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Siddharth Chatterjee: UN’s Man of Honour or Disgrace To Kenya

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SIDDHARTH CHATTERJEE

A job with the UN remains one of the prestigious opportunities many people look up to but humanitarian work is not a walk in the sandy beaches as Sid would later come to learn in life. The oomph and the glamour that the organization beams is just a painting but not really what’s inside. As for Siddharth whose name I keep bitting my lips struggling to pronounce and the UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya, the math is more complicated. He’s the face of UN in Kenya, the backstops with him. As the head, he gets the balloons and stones which puts him in a position that only those fitted with crocodile skin can survive through.

Recently, UN Social 500, an in-house indexing platform ranked Sid at number 5 globally amongst UN employees globally actively using social media to champion for social good. This brings me to the main point of this article. Kenya is just coming from a lengthened period of ruthless politics that did not only end in election nullification, injuries and loss of lives but the reputation and characters of many people were left bruised as collateral damage in a highly ethnic country.

Kenya is exceptionally polarized with a sizeable tolerance to dissenting opinions, it is this factor that voting is predominantly tuned along tribal divisions. On the 8th of August, the general election was held but the presidential election that gave Uhuru Kenyatta the upper hand would later be nullified by the supreme court on the 1st of September and a fresh election would later happen in three months.

During this period, the international community including the envoys, observers, and organizations such as UN came under fierce criticism especially from the opposition NASA coalition accusing them of conspiring to rig in and endorse a fraudulent election of Uhuru Kenyatta. This was fueled by the speedy endorsement of the contested election by a majority of the western representatives. Many would be left on the focus radar and that’s where I picked up the story of Siddharth.

SIDDHARTH CHATTERJEE, a former Indian Army Special Forces Officer being decorated for gallantry.

Through UNDP which is a partner and a funder of IEBC, the UN was accused of meddling in the election in an alleged move to favor the re-election of Uhuru Kenyatta. In the crossfire, Ms. Sheila Ngatia the Assistant Country Director in UNDP Kenya, became a target of a vicious social media campaign of claims that her father is Mr. Fred Ngatia, President Kenyatta’s lawyer join to the conspiracy dots that she was working in favor of Uhuru, but when Kenya Insights later did a background check on the rumours on social media, we found out that Sheila’s father passed away 10 years ago and had no relations with the President’s lawyer.

However, the onslaught impugning the motives of the head of the UN Country Team in Kenya Mr. Siddharth Chatterjee didn’t stop but instead opened. His relationship with Jubilee government would specifically be scrutinized and a curious case of his close ties with Ambassador Amina who by then was looking for the top AU seat came into focus. He was accused of lobbying for her in a move that compromised the UN’s independence and nonpartisan stands.

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Kenya Insights had an interview with Sid an on this particular issue of lobbying for Amina which he vehemently denies. In his defense, he wouldn’t have taken a compromising position, “I as a UN staff have no influence to lobby anyone for a political position like the AU. Besides not only does it go against the principles of the UN  but contradicts all the values I uphold. I was specially invited to go to Addis to discuss the Kenya Ethiopia Cross-border programme, which has the potential of transforming peace, security and human development for the good. The President of Kenya and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia take this programme very seriously. . Ambassador Amina Mohamed and former Foreign Minster of Ethiopia Dr Tedros signed the MOU and wrote a joint OP-ED about this fascinating initiative. Kenya and Ethiopia: A cross-border initiative to advance peace and development..”The programme that was to foster tranquillity along the border for development was a brain of the two governments in partnership with the IGAD and the UN.

For many, the existence of Sid became a reality after the August Election, that’s when he started hitting the social media waves. We track back the talk from Matthew Russel who’s a UN HQ’s based blogger. He opened a case and pushed it to Kenya’s blogosphere on on dishonest Sid was at his work, in fact, it is through him that we came to know that the coordinator was a son-in-law to the former Sec Gen, Ban Ki-Moon, Matthew insists Sid’s appointment was not based on merits but influenced based on nepotism n his relationship with Moon, a claim that Sid himself laughs off.  “I met my wife in 2004 in Sudan during the Darfur crisis and married in 2006. This is well before Mr. Ban became the United Nations Secretary-General. In fact I joined the UN in 1997(10 years before Mr Ban and rose from an IFLD 4 in Bosnia to a P-5 in Somalia by November 2004.” An article to clarify this was published by Forbes –  Misread Nepotism At The U.N.: Why Siddharth Chatterjee’s Well-Earned Appointment Requires Explanation

Sid believes that he’s a target of fake news championed by the UN based controversial blogger, “Mr. Matthew Russell Lee, who runs a blog called Inner City Press. Over the last 10 years, he has repeatedly published malicious, false and libelous allegations against me. This started in 2007 and continues to date.” He said.

