When former Meru County Governor, Peter Munya took over as Cabinet Secretary for Industry, Trade and Cooperatives mid this year, many thought that he would be the “Joshua” required to get Kenya’s Industrialization Agenda to the proverbial “Canaan”. Few expected that Peter Munya would quickly turn out to be the Meru Crocodile that “Handshake” politicians are currently referring to.
As soon as CS Munya arrived at the 17th Floor office in NSSF Towers, he embarked on a mission to settle scores with his erstwhile backers turned political foes from Meru County. First on his target list was Meru Senator and former MP for Igembe South, Hon. Franklin Mithika Linturi whose firm Atticon Ltd., he had helped get awarded contracts worth 1.2 Billion Shillings for Roads while serving as Governor for Meru County. Word has it that despite Munya helping Linturi to win the contracts in expectation of funding his re-election, Linturi snubbed Munya and instead teamed up with other Jubilee Politicians to back former Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi to clinch the Meru County Gubernatorial race in the 2017 General Elections. No sooner had he settled down than he learned that a construction company owned by Hon. Linturi had a running contract to fence the Athi-River EPZ. Munya set out on a mission to teach Linturi a lesson by canceling the contract awarded to Atticon Ltd.
With his eyes firmly set on 2022 succession politics, CS Munya quickly sought a brief from PS Betty Maina on the parastatal cash cows at their new Ministry. Previously, they had worked together at the Ministry of East Africa Community and Regional Development where as CS and PS respectively. PS Betty Maina was quick to present to CS Munya a brief on various parastatals including a list of contractors and projects with the values of each.
A few parastatals stood out on the strategic list due to their role in the Big 4 Agenda. These were the Kenya Bureau of Standards, Kenya Leather Development Council, East Africa Portland Cement Co. Ltd. and Export Processing Zones Authority. Two among them namely the KLDC and EPZA were rumoured to be sitting on large projects worth billions of shillings at the Kenya Leather Park and the Athi-River Textile Hub, both located in Machakos. Emissaries were soon being sent to Board Members and the CEOs of various parastatals seeking meetings to review their projects with rumoured requests for “handshakes”. Parastatal bosses who did not cooperate were promptly issued with warnings and threats of replacement with a list of 5 earmarked as “must go”.
Sources indicate that many CEOs have cooperated and delivered briefcases containing generous “handshakes,” but some stubborn ones who did not cooperate or deliver their weight’s worth in gold were quickly shown the door to send a clear message. A few cases have been quoted, namely, the Acting MD for KEBS, Dr. Moses Ikiara who despite coming from Munya’s Meru County was unceremoniously dispatched back to KenInvest owing to what was said to be his aloof nature, blindness to dollar opportunities and perceived closeness to Gov. Kiraitu Murungi. Others shown the door were the Acting MD for Kenya National Trading Corporation (KNTC) where CS Munya abruptly appointed his Meru County crony, Joel Kinyua Imitira. Joel is said to be a know-it-all expert with whom Munya had migrated to the EAC Ministry after their stint in Meru County. Gov. Kiraitu sent Joel parking after the elections when he failed to show any achievements during his stint as MD at the Meru Investment Cooperation. Now employed on 17th floor of NSSF Building as an “Advisor”, Joel is now the Acting MD at KNTC in total contravention of the Public Service Commission Act and State Corporations Act. Similarly kicked out of office unceremoniously was Fanuel Kidenda, CEO at the Export Processing Zones Authority. Kidenda was sacked on the spot during a familiarization visit to EPZA and replaced by a Mr. George Makateto. The sacking took place out of the blue during a visit to Meru Greens EPZ, a company owned by Mr. Gerald Muthiomi, a known business associate of CS Munya. It is rumored that Mr. Kidenda had reportedly refused to sanction a 33 million shillings payment to a contractor called EPCO Builders after an internal project report had identified some irregularities in the issuance of certificates for the project. Sources indicate that Mr. Kidenda has since sued CS Munya for wrongful termination. CS Munya has been quoted to informally cite bad “body chemistry” challenges with the ousted CEO whom he refers to as “kichwa ngumu.”
In the few months since their arrival at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives, CS Munya and PS Betty Maina are said to have quickly set up a scheme to extort “handshakes” from investors and contractors with the promise of quick payments, approvals and more projects. Payments to contractors in various parastatals are now only made after specific approvals by CS Peter Munya and PS Betty Maina, for which they must part with some motivation. Meanwhile, to settle scores with the likes of Hon. Linturi and contractors who failed to offer “handshakes”, anonymous letters and dossiers were quickly drafted and sent to the attention of EACC and DCI, both of whom had their officers visit EPZA to carryout investigations on the cited projects, but did not find anything untoward. Having failed to convince the investigative bodies, CS Munya is said to have roped in Mr. George Makateto, the Acting CEO at EPZA and Mr. Paul Gicheru (the lawyer that was issued with summons by the International Criminal Court ICC for corruptly influencing ICC suspects) into the grand scheme. Mr. Gicheru who is also the immediate former Chairman of the Public Procurement Review Board under the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority was tasked to make use of his connections at PPRA to order an investigation at EPZA targeting uncooperative contractors among them Hon. Linturi’s company, Atticon Limited. The basis of the investigations is an anonymous letter that provided no evidence to back its claims.
EPZA Chairman, Paul Gicheru has since enlisted at least 4 other persons at PPRA who regularly meet with him for coffee where the plot to “finish” Linturi and other like him is hatched. Internal communications from CS Munya’s office have since been leaked by his office to the media, to create a public outcry and intimidate the contractors to pay-up as well as tarnish the names of his predecessor CS Adan Mohamed, EPZA Board Members and the ousted CEO at EPZA whom they suspect are obstacles to their new gravy train.
It waits to be seen whether Hon. Linturi will watch as CS Munya destroys his company. Foreign investors under the EPZs are already said to be panicking as it is rumored that CS Munya intends to cancel various EPZ licenses and leases for land at the Athi River EPZ. Approvals for gazettement and local sales are said to be hawked by his office and any investor who fails to pay is denied approvals.