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Sunday, 30 October 2016

Uhuru sister’s company in same group as the disabled


By WALTER MENYA

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Sundales International Ltd Managing Director Kathleen Kihanya addresses the press at Jacaranda Hotel in Nairobi on October 29, 2016. She said her company is not involved in the health scam. PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP



IN SUMMARY

  • Sundales International Limited, whose directors include the President’s sister, Nyokabi Kenyatta Muthama and cousin, Kathleen Kihanya, is named at number 1790 on the Public Procurement Oversights Authority’s 2014 roll of “Disadvantaged Groups” that should receive preferential treatment when they bid for tenders.
  • Sundales International , incorporated in September 2013, has accumulated an impressive portfolio of multi-million-shilling government tenders.
  • Sundales was paid Sh41 million as part-payment for several tenders it won for supplies to the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority.
  • On Saturday, Ms Kihanya strongly denied claims that the firm had won the tender due to influence-peddling.


A company associated with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s close relatives, which has been named in the Sh5.2 billion Afya House scandal, was listed in Treasury’s roll of companies that should get preferential treatment for tenders reserved for the youth, women and the disabled.

Sundales International Limited, whose directors include the President’s sister, Nyokabi Kenyatta Muthama and cousin, Kathleen Kihanya, is named at number 1790 on the Public Procurement Oversights Authority’s 2014 roll of “Disadvantaged Groups” that should receive preferential treatment when they bid for tenders.

President Kenyatta directed in 2013 that 30 per cent of all government tenders should be allocated to the youth, women and persons with disability.

But the inclusion of Sundales International – which was incorporated in September 2013 and has accumulated an impressive portfolio of multi-million-shilling government tenders – will raise eyebrows.

The fact the firm is owned by the President’s sister and Ms Kihanya, who was a major figure in the corporate world as the head of sales and marketing at Mumias Sugar Company before quitting to run Mr Kenyatta’s presidential campaign in 2002, raises questions about the eligibility of the company for preferential treatment which should be given to disadvantaged groups in bidding for tenders.

Sundales International has attracted intense attention since an internal audit queried the expenditure of Sh5.2 billion in the ministry of Health including hundreds of millions of shillings that were to be spent on the free maternity care programme.


Sundales was paid Sh41 million as part-payment for several tenders it won for supplies to the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority. The other director of the firm is named as Mr Samson Kamiri.

On Saturday, Ms Kihanya strongly denied claims that the firm had won the tender due to influence-peddling.

At a brief press conference, Ms Kihanya blamed Cord leader Raila Odinga for what she said was condemning her and her company.

FALSE ALLEGATIONS

She said that she was ready to be investigated but argued that Mr Odinga’s utterances at a press conference on Friday in which he said the Sh5.2 billion scam was “President Kenyatta’s scandal” were “defamatory and grievous.”

“For someone to cast doubt on our integrity for unnecessary political mileage and exciting the public on false allegations is totally unacceptable especially when it is a person of Raila’s standing,” she said.

“We call for relevant investigative bodies to prioritise this investigation, and get to the bottom of it with the urgency required,” Ms Kihanya said.

Contacted by the Sunday Nation to inquire on why the firm was considered one of the disadvantaged small and medium enterprises that should benefit from government tenders she said they were legitimately named to the roll because they are women:

“Are you serious you are asking me about that? Are you aware of AGPO (Access to Government Procurement Opportunities) for women, youth and other disadvantaged groups like the disabled? We fit in that category,” she said.

However, Public Accounts Committee Chairman Nicholas Gumbo said the law was expressly targeted to benefit those that do not occupy high station in society.

“What will underprivileged women in the villages do if such powerful people are the ones landing these tenders? That is not the purpose for which this initiative was launched to serve.” said the MP.

The Public Procurement and Disposal Act defines “disadvantaged group” as persons denied by mainstream society access to resources and tools that are useful for their survival in a way that disadvantages them or individuals who have been subjected to prejudice or cultural bias.

INCORRECT INFORMATION

Treasury Communications Director Maina Kigaga said he would need more time to issue a comprehensive response to questions on the firm’s listing.

“First of all today is a Saturday. I would need to ask the procurement officers these questions and I, of course, cannot call them over the weekend. This is something you can find out on Monday,” he said. “The list is very huge and instead of giving you incorrect information it is better I get the director concerned who will check the actual name and verify.”

Mr Kigaga added that all firms listed under the category of women and youth needed to follow the right procedure to land contracts. “Being under women does not qualify you to do underhand deals. I am not saying that is what they did I just don’t like your line of questioning. The law applies to all,” he said.

PPOA director general Maurice Juma said he was in a meeting and could not respond to inquiries.

Page 2 of 2


All this unfolded as investigators and auditors held meetings to discuss the prospect of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s close relatives being called in for questioning by the anti-graft body over the Sh5.2 billion Ministry of Health scandal. 

