Gang rape as a political weapon – Waki Report

One of the well known and regrettable tragedies of major conflicts and breakdowns of law and order is sexual violence. This has happened around the world.

Youths armed with crude weapons during political and ethnic clashes in Kenya. Picture by AFP.

Youths armed with crude weapons during political and ethnic clashes in Kenya. Picture by AFP.

Sadly enough, it also was a consequence of the 2007 post election violence in Kenya. Below, the Nairobi Chronicle presents accounts by victims of sexual violence as contained in the Waki Report. Please be warned that the stories you are about to read may contain graphic and disturbing description.

Raped as husband is killed – Waki Report

Kisumu woman raped, husband killed and home burnt

Waki Report: Luo men forcibly circumcised

We have strived to bring stories from different parts of Kenya in order to demonstrate that all Kenyans suffered at the hands of a cruel, corrupt political elite that cares nothing for the welfare of its own people. The question is: for how long shall Kenyans put up with this?


Moi Day Special: Kenya’s second president

On the occasion of Moi Day, the Nairobi Chronicle recalls milestones of the Moi presidency. For better and for worse, Moi’s 24 year presidency will influence Kenyans for a long time to come.


Daniel arap Moi. Picture by CNN.

Daniel arap Moi. Picture by CNN.

Whereas Mzee Jomo Kenyatta was a transitional leader, managing change from colonialism to African majority rule, Moi got into power when Kenya had become a truly African state. With time, Moi’s actions and policies came to resemble those of neighboring states from which Kenya had distinguished itself with its relatively sophisticated socio-economic and political structures.

Moi’s presidency was a contradiction of sorts: on one hand he craved the awe which Jomo Kenyatta got from the public. On the other hand, he wanted to be different from Kenyatta, by being more in touch with the average man in the village.

When he assumed the reigns of government, Moi started traveling in a Volkswagen Kombi, raising eyebrows. As it was argued, such types of conveyance are for ordinary folk, not for a President. However, Moi was determined to get his people. The Kombi was the only vehicle which could grapple with the country’s difficult terrain – dusty roads, hairpin bends, precarious cliffs, unbeaten tracks.

One time, while on his way from Kisumu to Nakuru, Moi expressed the wish to use a short-cut from Sondu through Sigowet to Kericho town. His aides condemned the route as impassable. “Are there people living in the area where this road passes?” he asked and declared he had to tackle the road, passable or otherwise.

After ascending to the presidency on 14th October 1978, Moi pledged to maintain the stability that Kenya had enjoyed since independence. He sought to assure apprehensive citizens, investors and diplomats that he would follow the footsteps of Mzee Kenyatta. But it soon became clear that Moi had his own ideas for the country. Whereas Kenyatta practiced a hands-off style of leadership, Moi preferred hands-on management. He famously said, “Those who want to lead the country must wait their turn … I am the President and every minister must sing like a parrot to my tune.”

While emphasizing national unity, Moi laid great emphasis on the need for dynamism in a globalizing world. Moi can be credited for introducing changes that would have been virtually impossible under the Kenyatta era. Moi’s critics say his initiatives were expensive experiments culminating in failure. However, Moi’s critics are mostly Kenyattaists and had they been in power, the country would have petrified in stagnation. The fact that some of Moi’s programmes did not succeed could be attributed to sabotage by Kenyatta loyalists inherited by Moi’s administration.

As president, Moi’s first decision was to release political detainees from the Kenyatta era. These were politicians, academics, university students and journalists detained for criticizing Kenyatta’s government. Several of them had been in detention so long that they were in a critical condition requiring advanced medical treatment.

During Kenyatta’s presidency, the civil service, security forces and state corporations came to be dominated by members of Kenyatta’s tribe, the Kikuyu. This was not a deliberate policy on Kenyatta’s part but a product of historical circumstances that placed the Kikuyu at an advantage in work skills and entrepreneurial ability. Moi set about creating ethnic balance in government organs by appointing more people from other communities. Eventually, Moi’s Kalenjin tribe dominated the civil service and this evoked resentment among other Kenyans.

Unlike Kenyatta’s appointees, Moi’s tribesmen had little training for their new jobs. Matters were worsened by Moi’s tendency of picking individuals from lowly positions, transforming them into overnight power brokers and later dumping them when they became too big-headed for their own usefulness. Because of this, Moi had neither permanent friends nor permanent enemies. He was loyal to nobody but himself – a true Machiavellian characteristic.

Moi’s most serious challenge was the coup attempt of 1st August 1982. The poorly planned coup attempt by junior officers of the Kenya Airforce was crushed by Army and paramilitary units within a matter of hours. However the coup is said to have awakened Moi to the risks of power and from that day onwards, he took on a higher measure of political self-preservation. After the coup attempt, the security forces were purged of Kenyattaists who were replaced by Moi loyalists. In subsequent elections, politicians whose allegiance was doubtful lost their seats through political machinations engineered by the President’s henchmen.

