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The Chira of Christopher Msando Will Haunt His Murderers Until Justice for His Family Is Served

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By Miriam Abraham Ms

Those who contributed in any way to the abduction, torture and assassination of Christopher Msando will eventually face justice because if there is something that history has confirmed to us time and again, it is that justice is always served, no matter how long it takes.

I have been thinking a lot about chira. In Luo language and culture, the closest translation of chira is “curse”. It results from an infraction of the kwer (taboos) and can befall an individual, a clan, a community or even a nation. In some cases, ritual cleansing can take away the chira. However, the chira arising from killing a person cannot be removed through rituals. It remains with you, your clan and your community.

I am convinced that a chira from the kidnap, torture and brutal assassination of Christopher Msando haunts Kenya to date. The dire state of the economy, socio-economic inequalities, political polarisation, corruption, and state capture, all seem to have gotten worse in the last three years.

To refresh our memories, Christopher Msando was the Information Communications Technology (ICT) manager at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). Msando oversaw key ICT processes, including the audit of the register of voters and the data centre project. Crucially, he was the project manager for the electronic transmission of results for the 2017 presidential elections.

Msando was one of the few Africans who had access to the highly sensitive results transmission system set up by the French company Safran/OT Morpho (now renamed IDEMIA). Safran had been single-sourced by the IEBC to deliver the Kenya Integrated Election Management System (KIEMS), in a contract worth close to Sh6b. The deal was so scandalous that even the state-captured Kenya National Assembly’s Parliamentary Accounts Committee on 24 April 2019 banned Safran/OT Morpho/IDEMIA from operating in Kenya for ten years.

Msando had been unanimously nominated by the Wafula Chebukati-led Commission to lead key ICT processes. He was hard working, had superb technical skills, a strong team spirit and excellent communication skills. Msando was an honest man, who at times seemed quite naïve in the trust he placed in his bosses to do the right thing. He was transparent in sharing the loopholes in the ICT system and revealed how some “external” actors had already gained access to it, months before the August 2017 election.

He explained complex processes to the Commissioners in layman’s language, without making them feel insecure due to their lack of ICT knowledge. This is probably the singular reason the Commission chose him over his then boss, James Muhati, to be responsible for the ICT operations for the 2017 election.

Unlike Muhati, Msando did not show the Commissioners disdain for their ignorance or incompetence. One of the few defiant actions taken by the Chebukati Commission was to suspend Muhati in May 2017, allegedly for failing to cooperate with an internal audit. But as press reports indicated at the time, there was more to the story than the Commission revealed. The suspension took Muhati’s close friend, then Chief Executive Officer, Ezra Chiloba, by surprise.

Chiloba made several attempts to block the suspension from being executed, prompting a reprimand from the Commissioners. Msando was unanimously appointed the officer-in-charge of the ICT directorate. Within a month of being in charge of the ICT directorate, Msando finalised the register of voters, secured a new data centre, developed the workflow for the electronic transmission of presidential results and sealed some technical loopholes in the KIEMS gadgets that would have enabled “dead voters” to vote.

It is probably these measures that he had put in place that gave Msando the confidence to say to John-Allan Namu in an interview in June 2017 that “no dead voters will rise under my watch”. And indeed, with his assassination, potentially, many “dead voters” voted.

Reports indicate that the intention of the Commission had been to keep Muhati suspended until the end of the 2017 elections. However, former Commission staff say that Chebukati received a “dossier” from the Jubilee Secretary-General, Raphael Tuju, falsely claiming that Msando was working for the opposition coalition, NASA.

Incidentally, death threats against Msando intensified during this period. He spoke openly about them, showed friends and colleagues the chilling text messages, and with his typical hearty laughter, brushed them off as he went on with his work almost unperturbed. Despite making official reports, no measures were taken to address his concerns.

Msando was not even provided with a Commission vehicle and security, which he was entitled to by dint of his functions. In the meantime, the pressure to reinstate Muhati intensified.

