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Legitimate and dubious ways Moi used to build empire

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JOHN KAMAU

By JOHN KAMAU
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Before the death of Jomo Kenyatta in 1978, then-Vice-President Daniel arap Moi was nowhere in the league of propertied oligarchs – the powerful ultra-wealthy with expansive ranches, real estate and multimillion-shilling investments in bonds and shares.

While Kenyatta-era civil servants and select politicos had used their positions to amass wealth, Moi could not count as part of the elite league that had, ironically, fronted him to replace Joseph Murumbi as Kenyatta’s deputy, mainly because he was regarded as a weakling, a neophyte, and a passing cloud.

But by the time he left power on December 30, 2002, Moi was by far the richest person in the country, with his family controlling major sectors of the economy, with interests in publishing, education, real estate, hospitality, banking, agriculture, energy and transport.

Like Kamuzu Banda’s Press Corporation PLC, which owned a vast number of companies and virtually controlled various sectors of the economy, Moi built his commercial empire around Kabarak Limited, a company he had registered in May 1970, with its head office registered as LR 11482 Kabarak Farm.

It was a meteoric rise to riches with secret accounts in offshore tax havens, local and foreign banks.

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Kabarak Limited was Moi’s first serious attempt at business, taking advantage of the Ndegwa Commission’s recommendations of 1970 that allowed civil servants and politicians to own and run businesses.

With the help of his former Permanent Secretary Kenneth Matiba – a man he would later detain and break – Moi built a small transport business and was contracted to distribute beer in the Rift Valley.

Matiba had in 1968 left the government to join East Africa Breweries Limited as a management trainee before becoming the General Manager in 1970.

Archival records indicate that the Transport Licensing Board (TLB) had allowed the company to operate in Nakuru, Eldoret, Kapenguria, Narok, Kericho, Kabarnet and Nyahururu. One of his close business allies then was the populist millionaire J.M. Kariuki, who was also distributing beer and other products in the region.

It was only after Moi became president that his transport company was granted a TLB licence in March 1979 to operate nationwide.

It is this business that grew into the modern-day Siginon Freight, whose original directors were Joshua Kulei, Gideon Moi and Henry Kiplagat.

Siginon Group is one of the largest logistics company in the region today.

In terms of property, Moi had started modestly after independence.

Archival records, once again, indicate that in 1964 Moi bought 2,344 acres in Kampi ya Moto for Sh60,000; a modest acquisition compared to the patterns at the time.

During the same year, for example, his Cabinet colleague Mbiyu Koinange purchased 645 acres in Limuru for Sh497,000, while another minister, Ngala Mwendwa, bought a 932-acre coffee farm in Kahawa worth Sh240,000.

The Kampi ya Moto farm was an addition to the 40 acres donated in 1957 by the African District Council in Kabimoi, Eldama Ravine, and where Rev Paul Barnett – his long-time friend and pioneer of Africa Inland Church – had built him a three-bedroomed house opened in 1959 by colonial governor Sir Evelyn Baring.

Moi was not a member of Jomo Kenyatta’s inner circle, which was mostly made up of Kiambu politicians, senior civil servants and businessmen, and most of whom did their business under the umbrella of Heri Limited, a company registered in 1974 by politicians and civil servants to do business with the government.

In his autobiography, former head of public service Jeremiah Kiereini, says: “About 20 senior civil servants and private investors got together and formed Heri Limited … by setting up this investment company, we were able to purchase shares without hesitation, because we were not involved in either the running of the businesses or the decisions made by the management.”

Moi was not part of Heri Limited, which had invested in DT Dobie, which was winning tenders to supply government and military vehicles. It had the Mercedes Benz and Nissan franchise.

Instead, he did business with the likes of Shantilal Nathabhai Patel, the founder of Solai Group and who had settled in the Rift Valley in the 1930s as a farmer.

It was this early dalliance with the Patels that would later mark Moi’s relationship with wealthy Indian families that would curry favour with him and help him build his business empire as they took control of government tenders.

It is thus not surprising that most of the companies that were associated with Moi had some Indian, Arab and Jewish connections – and some of these turned out to be the architects of the financial scandals that haunted the Nyayo regime.

