Saturday, September 8th, 2018
The lingering debate on whether sitting heads of State and government should be shielded from prosecution under international law is set to come up at the forthcoming UN General Assembly (Unga) in New York.
Kenya has submitted a request on behalf of the African Union (AU) to have the General Assembly seek an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the matter.
“On behalf of the African States Members of the United Nations, I have the honour to request, in accordance with Rule 13 of the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly, the inclusion of an item entitled ‘Request for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the consequences of legal obligations of States under different sources of international law with respect to immunities of Heads of State and Government and other senior officials’, in the provisional agenda of the 73rd session of the General Assembly under heading F, ‘Promotion of justice and international law’.
“I further request that this item be considered directly in plenary meeting,” Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the UN Lazarus Amayo said in a letter addressed to UN secretary-general António Guterres dated July 9.
The 73rd session of the General Assembly will run from September 24 to October 1 at the UN headquarters in New York.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to be among the tens of global leaders who will address the biggest annual gathering of world’s heads of State and government.
The decision by Kenya and AU to go through the General Assembly, Zimbabwean international criminal justice lawyer at the Wayamo Foundation Angela Mudukuti told Sunday Nation in an interview is “because Article 96 of the UN Charter states that only the UNGA or the UNSC may request an advisory opinion”.
Article 65(1) of ICJ Statute states that the court may give an advisory opinion on any legal question at the request of whatever body may be authorised by or in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations to make such a request.
Article 96 of the UN Charter goes ahead to state that only the General Assembly or the Security Council may request the International Court of Justice to give an advisory opinion on any legal question.
“The African Union cannot itself approach the ICJ because only five UN organs, 15 specialised agencies, and one related organisation may request an advisory opinion from the ICJ,” Ms Elise Keppler, the associate director of the International Justice Programme at Human Rights Watch, said.
Kenya’s request comes at a time African countries, among others, have been having problems with the International Criminal Court (ICC) for refusing to effect the arrest and surrender of Sudan President Omar-al-Bashir to the court.
President Bashir has a warrant of arrest hanging over his head since March 2009 when the ICC issued the first warrant for his arrest on five counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur.
A second warrant based on three counts of genocide was issued on July 12, 2010.
Under the Rome Statute that establishes the ICC, State Parties including Kenya are obligated to arrest and hand over suspects to the ICC.
In July 2017, for example, the ICC strongly criticised South Africa for the country’s failure to arrest President Bashir when he visited Johannesburg for an AU summit in 2015.
The criticism of South Africa prompted then President Jacob Zuma’s administration to initiate withdrawal from the Rome Statute but which was later abandoned.
Other countries that have ignored ICC’s requests to arrest President Bashir are Kenya, Chad, Egypt and Jordan.
Ambassador Amayo, in the letter, noted that the advisory opinion “will provide clarity to the evident ambiguity and to competing obligations under international law and will assist States in carrying out their obligations without undermining either the call for ending impunity or the legal regime governing the immunities of Heads of State and Government and other senior officials”.
“In recent years, the issue of immunities has become one of the most pressing issues in international law, with countless academic articles offering differing legal conclusions, not helped by conflicting decisions of the Pre-Trial Chambers of the International Criminal Court,” an explanatory memorandum annexed to Mr Amayo’s letter states.
“By seeking the advisory opinion in the exercise of its powers under Article 96 (1) of the Charter, the General Assembly will be able to bring a lasting resolution to the long-disputed issue of immunities and the conflicting obligations of States under international law,” the Kenyan diplomat said in the letter.
Whether or not Unga will adopt Kenya’s request and seek the advisory opinion, Ms Mudukuti said, could depend on how the ICC Appeals Chamber rules in the matter regarding Jordan’s recent failure to arrest President Bashir.
The Appeals Chamber is scheduled to hear submissions on legal matters raised by Jordan from September 10 to 14, just 10 days to the start of the 73rd session of Unga.
Anxiety has gripped the Kenya Ports Authority following a directive from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to have the more than 5,000 employees vetted.
Importers have been complaining of losing close to Sh70 million daily on storage and detention charges due to cargo pile up at the Inland Container Depot, Nairobi.
The EACC was prompted into the audit after it emerged that some workers at the port have forged documents or lack the necessary credentials.
Some are said to have presented fake certificates to earn promotions.
In the past, political interference was blamed for recruitment and poor services at the port.
Dock Workers Union chairman Mohamed Sheria welcomed the decision but urged the government to conduct it in a humane way.
“We do not dispute the directive. If any worker is found to have presented forged certificates, let him or her be demoted. They should not be dismissed,” Mr Sheria told the Sunday Nation by phone.
“Many of us used the national identity cards and not academic papers to get jobs.”
EACC vice-chairperson Sophia Lepuchirit said KPA employees would be vetted to ensure their suitability and end corruption at the parastatal.
KPA will also work with EACC in an integrity testing programme for employees deployed in corruption prone sections.
“Carry out thorough due diligence and vetting of individuals to ensure their suitability in all aspects and confirm the authenticity of papers before recruiting them,” Ms Lepuchirit said in her recommendations last week.
The EACC said it would from this financial year scrutinise operations at the port to reduce corruption.
CODE OF CONDUCT
It also announced that it is analysing intelligence on reports so as to launch more investigations.
Ms Lepuchirit said KPA officials helping companies and businesspeople evade taxes, embezzling public funds, demanding kickbacks and not complying with the law in relation to procurement, financial management and recruitment would be arrested and prosecuted.
The parastatal has formed a department of ethics and integrity, a corruption-prevention committee, developed a code of conduct for workers, conducted corruption risk assessment, appointed integrity assurance officers and developed an anti-corruption policy.
KPA Board chairman Joseph Kibwana said the management is committed to fighting corruption.
In 2015, KPA constituted a committee to discipline workers who presented forged certificates for promotion after an audit showed there were 136 such employees.
Meanwhile, Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association chairman William Ojonyo said the situation at ICD is terrible and called for intervention from the government.
“There are about 9,000 containers at the container depot and our losses have doubled. One company alone has a detention loss of Sh150 million. Another one has lost Sh1.8 million,” Mr Ojonyo said yesterday.
