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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Raila welcomes new Luo elders' chair

By Kepher Otieno and Nick Oluoch

Prime Minister Raila Odinga witnessed the installation of Luo Council of Elders chairman, putting to rest a leadership tussle.

Willis Opiyo Otondi becomes the ninth chairman in a decade.

Mr Otondi took over from Ker Riaga Ogalo, whom members threw out over abuse of office allegations.

The Prime Minister told council members to safeguard the community’s culture by offering wise counsel on health and socio-economic issues.

Raila enumerated a couple of issues that the council needs to address to promote development among them HIV and Aids, poverty, illiteracy and cultural values.

“We have today installed a new chairman and there will be no other elections,” said the PM.

Even though Ogalo skipped the ceremony at Sori Guesthouse in Awendo, all elders from all the constituencies in Luo Nyanza endorsed Otondi and promised to support him.

Raila noted that the community’s culture had been eroded and corrupted in the past, and that was why the council was vital.

On corruption, the PM said the war would not be personalised, saying the Government is committed to tackling the vice.

“We will not support anybody who is corrupt,” he said, and dismissed claims he was being sympathetic with those indicted in graft.

“Even those who are facing charges should not be condemned because they are innocent until proven guilty, by institutions of justice,” he said.

Raila said he was only supporting those who were doing their work efficiently and diligently, which should not be misconstrued to mean he abets corruption.

Ruto's team thrown out of offices

By Beauttah Omanga

A building that served as the headquarters of leaders opposed to the adoption of a new constitution has been closed over a Sh1.2m rent arrears dispute.

The Kenya Railways, owners of the building, reportedly sent a team to the Red Card Centre offices located at Nairobi’s Upper Hill area that threw out all equipments and locked the place.

“We were asked to guard the place on grounds that the tenant had failed to pay rent,” said a guard.

But on Sunday, Dr Tom Namwamba who served as the director of the ‘No’ team, which was led by Eldoret North MP William Ruto, denied that his team still owed the landlord any arrears.

“We don’t owe Kenya Railways any rent arrears. This is pure politics geared at frustrating Ruto’s 2012 presidential ambitions,” said Namwamba. He questioned the timing of the evictions.

“When somebody owes you rent areas, you don’t throw out property but lock them inside until the tenant clears. It is strange that ours were not only thrown out of the offices but even outside the compound,” lamented Namwamba.

Talking to The Standard on Sunday, Namwamba said it was illegal for the landlord to break into the offices and throw out their expensive equipment without having given them any quit notice.

He said while the tenant-landlord agreement stipulated that, before any eviction is effected, the defaulting tenant must be given a three month quit notice to comply or face eviction, the Red Card team never received such notification.

“In our case we never received any notification of eviction making the whole episode suspicious” said Namwamba.

He said his team was still behind Ruto and that no amount of frustrations will make them abandon the Eldoret North MP’s dream. Namwamba said the same offices had been earmarked as a long-term headquarters for Ruto’s future campaigns.

Namwamba, who is also a university lecturer, said a number of MPs who identified with the NO team during the referendum campaigns, were planning a protest match to the Kenya Railway headquarters to seek explanations over the embarrassing Saturday evening incident.

He said Ruto’s team will be relocating to a new offices awaiting resolution of the dispute. None of the top Kenya Railways management officials would be reached for a comment over the incident.

Cotu invites Kibaki, Raila to end dispute with tea firms

By Peter Mutai

The Central Organisation of Trade Unions has called on President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to intervene in the dispute over the use of tea-plucking machines.

Secretary General Francis Atwoli said the introduction of the machines was against the Government policy of creating jobs.

Atwoli, who is also the Secretary General of Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union at the weekend addressed hundreds of striking workers at Chepchabas Primary School.

Two weeks ago, KPAWU called on more than 70,000 unionisable employees in Kericho, Sotik and Nandi districts to down their tools to push for the removal of the tea-plucking machines by Unilever Tea Kenya, James Finlays, Sotik Tea, Kapchorua and Williamson tea estates.

Atwoli claimed the companies had declined to discuss with the union.

“I will write to the International Confederation of Trade Unions to complain about the failure by the employers to negotiate on the use of machines,” he added.

Atwoli warned the Provincial Administration not to be used by the companies to intimidate the workers.

Ngilu roots for Raila-Uhuru presidency


By Paul Mutua

Water minister Charity Ngilu has touted Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his deputy Uhuru Kenyatta as the best suited candidates to succeed President Kibaki in 2012.

Ngilu said the two leaders will reduce the presidential contest into a dual race, thus turning other hopefuls into mere spectators.

The minister said Raila and Uhuru demonstrate selfless and dynamic leadership geared to transforming the nation to great heights in development and democracy.

"”I have a lot of respect for the PM and Uhuru. To me they are kind of choice I can bet for the presidency. They command huge following from Kenyans," she told journalist at her Ithookwe village home, Kitui Central constituency.

Speaking earlier at the Kitui Municipal Stadium where she hosted Raila, Ngilu said she will only support and work with leaders who cared about the welfare and aspiration of people.

In an apparent dismissal of Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, the minister asked residents of Kitui County and the Kamba community at large to support Raila ascend to presidency.

She praised the PM for proposing her for appointment to the Cabinet and vowed to defend him against those who undermine his position.

The minister dismissed Public Works assistant Mwangi Kiunjuri as a political vuvuzela noting that his utterances on alleged corruption at her ministry were driven by witch-hunt, hate and malice.

Keep off Mau issue, evictees tell Ruto Allies

Evictees say the only time the MPs remember them is when they are facing censure issues

BY PETER MUTAI

Families evicted from the Mau forest have accused Rift Valley MPs allied to suspended Higher Education Minister William Ruto of using their plight to champion their selfish political interests.

The more than 3, 000 families who have been living in squalid conditions in makeshift shelters by the roadsides in Kuresoi constituency for a year, accused the MPs of politicising their plight whenever the Eldoret North MP was in trouble.

"They are doing this not because they sympathise with us but because they want the Kalenjin to sympathise with them," said Philip Ngeny, their co-ordinating chairman.

Ngeny, who was with elders from the six camps, told the MPs to keep off the Mau Forest and allow Prime Minister Raila Odinga to resettle them as he promised.


NONE BOTHERS


"Why were they attacking Raila when he announced the Government was looking for land to resettle us?" he posed."Those leaders only talk of the Mau forest evictions whenever one of them is in trouble, yet none of them has bothered to find out how we are living in the camps."

He added: "They only visited us late last year immediately after we were evicted."

Ezekiel Kirui and Samuel Sang, committee chairmen for Kapkembu and Kipkongor camps, accompanied Ngeny at the press conference in Kericho.
Elders Benjamin Misik, David Chepkwony, and David Kirui were also present.


PANAFRIC HOTEL


Last week, Ruto and some Rift Valley MPs hit out at the PM over the Mau saga, and issued a three-month ultimatum to the Government to resettle displaced families.

Yesterday, the evictees demanded to be told the whereabouts of the 4,000 acres of land MPs from the region claimed had been bought for them. They also want to know where Sh6million raised during a harambee at Panafric Hotel in Nairobi to assist them was spent.

"We were told by our leaders that the Government had bought 4,000
acres of land for our settlement and up to date we are still waiting to be relocated. Were they playing politics with our plight?" the chairman asked.

He appealed to the Government to supply them with new tents saying the ones they were given were leaking. They also asked for relief food and medicine.

Bett leads a Kenyan podium sweep at the Athens Classic Marathon

Athens - Raymond Bett led a Kenyan podium sweep at the Athens Classic Marathon on Sunday, in the 2,500 historic anniversary run.

Bett ran away from his rivals in the final 10 kilometres to win the race over 42.195-kilometres from Marathon to Athens in 2 hours 12 minutes 40 seconds.

Favourite Jonathan Kipkorir had to settle for second in 2:14:05 and Edwin Kimutai completed the sweep in third place with 2:15:21.

More than 12,500 runners took part in the race under clear blue sunny skies.

This year's marathon coincides with the 2,500th anniversary of the battle of Marathon. According to legend, the distance was first run by Pheidippides in 490BC from Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory over Persia in the Battle of Marathon with the word "Nenikikamen" or "We have won." He then collapsed and died on the spot from exhaustion.

Unlike many of its more famous marathon counterparts such as Boston, New York or Berlin, the promotion and prize money for the 1.5 million-euros (2.1 million dollars) race has been limited due to Greece's national debt crisis. Times are also slower by comparison due to the hilly nature of course.

Aside from the marathon, races over five and 10km were also held, with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou completing the 10km race.

