(Continued from The Warrior Princess II)
“Do you think she will die?” George asks.
“She had better, otherwise we are dead meat. And not just her, that stupid old man had better die too. You know we were supposed to hit her before she took the stupid oath. Then it wouldn’t have been necessary to hit the old man,” Dennis replies.
“But it wasn’t our fault that those fools kept shielding her with their bodies. After what they did to her, it is even fortunate that we were able to hit her at all. Her security has been so tight,”
“Yea. I just hope Kijamba sees it that way. You know that fool doesn’t think.”
“What if we run away now?”
“He will catch us. I can bet that right now there is a team tailing us,”
“Yea. I am not even sure why I accepted this job. You saw what he did to Morris and Brian after they failed in the last job,”
“We didn’t have a choice, and you know that. It is not like he asked us to do it. He ordered us to. Defying him would have had consequences. If I had a choice I wouldn’t have done anything to harm this lady. I actually like her,”
“Yea, me too. Those fools Morris and Brian deserve what is happening to them. Why did they have to rape the woman? Kijamba told them to kill her, but they had to humiliate her and fulfill their stupid urges,”
“Yea. Sadly, if the Governor and her deputy don’t die, we will suffer the same fate as those two thugs,”
Kijamba was furious when he learnt that his thugs had left Karwitha alive. The two thugs, Morris and Brian are currently being held in a dungeon down in Ciakariga where they are being tortured. Kijamba operates by primitive rules. His small army of thugs obeys him more out of fear than loyalty. He is a brutal criminal who is feared by both his friends and enemies.
Karwitha is an exception.
The Governor remained unbowed even after what happened to her. She knew Kijamba was behind her attack. Everyone in the State knew that. But she refused to be cowed or humiliated. As she told her close aides, she came out of it even stronger.
But now she has an even sterner test to overcome. She has a bullet on her chest and is bleeding profusely. The ambulance needs to get here as soon as possible otherwise Kijamba will have won.
The Tharaka Nithi Business Caucus consists of the wealthiest of all the business people in the State. It is really the cartel that controls the affairs of the state, except that unlike cartels in other States and the Federal Government, the cartel in Tharaka Nithi has organized itself into a single influential group to ensure that all the wealthy people in the State are working towards the same goals.
The criteria for membership is simple: 1. Deep pockets. These are people who transact in millions. 2. Willingness to cut dirty deals. A member of the group must be willing to do whatever it takes to make commercial gain. That includes corruption and even murder. 3. Discretion. Disgruntled members who leave and attempt to expose the activities of the group, or who betray the group from within meet very untimely deaths.
People like Karwitha and her husband are of course not welcome in the first place, for the simple reason that they are not willing to grease hands to get business contracts. But such people, wealthy and clean, are few in the State.
Most of the wealthy people in the State belong to the Caucus, because membership guarantees more wealth and influence. They meet weekly at Kathwana Prestige Hotel, which is owned by the Caucus. It is here that all the important decisions in the State are made. State contracts are shared out here. The Vice Chancellor of Tharaka Nithi State University was appointed here. Even the names of the Governor’s Cabinet are agreed upon here. The sitting Governor usually has no choice because the Caucus controls the state politics. Kijamba complied. Charles resisted but all the names he submitted to the State Legislature were rejected. Eventually, it is the names that the Caucus wanted that prevailed.
These deals are made privately. To the public, the Caucus is a group of philanthropic business people who came together for philanthropic purposes. They offer bursaries and scholarship to students, help to pay medical bills, help to build and renovate churches and do other acts of charity. What the ordinary people do not know is that billions of shillings are siphoned from the coffers of the State Government to make these men and women wealthier. Of course there are rumours about their real activities. Some people believe them, others don’t.
The Caucus disliked Charles because of his anticorruption crusade, but they knew he would not hurt them much. But they know Karwitha can hurt them, so they not only loathe her, they fear her. For starters, all the newly elected State Legislators are allied to her. The FDP did not get even a single legislator in all the 16 wards. They are all independent candidates. No one could have seen that coming. Karwitha will most likely form her own party to give them a political house. The law allows independent candidates to form parties or join existing ones midterm without losing their seats.
The FDP and the current ruling party, the Federal Alliance Party (FAP) will of course use the same law to try and lure the legislators to their fold. That is where the Caucus will come in. They have the money to bribe. Most of them are allied to the FDP because Tharaka Nithi is, or has been, a FDP stronghold. The current situation is a unique one.
