Minister ‘instigated Mapelu sacking’

Minister ‘instigated Mapelu sacking’
Published: 08 August 2006

THE East African Portland Cement Company (EAPCC) lost more than Sh48 million through underhand dealings by powerful personalities in the government, a parliamentary committee has claimed. The Parliamentary Committee on Finance, Trade, Tourism and Planning yesterday revealed that two companies involved in the syndicate belonged to a Cabinet minister believed to have conspired to force out EAPCC’s director Zakayo Ole Mapelu.

Committee chairman, Bondo MP Dr Oburu Odinga claimed the two companies have issued blank and undated cheques to the cement company to acquire cement, adding that the cheques were only presented to obtain the cement from the factory, but were never banked as expected.

Addressing the press at a Mombasa hotel, Odinga said Ole Mapelu’s ouster last month was politically motivated and had nothing to do with his June tour of South Sudan, where he opened a depot for the cement factory. He said the opening of the depot was not well received by some government officials, who had opened another depot in Bungoma where cement acquired through illegal means was being stored before allegedly being siphoned to Rwanda.

He claimed the breaking point between the former MD and the powerful individuals came with the opening of the depot in Sudan which the latter felt would interfere with their business interests.

“Mapelu was sacked for opening the depot in Sudan after the powerful individuals thought that selling to Sudan would compete with their business in Rwanda,” said the Bondo MP. He said the former MD had turned the parastatal from a loss making company to a profit-making organisation with about Sh1.6 billion profit recorded this year and did not warrant the sacking.

The MP said the dubious dealings also led to the resignation of the company’s five managers, in solidarity with Ole Mapelu last week as they could not accept political interference. He said that his committee, which started a three-day sitting in Mombasa was writing a report to be tabled in Parliament soon.