There are reports that Deputy President William Ruto and his wife Rachel Ruto called almost all the Commissioners to demand the reinstatement of Muhati, who is a close friend from their University days. Those who did not get a direct call from the Deputy President or his wife, had the message delivered by his Chief of Staff, Ambassador Ken Osinde. Despite protests from two of the Commissioners, Muhati quietly returned from his suspension on 1 June 2017, and from then on, Msando’s days on earth were numbered.

The reports of Msando’s disappearance on 29 July shocked but did not surprise many at the Commission. The threats had been there for many months including on the lives of Chebukati and former Commissioner Roselyn Akombe.

One would say that the manner in which these threats were handled by the Commission made the environment conducive for Msando to be assassinated. The silence emboldened his assassins to go ahead with their plan. For their silence, the chira from Msando’s murder will forever remain with Chebukati, Akombe and the other Commissioners.

On that fateful day on 29 July 2017, it is alleged that Chiloba and Muhati asked Msando not to go home after his KTN interview at 7 pm. It is reported that Msando and a friend decided to have drinks at a joint near the Commission’s Anniversary Towers office, as they waited for further instructions from Chiloba and Muhati. Details of what exactly happened to Msando from that Friday night until his bruised body was identified at the City Mortuary on 31 July 2017 will eventually come out.

It is clear that there are many colleagues of Msando’s who have more information than they have revealed in public. To many them, chira for their silence will forever hang over them. But of course, the harshest chira is reserved for those who ordered, aided and executed Msando’s abduction, torture and assassination.

If there is something that history has confirmed to us on many occasions, it is that justice is always served, no matter how long it takes. Just this year, we have seen the fugitive Félicien Kabuga, an alleged leader and financier of the 1994 Rwandan genocide arrested. Monuments in honour of those who perpetuated grave injustices including racism, slavery and colonialism for more than 400 years have been brought down in the United States and Europe. And just last month in Germany, 94-year-old Reinhold Hanning was convicted of being “an accessory” to the murder of thousands of Jews while he worked as a guard at the Auschwitz Death Camp. It took 77 years to convict him for crimes he committed at the age of 17, but justice was eventually served.

It does not matter how long it will take, justice for Chris Msando will be served. Msando’s children Allan, Alvin, Alama and Alison deserve to know why their daddy was murdered. His widow Eva has several unanswered questions. Mama Maria needs to know why her last-born son could not have been jailed if he had done something wrong, rather than wake up every morning to his grave in Lifunga. Msando’s siblings deserve closure. But three years on, the investigators have no answers to offer nor have they shown any interest in the case.

Politicians like Moses Kuria, Kimani Ngunjiri and Oscar Sudi continue to recklessly play politics with such a painful issue. But Msando’s friends are quietly pursuing the leads. Quietly documenting the facts. For, eventually, Kenya will have to reckon with its history of political assassinations.

In the meantime, over to juok, to continue raining chira on those who contributed in any way to the abduction, torture and assassination of Msando.

Abraham is a governance and institutional development expert.

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Opinion

Debunking misinformation propagated by Sam Nyamwewa on the current FKF leadership

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After taking my time to read an advertiser’s announcement in the Weekly Citizen dated August 3rd-9th, 2020, by former Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Sam Keengu Nyamweya in regard to his achievements during his tenure in office. I want to take this opportunity to react to his assertions.

Nyamweya claims to have fixed a strained relationship with Fifa/CAF and the Government of Kenya.

By the time Nyamweya was leaving office in 2016 FIFA and by extension, CAF had put an embargo on Kenya from receiving funds due to misappropriation and non-accountability of the monies advanced to the federation.

In 2015, in a list of shame released by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), Nyamweya, who was listed at number 92 in the list, was accused of embezzlement of funds at Football Kenya Federation and that the case is under investigation by the Anti-corruption commission.

