A dream doesn't become reality through magic. It takes sweat, determination and hard work.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Njoya criticises the church for betraying freedom fight in new book


PCEA Rev Dr Timothy Njoya delivers sermons
PCEA Rev Dr Timothy Njoya delivers sermons during the Centennial Celebrations to mark the Gospel of Jesus in Kinoo, Nairobi , 2008. The church was celebrating the one hundred years since its inception. PHOTO| STEPHEN MUDIARI  
When the history of the struggle for social, political and economic emancipation in Kenya is finally written, Dr Timothy Njoya will certainly find a pride of place in that text. Dr Njoya is one of the few remaining clerics who came out forcefully during the dark days to face up to the repressive Kanu regime in the first 40 years after independence and subsequent wooly ones after 2002.
Dr Njoya was part of the triumvirate of Dr Henry Okullu, Bishop Alexander Muge and Dr David Gitari, who used the pulpit to raise consciousness on political oppression under the Kanu one-party state in the 1970s through to the early 1990s. They interpreted the scriptures liberally, unfailingly pointing out that the kingdom was here and now and that Kenyan citizens must enjoy that kingdom in the present; disabusing the fallacy that Christians must suffer in this life to gain rewards in the after-life.
The trio was in the league of the liberation group that comprised left-leaning politicians like the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, JM Kariuki, Bildad Kaggia, Jean-Marie Seroney; academic radicals such as Willy Mutunga, Ngugi wa Thiongo, Micere Mugo, Anyang’ Nyong’o, Koigi Wamwere, all of whom who suffered for their political convictions; and in later years, early 1990s, the Young Turks then — Raila Odinga, Paul Muite, Mukhisa Kituyi, Wamalwa Kijana, Kiraitu Murungi, James Orengo and Gitobu Imanyara, among others.
Times have since changed and things have gone full cycle. Some of those who fought oppressive and predatory practices and suffered for their convictions have become the very perpetrators. Worse, those who persecuted the masses dyed their skins and became liberators and sneaked their way to power and have continued to sit over others.
Dr Njoya has taken the rare courage to expose all these in the new book, We the People, a line clearly extracted from the preamble of the 2010 Constitution. The direct connotation is that power rest with the people and that it is the people of Kenya who have the right and, as he put it, divine entitlement to make decision about the way they are governed and lead their lives. The book is being launched this weekend.
It is not your ordinary memoir; the usual narratives that take a chronology order from birth to death; from poor extraction in the village to success in the city. Far from it; this is a critical treatise on issues, people and events that have defined his life and the life of the Kenya nation. It is a picture of struggle, betrayal by the State and the church, disempowerment of the people by the rulers and the continued exploitation of ethnic differences for political gains. It is also a catalogue of political assassinations, state-sponsored violence, organised torture and detentions of those who opposed Kanu dictatorship.
Dr Njoya’s thesis is that Kenya’s independence in 1963 was a fallacy; having been midwifed in Lancaster by a group of people picked by the colonial administration, not Kenyan masses, and forced to sign a Constitution they did not understand. Kenyans, argues Dr Njoya, were conned right from the beginning, a trend that continues to date. He argues that we have is a market and not a society; it is a place in which human beings are traded over by those in authority.
Whereas the political structure was framed in a manner that was intrinsically oppressive, other elements of western civilisation, education, economics and Christian religion were used, and continue to be used, to manipulate and control Africans. In particular, Dr Njoya is critical of the education system offered to Kenyan children since independence, whose focus is acquisition and memorisation of facts, which are regurgitated in exams; which exams are used to sieve those able to memorise most and graded highly and processed to proceed to higher levels. In essence, education is a factory rather than an institution for critical thinking, self-consciousness, innovation and creativity. Not surprisingly, the education system has created loyalists, system sympathisers and boot-lickers.
Presbyterian Church of Kenya cleric Dr Timothy
