Category Archives: John Githongo

Book Review: It’s Our Turn to Eat

A review of the book without having read the book. Note that I generally don’t like to read reviews’. If I want to watch a movie or read a new fiction book, I won’t read any reviews of it till after I watch it; this is because reviews tend to contain too many spoilers and plot giveaways.

During the May Day holiday weekend, I finally finished reading It’s Our Turn to Eat – the bootleg version, one which the author warned was not the real copy. It’s a fairly comprehensive e-mail; I’d wager its close enough to the real thing that and that over 90% of the blog readers here have read the PDF (real or faux) – and please don’t ask me for a copy.

The introduction of the book to Kenya, a biography of former anti-corruption Tsar John Githongo (written by Michela Wrong), had three background factors
– John Githongo is a powerful, polarizing person in Kenya; a patriot & champion to some, a traitor & coward to others. While his accounts of events related to Anglo Leasing has been published in his parliamentary reports; not much has been written about Githongo the person this is his story
– While the Government of Kenya never commented or banned, the book, several Nairobi bookshops shied away from displaying or advertising the book. This was because of previous libel awards that bookshops who were near easy targets got fined for carrying books that powerful leaders (Nicholas Biwott) felt besmirched them
– Also at the same time, a PDF version of the book also circulating and was forwarded and downloaded widely The author Michela Wrong and her publishing house realized that there was a leaked version circulating and:

(i) Alerted her friends and the net community that a faux/earlier/incomplete version was being circulated
(ii) Released a low-cost e-book to counter the faux copy.

Having only read the faux copy, I can only comment on what’s in it. I have no doubt it comes close to the real thing. I still intend to get a copy of the real book – either buying one from a friend, or having one delivered from abroad – good enough that I want to read the read the book – and not the E-Copy but the actual book; having a book still convey paper books have functionality, and durability that e-books don’t – I can read the book anywhere (matatu, bank queue, at lunch). Demand for the book is making me want to break a vow and obtain a credit card perhaps to buy it from Amazon (UK) or the publisher.

Michael Wrong’s last book I read was In the Footstep of Mr. Kurtz, about Mobutu Sese Seko and his years as President of Zaire (a.k.a the Democratic Republic of Congo.) It’s the definitive book for anyone new to the Congo or wishing to understand the Congo’s post-independence history, economy, diversity, people, problems etc. Likewise the Githongo book – focused on high-level government corruption, raw tribal political leadership, ease of corruption, political interference/weakness of judiciary – will be the definitive book of the Kibaki era (Kenya 2002 to the present) and until other government personalities commission their own biographies, this will be the way that the recent political history of Kenya will be understood. It would be nice to read about Michael Waweru on tax collection strategies, Peter Kenneth and the use of Constituency Development Funds, Esther Koimett at the Privatization process, and Kilemi Mwiria on free primary education etc.

Other local reviews of the book.

Mostly Equity – Suspensions & Housing Evictions

Equity suspended: Equity Bank was briefly suspended as a Central Depository Agent by the Central Depository & Settlement Corporation (CDSC). They have smartly escaped unscathed without answering any charges owing to:
– Playing one regulator against another the. The Capital Markets Authority (CMA) immediately reversed the ban, and reinstated Equity while terming the CDSC action as being against procedure
– By invoking the ‘small investor’ Equity said that they were in trouble because they had reached out to the small investor, lending them funds to buy Safaricom shares without collateral, and some people did not like that

Lost in the story is:
– Equity split shares were supposed to start trading on April 14, but have been trading as split prices and have appreciated about 40% since the announcement
– The spat makes the CMA and CDSC look bad; by having a turf war (PDF) and fighting in public both claiming to fight for the integrity or interest of investors
– Why won’t Equity pay the minuscule amount or respond to the regulator (CDSC)?
– Comments made by the CEO at the bank AGM, bragging having the most investor accounts in the country coming back to haunt at a time when brokers are (i) broke (ii) resentful/envious
– More tales at the stockskenya forum

Equity moves in at Housing Finance: At Housing Finance, Equity is asserting its authority at the bank and Equity directors will now form 1/3 of the Housing Board of Directors, with Peter Munga (Equity chairman) Benson Wairegi (Equity vice chairman) and Babatunde Soyoye (Helios) all appointed in 2008 and who will all be ratified by Housing Finance shareholders this month.

