Monday, January 22, 2007

The death of Anglo Fleecing

Kiraitu Murungi has persistently said that Anglo Leasing was a scandal that never was. He has gone on to declare it dead and buried. Now Amos 'Smiley' Wako has declared Kiraitu and former Finance minister, David Mwiraria as spotless as snow. This has awakened the top anti-corruption czar John Githongo from his winter hibernation. As usual, Githongo has promised to spill all beans on the scandal and name all the politicians involved. In short, he is their scariest nightmare.

Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck... It must be a duck!

The focus on the political aspect of Anglo Leasing is what in my opinion has killed the quest for justice over the scandal. The politicians will be killed while the master puppeteers have been spared to sack Central Bank another day.

The Anglo Fleecing schemes were hatched early 2001. On 16th of August 2001, Anglo Leasing signed a hyper inflated contract worth $54.56 million to build a Forensic Lab. On the same day, Silverson Establishment signed a $90 million contract to supply security vehicles. These two contracts opened a flood gate of multi-million dollar contracts by Apex Finance (AKA Sound Day Corp), LBA Systems, Universal Satspace, First Merchantile, and Nedemar (the company that wanted to sell the Kenyan embassy in Netherlands). All these contracts were signed and paid for by Nov. 2002.

5 months after the Narc government came to power; more firms joined the gravy train. These firms included; Midland Bank, Naviga Capital, Empressa, Euromarine, Infotalent, and Ciara Systems Inc. The eating through these deals went on till January 2004.

The common denominator in the 2 parts (the Kanu and Narc parts) of the scandal is the Kamani clan. Chamanlal Kamani, his daughter Sudha Ruparell, and his sons Rashmikant (Rashmi) and Deepak have been implicated in numerous economic scandals. There was the Mahindra saga where the Kamani’s though their company Kamsons supplied substandard vehicles to the police force at hyper inflated prices.

Deepak Kamani

Rashmi Kamani

The lion’s share of the contracts in the Anglo Fleecing went to entities owned by the Kamanis. These contracts include the Anglo Leasing where Sudha Ruparell’s company Saagar Associates was the main mover; Infotalent –a company registered in India and owned by the Kamani’s Unicorn Holdings; and Apex Finance.

The Kamani’s were also involved in Anura Perera’s Navy Ship deals that were signed in the Naviga Capital, Empressa, Euromarine contracts. And who is Anura Perera? He is the man who paid President Kibaki’s hospital bill after the 2002 road accident. Perera was also involved in numerous defense contracts during the Nyayo era. The benevolent Perera is also the man who loaned Githongo senior money to buy a piece of land in Kitusuru.

It is puppeteers like these who will keep corruption alive. We have put all our focus on Kibaki must go and forgotten that Kibaki will go but the interests of the puppeteers will remain intact.

In a recent interview, Githongo said: “I feel badly let down (by Kibaki). I truly believed in Kibaki’s commitment to fight corruption. Perhaps I was naive and should have realised earlier that I was merely part of a window dressing process.”

There is yet another surprise awaiting the man the UK media is describing as an urban-raised, Western-educated, non-tribal, new generation African. Githongo is yet to find out that the UK’s commitment to assist Kenyans in fighting corruption. The clue is in the do nothing approach that the UK is giving to the issue of Kenyan citizens and UK businesses domiciled in the UK. This may be the biggest huddle in the war against corruption.

I plead with anybody with Githongo’s ear to tell him to widen his war. Going after the current politicians while ignoring politicians from the former regime is simply digging a grave for the Anglo Fleecing. Focusing on politicians while ignoring the puppets is putting the last nail on the Anglo coffin. We can only win by looking at Anglo’s past and present.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Wanjiku and the Hunter

Fables sound silly and childish but in them is hidden a lot of knowledge. Give me a chance to tell you one such a story. Ready?

Story come!

Once upon a time, The Horse and the Stag were friends living together in the wild. A quarrel arose between the two friends, so the Horse went to a hunter to ask his help to take revenge on the Stag.

The Hunter agreed, but said: “If you desire to conquer the Stag, you must permit me to place this piece of iron between your jaws, so that I may guide you with these reins, and allow this saddle to be placed upon your back so that I may keep steady upon you as we follow after the enemy.”