Presbyterian Church of Kenya cleric Dr Timothy Njoya near Parliament buildings, Nairobi on June 10, 1999 where he was beaten during a demonstration to press for constitutional reforms. PHOTO| FILE
“The Kenyan system of education, as much as colonialism and slavery, was to blame for producing swimmers with the current. Moi could not single-handedly imagine building Nyayo House torture chambers without the assistance of his state engineers, architects, lawyers, surveyors, and city planners. Without political scientists and sociologists from the best high schools in Kenya, Moi’s dictatorship could not have survived in office for another decade after my October 5, 1986 sermon,” he writes.
The enduring message all through is that Dr Njoya is a not a conformist — be it at school in his youth, at the church where served for decades or the political scene where he has refused to go away even when age is catching up with him.
It lays bare the tribulations of being non-conformist. Dr Njoya was suspended from his duties as the pastor of PCEA St Andrews Church next to the University of Nairobi for controversial summons that angered then President Moi and his administration, who arm-twisted the Bishop and other church leaders to punish him. On occasions, he was banished to Tumutumu in Nyeri to pull him away from the city and the glare of the press cameras in the belief that that would diminish his stature, but it never worked.
Dr Njoya paid physically for his beliefs. One of the lingering memories of Dr Njoya is when he was beaten and left for dead near Parliament by paid assailants. Also, he was teargassed and beaten when he led a prayer service at All Saints Cathedral on Saba Day in 1997. But all these never killed the fighting spirit.
Although the return of multiparty democracy after agitation by the Opposition, independent-minded clerics, civil society activists and external pressure, Dr Njoya is convinced Kenya is not yet free. He terms the second liberation a mirage and dismisses those behind it, the Young Turks, and even the clergy as pretenders.
The folly of the second liberation, he argues, was manifest after the bungled 2007 elections that was followed by violence that nearly led the country to the precipice. In all its manifestation, the elections were an ethnic census, and given the deep ethnic divisions, it opened fissures for physical expression of latent anger. Hence he says:
“The theoretical ineptitude of the second liberationists foistered the intra-elite and intra-ethnic rivalry that inevitably led to the post-2007 election civil war between the Party of National Union (PNU) and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM.” 
Similarly, Dr Njoya is highly critical of the church, which he reckons is an appendage of the state and influenced by market forces, hence unable to credibly execute its mission of transforming human beings into heavenly creatures.
Even so, for Njoya, one of the most fulfilling achievements in his lifetime was the enactment of the 2010 Constitution, whose centre-piece was dispersal of power from the centre to the grassroots. Inter alia, the Constitution defrocked the Presidency of the imperial powers inherited from the colonial government through the Lancaster Constitution.
Arguably, Dr Njoya, a minister of the Presbyterian Church, stands out as one the most controversial and highly-opinionated clergy of our times. He cites the period between 1984 to 1991 as the most traumatic and revealing in his life. But he has no regrets. His solution to what he describes as Kenya’s tragedy is the re-awakening of the masses, the realisation that independence was false, instruments of government, including education are weapons of subjugation and the realisation that what we operate is a market not society.
However, Dr Njoya comes out as a self-centred personality who does not recognise sacrifices others have made for the betterment of this country. He dismisses clerics like Okullu, Gitari and Muge as not fully convicted of their political liberation pursuits. Similarly, he casts aspersions on the politicians, academicians and civil society activists who sacrificed so much during the second liberation. This is not a fair assessment of history.
When he constantly uses the motif of three in his life, he was violently attacked three times, he was punished three times by PCEA, et al, he echoes Christ death and ascension after the third day; which is a stretch of imagination.
Overall, this is a philosophical and radically different memoir that enriches an analysis of Kenya’s history since independence, incorporating interesting elements like the church and the academia in the mix.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Nairobi, Kiambu lead in voter numbers ahead of August polls

