He went unnoticed as he grinned gleefully outside the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the Netherlands, on a cold October morning in 2013 — when President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto were summoned by the court.
Those who were keen might have noticed him standing next to National Assembly Majority leader Aden Duale and Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi.
His name is Zaheer Merhali Jhanda and was often part of the high-powered delegation from Kenya who sang in support of the President and his deputy.
Mr Jhanda had, six months before The Hague visit, vied for — and lost — the Nyaribari Chache seat on a Jubilee Party ticket. But despite the loss, his friendship with the top leadership of the party remained intact.
Despite having later defected to the Wiper Democratic Movement and vied for the same seat in the 2017 elections — which he also lost despite running a well-oiled campaign machine against Mr Richard Tongi- he still is very close to the powers that be.
The tag ‘mheshimiwa’ stuck on the man from Kisii, whose preferred mode of travel is a helicopter or the latest issue of the Lexus LX570.
His love for celebrity life was probably exhibited best when he married socialite Faith Makau, alias Amber Ray, in 2016. Their union provided endless fodder for bloggers.
The teetotaler has never been afraid of letting the Internet know how much money he has, as he likes to pose behind mountains of wads of notes running into tens of millions of shillings.
These millions are regularly donated to various causes during fund-raisers in Kisii, where he enjoys celebrity status.
It’s here, after all, where he started out as an event organizer about 20 years ago, then barely out of his teens. His family, which has Arab roots, has run businesses in Kisii town for a long time.
As a showbiz player in the early 2000s, Mr Jhanda shifted his base to Nairobi about 10 years ago, seeking the right connections for the celebrity image he wanted to cultivate.
Within no time, he struck friendships with the cronies of politicians, and soon the politicians themselves.
From then on, he was unstoppable, until earlier this year, when he became the center of a complex gold fraud in which a Saudi royal was conned of Sh250 million.
The fraudsters were so bold that they impersonated a powerful Cabinet secretary, whom they claimed was in a position to release the gold consignment.
The rubber, however, met the road when the victims, through officials of the United Arab Emirates, wrote a complaint to the CS asking him to release the gold promptly.
Also linked to the scam is Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula, who has since quoted denied involvement and lamenting the politicization of the matter.
Mr Wetang’ula’s aide, Chris Mandu, told journalists that the scam was a business deal gone sour, but is now being peddled by the senator’s business partners who also lost money in the transaction.
“It’s very unfortunate that some people are now trying to politicise the whole matter in which the senator lost huge amounts of money,” Mr Mandu said.
Mr Jhanda is said to be so connected that detectives fear that despite his recent run-ins with the law, apprehending him could open a Pandora’s box that few in high places would be comfortable with.
In February, Mr Jhanda made headlines after the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) blocked the National Land Commission (NLC) from paying out Sh787 million to a church in Ongata Rongai as compensation for the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line passing through the church’s land.
The land, which is owned by Clarence Matheny Leadership and Training Institute, was initially valued at Sh600 million, but when Mr Jhanda came in as a negotiating consultant, the value shot up to Sh927 million.
For his negotiation skills with the NLC, he was poised to receive Sh141 million from the payout when detectives spoilt the party.
But as flamboyant as he is wealthy, Mr Jhanda, whose top academic qualification is a Form Four certificate, is equally politically and financially connected.
He counts Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi and flamboyant Kisii businessman Don Bosco Gichana as close associates and his in-laws.
Mr Gichana, famous for donating a Hummer vehicle to Mr Odinga during the 2007 elections, was released from a prison in Tanzania in November last year after pleading guilty to money laundering charges.
On Mr Jhanda’s Face book page are several photos of him with DP Ruto on the campaign trail from as early as 2012.
Isn’t it convenient to have Kenya’s latest breaking news at your fingertip? That’s right, at kenyanreport.com (which is an intriguing platform to explore all types of Kenya news); you’ll find good informative blogs and articles on various headlines. As a news-savvy person, you’ll not be disappointed with breaking news, entertainment news, politics and political happening, diaspora news, celebrity trend and many more.