The Kenyan Saga of Journalist John Ngirachu: Minister Nkaissery’s statement to journalists (Youtube-Clip), Press Statement from the Media Council of Kenya (10.11.2015), Press release from Raila Odinga & Press Statement from the Kenyan Editors Guild (10.11.2015)

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STATEMENT BY THE KENYA EDITORS GUILD ON THE ARREST OF NATION MEDIA GROUP JOURNALIST JOHN NGIRACHU

An old proverb aptly advised human kind over the ages that, “Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.”

This evening, the Cabinet Secretary in charge of the Ministry of Interior Major General (retired) Joseph ole Nkaissery outdid himself in purported execution of the mandate of his Ministry. John Ngirachu, a Nation Media Group journalist on lawful duty in the National Assembly was arrested within the precincts of Parliament on orders of Nkaissery.

The cabinet secretary has evidently followed through his threat to target the media over a report on the Auditor General’s query on how Nkaissery Ministry spent some Ksh.3.8 Billion in a single day.

The Kenya Editors Guild and indeed the entire independent media fraternity is appalled by the arrest of Ngirachu and the bizarre demand by Nkaissery that the journalist ‘reveal the source of the story’. The query of the Auditor General on the Ksh.3.8 Billion Interior Ministry spending is a matter for which Mr. Nkaissery was questioned by the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament and effectively, Nkaissery is one of the sources of the story, and indeed a reliable one.

The demand for source of the story is therefore mere posturing by Nkaissery who has proceeded to threaten that Ngirachu will quote; “be fried if he does not reveal the sources of his story”. We are indeed disappointed with this unpolished language of an otherwise senior cabinet minister; phrases such as ‘frying’ an innocent journalist could at best find home back in 1980s when Nkaissery led an infamous military ‘security operation’ against potentially innocent villagers in West Pokot.

We have also taken note of a 4-page incoherent statement that preceded the arrest of Ngirachu. The statement is an attempt to build a case against not just the media but also a broader base of Kenyans that have dared question a wide range of issues particularly the runaway corruption in government.

The Nkaiserry statement has bizarrely suggested what it terms ‘a choreographed campaign to destroy the government’. The statement termed corruption and the media reporting of it as ‘an internationalized hysteria aimed at harming the Nation.’ Nkaissery also accuses quote “the media of castigating the government as irredeemably corrupt.” The statement then proceeds to warn that those making allegations of corruption will be held to account.

I am urging the media to publish the statement in full so that the public can appreciate the peculiar, even irrational thoughts contained in the 4-page statement.

If the statement is anything to go by, the arrest of journalist John Ngirachu is only the beginning of tougher times for the media and any other independent voices brave enough to raise questions on the corruption crisis that ails our country tonight.

We complete with an assurance, John Ngirachu will be free and back to work shortly.

Thank you.

Linus Kaikai
CHAIRMAN, KENYA EDITORS GUILD

Press release:

HARASSMENT OF JOURNALISTS 

My attention has been drawn to the arrest of Parliamentary Editor for the Nation Media Group, Mr John Ngirachu. I have also learnt of the absurd explanation by Internal Security Cabinet Secretary Mr Joseph Nkaissery that Mr Ngirachu will be released when he reveals the source of the story he wrote on the Internal Security spending.

I want to express my solidarity with the family, friends and media fraternity over this unfortunate development. I also wish to advise the government to respect the timeless tradition that journalists are duty bound to protect the sources of information they have as long as that information is of immense public interest and there was no way of obtaining it other than by relying on confidential sources. I believe that was the case in regard to security ministry spending. This is not the first time spending by internal security ministry is coming into sharp scrutiny.

I wish to assure Mr Ngirachu that I stand with him personally and the Opposition does too. I assure him that his dreams for a free and open society are valid and legal and he must pursue them without any fear of fighting a lone battle. We will do all we can to secure his freedom.

