At the height of campaigns for last year’s general election, Kibwezi West MP Patrick Mweu Musimba threw a lavish birthday party that send tongues wagging over the squandering budget ahead of a major political contest.
The party attended by who is who in the business and political circles, including dozens of MPs, was hosted at the high-end Villa Rosa Kempinski Hotel where guests were showered with electronic gifts— including TV sets, mobile phones and tablets.
Most MPs in the eleventh parliament who were struggling to finance their re-election campaigns were astonished at the sheer extravagance by their flamboyant lone-ranger colleague who stood out among politicians from Ukambani region for his apparent knack of defying the main political coalitions.
What shocked the guests was why a first-term MP elected on an independent ticket would splash millions of shillings entertaining guests who had little or nothing to do with his political campaigns back home.
According to an MP who did not want to be named, the birthday party, like many other similar philanthropic gestures before, ended without Mr Musimba stating his agenda and this left attendees with many unanswered questions.
In his home county of Makueni, MCAs, head teachers and opinion leaders were beneficiaries of his sponsored trips to various foreign destinations during the MP’s first term in parliament.
In April 2014, he was the talk of town when he sponsored a five-day trip to Malaysia for members of Makueni County Assembly, only a few months after he won a hotly contested by-election.
The by-election followed nullification of his 2013 victory by the High Court.
His campaign spending in August 2017 elections, where for the third time he shunned major political coalitions to run as an independent candidate, raised eyebrows, with his competitors accusing him of ‘buying off’ the election.
Mr Musimba narrowly beat Wiper Party’s James Mbaluka, among other candidates, and was until last week being considered a key contender for Makueni governorship in the next elections.
However, his philanthropic stunts came into sharp focus this week when he was arraigned to face fraud charges over his role in the collapsed Chase Bank.
Mr Musimba and his wife Angela Mwende are alleged to have received Sh1.35 billion depositors’ funds through his two companies— Porting Access and Itecs Limited—through questionable means.
The money-bags MP, who presented himself in court after a warrant for his arrest was issued, was remanded for four days, but was later released on a Sh5-million-cash bail on Thursday.
The court heard that Mr Musimba, his wife, and their two companies allegedly stole Sh1,150,125,587 between January 23, 2015, and March 31, 2016 from Chase Bank.
They also face money laundering charges for allegedly benefiting from the transfer of Sh740,442,687 from Chase Bank to Paramount Universal Bank and of another Sh409,682,900 to KCB by their co-accused.
The couple is jointly charged with former senior managers of the collapsed bank — Duncan Kabui (director), James Mwaura Mwenja (general manager corporate credit) and Makarios Omondi Agumbi (general manager) — who denied the charges before Senior Resident Magistrate Hellen Onkwani in Nairobi.
Interestingly, the MP shuns the national limelight and nurses a determination to keep away from the media.
Unlike most politicians who would go to ridiculous lengths to get a headline, on numerous occasions, Mr Musimba has flatly turned down requests for interview by the Nation claiming he does not read newspapers.
“I’m not interested in media interviews because I rarely read newspapers, once in a while I buy the Business Daily to catch up with economic trends,” he curtly declared on telephone.
Locally, he hardly addresses public meetings in Kamba and is known for showing off and flamboyance.
His family often flies to Kibwezi in hired choppers and while touring the constituency, he is chauffeured around by drivers of European or Asian descent.
His supporters see him as a brave and independent leader who has managed to build his own political ideology without riding on any political party.
But his critics and opponents see arrogance in his abrasive style of operation and an attempt to escape public scrutiny for his actions.
According to businessman James Mbaluka, one of his challengers in last elections, Mr Musimba shuns the media to cover up for his “crooked business life” and alleged poor management of the constituency affairs.
Mr Mbaluka wants the MP to account for nearly Sh200 million raised by women groups through a “pyramid-like scheme” initiative, which he spearheaded.
“Each of the 80,000 women members of the yet-to-be-established Kibwezi West Cooperative Society gave Sh2,500 towards the initiative. He’s still holding these funds collected from poor women since 2013,” Mr Mbaluka said.
The MP surprised many people when he beat an experienced politician and former area MP Kalembe Ndile, first during his political debut in 2013 and later in a by-election that same year.
In the luckiest of escapes, he was declared winner with 17,174 votes against Mr Ndile’s 16,975, a slim difference of 199 votes.
A vote recount ordered by the High court gave Mr Ndile victory but this time with 16,930 votes against Dr Musimba’s 16,909, a difference of only 21 votes.
Meanders at Kiboino village along Iten-Kabarnet road. The road is famous for its tens of corners between Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet counties.[Denish Ochieng, Standard]
Faults.” By the way, suppose Gregory never happened on the scene, what would you have called this fissure? The vast valley, formed when the core of the earth heaved and sighed millions of years ago as a result of volcanic activity, is visible from space and runs from Lebanon in the Middle East to Mozambique in the southern part of Africa. Yet, it is the immense natural beauty and diverse cultures that make a visit to this region worthwhile. Late last year, during the small window that allowed for some travel, I hooked up with Ben, a birding expert for an exploratory tour of the Rift Valley. Now Ben is one man who can tell one bird from another even in his sleep. He will spend copious amounts of time combing every bush for that rare bird few can identify. The adventure starts at the eastern escarpment that drops towards Mai Mahiu. The unwritten rule is to stop and take in the enchanting vistas that stretch beyond the valley floor as far as the eye can see because the most beautiful things in life are free. From here, the conical Mount Longonot looms large, another product of the volcanic activity that created a caldera when part of the volcano collapsed. Since our aim was to make it to Baringo by early afternoon, a quick glimpse of the expanse was enough. We got to Nakuru by midday. The sweltering heat was becoming unbearable, a sharp contrast to the cloudy weather back in Nairobi. “If you think Nakuru is hot, wait till you get to Baringo,” warned a security guard at a mall in Nakuru.
