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September, 2017

 

Political uncertainty hurting Kenya’s business advantage

By JAMES NGUNJIRI
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The prolonged electioneering period is not helping Kenya’s competitiveness, a new report shows.

Even though the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitive Report 2017-2018 shows that the country climbed five places to position 91, its second highest ranking in the past decade, a number of investors have delayed decisions prior and post the General Election citing jitters.

It says competitiveness is stalling across sub-Saharan Africa resulting in increased volatility and uncertainty in the business environment.

The government is projecting economic growth at 5.5 per cent due to drought and political noise among other factors.

Among Kenya’s strengths in global competitiveness is a very efficient labour market which was ranked 27th by WEF, strong innovation at number 37, and respectable financial market development at position 55.

Kenya’s macro-economic environment was ranked 120, becoming a big drag on its overall score.

“Global competitiveness will be more and more defined by the innovative capacity of a country. Talents will become increasingly more important than capital and, therefore, the world is moving from the age of capitalism into the age of talentism.

Countries preparing for the fourth industrial revolution and simultaneously strengthening their political, economic and social systems will be the winners in the competitive race of the future,” said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman World Economic Forum.

TOP ECONOMIES

The top three economies in the region are Mauritius (45), Rwanda (58) and South Africa (61).

Only Ethiopia, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda have managed to improve performance consecutively for five years since 2010.

The report measured factors that are crucial to future productivity and prosperity, drawing on 10 years of data.

The report offered unique insight into how the global economy has adjusted since the 2008 financial crisis, as well as how prepared it is to adapt to the disruptions of the fourth industrial revolution.

VOLATILITY

“After four years of improvement, performance in the institutions pillars has worsened this year – particularly in South Africa, Lesotho and Zambia, while elections in Rwanda, Kenya, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have increased volatility and uncertainty in the African business environment,” said the WEF report.

It said these negative trends have been partly compensated by improvements in infrastructure, health, technological readiness and business sophistication, although Africa remains below the global average in these areas.

There is however significant variation across countries.

“Mauritius is again the most competitive country in Africa, at 45 in the overall Global Competitive Index (GCI), with its main rivals falling back: South Africa drops 14 places to 61 and Rwanda drops seven places to 58.

IMPROVED COUNTRIES

The most improved African countries year-on-year are Madagascar (121, up seven), Gambia (117, up six), Kenya (91, up five), and Senegal (106, up six), thanks either to an improved macroeconomic environment (Madagascar and Senegal) or to the efficiency of goods, labour, and financial markets (Gambia and to a lesser extent Kenya),” said WEF.

The report noted that restoring macroeconomic stability and institutional trust are short-term priorities to reignite competitiveness and growth in Africa.

In the long run, continued investment in infrastructure, human capital and technological adoption will be needed to reduce productivity gaps.

The report is an annual assessment of the factors driving countries’ productivity and prosperity. For the ninth consecutive year, GCI ranked Switzerland as the world’s most competitive economy, narrowly ahead of the United States (US) and Singapore.

Other G20 economies in the top 10 are Germany (5), the United Kingdom (8) and Japan (9).

China is the highest ranking among the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) group of large emerging markets, moving up one rank to 27.

GREATEST CONCERN

Drawing on data going back 10 years, the report highlighted in particular three areas of greatest concern.

These include the financial system, where levels of “soundness” have yet to recover from the shock of 2007 and in some parts of the world are declining further.

This is especially of concern given the important role the financial system will need to play in facilitating investment in innovation related to fourth industrial revolution.

Another key finding is that competitiveness is enhanced, not weakened, by combining degrees of flexibility within the labour force with adequate protection of workers’ rights. It said that with vast numbers of jobs set to be disrupted as a result of automation and robotisation, creating conditions that can withstand economic shock and support workers through transition periods will be vital.

The GCI data also suggested that the reason innovation often fails to ignite productivity is due to an imbalance between investments in technology and efforts to promote its adoption throughout the wider economy.


Kenyan club where Queen Elizabeth stayed turns 120 years

By GITONGA MARETE
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Mombasa Club, which turns 120 years in October, embodies the history of not only the coastal tourist town, but also that of the region.

It is here where the Queen of England stayed when she attended Kenya’s independence celebrations in 1963.

The club, established in 1897, was frequented by British civil servants and railway employees who were working for the British East Africa Protectorate. It is fondly referred to as “Chini Club” by its members, since one has to drive down a hill to access it.

The club is located next to the historical Fort Jesus, with its walls mirroring those of the fort – they are wide since they are not made from blocks.

