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Kenyans ask for Wetangula’s whereabouts as things get ugly, messy and noisy for him

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Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetangula has not been seen in public since information allegedly directly linking him to the latest fake gold scam leaked. His Twitter handle has also gone silent. Some media reports have however indicated that he has travelled out of the country.

In 2010, when he was the Foreign Affairs minister in the grand coalition government of 2008-2013, Moses Masika Wetang’ula, 63, led diplomatic efforts that resolved a visa standoff between Kenya and the United Arab Emirates.

The diplomatic tiff arose after UAE decreed that Kenyans going to or passing through Dubai (United Arab Emirates) would need a degree certificate to get a visa into the Arab country.

This was deemed to be in retaliation to the inadvertent deportation of a member of the royal family from Kenya.

In one of his finest diplomatic moments, Mr Wetang’ula led a delegation to Dubai where they had the requirement rescinded, only two weeks after it was imposed.

Perhaps it was during this meeting where Mr Wetang’ula was introduced to the high and mighty of the Emirati kingdom connections.

GOLD SCAM

This week, Mr Wetang’ula hit the news headlines again in relation to the UAE ruling family — but this time it was for the wrong reason.

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The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) said that the Bungoma Senator was being investigated for his role in a gold scandal that saw the Dubai royal family lose Sh400 million.

A leaked audio in which a man purported to be Mr Wetang’ula is dropping the names of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga to assure someone presumed to be a member of the royal family that all is well and that the gold consignment would be delivered, has thrust him to the centre of the scandal.

But even as the scandal unravels, Mr Wetang’ula has maintained a studious silence and did not respond to the Sunday Nation’s enquiries on Saturday.

Some of his aides have also claimed, off the record, that the voice on the leaked tape is not the senator’s and that the whole matter has been politicised to tarnish his image ahead of the 2022 general election.

BAT SCANDAL

The incident is just the most recent of several occasions on which Mr Wetang’ula has been mentioned adversely in controversial scandals throughout his lengthy political career.

In 2015, a BBC investigation claimed Mr Wetang’ula was among senior public officials and MPs from Kenya who were compromised by British American Tobacco Company to do business that favoured the tobacco manufacturer.

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The investigations claimed Mr Wetang’ula had received an air ticket and money to facilitate his travel to London from BAT while he was Trade minister in order to interfere with the country’s anti-smoking laws.

The Senator refuted the claims and went ahead to institute defamatory proceedings against the broadcaster.

In 2012, after widespread speculation and controversy, he admitted that his previous law firm was involved in the Sh800 million sale of oil blocks in Turkana. He, however, said he had left the law firm by the time.

FUNDS MISUSE

Before that, in 2010, Mr Wetang’ula was forced to step aside as Foreign minister amid a growing scandal involving the alleged misuse of his ministry’s funds for several land deals abroad.

While serving as the Foreign Affairs minister, Mr Wetang’ula is remembered for summoning two ambassadors in 2009 whom he thought had disrespected Kenya in one way or another.

He summoned the US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger and asked him to explain the last-minute cancellation of new Delta Air Lines flights to US via Dakar on security fears in Nairobi.

A year before that, he also summoned the United Kingdom ambassador to Kenya, Mr Adam Wood, seeking clarification over a remark made in the House of Commons that they did not recognise former President Mwai Kibaki as the Head of State.

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The Senator’s political career dates back to 1992 when he was nominated by Kanu as MP up to to 1997.

CAREER

He was later elected the MP Sirisia constituency, and since then Mr Wetang’ula has never lost in any political election up to his current senatorial position.

In 2014, the senator claimed that there was an attempt on his life after unknown people shot at his car on Mbagathi Way in Nairobi. The police discounted his version of events.

“If anyone wants a divorce it will be noisy, messy and unhelpful, and it will have causalities,” declared Mr Wetang’ula in March last year when ODM engineered to have him removed as the Senate Minority Leader.

A year down the line, things have turned noisy, messy for the Senator as a result of the alleged gold deal that has led to some arrests with the DCI naming him as a person of interest. All eyes are now on the senator, who remains tight-lipped.

Source: Nation.co.ke

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Business

Luxury Westlands hotel on auction over Sh240m debt

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A luxury hotel in Westlands, Nairobi formerly known Westend is set to be auctioned over unpaid Sh240 million bank loan.

In a notice published in the dailies Wednesday, Dalali Traders invited potential buyers of We Hotel and Suites formerly known as Westend to attend the event Thursday.

“Under instructions received from the charges advocate, we shall sell by public auction the under mentioned property on Thursday 20 February at our offices along Kijabe Street next to Universal Church starting at 10:30am,” the auctioneer said in a notice.

The hotel is associated with media entrepreneur Purish Shah.

Mr Shah, who is the vice chairman of Radio Africa linked urban station East FM had earlier pushed back similar attempts to sell his We Hotel and Suites through the court.

The Business Daily has learnt the latest planned auction of the upscale hotel is due to the debt owed to Bank of India. The hotel comprises a seven-storey building with basement parking. It has 42 rooms, 14 serviced apartments, spa, gym, conference space and a restaurant on the 7th floor.

Its basement comprises 17 parking spaces and a security office. Its ground floor has a conference centre, laundry area, staff dining room, and stores.

Located on Stima Road off Lower Kabete in Westlands it sits on approximately 0.0858ha (0.212 acres).

