June 28th 2017

Media / Watchdog

‘Standard’ keeps Afya House scam live with expose on Muraguri’s prime hotel

The report will feed into the public's understanding of the scandal by providing a line of information the media has not been good at compiling. After investigating the paper trail in corruption scams, the media normally lacks the capacity for value for money analysis the government often adopts.

By Free Press Reporternewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comSunday, 11 Dec 2016 17:44 EAT

The hotel Dr Muraguri is building in Nyeri. (Photo: Courtesy/The Sunday Standard).

The Sunday Standard today published an exclusive article on the unfolding Afya House scandal, where more than Sh5 billion was lost through fictitious procurement of goods and services, showing that the chief suspect in the scam is building a multimillion shilling hotel complex in Nyeri County. The paper’s headline report will put into further perspective the corruption frenzy that is now deeply rooted in the Jubilee government.

The paper reported that the principal secretary in the ministry of health, Dr Nicholas Muraguri, is putting up the hotel, with an estimated value of Sh120 million, a palatial home in Mweiga Hills, Nyeri County. The paper highlighted that, during his vetting by Parliament last year before he was appointed PS, Dr Muraguri put his net worth at Sh15 million. This would mean that Dr Muraguri has had an income of more than Sh100 million in the last year to be able to put up the Sh120 million project. This is before factoring his life expenses and other investments he might have put up or is putting up simultaneously with the hotel project.

The report will feed into the public's understanding of the scandal by providing a line of information the Kenyan media has not been good at compiling. After investigating the paper trail in most corruption scandals, the media normally lacks the capacity for value for money analysis that the government often adopts. Official positions like 'no money was lost' can easily deflect a journalist's attention in unearthing corruption. With this, the hard work after exposing a scam is to try to find out the wealth that the key suspects have made during their tenure in office. In the present case, if the country's an anti-corruption system was robust, by now the authorities would calling upon the public to identify what else Dr Muraguri owns or is putting up.

The goal of investigative journalism is not only to reveal inequities and injustice such as corruption scandals, but also to educate the people about the negative effects of them, by showing how key suspects subvert public resources for their own use and thereby shaming them and helping reinforce social values that reduce the incidence of corruption. For instance, whereas Dr Muraguri might not be prosecuted for all we know, the public at least has gained an understanding into his world and will put these into perspective whenever he defends the government over the scandal.

As expected, the Sunday Standard report sparked a furore on social media, with ordinary Kenyans and anti-corruption campaigners expressing shock at how grotesquely wealth Dr Muraguri had become to put up the hotel in such as a short time. Jubilee has tried to push back against the narrative that Sh5.3 billion was lost in the Afya House scandal, now Kenyans know where at least Sh120 million of it has been spent.

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