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Uganda’s President Museveni’s Reign of Terror is Aided By US War on Terror in East Africa



Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni

Toward Freedom Special Report

By Charles Wachira

Three months after Yoweri Museveni was re-elected president of Uganda for a sixth term, citizens of this strategic East African state are trying to come to terms with the dismal likelihood that he will never be unseated in free and fair elections.  Ever since 1986, when he came to power in the country’s first plural elections, this African strongman has enjoyed the continued and tacit support of successive US administrations. The fact that  Uganda discovered oil in 2006 has also enhanced its value as a close ally to the West in a turbulent neighborhood. Today, Uganda is described as having the fourth largest onshore oil reserves in sub-Sahara Africa.

Museveni’s victory on January 14th was not, however, a foregone conclusion; his international backers had to take notice that a significant threat came from the nation’s large youthful population.  A 39-year- old pop musician-turned-populist politician named Bobby Wine became a close contender for the country’s top seat, momentarily rattling the confidence of a junta safely ensconced in Kampala. Wine had “street credentials” and appealed to the country’s large youth population, to the point that he was considered close to being a shoe-in.

A defiant Musevini being sworn in for sixth term. Photo: trtworld

According to the World Bank, more than 75% of Uganda’s population is below the age of 30, with the country having one of the highest youth unemployment rates– at 13.3%——in Sub-Saharan Africa. This means that 75 % of Uganda’s population has known no other leader save for Museveni, who has ruled Africa’s largest coffee exporter –and now an oil producer– for an uninterrupted 35 years and counting.

The relatively youthful Wine was widely thought to be drawing support from this demographic.


Back in 2018, the Financial Times was already warning of his appeal: “Across the continent, Mr. Wine’s spreading fame has put leaders on notice that they face a youthful rebellion.” Africa has the youngest population in the world, with a median age of 19.5. Uganda’s is just 16. But the continent has the world’s oldest leaders, with an average age of 62. Incumbents are clinging on, well past their sell-by date.”

During the run-up to the elections, Wine (whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu) resorted to wearing a helmet and a bulletproof vest to campaign in what he once described as a “war zone.” In November, 2020, he was arrested, beaten and barred from campaigning by the state’s security apparatus. When protests broke out after Wine’s arrest, security personnel resorted to using live bullets, killing more than 50 people.

Once hailed as Uganda’s savior, Museveni’s political stock leading up to the recent election was in free-fall. A poll conducted by Research World International Ltd, , a Ugandan social research agency, showed his popularity at 32 per cent, his lowest ever in his 35-year reign.

Bobi Wine vs. Museveni: New wine in Uganda's political wineskin? | Pambazuka News
Bobi Wine v Musseveni: At one point,the pop singer turned politician was considered a shoe-in for winning the recent election. Photo: Pambazuka News.

According to the Uganda Electoral Commission (UEC), the body that runs the electoral process in the country, Museveni won 58.6% of the vote while Wine managed 34.8%. Yet the turnout was only 52% of registered voters, the lowest since Museveni took office in 1986.

Even the top US diplomat for Africa, Tibor Nagy, felt compelled to tweet on January 16th that “Uganda’s electoral process has been fundamentally flawed.”

Wine contested the outcome, claiming “vote rigging” and seeking recourse in the Supreme Court before withdrawing the challenge on February 22, charging that Uganda’s courts were filled with “yes-men” appointed by Museveni.


Museveni’s Value to the West

When Museveni rode to power in 1986, he was hailed as a liberator and peacemaker following years of tyranny under Idi Amin (1971-1979) and Milton Obote  (1966 to 1971; 1980 to 1985.) His regime has been credited with reforming the East African country’s economy, which, after the ravages of Idi Amin and Milton Obote, was on the verge of collapse when he took over, with inflation at more than 200%.

The World Bank continued to give him high points on managing the economy under its tutelage.

