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Samson Omwanza Ombati

Samson Omwanza Ombati has officially been sworn in as the Law Society of Kenya in the Judicial Service Commission. Speaking during the swearing-in presided over by the president of the Supreme Court, Martha Koome, Koome expressed confidence that the newly sworn-in will help the commission achieve its strategic plan and ensure justice is served equally.

Koome also added that, through the commission, the Supreme Court will look for the money that will see a new state-of-the-art facility constructed.

On his part, Ombati, who was elected to represent the LSK, promised to work hand in hand with other commissioners and ensure justice is served equally.

Ombati added that his aim is to see a well-transformed judiciary that will see Kenyans served equally, irrespective of tribe or gender.

Ombati was elected by the lawyers to represent them in their commission in the just concluded elections.

Others who were present were, the majority whip and Mugirango member of parliament, Sylvanus Osore, Solicitor General Shadrack Mose, and Senior Counsel Dunstan Omari, among other lawyers.

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Kenya's New Motor Vehicle Tax

Kenya’s New Motor Vehicle Tax


Kenya’s New Motor Vehicle Tax: In a bid to boost revenue and finance essential services, the Kenyan government has introduced a new provision in the Finance Bill targeting vehicle owners. Under this new legislation, vehicle owners will be required to pay an annual motor vehicle tax at the rate of 2.5 percent of the value of the car, with a minimum of Sh5,000 and a maximum of Sh100,000.

Explanation of the Tax

The Motor Vehicle Tax is calculated based on the value of the vehicle, with higher-valued cars attracting a higher tax amount. For example, a car valued at Sh200,000 would incur a tax of Sh5,000 (2.5% of Sh200,000), while a car valued at Sh4 million would incur the maximum tax of Sh100,000.

Impact on Vehicle Owners

This new tax will have varying impacts on vehicle owners, depending on the value of their cars. While owners of lower-value vehicles may see a relatively small increase in their annual tax obligations, those with higher-value cars could face a significant financial burden.

Rationale Behind the Tax

The government has introduced this tax as part of its efforts to diversify revenue sources and reduce reliance on borrowing and other forms of taxation. By imposing a tax on motor vehicles, the government aims to generate additional revenue to finance essential public services and infrastructure projects.

Criticism and Opposition

However, the new Motor Vehicle Tax has faced criticism and opposition from some quarters. Vehicle owners argue that the tax is unfair and burdensome, particularly for those with older or less valuable vehicles. Some critics also question the transparency and accountability of the government in implementing and administering the tax.

Implementation Challenges

Implementing the new tax presents several challenges, including accurately assessing the value of vehicles and ensuring compliance and enforcement. There are also administrative and logistical issues that need to be addressed to effectively implement the tax.

Alternatives and Solutions

In response to these challenges, some experts have proposed alternative revenue-generation methods, such as increasing taxes on luxury goods or introducing congestion charges in urban areas. Others suggest introducing exemptions or waivers for certain categories of vehicle owners, such as low-income individuals or essential service providers.

Government Response

The government has defended the new tax, emphasizing its importance in generating revenue for essential public services and infrastructure development. Measures have been put in place to address some of the concerns raised by vehicle owners, including providing avenues for feedback and consultation.

Public Perception

Public opinion on the new Motor Vehicle Tax is mixed, with some supporting it as a necessary measure to fund public services, while others oppose it as an additional financial burden on already struggling households. Social media platforms have been abuzz with discussions and debates about the merits and drawbacks of the tax.

Industry Impact

The automotive industry is closely monitoring the effects of the new tax on car sales and ownership. Some analysts predict a slowdown in the market as potential buyers weigh the increased cost of vehicle ownership against their budget constraints

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Training the Kenya Defence Forces

The Journey of Dedication and Resilience

  • Training the Kenya Defence Forces

The story of one individual’s journey from aspiring aeronautical engineer to training the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) is a testament to the twists and turns life can take in training the Kenya Defence Forces.  This article delves into the inspiring narrative of perseverance, resilience, and determination.

From Dreams to Reality: A Passion for Aeronautics

Early Aspirations

The journey begins with a qualified aeronautical engineer who harbored a deep-seated passion for aviation from a young age.

Applying for KDF Intake

Driven by his aspirations, he applied during the KDF intake with hopes of joining the Air Force as an engineer, a role that resonated deeply with his career aspirations.

Unexpected Setbacks: A Lesson in Resilience

Internship with KQ and KLM

Prior to the KDF intake, he was working as an intern for Kenya Airways (KQ) and KLM, gaining invaluable industry experience.

A Shocking Turn of Events

Despite passing all the physical assessments with flying colors and demonstrating his martial arts prowess, he faced an unexpected hurdle during the final moments of the intake process.

Unforeseen Obstacle

When asked who had sent him to apply, he innocently responded that he had applied in response to the advertisement. This response led to his immediate dismissal from the intake process, leaving him stunned and disheartened.

