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February, 2019

 

Party leaders sign loyalty pledge to ex-president Kabila

By AFP
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Democratic Republic of Congo ex-president Joseph Kabila, who yielded power to Felix Tshisekedi after December elections, moved Wednesday to assert his political clout, making the leaders of his FCC coalition sign a loyalty pledge.

Kabila’s Common Front For Congo remains the strongest force in parliament, garnering an overwhelming majority of seats in the December 30 vote which yielded a presidential win for opposition leader Tshisekedi.

Nearly a month after the reins officially changed hands, newly-retired Kabila gathered the leaders of the coalition’s 18 member parties at his farm in Kingakati, near Kinshasa, the FCC said in a statement.

It added that he got them to sign an “act of commitment” with seven main points. Topping the list: “We reaffirm our faithfulness and our loyalty to His Excellency Joseph Kabila Kabange, honorary president of the Republic.”

Tshisekedi’s own Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) only garnered 32 seats in the National Assembly.

He has yet to appoint a prime minister and has provisionally been working with the governing team left behind by his predecessor.

COALITION GOVT

The FCC party leaders gathered Wednesday agreed to transform the entity from an “electoral coalition” into a “political platform of government”.

This does not mean it will revisit the power-sharing accord discussed with Tshisekedi, said the FCC.

According to Lambert Mende, government and FCC spokesman, Tshisekedi and Kabila shared “an ideological proximity”. He described them both as “social democrats.”

The two men held talks Sunday on forming a coalition government.

Tshisekedi’s election marked DR Congo’s first peaceful change of power since its independence from Belgium in 1960.

He took over from Kabila who had held the presidency for 18 years.

Another opposition candidate, Martin Fayulu, disputes the legitimacy of the December 30 elections.


Looking gift horse in the mouth and telling whole world about it

By PETER MWAURA
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The story about the Nakuru woman rejecting a house promised by President Uhuru Kenyatta sounds like a case of misplaced sense of entitlement.

Damaris Wambui rejected the house built for her, saying it was sub-standard and not worthy of a gift from the President.

The Nation ran the story on four consecutive days — February 16, 17, 18 and 19. More than 3,000 words were devoted to the story.

Did the story deserve such heavy and continuous coverage?

The answer is yes, if there was corruption among the government officials charged with delivering the gift. But the story doesn’t provide any proof of that; just innuendos.

Wambui is media-savvy. She comes out as a wronged person. She has embarrassed State House officials and given the impression they are corrupt.

CRITICAL WRITING

The media did not ask the government officials concerned any hard questions. For example, what kind of house did the President promise Wambui?

In one of the stories, she says the house was not what President Kenyatta had in mind when he ordered a State House official, “a Mr Wanjohi”, to ensure the family has a decent home.

The Nation reporter, however, did not seek the “a Mr Wanjohi” to give his side of the story.

Other questions that should have been asked linger on. For example, who built the house? How much did it cost? Was a certificate of occupancy obtained as required by law?

Wambui ran away with the story, describing the house as “a big joke”, thanks to the softly-softly approach of the reporters involved in the coverage.

NEWSWORTHY

But let’s give credit where it is due. The story has all the ingredients of what makes a story newsworthy. The story has broad appeal.

It’s close home; every Kenyan dreams of owning a house. It has prominence; it involves the Head of State.

It has human interest; it involves Wambu’s son, Dennis Ngaruiya, the target of the presidential gift, who wowed the President with the recital of a poem four years ago at Kenya Defence Forces celebrations in Lanet, Nakuru.

It has conflict, disagreement, and drama involving a woman and her son and State House mandarins. It has the potential of a scandal or hypocrisy.

It’s also unexpected, bizarre, unusual and outlandish. And it’s the story of a woman who is so rude as to look a presidential gift in the mouth and tell the world about it.


Bid to arm guards is a ploy to push agenda of rich and powerful clique

By DICKSON OGOLLA
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The Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSRA) has revealed that it has received Cabinet approval to arm private guards.

This, in the immediate aftermath of the DusitD2 hotel terror attack, has sparked a furious debate.

In context, Kenya has slightly over 500,000 private security guards. If only half of them were armed, it would result in an additional 250,000 arms in the hands of civilians.