I demand that the young man be freed immediately to pursue his career. Kenya has to move forward and close the chapter of repression and opaqueness in the management of public affairs permanently. I appeal to my colleagues in government to stop entertaining the idea that Kenya can move backwards or stand still.

In the meantime, I have also instructed lawyers Senator James Orengo and Mr Paul Mwangi to immediately get in touch with the Nation Media Group and take up the young editor’s case for free and defend the rights and privileges of the media for the sake of Kenya.

The Rt. Hon Raila A. Odinga, EGH

Press Release: Kenya must review Double Tax Agreement with Mauritius (02.11.2015)

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(Nairobi, November 2, 2015) – Kenya is teetering on the brink of financial meltdown with the implosion of at least two private commercial banks in the last few months and signing of loophole-ridden double taxation agreements with tax havens Mauritius, United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Tax havens are countries or states that position themselves as low tax jurisdictions allowing companies and rich individuals to hide their wealth without paying appropriate taxes where they actually make their profits or wealth. Tax Justice Network-Africa (TJN-A) in October 2014 sued the Government of Kenya (specifically the Cabinet Secretary to the Treasury, Kenya Revenue Authority and the Attorney-General) challenging the constitutionality of the Kenya/Mauritius Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement signed in Port Louis, Mauritius on May 11, 2012 and as contained in Legal Notice 59 published in the Kenya Gazette of May 23, 2014.

The Agreement significantly undermines Kenya’s ability to raise domestic revenue to underpin the country’s development by opening up loopholes for multinational companies operating in the country and super- rich individuals to shift profits abroad through Mauritius to avoid paying appropriate taxes. For example, provisions under Article 11 of the Agreement relating to interest limit Kenya’s withholding tax to 10 per cent whereas the Kenyan domestic rate currently stands at 15 per cent. This will significantly affect the tax base of the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). The Agreement also sharply contravenes Articles 10 and 201 of the Constitution and is inconsistent with the principles of good governance, sustainability and accountability. The Agreement is open to abuse and this could endanger the growth and development of Kenya.

Three main reliefs sought by TJN-A are: that the High Court declares the government’s failure or neglect to subject the Kenya-Mauritius Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement to ratification in line with the Treaty Making and Ratification Act 2012 as a contravention of Articles 10 (a), (c) and (d) and 201 of the Constitution of Kenya.

That the Court directs the Cabinet Secretary for Treasury to immediately withdraw Legal Notice 59 of 2014 and commence the process of ratification in conformity with the provisions of the Treaty Making and Ratification Act 2012.  And award cost of the petition with interest against the Government of Kenya. The case came up for mention at the Nairobi High Court today, November 2, 2015. The court will fix a date for hearing the case on November 9, 2015. Speaking at a press briefing earlier today, the Executive Director of TJN-A, Alvin Mosioma said “there is need for public participation in the process of ratification of double tax agreements…double tax agreements kill the competitive edge of local firms”. 2 Senator Hassan Omar of Mombasa County who also addressed the press said Kenya’s “Parliament needs to appreciate its responsibility in safeguarding the public’s interests,” adding that “the reason people steal is because there is complicity and people are aware of it”. Provisions under Article 12 of the Agreement which relates to royalties also restrict at- source withholding tax to half (10 per cent) of Kenya domestic rate of 20 per cent. This will significantly weaken Kenya’s ability to raise revenue to finance its development. Additionally provisions under Article 20 of the Agreement reserves all taxation of “other income” not dealt with in specific Articles to the residence state.

This effectively reduces withholding tax to zero per cent on services, management fees, insurance commissions among others, whereas Kenyan domestic withholding tax rate currently stands at 20 per cent. This is a major gap that will lead to massive revenue leakages. The Agreement is neither United Nations nor OECD compliant and it also fails to address the issue of disposal of shares in companies. The Agreement effectively reserves under Article 13.4 all taxation of capital gains from selling shares in companies to Mauritius where the effective Capital Gains Tax is zero per cent. Under the Agreement foreign investors in Kenya can acquire Kenyan companies through Mauritius holding companies and Kenya cannot tax any of the gains when they sell these businesses again. This is open to abuse. Similarly, domestic Kenyan investors can dodge Kenyan taxes by round-tripping their investments illicitly through Mauritian shell companies. Kenyan companies can also easily avoid Kenyan taxes in dividends paid to foreign investors through devices like share buy-backs therefore deny the government of development funds.

