August 25, 2023


In our round-up of this week’s news pieces, we consider Prigozhin’s death, Mason Greenwood’s search for first-team football and EACC graft cases into devolved government offices.

More by Cameron Grant

Trending: a round-up of this week’s biggest news stories

Trending: a round-up of this week’s biggest news stories

In this week’s ‘Trending’ article, we’ll cover a huge international stories that threatens to have ramifications the world over. We’ll also consider some news that Kenya’s large Manchester United following may have some concern in and, as per usual, we’ll look at the Kenyan political arena.

Yevgeny Prigozhin is (reported as) dead

The biggest story in the news presently, whether for Kenyans or for the international sphere at large, is the fact of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s death. We are still piecing together much of what surrounds the mercenary group leader’s death. We may never know all of the details but what we do now know is as follows.

The Wagner Group’s leader was on a private jet linked to the mercenary group when it went down north of Russia’s capital, Moscow. According to Russian aviation authorities, the jet – an Embraer-135 (EBM-135BJ) – was travelling between Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Those same aviation authorities contend that there were 10 people on board: 7 passengers and 3 crew members. The flight log lists Yevgeny Prigozhin as one of those passengers. All 10 people on the flight are reported now as dead.

With a plane crash of this significance, and considering the level of intrigue surrounding the death of a man such as Prigozhin, naturally theories leaning into the conspiratorial abound. The internet is presently host to many a whisper suggesting that Prigozhin’s death may have been faked.

Naturally, intelligence agencies across the world are conducting their own investigations with whatever capacity for doing so that they can muster. A spokesperson for the US’ Pentagon, Brigadier General Patrick Ryder, addressed members of the US media and stated that Prigozhin is “likely dead”.

Also “likely dead” on this ill-fated flight are:

Dmitry Utkin – one of Wagner’s top commanders and the man alleged to be the owner of ‘Wagner’ as his call-sign. Utkin is thought to be one of the founding members of the mercenary group but his exact role is unknown.

The other passengers, all variously affiliated with the mercenary group have been named as follows: Sergey Propustin, Evgeniy Makaryan, Aleksandr Totmin, Valeriy Chekalov and Nikolay Matuseev.

What does Prigozhin’s death mean for Kenya? If it’s difficult to ascertain whether Putin’s former chef is dead, it’s close to impossible to predict how this story will shape the world and, specifically, Kenya.

We know that there are members of the Wagner mercenary group here in East Africa – consider reading ‘Wagner Group in Somalia: should Kenya be worried?’ if you’re interested – but we do not know how the cutting off of this snake’s head will shape geopolitics in the area.

Like the downing of this plane, the leadership of the Wagner Group has always been mired in shadow, secrecy and untruths. So, we do not exactly know who, if anyone, is well-placed to ascend to the group’s leadership nor do we know whether there is machinery in place for the governance of the group in the event of their leader’s ‘falling out of a window’. We will have to wait and see.

Mason Greenwood will not play for Manchester United, and may not be able to play in Saudi Arabia either

Kenya’s many Manchester United fans once likely lauded Mason Greenwood as a star for their future. Prodigiously talented and an academy graduate, Greenwood looked set for superstardom and a spot on the roster of United favourites.

Then, in January of 2022, following the emergence online of sound recordings and digital photographs purporting to be evidence of Greenwood’s abusive behaviour, Manchester United suspended the football player pending the results of a criminal investigation.

The day of his suspension by the club, Greenwood was arrested. The charges levelled against him were for alleged rape, controlling and coercive behaviour, and assault.

Britain’s Crown Prosecution Services dropped the charges against him in February of 2023, citing the withdrawal of key witnesses and the emergence of new evidence as their reasons why.

The question then arose as to whether United would bring Greenwood back onto their books. The decision was undoubtedly a difficult one. Greenwood will consider himself vindicated by the courts but the evidence of his abuse is still out there, online and available to anyone who wants to subject themselves to the chilling sound bite or witness the photographic evidence of his alleged abuse.

The club were also under pressure from women’s rights groups and, ultimately, United’s leadership have decided that Greenwood will not play for them again.

This leaves him looking for a new club.

With Saudi Pro League clubs seemingly buying any household names they can get their hands on, Saudi Arabia seemed like a likely potential destination.

Nothing is yet settled of course, and Greenwood is a free agent, but there is an alleged concern from within Greenwood’s camp that Saudi may not be open to him because of comments he once made about former team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo’s influence in the Saudi Pro League is thought to be notable and with Greenwood once describing the five-time Ballon D’Or winner’s career as ‘dead’, there are concerns that this league is off limits to him.

Ruto vs. Raila: can it get any uglier?

This conflict could never have been characterised as friendly. What with accusations of election fraud, maandamano and the near-constant exchange of barbed comments, are we surprised at the latest heated comments made by the president’s side?

Deputy president, Rigathi Gachagua, spoke about discussions between the Azimio and Kenya Kwanza leadership this week. He had these words regarding Raila Odinga’s conduct in negotiations:

“[He] asked for half the government, we said no. He asked for a handshake, we said no. He asked for 3 ambassadors, we said no. We said if he wants some money to eat, we can discuss.”

Fiery comments in what has never been limited to a war of words.

EACC probed 7,310 cases of graft in a decade

In our last ‘Trending’ article – which also covered Odinga’s calls for Meg Whitman to rein in what he perceived as the US’ overreach, Jackson Mandago’s arrest, and the botched investigation into criminal mastermind Mathe Wa Ngara – we considered many cases of graft being investigated by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Committee (EACC).

The Saturday that concluded last week saw The Nation Media Group publish a story about just how busy the EACC has been in the last decade.

The investigative article was headlined ‘EACC probed 7,310 cases of devolved graft in a decade’. Though the wording of that headline could perhaps be considered awkward, it’s obvious what they’re talking about.

There have been over 7,000 investigations into ghost workers, misappropriated funds, breaches in procurement laws, etc. with regards to the operations of devolved County governments.

Devolution was supposed to make governance a better representation of a locality’s need. Can it instead be better described as the localisation of corruption and greed?



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