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“As regards my appointment as the UN Resident Coordinator to Kenya, perhaps a bit of background may help. Every Resident Coordinator has to pass a UN Resident Coordinator Assessment. Failure rates at the assessment are quite high. A private human resources company from Canada undertook the assessment during my time. I passed the assessment in 2008 and was proposed by UNICEF (the agency I served with) to become the UN Resident Coordinator to Namibia in 2009. I declined that job because of my personal situation” Sid explains.

He continues, “Just to clarify, I was invited to apply by UNDP for this role. Following that I got the support of UNFPA (I was the UNFPA Representative to Kenya) to do so, I applied for the UN Resident Coordinator role to Kenya in 2016. Again I went through a selection process called the Inter-Agency Appointments Panel and was shortlisted. Regardless of the decision being taken, the final decision rests with the Government of the country where an RC is being proposed to.”

Blogger Cyprian Nyakundi who has made a name out of controversy dwelling on fraud cases and accountability advocacy, accused the coordinator on his blog that he got together with John Kerry and Tony Blair to rig the elections in favor of Jubilee and that he profited from Kenya’s SGR project. We’ve however established that neither UNDP nor the UN had nothing to do with this project. Sid terms the allegations as “outrageous and malicious statements. This is not just absurd but totally fake news.”

For a soldier who later turned on his career to become a humanitarian and a development enthusiast, Sid holds a strong belief that Kenya is a beacon of hope regardless of the intrigues and turmoil it undergoes.

SIDDHARTH CHATTERJEE with US Ambassador Godec on finishing a 21KM race for the anti FGM campaign.

Mohamed Guleid, former Deputy Governor testifies
Mr. Chatterjee for having been at the forefront personally in the struggle for empowering those usually on the fringes of social and economic agenda, including women and girls, as well as the youth.

He has championed the delivery of maternal, child and adolescent health services to areas previously left out and brought private sector participation in remote North Eastern counties. We have witnessed the different organizations like UNDP, UNFPA, Unicef, WHO, UN Women, FAO and many others are making in the Frontier Counties. Here is an opinion piece by Mr Guleid. “Falsehoods targeting development partners end up hurting us”

Kenya Insights sought to know what is the motivational factor behind Sid despite being a target of negative publicity, especially on social media, “ I am the face of UNDP so it is easy to attack me. The fake news got propagated after the elections. I can take the attacks but will stand in between when it comes to my staff. The safety, security and reputation of my staff is paramount and non-negotiable. I will go to the end of the earth to defend them ” He said. “The man from Inner City Press reached out to others who are perhaps more gullible. As you can see he has an obsessed mind. He has the facts but is nudged on by vested interests.”  He adds. ” I have responded to his allegations but my response is difficult to find. So here it is: https://siddharthchatterjee-wws.blogspot.co.ke/2017/02/siddharth-chatterjees-response-to-mr.html

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As for the motivational factors, Mr. Chatterjee told Kenya Insights, “My father was a refugee from East Pakistan now Bangladesh. I have seen first hand on what displacements does to families and how it impoverishes them. I feel for people that are displaced by conflicts of natural disasters.”

“I have a personal mission to champion the rights of women and girls because I have seen how this half of humanity has been treated and what harm that is bringing to our societies. As a young officer in the Indian Special Forces, at the front lines of combat in counterinsurgency environments, I have seen how brutal and savage all parties to the conflict become. Again I have seen this in my work at the UN posted in Iraq, South Sudan, Darfur, and Somalia.” He continues.

A comment picked up from a colleague

“The years I spent in fragile environments will always remain a poignant reminder of the disparate harm that women are predisposed to whenever one form or other of humanitarian crisis arises. Some were victims of rape and torture, others were widowed at young ages, their husbands murdered or kidnapped. I have seen how rape is used as a weapon in conflicts. I have seen children as young as 5 being recruited as child soldiers. In many of the countries I have worked in, disease outbreaks, lack of water and sanitation were the order of the day. Reproductive health services, including midwifery outreach services, antenatal care, management of prenatal complications and sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS were not readily available in conflict regions. These problems had particularly harsh consequences among women and children. I believe that access to quality health care must be a fundamental and nonnegotiable human right.” He concludes.

Sid who runs to work regularly and most Sundays does a 21KMs half marathon, wraps up our talk which is basically a right of reply to accusations flying around he quotes Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “If you want the truth to go around the world you must hire an express train to pull it; but if you want a lie to go around the world, it will fly; it is light as a feather and a breath will carry it.”