The provision is very similar to the Capital Gains Tax Article in the India-Mauritius treaty which has proved very controversial costing India an estimated US$600 million a year in revenues as a result of tax avoidance and illicit round-tripping by Indian business executives driving the Government of India to initiate steps to renegotiate its agreement with Mauritius. Under the definition of ‘bilateral treaty’ in Section 2 of the Treaty Making and Ratification Act an ‘agreement’ such as the one between Kenya and Mauritius and which is the subject matter of this legal case, is a treaty subject to the Act and therefore requires that the Cabinet Secretary to the Treasury in consultation with the Attorney General, submit to the Cabinet the treaty, together with a memorandum outlining, inter alia – 1. Policy and legislative considerations, 2. Financial implications 3. Implications on matters relating to counties, 4. The views of the public on the ratification of the treaty.

Mauritius presently has tax treaties with 13 African countries namely Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Swaziland, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Apart from Kenya, Mauritius also has signed Double Taxation Agreements with Congo, Zambia and Nigeria. Currently Mauritius is negotiating DTAs with Algeria, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Malawi and Tanzania. Unlike Mauritius’ DTA with Uganda and Nigeria, for example, which have specific provisions for withholding tax for management/technical services fees, Kenya failed to negotiate any such provisions. 

In a related development, the Government of Kenya has signed an equally harmful Double Tax Agreement with United Arab Emirates and Qatar – both of which are tax havens – in which Kenya further deems its right to tax as unnecessary in a bid to attract investment from these two countries. These agreements will deepen Kenya’s current cash crunch by allowing the further erosion of the country’s tax base. – END.

ABOUT TJN-A: Tax Justice Network-Africa (TJN-A) is a Pan-African initiative and a member of the Global Alliance for Tax Justice. It is a network of 29 members in 16 African countries. TJN-A collaborates closely with these member organisations in tax justice 3 advocacy at the national and regional levels. TJN-A seeks to promote socially just and progressive taxation systems in Africa, advocating for pro-poor tax policies and the strengthening of tax systems to promote domestic resource mobilisation. TJN-A aims to challenge harmful tax policies and practices that favour the wealthy and aggravate and perpetuate inequality. For further enquiries, please email Kwesi Obeng at kobeng@taxjusticeafrica.net (+254 726 804 400) and/or Michelle Mbuthia at mmbuthia@taxjusticeafrica.net (+254 724 994 796).

11th Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit – Joint Communique (17.10.2015)

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Kenya CIC Statement on the Extension of the CIC Term after 30th December 2015

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Press Statement of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 537th meeting on Kenya’s efforts in fighting al-Shabaab and its plan of relocating the Dabaab Refugee Camp (31.08.2015)

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The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 537th meeting held on 24 August 2015, was briefed by Ambassador Monica Juma, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government of the Republic of Kenya, on Kenya’s efforts in fighting al-Shabaab and its plan of relocating the Dabaab Refugee Camp.

Council reiterated its deep concern at the growing threat of terrorism and violent extremism and the resulting impact on peace and security on the continent. Council expressed the AU’s condemnation of all acts of terrorism by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes. Council stressed the imperative for continued and enhanced efforts to combat this scourge, on the basis of the relevant African and international instruments and its own decisions, notably communiqué PSC/AHG/COMM.(CDLV), adopted at its 455th meeting held in Nairobi, on 2 September 2014. Council underlined the need, in fighting terrorism, for a comprehensive approach and to uphold the highest standards in terms of human rights and international humanitarian law, bearing in mind the relevant provisions of the AU 2004 Protocol to the 1999 Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism.