Between 1982 and the early 1990s, Moi was determined to keep a tab on the opposition and resorted to tactics varying from detention without trial, torture, electronic surveillance, intimidation and outright thuggery. There has never been any direct evidence personally linking Moi with any of these acts and its possible he was misinformed about threats to his administration.

Moi’s political maneuvres provoked a backlash against the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU). Moi, eager to strengthen the party, had talked Parliament into enacting a constitutional amendment that made KANU the only legal political party. By the late 1980s there were demands for reintroducing multiparty democracy from the growing ranks of politicians seeking alternative avenues for contesting political office. Demands for multipartyism, coupled with pent-up frustration with Moi, led to riots in Kenya’s major towns in July 1990.

The riots were crushed; several dozen people lost their lives. International financiers and Western nations pressurized Moi to open up the political frontiers. Monetary assistance was scaled down – a devastating blow for a government that had 30% of its budget financed from foreign assistance. The international media went on a feeding frenzy and described Moi as a typical African dictator. In December 1991, Moi asked Parliament to amend the constitution and legalize opposition parties for the first time in ten years.

It would be another ten years before opposition parties could win power but only because Moi was no longer a candidate in the 2002 elections. Moi was unbeatable because his opponents often underestimated his intelligence by virtue of his rural-poor origins and heavily accented English.

Among the reasons Moi gave for opposing multipartyism was incitement to ethnic nationalism. Soon after the opposition was legalized, tribal clashes erupted in the Rift Valley and persist to this day. The clashes were sparked by Cabinet Ministers who declared the Rift Valley – Moi’s home province – out of bounds to the opposition. Ethnic groups thought to be sympathetic to the opposition were attacked by Moi’s Kalenjin tribe, houses burnt and farms forcefully occupied. The clashes caused major economic losses as property was destroyed, trading activities disrupted and agricultural production ruined.

Upon the re-introduction of multipartyism in 1992 until the close of his presidency in 2003, Moi stopped being development conscious. Moi devoted his time and energies exclusively to politics because of legalized competition for his job. Political intrigues intensified as politicians sought presidential patronage – and the cash that went with it. Financial scandals became routine in Moi’s government throughout the 1990s as his cronies devised means of acquiring wealth in the shortest possible time.

Moi turned state functions into full time campaign rallies and these were held, not only on weekends, but at anytime during the week. Cabinet ministers and members of parliament, eager to win the favor of the president, tagged along wherever he went. The result: possibly one of the longest Presidential motorcades of an African president. A typical motorcade accompanying Moi consisted of at least 50 limousines with cabinet ministers, heads of state corporations, security chiefs and several diplomats.

Among the notable successes of the Moi presidency was reform of the education system. By the early 1980s, a Canadian educationist said that education should stop producing white-collar graduates. The educationist said the future of labor was one of uncertainty, making it necessary to equip graduates with practical skills that are easily transferable across different work environments. Despite criticism, Moi went ahead and implemented the recommendations.

School children were introduced to home science, business education, agriculture, arts, crafts and music. In high schools, students were taught power mechanics, electricity, accounting, metal work, carpentry, social ethics and sex education. Today, education experts acknowledge the wisdom of imparting practical skills on children, in a world where retraining and career shifts has become the accepted norm.

During Moi’s presidency, thousands of schools sprang up across the country while four additional public universities were built to create a skilled work force.

Regardless of what is said about Daniel arap Moi, the former teacher, legislator, cabinet minister, President and Member of Parliament has left his mark not only on Kenyans but also in international affairs. He initiated peace efforts across Africa most of which were successful. These include Namibia’s independence, Uganda’s civil war negotiations that began the Yoweri Museveni era and the Southern Sudan peace process. Moi’s advice was greatly sought by world leaders such as US President Ronald Reagan, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chancellor Helmut Kohl of West Germany.

Moi’s presidency began in 1978 with a promise to follow the footsteps of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. It can be said that Moi fulfilled his ambition of becoming a defining standard. “President Moi has made his own footprints in the sands of time,” said Mrs Thatcher.

With references from Lee Njiru’s article: “The Making of a President.” Kenya Times, December 11, 1997

Moi lacks moral authority on ethnic clashes

According to the Daily Nation, former Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi has asked Rift Valley residents who attacked and killed their neighbours during post election violence to apologize.

Daniel arap Moi. Picture by CNN.

Daniel arap Moi. Picture by CNN.

Moi said an apology would lead to true reconciliation between them and the neighbours whose property they destroyed in the violence that followed disputed elections in December 2007. The violence left close to 1,000 people dead and half a million homeless.