Museveni is seen as a key ally of the US in establishing Uganda as a pivotal state in the fight against terrorism– while protecting US oil interests in Eastern Africa. Photo: Graham Carlow/CC BY

“Uganda’s economic performance since 1987 has been impressive,” the World Bank noted in a report titled Reducing Poverty Sustaining Growth Scaling Up Poverty. “The country has sustained economic growth averaging 6 percent and maintained an inflation rate in single digits. In just eight years (between 1992 and 2000), the proportion of people living in absolute poverty declined from 56 percent to 35 percent,”

However, Museveni’s rule has been marked by more years of harsh repression, drawing comparisons to the tyrannical, 72-year-long reign of Louis XIV in France during the Ancien Régime and the ruler’s famous diktat, “L’état, c’est moi” or “I am the state.”

Some Washington insiders are now calling for the re-evaluation of US support for the dictator. Jeffrey Smith, director of the advocacy nonprofit Vanguard Africa, told World Politics Review this January that, “There needs to be a review of U.S. policy towards Uganda, including a comprehensive review of the millions of dollars we provide on an annual basis to their security forces and military.” An appeal has gone out to previous donors to stop backing Museveni. “This oppressive regime is bankrolled by international donors,” notes Rita Abrahamsen and Gerald Bareebe of the University of Ottawa, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs in an article published this February titled: The Aid Debate: Time for Donors to Drop President Museveni


“Museveni has succeeded in establishing Uganda as a key ally of the US and a pivotal state in the fight against terrorism,” the authors add.  “The country has been a top troop contributor to the African Union’s peacekeeping mission in Somalia, and its soldiers have also been deployed to other trouble spots like South Sudan and the Central African Republic.”

In return, “Uganda has been lavished with development and military assistance. As the main donor, the United States supports Uganda with nearly $1 billion a year, while another billion flows from other countries and institutions like the World Bank.”

Besides the US and the World Bank, the authors indicate that Canada has also been bankrolling the Museveni Administration.

Yet these critics appear to be in the minority. His usefulness as a regional policeman predominates.

According to Foreign Policy, an influential American news publication that focuses on global affairs, the US has trained more troops from Uganda than from any other country in sub-Saharan Africa except Burundi.


The U.S. State Department’s website also emphasizes Uganda’s value as “a reliable partner for the United States in promoting stability in the Horn of Africa and East and Central Africa and in combatting terror, particularly through its contribution to the African Union Mission in Somalia.”

Map of East Africa showing six regions of the EMBLEM study area.
The map inset (upper left) of Africa shows the location of Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya in East Africa. The Horn of Africa is shown to be just northeast of these countries. It juts out onto the Gulf of Aden which is bordered to the north by Yemen. Source:
This map shows Uganda’s strategic position as part of Central Africa… and East Africa. The Indian Ocean is the body of water pictured here.

Uganda, the State Department continues, provides Somalia with “assistance of around $970 million per year—equivalent to nearly 3 percent of Uganda’s GDP. Since 2014, Washington has also donated roughly $270 million in military equipment to Uganda, including multiple armored trucks, under the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership, which supports nations involved in peacekeeping efforts.”

What’s Really at Stake? A Look at The Oil Factor

In 2006, Uganda discovered oil in the Albertine Rift Basin located in the western part of the country near its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) This discovery put Uganda on the global energy map, turning it into East Africa’s biggest crude oil producer.

In 2009 Sally Kornfeld a senior analyst in the US Office of Fossil Energy, said Uganda’s oil reserves could be as much as that of the Gulf countries. “You are blessed with amazing reservoirs. Your reservoirs are incredible. I am amazed by what I have seen; you might rival Saudi Arabia,” she told a visiting delegation from Uganda in Washington DC.

By 2014, the Ugandan Government estimated that there were 6.5 billion barrels of oil in place, but recoverable oil is estimated to be between 1.8 and 2.2 billion barrels.


“The oil era is dawning in Uganda,” says Ben Shepherd, a leading specialist on African politics and conflict at the London-based Royal Institute of International Affairs. An independent policy institute, the Royal Institute issued his report titled   Oil in Uganda: International Lessons for Success.

Uganda, he noted, “has the potential to accelerate development and drive the country’s transformation into a regional – and even global – economic player.” But oil also had its risks, he added — that of “eroding the relationship between people and government, of economic distortion, of increased corruption, and of internal tensions.”