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) was preparing to send out summons to those adversely named beginning tomorrow.
Meanwhile, President Kenyatta remained guarded on the scandal.  

State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu said he had no brief from the President on the issue.

However, a source familiar with government thinking said the President would not respond to Mr Odinga’s accusations because he has not been linked to anything. The source said all others mentioned in connection with the alleged scandal were free to react.

“Why should we respond? This is politics. At this point the audit process is ongoing, give it time to conclude,” the source said.

He added: “Expectation that the President would respond is false... we can’t be set up by Raila, we never react like that. We don’t want ping pong with Raila.”

Afya House, which is the Ministry of Health headquarters, was abuzz with activity as staff including those from field offices were summoned to meet with the auditors and investigators.

The investigators were drawn from the EACC and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).The internal auditor Bernard Muchere who had investigated the spending was also summoned to Afya House.

One investigator who spoke to the Sunday Nation said they were under instruction to tie the loose ends in the interim audit report.

“Headquarters and field staff who may know something about the alleged loss are at the ministry headquarters. We are under orders from above to complete the investigations today,” the investigator at centre of the investigations said.

PUPORTED SUPPLIERS

The investigator added that phones were being worked over time to get to the bottom of the scandal that has landed right at the President’s doorstep as close and friends have been mentioned in the scandal.

EACC CEO Halakhe Waqo said they were working round the clock on the case. 

“We are very busy because Kenyans want us to work and we won’t relent. There is no rest here,” Mr Waqo said.

“From next week, they will all be appearing before us from the top ministry officials and other purported suppliers,” Mr Waqo added. 

 “In a nutshell, nobody will be spared. We will start with the most responsible person in the ministry as we progress downwards,” said Mr Waqo.

Besides President Kenyatta’s family members, his close allies have also been named.

They include Mr Paul Ndung’u the man behind Mobicom and one of the directors of a sports betting firm.

Also named is Richard Ngatia, who is associated with Galileo Lounge in Westlands, Nairobi where the Jubilee Coalition partied in March 2013 after Mr Kenyatta was declared the President-elect.

Health Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri has also come under pressure over the scandal.

Interestingly, besides the President’s kin and close friends, disgraced former EACC chairman Philip Kinisu and his wife might be among those who will be summoned to Integrity House for questioning by his former juniors after Esaki Ltd, a company linked to him was paid Sh150 million.  

Mr Kinisu was forced to resign in August after claims of conflict of interest arose. His firm, Esaki Ltd, was discovered to have received payments from the National Youth Service (NYS) amounting to Sh35 million, at a time EACC was investigating the Sh791 million loss of funds at the Service.

“What we are looking for is the whole spectrum and whoever falls in line as we progress with investigations. It does not matter where one belongs,” said Mr Waqo.

Mr Kinisu’s appearance before his former juniors will be the ultimate fall from grace of a man who previously investigated others.

- Additional reporting by Wanjohi Githae, Patrick Lang’at and Vincent Achuka


Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Russian Fraudster Sets Up Pyramid Scheme in Kenya

Nation.co.ke Mon, 10/24/2016

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Sergey Mavrodi  a convicted Russian fraudster 


 A pyramid scheme run by a convicted Russian fraudster has set base in Kenya and has for the past one year or so been luring thousands of people with the promise of becoming rich quickly.


MMM Global promises those interested in the scheme up to 100 per cent returns. It is the brainchild of Sergey Mavrodi, 61, a well-known Russian swindler and con artist — the man who created the biggest finance pyramid in Russia before it collapsed in 1997.

The local chapter goes by the name MMM Kenya and the recruiters — who refer to themselves as guiders — have been holding meetings in Nairobi and other major towns, seeking to entice unsuspecting Kenyans into the network.

On Thursday, October 20, they were at Summerlink Hotel in Mombasa, according to their Facebook page, MMM Global Kenya.

Members are told that they will be rewarded if they donate money to the needy and will earn points in bitcoins, an electronic currency. They are also promised financial freedom and an opportunity to “change the world”.

It is a waiting game, in which new members ‘assist’ older ones by paying a fee to join and donating money while expecting to double their contribution along the chain.

The idea is that you give to the network and wait for other people in the chain to eventually give it back to you. The rule is, the more you give, the more you get.

In December, the Central Bank of Kenya warned the public, but without referring to MMM, that “virtual currencies such as bitcoins are not legal tender in Kenya and, therefore, no protection exists in the event that the platform that exchanges or holds the virtual currency fails or goes out of business.”

The Central Bank added: “Transactions in virtual currencies such as bitcoins are largely untraceable and anonymous, making them susceptible to abuse by criminals in money laundering and financing of terrorism.”

MMM has turned out to be the largest market of bitcoins in the world through their MMM variants.

The CBK had not replied to our queries about MMM by the time of going to press.

Once you join the MMM network, you are told to make a “personal help” of not less than $10 (Sh1,000) before asking for help from those joining the chain.

