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Kenya in grip of 'mafia-style' cartels, says CJ Willy Mutunga

By CYRUS OMBATI | January 13th 2016

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has sensationally claimed that Kenya has become a bandit country run by ruthless cartels.

Dr Mutunga said Kenyans are at war with mafia-style cartels run by political bosses and corrupt business people.

He said the nation's mafia-style criminals are similar to Al Capone's mob in the 1920s in America, and that this "cartel collects millions every day".

The Hon.DR.Willy Mutunga Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya. (PHOTO: EDWARD KIPLIMO/ STANDARD)

The CJ cited the more than Sh300 billion Standard Gauge Railway contract the State signed with a Chinese state enterprise in which the bid was limited to a single company.

"We should have divided it up with different companies so that our interests would be paramount. Now we deal only with the Chinese," he says.

"The deal we have is based on commission. Guys are saying: we just had expensive elections where we spent Sh10 billion (US$100m). We have to get it from somewhere. Or we have to think about the election in 2017 and we need a war chest. So you have all that stealing. We have become a bandit economy. Africa after 50 years of independence, after looting of resources, has become stuck. Inequality is also stuck," he said.

In a recent interview with Dutch newspaper, NRC Handelsblad, Mutunga claims corruption stretches from the very bottom to the very top of society.

A close aide to the CJ advised that we credit the original authors of this story.

He cited the police saying officers who extort bribes from motorists must share the booty with the head of the local station, who in turn shares the money with superiors possibly all the way up to police chiefs in Nairobi.

Larger cartels, he explains, make money through trafficking illegal migrants, counterfeit money, weapons, drugs and consumer goods.

The interview was conducted by Koert Lindijer, the correspondent for NRC Handelsblad and it first ran on December 29.

He told the foreign newspaper that graft in Kenya had never been worse than today.

"The influence of the cartels is overwhelming. They are doing illegal business with politicians. If we do not fight the cartels, we become their slaves. But leaders who do take on the cartels must be prepared to be killed or exiled," said the 69-year-old.


"Yes, I am now at the top. I'm riding a tiger, hoping that the monster will not devour me. But as long as I fight the cartels and they are protected, you cannot achieve anything. You are taking these people into a corrupt investigating system, through a corrupt anti-corruption system, and a corrupt Judiciary.

Mutunga said weak State structures in African countries create space for criminal networks to operate, especially when these groups operate along ethnic loyalties.

"What happens now in Kenya with corruption has become a very serious war between cartels. Whenever there is a change of government, some cartels benefit and others lose out. And those that lose out don't go out quietly," he said.

He suggests the 2017 polls "may well be fought on issues of corruption and jurisprudence".

"I can tell you that whenever President Uhuru talks about cartels he is angry, maybe because the cartels are messing up his political programme or that he genuinely wants to dismantle them," says Mutunga. "I see he is serious."

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