During the 2008 rights issue at Housing Finance, Equity also increased their ownership stake from 20% to 24.9% while sister institution British American Investments (Britak) also increased from 4.9% to 7.5%. The rights issue also saw the National Social Security Fund reduce stake from 7.8% to 6.8% as the Government of Kenya which did not take up any new shares saw its stake reduce from 7.3% to 3.6%

Opportunities

Free Download Githongo Book – The most talked about book in Kenya – It’s Our Turn to Eat – the Story of a Kenyan Whistle-Blower (John Githongo) by Michela Wrong will be available for download from April 10. yes you probably have a bootleg copy, but this is the real one from the publisher

– Invest in a Government of Kenya Bond to raise 10, billion shillings ($125 million), and earn a potential 10% bond return (PDF); minimum application amount is 50,000 ($625), and the offer closes 22 April. (better than Madoff?)

Maker Faire Africa (MFA), a celebration of African ingenuity, innovation and invention, will take place August 13-15 at the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT in Ghana’s capital, Accra there are opportunities to sponsor the summit

Jitihada is the Kenya National Business Plan Competition – (details) (PDF) that will be launched in mid-April.

Create a Logo for an international mobile banking conference and win $200. Details here, found at @whiteafrican

Jobs
Old mutual: Broker distribution manager, Mass market manager. Apply to recruitment@oldmutualkenya.com by 17/4
National social security fund managing trustee. apply through manpower associates by 26/4
Capital Markets Authority: Assistant Manager (Legal Framework), Accountant, Assistant Manager (Investigations), Manager (ICT). D/L is 15 April

Recovery Week

Out of hospital and recovering this week and trying to catch up after two weeks away from a computer. Missed so much, mailboxes are full, have to send proper replies, and most of the news links are now out-dated and need to be refreshed.

It was a pleasant week, whose main difficulty was the passage to time. I read many books and consulted Dr. Hannibal Lecter who had spent 8 years in one room.

Describe a share investor
The Economist published a series on executive compensation and ran a quote from 17 years ago that can be used to accurately describe (we) investors who speculate on shares;

To a shareholder in a typical company, a share is little more than a betting slip. It is bought at what a shareholder thinks are good odds to provide winnings he hopes will be large.

The notion that he owns part of a company makes as much sense to him as it would for the average gambler to imagine he owns part of a horse running in a 2:30 race.

A title deed to a house tells someone what he knows instinctively – that he owns the place and must care for it. A share certificate tells him nothing more than that he has the right to a dividend and the chance to make some cash.

Tiomin sells out
Tiomin will sell ATW Venture Corp. a 50% interest in the Kenyan mineral sands for US$35 million to raise funds owing to cost escalations.

Githongo blog
He must be wondering what he has to do to get his point, but after putting up a blog he should be very careful

Stanbic Results
With over 1 billion shares on offer and despite the over-subscription, there’s won’t be too many complaints about allocation;
– Uganda nationals get full allocation up to 2.15 million shares
– Others (including Kenyans) get full allocation up to 109,500 shares (about 312,000 shillings)[But the stock exchange there trades for (I think) 3 days a week]

Sky please
After years of getting (and under appreciating) SKY news of Britain, the local STV channel has taken it down and replaced it with VOA TV. There’s no apparent reason why VOA should be broadcasting as there’s nothing I’ve seen that is newsworthy or worth tuning in for.

Opportunities

Jobs

International director of fund raising at AMREF. Details here and apply through olga@crsearchandselection.com by 9/2

Financial controller at Children’s International. Apply through KPMG at esd@kpmg.co.ke by 2/2

Senior project officers (2) at EADB Nairobi. Apply to the Kenya country manager at box 47685 by 16/2

Housing Finance: Manager [HR], assistant manager[legal], officer [insurance]. Apply to human.resources@housing.co.ke by 3/2

I&M Bank: Details here for Cashiers [Tellers], Liability Manager, Trade Finance Officer, and Relationship Manager [Assets].

Marshalls: General Manager (Tata), General Manager (KIA/Honda), Marketing Manager. Apply through Dagger Consultants at gd@africaonline.co.ke by 9/2

National Oil Corporation: Various jobs including customer service assistant, ICT manager and internal audit assistant. Apply to hr@nockenya.co.ke by 13/2

NIC Bank: Nakuru [business development manager, sales executives (2), branch advances officer, branch customer service officer], Mombasa [service delivery manager], Nairobi [Corporate relationship manager]. Apply to the Head of HR 44599-00100 Nairobi by 7/2

Finance manager at Sense International – Nairobi. Apply to info@senseint-ea.org by 2/2

Finance manager at Tearfund – Nairobi. Apply to internationaljob@tearfund.org by 31/1

Other

KCB is seeking new ATM machines to expand its network into the hundreds.

