The maxim of Equity holds that “who comes into equity must come with clean hands.”
The clean hands doctrine has been bouncing around the minds of many African and World football observers following the blitzkrieg attack on Kenya’s Football Association (The Kenya Football Federation – FKF) last week by the Government of Kenya.
It all began when Kenya’s Sports Minister – Dr. Amina Mohammed – received an audit report from Kenya’s Sports Registrar on the financial affairs of the FKF with special emphasis on funds disbursed to FKF by the exchequer through the auspices of the Kenyan Sports Ministry.
They were all careful not to mention FIFA disbursements running into millions of dollars ostensibly because the World Football Governing Body prefers Governments to have a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil and speak-no-evil attitude toward how this money is used by the FA officials.
FIFA ordinarily half-heartedly sends out audit missions to its African members in compliance with its statutes, only insofar as audit reports are mandatory for the continued disbursement of these funds.
However, the Kenyan Government audit report captured a disturbing snapshot of deeply embedded theft and impunity in the running of the affairs of the Federation.
Immediately after receiving this report, Dr. Mohammed ordered the disbandment of the FKF and its replacement by a Government-appointed caretaker committee (CC), which took over the FKF Headquarters accompanied by a full contingent of police.
On the same day, Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) picked up FKF President Nick Mwendwa from a camp where Football National Team players were staying, and held him in custody over the weekend before presenting him in Court on 15th November 2021.
FIFA was caught flat-footed by this rapid-fire chain of events, coming as it did while it was simultaneously dealing with World Cup qualifiers and their attendant chaos in Africa, running the Confederation of African Football (CAF) which is now a Department of FIFA after the capitulation by its elected leaders and trying to anticipate similar scenarios playing out in countries like Zimbabwe, where its Sports and Recreation Commission has now disbanded the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA).
The Minister for Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation in Zimbabwe is the 7-time Olympic medalist in Swimming, the great Kirsty Coventry.
Maybe there is a lesson to be learnt from all this, that women have a lower threshold for theft and impunity than their male counterparts?
Or maybe we spoke too soon?
In Kenya, FIFA Secretary-General Mme. Fatma Samoura held an online meeting on 17th November 2021 with Kenya’s Sports Minister to discuss the unfolding situation. Both of them accomplished diplomats, the meeting was likely an attempt to size each other up and get a feel of how likely it would be to hammer out compromises from each other.
After the meeting, it has been reported that the agreement is that the status quo remains (CC to run affairs of FKF) and another review meeting will be held in a weeks’ time.
Meanwhile, Nick Mwendwa also made his 2nd appearance in court, accompanied by his coterie of “slayqueen” lawyers, for a ruling on an application by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to hold him in police custody for 14 days before preferring charges against him.
The Court instead granted DPP 7 days to prefer formal charges against Mwendwa or terminate the entire case, and allowed the cash bond he had posted on 15th November, to continue standing surety in the meantime.
Ironically, immediately after this court session, Mwendwa’s lawyers were interviewed by the media just outside the courtroom, and obviously unable to help themselves, they spewed their legal strategy for everyone, including DPP.
Wawu! These guys sang like canaries…
For instance, they called out the legality of the Sports Registrar’s audit report and implied that they would likely be making preliminary objections to it, while also lamenting that the Sports Minister was in contempt of the Senate for having evaded showing up to respond to its questions.
The problem with lawyers who are also current or aspiring politicians is that they are often torn between which approach to take on a case of this nature, a political approach or a purely legal one.
Still, the same lawyers would want to milk as much of the publicity surrounding the case as possible by playing to the gallery and cameras, in a bid to appeal to their political constituencies.
Finally, they would also want to squeeze as much money as possible from the accused person, in this case Nick “tricky Nicky” Mwendwa, especially because it is quite clear that he is liquid from access to all that Government and FIFA cash.
In the meantime, DPP was likely smugly taking notes, and will prepare his charges accordingly, constantly amending the charges (as allowed by law) against Mwendwa to suit the situation until they nail him.
Moreover, this is the opening dance of a legal battle that will take at least 5 years, and the other members of the FKF Executive committee have yet to be brought up on charges which would also include the consolidation of charges with those of Mwendwa.
