Sunday, April 6, 2008


Countries world over promote themselves with the label's such as MADE IN CHINA,MADE IN SINGAPORE,MADE IN MALAYSIA,MADE IN JAPAN,MADE IN S.KOREA, MADE IN USA,MADE IN VENEZUELA,MADE IN MEXICO,MADE IN GREAT BRITAIN,MADE IN RUSSIA,MADE IN BRAZIL,MADE IN COLOMBIA,MADE IN INDIA,MADE IN SOUTH AFRICA,MADE IN THE PHILIPPINES... et cetera et cetera...This, in actual sense means that these countries are proud to be associated with the products/and or what they make and are. But in Kenya,things are different...there is a unique taste into what they make.

It is in Kenya that a general election can be bungled to a point where one is left wondering whether the people involved really live in that same country. Or whether they have any afterthought of the future.In Kenya, electoral commission can chose to completely ignore the constitution or pick parts of it to side step.this is the same constitution on which they are supposedly formed or to operate under, without anybody raising a finger or ever being taken to court of law for the mismanagement.

It is not a surprise to find out that its only in Kenya that a sitting president can organize, steal-(in abroad daylight-ask a small kid, he/she will tell you....yes he stole and everyone knows it- kind)the election and put on a brave face and say to the world that "I am the duly elected president of Kenya" without giving it much thought! It is only in this country that not only can one steal the election, over 3000 innocent lives and more than a quarter of a million people be refugees in their own country, the perpetrators can actually get a way with it-NO QUESTIONS ASKED.

It is also in Kenya that a sitting president can bungle the election and still be in the coalition government where a staggering 40 plus cabinet ministers and unspecified or similar numbers of assistant ministers are proposed and justified to be a good number even though the country is in a bleak economic/social and political times. And the issue of almost 90% of the populace living under ksh 60.00/day do not arise.THIS IS A TRUE KENYAN MADE!

Yes it's only in Kenya where politicians can buy themselves into the parliament, once there, they can get to appoint themselves into the cabinet and cherry-pick which posts massages their ego better and fight/throw tantrums to get.They also can fix their salaries at will- making sure that they get paid/or pay themselves the highest in the world...given the country's GDP. And while at it, also make sure that they are in apposition to grab anything-everything as much as they can.

It is also in Kenya where major scandals such as angloleasings, goldenburgs, Ndung'us, krolls types..among numerous others not to forget to mention the mobiteleas can be conceptualized-executed and continue to thrive without loosing any sleep over it. OOOh and the IPO?

Abdulahi Ahmednasir said this much on his article to the standard:

Eight years after conception, the riddle that is Mobitelea remains unresolved. With the floatation of Safaricom shares in the Nairobi Stock Exchange next month, the long drawn saga of Mobitelea will officially end. Like other grand scams that litter our landscape, Mobitelea will then be buried without any rituals among the haunting ghosts of Anglo Leasing and Goldenberg. Mobitelea costs the taxpayer a staggering Sh10 billion according to the current valuation of Safaricom. How can a scam of this magnitude be conceptualised, successfully executed, and its fruits so publicly eaten, while no one in power raises a finger? Please read the bewildering narrative that is Mobitelea.

In May, 2000 Vodafone, a blue chip British enterprise finally realised its long cherished dream of buying for a song a sizeable stake in Safaricom. It has been trying to do for a long time. To realise the goal, Vodafone enlisted the service of Mobitelea, a company solely created for that task, and which in turn, ordered four important institutions in Kenya to do its bidding.

So how did Vodafone and Mobitelea pull the transaction? Mobitela offered its service to Vodafone and guaranteed that it can force Kenyan officials to sell Safaricom shares to Vodafone at a price determined by the later.

Vodafone, as many European companies do, tried to pay off Mobitelea in one cash transaction for the services rendered. Mobitelea resisted this and insisted on being given a percentage of the shares Vodafone wanted to buy in Safaricom.

Further negotiations between the parties ensured. Mobitelea, on condition that it will be allotted some of the shares of Vodafone, was additionally mandated to ensure that there should be no independent valuation of the Safaricom shares.

The price Vodafone paid was solely agreed between Vodafone and Mobitelea. That explains the generosity of the British company. Both parties shook hands. Mobitelea became the rich owner of 10 per cent of Safaricom.

In executing its task, Mobitelea did pull four important strings. First, it forced the Finance ministry to approve the sale of Safaricom shares to Vodafone. Only the Minister of Finance had the legal power to allow Telkom Kenya, which was the parent company of Safaricom, to sell its shares to a foreign company.

The Finance minister in May 2000 is thus a material witness to this saga for he knew the human faces behind Mobitelea.

Second, who was the Minister in charge of Transport and Telecommunication in May 2000? That ministry was in charge of Telkom Kenya and its subsidiary, Safaricom. It is impossible for Telkom Kenya, as a wholly owned parastatal, to sell its equity in Safaricom without being sanctioned by the minister in charge of this docket. He, too, knows the human faces behind Mobitelea.

Third, the management and board of directors of Telkom Kenya in May 2000 were the foot solders of Mobitelea. They have all the details of the transaction.

Four, before any transaction of the magnitude of Mobitelea can join the big league of Kenya’s scams, the State Law Office must legally sanction it. A legal opinion validating the transaction must be lying somewhere in the State Law Office.

Political compromise

The narrative goes on. In 2002 when the National Rainbow Coalition government came to power, powerful individuals in government came after Mobitelea threatening that the authorities will repossess Mobitelea’s shares in Safaricom. Both the owners of Mobitelea and those making the threat being members of the same political elite struck a compromise. One to two per cent of Mobitelea’s shares in Safaricom were given to the new kids on the block and Mobitelea retained the rest. That is the end of the narrative.

The Mobitelea saga raises disturbing questions on a number of fronts. This is yet another instance when billions of shillings jointly stolen by our leaders and friendly foreigners. I think it is in order for the British High Commissioner to Kenya Mr Adam Wood to address the ethics of a British corporation in one of his forthcoming lectures. What is his government doing about this Imperial British East African Company?

Kenyans must appreciate that the sale of Safaricom shares to Vodafone was not a backroom deal. It was officially sanctioned at all levels of government. There is even a possibility that the Cabinet gave the seal of approval. Further, the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission and the Attorney General have all the details of the transaction. They know the details of who the original owners, how the transaction was negotiated, who signed what documents, and who received what amount. They also know who in government was given shares in Mobitelea in exchange for political protection. Of course, Kenyans are not too foolish to expect these two offices to go after their political masters.

Even though it will be difficult to trace the Mobitelea shares once it is off loaded in the stock exchange, Kenyans still have a good recourse. The weakest link in this corrupt transaction is the shares of Vodafone in Safaricom. A viable legal challenge can be mounted against Vodafone to invalidate the transaction and return all the shares to the Government. This is because the underlying basis of the entire transaction was a bribe to induce the Government to offload its 40 per cent stake in Safaricom.

Lest we forget, some of the ministers who in 2000 sanctioned the Mobitelea scandal will be among the 40 ministers to be appointed today. The more we think we have changed, the more we remain the same.

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