The Path to Redemption: Overcoming Adversity

Pursuing Further Studies Abroad

Undeterred by the setback, he decided to channel his disappointment into furthering his education. He made the bold decision to travel to the UK to pursue advanced studies in aeronautical engineering.

Joining the British Army

With unwavering determination, he sought out new opportunities and was eventually admitted to the British Army. Embracing the challenge, he joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (REME) corps.

From Across the Seas to Home Soil: Training the KDF

A Return to Kenya

After honing his skills and expertise abroad, he returned to Kenya with a newfound sense of purpose.

Training the Kenya Defense Forces

Today, he finds himself in Nanyuki, training the Kenya Defense Forces alongside his fellow REME colleagues. His journey has come full circle, from aspiring engineer to mentor and trainer.

 A Story of Triumph and Persistence

The story of this individual serves as a powerful reminder of the resilience of the human spirit. Despite facing setbacks and challenges along the way, he remained steadfast in his pursuit of his dreams. His journey exemplifies the importance of perseverance, determination, and seizing opportunities, no matter how unexpected they may be.

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Mwale

It had been billed to be the nextSilicon Valley of Kenya, with a one-stop shopping centre, offering amultitude of products and services to its customers, all under oneroof.

Upon its completion, the much touted Mwale Medical and Technology City (MMTC) was supposed to have a 5000bed capacity Hamptons hospital, a 36-hole golf course, a shoppingcomplex, 4800 new homes and 150 km of improved roads.

But investigations on the ground depicta different picture amid revelations that it is a project being toyedaround with the main purpose of conning donors by those behind it.
Former Kakamega governor WycliffeOpayanya aptly sums it with a clear warning: “I know the placewhere the purported complex is located, and I know the purportedproprietor well…..the whole thing is a scam aimed at conningdonors. Nobody has ever seen all those facilities being peddledaround.”

Julius Mwale, a self-proclaimedmultibillionaire had a vision for his people of Butere….that oftransforming his village into a medical tourism hub centring aroundthe Sh 250 billion Mwale Hamptons Hospital complex.

Determined to actualise his dream,Mwale acquired 5,000 acres that were previously a sugarcaneplantation for a local factory that had collapsed and then reachedout to farmers inviting them to partner with him on the anticipated 25,000-acre community-owned metropolis.

“If everything had gone according tothe plans that we had been given, Butere town would have beentransformed into a mega town, attracting visitors from all over theworld. We expected a lot not knowing that we were being duped,”says Jacob Toboso, a retired teacher at the nearby Musango market, afew kilometres from the purported MMTC.
According to Toboso, despite all thehype, both local and international, there is very little on theground about the project.

“All those stories you hear about a5000 bed capacity hospital, golf course and shopping complex arephantom projects. Those things don’t exist at all,” Toboso toldthis journalist who was on a mission to establish the authenticity ofthe project that has earned Mwale international recognition.

Interviews with residents living inButere and neighbouring towns such as Mumias, Kakamega, Busia and Bungoma , and adjacent market places like Buchinga, Shianda, Musoli,Bukura, Malinya, Buyangu and Shiasa denied the existence of suchfacilities.

“The only facility at the complex isa small clinic that seems to be treating workers there. But there isno hospital there. Our people seek medication at St Mary’s Mumias,Kakamga, Kakamega County Referral Hospital or the Butere Sub Countyhospital. The so-called Mwale Medical Centre is a phantom facilitythat we only read in the press,” says a resident who onlyidentified himself as Lambert from Imanga, fearing the repercussions that would follow him if his real identity becomes known.

Lambert says that apart from themagnificent buildings that adorn the complex to signal the existenceof some serious business going on within, nothing else is going on.
“There is tight security at the gatesto ensure that nobody accesses the complex to know whatever is goingon inside in order to leak it to the outside world. If indeed thereis a hospital, why have they blocked the residents from accessing it?Can they tell you just one person who has ever been treated from thatfacility?” Lambert questioned.

Indeed our efforts to access thecomplex tucked on an expansive land between Mumias and Butere bore nofruit as guards from a private security firm manning the gatesremained adamant insisting that nobody is allowed without permissionfrom the authorities, whose names and contacts they declined to give.Tales abound from residents about theruthlessness with which the “proprietors” deal with individualswho leak any information about the complex or individuals perceivedto be opposed to the project.

“Many people have been attacked undermysterious circumstances for being opposed to the project. Some haveeven mysteriously disappeared after receiving death threats. This isa hot potato that nobody would dare touch,” one resident whodeclined to be named said.
To ensure that nothing negative aboutthe project sees the limelight, major leading newspapers like theDaily Nation and the Standard have been gagged through courtinjunctions.

“The media has been gagged to ensurethat nothing negative comes out. Any media house that attempts toundertake investigations on what is going on in the complex is eithersweet-talked with some adverts, which are eventually not paid, orthrough a court injunction,” another resident said.

Interviews with prominent personalitiesfrom the area also revealed that there is no golf course beingpeddled around.
Oparanya, who hails from Butere and atone time was vocal against the project , before signing an agreementwith the lead investor Mwale, says the whole thing is shrouded incontroversy and mystery.

