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By DAVID MUCHUI
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Methodist Church is considering inviting the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate individuals accused of running down its institutions in what is claimed to be organised plunder.

Those on the radar are said to have pilfered funds at the Kenya Methodist University (KeMU) and run down Maua Methodist Hospital and the Methodist Resort.

Methodist Church Presiding Bishop Joseph Ntombura is facing protests against his leadership.

The church has been in the news with a section of the clergy and members holding rallies calling for the ouster of Rev Ntombura.

But the Presiding Bishop said trouble started immediately after his predecessor realised he was not a ‘yes man’.

His predecessor, Reverend Stephen Kanyaru, has joined the calls for his removal citing lack of academic certificates, lying to the church and mismanagement of its institutions.

In an exclusive interview with the Saturday Nation, however, Mr Ntombura said he has faced backlash due to his efforts to remove saboteurs and seal loopholes used to pilfer money.

While Rev. Kanyaru said he handed over a healthy church and institutions in 2013, Rev. Ntombura painted a grim picture of the church, KeMU, Methodist Resort and Maua Methodist Hospital when he took over five years ago.

He said he inherited a “dying church” and pointed to an institution gripped by intense power play, with those fired for various offences coming out guns blazing.

“In the process of cleaning up these institutions and restoring the dignity of the church, I have encountered a battalion of enemies. Corruption is fighting back,” he said.

Mr Ntombura dismissed claims that he lacks academic papers as untrue, noting he completed his studies at St Paul’s Theological College and later earned a Masters degree at Cambridge University.

“Bishop Kanyaru backed my election and even protected me from opponents in 2013. But after my election, he backed efforts to block my induction through a court process which never went through. Even on my ordination day, there was a lot of sabotage and the seat meant for the new presiding bishop was missing,” Rev Ntombura added.

“After my ordination, I came in to a hostile reception by Bishop Kanyaru’s people. The church had been relying on loans to run its offices. Statutory deductions were in arrears. The official residence of the presiding bishop had no furniture. There was no money left for mission work.”

At KeMU, the bishop claimed, management presented “cosmetic” financial records indicating a stable institution with a surplus of Sh156 million in its account.

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Rev Ntombura went on to say that within no time, the management sought approval from the council to get a loan, raising eyebrows about its financial health.

“We wondered why the university was borrowing yet it had a surplus of Sh156 million. The Vice Chancellor and the finance department could not explain, leading to a forensic audit that unearthed shocking details of cooked financial records,” he said.

“The audit revealed unpaid statutory dues, loans and credit amounting to Sh2.8 billion. We had to move with speed to restructure the loans to save the university from the auctioneers’ hammer.”

He added that a sustained effort to make the university dysfunctional led to the disappearance of the original registration document for the board of trustees, stalling the registration of the current team.

Regarding the KeMU chancellor post, the bishop said the church opposed a recommendation by the Commission for University Education (CUE) for it not to be the presiding bishop.

“We met the commission and the church gave its position – that it could not give up the chancellor post. The church is not interfering with the running of the university but the recommendation was due to a negative report by those fighting my leadership.”

He pointed out that the church was ready to bail out the university, which is now looking into specialisation to improve efficiency.

“Despite all the challenges, KeMU is the first private university to graduate medical doctors this year. It has assets that will help it remain afloat and return to its former glory,” he said.

The prelate further said various measures have been put in place to restore the hospital which had Sh2,000 in its operations account when he took over.

He said that under his leadership, the resort has become a vibrant facility which is now funding mission work.

On claims that he irregularly amended the church Standing Orders, Bishop Ntombura said they were meant to spur growth.

“Since I took over, the church has increased its presence from 29 to 42 counties. Membership has doubled and the clergy are motivated. The dhurch is now fulfilling its core mandate; the great commission,” he said.

However, the group rallying against the leadership of Bishop Ntombura maintains his stay is untenable.



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