Posts by Musa:
The country’s general elections are looming next year, the much talked about 2022 – political temperatures and fevers are expected to start soaring to fearful levels this year among those interested in elective seats across the country right from the Presidency, Senate, the National Assembly to the County Assemblies.
Our focus on Busia County in Western Kenya’s constituencies is already indicating that the incumbent Members of Parliament (MPs) for the Busia Counties’ seven constituencies will be having uphill battles defending their seats from highly motivated new aggressive well heeled entrants.
The constituencies are North and South Teso, Nambale, Matayos, Butula, Funyula and Budalang’i at the far south end of the county on the shores of Lake Victoria.
The current sitting MPs are Raphael Wanjala Budalangi, Dr. Oundo Mudenyo Funyula, Geoffrey Odanga Matayos, Joseph Oyula-Butula, John Bunyasi Nambale, Edward Oku Kaunya Teso North and Geoffrey Omuse South Teso – who may be in trouble because reportedly Governor Ojaamong is going to fight to reclaim that seat.
Starting with Matayos Constituency which hosts the county’s headquarters and one of the most populous, Geoffrey Odanga who has been having it easy since the constituency was hived out of its Neighbour Nambale this time things seem not to be going so easy.
The irony is the fact that powerful professional career personalities are from Matayos even after it was hived out of the larger Nambale Constituency, but they chose a high school principal to lead.
Matayos played and continues to play a central role in the county’s politics right from producing the 1st cabinet minister Phillip Masinde who hails from Nangwe area near Busia town the county headquarters.
The emerging facts are that in the last two general elections the current area MP Odanga who emerged from being a high school principal to a National Assembly legislator has been having weak opponents to beat him at the polls.
Being a teacher he reportedly used the Matayos Constituency Development Fund (CDF) to develop and improve many educational institutions – but also that is being put to task and queried by his opponents in the 2022 general elections over its usage.
During the last general elections Odanga who contested on an ODM ticket, reportedly did not have strong opponents that included Catherine Omanyo aka Kipepeo and Policarp Onyango who stood on UDF and Jubilee tickets respectively.
After losing the election loser candidates went completely off the constituency’s political radar with Onyango being given a job at Statehouse by his Jubilee party unlike Ms. Omanyo who wasn’t lucky at all.
However, Odanga having served two terms with little to show this time round may find himself in big trouble as the entrance of Humphrey Nakitari and former National Irrigation Board chairman Eng. Dan Barasa may complicate things for him.
It is also a veritable fact that Nambale/Matayos residents have a tendency of giving an MP only two terms apart from Okemo whose political fortunes were crumbling but managed to rig himself in for the third term.
Eng. Dan Barasa
Other candidates whose names are being mentioned for the 2022 race include Ms. Omanyo who is out to make a second attempt and a new entrant Phaustine Barasa – a career teacher and the current Busia County CEC for finance but who voters in the constituency have accused of only employing her relatives.
She was recently mentioned in a scandal where she is said to have influenced the employment of more than 10 of her relatives as Revenue clerks at the Busia County. If others are going to emerge with time, it remains to be seen.
According to insider sources Nakitari has stayed in the cold for too long together with the masses on the ground and is now raring to go for the seat with no qualms or fear. “He has a powerful and forceful knack to relate with the electorate compared to Odanga who already has lost his base support across the constituency”, said Peter Magero a resident of Nasewa in Matayos.
What is clear is the fact that Matayos constituency that straddles the Busia – Kisumu Highway is the heartbeat of not only the county’s highly qualified and experienced personalities, but also controls the dynamics of the county’s politics and economy, a highly cosmopolitan entity like Kisumu where Nakitari was reportedly a highly, effective, efficient but also competent leader despite the county’s volatile politics.
Indeed Matayos constituency also happens to be home to the country’s longest serving Attorney General Amos Wako who also made history serving under two Presidents, the late Daniel Arap Moi and his successor Emilio Mwai Kibaki – now the county’s two term senator.
The story does not stop there since it is a constituency with highly experienced professionals who have served both in the public service and the private sector, the most notable being former Permanent Secretary Andrew Mondoh a career provincial administration professional who went through the ranks before being appointed P.S. under the coalition government.
Nakitari being a seasoned professional and a career administrator rose through the ranks to become a District Commissioner before moving on to become the first County Secretary for Kisumu is the man people are saying is to watch in this constituency come the 2022 general elections.
Eng. Barasa who is another professional from the area also contested for the Busia County’s gubernatorial seat during the last elections and lost to the incumbent governor Sospeter Ojaamon’g.
