ODM-SCANDINAVIA’S STATEMENT ON ALLEGED LAND GRABBING AT THE RESIDENCE OF THE KENYAN ABMASSADOR TO SCANDINAVIA AND SACKING OF MR. NJENGA MUIRANI
Friday November 17th 2006
The Kenyan Embassy in Stockholm should be investigated for corruption, land grabbing, Visa and Passport rackets, human smuggling, illegal sacking of workers, mistreatment of junior staff members, money laundering and other illegal activities that violate the Swedish law and infringe on diplomatic etiquette.
ODM-Scandinavia believes that the Kenya anti Corruption Commission headed by retired Justice Aron Ringera should dispatch a team to Stockholm immediately following the emergence of serious allegations especially on the question of land grabbing at the Ambassador’s residence and embezzlement of the salary of a junior staff member who has also been the victim of mistreatment by Ambassador Purity Muhindi.
ALLEGED LAND GRABBING AT THE AMBASSADOR’S RESIDENCE
The most urgent investigation that should begin immediately touches on alleged land grabbing at the residence of the Kenyan Ambassador to Scandinavia H.E Mrs Purity Muhindi. This is because on Sunday November 12th 2006, Mr. Njenga Muirani, a Kenyan gardener who has been working at the Ambassador’s residence and who was sacked abruptly under circumstances that are still not clear, made serious and credible claims that land at the residence had been grabbed. The scandal, which shocked many Kenyans in Sweden, was exposed by Kenya Stockholm Blog (www.kenyastockholm.wordpress.com).
This is a claim that was backed by pictorial evidence showing exactly how the boundary between the residence and a neighbor had been manipulated and how land belonging to the Kenyan government was allegedly transferred to a neighbor called Bo. In the run up to the allegations, Mr. Njenga narrated other curious developments at the Ambassador’s compound which should not only be examined but which should also be investigated. ODM-Scandinavia has since taken contact with Mr. Njenga who has given the Party a full account of what he knows about the unraveling scandal.
Before the boarder change, a barbed wire fence that separated the Ambassador’s residence and the neighbor was pulled down while another barbed wire fence that marked the boarder of the residence and a lake that stretches from the compound was also pulled down. The question which needs to be answered is: who ordered these two fences to be pulled down and why was such an order made?
This is because ODM-Scandinavia members and other Kenyans who have been at the Ambassador’s compound in recent times know that the fences had no visible and serious damage that warranted repair or removal. Mr. Njenga told ODM-Scandinavia that these fences, which have been intact for more than one and a half decades, were suddenly pulled down by a tractor after a company was contracted to do the work.
Mr. Njenga has worked at the residence for a long time. He said that when he asked Mr. Bo how land he believed belonged to the residence was transferred to him, the neighbor allegedly said that it was transferred to him because “he had fixed the fence”. What Mr. Bo meant was that he was responsible for the removal of the fence and construction of a new wooden fence at the compound. If true, the question that has to be answered is: Since when did the government transfer fence mending operations of the type that was conducted at the residence to private citizens and how did Mr. Bo get the go-ahead to finance this kind of work at the residence on behalf of the government. Secondly, how did he get paid by allegedly having a piece of land transferred to him through the Ambassador?
According to a survey by KSB on the ground, the barbed wire fence that was removed was replaced by a wooden fence half way between the Ambassador’s residence and the neighbor. It is this arrangement that gave room for land to be grabbed. A tree which used to stand at the compound of the Ambassador now stands at the neighbor’s compound thereby exposing a “triangular piece of land” (grabbed triangle) that has allegedly been transferred to Mr. Bo. The question is: Who approved this plan?
After the barbed wire fence was pulled down, the rest of the Ambassador’s residence now has no fence and this has drastically reduced security at the residence. Whose idea was it that the fence be pulled down without replacement, who sanctioned it and why? Was the removal of the fence a priority when some junior Embassy staff members have not been paid their salaries?
A new fence comprising of a line of small trees has replaced the old fence. This fence cuts deeply into the Ambassador’s compound and it is impossible to miss the fact that something doesn’t add up when one examines the new boundary. According to Mr. Njenga, it is Mr. Bo who planted the trees after the old fence was removed. As a party fighting corruption in our motherland, ODM-Scandinavia leadership believes that it is its responsibility to address or raise any possible case of corruption that emerges within Embassy circles in Scandinavia and it is for this reason that the Party is calling for an investigation.