Some of the big names that emerged during the Moi era as tenderpreneurs included Mombasa’s Rashid Sajad, Naushad Merali, Ketan Somaia, and Kamlesh Pattni.

In 1975, Moi, together with Nicholas Biwott, formed Lima Limited, which was importing combine harvesters and which would later be known as FMD East Africa.

Some of company’s properties were grabbed from the public. Last year, the High Court directed that some Eldoret properties earmarked for a fire station, an Administration Police camp and district hospital be repossessed from Lima.

This was one of the cases that showed how some of Moi’s companies took advantage of his power to amass wealth.

His children would occasionally use State House letterheads as part of their correspondence with government officials as they sought favours.

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For instance, in September 1988, Philip Moi used the letterhead to tell a Mombasa district officer that the family’s company, Concord Holdings, had been allocated a four-acre plot in Miritini and that he should “evict” the squatters living there. “We want to develop the plot,” he wrote.

In other cases, Moi would short-change his co-investors, as happened in the case of Stephen Mwangi Muriithi, the former deputy director of intelligence.

Moi and Muriithi conducted business with James Kanyotu, the head of the Special Branch, through Mokamu Limited.

The trio, together with businessman Sadru Alibhai, the Golden Biscuits brand baron – and who in 1985 bought the Peugeot franchise in Kenya from Marshalls Universal PLC for Sh55 million – owned Fourways Investment, which then owned a prime building at the junction of Muindi Mbingu and Moktar Daddah streets, now known as Family Bank Towers.

Upon the detention of Muriithi after he fell out with Moi, it was alleged in court that Moi sold off and transferred some of the properties to himself.

In another case, he forcibly annexed 100 acres of land owned by his neighbour Ginger Bell.

It was alleged that after he became president, Moi coerced Bell to donate the land to Kabarak High School in 1980.

It was on this land that Moi built the school, and it was only after he left power that the Bell family decided to sue Moi over the mischief.

Moi lost the case as the Court of Appeal ordered him to compensate the family or vacate.

It was also during this period that Moi oversaw the division of several farms in Njoro and outlying areas, especially the Ngata and Kerma farms that were given to his political allies.

Archival documents indicate that Moi, together with his then-Lands assistant minister G.G. Kariuki and director of settlements P.K. Gota, were personally involved in the allocation of these farms.

Interestingly, the minister for Lands, Jackson Angaine, appears to have been left out of all this correspondence.

But it was taking of strategic businesses that became the hallmark of the Moi empire.

For instance, when UK-based Chloride Group wanted to sell its franchise in Kenya, it was Moi who took it up and named it Associated Batteries Manufacturers (ABM), with its core activities being collection of scrap batteries from customers, smelting, blending and refining lead for battery manufacture.

For many years, it had a monopoly, earning the Moi family a fortune.

Moi would also enter into the agriculture sector and was the first to hive huge chunks of Mau Forest, where he planted tea.

The land had ostensibly been given to him by the Narok County Council to stop people from encroaching on the forest.

It is on this land that Moi built his Kiptagich Tea Factory. He also owned the age-old Kaisugu Estate, which is managed by his son John Mark, and Theta Tea Estate in Nandi, managed by his daughter Jennifer.

The former Head of State also owned an expansive 17,000-acre ranch in Samburu known as either Eland Downs or Kabarak Farm, and which he donated to the African Wildlife Foundation started by US billionaire Russell E. Train.

After he retired, his lawyers spent nine years fighting claims from the Samburu community that this was their ancestral land and that Moi had no right to give it away. They lost the case.

Moi is also known to have used his position to expand his schools, and that is how he built Kabarak High School and Sacho High School – first as public schools before converting them to private schools.

Until the entry of Mwai Kibaki, both schools had teachers from the Teachers Service Commission.

More so, there is still controversy over how Moi got the Rift Valley Technical Institute that was built through harambee and which is now part of his empire.

In banking, the former president would run most of his affairs through Transnational Bank that was recently sold, and which never went through the scrutiny that faced other local banks.