However, the former president conveniently forgets that ethnic clashes in Kenya were institutionalized during his tenure of office. Government documents, such as the Akiwumu Inquiry on tribal clashes reveal deep involvement by Moi’s allies in fanning the fires of hatred.

The return to multi party politics prior to the 1992 General Elections created ethnic tension in the country, setting the stage for the chaos of 2008. The genesis of modern ethnic clashes in Kenya lies in the Rift Valley province, home to Moi’s Kalenjin ethnic group.

Kenya has eight provinces. According to electoral law, a winning presidential candidate must get at least 25% of votes in not less than five provinces in addition to a simple majority of national votes. As campaigns for the 1992 elections gained momentum, it was obvious that Kenneth Matiba would get a majority of votes in Central, Nairobi and possibly, Eastern Provinces. Jaramogi Oginga Odinga had a chance of getting at least 25% in his native Nyanza, in Western and Nairobi.

Matiba, a Kikuyu, also had strong possibilities of getting 25% in the Rift Valley thanks to the significant Kikuyu settler population. Moi, fearing that he could lose the presidency, began a campaign of ethnic cleansing in the Rift Valley to ensure that he won the province. Huge chunks of the Rift Valley were declared KANU zones, in reference to Moi’s political party. Moi and his cronies went back to parliament unopposed.

Ethnic wars in 1992 pitted the Kalenjin – Moi’s tribe – with almost all settler communities in the Rift Valley. It was not only the Kikuyu who were affected but large numbers of Luo, Luhya, Kamba and Kisii. Non-Kalenjin tribes in the Rift Valley were refered to as, “madoa doa,” meaning, “specks of dirt.” The Rift Valley is also home to the Pokot and Maasai tribes whose politicians were drawn into the Moi alliance, called KAMATUSA. Consequently, Kikuyu, Luo and Luhya settlers were evicted from Pokot and Maasai areas especially around Narok, Enoosupukia and Kapenguria.

The pro-Moi ethnic alliance began calling for Majimbo, a form of federalism. According to such personalities as the late Kipkalya Kones, late Shariff Nassir, William Ntimama and late Paul Chepkok, a federal system of government would ensure that each ethnic group governed itself and had monopoly over jobs, land and commerce within its enclave.

The comments were targetted at the Kikuyu, who have emigrated and settled across the country mostly for economic reasons. Since Kikuyu settlers had a relatively higher standard of living due to commercial activities, the calls for ethnic federalism proved quite popular in the Rift Valley and Coast province.

With the Luo tribe facing persecution due to its oppositionist leanings, both Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and his son, Raila Odinga, condemned Moi’s tactics. 30 years earlier, it was Jaramogi and founding president, Jomo Kenyatta, who had turned Kenya into a unitary republic after rejecting Majimbo federalism.

As a result of the ethnic chaos, Moi won the 1992 elections with 36% of the vote.

Five years later, there were politically motivated ethnic clashes prior to and after the 1997 General Elections. This time, the flash points were not only the Rift Valley, but also the Coast. In Mombasa, Sharif Nassir, a Moi ally, led KANU campaigns in the city.

Mombasa was founded by Arab traders almost a thousand years ago. The population of Mombasa and the Coastal strip consists of the Swahili, who are of mixed Arab and African ancestry. There is also the Mijikenda tribe as well as Hindus, Persians and Europeans. The building of the railway and the expansion of the Mombasa port in the 20th century attracted large numbers of workers from the interior of Kenya. The workers came mostly from the Luo, Kikuyu, Luhya, Kamba and Taita tribes. In the 1980s, a booming tourism industry attracted greater numbers of migrant workers in search of jobs and business opportunities.

During the 1997 campaigns, Nassir and KANU were worried that migrant workers would not vote for Moi. A campaign for Majimbo federalism was began, with Nassir claiming that migrant workers were taking up jobs at the coast meant for local people. Migrant communities were blamed for crime, prostitution and drug trafficking. As it turns out, the local Mijikenda tribe found these messages very appealing and gave their support to KANU. Then came terror.

In August 1997, a group consisting of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of raiders attacked the Likoni Police Station, just across the bay from Mombasa Port. Police officers were killed, prisoners released and firearms looted. Within the Likoni area, large numbers of Luo and Kikuyu were attacked and forced into trains heading for their ancestral homes. It was rumored at the time that the vanguard of the raiding unit consisted of Interahamwe militia, straight out of the Rwanda genocide. Other rumors indicated that the raiders were led by foreign-trained elite forces loyal to Moi.

Evidence was produced in the Akiwumi Commission of Inquiry implicating senior politicians in the Moi government and KANU party. An Asian farmer in Kwale District alleged that prior to the Likoni violence, his land was used to oath local youths but his reports to the police were ignored.