Kenya Insights allows guest blogging, if you want to be published on Kenya’s most authoritative and accurate blog, have an expose, news, story angles, human interest stories, drop us an email on [email protected] or via Telegram

Kenya West is a trained investigative independent journalist and a socio-political commentator on matters Kenya and Africa. Send me tips to [[email protected]]

Investigations

How Flying Squad Trailed And Arrested Police Officers Who Raided A Malian Citizen’s Home In Kilimani Stealing USD 8,000 In Cash

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Flying Squad officers have arrested one police officer & are in pursuit of others following a report made by one Bathily Abdoulaye, a Mali national, who had reported that on 15/09/2018 four police officers from Nrb Area command came to his Kilimani residence and arrested him.

In the process of the arrest the officers ransacked his house and took the following items: 8,000 US Dollars,Ksh.83,000, 3 Rolex watches each valued at 15,000 US Dollars, his passport and also transferred Ksh.30,000 from his Mobile phone number to another Mobile phone number.

The complainant was then escorted to Central Police Station where he was later released without being officially booked in the Occurrence Book. Thereafter, the same officers still continued demanding from him an additional 8,000 US Dollars which prompted him to report the DCI.

Flying Squad  officers laid an ambush at Yaya center where the money was supposed to be delivered & in the process managed to arrest one suspect namely Moses Njogu Njagi who led officers to Central Police Station where No.88724 PC Kelvin Ndosi of DCI Central was arrested.

The passport of the complainant was recovered from the arrested officer. The Flying Squad is still looking for the other rogue officers including one driver attached to the County Criminal Investigations Officer,Nairobi Area.

Cases Of Police Officers engaging in criminal acts are not new in the city and this just adding to the pile of many cases. With the purge on illegal immigrants, rogue officers have taken advantage and many foreigners are complaining about harassment.

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Investigations

Britania Foods Ltd CEO Robert Kagundah’s Days At Britania Numbered As Sales Director Shown The Door

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Britania Foods CEO sampling out some of the company’s products.

Mr Robert Kagundah, a former Coca Cola executive, was appointed to take charge of the business now renamed Britania Foods Ltd after acquisition from Manji foods by Catalyst Principal Partners and for Manji Foods, previously House of Manji, is Kenya’s market leader in the biscuits category with a market share of 27 per cent in 2016, according to data from research firm Euromonitor, it was a good gamble for the investors, however, that hasn’t been the case.

Britania has been making losses and notice to the CEO to restructure the company to profitable heights has hit a dead end with steady losses that now rolls.

Britania Foods Limited workers have accused the top management of irregularly running the company that was in 2017 acquired by Nairobi-based private equity firm Catalyst Principal Partners.

All is not well at Britannia Foods Limited following allegations that workers have been turned into slaves with sexual exploits being at the centre of management.

Currently in hands of private equity firm, Catalyst Principal Partners, all eyes are on chief executive, Robert Kagundah popularly known as RK on whom all eyes are focused. Not left out is Elijah Maina, the sales director of the firm. The duo is alleged that in order to satisfy their social urge, they award contracts and employment opportunities to females they befriend.

Kagundah out of the blue, awarded a catering and cake supply contract to Civa Cakes, associated to Cynthia Orenge. The said Orenge has introduced a lady by the name Charity Muema to Maina and her firm CM commodity suppliers is to land a major wheat supply deal running into millions of shillings.

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Kagundah met Ms Orenge at Karen Country Club. She was sacked at the club after she was found in a compromising position inside Kagundah’s car at the parking.

At Britannia, Kagundah manipulated a Somali tycoon, a one Mohammed and acquired a Mercedes Benz registration number KCD 227B. Mohammed had supplied the company with a number of Toyota Fielder cars for the sales department.

Britania is fully owned by Catalyst Principal Partners after being purchased in early 2017 from the Dawda family. Our sources indicate that cooked books may have been used to dupe Catalyst into buying the loss-making company.

By the time Catalyst found out, it was too late. CEO Robert Kagundah and his sales manager, happen to be best friends, forming an axis of acute corruption that no one at the company can stand up to.

The plan involves working in cahoots with distributors, to dupe the board and management that they are meeting sales targets.

A distributor would for example order biscuits worth Ksh 10 million, and Elijah and his team would report that figure has been met, regardless of whether the distributor sells or not. The distributor would then return back the stock after about three months, very close to the expiry date.

Britania hence ends up losing tens of millions every quarter, and rumors are that Kagundah is paid handsome amounts in kickbacks together with Sales Director Elijah Maina.

