Mombasa influential businessmen and wheeler-dealers have over the years graced the corridors of power cutting deals and influencing political developments. During the Kanu era of Daniel Arap Moi, they were the people to go to if you wanted a political office, public land, government house, jobs or government tenders. They made their money by cutting deals. Their word was law from Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Tana River, Lamu and Taita Taveta.
The Coast tycoons are good at hedging their bets by funding both the likely winner of the presidential race and the rivals just in case in order to protect their interests. In one of their fundraising missions for Uhuru and Ruto ahead of the 2017 general election they raised at least Sh1 billion in an exclusive invite-only dinner.
The intention is to spread their risk so that whichever way the election goes, they are covered. They are the lot that is called Agip or any government in power and so is a dangerous unreliable breed. Mombasa tycoons are known to offer campaign donations and then after elections start demanding for contracts and other favours from those elected.
But that is not what we are writing about today.
There has been a feud between Tycoon Mohammed Jaffer and Ali Punjani that became a matter of national interest.
In 2011, a commission to investigate drug trafficking investigations detailed a 48-page report after investigating various individuals that had been linked to drug-trafficking.
Among the people that were investigated is Ali Punjani, a then-popular Mombasa businessman.
In his testimony to the police, Ali Punjani said that he is not a drug-dealer and his rival Mohammed Jaffer was behind the rumour because he had refused to be inferior to him. He also said that he doesn’t succumb to Mohammed Jaffer over the business rivalry.
Reports indicate that Jaffer and Ali Punjani were good friends but fell-out over a deal gone bad, we just don’t know what deal that was but we digress…
There have been reports that Jaffer has been behind the lobbying that saw police raid Ali Punjani’s house with word doing the rounds that Jaffer wants Punjani jailed in order to take his properties and he saw him as a big competitor in some unnamed business, something that should interest investigative agencies.
In August 2019, A battalion of security officers descended on wanted tycoon Ali Punjani’s Nyali home in Mombasa County, with sniffer dogs in tow, ready for action. The raid was all planned out.
Police were searching everywhere in the house, even inside cars parked in the compound, but it was not immediately clear if any drugs had been found.
Punjani is a close associate of the Akasha family–whose two brothers Baktash and Ibrahim were jailed in the USA over narcotics.
But Punjani later returned to Kenya making Kenyans question the purpose of the raid that has been termed to us as a PR exercise.