This compares poorly with the 51,527 guns in official hands (with the police) and would make the total number of arms in civilian hands to stand at 750,000, thereby increasing the guns-per-100-people ratio from the current 1:5 to 1:95.

This also compares poorly with Kenya’s neighbours. Tanzania has 427,000 guns in civilian hands and 37,000 with the police and a ratio of 0.8 guns per 100 people, while Uganda has 331,000 guns in civilian hands and 54,000 with the police, with a ratio of 0.8 guns per 100 people.

There are 15 times more guns in civilian hands than in police hands in Kenya.

In Burundi, it is 10 times, Uganda six, Tanzania 11, Somalia 100 times, USA about 100 times and Sweden around 60 times.

In the East African region, Kenya has the highest civilian-to-police gun ratio at 15 (Somalia is a spurious case).

It is difficult to draw a relationship between any of the indicators, say between number of guns in civilian hands and homicides per year, or the number of guns in police hands and the homicide rate.

It is obvious, however, that a higher civilian gun per 100 people ratio in the USA has led to the highest homicide per year (19,103) in that country and that Somalia, with the highest gun ratio in East Africa region, has a moderate homicide per year (856).

CONSULTATION

Even more important is the lack of public perception and opinion data on whether more guns in the hands of private security guards will improve security in general and terrorism in particular; hence the need for wider consultations and genuine, comprehensive public engagement.

It is quite obvious that the relationship between gun ownership in private or police hands and homicides is very complex, and a simple increase in the number of guns in civilian hands may not result in less gun-related crimes or increased positive response to terror threats.

Indeed, anecdotal data indicate that having a firearm makes one more likely to be attacked as the criminal may want to rob you of the gun and also because the criminal perceives you as a mortal threat.

Kenya should, however, draw from her experience with arming police reservists in pastoralist areas.

These areas account for over 80 percent of the illegal firearms in civilian hands in the country and the use of guns in cattle rustling and other criminal activities has only increased.

GOVT’S DUTY

Indeed, only mid last year, the police had their now-continual activity of mopping up illegal firearms in these regions.

Clearly, while arming home guards may have helped a lot, it is a typical example of the uncontrollable situation that you find yourself in when you arm civilians.

The reason people come together in a community to form a village, a clan, a location, ward, constituency, county and even a country is so as to ensure physical and social security.

Why is the government abdicating its responsibility of providing physical security yet this is its core duty, its raison d’être?

Also, have you imagined the kind of chaos that will prevail, not unlike the chaos in the public transport sector, if private security firms, most of the times family businesses, have 5,000, 10,000 or even 20,000 guns?

An individual private security firm in a county will have more guns than the police and could easily overrun the county’s police stations.

Factor in our very violent political contests: A politician could easily partner with a private security firm to sabotage security and overwhelm their opponents.

Therein lies the birth of legally sanctioned privately armed militias.

The argument by the PSRA that there will be laws, procedures for vetting and gun-safes would sell if we had not been recently reminded of the failure of the Ndegwa Commission recommendation that has been key in seeing corruption grow to where it is now.

The Ndegwa Commission also talked about institutions and laws that would check conflict of interest among civil servants, among others, all of which were never implemented or were ignored.

In any case, the existing structures that are supposed to regulate civilian gun ownership have only registered 5,000 guns (0.007pc) while there are 750,000 guns in civilian hands (apparently illegally).

But perhaps we are overreaching ourselves; the proposal was not as a response to increasing civilian insecurity but as a reaction to the Dusit terrorist incident.

One notes that armed crime is no longer targeting business premises, where the majority of these private guards are engaged.

These businesses are more worried about white collar robbery, crimes of discretion or cybercrimes. When was the last time you heard of a violent bank robbery?

Private guards should worry more than anybody else, though Al-Shabaab seems to target armed police more regularly and with greater ferocity; please don’t put a target mark on your forehead!

Whatever happens, we should not arm a group of privateers. First, because gun licensing is an individual issue not a group application.

Secondly, if we arm them because they feel they are in the front line, next we will have to arm teachers, then doctors, engineers, lawyers followed by priests and other civilian groups that feel equally threatened.

