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Citizen Weekly

Sunday 17 August 2014


The multi-billion shilling Kenya Ports Authority pension fund is at the centre of an ugly power struggle by port operatives who are allegedly scheming to control the fund’s operations to line their pockets.

Sources have it that the KPA head of legal services and corporation secretary Muthoni Gatere has provoked anger after she allegedly appointed herself the interim chair, secretary and trustee of the two KPA pension schemes without the involvement and approval of six elected trustees.

They claim the move allegedly contravenes Retirement Benefits Authority Act which prohibits a single person from holding several positions on any fund as this would compromise checks and balances and encourage corruption in the schemes.

“We are surprised that Muthoni Gatere seeks to operate KPA pension schemes the Nyayo era style when corruption and wheeler-dealing was the norm other than exception. She wants to become secretary, trustee and a chairperson at the same time. We are telling her to keep off the worker’s sweat,” said one of the aggrieved trustees.

At the same time, they accused Gatere of having deliberately delayed the convening of a meeting to have them recognised officially by being handed over appointment letters so they can begin serving fellow workers and retirees.

The trustees suspect that the delay maybe a well knit scheme by wheeler-dealers to keep them in the dark as fund properties are looted and sold for a song.
It is against such fears that the trustees, a few weeks ago, decided to write a letter to KPA chairman Danson Mungatana protesting the advertisement for sale by the fund of some properties in Mombasa. They claimed the advertisement to sale the Motor Mat building along Moi Avenue, plots behind NSSF building on Nkrumah road and a strategic plot in Makande was not done in a transparent manner.

They said contrary to normal procedure where the fund directly advertises for sale of any of its properties, the situation this time round was different in that a firm by the name of Kiragu and Mwangi Limited was contracted to sale the properties on behalf of the fund.

And according to the trustees, this was a move aimed at allegedly blocking scrutiny by pensioners and at the same time to ensure the properties were bought by favoured companies and individuals.

On receiving the complaints, Mungatana reportedly directed that the process be halted pending investigations. However, it is said Gatere who was abroad at the time nearly hit the roof on being briefed about Mungatana’s directives. She reportedly vowed to have the process moved forward whether the KPA chairman liked it or not.

And as if to affirm her power and influence within KPA, which Mungatana supposedly is not aware of, she had readvertised for sale the same properties in the standard newspaper of Wednesday last week upon her return from abroad.

Those close to her claim she has since declared total war on Mungatana whose tenure as KPA chairman is coming to an end in October unless it is renewed before then. Curiously, Mungatana was appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to serve for eight months as chair of the KPA board against the usual tradition where parastatal chairpersons are given a tenure of three years.

It is not clear why this happened to Mungatana but two opinions are fronted. First, it is claimed the former Garsen MP who was initially slated to be appointed TNA spokesperson was appointed on trial basis to the influential KPA chair courtesy of lobbying by powerful political figures. At the time, Mungatana’s CV was soiled due to numerous court cases and the president was reluctant to have him chair a strategic parastatal of KPA stature.

The second school of thought has it that Mungatana is destined for greater things and that his appointment as KPA chair was a stopgap measure. Those who see things this way say it is just a matter of time before he is made the KPA executive chairman. If this happens, it will serve several purposes, key among them, being to appease coastals that one of their own is the top man at KPA.
At the same time, the Jubilee administration may want to use Mungatana to achieve the desires of privatising the port of Mombasa. If Mungatana is the MD and the port is sold, it will be interpreted that a Coastal person is leading the controversial process and therefore locals ought not to complain.

Already, Mungatana is among the proponents of the privatisation of the port of Mombasa. He is a marked man by the dockworkers’ union. His aggressiveness is causing jitters among the top KPA management. A section of managers accuse him of behaving like an executive chairman by outshining KPA managing director, Ndua.

Back to the raging war between Mungatana and Gatere over the control of billions at KPA workers pension, it is claimed each of them  is pushing to have a person close to them to take over as chairperson of the multibillion KPA pension scheme.

Sources pointed out that  Mungatana is pushing for one Jillo to take over while shrewd Gatere wants a one Nyarandi at the helm. Jillo is a former KPA director and he hails from Mungatana’s home county of Tana River while Nyarandi who is fronted by Gatere is a top KPA manager.  Gatere and Nyarandi are described by friends as being very close.

It was not immediately clear who the likely winner will be but observers say Gatere has high chances of eclipsing Mungatana whom the KPA MD Ndua views suspiciously and has no time for, it is being pointed out.

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