Moi seeks meeting with Kibaki over Mau evictions

Former President Daniel arap Moi during a fundraiser at Kipkorir Salat Secondary School in Konoin, Bomet County. He is seeking a meeting with President Kibaki to find a solution to the plight of thousands of squatters evicted from Mau Forest last year.

By CASPER WAITHAKA
Posted Sunday, October 31 2010 at 15:37

Former President Daniel arap Moi will seek a meeting with President Mwai Kibaki to find a solution to the plight of thousands of squatters evicted from Mau Forest last year.

Mr Moi, who spoke at the weekend, asked MPs to keep politics and malice out of the sensitive issue of resettling the squatters. A structured approach involving all players, he said, would result in a solution.

He said: “The Mau forest problem needed a soberly structured approach and not malicious politics.”

The former president, who is said to be one of the beneficiaries of land in the country’s main water tower, was speaking during a fund raising meeting at Kipkorir Salat Secondary School in Konoin. A total of Sh2,188,000 was raised. He gave a personal donation of Sh800,000.

Mr Moi promised to see President Kibaki to discuss a humane solution to the debacle.

He further criticised the new Constitution saying it had increased tribalism with counties as the bastions of the vice.

“Human rights bodies should support the retention of the Provincial Administration and especially the chiefs, as impartial arbiters in a politically polarised country,” he said..

At the same time, he cautioned the National Cohesion Commission against gagging people expressing genuine concerns about issues affecting them.

He told the Rift Valley residents to remain firmly in the party Kanu - the oldest political party in the country- and speak with one voice and advised against premature campaigning for Senate and gubernatorial posts.

Kenyan faces 76 years for US murders


NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 31 - A Kenyan who killed his wife and two of their children in the United States about a fortnight ago could face up to 76 years in jail if convicted of the triple murders.

The county attorney's office in Ramsey said it would be asking for three consecutive sentences of 25 years and six months for each of the three counts of second-degree intentional murders that Justus Kebabe has confessed to, according to a report in the Star Tribune.

The newspaper said Mr Kebabe, 43 would only be eligible for parole after serving at least 50 years in jail, meaning the earliest he could leave prison will be at the age of 93.

He admitted to killing his wife Bilha Omare 32, with a golf club and then strangled her with electrical wire in the family's third-floor apartment in the Willow Ridge Apartments in the 1200 block of County Road D.

In his plea, Mr Kebabe said he gave two of the children cranberry juice laced with Tylenol PM pills before killing Kinley Ogendi, 12 by holding his head underwater and Ivyn Ogendi, 9 by suffocating her with a pillow and strangling her.

Mr Kebabe admitted to the charges earlier this month when he was arrested and repeated the plea during a hearing at the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Centre on Friday.

The plea came at an omnibus hearing for Kebabe, 43, at the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Centre next door to the jail. He will be sentenced on January 14 by District Judge Elena Ostby according to the Star Tribune.

On Friday afternoon, he pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree intentional murder for the deaths earlier this month.

The bodies were discovered early on October 14 after a relative, concerned about Mr Kebabe's erratic behaviour called 911.

Mr Kebabe was arrested by a state trooper the previous evening after his vehicle ran out of gas on Interstate 35 near Faribault, Minn.

His three-year-old daughter was found in the car, unharmed. There is still no explanation why he killed the two older children and spared the youngest.

Mr Kebabe told investigators he was angry because he believed his wife was being unfaithful.

He tried to kill himself at the Ramsey County jail on October 14 by stuffing a wad of toilet paper into his mouth to block his airway. He has been on suicide watch since he was taken to the jail.

The killings came just a few months after Mr Kebabe was discharged from probation after a December 2008 incident of domestic violence. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct and was on probation for a year.

In a police report, his late wife told a sheriff's deputy that Mr Kebabe had abused her repeatedly, including knocking her unconscious when they lived in Kenya.

Mr Kebabe went to the United States in 1996 and she followed in 2003.

Parliamentary Reports

Mulembe Night

Raila Defends Ngilu

kass marathon

Truth team welcomes CJ's decision

Kibaki ni Mjanja

Can Kenya make its new deal work?

The prime minister, Raila Odinga (below), is optimistic that Kenya will bolster its position as the region’s hub. But first it must make its new constitution work


SINCE the bloody ructions that shattered Kenya in the wake of a disputed election at the end of 2007, the country has recovered its breath, endorsed a new political system, and is now poised to forge ahead as the region’s undisputed economic motor and diplomatic nerve-centre. Though its own politics remains fragile under a government of national unity, it has begun to find a balance, if not true stability, on the domestic political front, too. Kenya’s future could be bright if the next election, expected in August 2012, can pass off peacefully, perhaps with a clear-cut transition to a President Raila Odinga, who was almost certainly cheated out of the top job by last-minute electoral fiddles last time round.

Despite the bloodshed of early 2008, which frightened away tourists and investors alike, Kenya’s position vis-à-vis its neighbours is stronger than ever. After dipping two years ago, its economy is growing apace. Mr Odinga, who as prime minister shares power with President Mwai Kibaki more amicably than at first, is predicting growth of 7% next year and 10% the year after. On a string of criteria, Kenya has reasserted itself as the region’s leader.

But it remains a messy mixture of the ramshackle, the resilient and the energetic. Corruption is still built into a system of patronage and ethnic share-outs that invariably leaves the mass of poor Kenyans feeling let down. Most unusually for Kenya, a senior politician, Moses Wetangula, the foreign minister, this week resigned amid accusations of a foreign land-sale scam.

The infrastructure of the capital, Nairobi, is tottering, its traffic more jammed than ever. Its slums, where at least 60% of its more than 3m people dwell, are a squalid disgrace; when it pours with rain, they become a stinking sewer. Kenya’s roads, including arterial ones, are pitted with potholes. “Sometimes we feel the whole place is about to grind to a halt,” sighs a prominent businessman.

Though Kenya’s population growth is slowing a bit, after rising from 8m-plus at independence in 1963 to 39m, according to a census carried out last year, public services can barely cope; 74% of Kenyans are under 34, 64% under 25. Hordes of youngsters cram the slums with little hope of a job. The going urban rate for a day’s labour is 250 Kenyan shillings, around $3.

Unsurprisingly, crime is a national obsession. Richer people, black and white, have round-the-clock guards outside their houses. Private-security firms are far more trusted than the police. People are edgy about driving at night between Nairobi and suburbs such as Karen and Langata, 20 minutes to the west.

Yet Kenya is the region’s dynamo. Its banks, hotels and services far outperform those of Dar es Salaam and Kampala, the main city and capital respectively of Tanzania and Uganda. Big road-building projects are at last under way, many under China’s eye; flyovers should ease the jams in central Nairobi in a year or so.

Kenya’s mobile-phone penetration is the highest in the region, at 80% for people over 15. More competition should drive prices for calls down dramatically. You can buy a phone for less than $10; a money-transfer facility known as M-Pesa run by Safaricom, the mobile-phone market leader, has hugely helped peasant farmers and traders. By some accounts, the amount of cash sent by phones on Safaricom is equivalent to at least 10% of Kenya’s GDP.

Nairobi, the region’s air-traffic hub, has become the place in Africa—after Johannesburg and Pretoria—where people come to make decisions affecting swathes of the continent. It just beats Nigeria’s Lagos and Abuja and is well ahead of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, seat of the African Union (AU). In July the East African Community’s five governments (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda) said they would enforce a protocol providing for the free movement of labour, goods, capital and services. This will take time to get going, but Kenya should benefit most.

Many embassies in Nairobi have units dealing with Somalia and South Sudan, the region’s two biggest headaches. As eastern Congo, Rwanda and Burundi look east for trade and comfort (and have begun to use English as well as Swahili as a lingua franca), Nairobi is their focus. The UN’s complex on the northern edge of Nairobi is its largest in Africa, hosting an array of agencies, including the world headquarters of UN-Habitat, whose mission is to improve urban planning and housing, and of the UN’s environment programme, better known as UNEP. Influential international lobbies and conflict-resolution outfits such as the Brussels-based International Crisis Group are increasingly tending to put their African headquarters in Nairobi.

Somalia’s commercial capital as well as its diplomatic nexus is Nairobi. The UN and AU try to handle the country’s crisis from Kenya, which is seen by the West, especially the United States, as a pro-Western bulwark in a region that risks being lapped by the waves of Islamic jihadism. Nairobi is a base for many Western security services watching and seeking to penetrate Islamist groups that have been gaining ground along the western shore of the Indian Ocean. The Kenyans also maintain a longstanding unofficial alliance with Israel. The Kenyan authorities are nervous about the growth of Islamist self-help groups on the coast and among Kenya’s Muslims, who account for at least 10% of the population (some Muslims say 25%).

