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Tanzania yields to UN, lenders calls on Covid data

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By LUKE ANAMI

Tanzania announced that it will start releasing Covid-19 data amid pressure from the UN and Bretton Woods institutions to do so as a precondition for lending.

“Soon, the government will officially announce measures on how to address the Covid-19 pandemic in Tanzania,” government spokesman Gerson Msigwa told The EastAfrican.

The assurance came after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on June 9 pushed Dodoma to start publicising Covid-19 infections and measures, with a threat to withhold a $571 million loan.

“In order to justify emergency financing in the context of the pandemic, you need to publish relevant public-health data. Publication of such data would be a precondition moving ahead,” said IMF’s resident representative in Tanzania Jens Reinke.

However, Tanzania had already moved forward with plans to deal with the pandemic, after a task force formed by President Samia Suluhu and chaired by Said Aboud handed in a Covid impact mitigation plan.

“The government has made arrangements on how to address the Covid-19 pandemic. When the government states its official position, it will include all that the IMF is asking for,” said Mr Msigwa.

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And on Thursday during the presentation of the 2021/22 budget, Finance Minister Mwigulu Nchemba announced that the government is in negotiations with the IMF to secure $571 million to mitigate the economic and social effects of the pandemic.

“The government intends to direct the funds towards bolstering official foreign reserves, improve expenditure in health and water sectors as well as boost tourism services,” he said.

Minister Nchemba said President Samia had held a virtual meeting with IMF Executive Director Kristalina Georgieva to strengthen economic and social relations, including strategies to address the impact of Covid-19.

“The pandemic has adversely affected service receipts, foreign reserves and economic growth. The government will continue to take appropriate measures to revive economic activity,” Mr Nchemba said.

Statistics show that Tanzania’s economic growth was highly affected by the global pandemic with the country’s economic growth rate estimated to grow at an average of 4.8 percent this year from prior estimation of 6.9 percent rate.

Dar stopped reporting cases of Covid-19 on April 29, 2020 when the country had 509 infections, 183 recoveries and 21 deaths. A few weeks later, President John Magufuli declared the country pandemic-free.

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Now, the Aboud committee’s report states that the country has been hit by two waves of the novel virus.

Recently, Tanzania allowed foreign missions and companies to access vaccines for their staff, offering a glimmer of hope in dealing with the global pandemic in a country once cited for Covid denialism.

The threat by the IMF came in the wake of a ravaged economy due to the effects of the pandemic, which have weakened near-term macroeconomic prospects for the country.

Dodoma first asked the IMF for a loan under its Rapid Credit Facility in March 2020 but the negotiations never progressed, and the government said in May that it had revived the request. Early talks over the RCF request have started, according to Mr Reinke.

Tanzania could access over $570 million, given its current IMF quota, or double that if the lender’s board approves a proposed new general allocation of Special Drawing Rights to help countries deal with the consequences of the pandemic. But, the loan has set conditions, this time Covid-19 data, which were last issued in May 2020, during the late John Magufuli’s presidency.

The IMF Executive Board has approved emergency financing to 80 countries, including Tanzania, under its two instruments, the RCF and Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI). These facilities allow the Fund to provide emergency assistance without the need for a full-fledged programme.

The IMF has extended debt service relief through the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT) to 29 of its poorest and most vulnerable member countries, covering debt falling due for the period between April 2020 and mid-October 2021.

This debt relief helps the benefiting countries to channel more of their financial resources to emergency medical and other relief efforts as they combat Covid-19.

Last year, Tanzania received $25.7 million under the CCRT to cover debt service and fund measures to fight the pandemic.

Now, the Prof Aboud-led team recommended the resumption of the publication of official figures on the spread of the disease. While appointing the team, President Samia said the country needs a clear understanding of where it stands in the Covid-19 fight.

“We can’t isolate ourselves as if we are an island but, also, we can’t accept everything brought to us,” said President Samia. “Tanzania needs to have its own understanding of where we stand on the issue of Covid-19.”

Additional reporting by Beatrice Materu

The committee also advocated for vaccination of frontline workers and vulnerable people, on voluntary basis. It also recommended that the government join the Covax Facility for easy access to vaccines.

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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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