Press Review: The day’s top stories at a glance

Today is  Friday, March 17, 2023.

You can read the Daily Nation e-paper here:

Here’s a quick rundown of what’s making headlines.

Heavier financial burden for ‘Wanjiku’ as Ruto nearly doubles CAS positions

President William Ruto has created the most bloated Executive in Kenya’s recent history, costing the taxpayers KES 13.2 billion in five years, with 50 chief administrative secretaries (CASs).

The State House initially asked the Public Service Commission (PSC) to create 23 CAS posts, which then rose to 50, signalling competing political interests, with the shortlist at one point reopened to accommodate more applicants.

The 50 CASs will cost KES 460 million annually in salaries, totaling KES 2.3 billion in five years. The taxpayers will provide KES 2.25 billion in one-off payments over five years for KES 35 million mortgage, KES 10 million car grant, and KES 10 million and KES 3 million inpatient and outpatient medical cover for each CAS.

This spending may mean belt-tightening in other sectors of the economy.

Oryx Energies received the largest payout from Uhuru era’s fuel subsidy

Oryx Energies was the biggest beneficiary of the KES 16.59 billion fuel subsidy payout made by former President Uhuru Kenyatta, according to a report submitted by the Energy Ministry to the National Assembly.

Other companies that shared the amount for products imported include E3 Energy Kenya, Vivo Energy Kenya, Galana Oil Kenya, and Rubis Energy. Oryx Energies received KES 8.21 billion in two tranches, making it the largest beneficiary, followed by Galana at KES 3.82 billion and E3 at KES 3.52 billion.

Chirchir, the Energy Cabinet Secretary, was summoned by the National Assembly’s Public Petitions Committee regarding the expenditure, which was withdrawn under Article 223 of the Constitution.

The Consumers Federation of Kenya has petitioned Parliament to investigate the spending.

KES 20M Westlands property belongs to Batuk Shah, records show

An Asian couple who had their KES 20 million Westlands property demolished last November have received some good news. Government records show that the land actually belongs to their father, Batuk Shah.

A senior assistant to the chief land registrar, David Nyandoro, revealed to the Nairobi County Assembly Planning Committee that rogue officials at the Lands Ministry had almost successfully erased all of the property’s records but accidentally spared crucial information.

Shah’s property was registered under title deed number IR250040. Officials who were seemingly after  Shah’s land details mistakenly tore off the land reference details belonging to another property.

The directorate of criminal investigations is investigating the matter.

EABL Directors face multi-billion shillings fine for disobeying court order

Directors of East African Breweries Limited (EABL) and parent company Diageo could face a fine of up to KES 39 billion for disobeying a Supreme Court order regarding a beer supply contract.

The fine, amounting to 20 percent of EABL’s sales, comes after former supplier Bia Tosha Distributors accused the brewer of failing to give back beer distributorship routes in parts of Nairobi, Machakos, and Kajiado.

The Supreme Court last month ordered EABL to reinstate Bia Tosha on the contested routes following a court battle that began in 2016.

Bia Tosha is also seeking compensation of over KES 1 billion for losses suffered since being kept out of the beer distribution business by EABL. The case continues.

Former CS Ukur Yatani to face parliament over KES 6B Telkom buyout

Former Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani has been summoned by the Departmental Committee on Finance to answer questions regarding the KES 6 billion Telkom buyout scandal.

The Finance Committee initiated the probe after concerns were raised about a potential irregular transaction of public funds. The National Assembly Committee on Budget Appropriations declined to approve the allocation of money to fund the takeover and called for more clarity.

The Finance Committee, led by Molo Member of Parliament Kuria Kimani, aims to investigate the process followed in the payment of the KES 6 billion to the foreign company months before the August 2022 election.

Yatani and former Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua were both summoned to answer questions on the same takeover.

Court orders eviction of Aldai MP Kitany from Linturi’s Runda home

Milimani Law Courts Chief Magistrate Wendy Micheni has ruled in favour of Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi and allowed the eviction of Aldai MP Marianne Kitany from his Runda home.

The court vacated the orders issued on February 15, which had barred the eviction, and reinstated the orders issued on February 7. The motion seeking the orders to allow eviction was filed by Bealine Auctioneers alongside Linturi.

On February 15, a group of people broke into the home and evicted Kitany, despite the orders barring it.

Kitany shared the home with Linturi before their bitter fallout more than six years ago.

The court has ordered the OCS Runda Police Station to provide security and police assistance during the eviction.

Military helicopters and ASTU officers bomb bandit hideouts in Baringo

On Thursday, military helicopters and Anti-Stock Theft Unit (ASTU) officers bombed Tandare valley, Baringo County, one of the hideouts for bandits targeted in the second phase of a security operation in the troubled North.

Security troops are set to launch a combined land and air operation to comb caves, gorges, and ravines in insecurity-prone areas in the Kenyan North, following the expiry of a 24-hour vacate order issued by Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki on Sunday.

The troops on the ground include the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), National Police Reservists (NPR), Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU), ASTU, and the General Service Unit (GSU).

The government has deployed a nearly complete arsenal ranging from armored personnel carriers (APCs) and guns, including the automated AK-47, G3 rifles, and general-purpose machine guns.

Raila vows to proceed with protests despite intimidation

Raila Odinga maintained that he will not be intimidated to call off the countrywide protests planned for Monday, March 20.

The leader of Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition, held an anti-government rally in Nakuru, a part of President William Ruto’s Rift Valley stronghold, on March 16.

In his first public meeting in Nakuru since losing to President Ruto in last year’s elections, Raila declared the upcoming protests the “mother of all protests” to bring the country to a standstill.

Raila listed six reasons to justify the protest, including refusal by President Ruto to allow the audit of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) servers, high cost of living, nepotism, broken promises, and an illegitimate government.

The protest is expected to be peaceful, according to Raila and Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka.


Kenya’s boxers suffer early elimination in World Women’s Boxing Championships

Kenya’s campaign for medals at the IBA World Women’s Boxing Championships got off to a rough start following the elimination of two boxers in the preliminary rounds on Thursday.

Pauline Chege and Ann Wanjiru both suffered defeat against their opponents, with Wanjiru attributing her loss to inexperience. However, Africa Boxing Championships silver medallist Elizabeth Andiego sailed through to the quarter-finals without having to fight.

The competition has attracted 324 boxers from 65 countries and is being held in India for the third time since its inception. Kenya’s Christine Ongare will take on Tanzania’s Rahma Maganga in the minimum weight category.

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