This is not to say that the private security guards don’t have issues that make them not only extremely vulnerable to injury/death in case of a terrorist attack but also helpless to prevent or respond to these attacks.

These issues revolve around welfare — low pay, working conditions, appropriate kits, security equipment (not limited to guns) and training.

Even more importantly is the issue of responsibility and deployment; it is not their responsibility to fight terrorists, they are neither mandated by law, trained nor equipped to fight terrorism, and thus we should not expect that they respond to or prevent terror attacks.

This is the core responsibility of the State – the police and army – and should not be privatised.

The proposal is extremely suspicious, taking advantage of the terror threats, to “legally” train and arm civilian groups in the name of private security guards.

It does not make us more secure — it makes a very small group of people very rich, very armed, very dangerous and thus very powerful.


Fearless ‘City Girl’: Let her be

On January 25, during a special edition of the “NTV Sasa” show hosted by Salim Swaleh and Jane Ngoiri to discuss the terrorist attack on Nairobi’s Dusit complex, security expert Simiyu Werunga, who was a guest on the show, made some disturbing comments that have the potential to foster animosity and prejudice against Muslims and members of the Somali community.

In his analysis on why Kenya was prone to terror attacks — unlike Uganda, Ethiopia and Burundi, which also have troops in Somalia — Mr Werunga reasoned that it was due to “a large population of Somalis in the country”.

While he pointed out that Islam does not condone terrorism, his comments that “the vast majority of terrorists are Muslims” was clearly prejudiced against Muslims.

It is a worrying and dangerous trend to see the likes of Simiyu Werunga being given a platform where they can freely spew stereotypes and prejudicial statements, which only serve to create discord among Kenyans.

Regretfully, this narrative, which the Press continues to amplify, has been among the main reasons for the increasing animosity towards Muslims and members of the Somali community, especially in the aftermath of terror attacks.

Due to their influential role, the media should be at the frontline to rally Kenyans to strongly safeguard the country’s diverse religious and cohesive structure, and avoid being used as a platform for promoting ethnic and religious hatred among Kenyans.

— Abu Ayman Abusufian, Head of Media, Jamia Mosque, Nairobi

‘Discovering’ the black panther

I salute your enlightenment of ethical journalism and responding to queries.

A few days ago, the sighting of a black panther in Laikipia became a trending topic online. What irked me was the headline, First black panther sighting in a 100 years.

I was dumbfounded, considering there was a similar sighting in 2013 that never brewed a storm.

Since the pre-colonial period, we have been overfed with this perception that something creates a buzz only when a Westerner discovers it.

The black panther story took me back to the most stupid questions I came across in Standard One history — such as, ‘Who discovered Mount Kenya?’ or ‘Who discovered Mount Kilimanjaro?’

Africans had sojourned barefooted on those snow-capped mountains yet someone rewrote history to say European explorers discovered them.

I want to applaud the Daily Nation for carrying a different headline and giving credit where it is due — that a Nation journalist had already documented the black panther, giving us a very clear picture of the elusive cat.

— Kelvin Munga, chef, Nairobi

Fearless ‘City Girl’: Let her be

I love “City Girl” articles and my friends never miss a copy of the Saturday Nation. Most of Njoki Chege’s articles are much-talked about, meaning many people read the newspaper, translating to more revenue for NMG.

We must agree that “City Girl” is, indeed, a talented girl, who has a particular way of using words. Many readers relate to what she writes.

In her recent article about the ‘Prophet’ (It is time to rein in these religious quacksSaturday Nation, February 2, 2019), she was spot on and many readers were shocked that she had the guts to tackle such a sensitive issue.

Now that we have the fearless “City Girl”, let her be. There is, basically, no error to correct from her article; what she wrote is a reality and most people can relate to it.

— Agnes Wamboka

No apologies

I’ve just read your (“Public Editor’s Notebook”) commentary, (City Girl, freedom of expression and the rights of ‘The Prophet’Daily Nation, February 8, 2019).

I like your analysis and conclusion but I disagree that the Nation should apologise. To a charlatan and quack doing all that harm to innocent and dumb followers?

On the contrary, it’s ‘Prophet’ David Owuor and other like-minded quacks who should apologise to Kenyans.