Jun. 27, 2017,

Nairobi and Kiambu account for the largest population of the 19,611,423 registered voters eligible to take part in the August 8 general elections.

IEBC data released on Tuesday showed that Nairobi leads with a total of 2,250,853 voters followed by Kiambu which has 1,180,920 eligible voters.

The two counties are home to 17.4 per cent of the voters in the country. 

Nakuru came third having registered 949,618 voters followed by Kakamega's 743, 736 and Meru's 702, 480.

Machakos emerged sixth with 620,254 voters followed by Murang'a which has 587,126 voters while Mombasa is position eight with 580,223.

The Coastal county is followed by Bungoma which has listed 559,850 voters whereas Kisii closes top 10 counties with 546,580 voters.

Kisumu is in position 11 with 539,210 voters followed by Kilifi (508,068), Homa Bay (476, 875), Kitui (475,512) and Siaya (457,953).

Nyeri county is position 16 with 456,949 voters followed by Uasin Gishu, Makueni, Kajiado and Migori with 450,055; 423,310; 411,193 and 388,633 respectively.

Kericho came at position 21 with 375,668 registered voters followed by Busia (351,048), Kirinyaga (349,836), Nandi (346,007) and Narok (341,730).

Trans Nzoia, the electoral agency data suggests, is position 26 with 339,622 voters followed by Nyandarua with 335,634 registered voters.

Isaac Rutto's Bomet county took position 28 with 322,012 voters followed by Embu with 309,466. Kwale is at position 30 with 281,041 voters.

While Nyamira has a total of 278,583 voters, Vihiga follows closely with 272,409 while Laikipia has 246,487 registered voters.

Baringo, in the verified register, has 232,558 voters while Jubilee's perceived Tharaka Nithi stronghold is at position 35 with 213,154 voters.

Turkana is among the counties with less than 200,000 voters with a total of 191,435 registered voters.

It is followed closely by Elgeyo Marakwet with 180,664, West Pokot (180,232), Mandera (175,642) and Garissa at position 40 with 163,350 listed voters.

Wajir county has 162,902 voters compared to Taita Taveta which has 155,716 followed by Marsabit with 141,708 voters.

Tana River is at position 44 with 118,327 voters hence closes the list of counties with more than 100,000 voters.

Samburu, on the other hand, has 82,787 registered voters, Isiolo (75,338) with Lamu trailing all the 47 regional units with only 69,776 registered voters.

In the latest update released by the electoral agency on Tuesday, at least 4,393 voters in the diaspora are eligible for the polls whereas 5,528 will vote in prison.

The number represents the number of voters whose details were verified and found to be up to date.

Some 88,602 voters were expunged from the register after a forensic audit done by KPMG clarified that they were dead.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Most crowded election still slims down to Uhuru, Raila


President Kenyatta beat Mr Odinga by 833,887 votes in the 2013 poll

President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses a rally at Mutuati market in Igembe North on June 24, 2017. President Kenyatta beat Mr Odinga by 833,887 votes in the 2013 poll. PHOTO | DAVID MUCHUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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On the second Tuesday of August this year, Kenyans will go to the ballot again as President Uhuru Kenyatta seeks a second term in a rematch against his 2013 main challenger, Raila Odinga, and six others.

It is also an election that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has promised will be foolproof, having invested Sh45 billion in the process.

“Our election is expensive because we do not trust each other,” Mr Chris Msando, IEBC acting ICT director, told the Nation.

The commission is splashing Sh675 million on satellite technology in 1,500 of the 41,000 polling stations that do not have 3G network to transmit the results. 

Comparatively, the commission is spending three times more for this technology than on the 3G/2G network, at Sh150 million.

During the 2013 polls, only 17,000 of the 33,000 polling stations transmitted results before a technical hitch blacked out the process, a mistake the commission hopes will not happen again. 

Mr Msando’s take on lack of trust — and how expensive it can be — aptly summarises the life of the IEBC from 2013, when it declared President Kenyatta validly elected, and now, when it is planning an election it says must happen right.

Mr Odinga last year led weeks of protests to demand the resignation of the Issack Hassan-led IEBC, whom he blamed for his loss in 2013.

Enter Mr Wafula Chebukati, a camera-shy, soft-spoken University of Nairobi-trained lawyer who was picked to head the seven-member IEBC, down from the nine under Mr Hassan.

The new IEBC came with election laws that required a technology-based voting that the Odinga team believes will curb rigging.

But even with the new team, nagging queries regarding procurement and numerous court cases have gnawed on the credibility of the commission.

For instance, Mr Odinga has opposed the Sh2.5 billion ballot paper printing tender award to Dubai-based Al-Ghurair, saying the firm has links with President Kenyatta, and that its officials met Mr Kenyatta at State House together with IEBC staff to negotiate the tender.

Jubilee and IEBC have denied the claims.

On August 8, about 19 million registered voters will cast their ballots to elect 1,882 Kenyans, from President to their member of the county assembly, spanning six elective seats. 

The 14,552 candidates vying for various seats in the election will be 1,776 more than the 12,776 that offered themselves for election in March 2013.

The number would have been even higher were it not for a ban on party hopping that President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga last year whipped their members in Parliament to pass.


The provision made it illegal for politicians, as had been the norm, to jump ship to other parties after losing in the nominations.

But with it came the independent candidates, the new political breed threatening to eat into the two main parties’ numbers in Parliament, and creating a huge dilemma in their main support bastions.