“That means importers are losing an average of Sh70 million in Nairobi daily.”
Mr Ojonyo said importers would call a meeting to draft a report on their predicament to be presented to President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“We have attempted to negotiate with government officials but services are not improving,” he said.
However, KPA managing director Daniel Manduku said the port is experiencing a surge in cargo due to the huge number of big ships docking.
KPA has leased a short prefer storage facility to be owned and managed by its establishment in Nairobi in a bid to reduce the cargo pile up at ICD, he added.
“That is where we are going to store the long stay containers under customs warehousing and containers with goods marked for destruction,” Dr Manduku said.
He added that doing so would clear half of the yard. He said the containers at the yard are under the Kenya Revenue Authority.
Dr Manduku said KPA does eight trains to Nairobi daily, translating to 800 Twenty Equivalent Units.
The KPA boss added that importers would continue to pay the gazetted storage tariffs in the new leased storage facilities in the capital city.
“They will pay the ordinary $20 for a 20ft container and $30 for a 40ft container,” Dr Manduku said.
Maize farmers in Kenya’s bread basket of Rift Valley are staring at huge losses as this year’s harvest season approaches.
Prices of the 90 kilograms bag are expected to drop to rock bottom of Sh1,000.
Most farmers are still holding onto last season’s stocks worth millions of shillings.
And to make matters worse, they have not been paid for deliveries to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).
The board, which manages the strategic reserves of the staple food, ran out of cash it was allocated because it paid brokers who supplied it with cheap maize from Uganda at the expense of Kenyan farmers.
The disillusioned farmers are still holding on to about 500,000 bags of last season’s crop estimated at Sh1.6 billion, while NCPB owes them Sh3.5 billion for maize it purchased from them for the strategic reserve.
The farmers are staring at further losses as they prepare to harvest this season’s crop in the next one month.
Prices may plunge to as low as Sh1,000 per 90 kilogrammes due to saturation of the local market with imports from neighbouring countries.
The woes facing the farmers have been worsened by creditors who are after their properties to recover loans they secured to purchase farm inputs over the last two seasons.
Majority of them have been unable to service the loans either due to lack of market for the crop or delayed payment by NCPB.
The board exceeded the Sh6 billion it was allocated for purchases before paying genuine farmers. Most of the money was paid to brokers.
However, consumers in urban centres, dairy and poultry farmers are expected to benefit from the maize farmers’ woes.
Milk producers will access cheaper dairy meal which now retails at Sh1,500 down from Sh2,200 per 50 kilogrammes.
But it is the plight of maize farmers that has had serious consequences even to officials of the Agriculture ministry.
Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe, former NCPB boss Newton Terer, Finance GM Cornel Kiprotich Ng’elechey and 15 other senior officials have been arrested and charged over irregular purchase of maize worth Sh11 billion.
Their mismanagement has placed many farmers in financial trouble.
Creditors have issued notices to them to either repay input loans or have their property auctioned to recover the money.
Large scale farmers who delivered the crop to NCPB are owed millions of shillings.
The government has pledged to make payments after the Treasury released Sh1.4 billion out of the Sh3.5 billion for maize delivered last season.
The farmers will however have to undergo a second vetting process in what the government says is a bid to avoid cartels colluding with some NCPB staff and Ministry of Agriculture officials getting the bulk of the money at the expense of farmers.
The cartels pocketed Sh2 billion meant for genuine farmers who are still waiting for their money.
“Although we have started harvesting this season’s crop, we still have a lot of last year’s stock and most buyers, including private millers, are reluctant to buy the produce,” Eglyne Chepchirchir Choge, a large-scale farmer from Moi’s Bridge, Trans-Nzoia County, said.
She cultivates 350 acres of maize and is waiting to be paid for 5,000 bags she delivered to the NCPB.
At Sh3,200 per 90 kg bag, NCPB owes Ms Choge Sh16 million. NCPB only paid 3,000 out of the 8,000 bags she delivered.
She is among farmers who have been forced to sell the crop at throw away prices to avoid post-harvest losses caused by rotting and attacks by pests.
“I sold about 2,000 bags at a price of Sh1,500 per 90 kg to avoid incurring further losses,” Ms Choge, who still has 200 bags from last year’s crop valued at Sh640,000, added.
It costs the farmer Sh35,000 to cultivate an acre of maize with an estimated return of about Sh96,000 under favourable market conditions.
“The high production cost due to increased fuel prices and taxation on herbicides will make farming more difficult,” she said.
She urged the government to hasten the release of the money owed to farmers by NCPB.
“I am contemplating switching to dairy farming or horticulture since maize has proved unpredictable,” she said.
Mr Kimutai Kollum, another farmer from Soy, Uasin Gishu, is holding 600 bags of maize estimated at Sh1.9 million.
“I delivered 300 bags to the board for which I was paid but I still have 600 bags and there is no market for it,” Mr Kollum said over the phone.
Like some farmers in the region, he is opposed to the second vetting process and wants the government to speed up the release of the outstanding Sh3.5 billion.
“Why undergo extra vetting process yet a similar process was carried out before delivering the crop to the board? This is a ploy by the government to delay paying us our money,” he said.
Mr Herman Kiplagat of Moi’s Bridge delivered 300 bags valued at Sh960,000 but is still waiting for payment.
“The government should weed out cartels in the market chain instead of punishing genuine farmers by delaying payments,” he said.
Trans-Nzoia deputy governor Stanley Tarus said the solution to the farmers’ woes lies in diversification and finding a reliable market for their produce.
Two months before the August 2017 elections, President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was seeking a second term in office, outlined his manifesto with the key theme being austerity.
His Jubilee Party pledged to reduce wastage in government to save up to Sh1 trillion in the next five years.
So important was austerity that even the then opposition Nasa made a similar pledge, whose achievement was hinged on the establishment of prudent fiscal policies and strict public finance management systems.
