Murkomen: I have a weakness for the finest things in life

Two days after calling for the introduction of a Lifestyle Audit Bill for public servants, Roads and Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen has addressed the myriad of questions raised by Kenyans about his perceived lavish lifestyle.

The former Elgeyo Marakwet Senator and Senate Majority Leader opened up about his expensive wardrobe and other luxury items, arguing that holding a public office does not necessitate corruption to afford such things.

In a candid revelation on Obina TV, CS Murkomen admitted to owning a Rolex watch worth Sh900,000, a pair of shoes costing Sh80,000, a Sh50,000 belt, a Sh20,000 tie and a Sh30,000 suit.

He stated that he has recently switched to wearing a vintage Casio G-Shock valued at Sh9,000, which is currently retailing for Sh13,000 in the market.

“I have a watch (Rolex) that cost me Sh900,000, this one I am wearing is Casio g-shock which I bought at Sh9,000 but has interestingly been valued by those in social media at Sh400,000,” Mr Murkomen said during an interview on Monday night at Obina Show.

The politician expressed frustration over the social media backlash and stated that he has put away the expensive watch to avoid further scrutiny.

He emphasized that his penchant for expensive attire is not indicative of corruption but rather a personal interest that he has had since childhood.

“Some of the attire are expensive to acquire because they are durable and could last for 20 years without losing value. Like my watch, I hear it will appreciate in value and I may need to dispose of it for a profit in the future,” he explained.

“Every human being has one thing that diverts him to use resources that were meant for something else, something that might have been of better value. That is where my weakness lies but I am ready to correct my ways,” he went on.

He added, “When I go to retail outlets with my wife and children, they are keen to steer me away from the shoes section as I would end up buying it on impulse.”

The CS claimed that his obsession with watches started when he was in primary school and wore one bought for him by his father in 1991 when he was in class six, as an appreciation for improving his grades and coming on top of his class.

Murkomen recounted how his father motivated him to excel in school by promising a watch if he topped his class, which sparked his lifelong interest in watches.

“I cried so much for failing to beat some of these guys who were unbeatable in class, but my father understood, said I heard earned the watch. He bought it for me,” he said.

The politician-turned-technocrat argued that public officials should not be vilified for their lifestyles but held accountable for their work.

“I find it unfortunate that as a CS, a former Senator, former Senate Majority Leader, a lawyer, and a farmer engaged in export, people look at what I wear and take stock of the value. I am ready to be audited any time. Just provide the legal framework for it.The paradox is that whereas they are looking at the clothes and other accessories, I have cars and a house that are many times more expense,” he said.

The house he lives in currently with his family, he said, took him 10 years to acquire the land and built it to his taste.

In the interview he Murkomen reaffirmed his readiness to undergo a lifestyle audit, asserting that he has always been transparent about his wealth, which he declared at Sh550 million during his cabinet vetting in October 2022.

“I am ready to be audited any time. Just provide the legal framework for it. The paradox is that whereas they are looking at the clothes and other accessories, I have cars and a house that are many times more expensive,” he stated.

The CS said he walked tall because he had not engaged in corruption in his public life including being in the Cabinet, where government resources are at his disposal.

“The hate (in social media) does not affect me now. Over time, I have become immune but not numb. If I was numb, then nothing would bother me,” Mr Murkomen said.

He stated that those spreading hate among public servants and others do not think that it affects families of their targets, but it does with children being the most hit.

“When I was involved in a helicopter crash, there were people, some I even know, and perhaps they do not know that I know them, even went to an extent of saying in social media that I deserve to have died,” the CS said.

The CS was involved in a helicopter crash in Baringo with Kenya Airports Authority chairman Caleb Kositany and staff from his office including security officer and a cameraman.

The Bell 407 registration 5y-PKI helicopter associated with former Presidential candidate Peter Keneth developed a mechanical problem during takeoff in Baringo county on March 9, 2024.

Claims that he was proud and corrupt, was misplaced and fashioned on hatred for his outspokenness and unbending nature against corruption.

“I am proud that two years down the line as a CS, no one has accused me of engaging in corruption because when I took office, I vowed to work for my country and shun corrupt practices,” Mr Murkomen said.

“At the time the claims were being made that I had been arrested in Dubai, I was actually in Nairobi. It is unfortunate that some people can take a joke too far and can pick stories from some faceless characters in social media (and sell them)” Mr Murkomen said.

He proposed that a Lifestyle Audit Bill should be tabled in Parliament to set parameters for auditing state and public officers’ living standards to ensure consistency with their lawful income.

Public servants are required to declare their wealth every two years, with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) using these declarations to investigate and prosecute those found to have acquired wealth through dubious means. Mr Murkomen emphasized that he has nothing to hide and is prepared for any scrutiny that comes his way.

­He stated that people should know that there is a limit on the amount of money one can be allowed to carry in hard cash in any country.

“The maximum amount of money I have carried outside the country is 10,000 dollars, in a country where credit cards are now working (or accepted)” Mr Murkomen revealed.

But the CS said he had developed a thick skin to the criticism and the hatred at times channeled his way over the years.

“As long as you are in public space serving 56 million people, you should sober up and be ready to be attacked and be put to the wire on issues. I am an embobut boy who grew up in the bush and I identify with my roots and am confident about where I come from. I don’t try to be what I am not. I don’t live a plastic life,” Mr Murkomen said.

Last Saturday in Kapkatet, Kericho County, he proposed that a Lifestyle Audit Bill should be tabled in parliament to among other things set the maximum cost of personal wear/outfits, cars among others.

“In line with the current National Conversation and to address the concerns that state and public officers are living beyond their means, I propose that Parliament urgently introduces and passes Lifestyle Audit Bill to provide the parameters of auditing the state and public officers and to investigate their living standards to ascertain consistency with their lawful income,” Mr Murkomen said.

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