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Sunday, May 23, 2010

How fear has always driven the presidency

We have studied the character of Kenyatta in great detail and the evidence all points to a meek old harmless man who was arrested in 1952 and later imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. It was an even older man humbled by a long prison sentence who took over the leadership of Kenya in 1963.

Zanzibar stone town today: In January 1964 the tiny sleepy island not far from Mombasa suddenly exploded. Eyewitnesses described the bloody coup in Zanzibar with chilling words like "Arab blood flowed on the streets of the stone town as if from a great river." The effect of that coup so close to home had a major impact on the infant Kenyatta administration and was one of the foundation stones of the impunity that followed.

The question we must busy ourselves with answering now is how this meek old man of the church was transformed into the feared president everybody wants to remember? Young folks change all the time but Kenyatta was at least 68 years old when he became Kenya’s first prime Minister. How does such an old man change from what he has been all his life?

There is no doubt that the long prison sentence had hardened the old man considerably. Still evidence suggests that Kenyatta entered office with high ideals and a genuine determination to make good and impact the lives of ordinary Kenyans. Ironically every single president after him has started with the same high ideals. We shall see in this book what brought their dreams crashing down.

For Kenyatta the honey moon was quickly and rudely brought to an end as crisis after crisis hit the infant administration. There was the scary army mutiny at Lanet in 1964 just a few months into the Kenyatta administration. Even today there is very little information on what really happened at the biggest military barracks in the country. But it was serious enough for the Kenyatta government to seek outside military assistance to quell which they received mostly from Britain.

Then there were numerous coups in other African countries. Nigeria was particularly notorious. But not all the troubles were so far away. Closer to home there was the extremely bloody coup and revolution in January 1964 in neighbouring Zanzibar, a sleepy tiny Island off the Tanzanian Coast and not far from Dar-es-salaam and Mombasa in Kenya. What must have really frightened Kenyatta and his inner circle was the obvious foreign involvement in that coup. Even the leader was not a Zanzibari but a Ugandan policeman known as Okello. There were whispers that some foreign western powers had sanctioned the change in regime in Zanzibar. The truth is that after years of great cruelty by Arabs against the non-Arab population on the island, the revolution had been simmering for decades and just needed a mad policeman like Okello to ignite the slaughter that ensued. It was later said of that mutiny that Arab blood flowed on the streets of Zanzibar like water from a great river.

It soon became very clear that there were plenty of potential threats to the presidency which had to be addressed immediately. It was a question of survival and the only way to survive was to crash all opposition even before it had a chance of raising its’ head properly. The president would need people he could trust completely around him and in all key positions in the country especially in the disciplined forces.

Kenyatta promptly started appointing close relatives and village mates to sensitive positions in government and the security forces. Later after the assassination of Tom Mboya the Kenyatta administration went even further and launched secret oath-taking amongst senior officials in government. I remember my dad telling me stories of how he resisted several invitations to these oath-taking sessions where one had to strip completely naked and do all kinds of weird things. He was assured that promotion to very senior positions anywhere in Kenya was impossible without taking these oaths.

Fear is a very powerful emotion that has been known to transform people’s characters completely. It is no secret that despite the absolute power in State House which we are told corrupts absolutely; few have appreciated the fact that the occupants of this great house on the hill have always had to live with great fear. For Kenyatta and Moi it was fear of being overthrown and seeing those close to them raped and murdered in cold blood or executed by firing squad by the successful coup leaders. For Kibaki it has been more about ending up in some prison with a long list of charges, some of them trumped up by his political opponents and pretenders to the presidency.

Clearly Kenyatta also feared assassination to the point of being paranoid. For instance during his entire time as president Kenya’s founding father avoided flying at all costs. This was one reason why he was always represented in conferences and functions out of the country by his Vice president. Even in trips to the Coast Kenyatta would always prefer the 8 hour long trip by road, even when his health was at its’ worst. It was only after his death that Kenyatta’s body enetered a plane after very many years. The body was flown back to Nairobi from Mombasa. Fear was undoubtedly a strong driving behind numerous executive decisions then and some of these quickly ushered in impunity and shaped the office of the presidency for many years to come.