Once you make a donation, you are promised to get 30 per cent of the amount you give — meaning that your bitcoin wallet will be credited with points, making you eligible to apply for Sh1,300 help.

Again, the more new members you recruit, the more bonuses you get by earning points, known as Mavros, which you can withdraw as money in a complex web of deceit.

Like other pyramid schemes, these payments rely on more members joining and, once the number of those seeking help gets higher than those advancing help, the pyramid will eventually collapse.

On his website, Mavrodi, a former member of the Russian State Duma (parliament), says “this is not a pyramid scheme, not a bank or an online business” — a line used by the guiders while recruiting new members. Mavrodi describes MMM as a “community of people providing each other financial help on the principle of gratuitousness, reciprocity and benevolence”.

PLEDGE YOUR PROPERTY

And the catch is: “In MMM you don’t have to make contracts or pledge your property. In MMM there are no lenders and no debtors. Everything is simple: One participant asks for help and another one helps.”

MMM stands for Mavrodi Mondial Moneybox and takes its name from the Russian founders Sergei Mavrodi, Vyacheslav Mavrodi and Olga Melnikova.

While the country has had its fair share of agony with pyramid schemes, MMM Kenya is running on the same script that other have used.

It is promising between 30 and 100 per cent returns and depends on new investors for it to thrive.

Like in other Ponzi schemes that collapsed in Kenya, paying out current investors with new investor money is the textbook definition of this fraud.

Already, one of MMM Global franchises, Republic of Bitcoin, was shut down in April 2016 and Mavrodi is reported to be on the run.

Interestingly, Mavrodi does not hide his identity on the various country websites that he has created and describes his latest scheme as a “circular system” in a bid to evade the pyramid tag.

In South Africa, the local chapter, MMM South Africa, is under criminal investigations by the National Consumer Commission, while in Zimbabwe the Reserve Bank has described it as fraudulent and warned residents not to take part in it. The Zimbabwe warning, however, came too late as MMM Zimbabwe has already collapsed after the number of the needy outnumbered the recruits.

In Nigeria, the central bank has warned consumers not to deposit money into the scheme, with a bank director describing it as a “new Ponzi scheme”.

“These people always come up with very interesting propositions,” the director, Mr Isaac Okoroafor, told The Independent, a UK newspaper. “These are fraudsters who are just out there to collect people’s money and run away as soon as they hit their target.”

The Kenyan chapter has been going around children’s homes — and meeting potential recruits in restaurants, where they distribute MMM literature.

The original Russian pyramid was known as MMM and it conned its members out of an estimated $100 million.

When it went down in 1997, Mavrodi was on the run until he was arrested in Moscow in 2003 and sentenced in 2007 to four- and-a-half years in prison for defrauding a 10,000 investors of about $4.3 million. The jail term was covered by the period he was in custody.

Undeterred, Mavrodi formed two other financial pyramid schemes — MMM-2011 and MMM-2012 — in which he asked investors to buy Mavro currency units.

He openly described them as a pyramid, saying his aim was to destroy the current financial system. Both collapsed, and now he is back with MMM Global, which describes itself as a “social financial network” or “a mutual-aid programme”.

POOL THEIR MONEY

Those who participate in this scheme are told they will pool their money and make it available to others who need to make withdrawals. They are promised the chance to double their money by buying a digital currency created by Mavrodi and known as Mavros.

In April, Mavrodi shut down one of his other Ponzi schemes, MMM Republic of Bitcoin Scheme, which had attracted hundreds of gullible investors, who had been promised 100 per cent returns.

To get more members into their community, they have been holding fun events to mobilise more people into the scheme, quoting the biblical verse of Luke 6:38: “Give and it will be given to you.”

In Zimbabwe, the 66,000 MMM participants found that their account balances had been slashed down to one per cent, and that was after their points, known as Mavros, were reduced by 80 per cent. At the moment, they cannot withdraw their money unless they get more investors.

If one was eligible to get help of, say, Sh10,000, the system reduced it by 80 per cent, bringing one’s total to Sh2,000 but allowing one to only withdraw one per cent, which is Sh20, and only if that is to be matched with someone willing to ‘Provide Help’.

Once you withdraw the one per cent, your account balance is empty — though you had already given out your Sh10,000 to someone else online.


Friday, 21 October 2016

PRESS STATEMENT BY BONIFACE MWANGI LEGAL TEAM

On 30th September 2016, the Deputy President William Ruto acting through his duly appointed Advocate served a demand letter to Boniface Mwangi seeking among other things immediate publication of a suitable retraction, correction and apology of a tweet of 28thSeptember, 2016 by Boniface Mwangi. The demand was that the apology was to be given a prominent coverage. The demand letter also sought an unconditional admission of liability for libel within seven(7) days.

