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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Kumekucha Weekend Special: Who Is Afraid Of John Githongo?

Former ethics PS jetted into the country just last Tuesday night. And yet just too much has happened behind the scenes and in the open since then to suggest that as predicted various characters right across the political divide are extremely jittery.

The latest move is that disgraced former powerful internal security minister Chris Murungaru has desperately been trying to serve Githongo court summons for defamation through his lawyers. This is an old suit first filed in 2006 which failed to go anywhere because all attempts to serve Githongo have always failed.

But what is the fuss all about? After all if the massive anti-Githongo campaign that is going on all over the web right now (that is keeping some people extremely busy) were to be believed then Githongo is a non-entity who should not attract the kind of attention that he has attracted so far. And as we have been reminded countless times, he was not even the real whistle blower of the Anglo Leasing scandal and such credit has to go elsewhere. Maoka Maere, is the one who credit must go to for that, some people are saying.

So why should John Githongo ruffle so many feathers right across the political divide? Why is it that some individuals are burning the midnight oil to get as much so-called Githongo dirt onto the web and mainstream media as possible? Why is it that the 2012 presidential campaign which had swung into full gear has suddenly gone quiet? Why is it that even those within ODM are uncomfortable? What is the problem?

The crux of the problem is that although Mr Githongo has not made any indication that he is interested in politics and participating in the 2012 general elections in any way, all in the political class view him as a serious threat to their political ambitions. You see as much as Kenyans dislike the political class for what they are, one thing they are not is stupid. They have correctly read the mood of the electorate. Kenyans are sick and tired of corruption and they are determined to elect a clean government and clearly that is topmost on their minds and will be the undisputed number one agenda in the forthcoming general elections.

Now whatever anybody says about John Githongo, he is the only Kenyan (and I am deeply ashamed as a Kenyan to say this) who has said no to tempting corruption money at the highest level. I would like to believe that there are others who have done the same, but Githongo’s case stands out. A friend reminded me two days ago about what Kiraitu Murungi represented in the 1990s. The lawyer was a firebrand second liberation campaigner. However when he got close to the cookie jar we all know what happened. Martha Karua also has admirable credentials in the fight for the second liberation however we all know the key role she played in the presidential elections mess of last year. My friend emphasized that they have given up on Kenya and that ushering in a new generation of younger leaders will not make any difference.

There is no doubt that many long suffering Kenyans feel exactly the same and they are probably right in throwing in the towel.

However Githongo represents the only exception thus far and is surely a ray of hope. His name has come to mean integrity tried and tested. And those who have been out to tarnish his name have clearly been grasping at straws digging back to his schooldays and planting all sorts of nonsense and untruths amongst the facts (the classic method of spreading propaganda). The bare facts are simple. Githongo was there and he had a chance to simply look the other way and he would never have had to worry about money again in his life. But he chose to say NO. No other Kenyan has those credentials to date, at least not at the national level.

This blog has earned a reputation for being a great Githongo admirer and indeed this writer may look like a seer seeing many years ahead. However I have no time to gloat. I love my country and we must change direction and change direction now. The change we seek is bigger than Githongo or any other individual. However fate and destiny have thrust this Kenyan in a position where he must help to take the lead to a new Kenya. I am persuaded that he is up to it.

Expect high drama like never before over the next few days.

22 comments:

mama njeri said...

If there is someone to get feel jittery about Githongo, it should be Raila Odinga and how he rose to be one of the wealthiest men in Kenya. I found this article about how Raila acquired his vast wealth.

The sudden ostentatious display of wealth by Raila Odinga has left many with questions. Unbeknown to the public, Raila is a fabulously wealthy man with a personal fortune estimated to be in excess of Kshs. 4 billion. Read how the man who crave to be Kenya’s next president acquired his wealth which includes investments in the lucrative petroleum industry and in manufacturing.

How Raila acquired his billions

Raila Odinga’s big break came in 2001 soon after he led his party, NDP, into a merger with Kanu, the then ruling party. As Energy Minister in Moi’s government he was introduced to the family of Sheikh Abdukeder AlBakari, one of the richest families in Saudi Arabia with interests in petroleum drilling, petroleum exploration and export in the Middle East, Asia, USA and Africa.