The biggest immediate challenge is South Sudan, whose people are likely to vote for independence early next year, amid predictions of impending chaos. “It is our next frontier,” says a leading editor. Kenya’s government is helping South Sudan’s fledgling bureaucracy. It has also let tanks be quietly shipped into South Sudan, in case the north decides to clobber the south, as it has done before. Kenyans are the most numerous foreigners in Juba, the would-be state’s capital, with property agents and a host of consultants to the fore.

Kenya’s most ambitious plan for South Sudan is to run a railway, oil pipeline and fibre-optic link to Juba from a vast planned port north of Lamu, to be built mainly with the cash and savvy of the ubiquitous Chinese. The railway may have a spur north to Ethiopia, bringing that country of more than 80m people closer to Kenyan markets. South Sudan, along with Kenya’s new constitution, is the project closest to President Kibaki’s heart, says a confidant.

But this happy scenario of a burgeoning Kenya expanding its heft across the region depends on its ever-greedy elite sorting out the mess at home. The most notable event in this respect was the endorsement in August, by a solid majority of Kenyans, of a new constitution to provide for a wider measure of devolution to 47 new counties, and for an executive president who will be hedged about with more restraints than in the past.


But it could still all go wrong

Many seasoned Kenya-watchers are sceptical. They say that the same old elite, with its networks of ethnic patronage, will commandeer the new system and that corruption will merely be devolved to the new entities, perhaps even multiplying. But a mantra of “cautious optimism” has so far prevailed. “The constitution has changed the mood of the nation [for the better],” says Murithi Mutiga, a columnist on Kenya’s leading newspaper, the Daily Nation. “But the elite wants to subvert it.” The Wetangula case, hope optimists, may presage a bit more accountability, thanks to the new constitution.

Kenyan politics still features minimal debate about ideology or policy. Instead there are ever-shifting alliances, based largely on ethnicity, between and within Kenya’s five biggest ethnic groups (see chart), with a few others chipping in. Opinion pollsters put Mr Odinga, the undisputed leader of the Luo with an additional strong constituency among the have-nots and Muslims, well in the lead. But much could change in the next 18 months.

Three factors should help him. First, though President Kibaki, soon to turn 79 and due to retire in 2012, also campaigned for the new constitution, its endorsement was seen as an achievement for Mr Odinga. Second, he has made progress towards stopping and even reversing land grabs in the Rift Valley, including the Mau Forest area, which has been devastated largely by land-hungry Kalenjin people in cahoots with politicians connected to a previous presidency. Third, Mr Odinga has promised, albeit with wobbles, to send leading politicians alleged to have stirred up post-election ethnic violence in 2008 to the International Criminal Court at The Hague. Top of the list, everyone says, is Mr Odinga’s erstwhile ally and leading Kalenjin, William Ruto, now his deadly enemy. Mr Odinga would lose what little of the Kalenjin vote he still has, but might gain elsewhere if Mr Ruto were dispatched. Kenyans in general strongly back the idea of sending such suspects to the ICC.

Many people argue that the Kikuyu, who, with the related Meru and Embu, comprise 22% of Kenyans, would never let a Luo, only 11%, be president. But the Kikuyu are now unusually divided. Their most prominent figure, Uhuru Kenyatta—the current finance minister, son of Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, and still Mr Odinga’s likeliest rival for president—is beset by rivals within his group. It is widely aired that he may also be requested at The Hague for crimes he denies committing.

Moreover, some moderate Kikuyu, including Mr Kibaki, are thought to have come round to the idea that it would be unwise for their group, which is regarded jealously by many other Kenyans, to hold on to the presidency yet again. And they may well find Mr Odinga, who has put out the hand of friendship to many Kikuyu, tolerable. If he could win over rising Kikuyu stars such as Peter Kenneth, an assistant minister, he might well be able to gather the necessary 50% of votes cast in the second round of a presidential race—a requirement under the new constitution.

Kenya remains vibrant yet fragile. The gap between rich and poor, as well as between ethnic groups competing for abundant resources but dwindling usable land, is frightening. Politics is combustible. But if the country’s new constitution can be more or less respected and the elections of 2012 pass off without violence, its future as the region’s leader could be assured.

Middle East & Africa

Our relations with Raila now over, Ruto says in three rallies

Prime Minister Raila Odinga (right) with Agriculture minister William Ruto. Mr Ruto said the referendum vote was to show the PM that the community was done with him and that the 2012 would be a replica. Photo/FILE

By JULIUS SIGEI AND GEOFRY RONO
Posted Saturday, October 30 2010 at 21:00

Eldoret North MP William Ruto on Saturday said he was through with Prime Minister Raila Odinga in addresses to three rallies in the South Rift region.

While hitting out at his party boss, Mr Ruto said the country could not be developed through empty talk.

He said he and other Rift Valley MPs met President Kibaki last year who assured them that Sh3.6 billion would be released for the resettlement of those evicted from the Mau forest but the process was being frustrated by Mr Odinga.

Mr Ruto said the referendum vote was to show the PM that the community was done with him and that the 2012 would be a replica.

“He thought we did not know what we were doing, but we were killing two birds using one stone,” said the Eldoret North MP.

“I faced the mighty power of the President and the Prime Minister, and the United States. We actually won because the votes we got were close to 3 million.”

Mr Ruto, however, praised President Kibaki, saying he had implemented what he suggested as a minister.

During the first rally, Mr Ruto was flanked by assistant minister Beatrice Kones and MPs Isaac Ruto, Charles Keter, Dr Julius Kones and Benjamin Lang’at.

Political undertones

The rally was billed as a fundraiser for 603 primary and secondary school teachers undergoing further studies, but it was full of obvious political undertones with many speakers telling Mr Ruto not to relent in his quest for the country’s leadership as the community was fully behind him.

Mr Ruto, who donated Sh1 million, described his work at the ministries of Agriculture and Higher Education as wonderful. Mr Keter said Ruto’s leadership was tested during the referendum and that his journey to State House was unstoppable.

He said their relationship with Mr Odinga ended because he betrayed the interests of the community despite the high number of votes he received from the region in 2007.

“Our children were shot because they blocked roads protesting the rigging of votes, but the person on whose behalf we protested has never come to say a word of sorry,” he said, adding that instead he had people evicted from the Mau forest, 37 of whom had died in South Western Mau.

Mr Ruto (Chepalungu) said the region should not apologise for voting against the draft constitution, noting they had genuine fears that had yet to be addressed. “We shall correct the faulty areas even as we implement the Constitution,” he said.

He told residents to wait for political direction and not jump on any ship. Mr Lang’at said they would ensure that all ministers implicated in scandals step aside.

The MPs also attended another fundraiser for women’s groups at Saseta in Konoin constituency and later addressed a third rally in Kericho.

Moi wants Mau issue resolved

Former President Moi has called for amicable resolution of the long-standing Mau Forest conflict. Moi said he would meet President Kibaki to discuss the matter.

He was speaking in Konoin during a fundraiser for Kipkorir Salat Secondary School. He also reiterated his stand the new Constitution would entrench tribalism. A total of Sh2 million was raised, with the former President contributing Sh800,000. He told leaders it was too early to start campaigning for county seats.

Ruto accuses Orengo of delaying resettlement

By Vincent Bartoo

Lands Minister James Orengo is to blame for delayed resettlement of Mau Forest evictees and internally displaced persons, an MP has claimed.

Eldoret North MP, William Ruto, has accused Lands minister of withholding Sh3.6 billion meant for the resettlement.

After the eviction of squatters from the Mau and Embobut forests, Rift Valley leaders sought assistance from the Government to resettle them and the said amount was given, Ruto claimed.

“The Government gave Sh1.6 billion for the Mau evictees and another Sh2 billion for IDPs. About Sh3.6 billion was given to the Lands ministry for this purpose,” he said.

Languish in camps

But, Ruto says, almost a year later, the money has been lying at the ministry as the evictees continue to languish in refugee camps.

Orengo had confirmed the money was indeed allocated to his ministry, Ruto claimed yesterday.

“I called Orengo to ask him why the resettlement has not taken place. He tells me they are planning and following some procedures,” Ruto said.

Speaking to the Press on Saturday, the Eldoret North MP wondered: “What is being planned for more than a year when the money is there and [we have] abundant land to resettle the displaced?”

Ruto claimed some people in Government have technically delayed the Mau resettlement.

Efforts to get comment from Orengo over Ruto’s claims were fruitless as his aides said he was abroad on official duty.

Ruto also termed as political, the move by Mau evictees to allege that Rift Valley MPs were using their plight to champion selfish political interests.

The evictees, led by their chairman Philip Ngeny, also demanded to know the whereabouts of Sh6 million raised during a harambee MPs organised to assist them.

Pnu factor

Ruto said it would have been foolhardy for them to embezzle money meant for their people.

