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Who are the Kenyan shareholders in SportPesa?

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By PAUL WAFULA
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SportPesa has been a roaring success  since it set up shop in Kenya in 2014. Its annual revenues crossed the Sh100 billion mark in under five years, helped by the revolutionary mobile money network. Its success has been the envy of the betting industry in the region, as it came at a time when the country was ready to take on the gambling craze.

The firm would quickly step forward to the international stage after it announced a Sh1.3 billion sponsorship deal with Everton FC. It was the biggest deal in the club’s sponsorship history. The firm would also set up a global headquarters in Liverpool.

Before it shot to global fame, it had entered smaller deals with Arsenal, Southampton and Hull City football clubs as well as the Spanish La Liga and Italian teams.

The firm has, however, chosen to keep its ownership structure, which includes Bulgarians and several Kenyans who are now the centre of attention as the government cracks the whip on betting firms, under wraps.

The firm has connections to other companies incorporated in the United Kingdom and the Isle of Man, a tax haven favoured by sports betting firms.

But behind the firm is a group of foreign billionaires who struck gold in Kenya. The most recent shareholder records seen by the Saturday Nation show that Guerassim Nikolov, a Bulgarian, owns a 21 per cent stake in the company, making him one of the three biggest owners.

Mr Nikolov is understood to have started out with a Bulgarian casino in 1989. He came to Kenya several years later where he started as a casino manager. He was the brains behind Toto 6/49, which went under.

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The other two largest shareholders are Gene Grand and Asenath Wacera Maina, who own a 21 per cent stake each. Grand is a foreigner while Ms Wacera is a Kenyan. In total, the three own 63 per cent. Ms Wacera, the widow of former Nairobi mayor Dickson Wathika, has successfully kept a low profile.

Billionaire Paul Wanderi Ndung’u owns a 17 per cent stake in the firm. Mr Ndung’u, who built his fortune as a Safaricom distributor, has been the firm’s board chairman.

Mr Ndung’u was the chairperson of the Friends of the Jubilee Foundation technical committee that raised billions for the party in the run-up to the 2017 election.

Other shareholders are Mr Ronald Karauri, who is the firm’s chief executive officer. He owns a seven per cent stake in the firm. Mr Karauri is a former Kenya Airways pilot.

The other shareholders are Mr Peter Kihanya Muiruri (one per cent), Cellini Holdings Limited (three per cent), Valentina Nikolaeva Mineva (three per cent), Ivan Stoyanov Kalpakchiev (two per cent), Mr Francis Waweru Kiarie (one per cent) and Mr Robert Kenneth Wanyoike Macharia (three per cent).

The firm maintains it has been playing by the rules and has paid its fair share of taxes as required. It has a tax clearance certificate and several awards from KRA to prove it.

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Magoha warns school heads over extra charges

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MOHAMED AHMED

By MOHAMED AHMED
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WINNIE ATIENO

By WINNIE ATIENO
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The Ministry of Education has barred principals from charging extra school fees, saying the government has abolished the levies, potentially bringing relief to thousands of overburdened parents.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha directed the school managers to use the gazetted fees structures.

“We have abolished extra levies and we are implementing only the gazetted school fees structure,” Prof Magoha said. Most extra-county boarding schools are charging between Sh53,000 and Sh60,000 per year.

Many parents have complained about being forced to pay extra money in undocumented school fees.

The fees, the parents have variously been told, would cater for borehole repairs, pay salaries for teachers hired through Boards of Management (BOM), and improve infrastructure, among other things.

“To avoid documentation that may attract sanctions, some schools have avoided listing the disputed items on formal fee structures and instead the new charges are communicated verbally but payment is mandatory,” Mr Ali Kassim, a parent, told the Nation.

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More than one million students have been enrolled in public secondary schools so far even as they grapple with massive congestion.

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“The ministry has placed 1,075,201 in public secondary schools, excluding inmates, adult learners and refugees in camps. The students were expected to report for admission from January 13 to 17. Some of the students may opt to join private secondary schools and this will be captured appropriately,” he said.

Statistics from the Ministry of Education show that 1,088,986 candidates registered for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination last year and 1,083,456 sat for the tests.

Speaking during a meeting with security chiefs during their annual forum at Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort and Spa in Mombasa, Prof Magoha announced the hiring of 10,000 intern teachers this year.

Some 339,752 trained teachers are from public and private schools. Teachers from special-needs schools had also been trained.

On Friday, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed security agencies to work with officials in the Ministry of Education to ensure all students join secondary schools.

“You must know how many children are in your region, how many are in school and those that aren’t. It is now your responsibility to ensure all children are in school,” he said.

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Jubilee MPs describe Duale, Murkomen as ‘untouchable’

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ONYANGO K’ONYANGO

By ONYANGO K’ONYANGO
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A showdown is looming in the ruling Jubilee Party after allies of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement chief Raila Odinga threatened to change the party’s leadership in the National Assembly and Senate.