Through the Saudi contacts, Raila was initiated into the lucrative world of oil business and soon enough he had joined the league of gig independent oil importers via his firm Pan African Petroleum Limited.

Industry sources said that one of the things that helped Raila make a quick buck in the oil business was a concessionary petroleum deal he struck with the Al Bakri Group where he was not only incorporated as a silent partner in the local arm of Al Bakri International but was also supplied with petroleum products from Saudi Arabia at subsidized prices which his firm would sell in the market at normal prices. That way, Raila was able to deftly beat the competition in oil business by occasional price undercutting.

While still Energy Minister, Raila re-established and nurtured his links with the Libyan government of Colonel Muammar Gadaffi where again he not only did good business in oil importation but also got substantial material support during the 2002 general elections.

Besides supporting Raila’s political causes, the Libyans also played a key role in stabilizing Raila in the oil business in a couple of ways. Industry sources say that between 2001 and 2002 when Raila served as Energy Minister, he received at least three consignments of petroleum products at very low prices which were later sold locally at market prices.

The overall turnover from the three Libyan consignments is reliably said to have been in the region of over half a billion shillings, a tidy sum of money in any language, enough to ensure that one crosses the Rubicon once and for all.

For Raila, the linkage between politics and business went much deeper than petroleum business. It is significant that the Odinga family business, Spectre International Ltd, acquired the then state-owned Kisumu Molasses Plant soon after Raila started politically cooperating with Moi.

Raila has consistently argued that the acquisition of the molasses plant was a pure business deal “which had nothing to do with politics”, but his critics point out at the coincidence between the time his family acquired the parastatal and Raila’s shift of political alliance. It is highly unlikely –indeed one may even say impossible-that the Moi government would have sanctioned the Kisumu Molasses Plant deal at the time if Raila had not become an ally of Moi’s.

Former commissioner of Lands Sammy Mwaita offered to sell the 240 acres on which the Kisumu Molasses Plant is built to Spectre International on January 11, 2001 at a price of Kshs 3.6 million at a time when Odinga started working closely with Moi. By June of the same year, Raila was appointed to the cabinet and made Energy Minister.

Significantly, Spectre International had applied for the same land in a letter of February 18, 1999 but the request had been rejected by the government at the time.

Titles were prepared in favour of Spectre International on February 3, 2002 for a 99-year lease backdated to September 1, 2001 and the Odinga family was ready to laugh all the way to the bank.

When the Odinga family started the process that led to the acquisition of the Kisumu Molasses Plant in 2001, Raila had already established good business contacts in South Africa. Energem Resources Incorporated, an international firm quoted at the Toronto Stock Exchange, had been looking for an investment opportunity in Kenya for a long time and the Kisumu Molasses Plant appeared just right.

Soon after taking over the plant from the government, Raila struck a lucrative deal with Energem whereby the Canadian firm bought 55 per cent of the Kisumu Molasses plant. Sources say that the Odinga family was paid over US$ 5 million (about Kshs 420 million) to relinquish the control of the molasses plant. The Odinga family had paid only Kshs 3.6 million for the property.
The Canadians also ploughed in millions of dollars to rehabilitate the plant and it is today one of the largest manufacturing concerns in the country employing hundreds of people and producing at least 60,000 litres of industrial ethanol for local consumption and export.

Ethanol from the Kisumu Molasses Plant is used as a fuel additive in east and Central Africa. Among other products coming out of the plant include yeast, carbon dioxide alcohol and related industrial products.

A valuation of the plant carried out three three years ago placed the Kisumu Molasses Plant at US$100 million (Kshs 7 billion). With the Odinga family owning 40 percent of the plant, putting the family’s stake in the plant in the region of Kshs 7.8 billion. The remaining five per cent shares in the plant are owned by a development trust on behalf of the local community.

Raila is a calculating schemer!

Githongo Fan#1 said...