The country’s first oil production is expected to happen in 2023, hitting its peak at around 200,000 barrels per day by 2028, making it the fourth largest producer  in sub-Saharan Africa.

Ed Hobey-Hamsher, a senior Africa analyst at the global risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft, argues that oil and gas potential in the region is vast.   “I don’t think anyone wants to be left behind,” he told the African Business monthly magazine, on 13 November, 2020 referring to competing foreign oil companies.

“It’s not an easy place to do business but that certainly doesn’t mean that international oil companies (IOCs) can afford to overlook it.”


To kickstart production, Uganda has partnered with Big Oil, in this case, the French giant Total and the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation.

Construction of a 1,445km (898 miles) planned crude oil pipeline, known as the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) or, alternatively, the Hoima-Tanga Port Oil Pipeline (describing its point of origin and its terminal point) is expected to run from the Albertine region in Uganda, which is landlocked, to the Tanzanian seaport of Tanga.

It will cost $ 3.55 billion and is planned to have the capacity of 216,000 barrels per day.

Thirty percent of the project costs are expected to be provided by the equity investors, which include the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC), the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC), CNOOC Limited (the largest producer of offshore crude oil and natural gas in China and one of the largest independent oil and gas exploration and production companies in the world) and Total, the world’s fourth-ranked international oil and gas company.

The US will provide loans worth $2.5 billion.

Map of the Hoima-Tanga route of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline. Source: The EACOP ESIA Technical Extract [49].
Map of the Hoima-Tanga route of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline. Source: . The EACOP ESIA Technical Extract

Pipeline Politics

In March 2021, following protests against the pipeline by 263 environmental and human rights organizations, Barclays and Credit Suisse became the first major international commercial banks to confirm that they would not participate in the pipeline project.

“Barclays does not intend to participate in the financing of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline project,” the UK-based bank said in its response to the protests. Credit Suisse also confirmed it “is not considering participating in the EACOP project.” The “Stop EACOP” coalition also commented that other banks such as United Overseas Bank (UOB) had also made statements indicating that they may not be involved in the project financing.

The New Yorker, an American weekly magazine, describes the East African Crude Oil Pipeline as “one of the planet’s ugliest infrastructure projects,” for it threatens to “endanger as many animals as possible, take out wide swaths of farmland, almost all of it tilled by peasant farmers and encroach on forests.”

However, work on the pipeline is proceeding. On April 10, Uganda, Tanzania. Total and CNOOC signed agreements which will allow the “start of investment in the construction of infrastructure that will produce and transport the crude oil.”

According to Mr. Murithi Mutiga, Project Director for the Horn of Africa at the International Crises Group (ICG)  “Despite being landlocked, Uganda is located in a highly strategic location of the continent. It straddles across different regions,” he says.


“It’s partly in Central Africa and wholly within the East African region. It’s a member of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an eight-country trade bloc in Africa that includes governments from the Horn of Africa, Nile Valley and the African Great Lakes.”

Uganda, Mutiga adds, “is also a member of the East Africa community (EAC) that comprises countries of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan. To that extent, Uganda’s location makes it a major actor across the region.”

The Militarization of Uganda…and Its Neighbors

What makes Uganda’s location “highly strategic” has much to do with ongoing oil exploration throughout much of East Africa, a region which partly borders the Red Sea that separates East Africa from oil-rich Saudi Arabia. The militarization of these regions – under the pretext of fighting terrorism – often occurs in order to safeguard foreign oil concessions and pipeline routes, as explained by Charlotte Dennett in The Crash of Flight 3804: A Lost Spy, A Daughter’s Quest, and the Deadly Politics of the Great Game for Oil . As she points out, where there are terrorists, one will often find oil. Which raises the question: who is backing the terrorists in any given case? More often than not, she points out, the US and its Gulf allies have been found to be clandestinely bankrolling the terrorists.

Uganda has partnered with the US to “quell terrorism,” deploying more than 6,200 troops to the 14-year-old African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) that is battling the al Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab, an Islamist insurgent group based in Somalia.