Transnational was part of the banks that were used for dubious transactions during the Goldenberg scandal.

One of the Central Bank officials, the late Joseph Mumelo, told a judicial commission that he was warned against interfering with Transnational activities.

Others were Trade Bank, led by Ajay Shah, and Pan-African Bank owned by Mohammed Aslam, who was poisoned after giving crucial evidence to the commission inquiring into the February 1990 death of Dr Ouko.

Aslam was also the man who built Grand Regency Hotel before it was taken over by Kamlesh Pattni.

Through such commercial deeds, in which Moi was directly implicated in courts and in commissions of inquiry, he managed to build a powerful business portfolio and soon managed to eclipse or wash out any competitors.

What he could not buy, according to sources, he grabbed, and so did most of his political and commercial allies who found their way into boardrooms, parastatals and government, and where there was little difference between the state and the personal.

Moi’s empire has now been put into trusts after he was advised that this was the only way to avoid nationalisation by a future hostile regime.

But with divisions running within the family over the Moi estate, it might be a matter of time before some of his children, who feel that Gideon was Moi’s favourite, start to exercise control.

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Nairobi and Coast counties isolated : The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta when he made an address on enhanced measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic at State House, Nairobi on April, 6 2020.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s order stopping movement into and out of Nairobi has effectively banned upcountry travel and disrupted domestic flights.

It has also locked out individuals who work in the city but live outside the mapped metropolitan area from their places of work or business.
The operations of the Standard Gauge Railway commuter train, long distance bus companies and shuttles that either start or end their journey in Nairobi will be disrupted following the order of a 21-day cessation of movement into and out of Nairobi, where the first Covid-19 case was confirmed. The capital city has since recorded the highest number of the 158 coronavirus infections.
The ban that applies to boundary within the Nairobi Metropolitan Area came into force yesterday at 7pm, affecting travellers who were either already enroute to Nairobi or planning to depart from various city bus stations for upcountry.
SEE ALSO: China virus cases spike, 17 new infections reportedIt implies that travellers who were on transit to either Nairobi or upcountry for business or work-related assignments – and were able to beat the curfew – had the options of either cutting short their journey, or proceeding but being forced to stay at their destinations for the next three weeks.
Nairobi is a major circuit for most local flights, meaning airline companies will have to suspend a big chunk of their operations during the restriction period, and only continue with flights to towns not affected by the directive.
MPs who are set to attend the National Assembly special sitting tomorrow to discuss tax measures announced by President Kenyatta but were still in their constituencies by last evening will also be locked out unless they secure an exemption.
For More of This and Other Stories, Grab Your Copy of the Standard Newspaper.   Read Now »
A similar restriction to movement will be enforced in Kilifi, Kwale and Mombasa – which have also recorded coronavirus infections – but the ban will be enforced from tomorrow at 7pm.
The nationwide 7pm to 5am curfew remains in force.
SEE ALSO: China confirms virus spreading between humansHowever, the movement of food supplies and other cargo will continue as normal during the declared containment period through road, railway and air.
According to the order, the Nairobi Metropolitan Area includes Nairobi City County; part of Kiambu County up to the Chania River bridge (Thika); Machakos County up to Athi River and including Katani; and part of Kajiado County including Kitengela, Kiserian, Ongata Rongai and Ngong Town.