“On the ground there is nothing, butwe read in the press about how there is an ultra-modern hospital withstate of the art equipment. We have also been told of the existenceof a 36-hole golf course that nobody has ever seen,” Oparanya saidin an interview.
Oparanya now wants the government toundertake through investigations over the said facilities and tellKenyans the truth about them.

“Logically do you believe the storyof the existence of a 5000 bed hospital capacity? If KenyattaNational Hospital (KNH) has only about 2,500 beds and is consideredto be the biggest in East and Central Africa, then a 5000 bedcapacity should be the biggest in the continent. But who are thepatients that it treats?” Oparanya questioned.

Central Organisation of Trade Unions(COTU) Secretary General Francis Atwoli warned President William Rutoto be careful not to associate himself with MMTC.
“We have thwarted several attempts tohave former President Uhuru Kenyatta and now President Ruto to visitthe ghost project. It is a big scam and President Ruto should becareful not to fall a victim of this con game,” Atwoli said.
Atwo said he has never heard of anybodyfrom Butere or within Western region, who has ever used the purportedairport, golf course or the hospital.

Mid last month, the United States-basedKenyan businessman Mwale was honored with a Social InfrastructureAward during this year’s Africa Prosperity Champions Awards inAccra, Ghana.
The award gala that was in recognitionof Mwale’s contributions and investment in health, primarily withthe establishment of MMTC, was hosted by Ghanian President NanaAkufo-Addo.

“Your decision, as anentrepreneur, to invest heavily in setting up such a major healthfacility in Kenya, is both bold and responsible. And, to make itaccessible to ordinary Kenyans, particularly those covered by theNational Hospital Insurance Fund, is most commendable,” said GabbyAsere Darko, the Chairman of Africa Prosperity Network.
Also honoured at the event includedPatricia Scotland, the Secretary General of the Commonwealth who washonoured for her efforts in expanding trade in Africa through theCommonwealth.

Other winners were President AlassaneQuattara of Ivory Coast, CEO of Afreximbank, Creative EntrepreneurMr. Eazi from Nigeria and Egypt’s deputy Speaker and chairman ofCleopatra group Mohammed El Enein who won the Africa Industrialistaward.
Now the locals are questioning theinternational awards being given out to a phantom project that hasnever benefited them.

“Some of these people purporting torecognise this man should not just believe the pictures they arebeing shown but should come to the ground to see the reality. Thereis no such medical hospital being toyed around to convince theworld,” says Mark Shikuku, a retired civil servant from Muluwamarket, told journalists.

The project that was to be implementedin three phases from 2014 with phase one being the construction of Mwale Medical and Technology City, involving construction ofHamptons Mall and a residential complex was to have been completed by2020.
The second phase of the project, whichwas done between June 2016 and September 2017, was to cover the firstsection of the 5,000-bed Mwale Hamptons Hospital, more than 70km ofroads, and over 300 street lights. It was also to cover phase one of4,800 homes expected to host doctors and nurses.

The third phase of the project, whichwas to commence in September 2017, was to include an airport, a36-hole golf resort and residences, a second mall, a conventioncentre, and a water park connected to the hospital by a cable car.
“There is no airport. Tell me whichplane has ever landed there. All these are stories meant to hoodwinkdonors in order to easily con them,” Oparanya said.

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john waluke

It has been surprising after a casual worker looses the job without clear and prior notice of the job dismissal in sirisia sub-county, bungoma west, in bungoma county.

The victim who was working as an ICT/COMPUTER personnel in butonge ACK primary school got a sudden dismissal from the job without early notice over the same. butonge ACK primary school is located in sirisia constituency in bungoma county.

more so, the victim was instructed not to near that school premises whatsoever.

The area community was much eager to know the reason for the urgent dismissal of that worker from there community school.

From the report in the same community there was a needy and desperate family which needed the well wishers including the office of their MP area to give a hand of help for their suffering situation.It was said that the MP office had the report fron the family requesting for help but unfortunately the office gave the family a deaf ear.

The victim tried to lament over why the MP office had not taken any initiative off helping that family which in turn caused that immediate dismissal of the victim. The dismissal was done immediately this lamentation reached the office of HON. JOHN WALUKE the area MP.

Working fron within sirisia constituency has become dangerous given the recent scenario where other person’s property was totally destroyed unlawfully from within.

This not be the only case of someone having it rough especially when dares sirisia constituency leadership. It is now with fool of fear and tension to the people especially who work from that constituency and dares HON. JOHN WALUKE’S leadership.

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Nairobi Expressway

The government has released new toll charges for the Nairobi Expressway, sparking uproar among users in times of tough economic times.

The new toll charges are contained in a notice Gazette Notice dated December 19, 2023, and signed by Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen.

