President William Ruto, on May 22, appointed businessman, Basil Criticos, as the chairperson of the Kenya Trade Network Agency.
Ruto gazetted the appointment in the Kenya Gazette Vol. CXXV—No. 122 published on Friday, May 26.
The appointment was made in line with the Kenya Trade Network Agency Order, 2010, and section 51 (1) of the Interpretation and General Provisions Act.
“President of the Republic of Kenya and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces, appoint Basil Criticos to be the Chairperson of the Kenya Trade Network Agency Board, for three years. Gazette Notice No. 10612 of 2021 is revoked,” the gazette noted.
Criticos will assume his new role starting Friday, May 26, 2023. The tycoon is famous for running a large sisal plantation in Taita Taveta County.
In 2022, Criticos revealed that he had sold 2,536 acres of land in the Mata area of Taita Taveta to President William Ruto in 2017. At the time, Ruto served as the deputy president.
Ruto also added that Criticos gifted him the land after he helped him sort out a debt the tycoon owed the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC).
“I am also a Mata elder because I helped the former Taveta MP to settle his loan at AFC and he gave me a portion of land,” Ruto revealed.
He reportedly lost a huge chunk of land in the early 2000s due to wrangles with squatters who had settled on his land. At least 500 acres were given to Mata squatters.
Issues about the land were compounded when the 99-year lease of his land expired. Criticos, a former assistant minister for Roads and Public Works, however, claimed that the government of former President Daniel Moi refused to renew his lease.
"I gave out the land to squatters because of political pressure," he lamented.
In July 2022, Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate, Raila Odinga, vowed to investigate Ruto's land dealings at the Coast if elected president. Raila accused Ruto of illegally acquiring land in Mata while residents were still living as squatters and were struggling to meet basic needs.
"He (Ruto) describes the 2,500 acres in this county as if it's too little yet there are people here who are landless. Why did Criticos not give the land to residents? He should have started with the locals," Raila lamented.
In January 2020, Taita Taveta County residents accused Ruto's ranch of causing starvation in the region, after lake water was reportedly diverted to his ranch.
The farm's managing director, Arie Dempers, was arrested and accused of denying the residents their basic needs.
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