Jaded Kenyans are now too worn out by the manipulative mind warping our politicians on both sides of the divide are so good at perpetuating that we(even ordinary political commentors) are completely out of touch with reality as it stands and what we should do next
The net result is we have lost our sense of objectivity and we are unable to recognise to our own demise anyone who marches to tbe beat of a different drum
blowing the trumpets of others who deserve praise has been serially abused, leading to a situation where no one is good enough to be an example-everyone on the political playing field has been leveled and is neutral, lacklustre and above all, ethno-centred politicians
John Githongo has proved himself and needs no great introduction

Phil said...

Chris Said "......Why is it that even those within ODM are uncomfortable?....."

You may not be aware, but why did Githongo himself find it very necessary to call on the PM (and not the President or the VP who purportedly invited him) less than 12 hours after arriving in Kenya??

I do not know whether it is just me, but I am increasingly finding this habit irritable when Chris poses rhetorical questions and then let readers here hanging in the air. Why dont you just name these individuals in ODM whom you say are scared of Githongo and give reasons of what could be behind their fear??? Who will it hurt or putting it another way, what do you fear?

Perhaps it would be useful if I could let you know that the PM has already offered Githongo a role in his office. This offer, supported by donors, was initially declined but now Githongo has asked the PM for more time to consult civil society friends and his family before communicating his decision to the PM. The offer is that the Pm wants Githongo to take up a role within his office that is exactly similar to what he had the the OP before resigning and fleeing into exile. As you well know, the Office of the PM in Kenya is grossly understaffed and has less than required capacity to fulfill its constitutional mandate given that those who have executive power prefer to relax and relax on tax payer account. Donors are willing to finance the capacity building in the PM's office and both the German and American governments have offered substantial support to this end.

While consulting the civil society, Kenyans pray and hope one Prof. Makau Mutua will not mislead him into entering the snake's hole. Playing partisan politics with civil servants, especially those responsible for fighting corruption, will not help this country move forward. I have seen the professor hanging on Githongo's coat ever since he arrived in Kenya. He only missed the visit to the PM's office. We know which side of the political divide the professor supports and if he is among those who rank as advisors to Githongo, then Githongo's mission will be still born and his respectable local and international standing risks being destroyed.

With those few words Chris, it will only be fair to all of us who visit this blog that you say exactly who is dreading the Githongo come back.

Certainly it is not ODM.

mama njeri said...

Raila’s wealth at a glance

Company/Property
Estimated Worth

Spectre International Limited (the holding company for Kisumu Ethanol Plant)
Kshs 7 billion of which Odinga family owns 40 per cent whose value is approximately Kshs 2.8 billion

East African Spectre (the gas cylinder manufacturing plant founded by Raila’s late father)
Kshs 500 million

Raila’s family home in Karen Nairobi
Kshs 50 million

Runda House
Kshs 15 million

Pan African Petroleum Company (the firm through which the Odinga family imports and distributes petroleum products)
Has had a turnover in excess of Kshs 500 million

Scheming that changed Raila’s fortunes

By the time Jaramogi Oginga Odinga died in January 1994, the Odinga family could have been described as just another average middle class family struggling to make ends meet on meager resources.

East Africa Spectre Limited, the family business flagship, was teetering on the verge of a precipice, thanks to political interference leading to bad business and crippling debts.

Raila Odinga’s house in Runda estate was a typical middle class house neighbouring that of self-exiled publisher Pius Nyamora.

But all that suddenly changed in 2001 when Raila shifted political alliances, ditched the opposition and teamed up with President Moi’s Kanu to form what was then known as Kanu-NDP merger.
Soon thereafter, he was appointed Minister of energy and turned a new leaf in his life. With his friend Mark Too, then one of the most powerful personalities around Moi’s state house, holding his hand, Raila was quickly introduced to the world of big business from which he has never looked back.

Indeed, looking back at the kind of fortune Raila managed to accumulate as well as the business links he established during the one year or so he was Energy minister, one comes to the inescapable conclusion that contrary to the conventional wisdom prevailing then, Raila’s rapprochement with Moi was a pure business decision. The man may have made calculated moves knowing only too well that without good money even the best politician might not go very far in achieving his or her dreams.