Jubilee, whose presidential ticket of Mr Kenyatta and running-mate William Ruto eventually won in a controversial October repeat poll after the Supreme Court nullified the August victory, had planned to establish a General Services Agency (GSA) to manage and support the basic administrative functioning of government, procure all supplies and services, communications, transportation and office space.
That was on paper. After running a relatively lean Cabinet in his first term, the President announced a bloated team that included Mr Raphael Tuju as Cabinet Secretary without portfolio and the amorphous role of Chief Administrative Secretary that critics said introduced assistant ministers through the backdoor.
This flew in the face of a broader debate on the wage bill that in 2014 prompted Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto to announce they would take a 20 percent pay cut — something that was supposed to apply to Cabinet Secretaries and parastatal heads on different scales.
It is not clear how far this initiative went beyond the public announcements.
Significantly, the CAS positions come with privileges like staff, vehicles, security and other expenses that have kept the public wage bill strained and betrayed the promise to tame wasteful spending.
Also, ministries have principal secretaries, directors and other senior technical staff.
Economists contend that the government would not have had to go for poor Kenyans in punitive taxation, including the controversial 16 percent Value Added Tax on fuel, had there been attempts to tame wasteful spending.
“There is no silver bullet. As long as we are spending more than we can raise, we have to take all the consequences of living beyond our means.
“We have to cut expenditure. It is not rocket science to see where money is being wasted,” Dr Paul Gachanja, chairman of the Economics Department at Kenyatta University, told the Sunday Nation.
With years of failed austerity in both national and county governments, poor Kenyans have had to shoulder the burden of those in power, with the VAT controversy stirring fresh debate on the economy and debt burden.
Public display of opulence at a time when many Kenyans are straining to cope with the high cost of living has not made things any better.
According to British non-profit group Oxfam International, extreme inequality is getting out of control in Kenya, with only a few enjoying the fruits of economic growth and with no trickle down effect on poor Kenyans.
In a December 2017 report titled “Taxing for a More Equal Kenya: A five-point action plan to tackle inequality”, Oxfam said less than 0.1 percent of the population (8,300 people) own more wealth than the bottom 99.9 percent (more than 44 million people).
“The richest 10 percent of people in Kenya earned on average 23 times more than the poorest 10 percent. While this minority of super-rich Kenyans are accumulating wealth and income, the fruits of economic growth are failing to trickle down to the poorest,” Oxfam said in the report.
Pundits contend that public anger at manifestations of such wide inequalities may become hard to deal with as the government focuses on bridging budgetary gulfs created through expensive borrowing to fund ambitious projects like the Standard Gauge Railway, with little positive impact on the poor.
University of Nairobi Business School Associate Professor Bitange Ndemo says years of project planning that sources money from the poor but fails to include them in the developments is a recipe for chaos.
Dr Ndemo said the pressure is increasingly becoming unbearable for the poor, who are now being forced to shoulder the cost of economic mismanagement.
“If we don’t use the concept of inclusive development, then these poor people will begin feeling left behind in the economic growth story and start standing against some development agenda.
“One cannot assume that those people in the slums are not watching what is going on and comments being made by some public figures, which essentially underline the insensitivity exhibited in government cycles,” Dr Ndemo said.
When Kenyans were still enraged by the introduction of 16 percent VAT on fuel last weekend, Deputy President William Ruto on Monday morning bought 1,400 goats collectively valued at Sh10 million at a goat auction in Kajiado County.
The goats, which Mr Ruto said belonged to him and President Kenyatta, were bought in cash stashed in a black backpack, which was handed to the host, Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku.
The video that went viral after the action has been a subject of great discussion, with many Kenyans seeing the purchase as insensitive.
Equity Bank chief executive officer James Mwangi, who is also the Vision 2030 Delivery Board chairman, also stoked public outrage when he supported the fuel tax, saying it is the pain Kenyans must experience to enjoy the fruits of transformation, adding that people must “tighten their belts”.
Earlier in the year, MPs had pushed Treasury to grant them Sh5 million shillings each as grants after scattering attempts by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission to remove these perks.
The MPs and Senators, who earn more than Sh1 million each every month, due to allowances — including Sh5,000 sitting allowance every time they clock in for the plenary session and Sh5,000 each for committee sitting — have been widely criticised for burdening Kenyans.
“Have you wondered why no one at Treasury ever talks about austerity but keeps singing about more revenue?
“MPs should be the first group to be targeted. The government is focusing on the wrong solution; it’s not about more revenue now, it’s about reducing expenditure,” Nairobi-based economic analyst Gitau Githogo said.
Mr Githogo said perennial budget increases have not been consistent with a rise in revenues, placing Kenya in the current economic odds.
Official data show that the gross estimated Government expenditure almost doubled between 2012 and 2016, rising by 93 percent to Sh2.2 trillion.
This is higher than the 60 percent rise in revenues and 126 percent rise in public debt over the same period.
Expenditure reduction plans like the planned merger of parastatals in line with recommendations of a 2013 report by a parastatal reforms task force appointed by President Kenyatta, have largely been shelved.
Another one dubbed Capacity Assessment and Rationalisation of the Public Service Programme that would see weeding out of ghost workers and eliminate duplication of duties, has also been gathering dust after gobbling money developing strategies.
Other previous austerity measures that have not been fully enforced include a ban on fuel guzzlers, reduction of the money spent on flowers and refreshments, and streamlining of procurement to lower the inflated prices government pays for goods and services.
The fate of a suit filed by former magistrates who were sent packing in 2003 by the retired Justice Aaron-Ringera-led judiciary purge will now be determined by the Employment and Labour Relations Court.
Constitutional and Human Rights Judge Chacha Mwita last month directed the suit by 42 magistrates who have challenged their dismissal to pursue the matter before the Labour court.
The judge agreed that the issues raised by the petitioners concerned an employer and employees over termination of employment.
“The only other aspect that comes in is that the termination of employment did not take into account certain constitutional or legal principles, thus violated the petitioners’ rights and fundamental freedoms,” Justice Mwita said.
He however rejected an application by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) seeking to strike out the suit entirely, arguing the appropriate action was to refer the matter to the right court.
The former magistrates have faulted the JSC’s decision to retire them on public interest.