“It was Sh5 million and we gave it to the Kenya Red Cross to continue with the work they were doing to assist them (evictees),” he said.

Ruto also added PNU leaders into his list of people he accuses of being behind his political woes.

“I became a target since I started defending former President Moi from a vengeful and harsh Narc Government after he retired as President,” he said.

Ruto was last week suspended from the Cabinet, pending conclusion of a criminal fraud case against him.

Kenya's 'new' fighter jets cannot take off


By Juma Kwayera

Parliament's pressure on the Executive is likely to increase as the Defence and Foreign Affairs Committee that brought a damning report on Moses Wetangula prepares to turn the spotlight on the Ministry of Defence over Air Force jets acquired from Jordan and whose airworthiness is in doubt.

The report by the committee chaired by Adan Keynan led to the stepping aside of Foreign Affairs Minister and his PS Thuita Mwangi last week. The Department of Defence would once again be called upon to respond to a stink following damning revelations the 15 fighter jets the Kenya Air-Force (KAF) acquired from Jordan this year were substandard.

Parliament this week flexed its muscles, following the passage of the new Constitution. On Thursday, the Committee on Legal and Justice Affairs gave the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) 72 hours to either shape up or ship out over its credibility crisis, prompting Chief Justice Evan Gicheru to appoint a tribunal to probe its chairman Bethuel Kiplagat.

Our inquiries on the jets revealed that the aircraft cannot fly but the issue has been hushed up in the military.

However, military spokesman, Bogita Ongeri, denies these allegations. “The weather made visibility impossible. The flypast had to be dropped from the programme,” says Ongeri. He maintains the aircraft imported this year are in serviceable condition.

Good shape

Senior officers in the force are concerned that the F-5 aircraft, for which the taxpayer shelled out Sh2 billion, are not in good shape.

According inter-office notes seen by The Standard On Sunday, the military top command was duped into buying the 15 aircraft in disregard of the advice of American manufacturers of the F-5 fighter jets. The officer says the Jordanian jets have “proved to be much older than the 1978 fleet”.

Parliament’s spotlight on Department of Defence would be just one of the additional probes the House would be conducting on the Executive. The House is also likely to seek to know if there were any financial fraud schemes at the Ministry of Water. On Friday Assistant Minister Mwangi Kiunjuri made sensational claims of graft in the ministry, which Charity Ngilu heads.

Our inquiry into the jets indicated that given the strategic importance of Kenya to the US’ war against international terrorism, Washington had offered to sell to the Air Force newer versions of the model in addition to regularly servicing them and training pilots and engineers.

Value for money

The scam, which cost the taxpayer Sh1.5 billion, is now the subject of a parliamentary committee probe, with the Defence Minister, Yusuf Haji, set to respond to queries on whether taxpayers got value for money. Although the aircraft were received early this year, the procurement was done when Njenga Karume was the minister in charge.

Keynan confirmed to The Standard On Sunday that his team was aware of the scam and is digging out facts.

“We have heard of the allegations. The committee will soon summon the Defence officials to respond to these allegations,” Keynan, MP for Wajir West, says.

Asked for comment, Assistant Defence Minister, Maj-Gen Joseph Nkaissery was economical with details.

“There have been those claims. However, the right person to respond is the minister,” Maj-Gen Nkaissery, who headed the military intelligence before retiring, says.

The jet fighters scandal is the biggest since 2005, when the national security-related Anglo Leasing was exposed.

The Jordanian jets were airlifted in parts then reassembled locally.

The Ministry of Defence traditionally receives the second largest budgetary allocation after Education, but its appropriation is such a guarded affair that it is difficult to hold the Department of Defence to account over procurement.

In last year’s Budget the Ministry of Defence was allocated Sh48 billion, while Education took up Sh170 billion. More significantly the Defence and Foreign Affairs budgets have been doubling every financial year.

Senior officers in the Department of Defence told The Standard On Sunday the condition of the 15 fighter jets became a serious concern after engineers doubted their airworthiness during rehearsals to usher in the new Constitution on August 27. Only one has been airborne.

The officers say, “The saddest thing is that the only jet that ever passed the air-worthiness test did so only after KAF engineers cannibalised one of our own F5 jets to resuscitate one of the newly acquired jets. (This one has also since been grounded). This was to divert attention when politicians became apprehensive about the whole deal.”

Big question

Our sources say when Kenya wanted to replace its aging F-5 fighter jets with 15 others, it opted for the ones Jordanian Air Force was disposing of. It cost about Sh2 billion ($23 million) to buy and transport the craft from Jordan to Nairobi.

The notes made available to us point to frustration over the procurement of the jets. “The big question is: Why didn’t our local Air Force repair the jets in their custody instead of buying junks?

It would have been more prudent to buy even only five serviceable F-5 fighter jets than commit a huge chunk of the country’s money on buying 15 junks that will never serve anybody.”

Kombo: There is no tribal angle to Wetang’ula’s exit

Ford Kenya chairman Musikari Kombo dismissed remarks that the Bukusu sub-tribe was being targeted following Mr Wetang’ula’s ouster as “very cheap politics, extremely cheap politics”. Photo/FILE

By ALPHONCE SHIUNDU ashiundu@ke.nationmedia.com AND GEKARA MAYAKA gmayaka@ke.nationmedia.com
Posted Saturday, October 30 2010 at 21:15

Ford-Kenya chairman Musikari Kombo on Saturday dismissed allegations that the Tokyo embassy scandal report was based on malice and rumours.

Speaking to the Sunday Nation, Mr Kombo appeared to contradict the embattled former Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetang’ula who had claimed that the report’s recommendation he step down was based on a political witch hunt.

Very amusing

“It is very amusing when people bring in extraneous reasoning to a matter that is strictly parliamentary business. I have enough respect for parliamentary committees,” said Mr Kombo.

Mr Wetang’ula had dismissed the committee’s report as laced with malice, rumours, innuendo, conjecture and crafted “in the most unprofessional character”.

Mr Kombo also dismissed remarks that the Bukusu sub-tribe was being targeted following Mr Wetang’ula’s ouster as “very cheap politics, extremely cheap politics”.

The Ford-Kenya chairman further insisted that his party had not lost a slot in the Cabinet.

“(Mr Wetang’ula) has not been sacked, and he has not resigned. He just stepped aside. That does not mean he is out of the Cabinet.

“So I really don’t know where this notion that a Ford-Kenya member ought to have been appointed to replace him is coming from,” said Mr Kombo, a former Cabinet minister.

He said there was no cause for alarm just because Prof George Saitoti, the PNU chairman, had been appointed to act in the Foreign Affairs docket.

“It is the right of the President to appoint anyone to any ministry. We didn’t sit down and say that as a party we want the Foreign Affairs docket,” he said.

Sensing defeat

When MPs were debating the report regarding suspicious dealings concerning five embassies, Kimilili MP Eseli Simiyu sought to withdraw a proposed amendment to expunge Mr Wetang’ula’s name from the report.

Perhaps sensing defeat, Dr Eseli said he did not want to make amendments to the report because it was prepared by “some of the best brains we have in the House, including my neighbour, Eugene Wamalwa.”

Mr Wamalwa, the Saboti MP, is a member of the Defence and Foreign Relations Committee that asked Mr Wetang’ula to resign. It is now emerging that Mr Wetang’ula’s supporters are seeing Mr Wamalwa’s hand behind the former minister’s woes.

The Kimilili MP had claimed that Mr Wetang’ula was forced out of his ministry by politicians eyeing the presidency in 2012 who see him as a threat.

He said the “traitor” MP had been bought by politicians from a certain region to finish his colleagues. “There is a traitor among us who has teamed up with bad people to backstab key leaders within the Bukusu,” he said.

Both Mr Wetang’ula and Mr Wamalwa have declared they will contest the presidency in 2012 and have been fighting for political supremacy among the Bukusu community as well as for the chairmanship of Ford-Kenya.

And in Bungoma, councillors led by Meshack Museveni accused parliamentary committees of being used to settle political scores. However, on Saturday, Mr Kombo said, “Bukusus have never been traitors. We are a very proud community.”

New battle lines drawn in Rift

Fresh battle lines have been drawn in the Rift Valley pitting MPs who support Eldoret North MP William Ruto against those supporting his political rival Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Trouble began to brew in the region following the suspension of the ODM deputy party leader and was heightened by the attack on Mr Ruto last Sunday by Roads minister Franklin Bett.

Fallout from the constitutional referendum have revived the sharp divisions which pro-Ruto MPs say will be replicated in the 2012 General Election.

Presidential winner

In the most public support for the PM yet, Mr Bett said on October 24 that the PM would emerge the presidential winner in 2012 and urged the Kalenjin to support him so as not to be excluded from the next government.