Council condemned, in the strongest terms, the cowardly and heinous terrorist attacks committed by al-Shabaab in Kenya, resulting in large numbers of deaths and serious injuries, causing massive destruction of property and disrupting the daily life of ordinary Kenyans. Council expressed the AU’s full solidarity with the Government and people of Kenya and its condolences to the families of the dead, and wished speedy recovery to the injured. Council reiterated its support to the Government of Kenya in its efforts to combat the al-Shabaab terrorist group. Council also reiterated its appreciation to Kenya for its contribution to the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the sacrifices made in this respect.

Council expressed its appreciation to the Government and people of Kenya for hosting large numbers of refugees at the Dabaab camp, since its establishment in 1990.

Council took note of the planned relocation of the Dabaab refugee camp, as part of the Kenyan Government overall efforts to prevent attacks by the al-Shabaab terrorist group. Council agreed to undertake further consultations on this issue with all concerned stakeholders, with a view to contributing to the search for a sustainable solution that would take into account Kenya’s overall national security concerns, whilst respecting relevant international and African instruments, including the 1951 United Nations (UN) Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 UN Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, as well as the Organization of Africa Unity (OAU) Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa. Council requested the Commission to submit to it a report on the issue, with recommendations on the way forward, by early October 2015.

Press statement – SPLM/SPLA Posistion on Four Neighbouring States Meeting on 10th August 2015 in Kampala (14.08.2015)

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A honest letter to the Ugandan President Museveni after being snubbed by the U.S. President Obama

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Dear His Excellency (H.E.) President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni!

I write to you since in the recent day you got rejected to meet with the American President Barrack Obama who will visit Kenya on the 24. July 2015. This is today! And he wouldn’t meet you in Kenya!

It must be a slap on your face Mzee that your ally in America is saying “no to see you”. When he is in your neighborhood. When he steps on land in East African Community and will not see you. Your sending troops for them into Central African Republic on the goose hunt for your lost cause for so long in Northern Uganda. The famous LRA and Joseph Kony! The one man that even the American army want to get rid-off! Then they failed together with Ethiopia in Somalia where you have been charged together to fight Al-Shabab. The Americans are certainly happy that you do this and don’t cost them much compared to send their own troops.

Mzee there many reasons why President Barrack Obama is saying no to see you. He is firstly meeting Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta. Who is turning into Americans ally in the area of late, even if you fight wars for them and use enormous levels of resources as well, still he doesn’t expect your courtesy call. You have been in charge of Uganda since October 1986. Obama is in his last term he has been lucky to only be Head of State in the country from 2009. He is not like you a true and tested leader like you! Even if he has Nobel Peace Prize. He got before really stepping into the office.

He has also been parts of wars. You have sent your own people and now they don’t even talk to you. I am not sure is because you have latest visits abroad to any great western powers. Was to Russia and then you started to buy army equipment from them instead of American. That is sure a slap to the face or the U.S. Arms producers, the cancelling of a planned military exercises on the 19. June of 2014, because of the “Anti-Gay Bill”! Since then it’s been cold from the American government and the White House. Then you’re buying expensive military equipment for your army from Mzee Putin of Russia. It’s okay that Obama had a burger with his predecessor Medvedev. Still with the Ukraine situation and Putin back in the hot-seat the turning relationship has also hit a snag. So don’t get the possibility to eat a burger in Nairobi with Obama.