On 5th October 2016, Boniface Mwangi’s legal team through GitobuImanyara& Co. Advocates responded to the demand letter stating that Boniface Mwangihas very real and compelling reasons for fearing that the Deputy President may wish to kill him and reservedthe right to disclose these in court should the need the threatened legal action arise. The response further stated that Boniface Mwangi will seek to persuade the court that the Deputy President has no reputation worthy the indulgence of a court of justice either in Kenya or elsewhere.

On 7th October 2016, the Deputy President filed Milimani High Court Civil Suit No 264 of 2016 as threatened, served the suit papers on GitobuImanyara& Co. Advocates and thereafter served the Summons to Enter Appearance on 14th October 2016.

Today, 21st October 2016, Boniface Legal Team filed in court the Defence and Counterclaim against the Deputy President which inter alia states that the Deputy President WilliamRuto has no reputation to protect arising out of the indictment at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity, documented land grabs—both public and private— and previous implication in corruption scandals, to support his claim.

The 36-page bundle of documentsconstituting Defencefiled in court by GitobuImanyara& Co. Advocates on behalf of Boniface Mwangi,contains a counter-claim against Deputy President for defamation following comments that the Deputy President made on local media insinuating that Boniface Mwangi is a perpetual drunk, who routinely wakes up late to nurse a hangover.

Boniface Mwangi asserts that the ICC had found “sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe” that William Ruto, jointly with others, orchestrated “the crimes against humanity of murder, deportation or forcible transfer of population and persecution in Turbo town” on December 31, 2007, among other charges.

The defence further avers that “The decision to terminate the case against the plaintiff was due to disappearance of witnesses, intimidation of witnesses to recant testimony and lack of co-operation by Kenya…”

Lack of co-operation by Kenya, Boniface Mwangi went on, has since been referred to the Assembly of State parties that could see the UN’s Security Council impose sanctions on the country.

Boniface Mwangi states that the High Court reprimand of William Ruto in June 2013, when Lady Justice Rose Ougo restored Adrian Gilbert Muteshi’s 100-acre of land that Ruto had grabbed from him, among other disputes involving other public lands, is further evidence that his reputation is tarnished beyond redemption.

Boniface Mwangi insists that he merely restated Cyrus Jirongo’s assertion implicating Ruto in the murder of businessman Jacob Juma, a statement that Ruto acquiesced to insists Boniface,

In his defence, Boniface Mwangi further states that the freedom of expression, coupled with the corollary right to receive and impart information, is a core value of any democratic society deserving of the utmost legal protection. As such, it is prominently recognised and entrenched in virtually every international and regional human rights instrument. As part of his defence, Boniface Mwangi states that suit filed by the Deputy President is intended to curtail his constitutional freedom of expression and to hold an opinion ahead of the 2017 General elections.

The defence and Counterclaim by Boniface Mwangi also opens less known claims, such as William Ruto’s alleged extra-marital liaison with an unnamed university student, who bore his baby on March 6th, 2006. William Ruto allegedly neglected to support the baby until court action was threatened against him.

This, Mwangi says, illustrates that the Deputy President lacks moral authority of a devout Christian. Mwangi restates his right to express his opinion as a public-spirited journalist and activist.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

EACC Detectives Expose Tax Evasion Scheme Involving Spectre International Ltd

By TONY MUKERE on Wed, 19 October 2016 - @tonymukere tony@kenyans.co.ke
www.kenyans.co.ke

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CORD leader Raila Odinga 


EACC officers on Friday revealed a two-week undercover operation that saw them camp at a company owned by Raila Odinga’s family as they followed trucks carrying drums of ethanol, which had been falsely declared as a product for export to a company in Mwanza, Tanzania.
The officers followed the trucks as they left Spectre International Ltd in Kisumu and noticed that the vehicles did not follow the Mwanza route but were diverted to Nairobi and later to a godown in Embakasi where the ethanol would be sold to the local market.
The anti-graft body revealed that during the journey from Kisumu, the EACC officials also noted the trucks were being escorted by a saloon car that made several stops along the way.
The private car, which had civilian registration number plates, was later found to be ferrying Police officers while the stops were made to allegedly provide the police with bribes.
Upon discovering the blatant crime committed, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and EACC officials raided the godown at Embakasi, Nairobi, and impounded truckloads of ethanol. “We had intelligence that ethanol intended for export was being diverted into the local market to make illicit liquor. This means the culprits never paid taxes. This is because ethanol for export is exempted from taxes,” stated EACC deputy CEO
Michael Mubea.

Mubea further revealed, “this consignment alone is worth Sh7 Million in evaded tax revenue”.

According to the officials, cartons containing 250ml of branded spirits – Best Gin, Blue Ice and Flying Horse – were also found at the godown.

The alcoholic brands are popular with the poor youth, who buy them for Sh100 per bottle.

Officials said they also found fake Kenya Revenue Authority stickers.

Fifteen suspects were arrested in the operation while the impounded goods were taken to a Customs yard and the warehouse sealed until investigations were completed.

The incident in Nairobi caused drama at the Kisumu based Spectre International company with some of the clients left in fear of being monitored by the EACC.


