Suspicious investors meeting with MCAs at governor office
On Friday last week, I was summoned for an urgent consultative meeting at the governor’s office. MCA Pinto, Leader of Majority in our assembly informed me that there was a team of foreign investors we were supposed to meet.
“Bwana Gwinso, the meeting cannot take place without you,” said Pinto. “The investors are interested in our county, and they want to know our needs. More importantly, they are willing to fund some projects to show their commitment,” he said.
I immediately thought of the poor roads and the dilapidated buildings in our health centres. “About how much are they willing to spend on these projects?” I asked. “I am not quite sure, but you know these chinkus can have bottomless pockets. As long as you promise to play ball, watatoboka. Just come now,” Pinto said, with some sense of urgency.
There was no time to waste. I left whatever I was doing and headed straight for the governor’s. History would judge me harshly if I failed to take advantage of this opportunity.
On arrival at the reception, I was shown the room where the meeting was taking place. I walked into the room and to my surprise, I found MCAs Chonjo and Matayo in the room, besides Pinto and two men of Chinese descent. The governor wasn’t there. To me, Matayo and Chonjo were not suited for such a serious meeting.
“Welcome, Bwana Gwinso,” said Pinto. “We have been waiting for you. Meet Mr Wang Wei and Mr Li Wei from Tianjin, China. They are interested in investing in our county.” I smiled as I shook the hands of our would-be benefactors.
“The governor will join us in a short while. He is still held up in the office doing something,” Pinto explained. To my surprise, he then introduced me to the two men in fluent Chinese.
To pass time, we started talking about locusts. “I wish there was a way of infecting these beasts with the coronavirus,” said Pinto.
At the mention of coronavirus, the two investors suddenly became alert. “We no bring coronavirus, we bring development,” said Wang Wei.
“Of course, you are good people,” said Pinto in a spirited effort to reassure the two of our trust in them. He then suggested that while we wait for the governor, we could brainstorm on projects we would want the investors to fund. I jumped at that opportunity to mention the roads and hospitals.
I explained the importance of having an efficient road transport system and proper health facilities. As I spoke, I saw what I thought was a contemptuous look from my colleagues. The two investors on their part looked lost— perhaps they did not understand my accent or something. I asked Pinto to tell them what I had said in their language.
“Wait,” interrupted Chonjo. “Before you tell them anything, let us also give our thoughts. Gwinso, you have spoken well. But remember, we MCAs are part and parcel of all development projects. The more empowered we are, the more development for the county.”
“Sure,” Matayo interjected.
“So the most important thing our partners can do for us is to provide funds for each MCA to help in initiating projects,” continued Chonjo. “That is the sure path to development.”
Both Pinto and Matayo looked impressed by that point. They fell short of applauding. I, however, was not happy with the idea. “But how sure are we that all MCAs will use the money to benefit our people?” I asked. My colleagues glared at me as if I had insulted their mothers.
“Gwinso, don’t you trust yourself with funds?” Chonjo asked. Beaten, I gave up and kept my peace. Pinto explained to the investors what we had agreed.
When an hour later the governor had not appeared, I got concerned and walked to the reception to find out what was happening. The receptionist gave me a surprised look and said, “Sorry, but the governor is at State House Nairobi attending the National and County Government Coordination Summit.”
I went back to the meeting and repeated what I had been told. To my bewilderment, my colleagues did not look disturbed.
“Governor no go come?” asked Wang Wei. Pinto said something in their language and they seemed reassured. He then turned to us and declared, “What matters is that this meeting has taken place in the governor’s office, so what we have decided is binding.”
We left the meeting having mandated Pinto to handle the finer details of the deal with the development partners. Maendeleo tunayo.