BY DAVID OCHAMI
Recently declassified intelligence documents confirm the long held assumption that Ugandan agents planted the bomb that killed former Minister for Agriculture Bruce Mackenzie during President Jomo Kenyatta’s era.
The secret documents obtained by The Standard also reveal the intrigues that characterised the fickle relations between Kenya and her neighbours.
Mackenzie was for a long time the only white minister in post-independent Kenya. His sudden death in a mysterious plane crash above Ngong as he flew from Entebbe, Uganda, remains unsolved since investigations, which Kenya’s top security and intelligence commanders promised never took place.
The Standard has obtained declassified information, which, however, fails to explain the motive for Mackenzie’s assassination that occurred at a time of growing polarisation within Kenyatta’s inner-circle and animosity between Kenyatta and Uganda’s then leader Iddi Amin.
Some accounts indicate Mackenzie was an intelligence agent for several nations.
Regarding Mackenzie, the documents allege unknown agents planted the time bomb that killed him as he tried to land near Wilson Airport in Nairobi from Uganda.
An intelligence brief written on May 24, 1978, about three months before Kenyatta’s death declares that the aircraft Mackenzie used from Entebbe had "a time bomb" and the plane last made contact with the control tower at Wilson Airport 17 minutes before the "explosion in mid air."
According to Kenya’s intelligence at that time, Mombasa resident Shabudi Gulam Hussein Fazal Dirgil also died after a timebomb was planted under his car seat in the coastal city two days after Mackenzie’s death. Another bomb was discovered at St Mary’s School in Nairobi on May 26, 1978, but exploded without killing anyone.
The report indicates Mackenzie flew from Entebbe at 16.19 hours on May 24, 1978, and was due to land in Nairobi at 18.15 hours.
The pilot, Paul Lennox, the papers allege, contacted aviation authorities in Kenya at 16.27 hours and "then again at 17.30 hours and the last contact made with Wilson Airport Tower was at 17.58 hours."
Besides the pilot and former minister, two men identified as Keith Savage and Gavin Whitelaw were also on the ill-fated plane, according to the report.
The documents from secret memos and Intelligence briefs during the last years of the Kenyatta and early period of the Moi administration, also reveal the state of paranoia and misinformation that gripped Kenya’s relations with most of her neighbours namely Somalia, Uganda, Tanzania and the larger Sudan.
Of particular interest is the state of suspicion between Kenya and Somalia, which she accused of fanning separatism in North Eastern Province, recruiting Kenyans into its armed forces and supplying Kenyan Somali dissidents with its passports.
The Somalia Embassy is also accused of passing false Intelligence to the Kenya government that agents of the former Soviet Union were plotting against Kenyan authorities to fan animosity with Ethiopia, Kenya’s only reliable ally since Independence, which then was allied to the Soviet Union.
Tanzania, under Nyerere, is accused in the papers of being "determined to isolate Kenya" politically and economically by shutting its border with Kenya because of the unresolved issue of sharing assets from the defunct East Africa Community and also of planting a "leftist and pro-Tanzania " government in Kampala after invading to depose Iddi Amin.
Somalia and Uganda are also accused of plotting to isolate Kenya.