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True to his words, the terrain became harsh past Kabarak. Trees, bereft of leaves dotted the countryside. Lake Bogoria Spa was our next pit stop. In the harsh terrain, the hotel stands out like a diamond in the rough. On a good day, guests are entertained by Tugen dancers just before dinner. It was in this hotel that I got to taste mursik for the first time. I say on a good day because there was little activity at the hotel as the effects of Covid-19 wore on. The hotel is named after the nearby Lake Bogoria, one of the four Rift Valley lakes to the north.
Flamingos at Lake Bogoria National Reserve in Baringo county on January 20, 2021.[Kipsang Joseph, Standard]
Bogoria also marks the divide between the northern lakes of Baringo, Turkana and the ‘Masai’ lakes of Nakuru, Elementaita and Magadi. Lake Bogoria is set at the bottom of the 600-metre Ngendelel Escarpment. Bogoria could not have been set in a more bleak environment. It lacks an outlet, but the high alkalinity in the lake has been a factor in the propagation of the blue-green algae that is at the core of the lake’s global fame. Still, the stench from the algae is enough to make you puke. How, you may wonder, would such seemingly useless substance bring visitors from around the world? You see, Bogoria is known for harbouring thousands of flamingos. Though they do feed on some small fish, the algae is not only their main source of food but their vibrant pink colour as well. The algae contains beta-carotene, a water-based bacteria with a reddish-orange pigment. When the bacteria dissolves in the birds’ fat, it is then deposited in feathers and as the birds grow, their colour slowly shifts to pink. Got it? Thus, a well-fed flamingo will have a deeper shade of pink and will make a formidable mate while a pale one could as well be content in the singles club. In the flamingo world, you are what you eat! Sadly, his beautiful phenomenon is slowly fading away, thanks to the current phenomenon of rising Rift Valley lakes. For the last 10 years, the water in Lake Bogoria has risen to unprecedented levels, diluting the alkalinity and making it difficult for the flamingoes to survive. A similar phenomenon greeted us in Baringo. At Kampi ya Samaki, scores of men washed their motorcycles on the road, now part of the lake.
Some of the buildings submerged at Soi Safari Lodge after Lake Baringo swelled on July 21, 2020.[Kipsang Joseph, Standard]
We had anticipated to lodge at the nearby Soi Safari Lodge, but this one too has been eaten up by the lake. And so are Robert’s Camp and Lake Baringo Country Club, the region’s favourite safari destinations. We were content staying in a nondescript haven on the water’s edge. For some sense of serenity, we took the vertical ascent towards Kabarnet, the town set on a hill, one side overlooking the Iten escarpment. Kabarnet sits on top of Kerio Valley, undoubtedly one of the most scenic locations in Kenya. Three minutes from Kabarnet, we pull over to the side of the road to take in the endless beauty of the valley below, where, as my primary school teacher told me, is the source of fluorspar. If the landscape does not stir any emotions on your part, the Kabarnet-Iten Road surely does. On such terrain, constructing a road vertically presented many challenges. In order to minimise the gradient, the engineers simply made numerous twists and turns, coils upon coils of tarmac meandering all the way to the top. While this was not their intention, the winding road has become part of the region’s tourist attraction. My two days in the geological museum that John Gregory called the Rift Valley revealed some secrets that make the region tick. Here, the remains of animals and plants lie fossilised, awaiting a new discovery.
Office of Attorney General Paul Kihara, through Solicitor General Kennedy Ogeto, has filed a notice of Appeal. [File, Standard]
The office of the Attorney General intends to appeal the decision by a five-judge bench that ruled against the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) process. The bench had on Thursday, May 13, ruled that the BBI process was unconstitutional, null and void. In a document dated May 14, Solicitor General Kennedy Ogeto said that the office was dissatisfied with the court’s judgement and that it would appeal the court’s decision. In the document, the government’s legal office said that it will move to the appellate court because the matter was of immense public interest. “Unless this Application for stay of execution of the order is heard urgently, there is a real risk,” the document read in part. The five judges on the bench were Joel Ngugi, George Odunga, Jairus Ngaah, Chacha Mwita and Teresia Matheka pronounced 17 issues on the BBI ruling. The major issue raised was the President’s role in initiating change through a popular initiative. Jointly, the judges ruled that constitutionally, President Uhuru Kenyatta cannot use popular initiative to vouch for constitutional changes.
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In the ruling, the bench said that the process did not go through public participation as is required by the law. They recommended that Kenyans are provided with printed copies for a clear comprehension of the document. Additionally, the five legal minds also pronounced the 14-member BBI task force mandated to review areas to be amended in the constitution as illegally constituted More to follow
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