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Ruto holds secret talks to calm allies

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By JUSTUS WANGA
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By WANJOHI GITHAE
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Deputy President William Ruto hosted a close-knit team of trusted allies late on Thursday night to discuss the political implications of the move by President Uhuru Kenyatta to assign Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i a powerful role, elevating him to the level of a “chief minister”, the Sunday Nation has learnt.

The meeting, which started slightly after 2pm at Dr Ruto’s Karen home, lasted over eight hours before Mr Ruto excused himself and rushed to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to receive the President who was returning from the Democratic Republic of Congo where he had attended the inauguration of Mr Félix Tshisekedi as President.

Mr Kenyatta was in DRC alongside Opposition leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka, among others, to witness the first peaceful transfer of power in the troubled country.

The Karen meeting, according to multiple sources who spoke in confidence, largely dwelt on Dr Matiang’i’s new appointment as the chair of a Cabinet committee on national development implementation and communication.

Those in attendance, mainly legislators carefully selected due to their loyalty to the Deputy President, also looked at possible ways of countering the move as well as allaying fears within his political constituency, particularly the Rift Valley region.

In the meeting, Dr Ruto reportedly asked his key lieutenants not to engage in confrontational politics in the wake of Dr Matiangi’s appointment.

He asked them to stick to the development agenda and promised to continue visiting different areas of the country.

The general feeling in the DP’s corner is that the decision contained in the Executive Order One of 2019 issued last Tuesday should have naturally gone to him by virtue of being the president’s principal assistant and his lieutenants have come out to demand an explanation from Mr Kenyatta. They feel the move is geared towards humiliating their man.

And, as Dr Matiang’i is expected to chair the first meeting scheduled for Monday, it will be interesting to see if all Cabinet Secretaries will be present after indications that some could send Chief Administrative Secretaries to represent them.

The timing of the Karen meeting attended by House Majority Leaders Aden Duale (National Assembly) and Kipchumba Murkomen (Senate), Majority Whip Ben Washiali, Deputy Senate Speaker Kithure Kindiki and Nandi Governor Stephen Sang was, according to some insiders, convenient given the President was out of the country.

Mr Washiali, the Mumias East MP, told the Sunday Nation the meeting was “routine” and sought to diffuse speculation.

“We met at the DP’s place on Thursday evening and it is not the first time we were meeting there. We do that regularly. But I cannot give you the details of what transpired during the meeting because that is the preserve of the DP’s communications team,” Mr Washiali said.

Curiously, according to our sources in Dr Ruto’s camp, three cabinet secretaries were also in attendance. We gathered that while they may not have been in the original plan to attend the meeting, the three CSs had gone to consult with the DP on a number of issues in their ministries and ended up sitting through the session that, at some point, saw emotions run high as one of them was accused of being part of the conspiracy to undermine the Deputy President.

“It took the intervention of one of the CSs to calm down two members who thought his colleague had betrayed the DP,” a source said.

It is at the consultative meeting that those in attendance came to learn that the initial motive of the Executive Order was to ensure the smooth running of government operations given that the full Cabinet sometimes takes long to meet. But the idea was supposedly hijacked by powerful forces keen to cut the Deputy President to size, according to the version of events at the Karen meeting.

The Executive Order has resulted in a groundswell of public disaffection in the DP’s constituency, with feelings rife that he is increasingly being elbowed out of the power equation.

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Earlier in the week, a press conference called by MPs allied to the DP, initially scheduled for Boulevard Hotel in Nairobi, had to be called off reportedly at the intervention of a leading Jubilee figure.

He was said to have expressed concern that going down that route would not only have caused an implosion in the ruling party but also engaged a no-reverse gear for the DP.

Ruto’s challenge now is how to contain the growing anger in his constituency with many allies urging him to take the President head-on.

In fact, the feeling that Dr Ruto is being targeted appears to be growing in his Rift Valley stronghold and also in parts of Central Kenya where he enjoys support.

The meeting also came after a consultative forum the team had with President Kenyatta together with speakers of the bicameral Parliament earlier in the week in Mombasa after intense acrimony in the party kicked off by former Jubilee party vice-chairman David Murathe, who vowed to lead forces to block Dr Ruto.

At the State House, Mombasa, meeting, the President was told that lack of synergy between the House and party leadership had given room to growing internal dissent, a scenario that had seen some members of the ruling party defy government decisions in Parliament. Mr Raphael Tuju, Jubilee Secretary-General, was instructed to work closely with Mr Duale and Mr Murkomen for ease of coordination.

At Mombasa Club, the venue of another meeting which took place after 3pm the same day, the DP’s team had also sought clarification on reports that the handshake with opposition chief Raila Odinga would lead to a ‘nusu-mkate’ (coalition government).

“The President said there was nothing of the sort. He said he hoped the Building Bridges Initiative (a product of the handshake) would help him come up with ways of fighting corruption and uniting the country,” one of the sources who attended the meeting said.

Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina said the decision by the President must have been made in the best interests of the country.

“The President’s action must have been taken after extensive considerations to help the country move forward. All those aligned to him should support that decision,” he said.

As details of Dr Matiangi’s rise emerged, his Kisii backyard was celebrating his elevation. Kisii Council of Elders Saturdat held a press conference where they stated that Dr Matiang’i is the region’s first kingpin since former cabinet minister Simeon Nyachae retired from politics.

Chairman James Matundura, who was flanked by former chairman of FORD People party Albert Nyaundi, asked Kenyans to support the president’s decision.

“The community has had a vacuum in political leadership since the retirement of Simeon Nyachae. But the slow but sure rise of Fred Matiang’i, albeit from the technocratic wing, is now proving to be a good development for the Abagusii since he has proved that he can be relied on to carry the leadership mantle which has been lacking,” he said.

Mr Matundura is a member of Building Bridges Initiative.

The functions assigned to Dr Matiang’i rival those that Mr Odinga enjoyed when he served as Prime Minister in the grand coalition government.

“The Prime Minister shall have authority to co-ordinate and supervise the execution of the functions and affairs of the government, including those of Ministries,” stated the Act of Parliament that now stands repealed.

In the President’s executive order, Dr Matiang’i will head the National Development Implementation and Communication Cabinet Committee whose functions will be to provide supervisory leadership throughout the delivery cycle of all National Government Programmes and Projects. He will also receive and deliberate on reports from the National Development Implementation Technical Committee.

The executive order also, in effect, transferred the functions of the Presidential Delivery Unit to the CS.

Additional reporting by David Mwere



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General

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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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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