No passenger train
There are hundreds of employees and businesspeople who reside outside the defined area but commute to the capital city every morning. The order implies that they will now have to work from home from this morning, or take work leave for the next 21 days.
Already, Kenya Railways Managing Director Philip Mainga has announced the suspension of SGR passenger trains. Operations of two Madaraka Express trains that operated daily at 10.30 am were consequently suspended.
SEE ALSO: Factbox: What we know about the new coronavirus spreading in China and beyondMr Maingi, however, said cargo freights will continue operating uninterrupted, as will Nairobi Commuter rail services to Ruiri, Embakasi, Syokimau and Kikuyu stations under revised timings to cater for the hours of the curfew.
Uhuru made the cessation of movement orders as he announced an additional 16 new infections and two deaths. So far, 158 people have been infected with Covid-19, and six have lost their lives to the viral disease that has become a global pandemic.
The president said the additional restrictions, as uncomfortable as they are, are necessary following the trend that has been noted by the Ministry of Health that the four affected counties are high-risk areas.
Of the 158 cases, he said, 82 per cent are residents of Nairobi, while 14 per cent are from Kilifi, Kwale and Mombasa. The president warned the pandemic is likely to continue spreading with lethal effect if drastic action is not taken.
“There is a choice we were asked to make as a government and as a people: to carry on as normal or to treat this like the extraordinary emergency it is and to fundamentally change how we act,” he said.
SEE ALSO: Travelers to be screened for ‘Chinese’ coronavirus- GovernmentUhuru said in issuing the additional measures, he is well aware of the inconvenience it will cause Kenyans.
“However, not doing it will lead to even greater suffering for the people of Kenya,” he said.
The movement of cargo, as per the previous order that effected the ongoing 7pm to 5am curfew countrywide, is still allowed, but with additional adjustments.
“Any cargo-carrying vehicle or vessel shall be charged to a single driver and designated assistants, all of whom shall be designated as such in writing by the owner and operator of the said vehicle or vessel reference to that vehicle or vessel,” said Uhuru.
He added that despite the restrictions that limit the number of hours spent on building the economy, traders and farmers of fresh produce should continue with their activities to ensure continued supply.
“No one should be denied the ability to carry on with legal trade within the boundaries of the protocols set out by the Ministry of Health,” the president said.
Unforgiving virus
Uhuru noted that while a majority of those who get Covid-19 recover without showing severe symptoms, they can still spread the disease to large numbers of people, leading to unprecedented pressure on already scarce medical facilities and causing an unimaginable loss of lives.
“The virus is unforgiving, and its rate of growth, if not arrested, is exponential,” he said. “I will, therefore, go to any lawful length to respond to this pandemic.”
Uhuru said governments around the world have gone to extra lengths to contain the virus and flatten the curve. He added that wearing a mask whenever one is out in public is now necessary, and to take precautions not to expose anyone who is as old as he is – 58 – or with underlying medical conditions.
“There are thousands of tailors all over the country who will also look to make masks. The Ministry of Health, Ministry of Industry and Trade should ensure that these tailors are provided with the right materials and proper ways of piecing the face masks,” he said.
The president further assured Kenyans that his administration is doing everything in its power to cushion Kenyans from the harsh realities that would come with the changes. Apart from Sh10 billion earlier approved to be disbursed to the elderly and orphans, he said collective management organisation will this week distribute Sh200 million to artistes and performers.
He directed the Ministry of Sports and Culture to disburse Sh100 million to actors, musicians and artists.