The other powerful professional personality from the area is former Managing Trustee of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), the late Martin Kunguru whom was seen as a man of the people.
Kunguru was a leading personality of the then feared Seven Tigers of the larger Nambale constituency who were cut down systematically and ruthlessly from their high level positions by former area legislator Chris Okemo who was also a cabinet minister in Moi’s government.
Okemo feared for his political survival after flooring Masinde who was also the then minister for Labour also from the same Matayos constituency formerly the larger Nambale Constituency.
That was especially through the then also powerful Bukhayo Welfare Association that catered for the interests of the larger Nambale constituency people, indeed one of its founder leaders was Kunguru who Okemo feared as a major political threat to his political aspirations – Okemo also made sure that the welfare association was killed though it catered for the interests and needs of Nambale people.
The biggest irony of the whole business is the fact that Okemo who had held Nambale constituency in a deadly stranglehold for three terms was bundled out of politics in the county by none other than a Matayos personality Mr. Amos Wako on his first attempt at elective politics to get the Busia County Senatorial seat after he (Okemo) abandoned the constituency politics in 2012 .
Nambale Boys High School one of the leading high schools in Busia County has the most powerful Board of Management (BOM) full of highly educated and experienced compared to others within the county, including even neighbouring counties.
Contrary to recent online and social media reports of trouble brewing at the institution, the BOM and the new Principal Mr. Charles Hongo are in the process of tightening any lose ends at the institution so that it can qualify to be up-graded to a National School.
Speaking to Angaza News, the Board’s Chairman Prof Okumu Bigambo said, “As usual there may be a little challenges here and there, but nothing that this powerful board composed of highly experienced professionals cannot be able to handle to push Nambale Boys High School to higher levels.”
Among the Board members besides Prof. Bigambo a seasoned professional teacher who started off as a secondary school teacher to become a fully fledged professor of the university at the Moi University in Eldoret includes at least two other university professors, engineers, Doctors among other highly qualified professionals.
Prof. Bigambo was reacting to reports carried by Angaza News stating that trouble had erupted at the institution where the principal was allegedly accused of running the institution as “a personal entity” when it is a certified public High School.
He said that the board was in complete control of the highly respected institution’s management, although just formed in the recent past after being under the leadership of former Nambale ACK diocese retired Bishop Rt. Rev. Makhandia before the current Prelate Magina who surrendering it to professionals as he concentrated on church duties.
He said its after a forensic audit at the school was conducted in collaboration with the county government after the current Principal took over, that a number of loopholes were established right from the students, teaching and non-teaching population to identify areas that needed to be strengthened. “With recommendations from the Ministry of Education we were advised to hire a security firm to manage the institution considering its stature instead of relying on locally hired guards who have no experience in security matters, but we re-deployed them to other departments in the institution,” said the chairman.
He said there were a few security of officers who have been either pilfering school property or colluding with other external operatives to do so, but they were discovered and handed over to the police being a criminal matter. He said that as a matter of fact with the opening of schools after the prolonged closure as one of the deadly Covid 19 control measures, the management has embarked on an extensive programme of revamping all departments at the institution.
Prof. Bigambo said: “Indeed it is not true as alleged that employees from Busia county are being sacked or demoted only to be replaced by those from outside the county, particularly Kisumu County where the Principal of the school hails from.”
He said the audit also established quite a number of vacancies in various departments At the institution for which the board has discussed in some of its meetings and agreed to advertise for them to be filled up competitively by qualified professional applicants preferably from Busia County.
One of the vacancies identified is that of a school Bursar who should have an excellent Certified Public Accountants (CPA) qualifications and experience to boot to the job as the school expands and spreads its wings from near to far corners.
“Currently we are involved in many development projects at the institution in close collaboration not only with the county government but also the ministry of education at the national level because we are determined to transform Nambale Boys High School not only as the best performing institution in national examinations, but also in discipline of students, commitment and dedication of our staff crowned with the best physical environment and service provision not only in the county, but the entire Western Kenya region,” the BOM boss said. He said the Board’s main focus is to ensure that the institution was transformed from a regional or provincial high school to a National High School, which will make it join the list of the few schools in Busia County to achieve that level.
Nambale Boys High School was founded in 1972 by the Church of the Province of Kenya (CPK), Diocese of Maseno North. It is currently sponsored by the Anglican Church of Kenya, Diocese of Nambale.