Calais child migrants: 'Unethical' dental checks ruled out


BBC; 19 October 2016

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Image caption

Shamsher, one young migrant, says he is looking forward to being reunited with his brothers

Child migrants from the Calais "Jungle" camp will not face dental checks in the UK to verify their age, the government has insisted.

The BBC understands 39 children have arrived this week, but there have been questions whether some may be adults.

Conservative MP David Davies called for mandatory teeth checks to reassure the public, but the British Dental Association said this was unethical.

The Home Office said the migrants would face different checks once in the UK.

"We do not use dental X-rays to confirm the ages of those seeking asylum in the UK. The British Dental Association has described them as inaccurate, inappropriate and unethical," the Home Office said.

It is understood that further checks to be carried out will include interviews with relatives in the UK and fingerprinting to cross-check with other records which may contain age details.

One 14-year-old migrant, who arrived from Calais on Monday to be reunited with his older brother, said he had to get documents to prove his brother was in the UK, and was interviewed twice in Calais by French authorities and the British.

He was interviewed again once in the UK.


Shamsher's story

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In Calais, the young Afghan boy looked strained, rubbing his hands together nervously on a chilly morning. But, after a 100-mile journey, and on the other side of the Channel, his face broke out into a broad grin.

His dream of a new life was within reach.

The setting was a back entrance to a drab government building in Croydon, but as officials ushered him towards the next step in the asylum process, well-wishers greeted the 13-year-old with whoops and cries of "well done".

His long journey, which he shared with singer Lily Allen in a BBC Victoria Derbyshire film last week, began when he fled his home country to escape the Taliban.

His father sold his land to pay to send his young son to Europe.

But the slow legal process in Calais kept him there for two months, and every night he made a fresh attempt to stow away on lorries to reach the UK.

Now, he can look forward to being reunited with his family and starting school in England.


The new arrivals were placed on a list drawn up by the charity Citizens UK, which is working with the government to bring unaccompanied minors over from Calais.

The list was ratified by French authorities, who would have carried out interviews with the children before they could travel to the UK. If they have no proof of age, officials consider their looks and demeanour.

But since the migrants' arrival in the UK, photographs of some have appeared in newspapers alongside headlines questioning their age.






Play





Media caption

Conservative MP David Davies: "There are clearly going to be people there who will do everything they can to get into the UK"

Mr Davies, Monmouth MP, said that one of the migrants arriving had "lines around his eyes and looks older than I am".

He said: "If they are jumping on lorries, they are not going to be adverse to lying about their ages. We should do the tests."

Fellow Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is also calling for more stringent checks, said it was "very worrying" that "older migrants are reported to be pushing children out of the way".

But the British Dental Association, which represents UK dentists and dental students, said it was unethical to expose individuals to radiation and was an inaccurate way to check ages.

Diane Abbott, Labour's shadow home secretary, called dental checks "an outrageous demand, which would further violate the human rights of vulnerable refugees".

And the Equality and Human Rights Commission said the tone of the discussion was becoming "irrational", adding that the "best way to protect children's rights is to treat them as children until proven otherwise".

'Small boys'

One of the pictured "child migrants" is described by the Sun newspaper as looking 40 with crow's feet around his eyes.

But Citizens UK said it was thought this was a translator who was accompanying the children.

British Red Cross charity worker Vanessa Cowan, who travelled with 14 of the migrant children, said they were "small boys" who seemed "quite young".

"The perspective of the pictures or just the way the picture is taken could be deceiving and the boys that we brought were small boys," she said.

The Home Office received 3,472 asylum claims from unaccompanied individuals claiming to be children in the year to June 2016.

Of those, 933 claimants had checks carried out on their age, and 636 were found to be adult, the Home Office said.

If any of the latest arrivals are found to be over 18, Home Office sources say it would be extremely unlikely that they would be returned to Calais as they would be entitled to claim asylum in the UK regardless of their age.

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French authorities have said they will close the Jungle camp - near the port of Calais and close to the 31-mile Channel Tunnel - by the end of the year.

UK officials in Calais have been focusing initially on unaccompanied minors who have the right to join relatives in the UK under EU legislation, known as the Dublin regulation.

Under the EU-wide regulation, asylum claims must be made in the first safe country a person reaches, but children can have their claim transferred to another country if they have relatives living there.


Monday, 17 October 2016

CRISIS: How Housing In Nairobi Has Become A Nightmare For Millions Of City Dwellers


Nairobi, Kenya is one of the most volatile urban centers in Africa, suffering from 60% of its population living in crowded and poverty-stricken informal settlements around the periphery of the city.

According to a 2015 survey,over 100,000 Kenyans flock to the city annually in search of greener pastures and obviously,better living standards but most of these souls are trapped in less than stellar neighborhoods,settling in ramshackles and tattered houses which also are not easily accessible and lack basic housing amenities.