With Moi declared as winner of the 1997 elections, Mwai Kibaki, who came second, went to court to petition the results. Kibaki claimed that there had been electoral malpractices that gave Moi an unfair advantage over his opponents. Moi’s allies in the Rift Valley were outraged by what they saw as Kibaki’s challenge and a fresh round of ethnic clashes began. Kikuyu settlers in Laikipia District were especially affected by incidences of raiders burning homes and looting livestock.

From this overwhelming evidence, it is clear that Moi should be the first person to apologize as far as ethnic clashes are concerned. Otherwise, his calls for Rift Valley people to apologize can only be considered hypocritical at worst and cynical at best.

Simmering Coast nationalism hijacked by politicians

The arrest of three men in Kwale, for links with the Republican Council of Mombasa, demonstrates that the fire of Coast nationalism simmers amidst the humid flatlands and beaches of the Indian ocean. However, Coast nationalism has numerously been hijacked by politicians causing even greater frustration for a people who feel at the periphery of Kenya’s social and economic development.

Local police say the three men, all from the Mijikenda tribe indigenous to the Coast, were inciting youth in Kwale District to raid police stations. This brings back memories of the Likoni clashes of August 1997, where a police station was raided, at least five officers killed, prisoners freed and weapons looted. The raid on the Likoni Police Station sparked off an orgy of ethnic killings targetting mostly people from the interior of Kenya, or upcountry people.

It is because of those memories that Kenya’s Police are anxious to act now. Once again though, the hand of politics is making itself felt through former Kisauni legislator Anania Mwaboza, who has come out to represent the three men. Mwaboza, who is from the same ethnic group as his clients, has challenged the police to either present tangible evidence or release the men without charge.

The Republican Council of Mombasa first made the news last year, when dozens of youth from the Mijikenda tribe were found receiving military training in forests just south of the coastal city of Mombasa. Though the group later fizzled into obscurity, its re-emergence this year goes to show that there still exists certain factors that give such groups ample recruits. That factor has been dubbed, Coast nationalism.

Since Kenya’s independence, the people inhabiting Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast have felt left out in the country’s political and economic decisions. Renowned writer, V. Shiva Naipaul visited Kenya just before the death of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. In his book, “North of South,” Naipaul narrates a visit to the coast, where he felt as though the area, which has a history stretching 1,000 years was under occupation by upcountry people.

The Justice Akiwumi Report on the Likoni clashes provides a comprehensive account of the history of Coast nationalism. Here, the Nairobi Chronicle presents excerpts:

“Even though the Likoni and Kwale area is multi-cultural, it can be described as dichotomous in terms of the regional and religious background of its inhabitants. The inhabitants are split between the predominantly Muslim coastal majority and the predominantly Christian upcountry minority. Because of low education levels, the Muslim coastal majority constitute most of the unemployed at the coast, whilst the Christian upcountry minority form the more economically developed inhabitants. In turn, the upcountry people prefer to employ their own people rather than the coastal people. Mijikenda youth were on the whole, unemployed, idle and hungry. This constituted a fertile ground which was waiting to be exploited to wreck vengeance upon the perceived oppressors from upcountry.”

The Justice Akiwumi Report mentioned prominent persons at the Coast who used Coast nationalism to their advantage. In 1997, there was a General Election and KANU capitalized on Coast nationalism to popularize itself through the likes of the late Shariff Nassir and late Karisa Maitha.

Before 1997, Karisa Maitha made a name for himself by presenting the radical face of Coast nationalism. When former President Daniel arap Moi was fighting the Islamic Party of Kenya of Sheikh Balala, it was Karisa Maitha’s United Muslim Association (UMA) that mobilized Mijikenda youth to support Moi using violence. Going back to the 1970s, Karisa Maitha got into national politics through former Attorney General Charles Njonjo, who thought he could use Maitha’s influence among Mijikenda youths in his national power schemes.

In the 1990s, calls for federalism – or Majimbo – gained popularity at the coast. It was felt that an autonomous Coast province would provide jobs, business opportunities and development funds for indigenous people and at the local level. During campaigns for the 2007 General Election, the Orange Democratic Party Kenya (ODM-K) of Kalonzo Musyoka, Raila Odinga, Najib Balala, Musalia Mudavadi and William Ruto promised to enact a Majimbo constitution once in office. The announcement of Majimbo was the biggest reason why the Orange side gained massive popularity at the coast.

Well, we all remember that Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka eventually parted ways.