Special offer: Dark secrets of the Kenyan presidency currently retails at Kshs 1,350. But you can get the entire book for free just send an email now to

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4


Anonymous said...

Chris said

......Kenyatta promptly started appointing close relatives and village mates to sensitive positions in government and the security forces......

Fast forward to now and see that 3/9 PC/PPOs, Treasury, OPP, 40% DCs and the we have moved and inch.

The oathing during Kenyatta time is what fear has done to Central Diaspora and you can see their fear of the unknown on this blog.

We hve turned the corner and no moving back to the dack ages. They colonized the presidency and bastardized it. Kenyans want it back. Washindwe.

Anonymous said...


LUSAKA High Court Deputy Director of Operations Edward Musona yesterday sentenced MMD national secretary Katele Kalumba and three others to five years imprisonment for corruption.

Musona, sitting as a magistrate, handed Kalumba a five-year sentence with hard labour after being found guilty on one count of corrupt practices by a public officer.

He sentenced former finance permanent secretary Stella Chibanda to five years simple imprisonment on five out of the nine corruption charges while Access Financial Services Limited (AFSL) directors Aaron Chungu and Faustin Kabwe were also jailed for five years each with hard labour.

Magistrate Musona also sentenced former Ministry of Finance chief economist Bede Mpande, former finance ministry director of budget Boniface Nonde, former secretary to the treasury Professor Benjamin Mweene to five years imprisonment with hard labour but suspended for 24 months.

This is in a case in which Kalumba, a former finance minister, Chibanda, Mpande, Nonde, Prof Mweene, Chungu and Kabwe were facing 23 charges on payments made to US security companies Wilbain Incorporated and Systems Innovation totalling US $20 million.

The offences were contrary to section 29 (1) of the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) Act number 42 of 1996 in respect of the former public officers and section 29 (2) of the same Act in respect of the former AFSL directors.

Kalumba faced three counts, Chibanda faced nine, Mpande faced two while Nonde was charged on three counts.

Prof Mweene faced one count, Chungu faced two while Kabwe faced three charges.
The prosecution called a total of 34 witnesses.

Delivering an over five-hour judgment that drew people like chief Puta of the Bwile people of Chiengi and agriculture minister Peter Daka, magistrate Musona said he had sentenced Kalumba to five years imprisonment with hard labour because he had not shown remorse, repentance and regret over his involvement in the matters before the court.

Magistrate Musona said it was not in dispute that Kalumba and the others were public officers at the time the matters before the court were taking place.
He said Chungu and Kabwe were in the case through their interaction with these public officers.

Magistrate Musona said the Zambian government entered into some contracts with foreign governments and international institutions to install security features at various government institutions. He said two of such institutions were the American organisations known as Wilbain Incorporated and Systems Innovation.
Magistrate Musona said some accused persons were among the public officers who were involved in processing the payments to Wilbain and Systems Innovation.
He said there was also some level of involvement from the Office of the President (OP) and leading among the officers involved was former Zambia Security Intelligence Services (ZSIS) director general Xavier Chungu.

“Those contracts eventually acquired the acronym of security contracts,” magistrate Musona said.

Anonymous said...


He said there were also other institutions like AFSL, Access Leasing and Garden Plumbers that were connected to the OP and also linked to the payments from the Zamtrop account.

Magistrate Musona said the Zamtrop account, which was holding OP funds, was automatically a public account because OP was a public institution. He said it was a proper thing to do for the public officers that followed the procedure in liquidating the government’s indebtness to the two American companies.

But magistrate Musona said there were supposed to be nine payment instalments up to the conclusion of the government’s obligation to Wilbain and Systems Innovation but these payments were duplicated because they did not stop at the ninth instalment.