James Kinyua,an Uber driver,for example,is a perfect representation of the nightmare proper housing in Nairobi has become.

"I live around Roysambu... In a tiny bedsitter that has almost everything crammed onto one - the toilet,the bed area,the living room area,the kitchen and the sinks are so close apart,it's like a movie set in a war-torn country. The room barely has space... It's all crammed up and cluttered. And I pay ten thousand shillings a month. For that little,dark unventilated space, " James says,sadly.

James has little choice. He has to live in Roysambu - or at least around Thika Road - which is not just convenient for him and his job but also close enough to his brother who lives in Zimmerman,some kilometer away from Roysambu.

Also,James has no choice - He has been totally unable to find a proper house in the surrounding neighborhoods and Kasarani has been particularly frustrating.

"I wanted to live in Kasarani. I once lived there. Back when I was in college. I think it's a nice,easily accessible and relatively safe neighborhood. But that was back then. To-day,Kasarani is a nightmare. Houses there are literally unavailable. And even when you're lucky energy to find one,you're knocked back by the crazy rent rates. I have little choice... "

Today,many house-hunting city dwellers are being forced to move further down the road to less safe estates like Santon,Hunters and further down to the crowded and messy Mwiki for settlement which still,doesn't satiate their quests for proper housing and livelihood.

Roysambu,for instance,is a cool,albeit chaotic,relatively safe and easily accessible neighborhood but it has had it's allure blighted by the influx of Nigerian men,students and also the fact that the houses are overpriced and don't really match the exorbitant house rent they carry.

"Houses in Roysambu are incredibly expensive. Also,for a family man like me,who has a wife and a little girl,the houses can be really small and uncomfortable, " Steve,who lives just behind TRM says.

"The finishing is good. The houses are attractive from the inside and outside... But it's the rent and the size of the house that's a nightmare. Living in Roysambu is becoming a ordeal.. But we are coping, " Steve adds.

Further down the road,things get even messier.

Zimmerman and Githurai 44 are some of the oldest and most crowded city estates with thousands of people massing around and suffocating the space in these unsightly estates.

Still, alot of people prefer to reside in these Estates which have less stringent residential rules and regulations and also,offer pocket-friendly rent rates.

"Don't be fooled by the allure of Zimmerman and 44....cheap is expensive... One bedroom houses around here go for 15,000 shillings. Not alot of people can afford that. There are one bedroomed houses even going for as little as eight thousand shillings. Right here. But those houses are a total mess. It's like a dog's house. Or worse... ", Karanja,a caretaker in a swanky apartment along Kamati Road,Githurai 44,says.

Image result for zimmerman nairobi estate

A cheap,rundown apartment at the Zimmerman estate,Nairobi 

In a 2015 report,Knight Frank, a global property consultancy firm, for the year ending September 2015 indicates that the housing prices in the country have for this year alone, risen by over 3.5 per cent.

According to an independent survey,these disparities in house rents and also,the alarming lack of proper housing in Nairobi has to be blamed on poor financing, bureaucracy, corruption and lack of government support.

“An example of this is evident in the general paying of various levies, permits and licenses required when one is putting up a development. When a developer is seeking for permits from various regulatory bodies, they are forced to pay bribes to “facilitate” the rapid conclusion of getting their licenses or permits approved,” observed Ms. Ms Elizabeth Mwangi—Oluoch, chief executive officer of the Kenya Property Developers Association.

For instance,In the film “Living with Corruption” journalist Sorious Samura shows, for example, how he had to pay at least US$300, much of that in payments to officials, to build a shack in Nairobi’s Kibera slum with insecure rights.

Estates like Umoja and Donholm fair even much worse.

"Security in Umoja hasn't ever been beefed up. Doesn't matter what anyone who lives there says. Also,the crowding is a nightmare. Roads are worn out and tattered. Matatus stop and pick up passengers from any spot. It's a 24 hour commotion here.... It's too noisy,too messy and too unsettling to live here and live in peace. Donholm fares even worse, "  an Umoja dweller says.

The common house rent rates here go for a regular Ksh 10,000 for a basic,rundown one-bedroomed house around an old,stenchy block.

Still,even getting a house here is a nightmare as well. It takes months of arduous house-hunting sprees before you can finally land a little spot.

Another big demon in this whole crisis is the house agent.

These are the shrewd dudes in oversized faded suits whose job is to basically show you around the vacant houses in exchange for some fee.

"Agents are just the worst, " Carol says." I've been taken on a winding tour of some of the most crowded Estates in Nairobi in search of a house and I never found a house I liked. These agents just took me to black after block after block. I paid them for all the silly trips. All the houses were dark,worn-out hell holes with shoddy finishing and terrible aeration... ",

Love them or loathe them,agents are a very crucial - and unavoidable - devil in the management of renting and housing around many city estates.

Places like Kahawa Sukari and Kahawa Wendani fair even worse.