So you’re now hurt by the almighty Obama. I am sure you wished yourself was directly mediating in Burundi, instead of the Defense Minister Crispus Kiyonga.  You’re in Uganda dealing with your own election then being there looking good for the press. The sad thing for you is to see your former weapon brothers going against you like Jean Patrick Amama Mbabazi. Who is trying to take your candidacy in your own party the NRM! And even worse for you is that the man who has fought against you for so long Dr. Kizza Besigye has gotten crowds where-ever he steps and moves around in the country. And your methods of chasing the opposition like a headless chickens, don’t help you at all Mzee Museveni. You think it does, but up to the election, you just look foolish to all the pundits. You look like a weak man instead of the man who has been in power since the 80s. You have cut loose so many big men before going into power, like Gen. Oyite Ojok, Yusuf Lule, Tito Okello, Milton Obote and Idi Amin. Before that the country was in shambles and you have made in some kind of peace. You could have been a hero! If you had left after your two first terms then you have been left with a decent legacy. That’s would have been since you gave the country a constitution and peace nearly on all places. You struggled with the Northern Uganda. And still continue to pay back to SPLM and South Sudan because of their help in the area. This is not popular that for the U.S. that your involved there without an official mandate.

I am sure that there are more issues for why Barrack Obama isn’t in your presence right now Mzee Museveni. So you are not the poster-boy and future leaders of Africa in 80s and beginning of the 90s. Where you and Kagame your former allies was seen a breath of fresh air! Now you are not the one who the west looks for hope in the continent. And you wonder why? That is because history repeat itself and you have broken your own words time and time again.

I am sure it’s been fun to have over the President of Zambia Edgar Lungu. But that is no Barrack Obama and with the power of U.S. And he could help you with military equipment. Though they not doing business as the Russians and taking pieces of the future oil industry instead of money. So I am sure that hurt your pride Mr. President. But know that the party has still fractions that are loyal to you because you pay them. The leaders who showed you support after last election victory was President Mugabe of Zimbabwe, former Kenyan President Daniel Arap-Moi, the now former Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, President of South Sudan Salva Kiir and the Somali President Sheik Sharif Sheik.

But none of this can help you as the American President and honor your presence. You have run a country as long as I have lived. And to get turned down and spend time with newcomer from Zambia must be low-key moment for you. Since you have been so useful to the American government and fought the wars they don’t want to. I am sure you’re having a bad day. Though not saying it since your hurt and parts of you might wish you didn’t visit Russia last time. And you should have tried to mend up with Americans who has supported you through the 90s and 00s. That refinery has cost you and the pipeline for the oil has been dodgy as well. But you’re so close and just need another term to the Lake Albert becoming your black gold. Until then you just has to use the well-used methods of keeping people in order and follow the party line. Though this doesn’t help you with your relationship with the American Government unless you break your principle and rules. Which is sacred to you and that is understandable. The American president only has eight years to do his thing and then he is gone. You have sit eight years in power when it was 1994. By then you we’re support Kagame and the RPA in Rwanda. So the issues with America should go over. You have their old weapons and know how they call on you when they wars they don’t want to fight. So your not best buddies today, but maybe during next term if their getting a republican president in the White House he might support you, because he will only care about policy, not about who as long as he looks good during the whole deal. Tomorrow is another day Mr. President His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni! You will shine again. Believe that and by now your mustard seed should be a big plant and give a good yield. Though Dr. Kizza Besigye is stealing your crops, don’t worry people will vote for you, even if they don’t know they do! The Electoral Commission is your people, you’re safe and good. You just have to wait until the U.S. need you again. Then you will get granted to meet with the Nobel man himself. Maybe even in your own Statehouse in Entebbe.

There is reports you get a courtesy call in Ethiopia, but for a great man like you that feels like you been snubbed twice already by the American President. I am sure your hurt and tried to patch up the hurt with a meeting with the Zambian President to be the big shot in East Africa. While your neighbors president get him directly for visits. Uhuru Kenyatta the Kenyan President and also meeting with Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe the Prime Minister of Ethiopia in their homelands. While you have travel to Addis Ababa to see him for a short time and not an official visit like they are getting. And you have been their ally for decades and when they’re in your area they don’t show you respect you deserve. For God and for country!

Best Regards:

From the Writer of this blog

EAC – The 3rd Emergency Summit of Head of State of the East African Community on the Situation in Burundi (06.07.2015)

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