At 3,752, the independents are the single biggest number of candidates from one unit in the election and double that of Jubilee, the party with the biggest number, coming in a distant second at 1,801. 

There were only 350 independent candidates in the 2013 elections.

Analysts and pollsters have predicted that the election will be a tight race between President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga, with neither of them able to make the 50 per cent plus one constitutional threshold to be declared president in the first round.

President Kenyatta beat Mr Odinga by 833,887 votes in the 2013 poll, getting 6,174,433 against the ODM leader’s 5,340,546. 

With 50.5 per cent of the total votes cast, Mr Kenyatta escaped a run-off with only about 8,000 votes.

Now, a confident Kenyatta, banking on what he argues has been an exemplary development record, says he will be re-elected. 

Last year, he convinced 11 parties to merge to form Jubilee Party and poached over 40 MPs and five governors from the Opposition.

Conversely, Mr Odinga, under the National Super Alliance, claims he is assured of 10 million votes, banking on what he sees as “a referendum on the bad state of affairs” against President Kenyatta’s government.

With the addition of Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi, who had 483,981 votes in 2013, and Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto of Chama Cha Mashinani, Mr Odinga’s team now says he stands a better chance of winning on August 8.

Six other candidates — Ekuru Aukot of Thirdway Alliance Kenya, Mohamed Abduba Dida of Tunza Coalition, Cyrus Jirongo of the United Democratic Party, as well as independent candidates Joe Nyagah, Michael Wainaina and Japheth Kaluyu — are also battling for the top seat. 

Money, power and politics: The covert life of Kenya’s James Bond

    SUNDAY JUNE 25 2017

    Businessman Jimi Wanjigi talks to Nasa co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka

    Businessman Jimi Wanjigi (left) talks to Nasa co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka during a rally at Uhuru Park on April 27, 2017. On April 2003, Mr Wanjigi’s Kwacha Group was allowed to install and operate VSAT (very small aperture terminal) for data service such as internet and e-mail. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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    Jimi Richard Wanjigi is the poster child of what is broken about the Kenyan dream — the burning desire to accumulate a fortune, by whatever means.

    The business and political influence, Savile Row suits, gold-plated rimless glasses and fat bank accounts are not, by all accounts, from a diligent application of honest labour, but wheeler-dealing.

    His house at 44 Muthaiga Road, a stone’s throw away from the residence of the United States ambassador, is what he has to show for the time he has hobnobbed with the wealthy and the loaded. 


    Here, those close to him say, he lives like a king: A heated swimming pool, helipad for his Eurocopter registration 5Y-JWJ, a bunker and a compound with top-of-the-line security features.

    Buddies call him James Bond — the stylish secret agent, “Special Agent 007” character created by English author Ian Flemming in the 1960s and acted in iconic films. 

    But Mr Wanjigi is more than James Bond.


    Unlike other political financiers who show off their riches, Mr Wanjigi is most secretive. 

    Of late, and ever since the assassination of his rowdy friend Jacob Juma, the shadowy tenderpreneur has retreated from public places into exclusive clubs and for a reason. Mr Wanjigi, his friends say, has become paranoid.

    “The death of Jacob Juma scared him. He thinks that it was a warning shot directed at him," a source close to him said. 

    “The only two places he frequents are the high-end Caramel Restaurant & Lounge at ABC Place (on Nairobi’s Waiyaki Way) and his office (at Gen Mathenge Drive).”

    While some sources say he has interests in the restaurant, the brand is associated with Dubai’s dollar billionaire Mohammed Al Hashimi, who heads the multimillion-dollar Dubai-based private equity company Zabeel Investments.

    So secretive is Mr Wanjigi that, until recently, no newsroom had his picture.

    As the race for State House gains momentum, Mr Wanjigi has emerged as the powerful behind-the-scenes operator within the Raila Odinga-led National Super Alliance (Nasa) — a political outfit that brings together both conservative and left-wing politicos of yesteryears in a bid to take over from President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party.

    Interestingly, the group also brings in intellectuals and progressives such as economist David Ndii, anti-graft crusader John Githongo and lawyer George Kegoro. 

    Here, a congruence of interests is creating strange bed-fellows. 

    That Mr Githongo is in the same camp with Mr Wanjigi is a paradox since, when he fled to exile, it was claimed in Parliament that Mr Wanjigi was after his life. 

    While Mr Wanjigi hardly appears at Nasa’s political rallies, his name has been mentioned as one of the major donors to its campaign fund, a position that gives him an edge over the small-time contributors.