He added that the Eldoret North MP was wasting his time attacking the PM. “Whether the Kalenjin community supports him or not, the truth of the matter is that he (Raila) is the next president and will win by a landslide. My fear for my community is that they may be left out for being misled by some leaders,” Mr Bett said at a fundraising meeting in Narok South.

Apart fom the Bureti MP, Industrialisation minister Henry Kosgey and his Agriculture counterpart Sally Kosgey last week led 30 councillors in declaring support for the PM, with Mrs Kosgey saying Mr Odinga was a reformist who merited support.

Assistant minister Magerer Lang’at and MPs Julius Murgor, Wilson Litole and Musa Sirma are also known supporters of the Langata MP.

Other leaders from the Kalenjin community, including East African Co-operation minister Hellen Sambili, assistant minister Beatrice Kones and Sotik’s Joyce Laboso, have not publicly stated their positions, but neither have they attacked the PM.

Outspoken ally

Mr Ruto’s most outspoken ally, Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny, who disclosed that they had already found a party to move to but were acting cautiously to avoid being sabotaged, said leaders attacking Mr Ruto were digging their political graves.

“We are watching and working hard to keep the community together at this time of our collective low moment. Anybody trying to take advantage of William’s woes will not be pardoned by community members,” Mr Kutuny said.

He added that Mr Ruto’s sustained record of championing the community’s interests would be his biggest weapon in galvanising support and that those trying to sway the community now had no such record and therefore would not succeed.

“Even those who were earlier vocal in their criticism of William like nominated MP Musa Sirma have seen the light and have gone quiet. Maybe those who are speaking out do not care about their political careers,” said the Cherangany MP.

Event of the moment

He added that politics are dictated by events and that the event of the moment was Ruto’s supremacy in the region.

“Those who would like to oppose Mr Ruto can wait for 2017 when issues might have changed. But for now, they have a snowball’s chance in hell as they are driven by personal and not community agenda,” he said.

Similar sentiments were expressed by Chepalungu’s Isaac Ruto who nevertheless sought to fashion himself as independent minded and not necessarily a Ruto defender.

Saying he had always had an issue with his party leader, he stressed that Kalenjin interests lay anywhere other than with ODM.

“My differences with Raila are ideological. I am nobody’s follower, but I am certain that any politician who will try to go against the advice we shall give the community in due course will be swept away into political Siberia,” he said.

Mr Odinga enjoyed massive support in the Kalenjin Rift Valley in the last elections, but his relationship with the region’s leaders soured shortly after the formation of the grand coalition government over what the latter termed a raw deal in the distribution of Cabinet posts.

They also differed over the Mau Forest evictions, which the premier was championing, and over how to try suspected perpetrators of post-election violence.

A section of councillors from Bomet and Kericho counties also warned MPs from the region who were not supporting Mr Ruto that they risked losing their seats in 2012.

Mr Magerer dismissed the remarks, saying the councillors had been bribed and that their shouts would not lessen Mr Ruto’s woes. “That is dirty money oiling such opinions,” he said, adding that Mr Ruto did not hold one voter’s card for the whole of Rift Valley.

“I would rather err on the right side of history than support an individual who has always fought to take Kenya backwards,” said the Kipkelion MP.

Kalonzo - Goodluck

Kenya's Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja during a fundraising dinner and launch of the President's campaign strategy at Abuja International Conference Centre on Friday evening.

By LUCAS BARASA lbarassa@ke.nationmedia.com
Posted Saturday, October 30 2010 at 21:23

Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka is engaged in a strong campaign to build an international network crucial to his 2012 presidential ambitions.

The VP travelled to Nigeria October 26 to the attend a National Prayer Breakfast that coincided with the celebrations of the country’s 50th anniversary of independence.

But the ODM Kenya leader, used the visit to cement political rapport with President Goodluck Jonathan on whom he paid a courtesy call before joining him again for dinner at Aso Rock, the presidential residence in Abuja.

On Friday, the VP also attended a fundraising dinner for President Jonathan and the launch of his multi-platform campaign strategy that served as a crucial lesson ahead of 2012.

“Mr Musyoka rode in the same car with his host to the international conference centre, arriving to a rousing welcome by ecstatic Jonathan supporters and entered the glittering mega hall adorned with huge banners of President Jonathan and his running mate Alhajj Namadi Sambo,” a statement from the Vice-Presidential Press Service said.

The fundraiser was attended by hundreds of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) supremos, senators, governors, MPs and captains of Nigerian industry.

Evening event

During the four-hour evening event, millions of naira were raised despite the fact that Nigerian electoral law caps individual donations at one million naira. President Jonathan, who faces an election in April, unveiled his campaign and fundraising platforms.

The Nigerian leader, known for using Facebook, Twitter and SMSs to reach out to his supporters, also has an online donation service, a zonal mobilisation structure as well as branded campaign giveaways.

Mr Musyoka congratulated President Jonathan on the launch after the event, adding that by using the social networking platforms, he was sure to reach the youth.

Earlier at State House, Mr Musyoka held discussions with President Jonathan on the need for a joint commission on cooperation as well as the issue of Kenya Airways being allowed direct flights to Abuja. The national carrier only flies to Lagos, the commercial capital.

The two leaders acknowledged that Kenya and Nigeria need to do more to increase the level of trade between the two countries. The VP said Kenya could also benefit from cut- lowers, tea and coffee exports to Nigeria.

The VP also visited the Nigeria House of Senate where he was received by Senate President David A. B. Mark and also attended a session of the House of Representatives.

On Sunday, the VP is expected to travel to South Korea where he will address the Global Scouts Parliamentary Association before returning to Kenya later this week. The VP has also visited China, Iran, Tanzania, Sudan and the Cayman Islands in the recent past.

Kenya has maintained warm relations with West African countries and particularly considers Nigeria a strategic trade partner. Africa’s most populous country is rich in oil, and key politicians in the region have been establishing networks crucial to fundraising in the country.

In an address to the national prayer breakfast meeting in Abuja on October 28, Mr Musyoka said the fight against corruption and bad governance in Africa could only be won through strong leadership.

The VP said that the only outstanding challenge for now was the fight against poverty which should be combated by working hard to create investment opportunities in agriculture, commerce, manufacturing, service sector and technology.

Raila defends Ngilu over graft claims

Prime Minister Raila Odinga is received by Water Resources minister Charity Ngilu on his arrival at Mutomo District on Saturday. Photo/PMPS

By KITAVI MUTUA kmutua@ke.nationmedia.com
Posted Saturday, October 30 2010 at 21:30

Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Saturday publicly defended Water minister Charity Ngilu against corruption allegations in her ministry.

Mr Odinga also dismissed reports that Mrs Ngilu was favouring her Ukambani region. “Mrs Ngilu has done a great job in her docket. I want to assure her that I’ll fully defend her against the witch-hunt by her political detractors,” Mr Odinga told a public rally at the Kitui Municipal Stadium.

“Don’t be cowed by anyone, you have done nothing wrong. I know your good record and will stand by you in the event you are called to account.”

While he stressed that the government would not relent in its fight against corruption, Mr Odinga warned that the fight was getting personal, to the extent of punishing Cabinet ministers.

He said there was nothing wrong with Ukambani getting water projects adding that Mrs Ngilu, in initiating many such projects, acted in the spirit of affirmative action. “It is perfectly in order to allocate more resources in regions where water scarcity is more severe,” the PM said.

“ODM gave the Water docket to Mrs Ngilu because, as a woman, she better understood the suffering of rural women who trek long distances in search of the commodity and (because) she hailed from a region deficient in water.”

The minister recently appeared before Parliament’s Committee on Equal Opportunities to explain claims of bias and regional impartiality in resource allocation by her ministry.

The PM’s backing of his Ukambani political kingpin came just a day after he had met with the director of the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission, PLO Lumumba and assured him of the government’s support in the fight against corruption.

Last Friday, Public Works assistant minister Mwangi Kiunjuri, who until recently was Mrs Ngilu’s assistant, alleged that he was moved after blowing the whistle on corrupt deals at the Water ministry.

Mr Kiunjuri, who was replaced by Embakasi MP Ferdinand Waititu in a mini-reshuffle two weeks ago, said the government was reluctant to act on corrupt dealings even after they have been reported. He said he had evidence to support his allegations.

Mrs Ngilu and Mr Waititu dismissed claims by Mr Kiunjuri as propaganda driven by malice and envy of the “excellent work” at the ministry.

“All my actions at the ministry are well justified and I’ll not be intimidated to slow my work by threats by some people to investigate me,” Mrs Ngilu said.

She added: “As far as water issues are concerned, Ukambani region has been marginalised for far too long and hence I think its warranted to boost budgetary allocation to sort the water scarcity.”

