Kenya denies giving asylum to former Zimbabwean minister Jonathan Moyo

Former Zimbabwean Higher Education minister Mr Jonathan Moyo. The government has denied claims that it has given political asylum to Mr Moyo. PHOTO | ALEXANDER JOE | AFP

What you need to know:

  • The whereabouts of a number of powerful but unpopular ministers in Mr Mugabe’s government have been the subject of much speculation.
  • Since Mr Mugabe’s ouster, there has been speculation in the Zimbabwean media that Mr Moyo escaped to Nairobi together with one of the deposed leader’s close allies Saviour Kasukuwere.
  • Mr Moyo was implicated in a corruption scandal involving about $6 million (Sh619.9 million) while he was the programme director in Nairobi.

The government has denied claims that it has given political asylum to a former powerful Zimbabwean cabinet minister.

Government Spokesman Eric Kiraithe denied claims that Mr Jonathan Moyo, who was the Higher Education minister in former President Robert Mugabe’s government until two months ago, is in the country as a political refugee.

“I would have known if he was in the country,” Mr Kiraithe told the Nation on Saturday. “Political asylum is a security issue and his request would have been processed by the NSAC (National Security Advisory Council) and the Cabinet.”

Mr Mugabe was toppled by the military in November after he sacked his vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa, ostensibly to clear the path for his wife Grace to succeed him. Mr Mnangagwa was later installed as president.

UNPOPULAR MINISTERS

The whereabouts of a number of powerful but unpopular ministers in Mr Mugabe’s government have been the subject of much speculation, with some suggesting that they had been detained by the military.

Mr Moyo is believed to have been the brains behind Generation 40, (popularly known as G40), which was a faction within the ruling Zanu-PF party that was scheming for Mr Mugabe’s wife, Grace, to be president against his VP Mnangagwa.

However, ever since Mr Mugabe’s ouster, there has been speculation in the Zimbabwean media that Mr Moyo escaped to Nairobi together with one of the deposed leader’s close allies Saviour Kasukuwere.

Mr Moyo once worked for an international NGO in Nairobi in the 1990s which he was accused of defrauding of thousands of dollars.

Zimbabwean media report that he has family members in the city as well.

REPEATED ATTACKS

From his alleged base in Nairobi, the Southern African country media report that Mr Moyo has waged a vicious campaign against the government of President Mnangagwa on Twitter.

On Thursday, Zimbabwe’s Daily News website reported that President Mnangagwa’s government is putting pressure on the Kenyan authorities to rein in Mr Moyo to cease his repeated attacks on the president.

“The Daily News can report that government functionaries are now leaning heavily on Kenyan authorities to rein in the former Higher Education minister seen as the brains behind Mugabe and his pesky wife, Grace’s shenanigans,” the website reported.

However, Mr Mwenda Njoka, the Interior ministry spokesman, denied Mr Moyo was in the country. “I have asked our immigration guys and they said he is not here,” he said. “I think the Zimbabwean media are doing some fishing to try to find out where he is.  But the website reported that President Mnangagwa’s spokesman George Charamba professed ignorance over the matter, saying the action might have been taken by other ministries without his knowledge.”

UNDER INVESTIGATION

Mr Edwin Limo, the spokesman for Foreign Affairs ministry, said he was not aware of such a request from the Zimbabwean government to the Kenyan authorities over Mr Moyo.

The Daily News further claimed that Mr Moyo is currently under investigation for allegedly siphoning over $400, 000 (Sh41.3 million) from the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef).

In 2001, Mr Moyo was implicated in a corruption scandal involving about $6 million (Sh619.9 million) while he was the programme director in Nairobi for the American-based charity organisation, Ford Foundation. The money was meant for a Nairobi-based NGO, the Series on Alternative Research in East Africa Trust, which was founded by political scientist Mutahi Ngunyi.

An audit report carried out in 2000 revealed that Mr Moyo used the money for unclear purposes. Mr Ngunyi did not answer our calls and text messages on whether he knows of Mr Moyo’s whereabouts.

A top security source in the country, who declined to be quoted, said Mr Moyo fled the country before the case was concluded and, therefore, remains a wanted man in Kenya.

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