When it became clear that Majimbo was increasing inter-ethnic tensions in Kenya, Kalonzo, who is now Vice President, changed his mantra to “economic federalism.” Raila, who was running on the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), promised that he would implement the original version of Majimbo. Raila won majority votes at the coast mostly because of Majimbo. Today, Raila is Kenya’s Prime Minister and he will have to negotiate with President Mwai Kibaki’s PNU which is completely opposed to any form of federalism in Kenya. Nevertheless, President Mwai Kibaki was not averse to using Coast nationalism for his political survival during the 2007 campaigns.

After the 1997 Likoni clashes, there arose the Shirikisho Party, founded by radicals in Coast nationalism. During the 2002 elections, Shirikisho had candidates in all constituencies of Coast Province, from Lamu to Taveta and from Tana River to Kwale. However, the party did not fare well and only managed to win the Likoni constituency seat through Mr Rashid Shakombo, whose name featured prominently during investigations into the 1997 Likoni clashes.

In 2002, with the ODM making a rallying call for Majimbo, the Shirikisho Party appeared to Kibaki strategists as likely to achieve wide popularity. Kibaki’s pointmen at the coast, such as Chirau Ali Mwakwere of Kwale and Morris Dzoro quickly jumped ship to Shirikisho. In party elections, Mwakwere was declared the party leader then promptly entered into an alliance with President Kibaki. Coast people were outraged by the move and abandoned Shirikisho in droves. By December 2007, Shirikisho was nothing more than an empty shell that could not win a single seat in the entire province. As far as coast people are concerned, Shirikisho became synonymous with traitors to the common cause with Mwakwere as the agent of the oppressors.

Mwakwere himself got re-elected on the PNU ticket. Not only was he anointed as a Mijikenda elder/spokesman, but Mwakwere used combative slogans in his campaigns. He would sing about sharks attacking enemies, leaving little doubt on the true meaning of his message. Of course, while in Nairobi, he professed full support for the concept of national unity.

From these trends, it is clear that Coast nationalism has been hijacked by Kenya’s national leadership to achieve political ends that, unfortunately, have not done much to address the plight of coastal peoples. Well, perhaps the people of the coast province are misguided for blaming outsiders for their problems but it does not discount the fact that the poorest people in Kenya are to be found here. Isn’t the poorest constituency in Kenya in Coast province?

In spite of hundreds of people killed across the past twenty years and massive destruction of property, the lot of the coastals is yet to change. Poverty is endemic, illiteracy is growing while young people succumb to early marriages and beach prostitution. Belief in witchcraft can be cited as a major culprit in the poverty of the coastal region. Suspicion of other Kenyan tribes as well as inward-looking attitudes make coast people afraid to venture into the interior of Kenya. For instance, it is easy to find a Kikuyu waiter in Lamu, or a Kisii matatu driver in Mombasa, or a Kamba tour guide in Ukunda. But what are the odds of finding a Giriama fisherman in Kisumu? What are the chances of encountering a Pokomo shopkeeper in Kitale? Absolutely nil! Zero!

Coast people can be just as hardworking as any body else but they need – we need – to realize that politicians are empty vessels full of noise that cannot feed the stomach. Its good to be proud of your heritage and therefore there’s nothing wrong with Coast nationalism. But cultural pride should not be used to hurt other Kenyans who are here because they are looking for a living. If they can come here, you are free to go from wherever they came from.

Perhaps the best gift that politicians can give Coast people is to turn Coast nationalism into an impetus for positive action that will result in the prosperity of all: Arab, Mijikenda, European and upcountry people.

Written by Stanley M. Mjomba, Coast affairs correspondent for the Nairobi Chronicle.

Kenya ruined by foolish leaders

By Stanley M. Mjomba

The latest corruption scandal afflicting the Kibaki government is yet another episode in the theatre of mediocrity afflicting Kenya, and fuelled by a cruel, corrupt elite with an aristocratic strangle hold on power protected by the security forces.

Decay and ruin in Kenya

Decay and ruin in Kenya

Kenya’s recent ranking among the world’s failed and failing states is, in large part, due to what the authors of the ranking describe as, “a fractured elite.” The Grand Regency saga and the calls for the sacking of Finance Minister Amos Kimunya are driven by infighting between various factions of the elite and not out of a sense of duty to the Kenyan people.

The worst manifestation of how Kenya leaders, both opposition and government, have run the country down was the violence witnessed early this year following disputed elections. Tribes turned against each other, edged on by politicians willing to shed blood in order to score points against their opponents. People who had lived peacefully for 50 years suddenly found fault with each other. After the violence, the elite were quick to talk of a return to normalcy while hundreds of thousands slept in fields: destitute and hopeless.

The same politicians felt no shame heading to foreign capitals to plead for Shs31 billion (US$500 million) for reconstruction, without saying who had caused the destruction in the first place.