— Joe Kimura

Taking risks not worth the trouble

Dear “City Girl”, I’ve been following you for a long time and I admire your guts. I hope you will get my message. And it is this: Compared to your initial ‘revelation’, you are now headed into distinctly murky waters.

I don’t know whether it’s a nice road for you to dare walk because the risks are not worth the trouble. I’ve been down the same road and I should know — I’m a little older and, perhaps, a little wiser than you.

The subject of ‘prophets’ (and religion, in general) is the murkiest part of the Jewish religion brought to us as part of our colonial heritage by the British and the Romans.

Truth be told, there’s really no such thing as ‘religion’; it’s all human imagination. That your subject prophet seems to make you very angry is tragic.

It’s not just him; they are all equally ‘guilty’ right down to the current travesty in the Press called the ‘hijab girl drama’. It’s a battle you can’t win. Ever.

— Joe Kimura


Ninth Labour MP quits as UK cross-party rebellion grows

By AFP
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A ninth lawmaker quit Britain’s main opposition Labour Party on Friday, blaming leader Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of accusations of anti-Semitism within its ranks.

Ian Austin’s resignation adds to a mounting rebellion against Corbyn after the defections earlier this week of eight Labour MPs over the issues of anti-Semitism and Brexit.

Austin said he was “appalled at the offence and distress Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party have caused to Jewish people” and that he had become “ashamed” of its conduct under the left-wing opposition leader.

“It is terrible that a culture of extremism, anti-Semitism and intolerance is driving out good MPs and decent people who have committed their life to mainstream politics,” he told the Express & Star, his constituency’s local newspaper.

“The hard left is now in charge of the party, they’re going to get rid of lots of decent mainstream MPs and I just can’t see how it can return to the mainstream party that won elections and changed the country for the better.”

REBELS
Earlier this week eight Labour MPs, and then three from the governing Conservative party, formed a new centrist block in parliament, in the biggest split in British politics since 1981.

The Conservative rebels cited opposition to what they see as their party’s increasingly hardline euroscepticism for their departures, while the Labour lawmakers blamed quitting on both its Brexit policy and its anti-Semitism issues.

They now sit in the House of Commons as an independent group and have signalled plans for a new centre-ground party.

However, Austin, an MP since 2005 who has said Britain’s 2016 EU referendum result should be honoured, indicated that he would not be joining the new faction imminently.

Britain’s two main parties are badly divided over Brexit and the tensions have come to a head as the March 29 deadline for the country’s departure from the bloc looms.

Labour has been plagued by claims of anti-Semitism ever since Corbyn, a lifelong eurosceptic and supporter of anti-Israel groups, became its leader in 2015.


Turkish tycoon's sex abuse case transferred over influence

By BRIAN OCHARO
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Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji has succeeded in his bid to transfer from Mombasa to Kilifi, the case of a Turkish tycoon charged with 10 counts of defilement and promoting child prostitution.

The case that was being tried at a Shanzu court will now be heard at one in Malindi.

The transfer application was granted after it emerged that the suspect, Elsek Osman Erdinc, had close relations with judicial officers and the State prosecutor at the Shanzu court, factors likely to influence the outcome of the case.

Shanzu Senior Resident Magistrate David Odhiambo said it was in the interest of justice for the matter be tried elsewhere, also considering that the suspect is also a member of the Court Users Committee therein.

“The accused is well known to the court and is a friend to a prosecutor. It goes without saying that given his close relations to the station, it is in the interest of justice that the case be heard outside the station,” he said.

The magistrate added that though the court had jurisdiction to hear the case, it was necessary to transfer it as Mr Osman had engaged in several construction projects at the station.

Senior Assistant DPP Ingonga Mulele had asked the court to transfer the matter to Malindi court over undue influence.

“The offence was committed within the jurisdiction of the Malindi court so we are within the law to have the case heard outside Mombasa,” he had said.

Defence Lawyers Cliff Ombeta and Daniel Wamotsa protested, accusing the prosecution of forum-shopping to delay the matter.

THE CHARGES

Mr Osman is accused of defiling a 15-year-old girl and forcing three others to massage his private parts.