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Victims of toxic malaria jab get Sh42.8m payout : The Standard

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The Busia County government has released Sh42.8 million as compensation for 28 children who developed complications after receiving a malaria injection at a public clinic in 2015.
The payout follows a 2017 ruling by Resident Magistrate Josephine Maragia, who said the children were victims of professional negligence.
The court noted the victims were not given proper diagnosis and treatment by a competent medical practitioner.
SEE ALSO: Busia police seize bhang sneaked from UgandaThe children developed various complications, including paralysis, after receiving the injection at Akichelesit dispensary in Teso North Constituency.
Some of them suffered permanent disabilities.
The payment has came as a major relief to parents who have had to dig deeper into their pockets to support their children, including specialised treatment.
For More of This and Other Stories, Grab Your Copy of the Standard Newspaper.   Read Now »
Some of the victims’ parents said the money, released last week, will help them take care of their children.
Emmanuel Omonya’s 10-year-old daughter Cate Atenge’s left leg was paralysed. One of her knees is stiff. Atenge has to use crutches.
SEE ALSO: Man found with county cheques worth Sh1.8 million chargedOmonya said his daughter’s life has never been the same after the incident. He said his mother has to massage her leg with milking jelly every morning to ease the pain.
He said he will use to money to seek specialised treatment for the girl.
“The money may not return my daughter’s life to how it was before the incident but I am happy the county government has compensated her. We have been waiting for the county government to act for a long time,” he said.
He added: “My daughter has suffered a lot. She struggles to walk. I may have to buy her a wheelchair to make it easier for her to move around and go to school.”
Atenge is a pupil at St Mary’s Primary School, which is 700 metres away from their home.
SEE ALSO: Fishermen help 214 needy students get Sh1.4m feesOmonya said his wife miscarried and died in 2018 due to stress after learning their daughter was paralysed.
“This girl needs physiotherapy but I could not afford it. I hope she will now get the treatment she needs,” he said.
Abel Okiror was present to witness the cheque being handed over to their lawyer. His daughter Vivian Asere, 11, is paralysed in the right side.
The Class Four pupil has been struggling to walk.
Okiror appealed to parents of those affected to use the money to get their children proper treatment.
SEE ALSO: Police officers seize 77kg ivory“Let us use the money to improve the lives of the children who have suffered so much so they will not have to ask us one day what happened to the money that was paid to them,” he said.
Evalyne Barasa’s children, Gideon Wekesa, 12, and Shielda Nekesa, 10, were victims of the botched injection. It affected their backs and left legs.
Evalyne, a widow, said she has to massage her children every now and then to ease their pain.
She said while she is sad that her children cannot play with their colleagues as they did before, she is happy that they have been compensated.
Doctors continue
Deputy Governor Moses Mulomi, who gave out the cheque, said they will ensure doctors continue attending to the affected children.
Mr Mulomi said another Sh19 million, part of the compensation, will be released in the next financial year.
“We are pleading with the parents of the affected children to ensure the victims benefit from this money,” Mulomi said.
He continued: “We are going to keep a close eye on the children, especially those who suffered serious injuries, with a view to ensure they get required medication.”
Mathew Edejai, who is also a parent of one of the affected children, called on the county government to keep its promise to release the remaining amount in the next fiscal year.
“It has been a painful experience for us. We do not expect the county to take us in circles again,” said Edejai.
The victim’s lawyer, Mr Bernard Ombui, told The Standard yesterday that a chunk of the money will go towards treatment of the children.

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Busia CountyResident Magistrate Josephine Maragia

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Institute in Naivasha turned to isolation centre : The Standard

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An unidentified Nairobi county worker undergoes temperature check at Uhuru Park, Nairobi on Monday, April 6, 2020. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

The Kenya Wildlife Service Training Institute (KWSTI) in Naivasha has been identified as a quarantine centre.

The move follows the recent directive by the State that health officials should identify institutions which can be used as quarantine centres in case the number of those affected by Covid-19 rises.
At the same time, screening of all travellers along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway has been heightened.
Naivasha, being home to many high-end hotels, normally receives a lot of visitors.
According to Naivasha Sub-county Public Health Officer George Ndichu, the training institute met all health requirements laid down by the Ministry of Health.
Mr Ndichu was, however, quick to note that no coronavirus case has been reported in Naivasha.
“We have identified KWSTI as the new quarantine centre in Naivasha. This is part of our preparedness in containing the spread of this virus,” said Ndichu.
For More of This and Other Stories, Grab Your Copy of the Standard Newspaper.   Read Now »
He asked residents to observe social-distance and wash their hands in order to stop the spread of the virus.
“We have trained our security officers on this disease and we shall continue to give more information to the public,” Ndichu said.
Elsewhere, there was a moment of panic in Karagita estate in Naivasha after a flower farm worker collapsed and died in unclear circumstances.
Some residents fled from the scene following information that the man had breathing complications before he passed on.
Simon Mwangi, a witness, said the worker had been complaining of chest pains and breathing problems before he collapsed.
“It happened very fast. He was confirmed dead on arrival in the hospital,” Mr Mwangi said. A senior police officer said the body has been taken to Naivasha Sub-county Hospital mortuary.
“Only an autopsy can confirm the cause of death,” the officer who sought anonymity said.

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Are you suspecting that you have coronavirus? Before you rush to the hospital, do this quick easy self-assessment test. #StayHome #WashYourHands HERE.

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Isolation centreKWSTINaivashaCoronavirus

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