Dating back to the administration of Bill Clinton in the 1990s, the United States developed the Front Line States Initiative in which it formed a military partnership with Uganda which saw the latter being used as a conduit for military aid to rebels in neighboring southern Sudan (now South Sudan) battling the brutal Islamist government in Khartoum, Sudan. Seldom mentioned in the US press, however, is US competition with the Chinese in developing South Sudan’s oil.

At the time, Museveni established himself as a bulwark against militant Islam, a strategy that paid additional dividends when the US said it was concerned about the rise of al Qaeda in eastern Africa after the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

Generous U.S. assistance has been additionally forthcoming following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It was in 2007 when  the African Union authorized the creation of the African Union Mission to Somalia. Since then AMISON has become an active, regional peacekeeping mission operated by the African Union with the approval of the United Nations to fight the threat of  al-Shabaab. By 2012, the UK-based Guardian published an article showing the link between Somalia’s oil potential (given its proximity to East African oilfields) and military offensives to stop al-Shabaab. “Kenyan, Ethiopian and Ugandan soldiers are in Somalia,” it reported, “fighting al-Shabaab, and each country has vested interests in Somalia’s future. Already a new militia, led by the unlikely-sounding Sheik Atom, has formed around Puntland’s oilfields.”

Pentagon plan calls for pulling all troops from Somalia - Africa - Stripes
US troops preparing to withdraw from Uganda. Source:

In December, 2020 President Trump ordered the withdrawal of 700 US troops from Somalia which were training Somali forces to fight al Shabab. Trump’s order drew some rebukes within Washington. Jim Langevin, the Democratic chair of the House subcommittee on intelligence and emerging threats, equated the withdrawal as “a surrender to al-Qaida and a gift to China.”

And Benjamin Friedman, the policy director of the Defense Priorities think-tank, noted that “the change is not necessarily a step toward ending American military involvement in Somalia’s civil war.”

Benjamin Friedman, the policy director of the Defense Priorities thinktank, welcomed the move as a step in the right direction in reducing US exposure abroad.


“It seems to be a shift away from a broader effort to fight on behalf of the Somali government against al-Shabaab to a more focused counter-terrorism mission,” Friedman said.

A report published this March by the Royal Institute of International Affairs, titled “Understanding US Policy in Somalia: Current Challenges and Future Options” confirms that since 2006, Washington’s principal focus with regard to Somalia has been on reducing the threat posed by al-Shabaab.

“Successive US administrations have used military and political means to achieve this objective. Militarily, the US has provided training, equipment and funds to an African Union operation, lent bilateral support to Somalia’s neighbours, helped build elements of the reconstituted Somali National Army (SNA), and conducted military operations, most frequently in the form of airstrikes. Politically, Washington has tried to enable the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) to provide its own security, while implementing diplomatic, humanitarian and development efforts in parallel.”

Brig. Gen. Matthew Gureme, chief of staff of Uganda’s Rapid Deployment Capability Centre, told Foreign Policy on February 18, 2016 “This partnership really grew post-9/11. We were identified as one of the partners who had a common interest in combatting this terrorism,” adding “If it wasn’t for this partnership, I think the threat would be substantial enough that we would even feel it here at home.”

The Ugandan military has been embroiled in conflicts in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and South Sudan. In the DRC, the Ugandans were accused of looting the country’s natural resources, while in South Sudan they fought on behalf of President Salva Kiir in the country’s civil war even after the United States called on them to withdraw. Also the Ugandan peacekeepers in Somalia have been accused of serious human rights violations, including sexual violence and torture.


According to Helen Epstein, an American author of Another Fine Mess: America, Uganda and the War on Terror, President Yoweri Museveni has been “… the region’s pyromaniac since he came to power, whether we are talking about Sudan, South Sudan or Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of Congo, his army has intervened everywhere, to the detriment of peace.”

Abdullahi Boru Halakhe, a security analyst who focuses on the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa regions, acknowledges that the Ugandan strongman has “put his army into the service of the global war on terror, thereby shielding himself from criticism.”