Magistrate Musona said the ninth instalment payment was paid four times, the eleventh was paid three times, the thirteenth was paid twice and these repeated payments were more than 13 in total.

He said these payments accumulated into the overpayment of the government’s debt and these could not just be a mere error in numbering because they were paid through procedure.

“These overpayments were not without purpose. These overpayments were planned,” magistrate Musona said.

He said there was a deliberate action to siphon funds from the Zambian government. Magistrate Musona said after looking at letters written by Xavier Chungu, it did not make sense that contractors who were owed money by the government for projects being paid from the Zamtrop account should again be paying into the same account.

He said the security contracts to Wilbain and Systems Innovation were difficult to access and were not on the Ministry of Finance debt database because they were linked to the OP and perceived as sacred.

Magistrate Musona said Kalumba sometime in 2000 said all payment approvals should go to him because he wanted to keep a close eye on the payments following concerns on the payments on the security contracts.

But magistrate Musona said it was surprising that the payments to the two companies continued even after the government had paid the last instalment despite Kalumba’s memo. He said the decision by Kalumba to approve all the payments at the time equally raised curiosity.

Magistrate Musona found Kalumba guilty on one count of receipt of 4,000 pounds as gratification and he convicted him accordingly.

In mitigation Kalumba’s lawyer, Vincent Malambo, said Kalumba and his colleagues in the dock were not criminals but men to whom the country owed a debt for their contribution in addressing the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) completion point issue.

Malambo said Kalumba was also a politician carrying the hopes and aspirations of thousands of his people in Chiengi and he was a man with health complications.

Malambo said Kalumba was a consultant of international repute.

Malambo said sending Kalumba and his friends to prison would be like imposing a death sentence on them.

In passing sentence, magistrate Musona said no one could doubt the love that Kalumba had for Zambia and he had served the people in various portfolios.
He said Kalumba was a sitting parliamentarian who served the country very well up to the commencement of the investigations.

“How I wish you had shown remorse, repentance and regret by refunding the money to the state. That would have really assisted me,” magistrate Musona said. “I order that you serve five years imprisonment with hard labour.”

Anonymous said...


In a post-sentence interview, Kalumba said his conviction was a price one had to pay for serving the public.

“It is difficult to say but I think it’s a price one has to pay when you serve the public. I hope that we continue with the struggle,” Kalumba said. “I did my best for my country and I did my best for my country and I am proud of what I did, to serve Zambia reach the HIPC decision point is the evidence that has been brought against me. I have nothing to say, all I can call upon is my own courage and thank the Zambian people who have been standing by me. The battle continues.”

Kalumba said he would appeal against the judgment.

In the case of Chibanda, magistrate Musona convicted her to five years simple imprisonment on grounds that her Niseo Farm in Kabwe was procured using Zamtrop funds and therefore corruptly obtained.

Magistrate Musona sentenced Mpande to five years imprisonment with hard labour but suspended for 24 months on the two charges of corrupt practice by a public officer.

Nonde was on the other hand sentenced to five years imprisonment with hard labour but suspended for 24 months on all the charges against him.

Prof Mweene was also slapped with a five-year suspended prison sentence for 24 months with hard labour on one count involving the erection of a cottage at his plot in Lusaka’s Jesmondine area by Access Financial Services as gratification.

Magistrate Musona said the trio had shown remorse, repentance and regret by refunding the money they received in the Zamtrop transactions to the state.

Magistrate Musona sentenced Kabwe and Chungu to five years imprisonment with hard labour on various counts of corruption with public officer in a matter that has taken over six years to prosecute.

Former Task Force on Corruption prosecutor Mutembo Nchito, who was recently fired by the government, prosecuted the case.

Magistrate Musona said the convicts had a right to appeal if they were not satisfied with his judgment and the sentences were with effect from yesterday.

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