It is thus not surprising – nor is it by accident – that Raila want to be the next president of Kenya at all cost, he stands out as one of the richest politicians in the country with a personal fortune estimated to be over Kshs 4 billion besides reported investments in real estate in South Africa and Dubai.

Knoppix!® said...

Mama Njer,

Gives us what you think about Githongo's return!I am waiting to read your views so please dont let me down!

Anonymous said...

BREAKING NEWS!!

Two more gold medals for Kenya!

Phil said...

Thats right Anonymous, am doing a post from somewhere in western kenya...... Kijana Wamalwa's memorial.

This is definitely a great day for Kenya! Beijing Bird's Nest kumewaka moto.

papa plus said...

Well Chris i think you are over stating the issue of all Kenyans getting sick and tired about corruption. Going but last year's elections, the country is basically split 50-50. We are not so sick of it as we were when Moi was retiring. I even dare to say that we are tolerant of corruption. As long as parents don't have to foot school fees and farmers are getting paid on time, and beer is actually tasting better, then I think there is a large enough part of the country who understand that corruption is a generational thing and it isn't going to change bigtime anytime soon, much like racial streotypes in the USA. Look how long it took for a black man and white woman to actually have a shot at the presidency.

Anonymous said...

Kenya will finish olympics on the top 20 on medals table No. 13 and top in Africa followed by Ethiopia on 2nd.

Kimi Raikkonen said...

Githongo is going nowhere fast, mark my words. He was brought in for ODM propaganda purposes but the move has backfired big time and has not received the slavish and rapturous media attention Raila expected.

Have you also noticed the deafening silence from the ODM stone troopers regarding Mama Njeri's post on the Bondo Bumpkin's dubiously acquired wealth?

Every move Raila makes is always with an eye to 2012, always keep that in mind. That is why he is now buying spies in Kalonzo's camp through that wealthy, eccentric drug dealing buffoon called Mwau. He will of course, employ a well practiced CIA tactic called plausible deniability to deny that he is aiming to destabilize Kalonzo. How laughable!

mama njeri said...

My dear Knoppix, well, i read it here you're having a baby?? I happened to be very good in this area and I offer free professional advice on mother and father to be on issues sorrounding pregnacy and chilbirth. Feel free to log into my weblog and if you have any query please leave me a comment or email address and I promise I will get back to you.

Taabu said...

Mama Njeri,
You are so fast in hitting the KB and in the process fell head long for the trap. Knopix was but cleverly telling you to stay relevant. But again you are often let by your fingers and flopped kingsize. Now see you have introduced your profession nobody asked for and what is its relevance with the post?

You can divert attention successfully if only you employ little wit and less brawn. Kwani people e-gossip even in London. The baby story must be exciting you just like the villagers in Muranga would with whose daughter slept with whom.

Please my dear tone done the e-excitement lest it plunges you into the unknown. You must have realized by now that you gimmicks to advertize you so-called weblog only entertains your ego, stop it and look elsewhere.

Info is free and you can peddle your tw-cent worth all the much you can but spare us the bore. And while at it please divorce your PERSONA (address/profession) fro your posts. Kumekucha is no agency interested in CVs. Traffic to websites/blogs is often commensurate with quality. Hope you manage to get the drift. Please keep the obsession to yourself, won't you?

mama njeri said...

Taabu, why are you or anyone of your ilk not commenting on my revelation on how your demi-god Raila dubiously acquired his immense wealth. There are more juicy revelations to come, just keep reading Kumekucha.

Taabu said...

Mama Njeri,
Asiyetembea hifikiria maamake mpishi bora. What you cut and paste may excite you but on reflection you will realize they are as stale as uji ya juzi. Please try reading Kumekucha archives and you will be DISABUSED of you excitement. Or better still read widely. Juicy to you but a stuck record to many here, indulge to your fill and pump the ego, won't you?