The Nairobi Stock Exchange will conduct a Market Index Review via a consultancy.

Associate consultants at the influential Steadman Group. Apply to md@steadman-group.com

Awaiting KQ

 

Kenya Airways financial year ended on March 31 and their final results for the year should be released within a few weeks. Going by their half year results the airline’s revenue is likely to be above 50 billion shillings and pre-tax profit may pass 7 billion. The airline is likely to follow the trend of several companies and double its dividend payment to shareholders to 2.50 shillings for the year.

Other Corporations

Jubilee Insurance pre-tax profit was up from 359m to 471m and the company will pay a dividend of 4 shillings per share, up from 2.5 the year before.

Standard newspapers group published their half-year results showing turnover increased from 961m to 1,098m and pre-tax profit increased from 45m to 92m. Not this time, but the company hopes to resume paying dividends once its balance sheet restructuring is completed.

Other Business

Pre-shipment scandal: According to Africa Confidential, there was a ‘deliberate and concerted effort’ to award a US$10-million pre-shipment inspection contract in September 2005 to Switzerland’s Société Générale de Surveillance and Britain’s Intertek International.

Little help in corruption war: Also from Africa Confidential, there’s diminishing Western support for the war on corruption in that US-based risk consultants Kroll Associates decided on April 3 to shut down their Africa practice because the company judged “Africa to be just too risky.” The Kenya Government had, through John Githongo, previously hired Kroll to find billions of looted shillings stashed in foreign accounts.

Lunch with R & G



Yesterday I attended a corporate function (center picture) in Karen. I arrived late, and just as the Vice President’s motorcade was leaving. After watching bodyguards jump into moving cars, Raila Odinga pulled Uhuru Kenyatta aside for a brief chat. They talked alone for a few minutes before Uhuru’s Mercedes pulled up and he also left (did not know that the leader of official position uses a GK car). Raila also entered an SUV and drove off, waving to the small crowd through his open window.

Later we walked to the Horseman restaurant for lunch to end the event we were surprised to find that all the politicians had also come for the lunch as well, and were seated at a corner table. As I sat there, I thought about the last time I had been this close to, and can claim to have had a lunch with, Raila.

It was in December 2004, also in Karen, the day Raila’s daughter Rosemary got married in a huge wedding for the ages. It was huge with pomp, bling, money spent well – expensive but tastefully, and was attended by President Kibaki, former President Moi and thousands of others.

That day, I was very surprised to see John Githongo for the first (and only time) time in my life, as he walked in with President Kibaki’s entourage of the day. Reading the Githongo diaries, we know now that it was a momentous day for Githongo as he had just before wedding given the President another explosive briefing on the still underground Anglo Leasing scandal. And just over a month later, he was gone, resigned and in exile from the Kenya government.

And there they were that day celebrating with Raila the man who sways & seduces people, politicians and voters – and who has been a critical ally turned lethal foe for both presidents Moi and Kibaki. Rails was also a man who Kibaki’s people had been uncomfortable with almost to the point of obsession. The Githongo diaries are peppered with utterances where Kiraitu Murungi and other officials told Githongo that Anglo leasing funds were to be used to fight Raila at Bomas, their fears Raila knew all about Anglo Leasing was, that they needed Anglo leasing funds to build up a war chest to strengthen the president and contain Raila.

Fast forward to yesterday, many months late, when I also attended a Kwani poetry slam in the evening. IMHO, the best reading was given by one Muki Garang who gave some nice def poetry performances. He also wore a t-shirt with John Githongo’s portrait.

John Githongo, who is alive, has joined a select list of people immortalized by young revolutionaries – such as Che Guevara, Bob Marley, John Lennon, Malcolm X, Mahatma Gandhi, even 2Pac. Most of them died before their time, often at the hands of others. Yesterday was also the date when another icon, Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. He is not a t-shirt icon like the others, but he is recognized in a greater way with monuments, a holiday and is credited with the legacy of spearheading the drive to ending separation in America.

But sometimes when you reach a summit, the only place you can go is down – and the years have not been kind to some people e.g. Michael Jackson, Jesse Jackson and now Whitney Houston – who would all be called icons today if they had left the scene in the late 80’s with their reputations intact. People would be talking about them in legendary status, wearing their t-shirts, and own tons of their memorabilia.

John Githongo deserves more than a t-shirt as a recognition item – which is why he needs to keep evolving and adapting like Raila has done. Maybe Githongo should apply to become the next head of Transparency International in Germany or the USA or come back and be the next head of Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission. He has to keep plugging away, not just commenting.