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A highrise apartment in Kahawa Wendani,Nairobi 

For starters,the estate is chocking under the weight of the neighboring Kenyatta University students who have invaded pretty much every inch and corner of the expansive,sun-drenched dusty neighborhoods.

Getting a house around the Kahawas requires much patience and zeal as most of the houses are not just taken but rarely vacated.

"There's several buildings coming up here. Several classy apartments which also are out of reach since they're usually booked up and taken even before they are complete! ", Stano, a caretaker here says.

"I've seen houses getting booked up and paid for even before they've been painted and even before the walls have been plastered... It's that serious. Houses sell out on less than a day", Stano adds

The Nairobi economy also makes it very hard for a regular Nairobian to live in the house of their dreams and comfort.

"I'm a single mother of one. I earn around 30,000 per month. I have to feed and take my little boy to school. Also, I have more financial needs. I wish I could afford a proper,better furnished and spacious house. But I can't. I can't afford to pay 20,000 per month. Or even 15,000. I therefore had to move further out of town. I live past Juja. And work in town... That's manageable for me. I just can't afford the estates around Thika Road. I can barely get a house to even start with... " Ruth,a city employee says.

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The inside of a standard bedsitter in a Nairobi estate Photo/File

Political honchos and elites also are to blame for the housing crisis in Nairobi as highlighted by writer Jacqueline M Kloop in her article for theconversation.com where she writes that;

Owning property in Kenyan slums requires political connections and payment of significant fees (and often bribes) to get a building permit. Coupled with that is willingness to bear the risk of loss of capital if the structure is demolished. But once the investment is made, landlords benefit from informality and ambiguous land tenure rights, and work very hard to maintain the status quo

Actually,Kenya's urban centers face a shortage of 200,000 housing units annually, with only 50,000 new units being constructed every year.

As a result of the overcrowding and over pricing of the houses,most of which don't even deserve that much monthly rent,house-hunters have resorted to moving to Estates that are significantly further away from the city center most especially Ruaka,where there is a current housing boom.

"Houses in Ruaka are splendid. But also quite costly...Also, lately the security is starting to be an issue. But we are coping, " a Ruaka resident says.

Gospel star Bahati lives in Ruaka. So do a few other local celebs.

Thindigua along Kiambu Road and Garden Estate along Thika Road are also some of the other less congested neighborhoods middle class city dwellers - and celebrities - are starting to flee to.

Celebrities like DJ and Size 8,Abel Mutua and Dennis Itumbi and many others reside -or have resided in- Thindigua which has become sort of serene,expansive lush green environment for the better endowed and fortunate members of Nairobi society.

During the month of March 2015, the then Cabinet Secretary for Lands, Housing and Urban Development Charity Ngilu said that an ambitious housing development had been launched by the government to cater for the increasing shortage in housing.

“The Ministry of Housing seeks to accelerate development and access to affordable and adequate housing through public private partnership and plans to construct 300,000 units by the year 2017. We will soon be breaking ground for an initial 10,000 units for civil servants,” said Ngilu during the launch of National Housing Survey 2012/2013.

None of that seems to be on track yet.

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A 6-storey apartment block in downtown Githurai 44,Nairobi 

Thus,housing in Nairobi is increasingly becoming a headache for the hundreds of thousands of Kenyans who troop to the city annually and find no suitable housing and who mostly end up putting up with their relatives or in slums for lack of affordable housing or even any form of housing at all..

Unscrupulous landlords have also taken advantage of the situation and seem to have conspired to defraud desperate house-seekers by setting unrealistic rent rates and also,clamping down on the defaulters many of whom may have been affected beyond their control to be unable to pay rent by the 5th of the month which is the traditional - almost tyrannical - deadline for rent payment across the city.

Roads and routes leading up to the rental blocks are another story altogether - most of these pathways are muddy,soggy paths littered with all manner of garbage and riddled with small,dirty pools all the way up to the apartment,which,in most cases is decaying from the outside and whose color is also peeling off.

Rent by the roadside has always been higher than rent deep into the estates where security and lighting at night is not always guaranteed.

Still,hundreds of thousands of Kenyans still grapple with an acute shortage of decent houses opting to put up in crammed,narrow rooms famously called Bedsitters as affording either a one bedroom or a decent double room has become an unachievable dream.

Sadly,this is a nightmare that may never be settled anytime soon. Not when politicians sand and corrupt city hall bosses are still very much involved in the rolling out of apartments and general city housing development.

The crisis can only get worse...As the city hosts more and more residents every year.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Raila Odinga’s Putsch’s; Kenya’s Luck with Coups Audacious as its Future

Raila Odinga’s Putsch’s; Kenya’s Luck with Coups Audacious as its Future

Where’d Kenya be if Raila Odinga Coup’s made it through? A Kenyan Somali Army General Stopped Raila Odinga’s Coup in 1982 International media and foreign policy...