The story of the Grand Regency underlines how an insensitive and visionless elite can hold a country hostage and ruin the hopes of hard working Kenyans. The hotel was built with funds stolen from the Central Bank by Kamlesh Pattni in collaboration with former President Daniel arap Moi. Every member of Kenya’s elite partook of Goldenberg money. It is ironical and painful to see the same people today pretending to be holier than though.

Look at Mutula Kilonzo, the Minister of Nairobi Metropolitan Affairs, loudly proclaiming how he helped sell the Grand Regency to Pattni in the early 1990s. Isn’t this a confession from Kilonzo of having aided and abetted grand corruption? Is it any wonder that soon after he became minister, his biggest client – Moi – expressed confidence in the Nairobi Metropolitan ministry?

Listen at Cyrus Jirongo remodelling himself as leader of the Grand Opposition. This is one man who should not even be talking. He should explain to Kenyans how he became rich through Youth for KANU 92 and where the money came from. I am sure Kenyans, whose memories are famed for forgetfulness, would be interested to know that Jirongo’s deputy in YK92 was one William Ruto, currently Minister for Agriculture and chief of the Kalenjin.

Well, I’m not defending Kibaki. If it wasn’t for his poor leadership skills (if any), Kenya would be a much better place to call home. Neither am I saying that Amos Kimunya is any better. He is the latest blue eyed boy of Kenya’s elite to be duped into doing their dirty work. Because of being made to feel important, Kimunya assumed an air of arrogance that lost him the friends he so badly needs today. Soon, Kimunya is going to be dumped just like all the rest. Can’t Kenyans see? Unless you are born from one of Kenya’s top families, you are just another piece of trash to be used and tossed away like toilet paper.

I’m not writing this because I am pro-this or pro-that party. All these parties are nothing more than big lies aimed at masking the truth from Kenyans. That is why political parties have become meaningless. When Mobutu was president of Zaire (now Congo) they had hundreds of political parties and Mobutu was happy that Zaire was a democratic country. Well, we all know what happened to Mobutu and Congo afterwards. People in that country are fighting so much that they eat each other for food.

My wife recently asked me whether things will get better in Kenya. My answer was a big NO! Kenya will continue getting worse. Our ranking as a failing state will get lower and lower. We may think that we are better than Zimbabwe, that we will never become another Somalia. But I fear that, at the rate in which we are going, we are working very hard to get there.

The Nairobi Chronicle welcomes written submissions from readers. Please write to Submissions will be edited but only for space and enhancement of clarity.

Grand Regency saga displays rot in Kenya’s elite

The sale of the Grand Regency Hotel by Kenya’s government is yet another sordid chapter in a corruption scandal that began 18 years ago and which has enmeshed Kenya’s ruling class in a morass of rot.

The Grand Regency Hotel in Nairobi. Part of a corruption scandal

There is deafening chorus for the resignation of Finance Minister, Amos Kimunya after he admitted last week that his ministry had sold the 5- star Grand Regency Hotel for Kshs2.9 billion (about US$45 million). The hotel, owned by Kenya’s Central Bank, is said to be worth almost three times what the government got from its sale.

Mr Kimunya has been criticized for flouting privatization procedures regulating the sale of government assets. For instance, there were no advertisements for bids, meaning that the Minister used his discretion in the sale. But that’s not all about the murky affair.

The Grand Regency became government property last April in a deal with businessman, Kamlesh Pattni, who owed the government Kshs2.4 billion (approx US$37 million). In exchange, Mr Pattni was granted amnesty for corruption cases related to his company, Goldenberg International. Critics say that Mr Pattni was induced to give up the Grand Regency in order for the government to sell it to Libyan investors allied to President Mwai Kibaki.

Kenya’s Attorney General, Mr Amos Wako, said he was not consulted over the deal surrounding the transfer of the Grand Regency from Pattni, to the government then to the Libyans.

Meanwhile, the deal with Mr Pattni jeopardizes other corruption cases involving his accomplices. It potentially means that Goldenberg cases against Pattni’s co-accused will have to be dropped as well.

The buyer of the hotel is a company associated with Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi. In recent years, there has been growing investment by Libyan companies in the oil and construction sectors. The Libyans have also bought a parcel of land adjacent to the Grand Regency within the Nairobi town centre.

The sale of the Grand Regency hotel is the latest episode in the Goldenberg series of corruption scandals that stretch back 18 years.

Goldenberg refers to a series of monumental financial scandals involving hundreds of billions of shillings in the early 1990s. Initially, it began with the payments of export compensation (government subsidies) to Goldenberg International which processed gold and diamonds. Payment of subsidies went out of control and by the time they were stopped in 1993, the Kenyan government had lost hundreds of millions of dollars. As a consequence of Goldenberg, the Kenyan government could not build roads, supply medicines or provide adequate security to its people.