And Karwitha is the reason for the current situation.
She is smart, brave and very intense. She knows how to get whatever she sets her mind to pursue. And she has made it clear that that wiping out corruption cartels is top of her agenda, and they have no doubt that she means business.
They know their best shot was to stop her from accessing the office. Kijamba assured them that he would make that happen. But he failed. They probably should not have entrusted Kijamba with such a huge responsibility. They like Kijamba because he is as corrupt as they are. In fact, business has been booming for the period that he has been governor. But they are now thinking about finding a replacement to fight her. Someone corrupt, that goes without saying, but someone with brains. Because an intelligent woman can only be outwitted by someone with brains. Preferably another woman.
They have the right candidate in mind. There is a lawyer called Salome Kendi who has been very active in the FDP caucuses. She vied for the Woman Rep position but lost to an independent candidates allied to Karwitha. The Caucus knows Kendi is corrupt because many of them have dealt with her law firm. Once the State Legislature resumes, they will convince her to vie for the position of State Speaker, then use her to bring down Karwitha.
By then they expect to have bribed a majority of the State Legislators into the FDP. With the election over, there is nothing more that Karwitha can offer the State Legislators. She cannot even guarantee their re-election. Five years is a very long time in politics. But the legislators stand to benefit immensely by allying themselves to the Caucus. If they help the Caucus to destroy Karwitha, then their re-election will be guaranteed. The Caucus will oil their re-election bids. Even if another wave comes and they do not get re-elected, they will be immensely wealthy by the end of these five years. It is doubtful that any legislator will resist this deal, regardless of the strength of his/her loyalty to Karwitha.
The members of the Caucus are aware that Kijamba expects them to support him, but these are not men and women who are interested in loyalties. They only have their personal interests in mind, and right now supporting Kijamba looks like walking down the path of self-destruction.
Many of them are on the dais during the inauguration. They are respected businessmen and women to people who do not know their shadowy dealings. And in a country that worships the wealthy, very few people question their source of wealth. Corruption is blamed on politicians, even though it is private business people who call the shots.
The Caucus owns most politicians in the State. They fund campaigns and in turn expect access to power and lucrative deals when their politicians take office. The Caucus often funds all the leading candidates in every race. That way, a win is usually guaranteed. Putting all stakes in a single candidate is a risk the Caucus cannot take. And since almost all the leading businesspeople in the State whether based within the State or elsewhere in the country or abroad are members of the Caucus, politicians often find they have nowhere to go unless they seek financing from outside the State. Campaigns are expensive, and most politicians cannot afford them. The cartel had expected Karwitha to come to them seeking financing, because even though she is wealthy, it is rare for politicians to use their own wealth to fund 100% of their campaigns.
She went to the masses and set up a Pay Bill which was manned by her campaign staff. Being a very popular politician, the donations she received exceeded her campaign budget. In any case, her campaign budget was leaner than Kijamba’s because she did not have to bribe anyone, and she had many volunteers and so did not have to hire a bloated campaign staff.
Most of her finances were used in advertisements: Radio & TV, Social Media and Bill Boards. She also hired and branded campaign vehicles and set up campaign offices in every constituency. She hired private security companies to guard all the campaign offices because she correctly guessed that Kijamba and the Caucus would attempt to vandalize the offices.
The upshot of all this is that she is entering office not beholden to any single financier and that is the more the reason the Caucus needs to get rid of her. Each of them is hatching a plan of some kind as they watch her taking the oath of office. How do you stop such a formidable woman? Even if they succeed to make Salome the State Speaker, will she succeed to bring down this woman who has defied all the odds?
The Chairman of the Caucus is particularly disturbed as he watches Karwitha give her maiden speech as the Governor of Tharaka Nithi State. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, the new Governor is shot. The Chairman is surprised. He is not aware of any move against Karwitha’s life. Of course Kijamba must be behind it. Maybe he is not useless after all. The Chairman suddenly sees a loophole that needs to be sealed: the Governor and her deputy may survive the gunshot wounds. The nearest hospital is Chuka State Hospital. Of course he knows the hospital CEO…his appointment was decided by the Caucus. All he needs is the CEO to find a doctor who will ensure that the Governor and her deputy do not come out of the theatre alive. The CEO will be handsomely rewarded if he makes that happen.
In the confusion that follows the shooting, the Chairman walks to his car and calls the CEO of the hospital. Two minutes later, he sets his phone down and smiles. The Governor and her Deputy will dead before the end of day.
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