Things turn noisy, messy for Senator Moses Wetang'ula

Sunday May 19 2019

Moses Wetang'ula

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula has been accused of being involved in a fake gold conspiracy. GRAPHIC | JOHN NYAGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

KIPCHUMBA SOME
By KIPCHUMBA SOME
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NYABOGA KIAGE
By NYABOGA KIAGE
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In 2010, when he was the Foreign Affairs minister in the grand coalition government of 2008-2013, Moses Masika Wetang’ula, 63, led diplomatic efforts that resolved a visa standoff between Kenya and the United Arab Emirates.

The diplomatic tiff arose after UAE decreed that Kenyans going to or passing through Dubai (United Arab Emirates) would need a degree certificate to get a visa into the Arab country.

This was deemed to be in retaliation to the inadvertent deportation of a member of the royal family from Kenya.

In one of his finest diplomatic moments, Mr Wetang’ula led a delegation to Dubai where they had the requirement rescinded, only two weeks after it was imposed.

Perhaps it was during this meeting where Mr Wetang’ula was introduced to the high and mighty of the Emirati kingdom connections.

GOLD SCAM

This week, Mr Wetang’ula hit the news headlines again in relation to the UAE ruling family — but this time it was for the wrong reason.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) said that the Bungoma Senator was being investigated for his role in a gold scandal that saw the Dubai royal family lose Sh400 million.

A leaked audio in which a man purported to be Mr Wetang’ula is dropping the names of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga to assure someone presumed to be a member of the royal family that all is well and that the gold consignment would be delivered, has thrust him to the centre of the scandal.

But even as the scandal unravels, Mr Wetang’ula has maintained a studious silence and did not respond to the Sunday Nation’s enquiries on Saturday.

Some of his aides have also claimed, off the record, that the voice on the leaked tape is not the senator’s and that the whole matter has been politicised to tarnish his image ahead of the 2022 general election.

BAT SCANDAL

The incident is just the most recent of several occasions on which Mr Wetang’ula has been mentioned adversely in controversial scandals throughout his lengthy political career.

In 2015, a BBC investigation claimed Mr Wetang’ula was among senior public officials and MPs from Kenya who were compromised by British American Tobacco Company to do business that favoured the tobacco manufacturer.

The investigations claimed Mr Wetang’ula had received an air ticket and money to facilitate his travel to London from BAT while he was Trade minister in order to interfere with the country’s anti-smoking laws.

The Senator refuted the claims and went ahead to institute defamatory proceedings against the broadcaster.

In 2012, after widespread speculation and controversy, he admitted that his previous law firm was involved in the Sh800 million sale of oil blocks in Turkana. He, however, said he had left the law firm by the time.

FUNDS MISUSE

Before that, in 2010, Mr Wetang’ula was forced to step aside as Foreign minister amid a growing scandal involving the alleged misuse of his ministry's funds for several land deals abroad.

While serving as the Foreign Affairs minister, Mr Wetang’ula is remembered for summoning two ambassadors in 2009 whom he thought had disrespected Kenya in one way or another.

He summoned the US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger and asked him to explain the last-minute cancellation of new Delta Air Lines flights to US via Dakar on security fears in Nairobi.

A year before that, he also summoned the United Kingdom ambassador to Kenya, Mr Adam Wood, seeking clarification over a remark made in the House of Commons that they did not recognise former President Mwai Kibaki as the Head of State.

The Senator’s political career dates back to 1992 when he was nominated by Kanu as MP up to to 1997.

CAREER

He was later elected the MP Sirisia constituency, and since then Mr Wetang’ula has never lost in any political election up to his current senatorial position.

In 2014, the senator claimed that there was an attempt on his life after unknown people shot at his car on Mbagathi Way in Nairobi. The police discounted his version of events.

“If anyone wants a divorce it will be noisy, messy and unhelpful, and it will have causalities,” declared Mr Wetang’ula in March last year when ODM engineered to have him removed as the Senate Minority Leader.

A year down the line, things have turned noisy, messy for the Senator as a result of the alleged gold deal that has led to some arrests with the DCI naming him as a person of interest. All eyes are now on the senator, who remains tight-lipped.