The charge sheet states that he forced the four minors to do so between February and October 2018, while they lived at his residence at Kikambala in Mtwapa, Kilifi County.

The prosecutor said the suspect lured his victims to his bedroom on numerous occasions and forced them to massage him using olive oil.

Mr Osman is further charged with committing indecent acts with children by touching their breasts and using his influence to procure the minors for indecent acts, as in child prostitution.

The accused, who was arrested at his home on January 23, denied the charges before magistrate Odhiambo.

The DPP opposed the tycoon’s release on bond arguing he was likely to interfere with investigations due to his influence.

Mr Haji added that the victims, aged 14 to 17, told investigations that the suspect had threatened them with dire consequences including causing them to disappear without a trace.

The State argued that Mr Osman took advantage of the minors’ poor backgrounds to sexually abuse them.

“The accused purported to be returning favours for assistance that he would render them, such as paying for their education and meeting their other social needs,” police said in an affidavit on denying the suspect bond.

AGE ASSESSMENT

Two human rights groups made filed applications for the minors to undergo age assessment.

“We have been reliable informed that the minors are being held incommunicado and that their parents and guardians have been unable to access and communicate with them since they were taken to the police station to record statements before the arrest of the accused,” the lobbies said through their lawyer Maurice Mkhan.

Mr Osman, who is out on a Sh700,000 cash bail, was returned to court to record a statement on the alleged forgery of the birth certificate of one of the victims.

The case will be mentioned at a Malindi court on March 11.


Kenya ride-hailing firm Little has big plans for Africa expansion

* Little competes with Uber, Taxify in Kenya

* Company already operates in Kenya, Uganda, Zambia

* Even those without smartphones can use service

By Omar Mohammed

NAIROBI, Feb 22 (Reuters) – Kenyan ride-hailing company Little is expanding to Tanzania and Ghana by May and plans to raise about $50 million more from investors, its chief executive officer said on Friday.

Little, which competes with global players Uber and Taxify in Kenya, is valued at about $70 million to $75 million, Chief Executive Kamal Budhabhatti said, a minnow compared to rivals but it has aims to expand across Africa.

The company will offer rides in Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam from next week and plans to launch in Accra by May, Budhabhatti said, adding to operations in Kenya, Uganda and Zambia.

“We want to get into a lot more countries than what we are in at the moment,” Budhabhatti said.

He said Little was talking to investors to raise about $50 million in series A funding, the financing received when a start-up opens up to outside investors for the first time. It aims to finalise this by mid-2019.

“We are meeting a couple of investors, both on the continent and in Silicon Valley. The interest is there,” he said, adding that new funds would be used to develop technology and to expand to more countries. He did not name the potential investors.

Without the deep pockets of its ride-hailing rivals in the region, Little has been attracting drivers by encouraging them to offer extra services to earn money, Budhabhatti said.

“Our drivers are agents, they can sell insurance to you, they can sell (mobile) airtime, they can pay light and/or water bills, they can do all those little things around that increases that income,” he said.

Little, which has a marketing partnership with Kenya’s biggest mobile operator Safaricom, is also available to Kenyan customers who do not have a smartphone.

The company worked with mobile operators to introduce a code to identify a passenger’s location. “About 20 percent of our rides actually come from non-smartphones,” Budhabhatti said.

The company, which started up in 2016, has 10,000 registered drivers in Nairobi, with about 60 percent of those active, and more than a million users on its platform across all markets, with more than 60 percent of those in Kenya, he said.

Uber, which has been operating in Kenya for four years, has 6,000 active drivers.

Little launched a bus service in January in Nairobi, on top of its car taxi service and motorcycle taxi service, known in Kenya as “boda boda”. It is also looking at a delivery service.

Reporting by Omar Mohammed Editing by George Obulutsa and Edmund Blair


Kenya sued over five missing Chinese nationals

By GALGALLO FAYO
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The government has been sued over five Chinese alleged to have gone missing after being arrested by Immigration Department officers.

Brian Angwenyi, their representative, says in court papers that the five were arrested on Ngong Road on February 15 and have not been seen since.

Gang Shao, Xiaoying Qin, Yang Ting Ting, Li Kangzi and Nan Yangyang are listed as petitioners in a case filed at the Milimani Law Courts.

