The year is 2017 and the Kenya Rugby Union has only recently just signed a sponsorship deal for 110 million a year with giant sports betting firm SPORTPESA for their National teams. Optimism is in the air as it now appears that the financial back-pedaling that had been going on for the last 4 years had come to an end and maybe, the KRU could begin to turn the corner.
However and without warning, a court process server showed up at the KRU offices at RFUEA grounds on Ngong Road to serve court papers for a civil suit filed by a South African company, and which sought to compel the KRU to pay it Ksh. 6 million which the company claimed was an agency commission. For what? You may ask..
This agency commission related to a 2013 deal in which this agency was hired to negotiate and bring on board the South African trio of Paul Treu (Kenya 7s Head Coach), Vuyo Zangqa (Kenya 7s Assistant Coach) and Graham Bentz (strength and conditioning coach).
The affidavits and witness statements supporting the civil suit against KRU were, shockingly, signed by Alexander Kiplagat Mutai (Sasha) as well as the 2013 contract which engaged this South African firm on behalf of the KRU.
Sasha, despite having access to and good rapport with some members of the KRU Board at the time, lacked the common decency to give them a heads-up, and tell them in good faith, that he had been coerced into testifying for this South African company.
Nowadays, whenever he is asked how he ended up on the list as a top witness, he would say that the company had used its lawyers to subpoena him (this guy has been watching too many American Law TV series).
Strangely, this contract amount had NEVER been provided for or acknowledged in the 2013 KRU accounts as a liability. It appeared nowhere in the records or the minutes of the KRU Board for the year 2013, to show that it was a legitimate decision of the KRU to incur this expense. So basically, no one else in the entire KRU knew or was aware of this agents claim, except for Sasha.
Did Sasha have the mandate of the KRU Board to engage his personal friends from South Africa and incur this type of additional expenditure?
Interestingly, the timing of this new Ksh. 6 million lawsuit came immediately after the completion of another one where 2 of the hired coaches, Vuyo Zanqa and Graham Bentz, had successfully sued the KRU for wrongful termination of contract and been awarded a whopping Ksh. 13.6 million!
It started to appear as though these people had prompted each other, after the coaches had won their civil matter, they told the agents to also lodge their claim.
That is how Sasha worked with foreign interests to put the KRU in a Ksh. 20 million hole.
To illustrate this point, when Sasha organized for the employment of the 2 coaches (Vuyo & Bentz) he apparently forgot to apply for their work permits, a fact that would have knocked out their legal challenge.
This information only came to light too long after the court had already awarded the South Africans their 13.6 million damages and salaries.
Sasha knew this all along but remained quiet in the background, offering them advise and support. In fact, Sasha went ahead to recommend and engage the lawyer for the South African duo, who also happens to be his former UON Mean Machine teammate and close personal friend.
The constant reference to South Africa by Sasha during the Great Rugby Debate left very many stakeholders with shivers down their spines, considering many now know the unhealthy relationship he has with some elements in that country.
For sure, the South Africans are not interested in the development of the Kenyan game but, through and conduit and mole like Sasha, they will happily relieve the KRU off of its little money.
AUDITED ACCOUNTS OUT
Finally, the 2018 audited accounts of the KRU have come out and are available for all and sundry to interrogate. Will GitheriMedia take time away from their paid campaigns to play their oversight role by reviewing the books of accounts?
Surprise, Surprise…it seems that the KRU finally managed to achieve a small surplus in its activities of Ksh. 527,104/-compared to a 2017 deficit of Ksh. 35,247,222/- which shows that the financial management was tightened even more and the excess flab or unnecessary expenditure cut out completely.
Despite losing a massive Ksh. 110 million a year sponsorship from SPORTPESA in 2018, the KRU managed a Ksh. 15.8 million increase in revenue including a plug-in from Government and the signing of new sponsorships e.g Stanbic Bank for the National 7s circuit.
KRU also managed to negotiate well and monies due to be paid to debtors, written off, allowing a decrease of pressure for money owed.
KRU continues to wrestle with a real legacy debt of upwards 70 million and it would be fair to state where this debt came from.
SAFARI 7s LTD & THE LIGI NDOGO GROUNDS BUYOUT
Every year from 2007 – 2011 the surpluses from Safari 7s event were given to KRU (at Ksh. 10 million per year) and this Ksh. 40 million was to be invested in the purchase of the Ligi Ndogo grounds which are adjacent to the RFUEA.
The total cost of the land was Ksh. 70 million but which currently has a value of Ksh. 400 million.
In one of the most bizarre decisions to be made in 2013 Kenyan Rugby, this agreement to acquire this piece of land was terminated and the funds were returned to the KRU.
It is understood that Mwangi Muthee had planned to offset the existing huge debt at KRU with this money, and that the acquisition was not a priority at the time.
So how the hell does Sasha explain where this Ksh. 40 million went when the accounts from 2013 show there still continued with the disastrous trend of budget deficits? How can Sasha explain away where these funds went when they didn’t put even a small dent on the existing debt?
On the other hand, things were looking very good for Safari 7s with Safaricom pumping in over Ksh. 40 million directly into KRU and then spending in excess of Ksh. 100 million in marketing support (TV ads, radio, Print, activation..) to ensure that the 2-day event hit a target of 70,000 fans.
KRU was expected to simply host the visiting teams and manage the event.