The former and current members of the FKF Executive Committee who are set to be roped into this criminal trial include former and current Nairobi Executives Chris Amimo and Micheal Majua Ouma, VP Doris Atieno and CEO Barry Otieno.
Woe unto Mwendwa if fate conspires with FIFA and Government to permanently lock him out FKF for the foreseeable future, and he is no longer able to replenish his cash reserves from the sell-filling FIFA well.
Mwendwa would be best advised to quickly and urgently dispense with the services of these attention-seeking lawyers, and hire one of those silent albeit ruthlessly effective trial lawyers to handle the trial quietly, without fanfare.
The million-dollar question though is, did FKF President Mwendwa, now serving the 2nd year of a 2nd term in office just only recently go rogue and will throwing the literal legal book at him be a proportional response?
A proportional response to what, you might be wondering?
Why should we believe that both the Sports Minister Dr. Amina Mohammed and her PS Joe Okudo were not Mwendwa’s enablers?
A look at the audit report shows a continual effort to throw money at Mwendwa despite questions arising as far back as 2018 when the Kenyan auditor-general raised several queries.
There was also a very public altercation with a section of the media about how Mwendwa sunk 1.25m dollars into an English company ostensibly to purchase a 2nd-hand OB Van from Supersport. Money that appears to have disappeared into a black hole and the OB Van sent back to its owners.
After such high profile gaffes, why would anyone disburse more public money to this clusterfuck of incompetence?
In 2019, the former PS Kirimi Kaberia had stalled the disbursement of funds to all sports federations, despite the relevant vouchers and requisitions being certified and signed by relevant authorities.
When pressed for a reason, he would slyly say that he needed FKF to account for the funds given for Kenya’s participation to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2019) in Cairo, Egypt.
We have since discovered that PS Kaberia had other motives for refusing to disburse the approved funds. It had everything to do with contracts awarded for the then on-going renovations of the National Stadium (Nyayo).
Apparently, the contract for the refurbishment had been to a company owned by Kaberia’s brother-in-law.
The said company first popped up on the radar in 2017 during the World Athletics Championships where it was awarded contracts of upwards Ksh. 190 million for the transport and dry-cleaning of the event.
The CEO of the 2017 World Athletics Championship was former Kenya Rugby Union Chairman – Mwangi Muthee – who has also once again popped up in the CC that has now been formally gazetted, by Sports Minister Dr. Amina Mohammed.
Back to PS Kaberia, who at that time preferred to disburse payments to contractor(s) close to him than release approved funds to Sports Federations. It was this obstinacy that eventually led to his transfer to the mining Ministry.
The picture we are trying to paint is that the Sports Ministry has many questions to answer even as they rightfully pursue Nick Mwendwa and engage in mortal combat with FIFA. Too many vested interests and conflicts thereon.
Make no mistake, while FIFA SG comes across as diplomatic in her approach, FIFA (and its disgrace of a President) will not relinquish its iron grip of the 54 African votes at the FIFA Congress without a fight.
The situation in Zimbabwe has exacerbated the urgency, and FIFA now legitimately fears a domino effect in Africa for the dissolution of FAs and installation of caretaker committees by Governments.
In Djibouti, the Government has barred FA President Suleiman Waberi from any foreign travel, and Mme. Samoura made a 3-day visit in October to the country to plead his case to no avail.
In the pipeline is definitely Namibia, who might be encouraged by the Kenyan situation to put similar measures. In Sierra Leone the 2-year FIFA suspension ended with elections after an 8 year hiatus, with FIFA promoting former SLFA President Isha Johannsen to the FIFA Council at the expense of Burundian Lydia Nsekera.
By Wednesday 17th November, FKF had sent out emails to all the major editors of news outlets with talking points about the desolation that would follow in Kenya if FIFA went ahead to suspend Kenya.
Journalists who are well known for their penchant for the brown envelope have jumped onto the fear-mongering.
You would need to give the issue a good look to better understand the situation and the self-harm orchestrated by the Kenyan Sports Ministry.
Local TV station KTN had a 4-member panel this week to discuss the situation in which they invited Lordvick Aduda, a pacifist from Gor Mahia FC, GMT Otieno (Octogenarian who has clung onto the Kenya Football Referees body for eons), Cynthia Mumbo (who run for the Presidency of Kenya Basketball Association early this year and who has no known football knowledge or links) and former FKF VP Sammy Shollei (who resigned from his position within 3 months of being elected to the post).