PS: BTW it never hurts to try being original. When you bandy words and phrases give credit where they originated.

Taabu said...

Mama Njeri,
Not done with you yet. The Kikuyu saying is better about thinking that your mum's farting is the loudest.

Anonymous said...

Taabu,

Please quit this low life attacks on others in your comments. In the past, you have personalized your attacks on Kwale and others you disagree with. Today, it is Mama Njeri with your ugly innuendoes clothed in pseudo-advice. What is it that sometimes pushes you down this low? If somebody goes off the path and you (as the self-annoited prefect of Kumekucha) don't like it, just point it to them. Otherwise, it has been a pleasure reading your recent posts which are a major improvement from the previous posts which were clogged with tribal guile.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:48, taabu is so low he attack even women. There problem with taabu is he is very insecure man and doesn't like people who are either smarter than he is or people who are exposed to outside cultures. He likes to be known as the best and he does not feel comfortable with other people taking the limelight. Thats why you always see that word ego on anyone who he attacks.

He is a man full of ego!!!

mama njeri said...

Taabu, if are used in bullying and intimidating other people here, sorry this woman is not intimidated by you neither do I care about your insults. You can call me anything you wish if that makes you feel better. Fire away you got my permission.

Msema kweli said...

Come on taabu, you have reached your lowest ati,

"Mama Njeri, Not done with you yet..."

We now know who talks in the house. You are a wife-beater aren't you?

Vikii said...

Taabu, are you a "wife- beater"? And whose wife is that?

Anonymous said...

Vikii, its Chris's wife

Anonymous said...

Are Kenyatta buddies’ children paying for sins of their fathers?

Published on 24/08/2008

By Juma Kwayera

They called themselves the Family or Nyumba. But inside the brotherhood gravitating around President Jomo Kenyatta there was a savage hunger for opulence.

The hunger created two classes of the super rich and an army of lowdowns.

After his death on August 22, 1978, Kenyatta left behind a gang of “political orphans” determined to stop retired President Moi from ascending to power.

Three decades on, little is said about the clique that ‘owned’ Kenya. Neither have their children attempted to stake a claim in the country’s political sphere.

The ‘Family’ was Kenyatta’s Kitchen Cabinet. Some of them ruled Kenya with impunity and maintained a tight leash on national politics and economy. The effects are still felt today.

It consisted of a former Minister of State in the Office of the President Peter Mbiyu Koinange, former Defence Minister James Gichuru, Munyua Waiyaki, Dr Julius Gikonyo Kiano and former Minister of State Njoroge Mungai, who doubled as Kenyatta’s physician.

The business community was represented by Stanley Munga Githunguri, now Kimbaa MP, who was chief executive of the National Bank of Kenya and Njenga Karume, who lost to the former in last year’s General Election.

Karume and Githunguri were founders of Gema (Gikuyu, Embu, Meru Association), which in practice represented the interests of the ‘Family’. It is estimated this clique owns more than 500,000 acres of land.

Three decades after Kenyatta’s death, the mess the ‘Family’ wrought on the country is still evident. This year’s post-election violence being the nadir of the nation’s politics.

However, one thing stands out: Their legacy has been an impediment to the families that wielded political and economic power at the time, save for Kenyatta’s son, Uhuru Muigai.

Were it not for former President Moi, it is widely believed even Uhuru would have given politics a wide berth.

“The child will pay for the sins of his father and for Kenyatta’s Kitchen Cabinet. This is the moment of reckoning for their families,” says former Nyeri Town MP Wanyiri Kihoro.

As the country marks the 30th anniversary of Kenyatta’s death, history appears to have shunted members of the ‘Family’.

Their children, Kihoro says, missed an opportunity to correct the ‘wrongs’ of their parents.

“History judges us harshly when we make mistakes. From the onset, they had a limited vision of the country. The nation’s interests were subordinate to theirs, which is why they went on a wealth-amassing spree,” Kihoro observes. Kihoro, a human rights lawyer and author who has published extensively on local politics, says the ‘Family’ failed the country.