The Horse agreed to the conditions, and the Hunter soon saddled and bridled him. Then with the aid of the Hunter the Horse soon overcame the Stag, and said to the Hunter: “Now, get off, and remove those things from my mouth and back.”

“Not so fast, friend,” said the Hunter. “I have now got you under bit and spur, and prefer to keep you as you are at present.”

The moral of the story is that you shouldn’t let people misuse you even when their mission sounds noble. But how many times do we let politicians misuse us?

Back in 2002, we had a quarrel with Kanu and Moi. We enlisted the services of Kanu hawks that had transfigured themselves into Narc. We knew that Saitoti, Gumo, Ntimama, Ruto etc were up to no good but we had a mission. They put us under under bit and spur. They placed the saddle on our backs. We conquered Kanu!


Just when we though the enemy was vanquished, the new liberators hiked their pay and jumped into bed with the likes of Kamani and Pattni. The Anglo Leasing project that was set up by Kanu was inherited by Narc. These politicians went on to protect Moi and his cronies from prosecution. It was the same old Kanu minus Moi.

Now we have the same hunters in a new party they call ODM-Kenya. They are promising to help us vanquish Kibaki and his cronies. They are back in bed with the same old Kanu hit-men. Will they be our solution?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Straw Man called Government

It is often gratifying to blame the monster called Central Government for every little misfortune that befalls our locality. It is common to hear people say, “Nairobi is stifling development of our area because we are not from the president’s tribe.” Some of those making such claims are MPs who sit in Nairobi and are part of the central government.

A close look at allocation of funds will show that Local Government and constituencies get a piece of the pie. This piece often ends up being privatized. Our local leaders will then point fingers to Nairobi when asked why services are not being rendered.

Districts, Local Authorities (LA), and constituencies receive money directly from the central government. The LAs receive budgetary support from the central government in form of Local Authorities Transfer Funds (LATF). 5% of the total income tax collected by the central government is allocated in this fund. 7% of this is shared equally among 175 Local Authorities while the remainder is distributed in consideration of population and other economic indicators. The central government and Kenya Local Government Reform Program’s secretariat –where Local Authorities have representatives- come up with the formula of distribution. More often than not, LAs do not account for these funds.

In addition, Local Authorities collect local taxes, duty for trading permits, parking fees, and collect levies for delivery of services. It is shocking to note that most LAs owe their employees several months of worth of salaries in arrears.

Citizens -through a mandate given by Local Service Delivery Action Plan (LASDAP)- are supposed to question how their moneys are being spent. They are supposed to participate in planning for development projects and evaluating if they met their expectations. We are also given a constitutional mandate to elect and fire councilors should we feel that we are being taxed without fair representation. It is a shame that we keep on electing empty heads as our councilors. Most of these councilors –if not all- don’t know what their duty is. That tells you a lot about the electorate.

There also exists a Road Maintenance Levy Fund (RMLF). 16% of this fund goes to districts to maintain rural roads. MPs, Councilors and other opinion leaders sit in committees that share these funds among all constituencies in respective districts. So in any given year, every constituency gets a part of the RMLF. The monies end up in people’s pockets.

Constituencies receive money from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). The fund shares 2.5% of our ordinary national revenue among 210 constituencies. This financial year, sh 5 billion was allocated to the fund. The CDF is intended to go into the development of capital projects in respective constituencies. More often than not, MPs’ cronies and their spouses manage the fund. A majority of MPs cannot account for this fund.

Tea farmers are surcharged a 1% Tea Cess. According to the Kenya Tea Board statistics, Kenya exported tea worth US $567.42 million in 2005. 1% of that amount went into the Tea Cess. 80% of the tea cess goes into road building and maintenance. The fund is distributed to every tea factory. It is a shame that most of the money if not all ends up in people’s pockets.