The “African Renaissance”: Uganda in a Historical/ Geopolitical Context

What has happened to Uganda is best understood by looking at the regional history of Sub-Saharan countries. In the 1980s and 1990s, these countries were disproportionately holding multiparty elections. During this period, the proxy wars of the U.S. and Soviet Union for domination of the continent, and the territorial ambitions of Apartheid South Africa had supposedly given way to a new generation of African leaders promising their western benefactors, including the US, that they would transform the continent. That dream was dubbed the African Renaissance, a contrast to the so-called “big man syndrome” – the autocratic rule by the so-called “big men” of African politics experienced during the first two decades after independence from colonialism.

For example, when former US president Bill Clinton made his initial African visit in March 1998, he helped popularize this notion of an African Renaissance, when he said he placed hope in a “new generation of African leaders” devoted to democracy and economic reforms.


Although Clinton did not pinpoint the African leaders he was referring to, it was widely assumed that he was referring to, among others, Museveni of Uganda, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and Isaias Afewerki of Eritrea. Other leaders added to the list included Ghana’s Jerry Rawlings, Mozambique’s Joaquim Chissano and South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki.

In 1998 then U.S Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said: “Africa’s best new leaders have brought a new spirit of hope and accomplishment to their countries, and that spirit is sweeping across the continent. They know the greatest authority any leader can claim is the consent of the governed. They are as diverse as the continent itself. But they share a common vision of empowerment–for all their citizens, for their nations, and for their continent.”

Yet over the years, Museveni, for one, did not live up to such lofty democratic ideals. He has deliberately suppressed opposing voices, and the elections this year were just the latest example. Only this time, on January 30, 2021, even the US State Department issued its “significant concerns about Uganda’s recent elections,” in a statement emailed to The New York Times:“The United States has made clear that we would consider a range of targeted options, including the imposition of visa restrictions, for Ugandan individuals found to be responsible for election-related violence or undermining the democratic process.”

Invariably, past condemnations of Uganda have come to be seen by Ugandan locals as loaded with levity, for nothing consequential ever emerges. An exemplar happened in 2014, when then-President Barack Obama censured the country’s draconian anti-homosexuality act, warning the Ugandan President that “enacting this legislation will complicate our valued relationship.” But a month later, Obama pledged 100 American troops to help Uganda’s hunt for Joseph Kony, commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group notorious for massacres of civilians and other atrocities.

In addition, on March 5, 2019, Museveni was accused of supporting rebels in the region – an allegation that would resurface time and time again during his long tenure. The Uganda ruler’s incursion into neighboring countries is underlined by two key factors: an avaricious appetite for economic predation and a real feeling of trepidation that an insurrection could occur seeking to upend his forbidding reign, stirred by local rebels that are itinerant within the East and Central Africa regions.


For example, the UN stated in 2001 that the DRC was suffering a “systemic and systematic” looting of natural resources by foreign armies, which included the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF).

UPDF also had close ties with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) under John Garang that witnessed UPDF invading this oil-rich state with the aim of fending off military support that the Sudan government, then a nemeses of the Administration of Garang, was providing to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

In the late 1990s, Museveni’s moral standing took a particularly hard hit when Uganda and Rwanda invaded the Democratic Republic of Congo  twice. Both armies were later charged in The Hague with looting the DRC’s resources, killing and torturing civilians and using child soldiers.

But while Museveni has continued to curry favor with the West and still receives support from financial institutions, including the World Bank, his government has used their support only to undermine the very interests his government “is lauded for safeguarding,” observed Michael Mutyaba, an independent researcher on Ugandan politics in a telephone interview with the writer, on April 1, 2021.

Here Mutyaba was alluding to Museveni’s disproportionate use of monies received from western benefactors.


In short, Museveni’s powerful benefactors have succeeded in helping him militarize the state, which in turn brutalizes its citizenry, making Uganda a police state that stands in sharp contrast to the US’s much vaunted “African Renaissance.”

Charles Wachira is a foreign correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya and is formerly an East Africa correspondent with Bloomberg LP. He covers issues including human rights, business, politics and international relations.


