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Graft claims only meant to taint Ruto and China

Friday May 15 2015

The chief executive officer of Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital John Kibosia (seated right) signs a memorandum of understanding for the project design with China Wu Yi representatives in Changsha China. Mr Ojwang (in black shirt) looks on. PHOTO | NATION |

The chief executive officer of Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital John Kibosia (seated right) signs a memorandum of understanding for the project design with China Wu Yi representatives in Changsha China. Mr Ojwang (in black shirt) looks on. PHOTO | NATION |  

KWAMCHETSI MAKOKHA
By KWAMCHETSI MAKOKHA
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No one in their right senses would accuse a Chinese firm operating in Kenya of being involved in corruption.

Laws in China bar firms registered in the country as well as its nationals from bribing foreign government officials.

Yet, every time someone wants to besmirch the name of a morally upright and conscientious politician in Kenya, they somehow find a way to drag in a Chinese firm’s name.

The latest such ridiculous attempt is the one sabotaging Deputy President William Ruto’s effort to save public funds by preventing the construction of a Sh17 billion upgrade of Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, and instead requiring the construction of a proper facility from the ground up for a paltry Sh28 billion.

Tapes are being played with mysterious voices dropping big names and refusing to compromise on quality by reducing the Sh28 billion construction bill to the initial Sh17 billion for a mere upgrade.

The firm at the centre of hospital reconstruction plan is no stranger to Kenya, having donated an alleged Sh5 million as tea money to the 2013 presidential election campaign.

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China Wu Yi not only built the Thika Superhighway, complete with dizzying designs that deploy floodwater in jet-streams with clinical efficiency, it is this minute hammering away at timber to raise the 22-storey University of Nairobi Towers.

Unable to criticise the firm’s excellent work, its detractors resorted to wild accusations about its workers disappearing stray dogs and vigorously contributing to the Kenyan gene pool.

These rumours did not wash locally or in Beijing, forcing the jealous to adopt a more vigorous approach.

China takes corruption so seriously that those convicted are executed. Less than a month ago, for example, Interpol released a list of 100 Chinese nationals wanted in their country for corruption and bribery.

Unsurprisingly, 40 of these fugitives are holed up in the US, 26 in Canada, 10 each in Australia and New Zealand, six each in Singapore and Thailand, three each in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and South Korea, and two in Grenada.

Since the penalty for corruption in China is well known to all its nationals and the firms registered in that country, it is not unlikely that the nations giving refuge to the corrupt and helping them to evade justice are the same ones behind the wild allegations as part of an imperial Western strategy to tarnish the industry and integrity of the People’s Republic of China and its entrepreneurs. And to terrify local politicians, they will drag the names of important government officials like the Deputy President and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga into terrible graft allegations.

It bears recalling that a few years ago, the World Bank banned the China Road and Bridge Construction Company from participating in any works it funds between 2009 and 2017 because of alleged fraudulent activities in the Philippines.

They thought they had silenced the march of the dragons, but not ever. Chinese firms have gone on to competitively win tender after tender — from the Sh447 billion Standard Gauge Railway, which has been saddled with claims of inflated pricing to the tune of Sh100 billion and forced Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau to temporarily leave office, to the Sh42 billion Lamu Port-South Sudan Ethiopia Transport corridor awarded to the China Communication Consortium a year ago but yet to begin.

China Wu Yi also won the tender for the construction of the 39-storey Hazina Trade Centre after the National Social Security Fund discovered its error in awarding the contract to Cementers (K) Limited.

As often happens in such instances, there have been claims of corruption, the new big stick used by imperialist Americans and Europeans to fight business competitors in Kenya.

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