On another TV Station the same day, Citizen Prime news, award-winning journalist Waihiga Mwaura hosted…wait for it…Jaro Soja! Why would a serious station like Citizen TV host the Gor Mahia team mascot to discuss serious issues like an imminent FIFA suspension?
While the media space was occupied by bozos and mascots, Mwendwa paid his lapdogs to host twitter spaces to reinforce the warped FIFA message.
Paid contender for the FKF Presidency last year, Boniface Osano has been particularly active, getting scoops from inside the FKF and hosting FIFA spaces.
The strategy by FKF has been two-prong:
Get pliable media editors to host the most incompetent and least knowledgeable panelists, while simultaneously driving the narrative of desolation in the event of a FIFA ban, to compel Dr. Amina Mohammed to back down on her efforts to clean up FKF?
The Sports Ministry had already gone ahead and played right into FKF hands by allowing vested interests to dictate the membership of the CC, a fact that has got the real football stakeholders livid.
Former Kenya International Dennis Oliech is rightly angry and dejected by the composition of the CC.
But wait a minute, where the hell are all these Ex-Rugby officials coming from and why would they be included in a football committee? The likes of former Chairmen Mwangi Muthee and Richard Omwela alongside Rugby royalty Edward Rombo, gives the impression that football has been unable to raise decent enough leaders, a fact we know to be false.
In the secretariat we have professional ass-kisser Herbert Mwachiro who is related to Nick Mwendwa by marriage and who served as Deputy CEO of FKF in the first year of Mwendwa’s reign, before they fell out.
Mwachiro has absolutely zero knowledge of the game of football, or any game for that matter.
The CC saw the return of Titus Kasuve, who together with the late Mohammed Hatimy had personalized Kenyan football by creating Football Kenya Limited, a private company where the 3 were shareholders and would receive FIFA funds in their private capacity.
John Bobby Ogolla…the less said, the better.
But please hold my beer while I scratch my head, who the hell is Linda Oguttu?
Is she the plus-size newscaster on a local TV station? Why hasn’t anyone heard of her previously associated with the beautiful game?
Is it true that Dr. Amina Mohamed had even offered a position on the CC to renowned EPL mascot Carol Radul?
She is great for selling Guinness to fans of Arsenal and the EPL but hasn’t the foggiest idea about running of the game, anywhere.
Obviously this begs the question, what criteria was used to shortlist or appoint these people, while the footballing landscape is replete with capable and experienced people.
In whose hands will Kenyan football really be safe?
An attempt has been made to weakly link the woes facing Mwendwa to his dalliance with DP William Ruto, but if he got himself caught up in succession politics, then he is dumber than he looks and sounds.
Deputy President William Ruto is a disaster for sports considering the lofty promises and open lies that easily roll off his tongue about the upgrade of infrastructure, yet today all our stadia are on the FIFA shit-list despite the Sports Ministry spending Billions of Shillings from the Sports Fund in ghost stadium renovations.
DP Ruto happens to come from a Kenyan community that has dominated middle and long distance running in the World for decades. These superhuman feats are accomplished purely by personal determination and individual effort as opposed to team effort.
This could be the reason why he so easily embellishes about investment in sports or even goes ahead to volunteer his least educated and lowest status henchman to be Sports Minister. He doesn’t see the need for investment and competence in sports because his own people have dominated the sport without such investment.
It is a terrible frame of mind for a prospective President.
His view of team sports must surely therefore be limited to the number of people it can bring to the few, dilapidated stadia, and where he hopes that by association, he can sell himself to Kenyans as a sports-loving, youth-engaged potential President.
Nick Mwendwa had become accustomed to Government funding and whenever it stalled, he would pay bloggers to raise hashtags and Dr. Amina Mohammed would immediately comply.
She fed his habit and turned him into a small fascist dictator.
How can she be trusted to handle the FIFA negotiations if she continues to make errors of judgment such as in the naming of members of the CC?
Maybe, as Mwendwa’s “slayking” lawyers attempted to embellish in Court, our football goose is already cooked.