The school is situated along Busia Mumias road 3 Kms from Nambale Town in Nambale Constituency in Busia County, 25 Kms from Busia Town.
It has been presenting students for Kenya National Examination (KNEC) since 1975. In KCSE results has seen steady rise in performance from 2008. This led to the school being the top school in Busia County in 2015, 2014 and 2013 in KCSE examination.
The Facts have clearly emerged that the Rai Group are a very dangerous and deadly entity to the development and sustenance of the country’s troubled multi-billion shillings sugar industry where stakes are very high.
Stakes are staggering in the sense the cheap imports of sugar that translates into billions of shillings when the local market is demanding for more than million tones when local millers cannot produce even more than 600, 000 tonnes annually – So who is going to dictate the market prices and pocket billions of shillings in the same period?
Though fairly newcomers in the industry, they already have multi-billion shillings interests in the sector including the smuggling or illegally importing sugar into the country and getting away with it because of their powerful connections in the government.
They are already on record having been boosted storing sugar smuggled into the Country worth billions of shillings at the dead multi-billion shillings biggest paper milling warehouses plant Pan-Paper Mills which they bought at a throw away price in Bungoma County.
Cheated that were going to put it back into production after systematically, consistently and ruthlessly undermining the facility to bring it to its knees complete with President Uhuru Kenyatta officiating – but nearly five years down the road Pan-Paper remains dead.
With Rai Group’s entry in the country’s sugar industry the signals of its doom came loud and clear when they masterminded and ruthlessly executed the sugarcane poaching pandemic that brought the industry to its knees and brought the country’s ultra modern giant miller Mumias Sugar Company tumbling to a halt to date.
The poaching crisis did not just hit sugar companies in the western Kenya region but also those in the Nyanza region where even under-age cane was poached destined for the Rai Group’s factory formerly known as West Kenya Sugar Company bought from the Biku Patel family and re-named Kabras Millers or Sugar in Kabras area of Kakamega County.
The dooms day conspiracy against the country’s sugar industry continues to unfold because just a few days after word erupted that the National Intelligence Security (NIS) had raised concerns about how Jaswant Rai had ensnared Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS) Peter Munya, the CS issued a statement banning Brown sugar imports, banning of raw sugarcane imports from the neighbouring Uganda.
At the same time Munya also publicly declared the government’s intentions to lease all its 5 sugar factories. They are Muhoroni, Chemilil, SONY, Nzoia and Miwani after consistent failures to privatize them over the years.
What is now clearly emerging is the fact that all the three factors were crafted to favour the Rai and his accomplices.
In the very first instance concerning the banning of brown sugar imports, the CS’s move appeared to be a well calculated move keeping in mind that in 2018/19 there were reports that Rai Group and others had imported hundreds of thousands of metric tonnes of illegal sugar into the Country.
These developments were all over in the mainstream and regional media after police raids, but was never produced in court to an extend that some of it was found stored at the Webuye Pan-Paper mills which the Rai Group has so far converted it to a warehouse.
Records have also emerged showing that in mid 2018 it was reported that the sugar import barons led by the Rai Group had imported over a billion kilograms of sugar which was enough to feed the Country for two years without growing a single cane.
The sugar in question is still being held in some secret warehouses congesting the local market and has so far been released to the market packaged in local brands especially.
Therefore banning of the importation of sugar may look good to the eyes of the farmer but in real sense it was a well calculated move to allow the billion kilograms sugar to be sold out from the market before more is allowed in again.
On the issue of banning of the importation of raw sugarcane, many may not support the idea but what is more interesting is why the same Rai Group through its subsidiary Olepito sugar in Busia County should be the lead complainant to this matter and not the farmer.
The fact is that the Rai Group should only be worried when its competitors are poaching what belongs to them so for the Group to get worried that Busia Sugar Industries (BSI) was getting its raw materials from the neighbouring Uganda reeks of blatant dishonesty.
The truth of the matter is that he does not want BSI and any other competitor to survive now that he is favored by the newly gazzeted recommendations by the sugar Taskforce that saw the initial recommendations of regional zoning removed to allow free market.
With the prevailing free market scenario the Rai Group which has been allowed by the Government to operate with total impunity for many years now will make sure that with the muscles gotten through cheap sugar imports will get all the raw materials to its side and with the ban on the raw sugarcane importation that is a clear spelling of doom to the local sugar industry.
The government’s decision on the leasing of the sugar factories where it has the majority shareholding is good idea on the face value of it but the truth of the matter is that the whole process is set to benefit the Rai Group.
