‘High ranking’ Gov’t officers accused of trying to sabotage e-Citizen


'High ranking' Gov't officers accused of trying to sabotage e-Citizen

In Summary

  • James Ayugi, the Managing Director to Webmasters Kenya alleges sabotage from high ranking government officials who would love to see a return the now obsolete manual payment systems.
  • Further to the sabotage fears by Webmaster is the ongoing funding challenges at the firm as government remains behind on its settlement of convenience fees owed to the firm.
  • In spite of the wrangles centred around control, the electronic platform has since its establishment facilitated transactions worth over Ksh.40 billion and made available to the public at least 200 online services.
 

Webmasters Kenya Limited, the firm behind the creation of the e-Citizen payment system has raised the alarm on underhand tactics meant at decapitating the execution of digital government payments.

James Ayugi, the Managing Director to Webmasters Kenya alleges sabotage from high ranking government officials who would love to see a return the now obsolete manual payment systems.

According to Mr. Ayugi, the platform has since its implementation in 2014 saved on payment facilitation costs to seal a gaping hole that had once allowed for the embezzlement of State funds.

“The platform has disrupted the government’s procurement system. Individuals who use to get millions in contracts for the supply of papers in addition to their friends who benefited through kickbacks are some of the people fighting the system,” he said.

Further to the sabotage fears by Webmaster is the ongoing funding challenges at the firm as government remains behind on its settlement of convenience fees owed to the firm.

The cash-strapped entity has since had to let go a portion of its staffers with the consequences being an ineffective customer support system evidenced by recent public complains on the system’s outage.

“We had a call-centre previously, but when funds could not be disbursed, we had to release them. Most of this young people are now jobless. Our physical travel needs to resolve client issues has also been curtailed,” Mr. Ayugi added.

The revelations by the Nairobi based firm arises on the back of allegations of losses accumulating to Ksh.5.6 billion through the said E-Citizen platform.

Webmasters Africa has since come-out to denounce any such losses saying any embezzlement of funds through the platform would have been immediately flagged by the respective government agencies and ministerial departments who employ the service in their revenue mobilisation efforts.

“There is not a single government department that has complained of loss of revenue. We are just an enabler to the payments. The Director of Criminal Investigations for instance collects its police clearance through E-Citizen, we have not seen them complain. The allegations are not only erroneous but also malicious and libelous,” James Ayugi elaborated.

The embezzlement allegations emerge even as Webmaster Africa remains enjoined on a lawsuit pitting Goldrock Capital, E-Citizen’s transactional support against the National Treasury in what is viewed as a tug of war for the platform’s control.

The premium rate service provider (PRSP) sued the Treasury after being forbidden access to the system’s supporting paybill number in early 2017 as Treasury seized control of the platform after its transfer from the Office of the President.

Goldrock in its filing further makes reference to pending bills in the form of convenience fees for its facilitation of payments on the E-Citizen platform.

In spite of the wrangles centred around control, the electronic platform has since its establishment facilitated transactions worth over Ksh.40billion and made available to the public at least 200 online services.

The platform has over 12 million active users and processes about 500,000 transactions a month.

Moreover, the portal is already credited with the jump of Kenya’s improved ease of doing business by 19 places to the 61st position in 2018 from position 92 through the easing of essential government services to include the registration of businesses.

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Story By Kepha Muiruri
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