By Eric Ochanji II
The story of Nigerian oil magnate Folorunso Alakija, the second richest woman in Africa and one of the richest black women in the planet is closely intertwined with that of Tabitha Mukami Muigai Karanja.
Alakija grew her business from nothing armed only with business acumen and a desire to take her place in Nigeria. When she applied for oil blocks, she was given what the giver described as ‘useless places from where she will get nothing.’ In the end her blocks were found to hold substantial deposits of oil and her problems began. The Nigerian dynasty and political leaders took her through years of frustrations reducing her shares from 60% to a measly 10% until the courts saved her. Who was she to own an oil block? Does she want to compete us and take our place as the rich of Nigeria?
Her husband Modupe standing by her side as Mr. Karanja stood with Tabitha, she won over the targeted frustrations of the dynasties and the greed of politicians. She formed a faithful support group of women ministry she called Rose of Sharon Ministry who prayed with her and urged her not to give up. Her painful experience would lead her to write three books, Growing with the Hand that gives, The University of Marriage and the Cry of Widows and Orphans.
In Kenya, at the making of our constitution, we gave ourselves the opportunity to establish a Tax Appeals Tribunal which was enacted into law through the Tax Appeal Act 2013 which came into effect in April 2015. This is because taxation is a global problem and that in order to support businesses to support our economy, we must create a judicial body to arbitrate on taxes and the decisions of KRA before they end up at the high court. This is because just like Kenya Power inflates your electricity bill at will, KRA is a rogue government body that can give you punitive, unjust demands on taxes.
Members of the Tax Appeals Tribunal were appointed in 2015 and their term ended in April 2018. Since then, the appointing authority( then Rotich), the Minister of Finance refused to do so, either because it served his corrupt interests not to have a tax arbiter or he was acting at the behest of the dynasties who want to settle scores using state might. Why can’t the members of the Tribunal be appointed so we follow due process? Is it not time we let the Judiciary appoint members of this Tribunal to remove it from the hands of someone with direct interest in it?
In the absence of a constituted Tax Appeals Tribunal as stipulated in our laws, the designs of dynasties move quickly because there is no arbitration. It means you are at the mercy of the rogue KRA and the designs of politicians. Use the attack dogs, the overzealous DCI and DPP.
Tabitha Karanja is being persecuted because she dared to be a billionaire without initiation by the dynasties. Who does she think she is? Two, most of the dynasties own shares in EABL. She is eating into their profits through her popular brands and it hurts them. She belongs to new money that is not needed. Old money should and must rule Kenya. Nothing hurts dynasties like ordinary people who through sheer effort takes a place in their ranks.
Daniel Moi used to harass opponents with punitive taxation. Ask Cyrus Jirongo and Geoffrey Asanyo.
When John Michuki refused to follow due process and slaughtered thousands of Mungiki adherents famously saying, ‘from tomorrow you will only be seeing coffins and burials’, we cheered him on. After all it was a Kikuyu killing his fellow Agikuyu. Little did we know the ground was being prepared for the mass slaughter of other communities during the election by their own government. In effect we were manipulated to say, our community is not being targeted, after all he also killed his own Kikuyu people.
If Kenyans were to be true to each other as the French became true to themselves in 1789, you will find the dynasties owe us billions and we should start with them.
Never cheer when someone turns his back to due process.