Author: Brian Peter Mulelwa of Kitui Newspaper
Kitui County is set to begin mining activities in the Mui Basin, as was made apparent by the governor Charity Ngilu and the Ministry of Mining CS John Munyes in the Mining Sector Stakeholders’ Meeting recently held in the county headquarters at KEFRI in Kitui Town.
Amid dissenting voices from the community and political leaders of the Mui Basin, there is no doubt that the government is ready and set to begin extraction activities for the vast deposits of the lignite and bitumous coal in the extensive deposits in Kitui East sub-county. However, there are questions nobody seems to bother asking anymore; not the governor, not the former Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo; about who is truly licensed to carry out the exploitation process. Kitui Newspaper has dug deep into the universal media archives, and conducted extensive investigations to reveal who is the defacto miner of the Mui Basin coal, hiding behind the proxies of Fenxi and Great Lakes Corporation; the consortium that in August 2014 won a joint bid to extract the largest coal deposits in East Africa. This is an explosive expose of how powerful post-colonial families have seized the largest sources of national wealth, and turned them into family businesses, right from under our very noses. Let’s journey together from where it all started, during the Moi era, to date; as Kitui Newspaper unveils the hidden thumbprints in this intriguing Ballard of neo-colonialism, utter public deception, and the monarchy stains plastered all over the democracy banner of the Kenyan Republic.
The New Millennium, Exploration Craze, and A New Era Of Leadership
Year 2000 marked the beginning of the 21st century, a new millennium, and something the Kenyan government had never bothered to venture into since independence: massive mineral explorations. Exploration activities suddenly became key projects of the Ministry of energy during this period. Initial surface exploration activities in Kitui County were concentrated on the 500 square kilometers of the Mui basin, traversing the former Kitui and Mwingi districts of the lower Eastern Province. In 2002, the year that marked the end of the Moi era and the ushering in of a more “democratic” coalition government; mineral exploration projects moved to Taru Formations in Kwale and Kilifi counties in the Coast Province. Exploration reports from the Kitui county projects revealed that the Mui basin was sitting on trillions-worth of coal deposits. Later on, a master plan prepared by the public policy think-tank, KIPPRA, proposed that the newly-discovered coal would inject over 3000 megawatts into the National electricity grind annually. And thus, the coal-frenzy began; with powerful post-colonial era and second-generation families stumbling against one another in a bid to control this new-found gold.
One Peculiar Company- Fenxi, One Overnight Millionaire Celebrity, and One Controversial Mining Concession.
Fenxi is a Chinese word that roughly translated to English means analysis. It is also the name of a county in Shanxi, China. However, the story of a mining company named Fenxi Mining Corporation is not as simple to narrate. First things first, there is no company listed in the official Chinese directory of mining companies under such name.The closest resemblance of this company is the Shanxi Fenxi Mining Industry Group Co. Ltd, which is a private company, and doesn’t carry out mining activities. As a matter of fact, this company only processes and distributes coal products, alongside electricity operations, repairing machinery and offering logistics. According to their official website: www.sxcc.com.cc, Shanxi Fenxi is currently involved in projects such as the coal power deployment for the Houzhou Coal Electricity Co., and 23 traction transformation projects for the Shanxi Coking Coal. Their physical address is: 95 Yuhua Road, Jiexiu,03200, China; and according to the customer representative on their phone: +863547191581, Shanxi Fenxi Mining Industry Group Co. Ltd. Neither owns any coal mines, nor involves itself in coal exploitation activities. They are just suppliers of coking coal, fat coals, lean coals, and any other coal products.
So, we pose the million dollar question: Who or what exactly is this corporation named Fenxi?
To understand Fenxi Mining Corporation, Kitui Newspaper couldn’t avoid the most prominent names popping up everywhere in this purported consortium: a Kenyan, Mr George Kariithi(hold on a bit to that surname); and two Chinese nationals, allegedly Kariithi’s friends; Mr. Li Yuxin and Mr. Yang Wusheng. There is nothing of interest in the two Chinese nationals, as they are just mere ‘nobodies’ in their circles; having once been involved in an already crumbled Chinese-Kenyan import business based in uptown Nairobi. It is George Kareithi, a pharmacist by profession, and a man shrouded in a cloak of mystery; that Kitui Newspaper sleuths dug into…and the details surrounding this man proved just too much to keep in a safe!
Apparently, Kariithi owns 30% stake in the Fenxi Mining Corporation, through the Great Lakes Corporation; a company which he is the majority shareholder; with other shareholders being Consolidated Securities Ltd, Fatma Holdings and Kei Kei Ltd.
In August 24th 2013, Kitui Newspaper sleuths have unearthed that the then Ministry of energy PS Patrick Nyoike, allegedly on instructions from the Minister, made a communication to Mr Kariithi that Fenxi Mining Corporation and Great Lakes Corporation had won a joint bid to extract coal from Kitui’s Mui Basin. Eleven multinational companies from South Africa, japan and China had been prequalified for the bid. According to an inner source from the ministry, the firms were to be vetted on an evaluation criteria that the firm offering the government the most in terms of shared revenue (so long as they exceeded a technical score of 70%) would win the bid. This was however not given priority in this case, leading to tough criticism and rebellion from the local leaders.
Controversy rode the aftermath of the concession award like a mad rodeo. The Kitui County Governor, then the Water Minister, and Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo vowed to shoot down the tender in both the cabinet and parliament; claiming that the Chinese company Fenxi was a mere proxy that was awarded the bid irregularly by powerful individuals angling for a share.
So, really who is George Kariithi, who does he work for, and why is the governor and former MP now silent on this matter of Fenxi: what they so vehemently opposed in 2014, when the governor was just a powerless minister in a powerful government fighting for her people’s heritage?
Find out the real bosses of George Kariithi, his current financial woes, family ties with one of the most powerful post-colonial era families in Kenya; and the money-coated delegations that made our leaders sell the wealth of Kitui to post-colonial masters…. In Part II of the FENXI FRENZY: UNMASKING THE FACES OF THE MYSTERIOUS POWERFUL GHOSTS BEHIND MUI BASIN COAL MINING.