By Thomas Greenfield


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  • Where’d Kenya be if Raila Odinga Coup’s made it through?
  • A Kenyan Somali Army General Stopped Raila Odinga’s Coup in 1982
  • International media and foreign policy experts warn Odinga has been steadfast in attempting civilian coups in Kenya after the failed 1982 military putsch.

At midnight on Sunday, 1 August 1982 global media news reports confirmed that a faction within the military’s Kenya Air force was responsible for a coup in Nairobi. The 1982 Kenyan coup d’├ętat attempt was a failed attempt to overthrow President Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi’s government. The Raila Odinga led coup was quickly suppressed by forces commanded by Chief of General Staff Mahomoud Mohamed, a veteran Somali military official. Raila Odinga conceded playing a central role in the botched 1982 coup in Kenya, in Enigma, authored by Nigerian Babafemi Badejo in 2006.

The bizarre scenes of Kenya’s fleeting coup attempt are imprinted in the citizens and victims minds. Hundreds died while thousands of airmen lost jobs and worse tens of thousands lost property and business worth millions. Actually, Kenya’s economy was humbled and the world got angry. After the putsch was suppressed, Washington called President Moi congratulating him for defeating the Raila Odinga led coup. For the United States, the specter of instability in Kenya has remained a serious problem with global aspects since it is one of Washington’s best friends in black Africa. The US advanced Nairobi money to rebuild after the coup.

Coups; the Catastrophic Ramifications

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The most subtle scene of a coup is death and eventual loss of civilian freedoms. Raila Odinga, a populist who draws much of his political clout from a cultish-ethnopolical establishment, attempted to grab power from President Daniel Moi.  Moi, just 3 years as president was neither corrupt nor a dictator then. Rwanda, Somalia, Libya, Burundi, and Egypt are classic examples to look at when analyzing the destruction that comes with coups. The catastrophe that follows coups, either military or civilians has far reaching ramifications on a country’s socioeconomics and political unity. Loss of life and property are the most immediate outcomes of coups. Catastrophes caused by coups are characterized by escalation of violence and ethnic rifts. After violence and suppression of free-flow of essential services such as banking, basic food commodities and medicine  manifest followed by a steady decline of the economy besides a severe political instability, civilians suffer while coup plotters and their cronies assume power and escalate the misery to strengthen their grip on power . Countries like Somalia and Libya completely collapsed and subsequently failed.

Raila Odinga admission that he played a central role in the botched 1982 coup de-tat is disturbing. He has championed nationalism and democracy however it is surprising he has an insatiable penchant for power. This penchant for power has more than often nearly destroyed a sprawling multiethnic country fueled by nationalism and guided by Western philosophy. His coup sought to destroy a state nation and build an ethnic-cult empire, often the ideal vehicle for despots since ethnic empires are fueled by cultish-populist ideals, not nationalism.

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Kenya has been lucky though, it has weathered the storms of coups and street protests masterminded by Raila Amollo Odinga (like witnessed in 2007 political violence stoked by his inability to concede election defeat). 2017 General elections in the most powerful country in East and Central Africa are interesting to watch since the road ahead will be equally complex. Odinga as usual will attempt to exploit the ugly political defeat affair to accelerate his plans to augment the powers of rigged elections claims and expand his shortcuts to find his way to power.


Hundreds stranded after KQ cancels 5 flights, delays one

By Lisa Kamau For Citizen Digital, 16 October 2016


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Hundreds of Passengers were on Sunday left stranded after Kenya Airways cancelled five flights to various African destinations and delayed one as a strike by staff members enters its third day.


According to a statement from KQ, several outsourced crew working for the airline failed to show up for work Sunday morning, necessitating the emergency that has seen many scheduled flights grounded.


Close to 300 of its contracted workers through Career Direction Limited on Friday downed their tools citing unfair employment terms from the airline.

Grievances raised by the contracted employees include lesser pay compared to their colleagues in Kenya airways, lack of allowances, a medical cover that does not include family members among others.

The strike coming at a time when the airline is struggling to fly out of its tough financial times having recorded an improved half-year loss of Sh5 billion.

However, the contracted employees said they have had enough and their strike is not in an attempt of taking advantage of Kenya Airways’ fragile position.

“We are more frustrated than Kenya Airways. When you tell me that I am trying to frustrate Kenya Airways, a company that I love, a company that I have worked for six years, without all these that you have mentioned, surely, how unfair can you be?” questioned one of the contracted staff members.


The contracted workers who serve in the departments ranging from finance, sales to flight operations promised to remain on strike until the management of Kenya Airways accorded them audience or do away with the contractor Career Directions Limited.

Among KQ flights cancelled Sunday morning were those to Mombasa, Kilimanjaro, Juba, Lusaka/Harare, Maputo, while the scheduled flight to Livingston/Cape Town in South Africa was been delayed.

Kenya Airline Pilots Association secretary general Paul Gichinga on Tuesday intimated they would down their tools from Tuesday if KQ CEO Mbuvi Ngunze and chairman Dennis Awori do not vacate office.