandayi noted that there were several loopholes in the training as the documents the committee had are inconsistent.
Documents seen indicate that the electoral commission paid the training fee to London Graduate School while another indicates that the training took place at Commonwealth University.
Ms Mwachanya denied that the training was personal, saying other public officers from Kenya also attended.
Mr Wandayi directed the former commissioner to furnish the committee with all documents regarding the training for verification.