Lawmakers allied to Deputy President William Ruto on Sunday laughed off the threats, saying it is a plot by the DP’s competitors who are out to break their party.

Keiyo South MP Daniel Rono dared those who want to spearhead the removal of Mr Kipchumba Murkomen as Senate majority leader, Mr Aden Duale as National Assembly majority leader and National Assembly Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali from their positions to do so “and see how we will paralyse the business of both Houses”.

“Murkomen and Duale cannot be touched,” Mr Rono told the Nation by phone.

Belgut MP Nelson Koech criticised Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala for threatening to table a motion to change the House leadership, saying Mr Malala is a nobody in Jubilee.

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He added that such changes can only be done through a Jubilee parliamentary group meeting.

“Who is Malala to suggest that the Jubilee House leadership should be changed? On what basis should the two be removed? These busybodies do not understand what Murkomen and Duale have done to the government,” Mr Koech said.

“Our opponents think they can dictate to us what to do in our party. Just recently, they wanted the President to remove certain individuals from the Cabinet.”

On Saturday during the BBI consultative meeting at Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega, Senator Malala and Wajir Woman Representative Fatuma Gedi joined the debate on removing Mr Murkomen and Mr Duale from their posts in the two Houses.

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Sources told the Nation that MPs Ngunjiri Wambugu (Nyeri Town), Joshua Kutuny (Cherang’any), Amos Kimunya (Kipipiri), Paul Koinange (Kiambaa) and Muturi Kigano (Kangema) are discussing the move.

Mr Koech’s sentiments were echoed by Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, who said those not happy with Mr Ruto succeeding the President want to scuttle his ambitions.

“Those used to deceitful politics are out to ensure our party is destroyed. Let them know that they will not succeed in their plans. We have plans too,” Mr Sudi said.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei and Aldai MP Cornelius Serem told Mr Odinga and his team to stop using the BBI as a weapon to meddle in Jubilee affairs.

“Suggesting changes in Senate and National Assembly leadership is pedestrian talk,” Mr Cherargei said.

“The ones saying that are not Jubilee members. Let them resign from their parties and move to Jubilee. We will not allow Raila and his team to destroy our party.”

Mr Serem said Jubilee has not been declared incapacitated and so there is no point of making claims meant to finish Mr Ruto, whom he described as an equal shareholder in the party just as Mr Kenyatta.

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Kenya: Universities in Limbo With VCs Serving in Acting Capacity

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Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment), 2018 was signed into law in January 2019 to bring order into recruitment of top university administrators, but one year later, the chaos remains.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) has been unable to recruit vice-chancellors, deputy vice-chancellors and principals of colleges and where it has succeeded, the exercises have been challenged in court.

Last year’s appointment of Prof George Magoha, once the University of Nairobi’s VC, as Education Cabinet Secretary has not made the situation any better.

UoN CASE

As such, several universities have been left with acting managers, the latest case involving UoN, where Prof Isaac Mbeche will continue to act until a substantive VC is appointed.

The university’s council, chaired by Prof Julia Ojiambo, appointed Prof Stephen Gitahi Kiama on January 5 but the CS revoked the decision. Prof Magoha also dissolved the council.

Prof Kiama had taken over from Prof Peter Mbithi and his installation had been set for Tuesday.

Prof Mbeche has been the acting VC since July 2019, when Prof Mbithi left the institution to pave way for recruitment of a substantive VC.

COURT ORDERS

Last October, the Labour court in Eldoret suspended the appointment of Prof Anne Nangulu as Bomet University College principal.

Following a petition, the court also suspended the appointment of two deputy principals – Prof George Otieno (Deputy Principal, Academic and Student Affairs) and Prof Loice Maru (Deputy Principal, Administration and Finance).

At Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, all top four managers are also holding the positions in acting capacity despite interviews mid last year.

The vacancy positions are VC and three deputy VCs, for Academic and Student Affairs, Administration and Finance, and Planning, Research and Innovation.

MMUST tapped Prof Joseph Bosire from Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, where he was Deputy VC for Academic Affairs since December 2018.

He headed the institution until mid last year, when he was replaced with Prof Asenath Sigot.

Dr Patrick Ojera is acting DVC Administration and Finance, Dr Benaditte Sabuni acting DVC Academic and Students Affairs, and Prof Charles Mutai acting DVC Planning , Research and Innovation.

OTHER CASES

At Taita Taveta University, Prof Fred Simiyu Barasa was appointed acting VC after Prof Hamadi Boga was appointed Agriculture Principal Secretary in 2018.

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At Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology, the PSC conducted interviews for recruitment of the Academic Affairs and Administration DVCs.

However, Prof Robert Kinyua and Prof Bernard Wamuti Ikua are still holding the respective positions in acting capacity.

In the case of Garissa University, the PSC has advertised the VC post, while at Moi University, Prof Daniel Tarus is holding the Finance DVC position in acting capacity.

At Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Prof Washington Olima is temporarily holding the Planning and Administration position.

Kibabii and Laikipia universities have no substantive DVCs, Finance and Administration.

COUNCILS’ POWERS