On releasing the damning document, on Thursday 26 March 2015, President Uhuru Kenyatta issued an executive order asking the named people to step aside as investigations progress including Nyamweya, who refused.

Over five years ago, the FIFA GOAL Project based at Nairobi’s, Kasarani, funded to the tune of USD400,000 (about Kh40 million), stood desolate, making a mockery of efforts by the world-governing body to develop the game locally.

The previous regime headed by Sam Nyamweya neglected facility situated a few meters from the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani to an extent of abandoning it in favor of renting the federation’s offices elsewhere at the Nyayo National Stadium swimming pool area.

Four years, later after Nick Mwendwa succeeded Nyamweya, the facility is a sharp contrast from its former sorry state, thanks to its rehabilitation and resuscitation by the present Football Kenya Federation (FKF) headed by Nick Mwendwa.

The facility now renamed FKF House b administration now houses the Federation’s secretariat, which is a fully-fledged team that runs the federation’s day to day operations.

Partnerships

During Nyamweya’s tenure, potential partners shied away from the game owing to financial impropriety and lack of accountability by the Federation. There was no corporate trust in the then leadership at FKF.

Hardly a year after Nyamweya was elected into office, Safaricom pulled out of the Sakata Ball partnership due to mistrust and disagreements with his administration. Nyamweya and his cronies had demanded kickbacks, which were not part of the corporate giant’s DNA.

Under Mwendwa, the tournament has since grown into the country’s most-followed grassroots competition, involving boys and girls under the age of 20, under the Chapa Dimba na Safaricom brand. The best players from the competition have thrice been scouted into international clinics. Last year they trained under the La Liga partnership in Barcelona, Spain.

Coca Cola lost their confidence with Nyamweya’s administration after his administration failed to live up to their agreement. This partnership was revived with the secondary school’s association during Mwendwa’s tenure.

Since Mwendwa took over, the federation has gained the confidence of corporates to come on board as sponsors and they include the current Kenyan Premier League (KPL) sponsorship by BetKing, previously SportPesa funding the premier league and FKF cup, Betika sponsoring the National Super League (NSL), Odibets (grassroots football), BetKing (National Super League Division One), Betway (FKF Cup), Bamba Sport (previously broadcast sponsors for the NSL), Betin for Harambee Stars and Safaricom in promoting grassroots and youth football through Chapa Dimba.

Strategy and Leagues

During Nyamweya’s time cases and disputes in promotions and relegations in various leagues of the federation were at an all-time high.

There were no clear-cut rules and regulations in the lower leagues. Promotion and relegation were determined in boardrooms to the highest bidder, rather than on the pitch based on the results.

Today, rules on promotions and regulations are clear and a proper mechanism set in place to deal with genuine disputes and cases arising from the various leagues and competitions.

Coaching and Refereeing capacity building-

During Nyamweya’s tenure, coaches and referees would be subjected to paying exorbitant training fees which ended in most shying away and missing out on opportunities of getting trained.

Mwendwa’s administration appreciated the role of football’s technical wing through conducting capacity building courses of coaches and referees free of charge with the federation paying for the costs.

In Mwendwa’s four years in office over 3000 coaches have been trained in Basic, Advanced (CAF D) and CAF C License levels to ensure that there are adequate qualified coaches to train teams from the grassroots to the national level. Over 100 local coaches have also been trained as FIFA Instructors in the last four years.

The free refereeing courses being offered during Nick Mwendwa’s tenure have churned out over 3000 refined and credible match officials to handle matches as they stay abreast with the laws of the game and also ascertained their physical preparedness to handle league fixtures.

In the last four years, there also has been a steady increase in the rise of Kenyan match officials considered for international CAF and FIFA assignments during International and Continental competitions.

Kenya’s men’s national football team Harambee Stars qualified for the first time for the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) after missing out for 15 years thanks to Nick Mwendwa’s magic wand.

Under Mwendwa, the women’s national team, Harambee Starlets qualified for the first time ever the AWCON in 2016. The country’s soccer queens went ahead and won the CECAFA women championship in 2019.