    Recently, street banners with his image appeared on Nairobi highways — perhaps a crude attempt at showcasing the capture of politics by influential members of the “millionaires club” who fund political activities of different parties in return for an opportunity to cut big tender deals.

    How he will translate this influence into his favour — in case of a Nasa victory — is a matter of conjecture. 

    It is not the first time local and international businessmen and corporations have stepped in to fund political parties, with some giving money to both sides of the narrow political divide — a practice not unique to Kenya but present in all democracies where political funding is a tightly held secret.

    Son of former Cabinet minister James Maina Wanjigi, the emergence of the young Mr Wanjigi is, perhaps, going to be the talk of the political season — on how one man can take it upon himself to bankroll a political party. 


    In the United Kingdom, for instance, successive governments have faced scandals over allegations that donors were buying power through donors’ clubs, under which wealthy people buy access to senior politicians at private dinners and meetings. 

    Thanks to the Kenyan taxpayer, whose money he has plundered with impunity through Anglo Leasing-type contracting, Mr Wanjigi sits, like a spider, at the center of a web of the trappings of wealth and power. 

    Among his fleet of aircraft is the helicopter operated by Lady Lori (K) Limited, a company owned by American couple Jim and Lori de Nooyer.

    In the aviation register, the plane is listed as owned by Tyl Limited of UAE — a shell company registered in the Isle of Man but whose beneficial owner is Mr Wanjigi. The company is also incorporated in Kenya.

    It is this company that he has used over the years to transact business abroad — and make payments to different people locally, including politicians.

    Before he rose to financial fame, Mr Wanjigi worked at his father’s company in Westlands, Nairobi, where he had found solace after he returned from the University of York, having enrolled at the Canadian institution in 1982 shortly after leaving St Mary’s School, Nairobi. 

    “He left the university before graduating,” a York alumnus said.

    Like other St Mary’s alumni, the fabled school, which was the bastion of privilege in the 1970s and 1980s, Mr Wanjigi easily found his way into the governing class — thanks to strong political and business networks of his father and close allies.

    In his early years, before power, opulence and influence found space in his life, the young Mr Wanjigi opened an office on 5th Floor, Ukulima Plaza, and every morning he would drive a red Mercedes Benz into the allocated slot, or a silver Benz.

    It was then that he became friends with Brigadier (Rtd) Wilson Boinett, who had been appointed to head the Special Branch in 1995 with a singular agenda of transforming the spy agency from a tool for the suppression of dissent to intelligence gathering. 

    By this time, the opposition had been weakened by wrangling within Ford-Kenya, pitting its leader Wamalwa Kijana against Raila Odinga. 

    The source of acrimony was allegations that Mr Wamalwa, as Public Accounts Committee chairman, had received a bribe from Goldenberg scandal architect Kamlesh Pattni to exonerate the government from wrongdoing in the fictitious compensation for export of gold and precious stones.

    This led to the split that saw Mr Odinga quit to form the National Development Party (NDP). 

    Kenneth Matiba had also fallen out with his Secretary-General, Martin Shikuku, and the opposition ranks were in disarray.

    It is during this period that Mr Wanjigi got to know the likes of opposition maverick James Orengo, Mr Odinga, Mr Joe Donde and late Kanu stalwart Joseph Kamotho, among others. 

    That he easily infiltrated both the opposition ranks and the government amazed friend and foe.

    “For Boinett, he could get raw intelligence easily on what each and every group was doing,” a source familiar with Mr Wanjigi’s earlier dealings said.

    In the business circles, Mr Wanjigi became a close ally of Sunil Behal, the owner of construction company Krishan Behal and Sons, whose hefty contributions to then-Vice-President George Saitoti’s harambee meetings was widely known. 

    Mr Behal was also a wheeler-dealer and had emerged as the king of tenderpreneurs, winning various tenders to the extent that Parliament was once told — by Prof Anyang Nyong’o — that he was so powerful that he boasted “he could even sack ministers who were trying to correct his job”. 

    Mr Behal’s life would however end scandalously in October 2005 when he collapsed and died after taking what police suspected to be heroin. 

    He had checked into Nairobi Safari Club at Lilian Towers, Nairobi, in the company of a woman at about 1am and moments later, he was dead.