Here is a breakdown of the toll charges for different sections of the Nairobi Expressway:

Mlolongo to Westlands: Ksh500

Syokimau to Westlands: Ksh500

SGR to Westlands: Ksh410

JKIA to Westlands: Ksh410

Eastern Bypass to Westlands: Ksh410

Southern Bypass to Westlands: Ksh330

Capital Center to Westlands: Ksh250

Haile Selassie to Westlands: Ksh250

The new charges apply to various sections of the expressway, aiming to streamline the toll collection process and support infrastructure development and maintenance.

The government said the new toll charges and meant to help finance the ongoing maintenance and operational costs of the infrastructure.

“It is not fair at all because things are tough they can’t just increase the toll charges at such a time,” said Michael Omollo who said he uses the Expressway daily.

Cars cruising on the Nairobi Expressway on the first day of trial operation in Nairobi, Kenya, May 14, 2022. / Zhao Qian

For fellow motorist Kevin Karanja, “it is double jeopardy because full prices are up and we now have to pay more for toll charges. Welcome to 2024.”

Launched by then President Uhuru Kenyatta in mid-October 2019, the Nairobi Expressway stands as a monumental achievement in Kenya’s infrastructure development. Spanning a total of 27 kilometers, this state-of-the-art expressway features a four-lane dual carriageway situated along the median strips of some of Nairobi’s busiest roadways, including Mombasa Road (starting at Mlolongo), Uhuru Highway, and Waiyaki Way (culminating at James Gichuru Road).

The ambitious project cost of Sh97 billion.

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Kimani

As the new year dawns, majority of Kenyans are expressing optimism and hope for better times ahead despite the challenges they faced in 2023 due to a tough economic climate.

Some of those interviewed by Capital FM shared their expectations for a promising 2024, believing that persistent issues such as the high cost of living and heavy tax burdens will soon be addressed, paving the way for economic growth.

There has been uproar across the country as Kenyans pleaded for the government to bring down the cost of living that shot up in 2023.

Denis Momanyi, a resident of Ruaka, expressed his hopes for 2024, stating, “I’m hoping that the government will reduce the high cost of living and the heavy tax burden that Kenyans have had to endure, especially the housing levy.”

Philomena Atieno, a fish vendor in Siaya, urged the government to fulfil its promise to improve the economy, saying, “We have heard enough promises. It’s time for the government to deliver because things are very tough for us.”

Sospeter Ngugi called upon the Kenya Kwanza government to focus on creating employment opportunities for young people in 2024. He emphasized that addressing youth unemployment is crucial for the nation’s economic growth, as many young individuals currently work part-time jobs to finance their education.

“This year, I would urge the government to take a serious look at the issue of youth unemployment in our nation because if we don’t take care of our young people, our nation will fail,” said Ngugi.

Allan Kirwa from Kitale had a straightforward request for President William Ruto, stating, “Please, reduce the cost of living.”

Jecinta Kimani, a fruit vendor, expressed her optimism that the government would fulfil its commitments to Kenyans in 2024. She urged individuals to take initiative and work hard, stating, “We cannot keep on blaming the government for what it has not delivered. No matter how many times you blame the economy, no one will bring food to your house, so you have to work hard to put food on your table.”

Kimani also highlighted concerns about unfair and punitive taxes imposed by the government, noting that these taxes have forced many businesses to switch from digital transactions to cash payments.

Fatuma Abdalla from Mombasa expressed how the high cost of living had made life unbearable, saying, “Prices are increasing for everything. Every day in newspapers, on the radio, and on television, we hear about rising commodity prices.”

Robert Kariuki, a Bodaboda rider, expects the government to take steps to stabilize the economy in 2024. He specifically called for President William Ruto to address the soaring cost of living and fuel prices, emphasizing the pivotal role of the fuel sector in driving the economy.

Naomy Moraa, a Nairobi resident, expressed disappointment over the increase in Expressway toll charges and appealed to the government, saying, “I urge the government to consider lowering fuel prices. Nevertheless, I remain optimistic that life will improve in 2024 if the president keeps his promises.”

In his New Year’s address, President William Ruto expressed optimism for positive developments in Kenya in 2024. He acknowledged the challenges faced by the nation but emphasized that the government’s efforts to streamline processes would yield long-term benefits.

President Ruto outlined initiatives to reduce government expenditures by up to Sh400 billion to minimize the need for borrowing. He stressed the importance of addressing debt issues and promoting economic independence for Kenya.

While acknowledging the short-term challenges posed by certain government decisions, President Ruto emphasized that opportunities in the new year would enable Kenya to achieve more and improve the lives of its citizens.

 

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DR Congo

Post-election violence has erupted in the Democratic Republic of Congo as President Félix Tshisekedi seeks a second term. Chaotic scenes unfolded in the capital, Kinshasa, as police used tear gas and live rounds to disperse angry crowds protesting against the electoral commission’s results. The Congolese Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) is preparing to release the official results of the general election, but early figures indicate a clear lead for President Tshisekedi.

However, the biggest challenge for the administration lies in maintaining post-election peace, as several of Tshisekedi’s challengers and the Church have already rejected the results. Preliminary results show Tshisekedi leading in every region of the vast country, with his Sacred Union of the Nation coalition securing a sweeping victory.