Youth Team Development

Nyamweya has not talked about what he did in terms of promoting youth development which is an important area of managing transition and nurturing football from the grassroots.

Upon taking over leadership in 2016, the new FKF office’s first step was the establishment of U13/15 Leagues in 53 sub-branches across the country, aimed at giving young players a chance to showcase their talents.

Out of the Youth Leagues, the Federation rolled out an U13/15 Youth Championship, whose first edition was held in Nakuru in August 2016.

The tournament, which pitted eight teams from eight regions across the country, gave the federation a platform to select players into the National U13 football team, which took part in the Annual Southampton Cup in England, winning the Shield Trophy in August 2017.

In an effort to sustain this success, the Federation, at the start of 2019, actualized its National Centre of Excellence.

The Centre brought together young players under the age of 15, most of whom were part of the initial U13 team, on a home-schooling program.

Through a partnership with Wadi Degla, the team holds daily training sessions at the Sports Club’s state of the art facility in Runda while pursuing their studies online at the Centre of Excellence based in Thome, Nairobi.

In April 2019, the team took part in the prestigious Mediterranean International Cup in Costa Brava, Spain, where they bowed out in the quarterfinals.

The national under 15 teams finished as runners up in the CECAFA U15 championship in Eritrea in 2019 whereas the national under 17 girls were placed third at the CECAFA under 17 women championship in Tanzania.

Peace full transition

Handing over by Nyamweya to Mwendwa was never peaceful but chaotic where Nyamweya’s regime only handed over debts and liabilities to the incoming office which have culminated to many lawsuits against the federation.

Nyamweya handed over the current administration debts which he had incurred during his tenure which include unpaid salaries to the staff, non-reimbursement of air tickets to national team players traveling from abroad, and non-payment for services by suppliers.

In my opinion, Nyamweya’s regime has been characterized by inept and corrupt leadership, which led to him stepping down at the eleventh hour to avoid an imminent defeat because of the confidence the football electorate had lost in him.

The advertisers’ amount is meant to be used as a face-saving measure in attempting to redeem his tainted image by trying to dupe unsuspecting Kenyans.

 

Kenn Okaka,

Media and Communications Officer,

Football Kenya Federation.

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Opinion

OPINION: This artist Nick Mwendwa…

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Nick Mwendwa

In the English world exists the words artist and artiste, seems like one and the same thing but the letter ‘e’ makes a dimes worth of difference. Well, you see an artist is basically someone who is skilled with something involving perception and the use of their hands while an artiste on the other hand is a professional entertainer.

In my opinion, current FKF President Nick Mwendwa is more of an artist than an artiste. Well, first and foremost, he did not come to entertain he came to work and improve the standards of football in the country and any person who has not seen any significant improvement from when Mr. Mwendwa took office in 2016, is in my opinion a cynic at heart.

Let us reminisce what was then the FKF’s headquarters pre-Mwendwa. The Secretariat used to squat at the Nyayo Stadium swimming pool area to administer their duties. Some may say hardship is part of the journey to success, but let’s us paint the truth in black and white, the headquarters were in a rather sorry state before Nick Mwendwa swooped in and gave us a complete contrast on what the offices were meant to be with proper rehabilitation and a reliable team that ensured the Federation was resuscitated to its potential.

The subsequent administrations shrugged off the opportunity to explore the potential in the nugget that is women’s football and are now left watching from the sidelines with Harambee Starlets making their debut in the 2016 Africa Women Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

Starlets also made our country proud after stripping Tanzania Queens of their title as CECAFA Women champions last year.

Likewise, Harambee Stars made what people seemed to see only as a dream, come to reality after they qualified for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Egypt after missing in action for the last 15 years.

This was made possible by the exposure the team gained by playing many international friendlies coupled with top-notch coaching.