    After Mr Behal’s death, Mr Wanjigi became the administrator of his multimillion-shilling estate, which then included the 44 Muthaiga property — where he now lives and which he has turned into a mini-Fort Knox or something resembling the 2002 American film thriller Panic Room

    This fact emerged in a 2005 civil suit at a Milimani court where he filed an affidavit as the “joint administrator” of Sunil Behal’s estate.

    It was while at Ukulima Plaza that Mr Wanjigi was also introduced to another Mr Bagman, Nairobi Provincial Commissioner Fred Waiganjo — the man credited by Cyrus Jirongo as having introduced him into big business.

    Mr Jirongo was the chairman of the notorious Youth for Kanu 92, an outfit that campaigned for President Daniel arap Moi during the first multi-party election following the repeal of Section 2(a) of the then-Constitution. 

    Multiple sources say so close were Mr Waiganjo and Mr Wanjigi that, when the former PC died, he helped the family to secure administration of the multimillion-shilling empire. 

    It was however through his dalliance with players in the intelligence network that Mr Wanjigi became an agent of various contractors looking for tenders in the security sector. 

    Evidence in our possession indicates that his company, Tyl Limited, cut deals running into hundreds of millions of shillings. 

    As a result, his name would occasionally pop up in Parliamentary documents pertaining to scandals — including the multibillion-shilling Anglo Leasing scam.


    At Ukulima Plaza, an insider in the Wanjigi network said, the US development and IT consultant, Dr Merlyn Kettering, had hired a private office for his company Dynatech International.

    Dr Kettering was a tenderpreneur par excellence, who had been involved in the Sh250 million computerisation of the Kenya Airports Authority in the 1990s.

    Almost on a daily basis, he would visit Mr Wanjigi’s office; some people thought he worked there.

    Dynatech had been registered by the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca — the one at the center of the Panama Papers scandal last year and which helped the super-rich hide their wealth in secret offshore accounts. 

    Besides Dr Kettering, the other director of the company was Rashmikant Kamani — at least between May 25, 1993 and January 1, 1996. 

    The fall of Kanu in 2002 saw various Moi-era power-brokers exit the scene and Mr Wanjigi was lucky to have his uncle Joseph Magari take the powerful position of Finance permanent secretary.

    It was during this period that Mr Magari signed a multibillion-shilling contract for Anglo Leasing to purchase, supply and install a passport issuance system in the Home Affairs Ministry. 

    He would later be charged with corruption and abuse of office together with four others.


    He was however set free after then-Finance Minister David Mwiraria and Attorney-General Amos Wako told the court that they approved the contract because they believed it was a noble project.

    What we now know is that Dr Kettering was a permanent feature at The Treasury, where he attended planning meetings for various security projects. 

    It was only after news of the Anglo Leasing scandal broke that Dr Kettering fled the country as questions were raised on the Sh4 billion CID laboratories scandal. 

    The man who blew the whistle was John Githongo, on May 14, 2004, when he alerted President Mwai Kibaki that the construction of a forensic lab for the CID was also a corruption scandal.

    The entire Anglo Leasing scandal centered on 18 security contracts, including a secure passport equipment system and a forensic science laboratory that were never supplied although hundreds of millions of shillings were paid.

    It was the scandal that made Githongo, then permanent secretary for Ethics, flee to Europe after implicating senior Cabinet ministers in the Kibaki administration. 

    He also released a dossier that implicated Mr Mwiraria

    The minister later denied in Parliament ever having warned Mr Githongo that he would be killed by Mr Wanjigi, who kept a low profile as the scandal raged.

    But even with the low profile, Mr Wanjigi was adversely mentioned by the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament in the Sh7.6 billion passport and forensic lab scandals that also involved Deepak Kamani, who had by then fled the country. 

    While his passport, number A796193, had earlier been confiscated, a Nairobi court on May 12, 2006 ordered the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission to return it to him.

    Mr Wanjigi had also been involved in the multimillion-shilling telecommunication business. 

    On April 2003, the now-defunct Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) allowed Mr Wanjigi’s Kwacha Group to install and operate VSAT (very small aperture terminal) for data service such as internet and e-mail. 


    He would later sue and win a case against a local newspaper, which suggested that the system he had installed was meant to bypass the Telkom system, allowing him to rake in millions of shillings.

    Mr Githongo, a man of rare integrity, in 2005 explained that Anglo Leasing was not one deal: It was a method of dishonest contracting in which the taxpayer either got nothing for his money or paid more than he should, and that the actor in this trade existed since independence and merely inherited governments.

