Kenyans have received negatively news of the appointment of the multi-billionaire Moghul Jaswant Singh Rai as the director of the Kenya Forest Services (KFS).
President Uhuru Kenyatta regime has been accused of having made the worst mistake in its history by appointing Rai to KFS when it is purportedly supposed to be cleaning it.
It is tantamount to committing genocide to your own precious livestock by unleashing a hungry predator into the flock or to say the least unleashing a wolf into a herd of sheep or goats – what do you expect?
The worst aspect of the whole appointment is that it is blatantly going against the law by conflict of interest when the same government is hoodwinking Kenyans that it has declared massive war against corruption in the country.
The reason is very simple that Jaswant Rai and the family’s Rai Plywoods Kenya Ltd have got heavy interests in timber whose sources are those forest that are being decimated.
There is no reason to state otherwise that timber stolen from the KFS does not end up in Rai Plywoods Ltd timber yards to manufacture the variety of products they do.
To crown the whole mess is the fact that after sabotaging and bringing its only major competitor for the raw material, Pan Paper Mills Ltd of Bungoma County, the government presided over the selling of the World Bank financed multi-billion shillings giant facility to the Rai family at a throw away price of Kshs. 900 million when it is worth more than Kshs. 18 billion.
Indeed President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto presided over the purported re-opening of the facility to start its manufacturing operations only for it to grind to a halt less than 24 hours later.
Rai Plywoods Kenya Ltd, the property of Jaswant Rai and his family as well as Pan Paper Ltd, in Jaswant’s hand are huge entities with equally huge demands for timber to stay afloat and make huge profits for which the Rai’s are known for.
Jaswant’s appointment to the KFS board of directors come at time when the President Kenyatta regime is trying to stamp out rampant corruption from core government ministries, departments and agencies, but also state corporations – yet Jaswant has many damning queries hanging over him and his family’s group of companies.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has formally appointed Peter Kimathi Kinyua as the Chairman of the Kenya Forest Service following radical changes in the body that preceded the ban on logging across the country.
In a Special Gazette Notice, President Kenyatta stated that the appointment will be for a period of three years with effect from this month.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by section 9 (1) (a) of the Forest Conservation Act 2016, I Uhuru Kenyatta, President and Commander in Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces appoint Peter Kimathi Kinyua to be the chairperson of the Kenya Forest Service, for a period of three years with effect from 5th June 2018,” the notice stated.
In the notice, Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko also appointed eight members to the Kenya Forest Service.“IN EXERCISE of the powers conferred by section 9 (1) of the Forest Conservation and Management Act, 2016, the Cabinet Secretary, Environment and Forestry appoints— Under sub-section (b) Peter Leitoro, Under sub-section (c), Jane Wamoko, Under sub-section (d), Henry K. Barmao Under sub-section (e) and Jane W. Njuguna,” it stated.
Others who were appointed include Joel K. Laigong, Peter O. Wandera, Jaswant Singh Rai and Anne Tek. The notice stated that they will be members of the Kenya Forest Service for a period of three years with effect from 30th May, 2018. Three officials of the KFS had been sent on compulsory leave over abuse of office and “wanton destruction of forests”.
Apart from the Pan Paper Ltd debacle, it is well known that the Rai’s have played a central role in bringing the country’s sugar industry to its knees through deliberate sabotage and outright crude muscling and underhand operations.
These operations have been crudely systematically and ruthlessly executed with impunity over the last seven years, especially the still biting sugarcane poaching crisis from farmers contracted to competitors when its own company West Kenya Sugar Company does not hve a single contracted farmer.
The biggest target to be bought at throw away prices by the Rai Group cartel is the giant Mumias Sugar Company in Kakmega County and the Nzoia Sugar Company based in the neighbouring Bungoma County.
It must not be forgotten that it is a fact that the woes of the now crippled sugar industry in the country begun after the Rai family acquired the West Kenya Sugar facility from the family of the late Biku Patel which also had no contracted farmers.
That triggered the establishment of the Butali Sugar factory in the same Kabras neighbouhood where the West Kenya factory is located which contracted farmers who were the first victims for the Rai’s to poach their cane to stay relevant.
The most important factor is that all these machinations were happening after Jaswant Rai was mysteriously appointed to the board of the now defunct Kenya Sugar Board (KSB) as a director, a position he clearly used to muscle with impunity his family’s multi-billion shillings interests.
It is also telling that even as the country’s sugar industry was being systematically and ruthlessly brought to its knees by the Rai’s the government and its agencies were keeping a loud silence to date as the Rai’s did what they wanted with blatantly open impunity.
The other critical question here is that if they could do that to the multi-billion shillings sugar industry, what is going to stop them from doing the same in the forestry sector which over the years has suffered enough of its own woes.