They contend that the action taken by the commission violated their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms on various aspects, including a breach of the rules of natural justice.
They have sought, among other reliefs, a declaration that their retirement on public interest was unconstitutional and violated their fundamental rights to equal protection of the law, human dignity and integrity of the person.
The JSC had argued the court lacked jurisdiction on grounds that the matter relates to employment.
However, the petitioners have maintained that the High Court retains inherent jurisdiction because the issue before the court was on the violation of constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms, issues that fall within the court’s jurisdiction.
Further, the former magistrates reckon their termination was unfair and want those who are still eligible to be reinstated or be fully compensated for the loss of employment.
Judiciary Chief Registrar Ann Amadi questioned why it took the magistrates 14 years to file the case, indicating that they failed to demonstrate the inordinate delay.
Ms Amadi argued that section 90 of the Employment Act required them to lodge their suit within three years from the time the decision to retire them in public interest was made.
A number of judges who had been sacked for various reasons made a comeback after successfully challenging the decision to send them home.
Records show that Aaron Ringera never gave the magistrates a chance to defend themselves.
The retired judge lined up a wide range of accusations against the magistrates and judges, including sexual harassment to demanding and receiving bribes.
He also accused them of lack of integrity, unethical conduct and judicial misbehaviour.
According to the Ringera report, corruption included demanding and accepting bribes, sexual favours, free transport and hospitality and gifts in return for partisan judgments.
Watching Deputy President William Ruto splashing Sh10 million in cash to buy hundreds of goats during a fundraising auction in Kajiado last Monday evoked memories of the famous Moi-era Kimalel goat auction.
In those days, the high and the mighty would fork out hundreds of thousands of shillings to buy goats in good time for the December festive season.
The annual Kimalel Goat Auction ritual may no longer be as high-profile after former President Daniel Moi’s exit coupled with the death of its legendary comic Master of Ceremony Ezekiel Barng’etuny, but its spirit lives on, if Mr Ruto’s actions in Kajiado were anything to go by — spending Sh10 million to buy 1,400 goats that he said he would split with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
And it is not only at goat auctions that the Mr Ruto’s generous spirit manifests itself.
But a combination of outrage over increased cost of fuel a day earlier and the airing of the event live helped to once again stir debate on Mr Ruto’s fundraising spree across the country at a time when most Kenyans were being forced to tighten their belts.
One contribution that raised serious eyebrows was Sh15 million donated to Murang’a High School on April 6 for the construction of a multi-purpose hall.
On June 9, he graced a fundraiser at Mary Immaculate Primary School in Nanyuki and donated Sh3 million and barely four weeks later he attended another fundraiser at Kairuri Catholic parish in Embu County where he gave the clergy Sh5 million.
No less than opposition leader Raila Odinga has questioned the source of the millions Mr Ruto dishes out in harambees.
Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi is also on record criticising Mr Ruto’s spending spree, and in particular, last Monday’s Sh10 million during the Kajiado goat auction.
“How does one walk around with Sh10 million. Just tell me how possible this is. Isn’t this a sign of disrespect to Kenyans who are already struggling with fuel levies,” Mr Mudavadi said.
But for Mr Ruto, who styles himself as mtoto wa masikini (poor man’s child), who walked his way up the political ladder from a chicken seller in Uasin Gishu to deputy president, his contributions should be seen in the context of his generous spirit and not so much about the source of his wealth.
“There are people who sometimes shock us by asking why we go to churches and why we donate towards church projects. But if you investigate these people they spend their money on witchcraft,” Mr Ruto told a church gathering in Kayole, Nairobi, in July.
And he added more recently: “Those running ‘injili ya shetani’ that unless your father was a minister, a vice president or a president, however hard you work you must remain poor and if not a pauper you must be corrupt and have stolen, they should know that those without god fathers have God the father. Shindwe.”
It was a veiled attack on Mr Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta, sons of pioneer politicians who inherited considerable wealth.
Never mind the fact that in some instances, Mr Ruto informs the beneficiaries of his harambee millions that part of it is a contribution from his boss, the president.
He will also not spare clerics, some of who have previously banned him from conducting harambees.
“Those barring us from conducting church harambees should know that we are Christians first, politicians second,” he once said.
But despite his lines of defence, the deputy president’s “Mr Moneybags” image has sometimes lent itself to ridicule and criticism.
So much so that some social media users recently asked President Kenyatta to consider borrowing from Mr Ruto instead of the Chinese and Americans.
Over a dozen member of county assemblies from Kakamega and Vihiga who recently visited Deputy President William Ruto at his Karen home in Nairobi are facing sanctions from the Amani National Congress (ANC) as the 2022 presidential hopefuls accuse each other of employing dirty tricks to gain advantage over their opponents ahead of the poll.
ANC Secretary-General Barack Muluka has given the MCAs up to today (September 9) to show cause why they should not be expelled for advancing the ambitions of an opponent.
Party leader Musalia Mudavadi has trained his eyes on the presidency and his allies, keen to lock out rival parties from their perceived strongholds, view Mr Ruto’s tactics as “provocative and dirty”.
“It is Ruto’s way of destabilising other parties because you realise it was not just ANC MCAs who went there, there were some from ODM.
“The idea here is to destabilise his potential opponents, and MCAs are an easy prey when it comes to handouts. There is nothing ideological about it,” Mr Mudavadi’s spokesman Kibisu Kabatesi said.
But as a matter of strategy, Mr Ruto’s men maintain that their candidate is such an attractive brand that politicians from rival parties are falling over each other to get his attention.
“The DP is far ahead of the pack. Going by our own internal projections, he is commanding more than 40 percent support across the country, leaving the remaining percentage for more than 10 other aspirants to share. His chances of succeeding President Uhuru Kenyatta can only get better,” National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, who is a close ally of the DP, said.
It would not be the first time he is employing this approach.
At the height of campaigns last year, Mr Ruto assured Jubilee followers that they were poised to win and taunted Nasa’s supporters on why they would imagine that the incumbents would lose to a ‘disorganised, rudderless and leaderless opposition’.
