Citizen TV journalist Yvonne Okwara has sent a hard-hitting open letter to President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Through her kicker during the news gang session on Thursday, October 21, Okwara tailored well thought out questions directed at the head of state requiring his immediate response.
In the company of other Citizen TV journalists, Joe Ageyo, Linus Kaikai, and Francis Gachuri, Okwara read the letter asking Uhuru to honour his promise to extensively clear the air on the leaked Pandora Papers that linked his family to offshore accounts and estates.
The strongly worded letter reminded Uhuru that he owes Kenyans an explanation on why his family chose to keep assets outside the country, yet they have held powerful positions since independence.
Undated Photo of Citizen TV Presenter Yvonne OkwaraYVONNE OKWARA FACEBOOK
“The question of offshore accounts are fundamentally not outlawed but the questions raised are not necessarily legal ones but moral ones. Mr. President, the list of those mentioned is not a role of honor from mobsters like Rafael Amato to Jolo a known fugitive financier among others.
So what are your thoughts around this? That those closely linked to you chose to invest and save so heavily outside the country. Is this truly a statement of your confidence and that of your family in the Kenyan economy itself? Why the choice in investing in trusts abroad and not in Kenya?” Okwara posed.
Additionally, The straight-talking presenter demanded an explanation on the issue of tax avoidance since the president’s family decided to invest outside the country.
“Mr. President, how about the issue of tax avoidance, you know even as KRA struggles to meet its targets in Kenya, much has been said about widening the tax bracket now. I’m sure this is a struggle that you know too well having been in charge of this country for the last nine years and having run the treasury before. Are you not worried that this will send the wrong signal to Kenyans who faithfully pay their taxes right here at home?” she continued to question.
Arguing why she choose to send the letter to Uhuru, Okwara narrated that the questions being asked by Kenyans are not necessarily legal but moral ones. She also states that those mentioned in the list are not people of reputable images to the public all over the world.
“Will the comprehensive statement you promised also include something about the sources of this money that Kenyans have spoken so much about these past few weeks? Do you welcome a further look into this and what about those who ask themselves whether you, Mr. President, have been a beneficiary of all of these Investments. What do you tell them, Mr. President? This reminds me of that little matter of the lifestyle audit that you promised. Will that not be a good place to start?”
She further asked the President to use his response as an opportunity to open an avenue for other leaders to make public their wealth.
“And in the spirit of transparency and openness, how about starting that process of making your wealth declarations public? I look forward as I’m sure so do many Kenyans, to that comprehensive response, which as you said could go a long way in enhancing financial transparency in the country, kind regards,” she concluded.
Records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and shared with over 600 reporters, indicated that the Kenyatta family had set up a foundation identified as Varies Foundation in offshore countries.
The organisation was set up in 2003 in Panama and controls an unknown amount of money estimated to be billions of shillings.
The report revealed that Uhuru would take over the foundation from Mama Ngina and will be in charge of its entire capital and income.
In a statement, the President – although not comprehensive – assured the country and the world at large that he would issue a detailed response once back into the country from a previous state tour in Barbados.
He, however, noted that the Pandora Papers and any other audits will set the record straight and unveil secrets for those who cannot explain sources of their wealth.