The Federation actualized its National Center of Excellence in which young football players are put on a home-schooling program while nurturing their talent. This is in an effort to sustain the success showcased by the National teams.

For the first time in Kenya’s football history, FKF secured a sponsor for their division one league, top- tier league, National Super League and the grassroots; all this marking a remarkable effort by the current Federation. The various sponsors include Betking, Odibet, Betway, Safaricom, Bamba TV, Wadi Degla and Sportpesa.

The technical wing of football has also not been left behind with the current tenure training over 3000 coaches obtaining CAF D and C licenses free of charge

The courses have not only helped bridge the capacity gap that has denied coaches job opportunities but also ensured grassroot players are handled by qualified personnel.

The current Federation has also been conducting free referees training and physical endurance tests, which has resulted not only in a steady rise in the number of matches officials picked for international assignments but also the level of officiating.

With all the stated achievements done by the current Federation under Nick Mwendwa, I part with the question, in your opinion, is the current Football Kenya Federation president Nick Mwendwa an artist or an artiste…

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FKF Elections

Why Nick Mwendwa Deserves another term at the Helm of FKF

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Even the most ardent critics of the current FKF administration acknowledge albeit begrudgingly the fact that in the last four years, the state of football in Kenya has improved in many aspects.

These include Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa’s political opponents.

I too subscribe to the school of thought that Mwendwa’s the first four-year term at the helm of Kenyan football has been a success and what he now needs is to take the sport to the next level even as he aspires for re-election.

Upon assuming office, FKF and Mwendwa set up sound financial systems that led to the sport’s world governing body FIFA to lift an embargo it had been imposed on Kenya from receiving grants meant for the development of youth and women football.

FKF’s headquarters at Kasarani is a sharp contrast to its pre- Mwendwa sorry state, thanks to its rehabilitation and resuscitation by the current administration.

Before, the then secretariat used to squat at the Nyayo stadium swimming pool area to perform duties.

Also, the men’s national football team, Harambee Stars, successes culminated in qualification for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Egypt after a 15-year absence.

Kenya’s qualification was made possible by the exposure the team got by playing many international friendlies, coupled with high level coaching.

In the successive administrations, little regard was given to women’s football. Indeed, there appeared a lack of concern for women in Kenyan football. The Starlets were constantly short-changed with non-payment of allowances, coupled with inferior, sometimes dangerous, working conditions.

But then, Harambee Starlets, qualified for her first-ever Africa Women’s Cup of Nations in Cameroon in 2016.

And last year, Starlets dethroned Council for East and Central Africa (Cecafa) champs Tanzania Queens in Dar es Salaam to lift their first-ever regional title.

To maintain a consistent conveyor belt of talent to the senior national teams, FKF has since constituted junior national teams that have remained active in international competitions. Introduced the U13/15 Leagues in sub-branches aimed at giving young players a chance to showcase their talent as Kenya’s future.

In an effort to sustain this success, the federation, in 2019, actualized its National Centre of Excellence where players are put on a home-schooling program.

For the first time in Kenya’s history, FKF secured a sponsor for the second and lower-tier leagues which is a great effort in promoting grassroots football. The federation has also managed to bring on board various sponsors including Sportpesa, Betika, Odibet, Betway, Safaricom, Bamba Tv and Wadidegla.

FKF has endeavored to build the capacity of the technical wing of football through coaching courses where over 3000 coaches have been trained free of charge, obtaining CAF D and C licenses.

This has not only gone a long way in ensuring that players at the grassroots are handled by qualified personnel, but also helped bridge the capacity gap that has denied coaches job opportunities.

The current Federation has been conducting free referees training and physical endurance tests, an initiative that has resulted not only in a steady rise in the number of matches officials picked for international assignments but also the level of officiating.

Apart from a few cases which are expected during any FKF election period, squabbling in the federation has become a thing of the past this is due to the increased democratic space and an all-inclusive administration.

Kenn Okaka is the Media and Communication Officer at Football Kenya Federation

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