Mr Angwenyi, in a sworn affidavit, lists the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Attorney- General, Inspector-General of Police and the Director of Immigration as respondents.

He says that efforts to trace them have been futile even after searching in morgues, hospitals and police stations. Mr Angwenyi says the five were taken to Nyayo House and later to immigration officers at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

He claims that their passports were confiscated and they are being held incommunicado.

He says that immigration officers at JKIA have declined to divulge an information on their status, adding that he fears for their life.

Mr Angwenyi says the arrest and detention of the five is causing their families stress and suffering, adding that they were in Kenya legally.


Chelsea 'refute' Fifa findings on under-age player rules

Chelsea said Friday they “categorically refute” Fifa’s finding that they broke rules on registering under-age players and will appeal the decision.

The Premier League club have been banned from signing new players in the next two transfer windows as punishment.

“Chelsea FC categorically refutes the findings of the Fifa disciplinary committee and will therefore be appealing the decision,” said a statement on the club’s website.

“Chelsea FC categorically refutes the findings of the Fifa disciplinary committee and will therefore be appealing the decision,” said a statement on the club’s website.

“Initially, Chelsea FC was charged… in relation to 92 players,” it added. “We welcome the fact that Fifa has accepted that there was no breach in relation to 63 of these players, but the club is extremely disappointed that Fifa has not accepted the club’s submissions in relation to the remaining 29 players.”

The move follows a Fifa probe into Chelsea’s signing of foreign under-18 players, including the club’s former forward Bertrand Traore, a Burkina Faso international who now plays for French Ligue 1 club Lyon.
Traore signed professional forms for Chelsea in 2013 at the age of 18 but was not registered until January the following year.

French website Mediapart, quoting documents from Football Leaks, reported that Fifa found evidence that Chelsea had supplied misleading information about Traore’s signing and that he had made more than 20 appearances for the club at different age levels despite not being registered by the Football Association (FA).

Fifa said Friday it was also fining the Football Association 510,000 Swiss francs for breaking the rules on signing minors.

The world governing body gave the FA a period of six months to update its processes concerning international transfers and the registration of minors.

The FA responded on Twitter, saying: “The FA notes the decision of the Fifa disciplinary committee published today. The FA has cooperated fully with Fifa’s investigations, although we have raised some concerns with Fifa regarding its disciplinary processes.

“The FA intends to appeal the decision. We will however continue to work with Fifa and Chelsea in a constructive manner to address the issues which are raised by this case.”


Swamibapa to battle Gymkhana for Nairobi T20 final slot

By RICHARD MWANGI
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Swamibapa will Saturday face off with Nairobi Gymkhana for a place in the final of the Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association (NPCA) Super Division Twenty20 tournament at Sikh Union ground.

The winner of the crunch tie, slated for 2.30pm, will take on Kanbis in the final on Sunday.

Kanbis sailed to the final last weekend when they beat Swamibapa in the game featuring the two top finishers in the preliminary rounds of the NPCA Twenty20 Super Division League. Nairobi Gymkhana, on the other hand, triumphed against Ngara in the game pitting the third and fourth-placed finishers.

Swamibapa, who have a good number of both current and former national team players, start as favourites to win Saturday’s encounter.

But much will depend on how their top order batsmen led by opening pair of Irfan Karim and Alex Obanda will perform with the bat.

The other batsmen who have been getting runs for Swamibapa include the former national team captain Morris Ouma, Mitesh Sanghani, Naman Patel, James Ngoche and Emmanuel Bundi.

In bowling, Swamibapa’s right-arm medium pacer, Lameck Onyango, left-arm spin bowler Jadavji Bhimji, Ngoche, Bundi and Sanghani are capable of destroying Gymkhana’s batting line-up.

However, the one-time invincible Swamibapa – who dominated the local cricket scene in the 1980s and 90s – have become a very inconsistent side.

It is one of the most unpredictable teams in the league. Therefore, the winner will only be known when the last ball has been bowled.

Gymkhana has a young side with some promising players like Rushab Patel, Karan Kaul, Dominic Wesonga and Lucas Oluoch. On a good day, Gymkhana is capable of causing an upset.