    Mr Wanjigi is now the inheritor-in-chief.

    Friday, 23 June 2017

    The untold story of the Kenyattas' wealth


    Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and daughter Margaret. (Photo: File/Standard)

    The vast wealth of the Kenyatta family was considered such a crucial factor in Kenya’s internal security that the CIA, America’s spy agency, issued a special report on it the day Kenya’s founding father was buried in 1978.

    The report, which was made public last week, talked of thousands of acres of land owned by Mzee Kenyatta and his wife Mama Ngina, high-powered wrangles over gemstones mines, a colossal stake in the charcoal trade, secret exports of ivory and an unspoken fear that Kenyans would revolt and seize back land from the First Family.

    Stamped ‘secret’, the Economic Intelligence Weekly Review dated  August 31, 1978 is part of nearly 800,000 declassified files that the CIA was forced to publish online just ten days ago. It gives an insight into the explosive mix of power and business in the post-independence Kenya and might explain why the Kenyatta family has always appeared to be indebted to President Daniel arap Moi, who took over on Mzee Kenyatta’s death, amid a wave of resentment against the country’s ruling class.

    The CIA, in the report, equates the Kenyatta family to royalty and expresses fear that it might be the target of “wealth redistribution” following the change of government.

    Contrary to its analysis, however, Moi not only vowed to protect Kenyatta’s legacy in the Nyayo philosophy — following in Mzee’s footsteps — but anointed a scion of the Kenyatta clan, now President Uhuru Kenyatta, as his successor when he stepped down in 2002 after ruling Kenya for 24 years. Uhuru’s first stab at the presidency was thwarted by the candidature of Moi’s former Vice-President Mwai Kibaki, who rode to victory on a national coalition and a last-minute backing of Raila Odinga.

    According to the CIA’s assessment in 1978, the Kenyatta family was “resented”, perhaps because of a public perception that their wealth had been acquired through dubious means. The CIA wrongly speculated that that Moi and the then Attorney General Charles Njonjo were likely to “capitalise on the widespread dislike of Mama Ngina and on public discontent over corruption to take over large shares of the family’s holdings.” Such a move would lead to conflict, it warned. “Whether attempted as a first step toward widespread income redistribution or merely as a shift of resources in favour of the new rulers, such a move would almost certainly provoke a strong political response from the Kenyatta family,” the report says.

    Mama Ngina Kenyatta. (Photo: John Muchucha/Standard)

    That “strong political response” is undefined, but part of the 13-million page document shows America was worried that the ministers who had been loyal to Kenyatta were likely to overthrow Moi or ensure that he did not succeed Kenyatta after acting as President for 90 days as the Constitution then prescribed.

    That did not happen. After being sworn in as Acting President, Moi neutralised ministers considered closest to Kenyatta, such as Paul Ngei and Mbiyu Koinange, and outmaneuvered his opponents with the support of Njonjo and the Laikipia politician G.G Kariuki, deftly establishing his own rule

    The Kenyatta family was already rich, and the CIA was able to find what it describes as “extensive holdings of farms, plantations, hotels, casino and insurance, shipping and real estate companies” as part of the wealth portfolio.

    Vast farms

    It reported: “Kenyatta himself owned only about a half-dozen properties covering roughly 4,000 hectares, mainly farms in the Rift Valley and in the district of Kiambu where he was born. His wife, Mama Ngina Kenyatta, however, owns at least 115,000 hectares including a 13,000 hectare ranch in the Kiambu district, two tea plantations at Matu and Mangu, and three sisal farms near the Tanzanian border. She also has considerable holdings in the resort areas around Mombasa and is involved in coffee plantations and in the Kenyan ruby mines.”

    The Standard on Sunday has been unable to establish the veracity of this assertions, which were cabled to Washington by the agency’s Nairobi operatives. Mama Ngina, who is distinctly private and whose public appearances are rare, and Uhuru’s half-sister Margaret, now in her eighties and ailing, are depicted as very wealthy at that time. Margaret, the second African Mayor of Nairobi, was the daughter of Kenyatta’s first wife Wahu.

    One of the CIA’s memos says: “Mama Ngina and Margaret Kenyatta are probably the country’s two largest charcoal and ivory traders – particularly lucrative businesses. Although the export of these items is banned because depletion of Kenya’s forests and wildlife threaten the underpinning of the Kenyan economy, both women have been able to obtain special licenses. For instance, shortly after a ban on ivory exports (except for tusks from elephants that died of natural causes or shot for control purposes), went into effect, the United Africa Corporation, whose chairman and chief stockholder is Margaret Kenyatta received an export licence for 1,250 baby elephant tusks.”

