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KAGWANJA: Ignore Museveni’s hubris, Somalia is a functioning state

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By PETER KAGWANJA
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Leadership, it is said, requires a fine balance of humility and hubris. Despite its splendid recovery, Somalia still is, sadly, a target of ridicule and hubris, an excessive pride that ancient Greeks scorned at as defiance of the gods (truth), leading to nemesis or doom.

In a televised speech to the Uganda Annual Judge’s Conference (January 28, 2019), President Yoweri Museveni, rather brashly and undiplomatically, proclaimed that “Somalia is not a state” and has no “organised authority.” The Ugandan leader did not feel morally, diplomatically or otherwise constrained to label Somalia as “stateless” despite not naming other countries with no organised authority “for diplomatic reasons”.

In a deep intellectual sense, Mr Museveni’s “stateless Somalia” remark echoes the cynical view of Africa conveyed by the polemical book, Africa Works: Disorder as Political Instrument (1999), where Patrick Chabal and Jean-Pascal Daloz dismiss the African state as “weak”, “vacuous”, “ineffectual”.

As the adage goes, people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. State failure, like beauty or ugliness, is in the eye of the beholder. In a 2006 book, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy, Noam Chomsky presciently warned that the United States was becoming a failed state, and thus a danger to its own people and the world.

Mogadishu has ignored Museveni’s broadside. “We’re a state internationally recognised and that’s why I’m now here with my Kenyan counterpart”, said Somalia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Ahmed Awad.

Beyond the “failed state” polemic, Somalia is the poster child of an “Africa rising” from the ashes of civil war in the 21st century. The nation has come a long way from its dark days in the 1990s, captured in a newly published book, The Roots of the Somali Crisis: An Insider’s Memoir (2019) by Colonel Ahmed Omar Jess.

Jess, one of the key players in the events that led to the failure and withering away of the Somali State, insightfully captures Somalia’s unique challenge: “In contrast to the rest of Africa where states are struggling to become a nation, the Somali is a nation struggling to become a state.” (p.241). However, two reports this week highlight Somalia’s recovery. First, a January 28, 2019 report to the UN Security Council by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) depicts Somalia as one of the few areas experiencing violence which have seen some improvements in food scarcity and improved security. In one year, the number of Somalis experiencing acute food shortages dropped by almost half from 3.3 million in July 2017 to 1.8 million in July 2018.

Second is a January 25, 2019 survey by the Washington-based Africa Centre for Strategic Studies (ACSS), “Progress and Setbacks in the Fight against African Militant Islamist Groups in 2018”, which shows that fatalities linked to al-Shabaab dropped by 15pc from about 4,700 in 2017 to 4,000 last year.  Delightfully, the world’s most protracted refugee crisis might be slowly coming to an end. Last year, a total of 122,000 Somalis returned to Somalia from neighbouring countries, about three-quarters of them from the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya.

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Remarkably, Somalia’s recovery is a fine blend of internal reforms and a new global deal. Despite significant setbacks, Somalis are deepening their democracy. In the last 18 years, power has peacefully changed hands from five presidents and more than eight prime ministers to the respective winners.

A strategic partnership and executive power-sharing in Villa Somalia between President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre is working, and paying off. In 2018, domestic revenue peaked at over $200 million, the highest in decades. In separate deals last year, the European Union (EU) and the World Bank approved a nearly $200 million budget support to Somalia, the first in 27 years. Development is draining the swamps of violent extremism. “Economic development will help us reduce poverty and greatly contribute to our efforts to combat terrorism and violent extremism,” said Khayre.

Even though Al-Shabaab remains the deadliest terror group in Africa, accounting for almost 42 per cent of all reported fatalities involving armed Islamist groups on the continent in 2018, a festering conflict between Villa Somalia and Federal States is the real existential crisis facing Somalia.

Blissfully, post-civil war Somalia is at peace with all its neighbours. Two events this week signify the new spirit of détente between Somalia and Kenya.  And on January 29, 2019, Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre made his maiden visit to Kenya to deliver President Farmajo’s goodwill and condolence message to President Uhuru Kenyatta after the Al-Shabaab terrorist attack at 14 Riverside Drive.

“Kenya is Somalia’s number one strategic partner in the ongoing transformation of the Horn of Africa country”, Khayre told his host, noting that Somalia currently hosts over 50,000 Kenyans working in various sectors of its economy.

“Kenya’s efforts (to support the Federal Government) have not gone to waste,” the President said alluding to the role that Kenya has played over the years to support a legitimate “organised authority” in Mogadishu.

Second, on January 30, 2019, Kenya and Somalia held their Joint Commission for Cooperation talks, signing a cooperation and security deal to step up the fight against Al-Shabaab. But Somalia’s neighbours still have serious concerns over Villa Somalia’s ability to secure their borders with Somalia. While respecting the sovereignty of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia have maintained strategic relations with Somalia’s federal states, which has caused friction with Mogadishu.

The creation of Jubbaland as a semi-autonomous region in Somalia under former militia leader, Sheikh Ahmed Madobe, is a case in point. In this context, the upcoming presidential election in Jubbaland in August 2019 will be the acid test for the Kenya-Somali détente.

Prof Kagwanja is a former Government Adviser and currently Chief Executive at the Africa Policy Institute. 



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Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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