“In 2013, we faced a formidable team with half the government — a sitting prime minister and a sitting vice-president. We were battling against what they said were choices with consequences at the International Criminal Court. Right now we are free and in power, why would we lose,” Mr Mr Ruto said while on the campaign trail ahead of the last general election, sentiments apparently intended at creating an impression in the minds of Nasa supporters that their candidate Raila Odinga stood no chance.
Mr Duale also said they were aware of the underhand tactics the opponents were using to bring their leader down and as such they would not be caught unawares.
“You have seen them throwing dirt at the Deputy President, sponsoring opinion polls to show him as corrupt with a view to blunting his 2022 chances,” he said.
He predicted that, going forward, there would be a groundswell of such schemes.
A recent Ipsos survey showed Mr Ruto as one of the most corrupt politicians. He dismissed the poll, terming it “the handy work of (political) detractors”.
And while Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula, another presidential hopeful, maintains that it is Mr Odinga’s turn to support his bid in the coming polls since he did so last year and in 2013, the latter’s lieutenants say the calls amount to blackmail.
Siaya Senator James Orengo pointed out that Mr Odinga was yet to commit on whether he would be running for the presidency and as such, it was inappropriate for his colleague to put in such a demand.
“There is no political debt that is enforceable in Kenya and history is replete with examples. As it is, this can only be possible through goodwill from both sides but not name-calling,” he said.
Mr Wetang’ula, alongside Mr Mudavadi and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, were co-principals with Mr Odinga in the Nasa coalition where the Orange party leader was the candidate and Mr Musyoka the running mate.
Mr Wetang’ula feels cheated – especially after his replacement with Mr Orengo as the Senate minority leader.
Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa, another Ruto man, was also at it recently.
Keen to instil doubt in Mr Mudavadi’s supporters, he told Mr Mudavadi at a public gathering to forget his quest for the presidency, arguing he could not mobilise campaign resources, or match the DP’s war chest.
“If my brother Mr Mudavadi cannot raise Sh200 billion for presidential campaigns in 2022, let him forget it,” Mr Echesa said, drawing Mr Mudavadi’s fury.
Even the infighting at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has got everything to do with the next polls.
Each of the influential players is keen to plant user-friendly individuals.
On the ongoing push for unity of Luhya politicians, those opposed to it like MPs Caleb Amisi (Saboti), Godfrey Osotsi (Nominated) and Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, and who are sympathetic to Mr Odinga, have poured cold water on it by dragging in Mr Rutos name, in effect throwing the whole process into a spin.
It may pass as ordinary political talk, but it is a well thought-out scheme.
The mere mention of Mr Ruto has bred suspicion with Mudavadi and Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa already coming out fighting.
“Ruto neither funded nor was involved in the planning or financing of the meeting. Are you suggesting that our leaders have no money to buy tea?” Mr Wamalwa said through an aide.
A united Luhya community at the ballot would no doubt be a super force to reckon with in the 2022 polls.
The same would also threaten other politicians keen to take advantage of their disunity for their own end.
Given they all want to use the region to achieve their presidential aspirations, Mr Ruto and Mr Odinga would be affected one way or the other by either of the outcome.
The DP has also been a victim of crafty manoeuvres by rivals.
Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, himself aspiring to succeed President Kenyatta, has seen to it that he does not meet his father Daniel Arap Moi to ‘receive blessings’.
The last time he tried to gain access to Mzee’s Kabarak home without the Senator’s approval, he was only ‘offered lunch’ but never got close to see the retired president who was in the same House they were.
Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, one of the DP’s allied politicians said, “I want to tell Senator Gideon Moi that he is a let down to the Kalenjin community because how can he allow the opposition leader Raila Odinga to meet the retired President Daniel Moi at his Kabarak home and lock out his brother DP Ruto?”
Central Kenya politicians insist that in Mr Kenyatta’s succession, the least they can settle for is a running mate slot.
Almost appearing as blackmail, it appears to be a potent strategy that has presented Mr Ruto with untold dilemma since he had hoped he could have a freehand to scout for his deputy from other parts of the country but still keep that constituency having supported their son in the last two polls.
The politicians here know that they have the numbers and if they spoke with one voice, they would certainly have their way.
This has seen the likes of Senator Kithure Kindiki (Tharaka-Nithi), Governors Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga) and Mwangi wa Iria (Murang’a) position themselves as possible deputies.
“Forget about hard work,” my old schoolmate fumed the other day. “In today’s Kenya you either make it through gambling or tenderpreneurship, Kabura style.”
Well, that’s how he sees it. On my part, two incidents last year drew my attention to just how deep gambling has dug into the Kenyan psyche.
In the first incident, I had made a stop-over at Isinya township in Kajiado County for a taste of the famous Maasai soup-dawa.
It was about 11am in the morning on a working day, but the place I entered was already teeming with young Maasai morans in shukas gambling at the several gaming machines.
Out of curiosity, I asked the waiter how come all these young people were there when they ought to have been in school, or at least herding cattle out there.
His shocking reply was: “First they refused to go to school. Now they have abandoned cattle as well. They say gambling is where money is!”
“Where do they get the money to gamble?” I asked. “They go home on weekends to sell the family livestock and come back on Monday for another week of gambling.
“When there is no longer livestock to sell, they sell the family land and bring the money here. Worse, some of those you see are students who have fled school and are gambling with what was supposed to be school fees!”
I lost the appetite for soup-dawa when the waiter told me there were six such gaming places in the tiny township that has neither water nor toilets!
Not long after, I had a cup of tea with a lady acquaintance I’d not met for some time. As we chatted, she excused herself to take a lengthy telephone call.
“That is my workmate”, she told me. “He was calling to give me names of football teams on which to place my bet today.”
“Interesting,” I said, “I never knew you to have any interest in soccer.” “Even now I am no fun of football” she replied.
“Actually, I am hearing for the first time most of the names (teams) I have been told to place my bet on.
Locally if you ask me leopards is name of wild cats and Gor Mahia that of a traditional medicine-man we read about in primary school!” (My friend and colleague Tom Osanjo would hang her for that “sacrilege”!)