Catalyst has since sacked the sales director over non performance and the steady loss making. This can be seen as a blow to the CEO who has now lost s confidant. Britania would be keen to get its brand on straight line by doing away with scandalous characters in its management and more so have performers as opposed to mediocres.

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Investigations

Thigh Pain That Killed A Three Year Old Girl In The Theatre At Kenyatta Hospital Parents Say It Was Doctors Negligence

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Peninah Kadogo, the deceased.

On a normal day on Monday, Penina Kadogo after a long day playing, complained to her father, Mathew Kitito about pain in his leg, “Baba naskia uchungu kwa mguu.” The father recalls. He had assumed this was probably a minor injury incurred during their plays with peers during the day. Unknown to him, this would be the start of a short, sad journey and the end of him seeing his daughter alive.

As a precaution, he opted to take her to the hospital for a quick bone check up. Talking to Kenya Insights, the father says a Dr. Tende at Kenyatta National Hospital checked and recommended for an X-ray, ultrasound checks. He was also referred to a bone diseases specialist a Mr. Ndeda.

After tests And deliberations, it was decided for the kid to be taken for operation to sort out the pain on her thighs on Tuesday. As required, she was put on medication and denied food as a patient preparation standard before surgery.

While she was booked for surgery on Tuesday, this never became the case and it was pushed till Thursday. According to the father, the three year old didn’t eat anything from Tuesday when the doctors had scheduled the operation till Thursday when she was taken to the theatre.

Mathew was hesitant about having the surgery done at Kenyatta but he was convinced that it was the best place to have it done given it being the biggest hospital. He had suggested taking her to a private hospital. In his own view, he wasn’t convinced the minor case warranted an operation.

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On Thursday at 11am, Peninah was finally taken to the theatre and once again, things would go down the drain from this point. Minutes turned to hours of waiting, uncertainty and anxiety was killing the parents on the other end. At 3pm that is five hours after she was checked in for the minor operation, the mother was called from the ward to take her daughter, by then, they had finished, so they thought.

When her mother, Joanne Atieno took her up, she felt something unusual, she was struggling to breath and at this point the doctors must have realized they made a mistake and then took her away from the mother who was then instructed to leave. This would be the last time she held her in her arms alive.

Peninah took her last breath minutes after, she was registered dead at 3.05pm. Mathew was then called to the hospital at 7pm where they broke to him the bad news.

Dissatisfied with everything, the father is convinced the death has been caused by doctors negligence and according to an uncle Chabuga Evans who’s taking the lead in seeking answers, Peninah was given anesthesia overload and that’s what resulted in the hard breathing. They claim she was taken out of the surgery before full recovery and the doctors didn’t factor in precautionary measures to keep the baby alive.

Narrating his story, the disturbed father is pointing all fingers at the hospital. “This was a minor case that shouldn’t have resulted in the death of my daughter, I’m mad, sad, friends and family are falling and I can’t explain to them what exactly happened.” Our interview pauses as he breaks into tears.

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The uncle Chabuga took over making their pointers clear that from Tuesday to Thursday the kid wasn’t given food and was taken to the theatre while too weak. They’re questioning why the doctors didn’t consider the physical stability before taking her for surgery.

Getting answers from the management has become a challenge, the family says. The body is at the hospital’s mortuary and they’re sourcing for independent pathologist to ascertain cause of death. They read dishonesty that the body has already been treated which the claim can possibly wash away crucial clues to find cause of death.

However, the resident pathologists are giving assurances that this wouldn’t be an issue as autopsy will show the exact cause. They’re determined to take the matter to all heights to get justice for the kid. They’ve raised an eyebrow as to why the final report was written by a different doctor from the ones who handled the patient. They’ve been advised to seek answers from the management.

Kenyatta Hospital continues to struggle with systematic failures which this site has been highlighting and are never addressed. General understaffing, underfunding and overcrowding remains the biggest challenges that are yet to be addressed making it prone to such errors which can be avoided.

As this family seeks justice for their daughter, another disaster is waiting to happen, the more things change, the more they remain the same. We’re yet to move on from the incident where a wrong patient had his skull opened and now this and so many unreported cases.

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Employ more doctors and staff, thevfew available are overworked, demoralized and proneness to mistakes increased, allocate more funds and ensure the projects are implemented to improve the facilities at KNH, we can’t have a national referral hospital running on colonial equipments. Decongest KNH by ensuring other public hospitals are working perfectly, this hospital should only be for complex issues as it should be not for treating minor cases like fever.

The hospital must give answers to the family of the deceased and ensure justice by taking actions against any deliberate negligence if any that might have resulted in the death of the three year old girl.


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