The SG/CEO of the KRU and a Muthee confidante Jack Okoth had managed to convince him that Sasha would be a good bet to be overall in-charge of the Safari 7s event 2013 at Kasarani.
This where it started to become evident that Sasha was both a very poor decision-maker and manager or that he was liable to allow personal greed overtake common sense.
With the Safari 7s 2013 event 100% underwritten by Safaricom and other sponsors, most of whom would be compelled to pay a premium for the association with Safari 7s, there was the perception of a cash boom in the KRU, which some people prepared to exploit for personal benefit.
Safari 7s 2013 became Gold standard for looting sports event, the first since international conman Dick Berg swindled the All-Africa Game in Nairobi, 1987. This looting also set the stage for the most vicious KRU Board battles ever witnessed and which would eventually see the exit of Muthee but more ominously, the sponsors.
As the person in-charge of Safari 7s 2013, how can Sasha justify agreeing to pay Ksh. 8,000,000/- for the Kasarani venue (for a 3 –day event). How much did Sasha anticipate that the event would generate, to warrant this amount of money?
To compound this madness, Sasha went ahead to agree to give the Stadium owners a 20% cut from the ticket sales.
Consider this: We keep hearing that 47,000 people attended the event each paying the ticket price of Ksh. 300/- which would amount to Ksh. 14,100,000/-.
The stadium alone would cost 10,820,000/-.
To compound the lunacy Sasha allowed the hire of mobile toilets (under the pretext that Kasarani toilets were not working) at a cost of Ksh. 2 million and engaged the services of a cleaning service (Parapet cleaners) for Ksh. 1.5 million, to clean the same non-functioning toilets at Kasarani.
Security was outsourced to a private company at the rate of Ksh. 12,000,000/-.
How does the cost of venue hire, cleaning and security cost the KRU Ksh. 26.3 million against a total revenue of Ksh. 14.1 million?
To exacerbate a lousy situation, Sasha allowed for the hire of hotels at Panafric and another one in Westlands for slightly over Ksh. 7 million. Lets not even begin with the transport arrangments and other costs.
To-date, the full reconciliation of the ticket sales for Safari 7s 2013 has never been completed and only a partial amount was ever deposited in the KRU accounts after the event.
These are some of the costs and outstanding invoices that still sit in the books of the KRU to this day.
Sasha had overseen the biggest looting enterprise in the history of the game.
A week after the event, KRU CEO Jack Okoth (the not-so-clever guy) arrived at work in spanking new Nissan X-trail (grey) in what was considered the biggest fuck-you to the stakeholders of the game.
Philip Jalango, was livid at being left out of this gravy-train and therefore engineered a total coup, where he beat Sasha for the Vice Chairmanship, ejected Jack Okoth and hounded Muthee into a premature resignation.
To date, KRU doesn’t have a ground of its own and the Safari 7s is a shell of what it once was. The KRU offices before his tenure were banking Ksh. 10 million every year but today, nothing.
Tom Wolfe, the Swahili-speaking “mzungu” from the research company IPSOS SYNOVATE keeps reminding us that “numbers don’t lie, only people do..”
Every time Sasha begins to discuss development of Rugby, it is possible to hear the collective wince from across the entire Republic
Sasha is shamelessly attempting to take the credit for the success of Safari 7s 2013 when it was in reality a financial disaster, which he supervised.
How come anytime Sasha gets involved with Rugby, it costs KRU a substantial sum of money?
Mwangi Muthee and Bob Collymore were probably true visionaries for Kenyan Rugby and if they truly had serious support from the likes of Sasha Mutai, Kenya would probably be playing at the Rugby World Cup this year in Japan.
Now Sasha has conceived of a plan to come back for 2nd round and to quote an African saying…”the ailment that recurs will most likely kill you”…
Remember, Safari 7s event never died for any other reason other than it was taken away from the safe hands of the Rugby Patrons Society and brought back to the KRU. It is here that the event was hijacked by Sasha and his cronies, whom he allowed to do all manner of deals which eventually brought the KRU to its knees and led to the public walkout of valued sponsors.
Who would be crazy enough to give him a 2nd bite at the cherry?
Today, Mwangi Muthee will have absolutely nothing to do with Sasha, he learnt an extremely hard lesson about looks being deceiving and the uselessness of socialites.
Kenya Commercial Bank CEO Martin Oduor Otieno could not believe that he was making this statement, but circumstances compelled him to.
He said “ KCB Rugby Club does not win trophies without taking the pitch”, and he therefore asked his team to decline a trophy that was being presented to them.
The entire fiasco was occasioned by a boycott of the Enterprise Cup by clubs, even though KCB showed up for the final, to find no opponent.
It was this shameless award of the Enterprise Cup trophy based on a walkover that the KCB CEO was opposed to.
The club boycott came about following a bitter disagreement between clubs and Director of fixtures at KRU – Alexander Sasha Mutai.
Sasha is hardly a team-player and in this case, he chose to bulldoze the clubs instead of reaching a common grounds with them on the format and play of the Enterprise Cup competition.
Rugby stakeholders need to be very wary when Sasha talks about coming into the KRU with a “team” because what he really means is that he needs top tip the numbers on the KRU Board in his favor to allow him to push through decisions by vote even when there is no consensus on an issue.
This will automatically lead to boardroom wars and disagreements reminiscent of the days of Mwangi Muthee and Omondi-Jalang’o.
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