I could easily understand my female friend. She is a victim of what is now popular Kenyan “culture” called gaming, jaribu-bahati.
It is a phenomena that began to earnestly take root with the advent of “pyramid” schemes in the last decade where fast-talking crooks duped gullible Kenyans that money could effortlessly “give birth” and multiply like rabbits in the shortest time.
The “pyramid” schemes coincided with initial public offer (IPOs) of shares in some companies, and which sent Kenyans into hysteria buying on misplaced belief that stock market worked the same way as the “pyramid” schemes.
Just how Kenyans can believe in easy, quick riches became clear to me one day during the IPO issue by the KenGen company in early 2006.
I was leaving for home when the night watchman at my favourite joint in Nairobi West came running after me in the parking lot.
“Mkubwa (that is what they call you when they want to “milk” something small out of you) I have something to tell you.”
I stopped to hear him out, remembering some advice given to me long time ago that you never ignore the night guard or the househelp.
They are the people who know where all skeletons are buried! The night watchman had a grand idea how he’d be a millionaire in the next few months.
He’d purchase 20,000 of the KenGen shares on offer at Sh5 apiece and dispose them off immediately the IPO ended and the share price, in his projection, reverted to the pre-IPO prize of Sh45 and above.
He wanted me to lend him Sh40,000 to raise the Sh100,000 required to purchase 20,000 shares.
I asked him where he was getting the balance of Sh60,000, assuming I lent him Sh40,000.
He told me his wife, a retail seller of cereals in Kibra slums, was in a round-table saving scheme that was to give her Sh40,000.
He would raise the other Sh20,000 by selling his only cow in the rural area.
I got the impression he was very sincere and decided to give my two-cents worth of investment advice.
I told him so many people were in rush to purchase KenGen IPO shares, meaning at the close of the offer, the market would be flooded with so many sellers but no buyers, hence the share price would most likely take much, much longer to get to the high of Sh50 and make him a millionaire if everything worked as per his plan.
KENGEN SHARE VALUE
I went on to tell him that since the wife’s cereal business seemed to be doing well, perhaps the best investment would be to plough back to the business the Sh40,000 she was getting from her round-table group.
With the money she could even consider moving from retail to wholesale trade and where they were guaranteed tidy profits, unlike the gamble with KenGen shares.
I told him he could also consider selling the cow and put the money in the cereal business as well.
Heck, I even took liberty to suggest that he consider quitting the night-watchman job and join the wife in the cereal business.
I am not sure he heeded my advice, more so after I wasn’t forthcoming with the “soft loan” he wanted from me.
I have reason though to guess he never became a millionaire because I still see him at the same place where he worked.
In any case, KenGen share value went south after the IPO and remained there for a long time.
The incident with the watchman reminded me of a story I read about the famous Wall Street crash of American stock market, and which triggered the global depression of 1929.
Historian Cecil Roberts related the hysterical buying and selling in the New York bourse thus: One day he went to have a haircut.
As the barber swept the clean white sheet from his shoulders and bent to brush his collar, he whispered: “Buy Standard Gas (an American company) shares. I’ve doubled mine. It’s good for another double.”
Stunned, the historian walked away saying to himself: “If the hysteria has reached the barber level something must soon happen.” It did.
A day after, what the world had come to refer to as Wall Street “speculative orgy”, the US stock market came tumbling down like a house of cards.
It is also around the same time when a friend called me and urged that we in the media do something to have the “pyramid” schemes banned in the country and those behind them put in jail for many years.
He’d a sad story to tell. A friend of his had been talked by his wife into selling the family’s only life-long investment, a house in Nairobi’s southlands area, to invest in a “pyramid” scheme only for the scheme to close shop and its owners to go underground.
It had begun with the wife putting her Sh100,000 savings in the scheme and doubling it.
She’d ploughed it back and “harvested” another double to make a cool Sh300,000 in just six months!
With that, she had not much problem convincing her husband to sell their only earthly possession to invest in the pyramids.
Sadly, the unfortunate turn of events led to bitter break-up of the marriage.
By the way, women made the easiest prey to “pyramids” which made me conclude perpetrators of the schemes must have been blood relatives of the Serpent who tricked Eve to eat the forbidden fruit and share it with her husband!
The gambling “culture” in the country has come with it what former Safaricom chief executive Michael Joseph once called Kenyans “peculiar phone habits”.
You get to the family living room in the evening and all you find are “robots” each doing their own thing – no feelings and no communication with the other.
The father of the house is busy on his phone frustrated to have lost on his day’s football bet and placing another one.
The mother too is gnashing her teeth for losing on Shabiki lottery but finding comfort catching up with gossip in her WhatsApp group.
Meanwhile, one child is engrossed on telephone games and the other is on a pornography site.
The house girl is also busy texting her boda boda boyfriend to sambaza credit so that she can play in one of the many other lotteries.
If you pray on Sundays, dedicate a special one for Kenyans today.
In this interactive series, we invite readers to send in questions to selected public figures. This week, Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter responds to your questions.
1. I run a small renewable energy company here in Kenya. As a sector, we have given numerous proposals to your ministry on ways we can lower power bills by supplying power at a rate half of what you are currently getting from other sources, one of the proposal is net metering. Your ministry seems uninterested in anything that lowers power bills to the customer in what appears to be a well-calculated move to protect cartels which generate diesel power at exorbitant rates to Kenyans. Why is this so? David Maranga, Lang’ata
We are reviewing the current programme to determine what has worked and what has not worked so that we can transition into a more transparent and competitive regime.
I am happy to tell Kenyans that we now have a rich mix of power, which does not rely on thermals.
For example, in the August 2018 dispatch, geothermal provided 43.7 percent, hydro 42.8 percent, thermal 12 percent (down from 24 percent in September 2017), wind 0.3 percent and net imports 1.2 percent comprising of 50MW of hydro-power from Uganda.
The commissioning of the Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP) will bring an additional 310MW while the Garissa Solar Project will provide 50MW this year.
This will provide an increase in the dispatch of wind and solar into the national grid.
