200,000 Landlords Stare at Auctions, Ruto's Adios After Historic US Visit [With Surprises]

Ruto at the White House

Hello and welcome to the Friday edition of the Evening Brief Newsletter where we watched a rising star at the White House (not Ruto, his profile in the story).

Situational Awareness: I am stepping in for my colleague Washington Mito who is away. He will be back in your inbox (and on Kenyans.co.ke site) next week.

A word from KRA…

Struggling to streamline your business? Signing up for eTIMS is a free and easy invoicing solution to simplify book and record keeping.

Join eTIMS in 7 Simple Steps: Dial *222#, Select option 5 (Tax Payment KRA), Enter option 2 (eTIMS Invoice), Enter ID Number, Select Option 5 (Year of Birth), Confirm Your Details by selecting option 1 and then select Option 1 to register. You will receive a message confirming your registration. (Also, check out my responder text with a KRA official over eTIMS and the penalties accrued for not joining).



President William Ruto wrapped up his five-day US State Visit with a message of gratitude to his host Joe Biden who seemingly pulled out all the stops to make his (Ruto's) experience memorable.

In his farewell message, the Head of State noted that the visit reinforced the enduring friendship, solidarity and mutual endeavours that have united the two nations (Kenya and the US) which are celebrating 60 years of close ties.

What Ruto is Saying: "On my own behalf and that of my delegation, I thank President Joe Biden and First Lady (Jill Biden) for your exceptional hospitality at the state dinner. Your warm welcome created a memorable evening and I truly appreciated it. Thank you, Mr President... We are proud of our robust ties and the shared values which form a strong bond of friendship."

Historic Dinner: Biden congregated a crowd of 500 guests, the largest of State Dinners thrown by the US President, for a state dinner honouring his 'dear friend' Ruto and his wife Rachel.

Performer Brad Paisley, while donning a cowboy hat, played at the event with music personally selected by Jill Biden for Ruto and his wife for their love of gospel and country music. A gospel choir from Howard University also played.

The Food: According to the Associated Press, the menu contained exotic meals such as fruitwood-smoked beef short ribs, poached lobster, chilled heirloom tomato soup, and a white chocolate basket.

The surprises: Former US presidents Barrack Obama (who was not on the guest list) and Bill Clinton as well as his wife and 2016 US Presidential contender Hillary Clinton attended the event and so did a slew of celebrities among them actor Sean Penn.

President William Ruto (left) and former US President Barrack Obama.
President William Ruto (left) and former US President Barrack Obama.

US Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff joined the guests as well as well-known US journalist Lester Holt and his wife.

Former Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg was in attendance alongside Melinda Gates, US Minister of Transport Pete Buttigieg as well as members of Biden Cabinet.

In Ruto's entourage were Meg Whitman, ambassador to Kenya, Opiyo Wandayi (Senate Minority leader), Anne Waiguru (Council of Governor chairperson) and John Waiguru, Adan Mohamed, Noordin Haji (National Intelligence Service chief), Hussein Mohamed (State House Spokesperson).

Cabinet Secretaries who attended the event include Soipan Tuya (Environment), Njuguna Ndung'u (Treasury), Musalia Mudavadi,(Foreign Affairs), Rebecca Miano (Trade) and Aden Duale (Defence). (Check out the full list of attendees here)

Protocol: Ruto and his wife Rachel were the guests of honour and started off the evening with a cocktail reception on the White House terrace. Thereafter, they were invited to a pavilion erected on the White House lawn which featured over 1,000 candles, and 15,000 layered metallic strips to amplify the candlelight.

The Guests were served a three-course meal - the first involving a chilled heirloom tomato soup featuring sourdough crisps and arbequina olive oil.

US President Joe Biden toasts during the White House state dinner on May 23, 2024.
US President Joe Biden toasts during the White House state dinner on May 23, 2024.
Amanda Blair

Core Deals: In yesterday's edition of this Newsletter, we highlighted the 11 largely military agreements that the two Heads of State agreed on but here are the other major deals in several sectors.

  • Ruto secured a Ksh477 billion PPP deal which will see the completion of the Nairobi-Mombasa toll road that will have up to six carriageways to be known as Usahihi.
  • Ksh4.7 billion will be directed towards basic and tertiary education programmes.
  • Ksh917 million to strengthen the National Police Service.
  • Ksh23.5 billion to boost Ruto's flagship Affordable Housing Project.

Disgruntled Neighbours: A group of Haiti nationals residing in the United States, however, staged demonstrations outside Kenya’s Embassy protesting troops Kenya is set to deploy for peacekeeping in Haiti before this month ends.

The protestors accused the US government of instigating gang violence in Haiti and that it was ironic for America to similarly sponsor a peace-keeping mission in the war-ravaged country.

"What Ruto is about to do is to invade Haiti. Haitians say no to occupation," the protesters lamented.

Guess Who

Can you guess who said these words?