In my home (Mokomoni in N. Mogirango/Borabu Constituency) we have a number of tea factories; we receive the CDF, LATF, and RMLF. One would expect to the constituency to have average roads but this is not the case. The Nyaramba-Mokomoni road –which borders the Sang’anyi Tea Factory and a stone throw away from the area MP’s shop and residence- is a total mess. Right outside Sang’anyi factory there are deep gullies in the road from years of soil erosion. Even the huge trucks –popularly known as Toriti- that ferry tea find it rough navigating through these canyons. So what went wrong?

We pride ourselves as democratic citizens in a democratic country. What we have is a “once-in-five-years-democracy” where were trade our votes for money or we vote along tribal lines. Our local leaders have successfully created a straw man called central government to whom they attribute all our tribulations. This way they have succeeded in looting with impunity.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Steadman Polls

There has been a heated debate on the accuracy of Steadman Polls. Those who feel cheated are rubbishing it as poll financed by Colonialists and the Kibaki administration. Critics of the polls are not questioning the methodology used to conduct the polls. Their beef is that the results don’t make sense to them because they believe their candidate should be the next president.

These individuals use a classical fallacy of composition to validate their opinion. Sample this:

“Kenyans reported approval of Kibaki’s record is suspect. Have they forgotten his unfulfilled pledges, corruption, Arturs’ saga and the killing of civilians by police? Or what is Steadman up to?”

Miguna’s argument proclaims that if Kenyans are angry about the things he listed, then they must disapprove Kibaki with a vote of 100%. He also assumes that if he disapproves Kibaki because of the reasons he listed then all Kenyans must disapprove him on those grounds.

Miguna argues: “Take, for instance, the reported results of how Kenyans view their political parties. The first error the Steadman poll committed was to attempt to compare Narc, which is a coalition of more than ten political parties (including LDP), with LDP … if this question was to be considered valid, then people’s views should also have been sought of Narc versus DP; Narc versus Ford Kenya; Narc versus Ford People; Narc versus Safina; Narc versus Sisi kwa Sisi; Narc versus Kanu.”

One point that Miguna ignores is that LDP does not count itself as part of Narc. LDP has been presenting herself as an opponent of Narc. I bet Miguna will be throwing a tantrum if LDP was not presented for polling.

Miguna goes on to say: “But there is something even more shocking in the Steadman poll claim that needs to be exposed. The most favoured presidential candidate is Kalonzo Musyoka of the LDP with about 35 percent. This is not unreasonable when we consider the popularity of LDP and ODM. What is shocking and completely unbelievable is the claim that one of the most recognised and leading lights in the LDP and ODM, Raila Odinga, did not even qualify to be polled.”

In that (Dec 2005) poll, Kalonzo Musyoka was in first place with a 35% vote. We should remember that Kalonzo had been selling himself a presidential material while Raila preferred to be considered for Premiership. It is only recently that Raila declared his interest in presidency. That Kalonzo beats Raila –the most vocal LDP chief hawk- should not be shocking. It is possible for somebody like Balala to beat Otieno Kajwang’ in a popularity contest.

In my opinion, Kalonzo is a more popular presidential candidate as compared to Raila because of the image Kalonzo has created. Kalonzo presents himself as a cool, diplomatic, intelligent, honest, and loyal guy. This is in contrast to Raila’s self created image of a forceful, cunning, coup loving, violent, and arrogant guy. When you complement this with what others think about him the result is a disaster.

A glimpse of past Steadman polls

Steadman’s prediction
No – 42
Yes – 32

Results from real polls
No – 57
Yes - 43
Note the difference in both results?

December 20006
Kibaki – 42%
Kalonzo – 20%
Raila – 14%
Uhuru – 5%
Ruto – 3%

July 2006
Kibaki – 30%
Kalonzo – 27%
Raila – 14%
Uhuru – 13%
Ruto – 5%

March 2006
Kalonzo – 34%
Kibaki – 24%
Uhuru – 22%
Raila – 11%
Ruto – 4%

December 2005
Kalonzo – 35%
Kibaki – 26%
Uhuru – 17%

June 2005
Presidential elections
Kalonzo – 29%
Uhuru – 29%
Kibaki – 15%

Raila - 35%
Kalonzo – 11%
Ngilu – 11%

July 2004
Uhuru – 27%
Kibaki – 24%
Kalonzo – 18%
Raila – 4%