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Siblings clash over control of Naivas supermarket empire

The family behind the country's leading retail giant, Naivas Supermarket, finds itself entangled in a fresh wave of ownership disputes.

A Naivas supermarket branch

The saga revolves around the succession of the late Peter Mukuha Kago's empire, following the demise of Simon Gashwe, a key figure and former chairman of Naivas, in August 2019.

At the heart of the controversy are three siblings—Newton Kagira Mukuha, Grace Wambui, and David Kimani Mukuha—who have taken to the Nakuru High Court with separate applications, each seeking to be appointed as the administrator of their father's estate, a position previously held by their brother Gashwe.

Gashwe's passing has evidently opened a Pandora's box, unveiling underlying tensions and unresolved issues within the family regarding the distribution and management of the Naivas inheritance.

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Newton Kagira, in his court filing, expresses concerns over the potential mismanagement and looting of the estate in the absence of a designated administrator.

He argues that the estate's assets, including significant shares in Naivas, remain undistributed, posing a risk to the family's legacy.

David Kimani, on his part, claims to have the backing of other siblings for his appointment as administrator, challenging the applications made by Kagira and Wambui due to their lack of consensus among Gashwe's heirs.

In her court application, Grace Wambui detailed that Gashwe assumed the role of Naivas administrator following a family consensus, tasked with overseeing the estate's management, its distribution among heirs, and the settlement of debts.

The backdrop to this family drama includes a longstanding feud that dates back to 2013, with Newton Kagira Mukuha and his brothers embroiled in a legal tussle over the control of Naivas.

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Kagira accuses his brothers of conspiring to exclude him from the ownership structure of Naivas, thereby denying him his rightful inheritance.

Naivas Limited, however, has distanced itself from Kagira, labeling him as an outsider with no legal claim to the company's shares.

This saga is not just a family affair but underscores the intricate dynamics of managing and sustaining family-owned enterprises in Kenya's ever-evolving retail sector.

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As the courts deliberate on these applications, the outcome will not only determine the future leadership of Naivas but also set a precedent for corporate governance and family succession planning in the country.

The Naivas ownership dispute serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges that can arise in the stewardship of family legacies, especially when commercial success and personal relationships intersect.

As the legal proceedings unfold, the business community and the public at large watch keenly, awaiting resolutions that will hopefully pave the way for stability and continued growth for one of Kenya's retail powerhouses.

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