Those targeted by the Group include Nzoia Sugar Company in Bungoma County and SONY sugar Company in Migori through his two companies Kabras Sugar and Sukari Sugar respectively.
The reality of the matter is the fact that in that process it will be bringing the total sugar factories deep into its pockets to six namely; West Kenya Sugar in Kakamega County, Olepito Sugar in Busia County, Sukari Sugar in Homabay, Kinyara Sugar in Uganda and of course Nzoia and SONY – therefore the most critical question is who will be controlling the country’s sugar industry and with what consequences?
Kenyans should not be quick to forget what happened to Pan-Paper mills in Webuye after the same government helped the Rai Group to buy it at a throw away price of Ksh 900 million when its worth is over Ksh 2billion worth of assets.
The memories of how President Uhuru Kenyatta officiated the opening of Pan-Paper under Rai are still fresh. The dead hopes of the people of Bungoma were given when they eventually saw smoke bellow from the factory. But little did Kenyans know that it was all Public Relations presided over by the head of state since the multi-billion shillings facility remains dead as a do do consumed by daily decay and rot.
The estimated more than twenty-two million smokers of the multi-billion shillings tobacco products may be purchasing the cheapest Rooster at Kshs. 5 to smoke their way to death with the eruption of the deadly Covid 19 disease.
The worst aspect of the whole problem is the fact that as one of the most highly taxed products in the country, hundreds of thousands of smokers right from Nairobi all the way to all corners of the country are in the habit of sharing a Khs. 5 cigarette stick.
That single stick can be shared with as many as five people and if just one of them is infected with the coronavirus it means high possibilities of spreading the virus to each and everyone who has savoured it at a cost of Kshs. 5 when the cheapest testing of that disease in the country is reported to be Kshs. 8, 000.
Leave alone the expenditures any of them testing positive will have to folk out during the 14 days quarantine and treatment to cure the Covid 19 disease that is wreaking havoc on economies and human life not only in Kenya but across the world at colossal expense.
Apart from the cheapest Kshs. Rooster brand and Supermatch, others like Safari (Pall Mall), is the second cheapest costing Kshs. 10 per stick or Kshs. 200 per packet, the rest like Sportsman, Rothmans, Dunhill, Embassy, Sweet Menthol, and Benson and Hedges goes for Kshs. 300 or more per packet.
All these brands in neighbouring countries cost half the above mentioned retail prices because of low or no taxation levels but cigarette smoking habits the same while in Kenya they are not spared tax increases every financial year including popular alcoholic beverages sometimes twice to raise government revenue.
However, with the explosion of Covid 19 in the country and government control measures declared and effected from March this year, among the prohibitions declared there is none concerning smoking or the widespread multi-individual sharing of a cigarette sticks across the country.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has already warned that smokers are at the biggest risk of being infected and killed from the disease because it not only largely causes lung cancer, but also lung respiratory problems which makes them easy fodder for Covid 19 infections and higher rates of death.
Many of the stick sharing smokers interviewed said that the cigarettes were too expensive and the money has become extremely scarce to access especially since the eruption of the Covid 19 and stringent lockdowns being executed to stop its spread – it means more and more people sharing a single cigarette stick with deadly costly implications and consequences.
Mr. Gregory Nyaberi a Nairobi based businessman who has been smoking for the last 25 years said: “Times are extremely difficult to access enough money to meet my own domestic needs to survive, but worse to fulfill my nasty smoking habit, in these hard times we share cigarettes to quench our thirsts and being addictive it is an extremely difficult habit to stop though nasty.”
Mr. Nyaberi said that himself and his colleagues who share cigarette sticks obey the Covid 19 spread orders like wearing masks, social distancing, not shaking hands, groupings, meetings and even curfew government orders but not on smoking or sharing cigarettes risks that may cost direct infection from coronavirus infected fingers and cigarette butts direct to the smokers’ lips and lungs on inhalation – the virus will be transmitted.
He argued that apart from closing bars and restaurants to sell alcohol and food to consumers, nothing has been said about sharing a smoke with colleagues so long as they are wearing masks and social distancing.
These sentiments were expressed by smokers not only in Nairobi County, but also including those in the former Coast, Eastern, North Eastern, Central, Rift Valley, Nyanza and Western provinces.
It is not just a Kenyan problem as the threats do not stop there since the British American Tobacco (BAT) a wide range tobacco products producing global conglomerate said: “Our product portfolio comprises a range of high quality and innovative products, including cigarettes (combustible products) and cut – rug tobacco (unprocessed tobacco) which serve markets in East and Central Africa (ECA).”