Goldenberg, according to testimony during the Goldenberg Commission of Inquiry (2004 – 2005) was co-owned by Mr Kamlesh Pattni and former President Daniel arap Moi. The country’s chief of intelligence at the time, the late James Kanyottu, was also involved.

The Grand Regency Hotel was built by the family of the late Mohamed Aslam, who controlled Pan African Bank. The bank was involved in the intricacies of Goldenberg, and Mr Aslam later died mysteriously. His family sold the Grand Regency to another of Mr Pattni’s companies, the Uhuru Highway Development Ltd.

in 1993 Pattni and his companies entered into several spot contracts with Central Bank of Kenya for delivery of US$ 210 Million. Consequently, Pattni and his company Goldenberg International received from Central Bank the sum of Kshs.13.5 billion for the delivery of the dollars. Although Mr. Pattni received the shilling value of the dollars through his companies, he failed to deliver the dollars to the Central Bank of Kenya.

Upon demand by Central Bank for payment, Mr. Pattni acknowledged the debt and even settled part of the claim; he was, however unable to pay the balance of the claim which, as between him and the Central Bank, was agreed to be Kshs. 2.5 Billion. His cheques for payment of this sum were dishonored except one for Kshs100 million.

The Central Bank pursued and secured the payment of the balance of Kshs2.4 Billion by registration of a legal charge over the Grand Regency Hotel. Under this legal charge, the Central Bank of Kenya had the option to realize its security and sell the Hotel in the event that Mr. Pattni defaulted in settling the acknowledged debt.

As it turned out, Mr. Pattni defaulted in settling the Central Bank’s claim and as expected the Bank sought to realize its security. However, Mr Pattni and his companies went to court and obtained a series of injunctions stopping the Central Bank from selling the Grand Regency.

The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission together with the Central Bank of Kenya and Mr. Pattni engaged in negotiations on settling this claim out of court. After lengthy negotiations, an agreement was reached between the parties and on 9th April, 2008 a settlement was filed in court. In legal terms, the Central Bank of Kenya was free to sell the Grand Regency in order to recover its Shs2.4 billion claim against Pattni.

The 2004 Commission of Inquiry into Goldenberg concluded that Mr Pattni was the “Chief Architect” of Goldenberg. The Commission has since been accused of ignoring evidence in order to protect powerful personalities such as ex-President Moi and his cronies.

Moi’s treachery against Raila: The KANU – NDP merger

There was an important political milestone after the 1997 elections: President Daniel arap Moi was in his last term of office. Kenya’s constitution states that an individual can become president for only two elected terms.

Former President Daniel arap Moi (right) with some ministers in this 1999 photo. Picture by East African Standard.

With an ethnically fragmented opposition, Raila Odinga realized that the only hope of becoming president was by joining KANU and fighting it out for the succession. In 1998, Raila’s NDP and Moi’s KANU entered a period of co-operation. During that time, Raila influenced the appointment of Luos into high government positions. By the beginning of the new millenium, the co-operation became a merger. KANU and NDP merged to become a single KANU party with Moi as party President.

In June 2001, Raila and several other members from the former NDP became ministers in the Moi government. In early 2002, KANU held internal elections where Raila became the party’s Secretary General. Elections were due in December 2002, just a few months away. Raila’s position and the demeanour of President Daniel arap Moi indicated that the elections were already a done deal. The presidency was going to be Raila Odinga’s for the taking.

In the period of 1998 – 2002, during the co-operation and, later, merger of NDP and KANU, the opposition warned Raila on the dangers of working with Moi. Hardly surprising, considering that Kenya’s opposition consisted of people who had fallen out of favor with Moi!

Michael Wamalwa of FORD-K told Raila that he would not get whatever deal he was making with Moi. Democratic Party leader, Mwai Kibaki, who had served as Moi’s Vice president for eight years, told Raila that Moi was not in the habit of making deals and certainly not with Raila’s record of opposition politics. Within his own Luo community, personalities like James Orengo told Raila not to trust Moi. However, for reasons that are difficult to understand, Raila had absolute faith in Moi.

Political pundits could tell that Moi’s co-operation with NDP was a scheme to contain Raila. Besides, Moi needed Raila’s NDP in Parliament to counter any challenges posed by Kibaki’s Democratic Party and Wamalwa’s FORD-K. In other words, Raila’s willingness to co-operate and merge with KANU was to Moi’s advantage. There was no visible benefit either for the NDP or for Raila’s Luo tribe. But in spite of these misgivings, Raila was certain that he could use KANU to ascend to Kenya’s presidency.

Moi was the Machiavellian power broker who never gave anything for free and with Raila, there was no exception. While discussing the NDP and KANU merger, Raila asked Moi to help in the economic empowerment of the Luo by transferring the ownership of the Kisumu Molasses Plant to a holding company owned by the tribe.