THE ABRUPT SACKING OF MR. NJENGA MUIRANI
Mr. Njenga was sacked without warning or notice. Under Swedish law, Mr. Njenga was supposed to get three months notice and if his sacking was totally unprovoked, he was supposed to have been paid a two year salary. If he had received warning letters in the past for any wrong doing, he still deserved a three months notice in lieu of sacking or a three months salary if he was to be sacked without notice. All these procedures were ignored by the Embassy with impunity.
As a diplomatic institution, the Kenyan Embassy should not be violating the Swedish labour laws because the Embassy is under an obligation to follow these laws. ODM-Scandinavia is calling for an investigation into the circumstances under which Mr. Njenga was sacked. Information given by Mr. Njenga indicate that his abrupt sacking might have been linked to his knowledge about land grabbing at the residence which the Embassy might have planned to cover up. From the point of view of ODM-Scandinavia, Mr. Njenga is a whistle-blower being victimized.
ODM-Scandinavia is aware that non diplomatic staff at the Embassy continue to live in fear because, just like Mr. Njenga, they can be sacked anytime, without notice and without any wrong doing. This is illegal in Sweden. In the past, there have been cases where house maids of diplomatic staff are so restricted that they are rarely allowed to go out while they are also under paid. They are kept under constant intimidation and surveillance and warned that if they “talk” they will be sacked and deported to Kenya because they do not have residence status. ODM-Scandinavia is calling for an investigation of the conditions under which non diplomatic staff are employed because Mr. Njenga’s case could be the tip of an iceberg.
Evidence emerged that after the departure of Mr. Kinyanjui, Mr. Njenga’s right to toilet facilities during working hours were withdrawn by the new Ambassador Muhindi. This forced Mr. Njenga to answer the call of nature in a polythene bag before carrying his own waste to the garbage dump. This is a total violation of the Swedish labor and environmental laws that demands that workers have access to toilet facilities while on duty and that human waste be disposed of in a particular manner.
As a diplomatic institution, the Kenyan Embassy has an obligation to honor the Swedish labor laws and it is inconceivable that the new Ambassador could have subjected Mr. Njenga to such dehumanizing treatment. ODM-Scandinavia is calling for an investigation into the treatment of Mr. Njenga’s claims and if found to be true, the Party is demanding that the Embassy or the Ambassador be made to pay Mr. Njenga compensation for mental and psychological torture, not just for having been denied his right to use the toilet but also for the indignity of having had to use the garage as a “dining room”. Mr. Njenga was left to work under conditions which forced him to take snacks and meals in an environment unfit for human habitation.
When ODM-Scandinavia took contact with Mr. Njenga, the Kenyan said that he has not been paid his salary amounting to 10.000 kr for work that he did at the residence of the late diplomat James Kiboi. According to Mr. Njenga, the Embassy refused to address the issue after Mr. James Kiboi died in a house inferno in Norway. Mr. Njenga was supposed to be paid a day after Mr. Kiboi died.
This case demonstrates the extent to which the Kenyan Embassy can go to violate the rights of junior staff members who have, in past, complained about non paymemt of overtime work. ODM-Scandinavia demands that Mr. Njenga be paid his salary and that an investigation be opened to establish what is going on at the Embassy.
ODM-Scandinavia calls upon the Kenya anti-corruption authority to send a representative to Sweden to investigate the claims of corruption that might have contributed to land at the residence being grabbed. If no action is taken, the Party will take steps to ensure that ODM-Kenya MPs raise the issue in Kenyan Parliament with a view to having it investigated. The Party will also take contacts with the relevant Swedish authorities to alert the Swedish government about possible illegal activities of the Kenyan Embassy in Stockholm.
RESIDENCE COST 20 MILLION KENYAN SHILLINGS
ODM-Scandinavia will demand for an original land map of the Ambassador’s residence from the Swedish land office as part of its own investigations because if true, the allegations are serious enough to warrant prosecution. All Embassy staff who might have been involved in the scandal and who are still serving have to be recalled while those who are already in Kenya must be made to face justice over the issue.
As a Party in Scandinavia opposed to corruption in all its forms, ODM-Scandinavia is concerned that corruption that has eaten into the fabric of the Kenyan society has been exported abroad to the extend that land belonging to the government is also being grabbed and sold, just like in Kenya.
The residence of the Kenyan Ambassador to Scandinavia cost the government 20 million Kenyan shillings and if part of the land at the residence has been transferred to a neighbor, Kenyans at home and abroad need to know the real circumstances behind the deal. ODM-Scandinavia hopes that the matter will be treated with the urgency it deserves and that immediate action will be taken by the government over the issue.
Mr. Dancan Munala