Its website report goes on to state that: “Our cigarette brand portfolio includes our local heritage brand Sportsman, which has been in the market for over 85 years and is sold in various Eastern Africa markets including Kenya, Uganda, and Somalia.”
It says that this is alongside other iconic brands such as Embassy, SM, Rooster and Safari. Our portfolio also includes a strong repertoire of global brands including Dunhill, Benson & Hedges and Rothmans, which are sold in over 200 markets worldwide including East and Central Africa and that is how big the problem can be in this region alone from the rich to the poor.
The BAT Kenya Limited alone last financial report posted a drop in net profits from Kshs. 4.1 billion in 2018 to Kshs. 3.9 billion at the close of financial year that ended 31st December, 2019.
The cigarette manufacturing conglomerate blamed the newly introduced excise tax on tobacco for the drop in sales and profitability. It said gross profit reduced despite the significant revenue growth and reduced financing costs.
As activity at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) as at the end of that year, the BAT shares were trading at Kshs. 485.00 each, a 3%drop from the price at the start of the year.
However since the eruption of the Covid 19 in China last year the WHO has reported: “Smokers are likely to contract the virus as the act of smoking means that fingers and possibly contaminated cigarettes are in contact with lips.
Since it increases the possibility of transmitting the virus from the hand to mouth besides those smokers may also already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity which would greatly increase risk of serious illness.”
The UN agency states that apart from cigarettes, smoking products such as water pipes often involve the sharing of mouthpieces and hoses, which could facilitate the transmission of Covid-19 in communal and social settings.
Given the adverse effect on respiratory health, the current Covid-19 pandemic is seen as an opportunity for both smokers and vapers to quit.
The Nacada has already reported that about 2.2 million Kenyans still use tobacco products including sharing them. Globally, 1.12 billion people are smokers. It says that 8.6 per cent of Kenya’s 47.5 million people uses tobacco products and are largely male.
About 17 percent of males are current users of tobacco products compared with 2.1 per cent of females. It is unclear whether this explains why the rate of infection of Covid-19 in the country is higher among men than women.
The Water Resources Authority (WRA), formerly known as Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) and National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) have triggered a storm that brings into question the legality of many of their ongoing demolitions of multi-billion shillings buildings particularly in Nairobi.
It also brings into question whether some top operatives of the two authorities are using their positions to abuse the powers and privileges those offices have granted them in executing their duties with rampant impunity.
The Multi-billion shillings worth Rai Group wants to acquire the country’s largest ailing miller Mumias Sugar Company to control the country’s sugar industry.
The Western Parliamentary Group Caucus Chairman, John Bunyasi says there are covert and overt deliberate and systematic machinations and manipulations clearly indicating that the Rai Group was keen to acquire Mumias Sugar once it falls under the hammer of auctioneers.
The Huawei mobile handset service providers are creaming hundreds of thousands of shillings from ignorant un-suspecting customers who go to their service centres to fix their phones.
It has emerged that the technicians at the centres literally fail to identify the real problems of the customers’ handsets may be having but give the customers wrong information and advice on how to fix the problems.
The immediate former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero is to face legal action from the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) over Kshs. 3.1 billion that was looted from the giant Mumias Sugar Company during his tenure as Chief Executive officer of the company.
According to a detailed press release from the Authority the other former senior manager who is targeted is Paul Kimutai Murgor and former member of the board of directors peter Hongo who were found directly implicated in the loss of the billions after a forensic audit commissioned by the CMA.
The statement signed by MPRSK head of Communications Anthony Mwangi reads in part: “The Capital Markets Authority conducted a forensic investigation through J Miles & Company. The forensic auditors reviewed the financial and governance operations of the company for ten years, between 2006 to 2016.”
The untouchable Moghuls and power brokers of the country’s beleaguered sugar industry the Rai Group owners of West Kenya Sugar Company Ltd have been put on the firing line by the latest entrant into the industry.
The suspension of the Mumias Sugar Company Chief Executive Nation Aseka has triggered the eruption of more critical questions, rage, fury, anger, uproar and outrage than answers over the surprise move by the Board of Directors of the cash strapped giant.
It also appears to have thrown a deadly spanner into the powerful under currents of the perennially endless and forever broiling sugar industry politics and brought them to the fore at long last.
The most critical question of all the questions being posed by stakeholders is what tangible and concrete evidence or reasons did the company’s board have to take that “drastic” action against the only person qualified to salvage that company from its financial mess?