The Kisumu Molasses plant was a government project conceived in the late 1970s to produce spirits and ethanol using molasses from neighboring sugar companies. Construction began in the early 1980s along the Kisumu – Busia highway but the project was never completed. There were allegations that massive corruption by Moi ministers had led to the collapse of the project. Indeed, the issue of Kisumu Molasses was among the grievances that the Luo had against Moi. That and the murder of Foreign Affairs minister Robert Ouko in 1990.

Robert Ouko, who was also the legislator for Kisumu, apparently possessed a dossier on Kisumu Molasses. In February 1990, Ouko was abducted from his house, tortured and killed by unknown people. But that’s another story.

The point is this: Kisumu Molasses Plant sat on land that the government had acquired from a Luo clan in Kisumu – the Kanyakwar clan. Raila promised his Luo people that co-operation with KANU would revive the Kisumu Molasses Plant, which experts had dismissed as a, “white elephant.” Raila called on the Luo to contribute funds that would establish an entity to run the plant hence boosting the faltering economy of Kisumu. The fund raising managed to collect close to Kshs200 million (US$3.12 million) which was nevertheless far below the government’s price for the plant.

Following discussions between Raila and Moi, the Kenyan government agreed to transfer ownership of the plant to Raila and the Luo holding company he had established. However, true to Moi’s nature, it later turned out that the transfer applied only to the plant and equipment, not including land. As far as the law was concerned, the land where Kisumu Molasses stood was government land. Therefore, Raila found himself operating a factory on public land. It is a saga that has not been resolved to date and, indeed, the land remains a subject of dispute between Raila and the Kenyan government.

Raila become Secretary General of KANU in February 2002 in a political scheme engineered by none other than Moi. KANU, by then, was close to 40 years old and had ruled Kenya uninterrupted since independence from Britain in 1963. Since his presidency began in 1978, Moi had turned KANU into a powerful political machine with roots in every sector of Kenya’s society.

In KANU, the prospective presidential candidates were VP George Saitoti, Musalia Mudavadi and Kalonzo Musyoka. There had been another potential candidate, Simeon Nyachae, a former Chief Secretary in the Moi presidency. However, Nyachae fell out with Moi and joined FORD-People (FORD-P) which was a splinter group from the original FORD movement of the early 1990s.

Raila’s entry into KANU through Moi’s schemes complicated the KANU succession. Personalities such as Joseph Kamotho and Kalonzo Musyoka had spent the better part of their political careers fighting against people like Raila. Now, the man on whose behalf they were fighting for now expected all of them to work together. But Moi was not done yet, he still had another card up his sleeves.

As the clock ticked towards the 2002 polls, Moi introduced a dark horse into the game. He picked Uhuru Kenyatta, son of the late Jomo Kenyatta as his successor. Moi went around the country introducing Uhuru to the public. Moi said, “I have analyzed the qualities of all the people around me and I have seen the potential in this young man. I am not running again for office but when you vote for Uhuru, you will be voting for me.”

It is a mystery as to why Moi settled on Uhuru Kenyatta only months to the polls. It was obvious that Uhuru was going to lose the elections, hence Moi’s appeal that, “a vote for Uhuru is a vote for me.” For all his faults, Moi is not a fool and his enduring quality is his ability to decipher political trends. Yet, by choosing on Uhuru, Moi was going against his instincts in a move that puzzled his closest aides. Moi lost many friends as a result of his refusal to change his mind. If he wanted Uhuru to succeed him all along, why wait until the last minute?

The situation in KANU was getting tense. Dissent over the choice of Uhuru Kenyatta had created an alliance between Raila, Saitoti, Kamotho, Kalonzo, Mudavadi and Najib Balala, a coastal politician. The group called itself the, “Rainbow Alliance,” and projected itself as an opposition within the ruling party. Seeing that he had lost control of his erstwhile allies, Moi brought into the limelight young KANU politicians to fight for him. These included William Ruto and Isaac Ruto, both of them Kalenjin politicians from the Rift Valley. William Ruto told the Rainbow alliance to leave KANU and form its own party.

In October 2002, Rainbow did exactly that. KANU held a delegates conference at the Moi Sports Centre and declared Uhuru Kenyatta as the official presidential candidate for the 2002 elections. In a move reminiscent of Raila’s takeover of the NDP in 1996, the Rainbow alliance immediately joined a little known party, known as the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). It is widely believed that the party’s leader (or owner in Kenyan circles) was handsomely compensated for agreeing to hand over the party to the Rainbow alliance.

Please read more on Prime Minister, Raila Odinga by downloading the document, “Hostage to Fate: A Story of Raila Odinga.” Its in Microsoft Word format which is easily viewed on most computers.

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