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Politics & Policy

OPINION | Kenya is poised to become the ‘Singapore of Africa’



Nairobi City at night
Of all the countries in sub-Saharan Africa to be optimistic about, the most promising is Kenya. Economic and political forces are converging to put the continent’s seventh-largest nation in a relatively favorable position.

Africa is the fastest-growing continent and is expected to account for one-quarter of the world’s population by 2050. That means more multinational corporations see a need to have a direct presence somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. Many such companies already realise they need a presence in Asia, with Singapore proving increasingly popular as the hub, especially as Hong Kong has been absorbed into communist China.

Where in Africa might such a comparable cluster of companies evolve? Unfortunately, some of Africa’s leading nations have experienced major troubles lately. Economic growth has slowed in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and the country has only begun to make much-needed reforms; Ethiopia, the second-most populous country, just went through a civil war; political problems and power shortages continue to plague South Africa. For the time being, those places are not in the running to be a dominant sub-Saharan economic hub, if only because ex-pats will be reluctant to move there.

In contrast, a locale with a reasonable level of English fluency and an attractive year-round climate will get a lot of attention — and that nicely describes Kenya. Kenya also had a growth rate of about 5.5% last year, despite negative shocks to the prices of imported food and energy. Since 2004, growth rates have been in the range of 4% to 5%.

Kenya also has some geographic advantages. It has an extensive coastline on the Indian Ocean, and research suggests that landlocked countries have worse economic performance. Countries with a coast also find it easier to stay in touch with the rest of the world, and Kenya has relatively easy access to China and India, large markets and sources of capital. In the current geopolitical climate, East Africa is attracting more interest from more sources than is most of West Africa.

In terms of scale, Kenya’s population of about 57 million cannot compete with Nigeria’s 222 million. But East Africa, with almost 500 million people, has a larger population than West Africa.

Tanzania, just to the south of Kenya, has a larger population than Kenya. But Kenya is much wealthier and has a superior infrastructure — and that includes the digital infrastructure, as internet access in Kenya is ranked among the most reliable in Africa.


To the extent the world focuses more on green energy, Kenya also has a positive story to tell. The country already has more than 80% renewable energy, and the climate is ideal for an ongoing expansion of solar power. Foreign companies looking to boost their green reputations might find Kenya an attractive destination. That said, expensive energy — due in part to taxes and poor regulation — has been a growth drawback.

There are other elements of the case against Kenya. It has had difficulty attracting foreign direct investment, even compared to other African nations. Corruption, regulatory barriers to entry, and political instability remain concerns and cannot be dismissed lightly.

That said, Kenyan governance has been stable as of late, and the 2022 election went relatively well. The government is proving more adept at preventing major terror attacks, often coming from groups in Somalia. As Kenya becomes wealthier, there is a good chance those problems will diminish further.

It is also possible that sub-Saharan Africa will not develop a single dominant corporate hub at all. The United Arab Emirates will continue to evolve into Africa’s financial center, Lagos will have the most startup activity, South Africa will remain the dominant business center in the South — and London, Beijing, and India will play more important roles in Africa’s economic future.

Still, African distances are great and its population is growing, two simple facts that argue for Kenyan growth no matter what. The idea of putting a manufacturing plant or service center near Nairobi or Mombasa makes sense even if it serves only East Africa. Kenya’s immediate neighbors to the west and south, Tanzania and Uganda, also have an English-language background, and Tanzania may become one of the world’s most populous countries.


Not only is Africa rising, but East Africa is too. And Kenya is likely to be the easiest and most predictable way to bet on it.

Story by Tyler Cowen – a Bloomberg columnist.


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Banking & Microfinance

Supreme Court of Kenya Dismisses Investors Bid Seeking Ksh 465 million from Billionaire Jimnah Mbaru’s Firm



Businessman Jimnah Mbaru

An investor’s bid to have Dyer & Blair Investment Bank, owned by Jimnah Mbaru, pay him Sh465 million has been rejected by the Supreme Court. John Kung’u Kiarie, a former KCB director, alleged that Mbaru’s firm conspired with the anti-fraud unit to freeze his money two decades ago and later under-declared his investment returns.