On Saturday, Mr Odinga toured various water projects in Kitui county undertaken by Tanathi Water Services Board. His defence of the minister came in the wake of revelations by Dr Lumumba that at least four Cabinet ministers and many state corporation chiefs will soon be arraigned in court to answer corruption charges.

It also comes barely a month after Tanathi Water Services Board chief executive officer Joseph Nzesya was sent on compulsory leave as KACC launched investigations into alleged misuse of public funds at the parastatal.

Last week, Dr Lumumba held separate meetings with President Kibaki and Mr Odinga, where he outlined his plans for the KACC. He is said to have told the duo of his zeal to tackle grand corruption.

President Kibaki is said to have told him he would back him in the execution of his duties. The President followed up the meeting with statements during the opening of the Prime Minister’s new office that were widely thought to have been a warning to ministers implicated in corruption.

“All relevant government departments have been instructed to speedily conclude any pending cases of corruption.” The President’s words were especially loaded because they were delivered only hours before a crucial debate in Parliament over the conduct of Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetangula and his permanent secretary Thuita Mwangi.

The pair stepped aside before the conclusion of debate on a departmental committee report which found that over Sh1 billion of taxpayers money had been lost in missions abroad.

The duo’s exit, which came just over a week after Higher Education minister William Ruto had been suspended over his role in a suspect forest land deal, has renewed attention to the war against corruption.

Law Society of Kenya secretary Apollo Mboya said they were cautiously optimistic that state organs were beginning to take the fight against corruption seriously.

“We are happy with the start PLO has made as KACC director. But most of the issues he is acting upon at the moment had been forwarded to the commission quite some time ago. Even as we welcome the new zeal displayed by the leadership of the commission, questions are bound to be asked about the record of those who held fort before the latest appointment.”

A source close to the President said Mr Kibaki was concerned that some ministers were preparing for life outside Cabinet by engaging in high-level corruption.

The new Constitution has an entire chapter on integrity and leadership. Parliament is expected to pass legislation to operationalise Chapter 6, which might mean a number of high profile figures would be locked out of the race for the presidency in 2012.

Ministers implicated in graft scandals, for example, will not be eligible to run for election as MPs. Article 99 (2, h) states a person is disqualified from being elected a member of Parliament if the person “is found, in accordance with any law, to have misused or abused a State office or public office or in any way to have contravened Chapter 6 (on leadership and integrity).

Hassan Omar, a commissioner with the Kenya National Human Rights and Equality Commission, said the organisation would work with MPs to draft the enabling legislation to weed out corrupt public officers.

LAWYERS

KACC probes two PSs over mining deal


The latest case adds to the workload of Dr Lumumba (above), the KACC director, whose commission has hit the headlines with a number of bold moves against senior figures in the last few months.. PHOTO/STEPHEN MUDIARI

By MURITHI MUTIGA mmutiga@ke.nationmedia.com
Posted Saturday, October 30 2010 at 22:14

Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission chief Patrick Lumumba on Saturday night confirmed the agency had opened an investigation into the conduct of two permanent secretaries said to have been involved in the award of a mining licence to a company which applied for the permit using forged papers.

KACC is investigating the circumstances under which the firm, whose certificate of inception includes the name of a sitting PS, landed the deal.

Another PS is on the spot for disregarding a warning from the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) that one of the firms which landed the deal forged the letterhead and signature of one of its members in its application.

“I can confirm that we wrote to KACC after learning that the firms in question, Criss Cross Mining Limited, Merchant Mining Limited Company and Ameekha Company clinched the deal after initially relying on forged papers,” said LSK secretary Apollo Mboya.

The new investigation is the latest high-profile graft case to rock the grand coalition. It comes at the end of a dramatic two weeks in which two ministers William Ruto and Moses Wetang’ula and Nairobi Mayor Geophrey Majiwa were forced to step aside over corruption allegations.

The deal in question involves the award of potentially lucrative iron ore exploration deals to a firm which eventually transferred the rights to the company in which the PS was listed as a founding member.

When the department of mines ran a due diligence check on the application by Criss Cross company, they discovered that the law firm they had listed – Kasyoka Associates Advocates of Lower Kabete ICHRD – did not exist at that address.

Investigations by the LSK discovered that the applicants had forged the letterhead and signature of the partners of Kasyoka Associates Advocates which is based in Makindu, according to a letter written to the KACC chief by Mr Mboya.

“This was a case of blatant fraud,” says Mr Mboya. “We were upset because the names of our members were being used to support illegal transactions.”

According to documents which have been forwarded to KACC, the commissioner of mines warned against the endorsement of the mining deal. The LSK also wrote to several government departments cautioning that the deal was fraudulent.

But Criss Cross Mining Limited and Merchant Mining Limited Company eventually got the concessions. Ameekha Company later acquired a substantial stake in Criss Cross.

The lawyer whose letterhead was used to make the forged application said he was surprised to learn that his firm had apparently been involved in an application at the department of mines.

“I was called by the LSK and they asked me whether I was aware of that deal and if I had an office in Kabete,” said Samuel Mutinda Kasyoka, of Kasyoka Associates Advocates.

“I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. I have never owned an office in Kabete. Another close friend of mine was said to have commissioned the deal and he was also in the dark about it all. That’s when we lodged a complaint about the forgery of our papers.”

The latest case adds to the workload of Dr Lumumba, the KACC director, whose commission has hit the headlines with a number of bold moves against senior figures in the last few months. In the letter from the LSK complaining about its suspicions of fraud, Mr Mboya wrote:

“We draw your attention to the provisions of section 19 of the Mining Act Cap 306 of the Laws of Kenya providing a penalty for giving false information by applicants for an exclusive prospecting licence. In accordance with our statutory mandate, we advise that the transaction relating to the application for the mining licence should be suspended and the matter referred to the relevant investigative authorities to determine the web involving the three itemised companies and the individuals who authored the fake correspondence purporting to be from our member.”

KACC director Dr Lumumba replied that the commission had “noted the contents” of the letter. He confirmed to the Sunday Nation on Saturday evening that his team had taken up the matter.

The latest case is expected to shine a light on the opaque process of granting of mining licences to firms to explore and exploit mineral deposits in the country.

A list of directors listed at the inception of Ameekha company which benefited from the controversial allocation listed a sitting PS as a director.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Elect leaders of integrity, PLO urges Kenyans

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 30- The Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC) is asking Kenyans not to elect leaders with questionable integrity as they will only serve to impede development and service delivery.

KACC Director Patrick Lumumba said the country must eradicate corruption within its circles in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

He argued that African states would never develop as long as monies meant for public development were incessantly swindled by fraudulent persons.

"With the 47 counties, I pray and hope that the governors to be elected in 2012 will not have as the first item on their shopping list, the governor's mansion. That they will instead remember that Kenyans are looking for delivery of services," said Dr Lumumba.

The KACC Director further reiterated his past remarks saying the commission had renewed its resolve to fight graft at all levels. He held that it was time for Africa to rise up against the corruption and waste that continued hindering development.

"Ethics is key in the development of any nation because as we speak 40 percent of African wealth is outside of Africa, stacked away by greedy men and a few women in little islands whose only claim to fame is that they are the hiding havens for those who reap where they have not sown," he said.

The commission has already written to foreign missions and embassies asking them to provide mutual legal assistance for the repatriation of billions of shillings stashed abroad as recognized under the United Nations Convention in addition to the African Convention.

The KACC has so far sought assistance from the United States, Swiss authorities and the UK's Serious Fraud Office.
Dr Lumumba also explained that it was time for Africans to restructure their education systems in order to fit into the current trends.

"Why is it that so many years after the attainment of political independence with so many young men and women having acquired formal education both locally and abroad, Africa still has a sad story to tell?" he quipped.

Dr Lumumba who was speaking during a training session for students at Strathmore University added that the lack of faith among Africans for their own also served as a deterrent to the continent's development.

"Prof Ali Mazrui once said that Africans produce so many doctors but when their leaders or men of wealth are sick, they seek not treatment from their doctors whose names are preceded by the title doctor or Professor?" he posed.

He also called on African states to extend their education facilities because education remained one of the drivers for the achievement of the MDGs.

"In our country today we boast of over 13 universities both public and private in the sciences and the arts while Uganda boasts of an equal number as do the South Africans and many other African countries," he observed.

Dr Lumumba further asked the country's lawyers to break down the new laws for Kenyans in order to empower them.

Meya Angatuka Rasmi

Big fish at last

Fading glory

Why Cabinet is no longer at ease


By Martin Mutua

Cabinet ministers are no longer at ease. The unfolding events that have seen two of their own hounded out of office in corruption related claims have sent shivers down their spines.