Of the 12.5 million votes counted by the electoral commission (CENI), President Tshisekedi received 76% of the vote, with Moïse Katumbi and Martin Fayulu following with 16.5% and 4.4%, respectively. The remaining candidates, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Denis Mukwege, failed to secure even 1% of the vote.

While the CENI has not yet announced the official results, the Constitutional Court is set to make the final decision in January. Opposition candidate Martin Fayulu has already rejected the election results, citing “organized, planned fraud.”

In addition to the presidential elections, legislative, provincial, and local elections were held. However, logistical challenges led to an extension of the voting period in some remote areas, with the Catholic and Protestant Churches reporting various irregularities that could affect the election’s integrity.

Tensions are mounting as the official results announcement approaches, raising concerns of potential unrest in a country with a turbulent political history and stark economic disparities. The government has heightened security measures to maintain peace and prevent chaos following the election results.

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Makueni

Police in Makueni County have thwarted an illicit donkey meat business, seizing 25 carcasses en route to butcheries in Shauri Moyo, Nairobi.

Ten suspects were arrested during the security operation by a multi-agency team.

Donkey meat is prohibited in Kenya, with severe legal consequences for those involved in its slaughter or trade.

“Preliminary investigations suggest that the donkey meat was en route to Shauri Moyo Market in Nairobi. A multi-agency team of NPS Officers and Public Health Officers subsequently visited the slaughter site, where they recovered 25 skinned donkey heads and several hooves from a pit located within one of the suspects’ homesteads,” reported the police.

The law enforcers said they also discovered crude tools at the scene including pangas and knives, believed to have been used during the slaughter.

The discovery of these illegal donkey carcasses raises concerns about the type of meat that may have been unknowingly sold to unsuspecting customers in Shauri Moyo and other parts of the city.

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Julius Mwale

Julius Mwale, presented by Forbes magazine as “one of Kenya’s top entrepreneurs”, is fêted for his rags-to- riches life story in which he claims to have created a “multi-billion-dollar” company in the US.

With ambitious and well-publicised projects to build pioneering smart cities in Kenya and Senegal, he enjoys rubbing shoulders with African presidents and celebrities from the worlds of entertainment and sports.

But this investigation by Mediapart tells a different story, one of a trail of claims for unpaid bills, disputes with investors and lenders, and unfinished projects. Clément Bonnerot and Sonia Rolley report.

The story as told by Julius Mwale is one of an Africa that wins, and an African entrepreneur who gives

back to his community. At the Forbes Under 30 Summit Africa, an event held in April this year in Botswana and which presented those who the US business magazine identifies as inspiring models from the continent’s business world, Mwale was given a rapturous welcome.

Before a gathering that included senior officials from several African governments, Randall Lane, who has the title of chief content officer at Forbes, interviewed him on stage in a one-to-one conversation extolling Mwale’s business adventures.

 

“When you have these rags to riches sagas, sometimes we have orphans,” Lane began. “Other times, maybe it’s someone [who was] poor or homeless, or they were a refugee or an immigrant. But you know, you’re, like, all of those things, which makes your rise even more impressive.”

Mwale, born in the mid-1970s in Kenya, told the audience how his first professional step in life was to join the Kenya Air Force before later emigrating to the US. He explained how he made his fortune in New York where, following the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks which highlighted financial security issues, “I invented biometric technology used to secure online [banking] transactions”. The technology, he said, was adopted by banks in the US.

His first company, SBA Technologies, was registered in New York in 2003 and, he told the gathering, it “became one of the largest biometric companies in the world”. By 2008, he said, SBA Technologies had “grown into a multi- billion-dollar company”.

Mwale was keen to present his project of a “smart city”, called Mwale Medical and Technology City (MMTC), in western Kenya, which includes a medical structure “that would be able to stop people in Africa from going to India every year for medical treatment”. This, he told Lane, was prompted by his desire to “give back to the community in Kenya” where he grew up, and to “give back to the community in Africa”.

But this investigation by Mediapart reveals not only that Mwale did not create a vast fortune as he claims, but that a number of his projects were never followed through to the end.

Over the past 15 years, this self-proclaimed billionaire has been regularly accused of leaving a trail of unpaid bills in his wake.

Meanwhile, he continues to make waves announcing ambitious projects and associating with heads of state and celebrities to promote his smart city projects in Africa.

Contacted, Mwale’s Kenya-based lawyer, Javier Munzala, dismissed the accusations levelled against his client as being “wild allegations” that were “defamatory and laced with strong racist themes that seem to discredit black people of African descent as conmen”. Munzala proposed that Mediapart meet with Mwale, and visit his smart city project in Kenya at some point “between March and July 2024”.

Rejected patent applications and unpaid rent

In a number of interviews he has given, including that with Forbes, Mwale said that upon first arriving in New York he lived in a shelter for the homeless.

He has also claimed to have gained a diploma from Columbia University. Contacted, a spokesperson for the university said: “We can confirm that Julius Mwale attended Columbia University in 2004, but did not receive a degree from Columbia”.

