Challenging Uhuru Kenyatta as “Richest Person in Kenya”
Forbes classification criteria questioned; Uhuru’s wealth is stolen wealthForbes Magazine recently published a list of Africa’s 40 richest persons with Uhuru Kenyatta ranked 26th and number one richest person in Kenya. His net worth is an estimated $500 million, which translates to almost 50 billion Kenyan Shillings.
This is how Forbes described his wealth: “Kenya’s Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta is the son of Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, and heir to some of the largest land holdings in Kenya. He owns at least 500,000 acres of prime land spread across the country. The land was acquired by his father in the 1960s and 1970s when the British colonial government and the World Bank funded a settlement transfer fund scheme that enabled government officials and wealthy Kenyans to acquire land from the British at very low prices. Uhuru and his family also own Brookside Dairies, Kenya’s largest dairy company, as well as stakes in popular television station K24 and a commercial bank in Nairobi, among other interests.”
In a WikiLeaks cable dated June 26th 2009, former US ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger described Uhuru’s wealth this way: “Although his wealth is the inheritance from his father’s corruption, the Kenyatta family still holds a special status”. Yet another description from veteran Kenyan journalist and lecturer Joe Kadhi on his blog ‘Msemakweli’ goes: “Among the haves, Uhuru represents the pinnacle of cornucopia. He has wealth he hardly worked for. Wealth that was acquired by his father through the use of despotic powers. All this, when children of true freedom fighters are languishing in indescribable poverty, caused by the exploitation by the very people who opposed the fight for independence.”
Did Forbes investigate the origins of Uhuru Kenyatta’s wealth? According to the magazine, it does not include political leaders on its list of the richest because it is not easy to calculate how they have generated their wealth. Ironically, Uhuru is a Member of Parliament for Gatundu South, Leader of KANU Party and Deputy Prime Minister. Information on its website notes that: “Forbes has long separated rulers and dictators from our annual rankings of the World’s Billionaires, distinguishing between personal, entrepreneurial wealth and wealth derived largely from positions of power, where lines often blur between what is owned by the country and what is owned by the individual.” How many generations does it take to “clean” allegedly ill-begotten wealth?
Since Uhuru is now on the Forbes list, Moi’s son Gideon should be considered at a certain point because his father was also president, yet gathered wealth unscrupulously as noted in the Kroll Report commissioned by president Kibaki in 2003 and submitted in 2004. It is alleged that Moi and his relatives “siphoned off more than £1bn+ of government money.” Gideon Moi was then worth £550m.
Kenyatta: The biggest land grabber in Kenyan history
The naming of Uhuru as Kenya’s richest man generated mixed reactions from Kenyans in the social media. Many felt that his father Jomo Kenyatta, used his position as president to grab land and accumulate enormous wealth. There are documents indicating that Jomo Kenyatta acquired land through resettlement schemes organized by the then British government and the World Bank. Uhuru Kenyatta has mentioned in the past that his wealth belongs to the “Kenyatta family”. In November 2010, the online business magazine “Africa Investor” wrote that Uhuru had estimated his family’s wealth at $10 billion.