Since the launch of the eCitizen platform in Kenya back in 2013, Kenyans have been paying a service charge on the platform for accessing various government services such as applications for passports, driving licenses, business registration certificates, e-passports and much more. Well, a few months ago, a saga broke out that the service charge was being channeled to a few individuals who were stealing millions of shillings from the government.
To understand what is going on, let’s do a recap; the eCitizen platform was financed by World Bank’s private lending arm IFC and was later handed over to the Kenyan Government after it was developed by Webmasters Kenya. In the new developments, Webmasters Kenya apparently subcontracted Goldrock Capital to collect money paid for government services through eCitizen.
Webmasters Kenya has, however, come out denying that it ever subcontracted Goldrock Capital for such duties. Goldrock Capital has sued the Treasury and Webmasters Kenya, for denying it access to the portal’s M-Pesa paybill through which payments are made to access services on eCitizen. Kenya’s Treasury has stated that the government did not authorize any private firm to collect eCitizen payments, they only authorized Webmasters Kenya to train government officials to handle the payment portal, “hence any contract purporting to hire another firm for collection of revenue is null and void.”
“There is no privity of contract between Goldrock Capital and Webmasters Kenya. Goldrock Capital has not demonstrated either by adducing evidence or by affidavit evidence that it has a relationship with Webmasters Kenya or that Webmasters Kenya has been or is in control of paybill 206206 hence there is no disclosed cause of action against Webmasters Kenya,” Webmasters Kenya says.
In a twist, Goldrock Capital says it was contracted by Webmasters Africa, on behalf of Webmasters Kenya, but the Webmasters Kenya says it has no relationship with Webmasters Africa, despite court records showing Webmasters Kenya’s CEO James Ayugi is also Webmasters Africa’s managing director.
In an Affidavit, Webmasters Africa Managing Director, James Ayugi, admits subcontracting Goldrock Capital to collect money paid to the eCitizen platform, but the deal would expire in the event that the government issued a binding directive relating to the payment portal.
Dr. Kamau Thugge, Treasury Permanent Secretary, says that the contract between Goldrock Capital and Webmasters Africa is illegal “as the collection of revenue on behalf of the government requires authorization from Treasury CS Henry Rotich.”