We can reveal today that the matter came up for discussion during the Cabinet meeting on Thursday chaired by President Kibaki, and ministers are looking for ways to stop Parliament from unfairly running them out of office. The Cabinet seems to have been caught unawares by a Parliament that has hit the ground running, with the stringent provisions of the new Constitution. And to strategise on this, sources who attended the Thursday meeting said several ministers were at a loss on when they should take political responsibility on financial impropriety in their ministries, and yet they were not the accounting officers.

And the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission chairman Patrick Lumumba added pressure on Cabinet members yesterday, when he revealed four of them and 45 senior heads of parastatals are being investigated over allegations of graft.

At the Thursday Cabinet meeting, deliberations centered on the fact that the Executive is disadvantage because whereas Parliament is enjoying the full rights accorded to it by the new Constitution, ministers do not exercise the powers of Cabinet secretaries.

Unlike in the new Constitution where Cabinet secretaries will effectively be in charge of ministries, the current arrangement has ministers as the political heads directing policy while permanent secretaries are the accounting officers.

Multiple sources privy to the Cabinet proceedings intimated that in light of the new Constitution, Parliament, particularly the departmental committees, had been given powers similar to those of the High Court and could therefore summon and investigate ministers.

Two-Day Retreat

"It was decided that there was need for the Cabinet to be taken through civic education on the way to use institutions like the Kenya Anti-Corruption commission, and Controller and Auditor General efficiently and effectively," added a minister who cannot be named because Cabinet discussions are confidential.

A retreat was planned for November 12 and 13 for the ministers to understand the articles of the new Constitution on daily operations. The Cabinet will also during the two-day retreat deliberate on the newfound muscle by the Legislature.

Yesterday, some ministers raised issues with the way Parliament has been conducting its affairs. Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi took issue with the way departmental committees have been ‘condemning’ ministers even before investigations.

On his part Trade Minister Chirau Mwakwere said the fight against corruption should be devoid of witch hunting.

"I am ready to join fellow legislators in fighting corruption. However, the fight should not be used by MPs to malign others or settle political scores," Mwakwere said, in an interview with The Standard On Saturday.

These concerns come two days after Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetang’ula was forced to step aside over allegations of financial impropriety in the sale and purchase of properties in five missions abroad.

A fortnight ago, Higher Education Minister William Ruto was suspended from the Cabinet after a constitutional case he had filed seeking to stop Sh96 million-fraud case against him was dismissed.

Dr Lumumba said that his Commission was closing in on the personalities who had been implicated in various scandals, including the misappropriation of funds meant for the resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons.

And although he did not reveal details of the suspects, Lumumba added that those found culpable would be held to account

"We are investigating very senior public officials whose names we can’t disclose at this stage, but we shall in the fullness of time. Investigations are not a hundred metres sprint, we do our best, do it well, and refuse to be cornered by giving timelines," Lumumba said.

"The IDPs scandal is one of the cases we are looking into," he said.

The Minister for Gender Naomi Shaban was at Special Programmes when cash meant for IDP was misappropriated. However, there was an inter-ministerial team that was tasked with the responsibility of resettling the people who were displaced during post-election violence.

Lumumba added that he was confident once his commission concluded its investigations and handed over the recommendations to the Attorney General, the suspects would be charged.

Anglo Leasing Case

"I have no doubt in my mind that everybody who is enjoined in the Constitution to behave, would behave in accordance with the Constitution. I also hope that this time round we will investigate effectively, the courts will act effectively, and justice will be served effectively," he said.

Lumumba further reiterated his past remarks saying KACC had re-opened investigations into the Anglo Leasing and Goldenberg scandals.

"But remember that there are individuals who have already been charged in the Anglo Leasing case, and remember also that there are permanent secretaries who are already charged in the Goldenberg case. We think we are on the right track," he said.

KACC has also sought assistance from the United States, Swiss authorities and the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, for the repatriation of billions of shillings stashed abroad.

Speaking separately, Information Minister Samuel Phogisio termed the on-going war on corruption as one that will destroy the country’s future leadership.

The minister said the course the graft war had taken showed it would finish political careers in the name of implementing the new Constitution.

"By saying so does not mean I condone corruption but we must bear in mind that we are all human, and need to approach the requirement on integrity of our leaders with a sober mind," Phogisio said.

The Kacheliba MP called for divine intervention in the fight against corruption, saying many more people were likely to be netted if the war was genuinely executed.

In a thin-veiled defense of Ruto, Phogisio wondered where angels would be sourced from to run public offices.

"Let us not stick to condemnation of our leaders while nurturing none to take over leadership," he said.

Wetangula carrying someone's cross, elders claim

By Robert Wanyonyi

The Luhya Council of Elders has called for speedy investigation into the saga surrounding Sirisia MP Moses Wetang’ula.

Council chairman Patrick Wangamati said it was wrong for MPs to harass Wetang’ula into resigning without giving him time to defend himself against allegations of fraud in the Tokyo Embassy scandal.

Mr Wangamati urged President Kibaki to consider Wetang’ula’s defence in Parliament as true admission that he was not involved in the scandal as Foreign Affairs Minister.

"We don’t accept the minister’s decision to step aside because he was a mere victim of circumstances. Someone wanted him to carry his cross," said Wangamati.

He warned that the elders would converge for a meeting to decide the political direction of the region if the matter is no resolved soon.

He urged Wetang’ula to forge ahead with his quest for the country’s presidency in 2012.

Students from Moi and Masinde Muliro universities expressed shock at Wetang’ula’s decision to step aside.

FEAR

The suspension or stepping aside of ministers is unconstitutional

By OKIYA OMTATA OKOITI
Posted Friday, October 29 2010 at 15:57

For a long time, most Kenyans have wanted to see the high and mighty succumb crestfallen to public demands that State officials adversely mentioned in corruption scandals, or charged with corruption in courts of law, promptly vacate office to facilitate investigations.

Such images are good for the general war on corruption as they show that the tide is turning, underscoring the fact that nobody is untouchable.
Nonetheless, we must not flout the law in our war on corruption. Ignoring the law will set bad precedents.

That is why we must ask whether our laws give the President the power to suspend a minister, or allow a minister to step aside.

Under Article 16(3)(a) of the old Constitution, the President has no powers to suspend a minister; he can only hire or fire. And a minister, too, has no legal basis for stepping aside; he can only resign.

Under Article 152(5) of the new Constitution, a Cabinet Secretary (the equivalent of today’s minister) cannot step aside, and the President has the power to dismiss one of his own volition or if required to do so by a resolution of the National Assembly.

Article 152 (6) states: “A member of the National Assembly, supported by at least one-quarter of all the members of the Assembly, may propose a motion requiring the President to dismiss a Cabinet Secretary — (a) on the ground of a gross violation of a provision of this Constitution or of any other law; (b) where there are serious reasons for believing that the Cabinet Secretary has committed a crime under national or international law; or (c) for gross misconduct.”

I posit that both the suspension and the stepping aside of ministers are unconstitutional. The Constitution demands high integrity of our ministers, but it also provides how those who fail the smell test should be dealt with.

It is futile to undermine the law in the name of enforcing it. The President has the power only to fire errant ministers, not to suspend them; and those culpable can resign, but they cannot step aside.

We must also correct the misconception getting entrenched that the new Constitution requires those charged in court, or adversely mentioned in corruption, to step aside until they are cleared.

It is sub-section 62(1) of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, 2003, which states: “A public officer who is charged with corruption or economic crime shall be suspended, at half pay, with effect from the date of the charge.”

But, recognising the supremacy of the Constitution, sub-section 62(6) qualifies this by stating that, “This section does not apply with respect to an office if the Constitution limits or provides for the grounds upon which a holder of the office may be removed or the circumstances in which the office must be vacated.”

Sub-section 63(4) grants similar exemption even when the public officer is convicted in court.

The Act exempts Constitutional office holders like ministers and MPs from the blanket requirement to ‘step aside’.

The implications of a minister being suspended or stepping aside are dire: does it mean the one suspended or who steps aside is half in Cabinet and other half on the backbench?

What happens to constituents when their representative is placed in limbo?

In our desperation to root out corruption, there is the danger we might see anything that looks like efforts against the evil, including substandard ones that lower the bar, as an ideal.

We cannot fight impunity with reverse impunity. To stop impunity, we must do things right. The use of illegal methods is no substitute to developing the sophistication required to win the very complicated war against corruption within the confines of the law.

omtatah@safariweb.com

TJRC

Kenyan in top 15 at Miss World contest

By NATION Correspondent
Posted Friday, October 29 2010 at 21:09

Kenya’s representative at this year’s Miss World competition has made it to the top 15, ahead of the final on Saturday.