By August 2019, Kengen will bring into the national grid an additional 160MW of geothermal power.
In 2019, Kenya will also receive 400MW of hydro-power from Ethiopia. This comes to a total of 920MW in one year.
With regard to net metering, it has been provided for in the Energy Bill, 2017 that is currently before Parliament for debate.
2. There is a big difference in electricity charges in pre-paid and post-paid tariffs. What has your ministry done to cushion consumers from being exploited by Kenya Power in the prepaid tariff? Zephaniah Obaga, Gilgil-Nakuru County
All customers are billed on the same tariff whether they are using pre-paid and post-paid meters.
With effect from August 1, all fixed charges and stepped consumption rates in the bill were removed.
There is no difference in charges for prepaid and post-paid billing. Any purchases within the billing period will therefore be charged for the power consumed.
3. What effects will the introduction of taxes on fuel have on electricity charges and how are you planning to counter them? Zephaniah Obaga, Gilgil-Nakuru County
The fuel cost charge billed to customers already attracts 16 percent VAT, therefore there will be no effect on the electricity bills to our customers.
Additionally, the Lake Turkana Wind Power will inject additional renewable energy in the grid to reduce the amount of thermal component in the energy mix. This will mitigate any additional cost of fuel.
4. Every time I hear the energy issue being discussed, there is one thing that always comes to my mind: when will the country be self-sufficient on the issue in electricity supply? Francis Njuguna, Kibichoi
We are currently focusing on the completion of the additional transmission lines into western Kenya that will alleviate this situation by evacuating more geothermal power from Olkaria into this region.
The completion of these transmission lines, Narok-Bomet and Olkaria-Lessos-Kisumu, will go a long way in stabilising power in Western Kenya.
Under the framework of the Eastern Africa Power Pool, power trade among East African countries is encouraged.
In August 2018, Kenya on average imported 50MW of power from Uganda to help in stabilising power supply in western Kenya as need arose.
5. Sir, you made some strong remarks after the DPP arrested almost the entire top management of Kenya Power. In light of your remarks at the time, do you think the renewed war on corruption is being fought with sincerity? Purity Wavinya, Makueni
6. When will all Kenyans who are within 600 metres from the transformer start getting power to their homes at the reduced charges of Sh15,000? Kenya Power office in Murang’a claims that only the people who require one pole will pay the Sh15,000. Those who require more than one poles are supposed to pay the full cost even if they are within the 600 metres. Stephen Chege, Kangema
Under the Last Mile Connectivity Programme, a number of transformers have been earmarked for maximisation where homes within 600m radius are connected at a cost of Sh15,000.
Your case has been taken up by the Kenya Power team and I am sure that they will revert to you on this.
You can get in touch with the KPLC customer care team on 95551 for any specific issues you may have on power connection and billing.
7. No sooner had the country started trucking oil than pump prices shot up exponentially courtesy of ERC’s convoluted price determination mechanism that benefits the marketers and the 16 percent VAT. How is your ministry going to shield us from this exploitation? Solomon Gatobu, Maua
This question would best be referred to and addressed by my colleague in the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining.
8. The last mile connectivity programme was witnessed in other areas of the country but are you aware that in Chepalungu sub-county, Sigor in particular, the people here have only heard of the programme and not experienced it? Electricity poles were delivered by a contractor but nothing has been done up to now. Jeff Chepkwony, Sigor Chepalungu
The Last Mile Project is being implemented in phases and is ongoing across the country. It targets to connect homes within 600 meters of earmarked transformers for each phase.
The most recent Last Mile project that was being done in Sigor is Uswet Sachoran Village; being implemented by the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) and is benefiting 43 households from an existing transformer.
The list of targeted customers has been forwarded to Kenya Power to arrange for the final connection, by installing a pre-paid meter at the top of the terminal of every house.
9. Parastatals in your docket including Kenya Power and Kenya Pipeline have been accused of runaway corruption ranging from faulty transformers, cartels controlling the energy sector, favouritism in tender awards. What measures are being taken to address the negative perception that is emerging of your ministry? Jeff Chepkwony, Sigor Chepalungu
Kenya Power and Kenya Pipeline Company are governed by the constitution and the Public Service Ethics code.
Their procurement is guided by the Public Procurement and Disposals Act and any dispute regarding tenders is arbitrated by the Public Procurement Oversight Authority.
They are also subject to audits by the Auditor-General and the parastatal’s investigations agency.
The two cases you refer to are being handled by competent bodies and the courts which should be allowed to carry out their duty.
10. Your ministry has received lots of backlash for corruption allegations or wanting service delivery. Sir, despite all this, are there milestones you have made since you came into the ministry which are being overlooked by your critics? Komen Moris, Eldoret
The ministry has facilitated additional generated power by more than 680MW in the last four years.
This has pre-empted any possibility of rationing even during times of low hydrology and also reduced the unit cost of power by displacing the use of thermal plants as most of the new generation is geothermal renewable energy.
We have installed either grid electricity or solar in almost all primary schools in the country to facilitate digital literacy programme.
Many other public facilities such as secondary schools, health centres, hospitals and boreholes have benefited from electricity connections.
The ministry significantly reduced the connection fees under the Last Mile Project to domestic households and small and medium enterprises from Sh35,000 to Sh15,000.
In addition, the Ministry is a key enabler of the Big Four Agenda. The Ministry has commenced installation of electricity to the various existing health centres and dispensaries.
11. Much has been canvassed about the Turkana Wind power and its evacuation to the National Grid. The issue of Sh1 billion penalty per month by the investors has also been in the public domain for some time now. Sir, what are the true facts about this important investment? Komen Moris, Eldoret
As per August 31, 2018, the transmission for the Lake Turkana Wind Power is complete with sufficient capacity to evacuate the power.
Commissioning tests are ongoing and we expect to complete the tests by mid-September.