While he has claimed that his company, SBA Technologies Inc., became a “multi-billion-dollar company” it was never listed on a stock exchange. In 2010 the company was dissolved, before it was revived two years later.

In the mid-2000s, Mwale applied for patents for his secure transaction system in several countries, including the US, Canada and India. None of these applications succeeded. Delivering its opinion on the application, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), in a document dated July 9th 2007, found that the technology employed “lacks an inventive step” and contained “obvious” modifications to existing technologies.

In 2009, Jacob’s First LLC, the owner of the building housing the headquarters of SBA Technologies, on New York’s upmarket Fifth Avenue, filed a complaint against the company, and Mwale as guarantor, for unpaid rent, amounting to close to 145,000 dollars. In 2011, Mwale was ordered to settle the unpaid rent. But four years later, the owners of the building had still not been paid and filed a fresh complaint. The sum owed by 2015, both in unpaid rent and interest charges, totalled 209,228.37 dollars.

In July 2010, Dianne Schwartz and Marilyn White, co- directors of an outpatient unit treating people with addictions, filed a complaint before the Supreme Court of the State of New York, claiming they had been deceived into investing 266,000 dollars (133,000 dollars each) in the capital of SBA Technologies. They said that they had been told their investment would increase in value more than 30-fold – at 8.8 million dollars – in the event of the company being listed on the stock exchange.

Their complaint was against SBA Technologies, Julius Mwale and a psychiatrist called Fiona Graham who they said had introduced them to Mwale. Graham had worked at their addiction treatment centre. In 2012, Mwale was ordered to refund the total sum of their investment, plus 58,000 dollars in interest.

A separate and earlier case involved New York lawyer Stanley S. Zinner, who gave Mwale a loan of more than 150,000 dollars, a deal in which Fiona Graham appears again to have been the intermediary. When the loan was not repaid, Zinner filed a legal complaint against Mwale and the latter was ordered by the Supreme Court of the State of New York to refund the lawyer.

When Mwale failed to do so, Zinner took action against Graham, who is co-director of a foundation created by Mwale and his wife Kaila called the American Institute for African Development. Graham did not respond to questions sent to her by Mediapart, while Zinner could not be reached.

The American Institute for African Development

In September 2007, Julius Mwale, his wife Kaila Mwale and psychiatrist Fiona Graham created a not-for-profit entity called the American Institute for African Development (AIAD). On its website, it introduces itself as “a private operating and grant making foundation [sic]”, which “aims to shape public policy to promote democratic governance, human rights, and economic, legal, and social reform”.

According to the US Internal Revenue Service, the AIAD has never been exempt from taxes, unlike most not-for-profit entities in the US. Not-for-profits can request exemption from taxes, and if the status is granted they must meet a number of requirements for operational transparency, including the publication of annual financial reports.

In 2017, Kenyan blogger and political activist Robert Alai posted on Twitter copies of a document put out by SBA Technologies, and dated August 2014. It included photos showing Mwale and his wife Kaila, who was presented as the director of the AIAD, taking part in a dinner organised by an organisation called the Corporate Council on Africa, a not-for-profit entity which promotes US investments in African countries.

The evening event was sponsored by SBA Technologies and the guests included Denis Sassou-Nguesso, president of the Republic of the Congo, the then Mozambican president Armando Guebuza, the then Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, and the then president of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama.

It was following his legal problems in the US that Mwale turned his attention to Kenya, in 2015, where he set up a company, Tumaz and Tumaz Enterprises Limited, for his project to build a “smart city” in Kakamega county, situated around 400 kilometres north-west of the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

Two years later, the first buildings had been erected, and Mwale went about promoting the project in the Kenyan media, even comparing it to Silicon Valley.

Describing it as a metropolis, he spoke of the future construction of an airport, residential blocks and hotels, cableways, solar-powered streetlamps, and a technological site destined to produce biogas from waste material. Speaking at the Forbes Under 30 Summit Africa, he told Randall Lane that 2 billion dollars had been invested in the project and that its 35,000 inhabitants had become a new African middle class.

In reality, the Mwale Medical and Technology City contains a number of buildings situated on a surface area of about one square kilometre. Satellite images, like also promotional photos, show a small supermarket, a golf course, a tiny café, a few houses and a hospital built in concrete and glass which was supposed to have a capacity of 5,000 beds – a volume which would make it the largest in Africa and the second-largest worldwide.

A call to the hospital reception revealed that the so- called “Advanced Cancer Treatment and Diagnostic Center” is not operational, and that the establishment treats at most around one hundred people daily, in outpatient care, and mostly for malaria.

Americanisms abound at the “smart city” site: the supermarket is called Mwalmart in an apparent tongue- in-cheek reference to the US retailer, the hospital is Hamptons Hospital, and there is the Hamptons Golf Resort and Residences.

There is also a small hotel called Major Mwale Resort and Spa, which accepts no online reservations and which is promoted on social media by Tindi Mwale, the brother of Julius Mwale, who is a member of parliament for the local constituency.

