By Blamuel Njururi, Kenya Confidential Editor-in-Chief, Nairobi May 27, 2018
Kenya government under President Uhuru Kenyatta is under siege mounted by multi-billion-shilling Corruption industry, which has no regard for the President’s War on graft. The corrupt do not care – to them money speaks in Kenya.
It is a heap of bullshit to subject any one under Parliamentary Vetting, where financial greed reigns and corruption thrives. Vetting time is harvest time in Parliament. People are asked to declare their wealth but never asked for proof of how genuinely they accumulated the wealth. Indeed, the declaration is a time wasting formality that is never followed up once those vetted public officers get into offices and open the doors wide for corruption to guide their operations. If some in the Cabinet today disclosed how they made hundreds of millions, if not billions, they would be rotting in Kamiti – and they will.
It is an open secret that the Kenya government hosts a strong army of corruption brigade created over all the regimes since independence in 1963. Indeed the first Maize scandal involved Cabinet Secretary Paul Ngei just two years after independence in 1965. The Ngei episode was as follows:
President Jomo Kenyatta suspended his Cabinet minister Ngei as the government commenced investigation into a biting shortage of maize. A terse statement from State House broadcast on KBC radio announced the suspension, but did not give any reasons at the time.
What baffled Kenyans was that Ngei wad been seen as indispensable to Kenyatta. He was his prison mate, among the famous Kapenguria Six pre-independence freedom fighters. Events leading to the suspension went back to the previous year.
Ngei was Minister for Marketing and Co-operatives in 1965, when Kenya was hit by a serious shortage of maize. The situation had prompted the government to import yellow maize, usually fed on livestock, from the United States. The Maize and Produce Board, the precursor of National Cereals and Produce Board, did not have any stocks in its strategic reserve.
Kenyatta formed the first commission in independent Kenya – Commission of Maize Inquiry – whose mandate was to investigate the cause. It was headed by Justice Chanan Singh, another pre-independence freedom fighter lawyer. The law at the time required that no Kenyan could buy maize straight from farmers but from the Board. Still, one needed a permit to do so.
Ngei’s wife, Emma, owned Uhuru Millers of Kangundo – commonly referred to at the time as Emma Stores. In the course of the inquiry, Ngei’s name popped up. The Board gave evidence that Uhuru Millers obtained a permit to buy 2,000 bags, which was supplied and not paid for. All demand notes were returned with a postal stamp, “Return-to-Sender”.
Emma also testified that she had bought 300 bags from a Kisumu firm against the law. The law also stipulated that if anyone bought maize from farmers which usually were cheaper than the Board’s price, he or she would pay the difference to the Board. In short, Ngei’s wife owed the Board two debts – maize supplied and the differential arising from the Kisumu purchase. At that time, Ngei had been moved to the Ministry of Housing and Social Services in a cabinet reshuffle. On February 16, 1966, Nairobi Senator Clement Lubembe initiated a Motion in the Senate, calling for Ngei’s suspension from Cabinet as he would interfere with the inquiry.
This led to the suspension, which Ngei protested. “I can prove my record is clean,” he declared. The Singh Commission took four months. In its report, the commission censured Ngei but concluded he had not committed any criminal offense.
The Report said Ngei’s closeness to Uhuru Millers, which belonged to his wife compromised his position in government. It recommended that all ministers declare to the President, businesses owned by spouses, children and close relatives, before taking office. Kenyatta reinstated Ngei on May 29, 1966.
From then on Maize became a goldmine for Kenya politicians and top civil servants who have repeatedly imported maize any time Kenya as faced drought. Maize farmers are periodically frustrated and irrigation schemes sabotaged to keep the door open for the corrupt barons to benefit from Maize imports.
Government employees being evicted from their employers houses by land grabbers
That explains why the fabled Galana Irrigation scheme has failed its expectations despite having Israeli experts on the ground. It is not in the interest of the greedy politicians and capricious civil servants that such a project should take of and suffocate their seasonal source of millions of shillings in maize imports.
There have been instances when unscrupulous traders and civil servants have exported maize even when Kenyans are starving. President Daniel arap Moi deported Asian businessman Diamond Lalji from Kenya when he was caught exporting maize to Uganda when Kenyans were starving. He returned after his brothers prevailed upon Moi only for Diamond to disinherit them of their father’s dozen industries and partner with the late self-proclaimed total man Nicholas Biwott.