The group sprung up after independence amassed wealth and power, and grabbed land and plum jobs.

Kihoro says the group initiated a system where national resources could not be distributed equitably. Former Kabete MP Paul Muite says the group planted the ‘First Sin’, which latter generations are paying for.

“They had power and called the shots. Mbiyu Koinange was Kenyatta’s bosom friend and is responsible for the mess we are in,” Muite says.

Like Kihoro, Muite is of the opinion had Koinange not happened on the political scene, Kenyatta would have been a better leader.

But why are children of these great Kikuyu leaders not interested in politics except Uhuru Kenyatta?

“It is a question I would rather not an answer. I cannot explain it,” said Muite.

Kihoro says: “Would they have the courage to solicit for support from voters? Most of them are managing their parents’ property.”

Peter Mbiyu Koinange

He died in 1981, three years after Kenyatta’s death. However, his reign as the “Kissinger of Kenya” when he was minister in the Office of the President is synonymous with the political excess of the Kenyatta regime.

Henry Kissinger was US secretary of State associated with the superpower’s despised ‘gun diplomacy’.

Kihoro and Muite concur the once powerful minister, also Kenyatta’s brother in-law, was the face of dirty politics.

“He did not brook any criticism of Kenyatta. He was the angel who invented the devil by ignoring economic reforms and nationalism,” Kihoro told The Standard on Sunday last week.

Koinange, who represented Limuru in Parliament, was among first Kenyans to obtain bachelor and masters degrees.

He spent his years of exile in Britain and in Ghana, where he was adviser on international affairs to Ghana’s founding President Kwame Nkrumah.

A February, 1960 Time magazine, said Koinange was co-opted into the struggle for freedom as a counterweight to youthful trade unionist Tom Mboya by Kenyatta and Nkrumah, who viewed him as an upstart rival.

James Gichuru

He would have been President had he not surrendered the chairmanship of Kikuyu African Union, which later became Kenya National African Union (Kanu) in 1946, to Kenyatta on his return from studies abroad.

He also did the same when Kenyatta was released from detention in Kapenguria.

Although a member of the Kitchen Cabinet, people who knew him, say he was not imbued with greed characteristic of his colleagues.

Muite says Gichuru was a down-to-earth leader and loyal to the country.

“He was independent-minded and indulged in the excesses of the Kenyatta regime. He loved his drink, but never went to posh hotels and his friends were his driver and the voters,” he says.

Gichuru was Kenya’s first Finance minister and also held the Defence portfolio. In his autobiography, Walking in Kenyatta’s Struggles, Duncan Ndegwa, describes Gichuru a chronic alcoholic in his sunset days.

A common thread in the ‘Family; is the obscurity of the offspring. “No one knows for sure the children of Kenyatta’s henchmen. All I remember of Gichuru’s children is he had a son and three daughters,” Muite says, but does not know where they are.

A number of Kiambu leaders The Standard on Sunday talked to remember Gichuru’s daughter Dorcas Ndungi, but none know her whereabouts.

“Power never got into Gichuru’s head and his family lived a modest life unlike Kenyatta’s other men,” says Kihoro.

Gichuru died in 1979.

Julius Gikonyo Kiano

Like Gichuru, Dr Julius Gikonyo Kiano was a moderate member of the ‘Family’.

At independence, says Kihoro, “he set out to empower the people of Murang’a economically, but failed to engage nationally.”

Kiano’s contemporaries, view him as a traitor of sorts. Muite says when Jaramogi Oginga Odinga refused to accept the presidency from the British until Kenyatta was released from detention, Kiano, then a member of the Legislative Council or Legco (a precursor to parliament), had accepted the mantle.

“It was Odinga who twice persuaded Kiano to decline the offer by the British to press for Kenyatta’s release,” Muite says.

Kiano’s wife, Jane was a founder member of the Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organisation, which was supposed to address issues related to women’s economic and social empowerment. However, it was transformed into a well-funded political machine for the Kanu governments until 1992.

Kiano’s influence in national politics vanished at his death in August, 2003, and his six children are hardly known in politics.

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