Ms Natasha Meto, 20, who clinched this year’s Miss Kenya title to proceed to the Miss World Kenya competition in Sanya, China was in a field of 119 beauties from different parts of the world.

In its 60th edition, the event will be held at the Beauty Crown Theatre, which was specially constructed to host the 2003 final.

The contestants flew to China early this month to prepare for the event whose theme is ‘Beauty with a Purpose’.

The contestants will compete in different fields from gracing the catwalk to showcasing their talents and other projects they have been undertaking.

This is not the first time Kenya has participated in this prestigious event. Previous participants, however, have never made it to the top five.

Among the most famous Kenyan contestants who did well at the finals are Ms Yolanda Masinde in 2000 and Ms Cecilia Mwangi in 2005.

Although they did not bring the crown home, they have used their crowns to enrich the society in different ways.

Ms Masinde is a teacher while Ms Mwangi is an IT professional and the face of the anti-jigger campaign.

CJ picks tribunal to investigate Kiplagat

By JILLO KADIDA jkadida@ke.nationmedia.com
Posted Friday, October 29 2010 at 22:10

Chief Justice Evan Gicheru has appointed a five-person tribunal to investigate embattled truth commission boss Bethuel Kiplagat.

The tribunal appointed on Friday will report and give its recommendations within six months.

It will be chaired by former Appeal Judge William Deverell with a mandate to inquire into claims that Mr Kiplagat’s past conduct “erodes and compromises his legitimacy and credibility” as chair of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission.

Absence of integrity

The tribunal will also investigate claims that the chairman’s past is “riddled with unethical practices and absence of integrity” and that he has been linked to or associated with “incidents considered to be abuse of human rights” and may be called as a “witness in the same matters that the commission is mandated to investigate”.

Other tribunal members are retired High court judges Onesmus Mutungi and Benjamin Kubo and state counsel Edwin Okello and Ms Perpetual Waitere. Mr Okello will be assisting counsel to the tribunal while Ms Waitere will be secretary.

In a special notice, the Chief Justice said he decided to appoint the tribunal after questions were raised about Mr Kiplagat’s conduct. The formation of the tribunal comes a day after a 72-hour ultimatum given by Parliament to the TJRC asking them to resolve their problems or risk disbandment.

The ultimatum was given by the House Justice and Legal Affairs Committee. “They have to find a solution to their credibility problems within 72 hours, failure to which this committee shall move without any delay to recommend to Parliament that this commission be dissolved through legislation,” the chairman of the committee Mr Ababu Namwamba had said.

“We shall not and we’ll not engage in the process of perpetual discussion.” The MP, who was flanked by all members of the committee except Mandera Central MP Abdikadir Mohammed, had said his team was ready to table a new Bill in Parliament to repeal the TJRC Act.

Civil society and groups and injustice victims have been up in arms over the appointment of Mr Kiplagat as TJRC chair. The TJRC is expected to investigate human rights abuses since 1963.

A group of activists, led by former MPs Njeru Kathangu and Koigi Wamwere have filed cases in court challenging his appointment. They argue that Mr Kiplagat served a government that perpetuated impunity and is the wrong person to investigate human rights abuses. The case is pending in court.

On September 10, civil society organisations presented a petition to the CJ listing the bases for a tribunal to investigate Mr Kiplagat. The organisations said the TJRC Act was not complied with in Mr Kiplagat’s appointment.

The Act requires that one be appointed chair if he or she is of good character and integrity and has not been implicated in human rights violations. Rights groups said they are particularly concerned about the murder of former Foreign Affairs minister Robert Ouko.

Though Mr Kiplagat was his permanent secretary, he has never been accused of wrongdoing in the matter and he has protested his innocence. Mr Kiplagat was also named in the Ndung’u report on land grabbing.

The country’s search for national healing and reconciliation has been dogged with problems since the formation of TJRC and appointment of Mr Kiplagat.

The TJRC, whose mandate expires in November next year, is paralysed partly because of lack of money, having been abandoned by both the government and donors and internal disagreements over the suitability of the chairman.

The commission’s vice-chair, Betty Murungi, resigned in April because of concerns over the chairman’s past. American law professor Ronald Slye is the latest to have resigned from the commission.

Prof Slye, a programme director at the University of Seattle’s School of Law, said he had “lost faith” in the ability of TJRC “to fulfil even a small part of its mandate.”

The board was set up after former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan brokered peace between PNU and ODM, whose supporters killed at least 1,500 people following the controversial 2007 presidential election.

The commission was seen as the only domestic attempt to highlight those responsible for that violence, as well as also uncover misdemeanours carried out by the country’s political elite since independence from Britain in 1963.

Disquiet over the chairman within the TJRC has been so acute that commissioners wrote to the Chief Justice asking him to form a tribunal to try Mr Kiplagat six months ago.

Last week, Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs minister Mutula Kilonzo took issue with the CJ for taking long to respond to the commissioners’ request.

Mr Kiplagat, a former ambassador to Britain, was accused of having attended a meeting on the Wagalla massacre in 1984 when he was permanent secretary.

Mr Kiplagat has since admitted having been to Wajir during the massacre, but incensed his critics by saying the government could not have been involved. He has asked for the tribunal to give him a chance to clear his name.

The TJRC has seven Commissioners and 73 staff. Although it had requested for Sh1.2 billion as its annual budget, the Treasury only gave it Sh190 million, enough to last up to the end of this month.

Additional reporting by Lucas Barasa

Friday, October 29, 2010

KACC tightens noose around 4 ministers

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 28 – The Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC) says it’s now investigating at least four Cabinet Ministers and 45 senior government officials suspected of corruption.

KACC Director Patrick Lumumba told the media on Friday that they are closing in on the senior officials and they would soon face the full force of the law.

“We are investigating very senior public officials whose names we can’t disclose at this stage, but in the fullness of time we will,” Dr Lumumba said. “We are investigating not less than four Cabinet Ministers and no less 45 senior heads of parastatals.”

He said his officers are now burning the midnight oil to see those culpable face court action.

Dr Lumumba said his office was confident that once they conclude the investigations and hand over their recommendations to the Attorney General, the officers involved would be arraigned in court.

“We are making good progress and one of the areas we are focusing on is the issue of the resettlement of the internally displaced persons. We have confidence that the AG will not ignore our recommendation. We believe the AG will act on the results of our probe,” he said.

The move comes barely two days after Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula and his Permanent Secretary Thuita Mwangi were forced to quit their offices following a probe in Parliament by the Department Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations into the procurement and sale of Kenyan embassies in Japan, Nigeria, Belgium and Pakistan.

KACC has already sought assistance from the United States, Swiss authorities and the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, for the repatriation of billions of shillings stashed abroad.

Saitoti: I am up to the task

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 29 – Internal Security Minister Prof George Saitoti has welcomed his appointment as acting Foreign Affairs Minister and backed the renewed war on graft.

Prof Saitoti told journalists on Friday that he will take up the responsibilities of the two ministries diligently.

“I just actually arrived this morning from abroad and have not been to the office yet, but it’s a job and we are going to do it,” said Prof Saitoti.

His appointment came after Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula stepped aside from his docket to allow investigations into allegations of misappropriation of funds in the purchase and disposal of Kenyan embassy properties abroad.

Prof Saitoti said it is the responsibility of the government to deal with corruption and ensure prudent management of resources.

“The country needs to be run in a transparent way and resources need to be managed transparently and that is where the country wants to go,” he said.

“There is a desire from the public, Parliament and the Executive to fight corruption.”

The last two weeks has seen the suspension of Higher Education Minister William Ruto over a Sh96 million fraud case he is facing in relation to the sale of a plot in Ngong’ forest to the Kenya Pipeline Corporation.

Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Thuita Mwangi has also resigned over the foreign affairs embassy scam. City Mayor Geophrey Majiwa has also stepped aside after he was charged in relation to the Sh283 million cemetery saga.

Reports indicate that the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission is also planning to re-open investigations concerning past scams including Anglo leasing and the Goldenberg.

“I don’t think anybody can fault this particular strategy,” said Prof Saitoti.

In the meantime Prof Saitoti announced that preparations for a joint disarmament exercise between Kenya and Uganda are complete. He said a joint committee had completed modalities of the exercise.

“It is our hope that this operation will be carried out sooner because this matter is urgent if we are going to save the lives of the people affected by cattle rustling,” he said.

The Minister told a regional disarmament meeting of the Great Lakes region that joint ventures between affected countries on their borders is the most effective way of dealing with inter-communal conflicts.

He urged regional governments to also focus on sustainable development projects so that communities prone to cattle rustling will find sustainable livelihoods. Prof Saitoti said the government will continue investing heavily in education, health, water and infrastructure in these areas as witnessed in the last two years allocations of Sh40 billion to Northern Kenya.
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