Moi banned the Financial Review when I questioned why the Cereals Board should determined how much space it would take in private millers facilities and how much of it they would mill and at what price. A move I described as nationalization of private business premises. Added to Financial Review digging into fake Kamlesh Pattin diamond and gold exports, then director of intelligence James Kanyotu saw no better way than to ban Financial Review in April 1988 to cover up Goldenberg multi-billion-shilling scandal. Kanyotu’s prime property at Togoni was grabbed and turned into a luxury hotel by Pattni.
During the Mwai Kibaki era a National Cereals Produce Board Managing Director was relieved of his job for exporting maize when Kenyans were starving. Soon after he was nominated for a post as a member of the East African Legislative Assembly. His journey to Arusha was cut short when I exposed his criminal exports in Kenya Confidential and I also shared the information with the Nation Media Group.
In 1975, I stopped the phantom KenRen Fertilizer factory in Mombasa, which was intended to loot Kenya taxpayers of millions of shillings. Shockingly the conspirators later sued the Kenya government and were paid for breach of contract during the Moi, Kibaki and am not sure Uhuru is not paying them for a factory that never was. Equipment imported for the factory were scrap metal scooped from a German city destroyed during the second world war.
In 1978, I stopped the operations of Halal Meat Products abattoir at Ngong, which was built by so-called private developer on Veterinary Department land allowed by then Minister for Agriculture Jeremiah Nyagah. The illegal invaders of government land have been in and out of courts suing the landowner – Government of Kenya. Now I am stopping Keriako Tobiko complicity that led to grabbing of 8,000 acres of Mau forest and Maasai Mara National Reserve by a single individual.
In broad summary, the Ndung’u Commission on illegal and irregular land allocations, found that the powers vested in the President had been grossly abused by both the President and successive Commissioners of Lands and their deputies over the years, under both previous regimes; there had been ‘unbridled plunder’ (Commission Report: p.81) of public land by local councillors and officials.I
Illegal transactions were hugely facilitated by the extensive complicity of professionals (lawyers, surveyors, valuers, physical planners, engineers, architects, land registrars, estate agents and bankers) in the land and property market; and most high profile allocations of public land were made to companies incorporated specifically for that purpose, largely to shield the directors and shareholders of such entities from easy public view – (like Tobiko’s Client Livingstone ole Ntutu land acquisition of 4,000 acres of Maasai Mara Forest Title Narok/CIS/Mara/Ololulunga/9470 Parcel 9470 in 1999 registered in his private company.).
Sadly, when public land grabbing was documented in the Ndung’u Commission report no action was taken and the Land Commission is moving at snail’s pace with reports that its staff is also chocking from Corruption. It is no wonder some hired hooligans landed on veterinary farm in Kabete today and begun pulling down government houses to clear the way for private developer occupancy.
The Kabete rain is an affront of President Uhuru Kenyatta by Corruption barons with a clear message to him that he is pounding water in a container of no consequence –Ni manji arakima na ndiri as we in Embu would put it. The water will just splash all over wetting his shoes and trousers in the process without any tangible results.
Uhuru at one time when he was the opposition leader in Parliament after 2003 General Election described President Kibaki as a man who saw no evil and heard no evil about rampant corruption. I so happens that now he is a man who has eyes and can’t see corruption under his nose. When AngloLeasing scandal broke out Kibaki’s nephew Alex Muriithi approached me and requested me to compile a comprehensive report for the president that led to the cancellation of several of multi-billion-shillings projects intended to freeze taxpayers coffers.
Most of the more than a dozen AngloLeasing godfathers I identified lost their Parliamentary seats in subsequent election and were never appointed to any public offices unlike now when public thieves get top jobs. Angloleasing was transferred to Kibaki government from Moi regime by his trusted aides and men with one Muthaura, still getting top jobs in Uhuru government – thanks to the Third Force.
The Third Force denies presidents vital information and protects it secret members. It can also blackmail and sabotage government projects. Former South African President Nelson Mandela said presidents world over have no control over the Third Force. It controls high level corruption and state extrajudicial executions.
President Uhuru must be more emphatically action-driven and stop playing his STOP CORRUPTION song whenever he officiates at police pass-out parades or addresses Parliament and senior civil servants gathering – themselves intoxicated in CORRUPTION – like a stuck gramophone record.