READ ALSO:   Waiguru now says she supports lifestyle audit

“A deposit of 25 percent of the sale price must be paid in cash or banker’s cheque at the fall of the hammer and balance paid within the 90 days to the charges,” said the auctioneers.

The auction comes as the number of properties going under the hammer or businesses crippled by mounting debt has risen sharply in recent months.

We Hotel and Suites joins the growing class of distressed hotels owned and operated by locals that have fallen to mounting debt and slowed down business as a result of the increased supply of rooms in the country and the government’s directive for public servants to hold their meetings in government institutions as part of cost-cutting measures.

By Business Daily

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Business

Nairobi reports high January home sales driven by access to credit and lower property prices

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Realtors have reported increased sales of standalone homes within Nairobi and its suburbs, largely driven by improved access to credit and lower property prices.

A survey of several real estate dealers in the city has revealed that January property sales were much higher than the average monthly transactions reported in 2019.

Realtor HassConsult said high-end properties in Westlands as well as the Gigiri diplomatic zone performed well last month, with several off- plan deals recorded.

“January has witnessed three times more activity than any other month last year,” said HassConsult’s head of development consulting and research Sakina Hassanali.

She said Kenyans appear to be enjoying better access to capital as many property buyers and tenants had paid all their instalments that lagged behind last year.

Mr Patrick Muchoki of Mahiga Homes said they have seen higher demand in developments in Ruiru and Kitengela, mostly from investor- buyers from the diaspora market.

“There is hope as Kenya’s population is rising and new well-paying jobs

are fast emerging within the digital space. 2020 is shaping up to be different from 2019, as banks are now willing to lend to would-be homeowners,” he said.

Enkavilla Properties General Manager Lilian Juma said good infrastructure has been supporting new sales for upcoming residential development in areas such as Kangundo Road, while Kitengela serviced plots sold under a buy-and-build basis have witnessed heightened interest among young couples.

READ ALSO:   Samburu governor free to travel to US

Releasing their fourth-quarter housing property index, Kenya Bankers Association reported a seven percentage points jump in maisonette and bungalow sales within Nairobi and its suburbs.

KBA research and policy financial markets director Jared Osoro said there was a 17 per cent rise in sales of maisonettes in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to a 10 per cent rise in the third quarter.

Outlook
ALL NOT LOST, SAY PLAYERS

The fourth-quarter KBA Housing Index registered a 0.61 per cent decline compared to the third quarter’s 2.28 per cent drop in house prices, an indication that the repeal of the interest rate capping law last November could have eased access to credit.

Increasing opportunities especially in the ICT sector, rising income levels and infrastructure are among factors that will push demand for homes up, according to some property managers.

By Nation

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Africa

Barclays Bank Kenya is now ABSA Kenya and it has opened its doors to the public

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Following the issuance of the requisite regulatory approvals, Barclays Bank of Kenya re-branded to Absa Bank Kenya on 10 February 2020 and is now open for business.

Absa Bank Kenya Plc  is a subsidiary of South Africa-based Absa Group Limited.[2] It is licensed by the Central Bank of Kenya, the central bank and national banking regulator.

The headquarters and main branch of the bank are located at Barclays Westend Building, off of Waiyaki Way, in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital and largest city.

The bank is a large financial services institution in Kenya, with an asset base in excess of KES:259.718 billion (US$2.597 billion), with shareholders’ equity of KES:42,388 billion (US$423,83 billion). At that time the bank serviced 833 268 customer accounts, in 121 branches, 214 automated teller machines and 2,591 members of staff.

Barclays Africa Group Limited has officially been renamed Absa Group Limited and started trading under its new name and new share code (ABG) on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange today. The name change marks the start of a new era for the group as a standalone African group with a new brand design fit for a forward-looking business in a digital age.

No longer just a South African brand, the new Absa Group has a presence in 12 African countries and plans to open international offices in the UK and the US.

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“Our new name and brand are an expression of our new purpose and strategic direction, which commits us to growing in Africa,” Absa Group Limited Chief Executive Officer, Maria Ramos said. “We are rallying around a shared sense of purpose and identity while celebrating our diversity,” she said.

Absa Group launched a new growth strategy on 1 March 2018 as it separates from Barclays PLC. The strategy prioritises cultural transformation as well as restoring leadership position in the group’s core business areas, and developing pioneering propositions for customers and clients. The new Absa brand design is an expression of the group’s new purpose, which is:  ‘bringing your possibility to life’.

The rollout of the new Absa brand design in South Africa will be completed in 2019. The new Absa brand will also be rolled out to Absa Group’s Barclays banks in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia by mid-2020, subject to approvals including from regulators in those countries. Product and service functionality will not be affected by the rebranding programme.

In renaming Barclays banks across the continent, the group will be able to build on the pedigree of the Absa brand as a strong and stable bank. The brand has substantial equity – Absa was named the fourth most valuable brand (with an estimated value of R18.9 billion, or about US$1.5 billion) in South Africa by global brand valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance this year.

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“We would like to build the brand as a bank that Africa’s people can be proud of, a truly independent African bank with global scalability,” said Ramos. “A single brand will enable us to unite behind a single identity, purpose and strategy; we are excited by the enormous opportunity we have to create a bank that Africa can be proud of.”

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