12. Ministry of Energy seems to be condoning nepotism given the ethnic backgrounds of CEOs, senior managers and general staff complement at the energy parastatals. What actions are you taking in ensuring this is stopped forthwith and fair ethnic balance observed? Gerald Mutua Mutiso, Makueni
The recruitment of staff at the Ministry and across its parastatals is very transparent as it is guided by existing Laws of Parliament – including the Employment Act of 2007 and its successor, the State Corporations Act Cap 446 (2012) and regulations issued by the Public Service Commission as established by Article 232 of the Constitution of Kenya.
The recruitment at all SAGAs is done at the Board of Directors’ level on a competitive system and based on merit, while at the Ministry level, the Public Service Commission advertises, interviews and recruits public servants.
In addressing issues about diversity and the face of Kenya at all government institutions, the Public Service Commission is charged with promoting the values and principles mentioned in Article 10 and 232 of the Constitution of Kenya.
13. What is your take on the plight of employees who have been on renewable contracts at the Kenya Power for years, some for as many as 10 years? Wycliffe Obura
Kenya Power is implementing a programme to absorb employees on contract into permanent and pensionable terms.
Early this year, a total of 700 staff were converted from contract to permanent terms.
14. You are in-charge of a very influential docket that oversees a number of energy agencies. I have checked and discovered that just a few Kenyans understand the distinct mandate of each of these agencies. What can you do to correct this? Dan Murugu, Nakuru
We are preparing a documentary to show the relationship between parastatals under the Ministry.
Our parastatals are strongly interrelated, with each feeding into the other.
KenGen, Geothermal Development Company and Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board are involved in generation of power.
Kenya Power and Lighting Company and Rural Electrification Authority distribute power while the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company constructs transmission lines.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission has secured orders to investigate wealth amounting to Sh1 billion belonging to three mid-level government officials.
EACC sources indicate that most corruption occurs in lower cadres of the Civil Service and devolved units. It is these officers that the commission’s officers are concentrating on.
The court documents indicate that a Kenya Revenue Authority employee, currently at Customs and Services department, Mr Joseph Chege Gikonyo, has unexplained assets worth Sh615,457,057, which EACC seeks to be forfeited to the government.
The High Court has already issued orders restraining Mr Gikonyo from transferring the accounts.
A former Nairobi County government official, Mr Stephen Osiro, earning a net monthly salary of roughly Sh90,000, amassed a Sh340 million fortune in just five years.
And Thomas Gitau Njogu, a senior assistant accountant general at the state department of interior and coordination of national government, had Sh111,681,931 of unexplained wealth, which the commission sought to be forfeited to the court.
According to documents filed in court, Mr Gikonyo and his spouse seem, in the eyes of EACC, to have made such considerable wealth between 1998 and 2016, way beyond any source of their income.
Their cumulative salaries during the period was Sh14,332,803, proceeds of tea totalling Sh4,036,508, profit from sale of property Sh21,550,000 and Ushuru Sacco loans Sh5,114,900.
But they made cumulative cash deposits in their Giche Limited Company account of Sh399,044,707 from 17 July 2010 to February 4, 2016.
Between 1998 and 2018, Mr Gikonyo and his spouse acquired immovable property currently valued at Sh355,800,000, being registered proportionately between the two.
Most of the money that Mr Gikonyo received was sent to him via M-Pesa by directors of various clearing and forwarding companies.
The court documents filed by EACC showed that with the proceeds, he acquired several plots in Mtwapa, Kilifi, Mombasa, Umoja Inner Core in Nairobi and Mwangunda in Kwale.
Former Nairobi County government head of accounting Stephen Ogaga Osiro is said to have amassed Sh340 million fortune in both cash and property between January 2011 and April 2016.
In his wealth declaration forms, Mr Osiro had stated that his income was a modest Sh6,440,000 while his assets were estimated at Sh36,000,000 while his total liabilities were Sh1,550,000.
On Friday, the orders were extended until the matter is heard and determined.
In her order dated August 28, 2018 freezing Mr Osiro and his wife Caroline Odhiambo Obwa’s assets, including millions of shillings held in various bank accounts and immovable assets spread across Nairobi, Kajiado and Kisumu counties, High Court Judge Hedwig Ong’udi issued a restraining order on the one time treasurer of the defunct Kisumu Municipal Council.
She restrained them from transferring, leasing, charging, wasting or disposing 38 parcels of land located in Nairobi, Kajiado and Kisumu counties, as well as two motor vehicles, a Toyota Prado and a Toyota Mark X.
Separately, an accountant at the Interior ministry on a Sh155,000 monthly gross salary also amassed for himself and his family a Sh111 million fortune within 20 months.
The EACC secured orders freezing the assets of Thomas Gitau Njogu and his wife Teresia Njeri Gitau, including properties in Nairobi’s Thome Estate, Kitengela and Kabete.
Ms Ongudi further allowed EACC to keep in its custody Sh8,223,050 and 3,500 US dollars, which was seized from the couple’s residence and office premises on August 24, 2018.
The couple was also restrained from selling or transferring a Toyota Hilux car registration number KCL 350Z, pending further mention of the matter on Thursday.
In the affidavit seeking orders to freeze the Osiros’ fortune, EACC lawyer Judith Mwanzia Shamalla said investigations carried out by the anti-graft body had established that the couple had acquired unexplained assets worth Sh318,637,338.60 and US$110,375 between January 2011 and April 2016.
“The unexplained assets comprise cash Sh293,842,338.60 and Sh21,295,000 (total purchase sum of assets not linked to deposits) and a motor vehicle valued at approximately Sh3,500,000,” Ms Shamalla stated in her sworn affidavit.
MISUSE PUBLIC FUNDS
Suit papers showed the couple held properties registered in their names or those of their children.
The properties included apartments and flats in Nairobi’s Lavington, Kileleshwa, Runda and Riara estates as well as land in Kitengela, Kisumu municipality, Muhoroni and in his rural home in Nyando, Kisumu County.
An affidavit sworn by Ms Grace Wambui Maina on behalf of EACC showed that Mr Njogu and his wife had “embezzled and/or misappropriated public funds from the State department for Interior and Coordination of National Government amounting to Sh111,681,931.98.”
“The 1st defendant was, at all times material to this suit, earning a gross salary of approximately Sh155,000 a month,” she stated.