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EACC links four governors to Sh11bn unexplained wealth

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EACC links four governors to Sh11bn unexplained wealth


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Former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • The EACC said it targets to recover Sh11 billion from former county bosses Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu), Mike Sonko (Nairobi), Evans Kidero (Nairobi) and Moses Kassaine Lenolkulal.
  • The commission also revealed that it is pursuing graft cases involving five other former and current governors, Principal Secretaries, Senators, MPs, and managing directors of State corporations.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is linking three former governors and a sitting county boss to nearly half of the Sh25 billion wealth illegally acquired by public servants over the past five years.

The EACC said it targets to recover Sh11 billion from former county bosses Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu), Mike Sonko (Nairobi), Evans Kidero (Nairobi) and Moses Kassaine Lenolkulal, who is the Samburu County head.

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Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko. FILE PHOTO | NMG

“High impact investigations finalised include allegation of illegal and unexplained wealth against governors Ferdinand Waititu, Mike Sonko, Evans Kidero and Moses Kassaine…pending in court,” EACC chairman Eliud Wabukala said in an online presentation to the Senate Committee on Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights on Tuesday.

The commission also revealed that it is pursuing graft cases involving five other former and current governors, Principal Secretaries, Senators, MPs, and managing directors of State corporations among others.

The EACC did not provide names of the affected public officials who it claims have unexplained wealth worth Sh25.5 billion. The revelations by the EACC give a glimpse on how rogue public officials abused their offices to illegally amass staggering amount of wealth, especially for the governors who have served for an average of four years.

Mr Waitutu and Mr Sonko, who came into office in August 2017, were impeached by County Assemblies and the Senate as Kiambu and Nairobi governors for gross violation of the Constitution and abuse of office.

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Former governor Ferdinand Waititu. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The EACC has since moved to court seeking to recover assets worth billions of shillings from the former county chiefs.

The EACC had earlier revealed in court that Mr Kidero has assets worth Sh9 billion. The agency listed Sh1.2 billion Yala Towers in Nairobi’s entral business district as Mr Kidero’s most prized assets.

The commission further claimed Mr Kidero also owns 50 rental units on Nairobi’s Riara Road estimated at Sh1 billion and another property known as Muthaiga Heights worth the same amount. This is in addition to 11 vehicles that include Range Rovers and Mercedes Benzes.

The EACC also targeted several multi-million shilling properties and buildings spread across the city that were alleged to be owned by Mr Waititu.

The properties include luxurious mansions that were reported to be under construction in Runda, Delta Hotel building located in Nairobi CBD and a luxurious hotel in Naivasha. The commission equally trained its guns on Mr Sonko’s property in Upper Hill, Nairobi, worth nearly Sh500 million.

The property is situated along Matumbato Road — right behind the five-star Radisson Blu Hotel. In 2019, the director of public prosecutions (DPP) ordered the arrest of Mr Sonko over the loss of Sh357 million of county funds.

The EACC wants Mr Lenolkulal, who has an ongoing corruption case that saw him banned from office, to explain the source of unexplained assets totalling Sh661.2 million consisting of four pieces of land in Karen, Nairobi, luxury motor vehicles, personal bank accounts and M-Pesa deposits.

According to the commission, while the governor’s net salary for the period July 2013 to February 2019 was Sh42.3 million, he was able to acquire Sh703.5 million assets, leaving unexplained wealth of Sh661.2 million.

Yesterday, the EACC told the Senate committee on Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights chaired by Nyamira Senator Okong’o Omogeni that it had recovered assets worth Sh25 billion in the last five years and averted loss of Sh30.4 billion over the same period.

The EACC said that it traced 88 assets estimated at Sh25 billion. Mr Wabukala said 14 assets worth Sh9.4 billion were preserved while the commission filed 23 recovery suits with a total value of Sh5 billion. Assets recovered in the year 2019/20 amounted to Sh12 billion.

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months


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A Kenya Airways aircraft at JKIA. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Kenya Airways will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.
  • The airline in a notice to its customers yesterday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.

The airline in a notice to its customers Monday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

The airline will then resume full operations on the route on September 20, flying three times per week on the Indian route, which is one of the most lucrative destinations on its network.