There are mostly only promotional photos or videos of the Mwale Medical and Technology City in public circulation, in which individuals appearing as a doctor, client or resident are often the same. Also featured in the promotional pictures are Elisa de Panicis, a reality show star and former girlfriend of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo (she did not respond to Mediapart’s request for comment), and the South African models Genevieve Morton and Candice Swanepoel. “ He’s a swindler, a fraudster, I don’t understand how he’s still in the game. ” Marlon Stoltzman, agent for models Candice Swanepoel and Genevieve Morton.

In May 2019, Swanepoel entered into a “modelling” contract with Mwale Medical and Technology City worth 960,000 dollars. Two years later, after not being paid the amount, she and her agent, Marlon Stoltzman, launched proceedings against Mwale to settle the dispute of breach of contract through arbitration. Mwale argued, among other things, that he did not sign the contract and therefore had no contractual relationship with Swanepoel and Stoltzman. Based on those claims, the Supreme Court of the State of New York called on the model and her agent to abandon the move for arbitration.

Contacted, Swanepoel’s lawyer did not offer any comment on the issue, while Mwale’s lawyer, Javier Munzala, insisted the businessman owed the model nothing.

Marlon Stoltzman, agent for both Swanepoel and Morton, is scathing of Mwale. “He’s a swindler, a fraudster, I don’t understand how he’s still in the game,” he told Mediapart. “It’s as if he’s managed to clean up the internet because when we started with him, there was nothing on him, everything looked in order.”

“He even promised Genevieve a house but she ended up working for him for a year for free,” he added. “I personally had to advance expenses: 45,000 dollars for plane tickets, equipment rental, hotels. He paid 20,000 dollars after months of phone calls and redoing invoices and using every trick in the book. He always had an excuse not to pay.”

Claims for unpaid bills totalling 2.5 million dollars

Others who complain of not being paid for their involvement in the Mwale Medical and Technology City project include Robert Okumu, a director of a company called Sifatronix which supplied ballast sand, murram and trucks for the construction of roads. “Julius Mwale said he would pay within 45 days,” he told Mediapart, speaking in July. “He owed me more than 30 million shillings [233,000 euros]. He gave me bounced cheques. It’s been six years and I still haven’t been paid.”

Mediapart spoke to ten Kenyan suppliers and builders involved in Mwale’s project, and also a former employee at the “smart city” hospital, who all complain of never having been paid for their work. Some said they took no legal action because they feared reprisals.

From football to tourism, a man of many projects

In August 2023, Mwale was named in some Portuguese media as being one of the investors behind a project led by former Canadian footballer Alex Bunbury to purchase, for 43 million euros, Club Sport Marítimo, the principal football club on the Portuguese island of Madeira. The offer was rejected by the club in September. Neither Club Sport Marítimo nor Alex Bunbury responded to Mediapart’s requests for comment.

In July 2023, Mwale travelled to the Republic of the Congo to meet with Lydie Pongault, the country’s minister for cultural, tourism, arts and leisure industries, for talks on two investment projects. One was the construction of a medical centre in Brazzaville, the capital, and the other was the building of lodges in the Lesio-Louna gorilla reserve. The following month Mwale led a business delegation to meet with Republic of Congo president Denis Sassou-Nguesso to further the projects. Contacted by Mediapart, Lydie Pongault declined to comment.

According to the sums cited in different legal complaints filed in Nairobi and New York over the past 15 years, Mwale and his different companies are accused of not honouring a total of about 2.5 million dollars in agreed fees.

Between 2018 and 2021, the Mwale Medical and Technology City announced on social media a number of new partnerships with investors from around the world. However, when Mediapart contacted some of the better known of these, including French IT services and consultancy company Atos, French property development and management company Groupe Duval, and the Florida city of Fort Lauderdale, they denied investing in the project.

Enrolling R&B star Akon for a project in Senegal

At the Forbes Under 30 Summit Africa, Mwale spoke of a “big US company” involved in his projects, but did not name it. Four months after the creation of Tumaz and Tumaz Enterprises Limited in November 2015, a company called KE International was registered in the US state of Delaware, where requirements for transparency in business activity are notably relaxed. As an example of this, the beneficiaries of KE International are not named. While it appears to be linked to Mwale, his lawyer rejects the suggestion.

It is KE International that represents the Mwale Medical and Technology City project in the US, as was the case in the contract with Candice Swanepoel. In Kenya, Mwale’s company Tumaz and Tumaz has represented KE International in legal conflicts.

On its website, which was created in 2020, KE International claims to have “a portfolio containing more than USD $8 Billion in projects”. Just two are detailed; the Mwale Medical and Technology City and Akon City in Senegal. The latter was launched, also in 2020, amid great publicity, with the US-Senegalese R&B star Akon laying the first stone at the site. Its futuristic design, worthy of the Marvel Comics’ fictional technological empire of Wakanda, drew significant press coverage both in Senegal and around the world. KE International is presented as the builder of the project, while Mwale has occasionally been described as one of its first investors.