The Court of Appeal dismissed his application for a second appeal to the apex court, stating that the issues raised by the investor were limited to his personal interests. The judges noted that the matters raised were connected to his business relationship with the investment bank and the resulting dispute.

“Justices Daniel Musinga, Hellen Omondi, and Imaana Laibuta ruled that there were no issues of general public importance involved, nor were there any novel legal issues that needed determination by the Supreme Court,” as per the ruling.

According to the law, appeals at the Supreme Court typically involve matters of public importance or interest. In Mr. Kiarie’s case, he had invested Sh91 million with the brokerage firm in March 2003 to purchase a Treasury bond but received a paper worth Sh88 million instead.

Upon the advice of the investment bank, Mr. Kiarie sold the security for Sh91.6 million to invest in a new Treasury bond with a higher yield. However, before the plans could be realized, his banker, CfC Stanbic, received warrants allowing the Anti-Banking Fraud Unit to investigate his account.

As a result, his account was frozen, and Mr. Kiarie was charged with falsely obtaining Sh91.5 million before a magistrate court in Nairobi. Subsequently, he was acquitted due to lack of evidence, and an order was issued to lift the freeze on his money and the associated interest.


Mr. Kiarie claimed that Dyer & Blair later released Sh67.5 million as the principal amount, along with an additional Sh2.3 million in interest. Mr. Kiarie initially sued Dyer & Blair and CfC Stanbic in 2009, alleging collusion to deprive him of his Sh91.5 million investment.

In a ruling, High Court judge Eric Ogolla found in favor of Mr. Kiarie and directed the brokerage firm and the bank to pay him Sh310 million. However, in July 2017, the Court of Appeal overturned the decision. The appellate court ruled that the investment bank had not participated in the criminal case and therefore did not have the opportunity to cross-examine Mr. Kiarie’s general manager regarding the evidence provided.

The court nullified the damages assessment and the applied interest and instead directed that Mr. Kiarie be paid an amount equivalent to the returns he could have earned from the investment in treasury bonds for one year, minus the brokerage firm’s commission and annual fees.

Mr. Kiarie was unsatisfied and sought to escalate the matter to the Supreme Court. Mr. Mbaru opposed the application, stating that he had complied with the court’s judgment and that Mr. Kiarie had accepted the payment and interest provided.

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Politics & Policy

Kenya Demonstrations: What Does Kenya’s Odinga Want?



Former Kenyan Prime Minister - Raila Amollo Odinga
Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga addresses supporters where he called for mass action against high cost of living , Nairobi, March 9, 2023.

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has a playbook he turns to when he loses an election. He calls supporters onto the streets until he’s given a share of power.

By Antony Sguazzin

This week was no different but it’s unclear whether President William Ruto will yield.

The March 20 protests led to one death and the closing of shops and schools. By piggybacking his demand for the 2022 election loss to Ruto to be overturned with discontent over the cost of living, he ensured a turnout.

His election demand is unlikely to be met. The 78-year-old has run for president five times and lost five times. A Supreme Court that’s proved its independence before by nullifying an election result dismissed his petition.

Odinga’s backers including former justice minister and 2022 running mate, Martha Karua, insist they won and want an audit to try and prove


Now, Odinga says, protests will be held every Monday and Thursday until he gets his way.

There are precedents.

Violence after the disputed 2007 election forced then-President Mwai Kibaki to appoint Odinga as prime minister and in 2018 the threat of a
redux of that disruption saw President Uhuru Kenyatta extend to him an olive branch.

Odinga’s actions “show that there isn’t really respect for the election process,” said Zaynab Mohamed, an analyst at Oxford Economics Africa.
His tactics risk unraveling the progress Kenya has made, she added.

In 2018, the Supreme Court overturned Kenyatta’s victory and ordered a rerun and last year’s vote was less divided along ethnic lines than previously. That’s a far cry from the violence in the 2007 election that saw more than 1,500 killed and 300,000 made homeless and two decades of
repression under Daniel Arap Moi, whose cabinet Odinga once joined.

There’s little appetite to return to those days.

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