"If our elite, educated, well-traveled Kenyans living abroad can assemble to listen to Ruto's lies and clap in ululations expecting miracles to happen to their home country, then I agree the end of the world is nigh."

The answer is at the bottom of this Newsletter.

A Rising Star

Since the 2022 campaigns and the famous IEBC roundtable interview, Citizen TV journalist Ayub Abdikadir's star has only continued to hit new heights.

On Thursday, the journalist won praises for pinning down President Ruto and his US counterpart Joe Biden over plans to deploy a contingent of police officers to Haiti yet Kenya seems unable to settle its in-border security lapses.

Citizen TV journalist Ayub Abdikadir at the White House.
Citizen TV journalist Ayub Abdikadir at the White House.
Ayub Abdikadir

The  Poignant Question: "President Ruto, you said that Kenya is committed... and you said that it is based on humanitarianism and helping Haiti out but can you explain the geopolitical goal 12,000 km away from Nairobi when schools in Baringo, West Pokot and Turkana have not yet opened because of the banditry?" Abdikadir questioned.

The answer: "I made a commitment to the people of Kenya to sort out insecurity in the North Rift, and I have followed that with action. Now there are 3,000 military officers in the North Rift and 2,000 police officers. We have renovated 15 schools and opened 20 schools that were closed," Ruto answered, noting that Kenya had deployed troops to DRC and Somalia insisting that "Haiti should not be an exception."

Abdikadir's Profile: In 2023, Kenyans.co.ke profiled the journalist's rise from humble beginnings to shaping the national agenda. He was raised in the dusty and rugged neigbourhood of Wajir.

He attended Mt Kenya University and interned at Ebru TV. He later joined K24 TV before transitioning to Citizen TV (Read his full profile here).

Chat With KRA's eTIMS Roll Out Team Lead

I reached out to KRA's eTIMS Roll Out Team Lead Caroline Wacuka over the importance of all businesses both big and small joining the eTIMS platform, how many have joined and the penalties for those who will not (It turns out pretty hefty).

Here is our chat.

Derrick Okubasu: How many people have signed up for eTIMS and what is the target?

Caroline Wacuka: About 28% of active traders have registered on both eTIMS and TIMS (for VAT taxpayers using ETR devices). According to data available to KRA, the target to on board is 915,000 active VAT and non-VAT registered traders.
However, there is a significant number of unregistered traders (mainly those in the informal sector e.g. farmers and MSMEs), who are also on-boarding on eTIMS to enable them to continue trading with their business partners. So we expect to be on board even more than the set target.

Derrick Okubasu: How is eTIMS beneficial to Kenyans?

Caroline Wacuka: It aids in reducing compliance costs for the taxpayer since the solutions are provided free of charge; eTIMS offers flexibility in the solutions available and is accessible on various computing devices.

Assists with financial planning through bookkeeping capabilities of all businesses regardless of size by enhancing the tracking of sales, inventory, and purchases; eTIMS allows taxpayers to maintain records of invoices issued on the taxpayer portal and eCitizen portal.

The stock management module assists taxpayers in maintaining their own inventory. 

Derrick Okubasu: Are there penalties or losses businesses incur for not signing up?

Caroline Wacuka: The current penalty for non-compliance is double the tax due. 

Derrick Okubasu: Any parting shot for Kenyans?

Caroline Wacuka: As we move forward with the implementation of eTIMS, KRA encourages all taxpayers to embrace this innovative solution. By registering and utilizing eTIMS, you not only simplify your tax compliance but also contribute to the efficiency and transparency of your business operations. eTIMS legitimizes your business thus giving you opportunities to grow your business. Vuka eTIMS leo 

Property Woes

Over 200,000, 80 per cent of the city's total landlords, risk having their properties auctioned for failing to pay their annual land rates to the county despite months of penalty waivers.

The county argued that it is  staring at reduced revenue from land rates and is planning to auction properties whose landlords have not paid land rates.

What Nairobi Official is Saying: "If land owners were to comply, the county would generate over Ksh30 billion annually but because of defaulting, we normally give ourselves a target of Ksh7 billion from those willing to pay the land rates out of the waiver," explained Nairobi's Chief Officer for Revenue Administration Wilson Gakuya.

The Stats: The county has raised Ksh3 billion from land rates in the current financial year out of the Ksh7 billion target needed to be raised by the end of the 2023/24 Financial year.

The funds are meant to realise the overall revenue target of Ksh19.99 billion in the current financial year.

(How landlords can check if they appear on the defaulting list)

Here are five other stories we have prepared for you today including the weekly quiz;

Guess Who Answer

Caleb Amisi

The answer is Caleb Amisi. Amisi made the remarks in a tweet on Wednesday, May 22, morning after Ruto’s address in Atlanta.

If you enjoyed this newsletter, share it with a friend.

This newsletter was written by Derrick Kubasu and edited by Brian Muuo.

Washington Mito contributed to the content.

Graphics prepared by Adongo Kyalo.

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