According to a source once close to the family of Mwale’s wife Kaila, the “KE” in KE International refers to them. The source, whose name is withheld, said one of Kaila’s brothers, Derek Knox, a former Boeing employee and member of the US National Guard, created a company called Knox Enterprises.

“The two families lived together in the same house in Florida,” said the source. “They keep everything very compartmentalized, I think in hindsight they do it on purpose.” Mwale’s brother-in-law Derek Knox signs contracts for KE International, such as that involving Swanepoel, using the name Derek William, which is also the name by which he is identified on the KE International website. But nothing on the website indicates he plays a significant role in the company.

In Kenya, another of Kaila Mwale’s brothers, Daniel Knox, is involved in the Mwale Medical and Technology City project. His name does not appear on the KE International website, nor on the social media posts published by Mwale Medical and Technology City.

A basketballer Jared Harrington teams up with Mwale

In February 2023, US basketball player Jared Harrington announced that he was in a partnership with the Mwale Medical and Technology City to build a 20,000-seat “multi-purpose stadium that will be able to host basketball, football, rugby, and soccer”. Contacted by Mediapart in April, he spoke of his enthusiasm over the partnership, and said he was considering other investment projects with Mwale. The building of the stadium has not yet begun, and no other official announcements about it have followed. When contacted again by Mediapart in August, Harrington failed to respond to a request for further comment.

Meanwhile, in August 2021, the singer Akon announced that he had successfully concluded a pilot trial of his so-called “Akoin” cryptocurrency at the Mwale Medical and Technology City, and promoted it in a video clip with images of the site. In March 2023, in a case mainly targeting cryptocurrency entrepreneur Justin Sun, the US Securities and Exchange Commission charged Akon and seven other “celebrities” with “illegally touting” Sun’s crypto asset securities “without disclosing that they were compensated for doing so and the amount of their compensation”.

According to a new official representative of the Akon City project in Senegal, and whose name is withheld, neither KE International nor Mwale were able to raise the funding that was required. “For a project like that, which will last 15 or 20 years, you need international actors who can reassure investors, companies that are listed on the stock exchange and which are worth billions of dollars,” he said.

The singer Akon in August featured alongside Mwale on social media posts published by the Mwale Medical and Technology City, in which KE International was presented as a consultant for Akon City. The representative for the project cited immediately above said the contacts with the company were limited to discussions about the building of a hospital. The “city”, meanwhile, has still not emerged from the earth.

The story becomes all the more confusing when considering the profiles of those associated with KE International and Derek Knox. Up until September 2021, an individual called Paul Martin was introduced in press reports as the spokesman for the Akon City project. At the time, this former member of the US Air Force was still an officer with the Florida Air National Guard. On his LinkedIn profile, he presented himself, from August 2021, as a full-time commander of one of its units. The press office of the National Guard said he was in fact active part-time.

Other directors who appear on the KE International website are all American and have similar profiles to Derek Knox and Paul Martin. Most of them were with the National Guard or worked for Boeing. According to the aforementioned source who was once close to the Knox family (that of Mwale’s wife Kaila) some of them are simply investors. “They ask to put you on the website, but most people have no responsibility within KE international, or even access to internal documents,” said the source.

“They promise a high rate of return on investment after one or two years, and rather than repay, they promise more and more.”

On the advisory board of the company sit a number of former senior US military officers, including Joe N. Ballard, who in 1996 was appointed by then US president Bill Clinton as the army’s Chief of Engineers. After retiring from the military, Ballard created a company called Ravens Group which has gained contracts worth millions of dollars with the US administration. In Kenya, he is presented as an investor in the Mwale Medical and Technology City. Ballard did not respond to Mediapart’s request for comment.

Several other retired military officers, including generals, vice- and rear admirals have been, at one time or another, involved with KE International. Questioned about a possible conflict of interests, a spokesman for the Pentagon press office insisted: “The retired individuals are now private citizens.”

At a very public level, Mwale can be found on social media posts photographed together with various American and African political figures, including several presidents. The latter include Donald Trump (in August 2021), Ghana’s Nana Akufo-Addo (September 2022), Sierra Leone’s Julius Maada Bio (October 2022). He hs been pictured on numerous occasions with Kenyan President William Ruto, who he accompanied on an official visit to the Republic of Congo in early July. In June, Botswana’s vice-president Slumber Tsogwane led a large delegation on a visit to the Mwale Medical and Technology City.

Meanwhile, in May 2023, several Kenyan media reported that Mwale was among a group of investors hoping to buy Forbes Global Holdings Inc. from owners Integrated Whale Media Investments, but there have been no further reports of Mwale’s involvement in the project.

• The original French version of this report can be found here.

Black box

This six-month investigation into the activities of Julius Mwale and several of his associates was prompted by enquiries into the reasons behind the delays in the construction of Akon City in Senegal, and into who were the project’s partners.

Neither Randall Lane nor the editorial department at Forbes responded to Mediapart’s requests for comment on the subject of this investigation.

This article was first published on MEDIAPART

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