    The document accuses Kenyatta and his inner circle of having skimmed off part of the money that was to be used to resettle Kenyans on land bought from white settlers. They allegedly used the cash to “accumulate land”. When MPs considered setting a limit on how much land a person could hold, these moves were blocked, it says

    “At independence in 1963, the British established a fund to help the Kenyan Government purchase farms from European settlers in this area and redistribute them among land-hungry African farmers. Although hundreds of African farmers were resettled through this scheme, some of the funds allegedly were used by family members and Kenyatta’s ministers to accumulate land. To protect the holdings of its members and the family, the government blocked every parliamentary attempt to limit land ownership,” reads the memo.

    “Family members and close associates control a large part of the land in the White Highlands, the homeland of Kenyatta’s tribe, the Kikuyu.”

    To explain how seriously the Americans took what they viewed as public resentment of the First Family, the agency quoted parliamentary debates, newspaper reports, and intellectuals who had all expressed displeasure with the regime – just 15 years after independence.

    “The Kenyatta family’s hold on the economy is increasingly resented. Public criticism has been fanned by open parliamentary debate about scandals and high-level corruption, which has been widely publicized by the country’s free press. Students and faculty at the University of Nairobi are particularly concerned about the uneven distribution of Kenya’s wealth and income. They and, increasingly, the man on the street are very critical of the family’s involvement in the charcoal and ivory trade, which endangers vital national resources,” the CIA said. In a 1979 diplomatic cable, seen by The Standard on Sunday, which is not part of the CIA cache, the then US ambassador Anthony Marshall said the expectations of a public raid on the Kenyatta’s had been thwarted.

    Game over

    “Contrary to the expectations of many, the Kenyatta family and the close associates of the former president have not been attacked by the new government on the issue of the corrupt means through which they obtained much of their wealth. On the other hand, we hear that Moi has let it be known that, while he will not stop anyone from enjoying his ill-gotten gains, the game is over for the Kenyatta clique and no more corruption will be tolerated from them,” the cable reads.

    “At the time of the president’s death, there were rampant stories that Kenyatta’s wife, Mama Ngina, would seek to flee the country in order to save herself from the wrath of the new government or the populace at large.  This did not, however, happen, and Mama Ngina still enjoys a respected position in Kenyan society. She divides her time between family farm at Gatundu and a residence on the grounds of the State House, which has been set aside for her use,” reads the cable, perhaps referring to the Kenyatta family home adjacent to State House, Nairobi.

    The CIA files also mentioned other members of Mzee Kenyatta’s family. “His son by his first wife, Peter Muigai Kenyatta, holds a seat in Parliament and is part owner of Inchcape, a trading company that handles among other things the Ford Motor Concession in Kenya. Peter Kenyatta and his sister Margaret, the former Mayor of Nairobi, also own large tracts of land. The late President’s cousins include the director of Lonrho in Kenya, the chairman of the company that built the Mombasa-to-Nairobi gas pipeline and Kenya’s sole film distributor,” the file said.

    The Americans were partly upset with Kenyatta and Mama Ngina, whom they blamed for the deportation of an American citizen, John M. Saul, a mining geologist deported shortly after discovering rich ruby deposits at the Coast. A June 19, 1975 cable by ambassador Marshall, notified the US State Department of the deportation and blamed the “real reason for the expulsion” on “greedy Kenyans in high places”.

    Mr Saul had surrendered a 51 per cent  of his precious discovery, to his “African partners” – read top officials in the then Kenyatta government—but the State, through the then Minister of Natural Resources, William Odongo Omamo –  insisted that there was no way he was going to hold 49 per cent of the company.

    “Omamo informed Saul that it had been “discovered” that two of four deposits to have been exploited by new corporation had been taken over by companies representing personal interests of Mama Ngina, President Kenyatta’s wife, and Beth Mugo, Kenyatta’s niece, on grounds that Saul’s claims were not properly registered. Omamo moreover told Saul that the original group of Kenyan shareholders now dissatisfied with their shares of shrunken assets of the corporation and had demanded that Saul’s share be decreased from 49 per cent to 20 per cent to give them larger proportions,” reads the cable.