(Photo: John Morangi Omenge)
The Chinese companies which straddle the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining at Madini House are said to have captured officials within the government arm and along the way, profited massively from the corruption.
In a letter addressed to the PS in the ministry John Morangi Omenge staff accuse the Chinese national of bribing senior officials to be allowed to take over mines in North Eastern, Rift Valley, Coast, Eastern, Western and Nyanza without the locals’ consent.
In the letter, the staff allege the CS and his officials have been lording over junior staff to issue licenses without going through due diligence.
“However, what you have been doing is suppressing them (locals) technically, and encouraging your officers to take their licenses and cancel their applications which you gradually gazette and personally sell those areas under the table,” the letter reads in part.
Regardless of efforts by CS John Munyes to manage the place in a good manner and in full compliance of the law, the Chinese using cartels within the ministry have managed to take over the lucrative ministry to the annoyance of the local staff who have been left with little to do.
“In some cases, we wonder why we even come to work everyday. The Chinese have deeply penetrated the system that we are left wondering whether we cork for the government of Kenya or we are in a foreign land,” says a senior officer at the ministry.
Further, Omenge is accused of giving priority to the foreigners over the locals who are not even given a chance to appeal decisions, in most cases.
“The CS’s instructions to junior officers are mostly based on helping local miners, your work is to cancel the instructions and threaten your officers in order for you to secure those mines and sell them to the Chinese,” the whistleblower says.
Other matters include bragging and ego-filled looking down upon officers in the ministry. Omenge is also accused of name-dropping and appropriately using senior government officials names in State House and other high places when confronted with integrity issues.
“You go about telling people that you are too powerful since you enjoy the protection of CS Fred Matiangi. You belittle other Kenyan you work with by invoking names of people far beyond their reach in the execution of your poor work as a strategy to intimidate and run away from your cardinal work,” the officer says.
At the same time, the official accuses Omenge of going against the CS when it comes to extending time for the renewal of licences and other paper work at the ministry.
“When the CS uses his powers to offer extension using powers derived from the Mining Act, you go behind his back and cancel the same only for the benefit of the Chinese who have held you hostage using the millions of shillings they have been bribing you with every week.
“You have been walking around telling people that Fred Matiangi is your uncle while in actual sense he is not. I have investigated the same and found out that that your are not related to him at all and you have simply been using the tactic to intimidate and frustrate your juniors and seniors at work,” the long letter to the PS says.
It’s worth noting that Chinese business in Africa are the ones fueling corruption across the continent. Chinese corporate corruption in Africa is well documented, from allegations of paying off corrupt officials in the Republic of the Congo to illegally logging protected rain forests.
Reports has it that most of these short deals are done by one Sam Pa;
“Although few people know his actual identity, what is known, according to Financial Times correspondent Tom Burgis, who documented much of this man’s notorious history in Africa in the 2015 book The Looting Machine, is that billions of dollars flowed through his network as part of shady operations throughout Africa to secure oil drilling rights, mining deals, and countless other Sino-African business arrangements.” A report reads.
It is said that Sam Pa was so notorious for fueling corruption that the scope and scale of his allegedly illegal dealings in Africa seemingly became an issue for Chinese authorities in Beijing. Pa was detained in Beijing in October 2015 on corruption charges, swept up as part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s vast anti-corruption crackdown.
The case of Sam Pa and the billions allegedly doled out by Chinese corporations in places like the Republic of the Congo exemplify the kind of corruption that many people associate with the Chinese presence in Africa. However, that is only part of the story. While some major Chinese corporations have been linked to these kinds of illegal activities, smaller Chinese businesses throughout the continent often operate on the other end of the spectrum as victims of corruption.
It’s not a surprise that PS John Omenge is repeatedly mentioned in some of these schemes at a time Chinese business owners are emerging to be easy targets for bribes in Kenya and beyond