Passengers on the route will part with Sh46,000 ($419) for one-way air ticket on economy class seats from Nairobi to Mumbai- prices that are relatively the same compared to what it was charging before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Welcome back onboard! Fly from Nairobi to Mumbai starting Thursday 16th September with normal schedules resuming from Monday 20th September 2021,” said the airline in a notice to its customers yesterday.

KQ Suspended passenger flights to and from Mumbai on April 30 until further notice, following a government directive on travel between India and Kenya due to a Covid-19 crisis in that country.

The airline said on Friday that passengers who had booked tickets after May 1, the date of the last flight from Mumbai to Nairobi, will have to change their plans.

Affected passengers, KQ said, could also take vouchers for the value of their fare for future travel within 12 months.

India has seen soaring infection rates in the recent days, since the discovery of a new virus variant. Last month, India put on lockdown one of the states following a spike in cases of Covid-19.

Other countries that have banned flights to India include France, the UK Bangladesh, Oman and Hong Kong that have banned travel to and from India or asked their nationals coming from the Asian country to isolate themselves in government-approved hotels.

India has so far detected 33,264,175 corona virus cases with the number of deaths hitting 442,874 as at September 13.

A large number of patients from Kenya also travel to India every year for specialised medical treatment, especially cancer care, helping to drive medical tourism in the densely populated country that boasts affordable and easily accessible healthcare.

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs


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Man pulls a cart loaded with second-hand clothes at Gikomba Market in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.
  • Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.
  • Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

The average price of a tonne of second-hand clothing items imported into the country crossed the Sh100,000 mark for the first time last year on reduced volumes in the wake of safety protocols and guidelines to curb spread of coronavirus.

Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.

Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

Last year’s drop was the first dip since 2011 when 76,533 tonnes were shipped in compared with 80,423 tonnes the previous year, the official data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows.

The import bill for the merchandise amounted to Sh12.24 billion, a drop of 31.11 percent, or Sh5.53 billion, year-on-year.

TIn imposing the temporary ban on used clothes, Kebs had applied a standard which prohibits buying second-hand clothes from countries experiencing epidemics to ensure disease-causing microorganisms are not imported into Kenya.

Higher quality and relatively lower prices for mitumba has continued to drive demand for used clothes at expense of locally-made products amid higher margins enjoyed by traders largely operating in informal markets.

The lucrative second-hand clothing market has seen traders from China —a key source market for the merchandise —open shops in Gikomba, Kenya’s largest informal market for mitumba, in recent years to cash in rising demand.

Earnings from exports of articles of apparel and clothing accessories fell 5.32 percent to Sh32.92 billion last year compared with 2019, data indicates.

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud


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Cotu boss Francis Atwoli. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.
  • Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.

Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

Mr Atwoli is the secretary-general of KPAWU. The rival union claimed KPAWU had encroached on its area of workers’ representation.

Justice James Rika, however, dismissed the claim and ruled that the dispute should have been taken through conciliation, and was therefore presented in court prematurely.

He also stated that Kefhau must go beyond its registration and recruit sufficient members from the employers, to be granted recognition and organisational rights.

“Registration on its own, does not afford the claimant (Kefhau) recognition. Until there is proof that Kefhau has satisfied Section 54 of the Labour Relations Act, the status quo must be maintained,” said the judge.

“Kefhau must recruit at least 50 percent plus one, of the unionisable employees in the floriculture and horticulture industry, members of the Agricultural Employers Association to be considered for recognition,” he stated.

He noted that there is a Recognition Agreement and CBA, binding Mr Atwoli’s union and Agricultural Employers Association, affecting 73 Flower Growers Group of employers, and over 60,000 employees.

“It is objectionable for Kefhau to be allowed organisational rights, and the legitimacy to receive trade union dues and agency fees, from over 60,000 employees, just on the strength of registration as a trade union,” said the judge.

Kefhau wanted the court to declare that it is the sole trade union, which is allowed by its constitution to carry out activities in the export floriculture and vegetable industry, and an order restraining Mr Atwoli’s from representing workers in that area.

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