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Tanzania’s slum dwellers tackle poverty

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By REUTERS
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For Maria Mkwawa, the Tanzanian government’s decision to issue her with a formal land title to her home in January was a pleasant surprise.

“It will help me in many ways,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“My family has a bright future.”

Mkwawa is one of hundreds in the impoverished Magomeni ward of the nation’s largest city, Dar es Salaam, who recently received what are known as residential licences.

The documents, which are equivalent to land title, form part of a nationwide programme that began in June 2018 to secure property rights for home owners in informal settlements. It is currently focused on Dar es Salaam.

As one of Africa’s fastest-growing cities, and home to about five million people, Dar es Salaam is rapidly urbanising.

About 70 percent of its residents live in informal settlements without clean water and decent sanitation, according to UN-Habitat, the UN agency for urban development.

Until recently, the government regularly demolished homes in informal settlements. In October 2017, housing minister William Lukuvi announced a nationwide programme to knock down such dwellings.

But, in January, Lukuvi said that had changed: a new policy of providing land tenure would help the urban poor.

“We will no longer demolish informal and unplanned settlements. The government will instead recognise and license property owners in those areas,” Lukuvi was quoted as saying in local media.

He said the policy shift was a directive from President John Magufuli, who held that it was not the fault of poor people that they built homes in such areas.

“A property without a land title is worthless. Once these properties are formalised, rightful owners can use them as loan security,” said Lukuvi.

The programme follows on the heels of a 2016 effort to seize agricultural land left undeveloped by investors and return it to poor farmers, in a bid to quell conflicts between farmers, herders and developers.

Although critics have accused the government of acting simply to garner votes from the poor ahead of next year’s general election, Nathaniel Mathew, a deputy land commissioner, said that was not the case.

“Policies and plans to upgrade unplanned settlements have nothing to do with the elections,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

In January, Lukuvi told reporters that the programme would help more than two million residents of Dar es Salaam, with the ultimate goal to provide title to all residents of informal settlements nationwide.

For Mkwawa, holding the residential licence provided proof that she was the rightful owner of the property. It also meant that nobody could demolish her home with impunity.

“I have a lot of confidence now,” she said.

That was not the case two years ago, when Mkwawa’s home, built in an area that was not zoned for housing near the Jangwani wetland near the city centre, was demolished.

Back then, the city authorities repeatedly knocked down homes built in areas deemed prohibited – including areas that lacked planning permission or that were constructed in reserves or on tracts of land allocated for infrastructure.

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The 45-year old mother of four had spent scorching days and cold nights huddled with her family by the rubble.

Having land title gave Mkwawa, who cooks and sells fried fish from a street stall, the chance to seek a loan of 1 million shillings ($450) to grow her business from AccessBank, which describes itself as a socially responsible bank.

As cities rapidly urbanise, governments face many challenges in improving the quality of life for slum dwellers, who are increasingly vulnerable to health and environmental hazards, said Lusuga Kironde, professor of urban development at Ardhi University in Dar es Salaam.

The programme hinges on the fact that most properties are unregistered and the owners lack proof of ownership. Getting that document should help residents of informal settlements to access credit, said Kironde.

And, he added, legitimising ownership could help the urban poor in other ways.

“If you don’t have title to prove ownership of a house, you usually have no legal recourse if that home is taken away from you,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Property titles provide security for loans and a proof of existence of wealth which, along with a formal address, serves to strengthen business trust and social capital, Kironde said.

The land title policy falls within a broader programme called MKURABITA, which aims to transform property and businesses held in the informal sector into legal entities that are rooted firmly in the formal sector.

The government has urged financial institutions to accept the documents since they bear the same legal status as title deeds.

Yet although residential titles do offer legal protection, said Yefred Mnyenzi, a land rights researcher, they had largely failed to lift people out of poverty, in part because some banks would not accept them as security.

It is also the case that some residents are wary of using their property as security in the event they defaulted.

“If I use my house to borrow the money, where will my family live once it’s sold for failure to repay the loan?” asked Mawazo Kwiyera, a resident of Magomeni ward in Dar es Salaam.

Some residents, however, have leaped at the chance. Sabina Luhago – a widow with three children – wanted to expand her small shop, but was unable to do so until the the government issued residential licences to people in Tandale, the largest unplanned neighbourhood in Dar es Salaam.

Initially, she said, she did not know that her residential document was sufficient to secure a bank loan.

Sijaona Simon, marketing manager at AccessBank, said that in considering the particular needs of the poor, the bank accepted government-issued collateral documents.

It had also made getting a loan easier.

“If everything is in order, we disburse the money within a week,” he said.

Luhago said she was able to borrow 1.5 million shillings. The process saw AccessBank officials inspect her business, check her residential licence, and then take a photograph of her standing in front of the shop.

Processing the loan took just a week.

“I feel very much secure now. My children’s future is bright,” she said.

— Thomson Reuters Foundation

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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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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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