Moment Kuria got angry over his company's alleged involvement in Saudi nannies trade

Investments, Trade and Industry Cabinet Secretary (CS) Moses Kuria. [File, Standard]

Trade Cabinet Secretary (CS) Moses Kuria on Monday, February 20 lost his cool during a television interview after he was asked about his alleged involvement in the thorny Saudi Arabia domestic workers’ trade.

Kuria said he was a Director of Emerging Human Capital for 17 years, between 2001 and 2018.

The company is said to be involved in the transportation of workers from Kenya to the Middle East and other destinations.

“I was the Director of Emerging Human Capital, but we stopped operations five years ago,” Kuria said on Citizen Television.

The show host, Trevor Ombija, asked Kuria whether his position as a prominent member of the society and his involvement in the human capital trade made it difficult for the government to come up with policies that protect the domestic workers from exploitation in the Middle East.

“I was not a prominent person in 2001 [when the company was founded]. I can’t, therefore, be linked to any hindrance of the said-regulations,” said the minister.

The host asked Kuria why, during his tenure as the Member of Parliament for Gatundu South between 2014 and 2022, he never brought to the House any Bill to protect the Kenyan workers in the diaspora.

Kuria said he wasn’t a member of the Departmental Committee on Labour, hence wasn’t best-placed to come up with such bills.

“I exited the [human capital] business five years ago because of all these [human mistreatment] problems. I am, however, one person who would be happy to support any policy that says we stop migrant workers [from being flown to foreign nations that have a high prevalence of modern slavery],” said Kuria.

The minister said the highlighted violations blight the employment opportunities for Kenyans seeking other jobs besides domestic work.

In September 2021, Kenya’s Foreign Affairs ministry said at least 89 Kenyans, most of them domestic workers, died in Saudi Arabia between 2019 and 2021.

Despite saying that he stopped being a Director of the Emerging Human Capital in 2018, official CR12 records by the Registrar of Companies indicated that as late as November 2022, Kuria was still listed as one of the directors of the said-firm.

The CR12 is an official and legal confirmation or certificate by the Registrar of Companies in Kenya indicating the details, directors and shareholders of a company.

When Ombija read out the CR12 details of Emerging Human Capital, which stated Kuria was still one of the directors, the visibly angry Cabinet Secretary chimed in: “What is wrong with holding a business? Are you a communist? Trevor, you are anti-business. I am not a coward, I am not a hypocrite, I am a businessman. I have no regrets [for being a businessman]. I am holding this position (CS for Trade) because I encourage private sector investment.”

The minister further accused the Royal Media Services (RMS) of being biased against persons deemed to be associated with President William Ruto.

This was, however, a defensive and combative approach after he was ostensibly cornered on his active involvement in the running of the Emerging Human Capital company despite earlier denying.

The show host, Ombija, did not take Kuria’s sentiments lying down.

“Mr. Kuria, have you proposed any laws in Parliament to better the working relations of Kenyans in the Gulf?” Ombija asked.

In a quick response, Kuria said: “I am not going to answer that because this is the normal Royal Media [Services] kind of way of victimising people and their businesses. I choose to look at the opportunities that are available and I have nothing meaningful to add to this conversation.”