MEMBERSHIP ONLY

During the earlier colonial days of its operation, the club strictly admitted membership only, with even celebrities being turned away.

Mr Edward Rodwell, the celebrated coast writer who died in April 2002 at 95 and who was at one time a chairman of the club, writes in his book – The Mombasa Club – that the club’s exclusivity during the early years was strictly enforced and did not excuse even the Prince of Ethiopia.

The book gives an account of the club’s operations since it was established.

The grandson of the Emperor of Ethiopia who had travelled in the company of the commander in chief of the East India Squadron, wanted to become a honorary member but his request was turned down. “The club committee had been asked if the prince could be made an honorary member, but the committee said that such a move was against the constitution of the club. The club lawyers held to this principle,” Mr Rodwell writes.

But today, the club has become popular with Mombasa residents who identify with its historical ambience, says its chairman Maina Njanga.

ACCOMMODATION

“We hold corporate events as long as the company is introduced by a member. There are two squash courts, snooker, two conference rooms, where interested parties can enjoy themselves. The location is perfect for professionals especially advocates as it is near the courts,” he said in an interview.

“We also offer accommodation to guests who enjoy beautiful views. Some rooms overlook the iconic Fort Jesus while others give a beautiful view of the ocean,” said the chairman.

Mr Njanga said the club holds the only sea water swimming pool in Kenya which is filled with water from the Tudor Creek.

Other historical aspects of the club are the Navy and Army trophies that bedeck the walls, which were handed over to the management by ship captains who docked at the old Mombasa port.

A gazetted monument, the club still maintains wooden floors, balconies and staircases, similar to those in buildings within Mombasa’s Old Town.

The architecture echoes a marvel of the culture with ornamental doors.

The club also hosts one of the oldest libraries in Kenya.

Just like other clubs in the country that were set up in the colonial times, women were not allowed to join and those who worked there were restricted from some areas.

“There is a member who once resigned from the club after a woman passed by a bar that was strictly for men,” said a worker at the club.

At the time of restrictions on women, a bell would be rang at 7pm to warn them that their time was up and they were expected to leave. The restriction has been lifted.

During his visit to Mombasa in 1907, Winston Churchill who later served as British Prime Minister, also spent nights at the club. 


#WakoraNetwork linked State House to top court’s problems

By MACHARIA GAITHO
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President Uhuru Kenyatta infamously dismissed Supreme Court Judges as wakora (crooks) during his remarkable and angry public tirade immediately after nullification of his presidential election victory.

It might, therefore, be instructive that when the President’s communications team launched a propaganda offensive against Chief Justice David Maraga and the other three judges who voted to overturn the presidential election result, wakora was the favoured pejorative. 

It might also be significant that when Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu filed a petition seeking removal of the Chief Justice, most of the “evidence” seemed to have been lifted directly from the propaganda offensive crafted by the State House unit trying to establish civil society influence over the Supreme Court.

For now, that Mr Wambugu has not withdrawn his petition for the removal of Chief Justice David Maraga despite assenting to a public request from President Kenyatta, is probably a clear sign that the Jubilee administration has not relented in its vow to “fix” the Supreme Court.

“I stand by the grievances in the Maraga petition, but due to the political environment, I will not pursue it, for now,” the MP had Twitted after the President asked him to abandon the move during a September 14 meeting of Central Kenya leaders at Sagana State Lodge.

The “retreat”, it seems, was more of a public relations ploy in light of anti-Jubilee protests in Justice Maraga’s native Kisii region following the public onslaught on the CJ.

At Sagana, the President himself had indicated that asking the petition to be dropped was more out of political exigency than a matter of principle.

“I understand your pain and action. But we have an election to win on October 17. That has to be our focus. Leave the court alone,” the President had told Ngunjiri.

That the MP has, more than a fortnight later, still not withdrawn the petition is telling.

It is also clear that far from ceasing public attacks against the apex court, the tempo of vilification has actually increased, as evidenced with President Kenyatta’s speech from State House on September 21, a day after the Supreme Court delivered its full ruling.

JUDICIAL COUP

The President repeated the Jubilee refrain that annulment of his election victory amounted to a “Judicial coup”, describing the four Judges who voted to annul — CJ Maraga, Deputy CJ Philomena Mwilu, Justice Smokin Wanjala and Justice Isaac Lenaola —as “judicial dictators”.

Ignoring the reasons outlined in the majority decision, the President preferred to adopt the dissenting opinion from Justice Njoki Ndung’u, who had harshly criticised her colleagues in disagreeing with the finding that the official result forms 34A and 34B from which the presidential election resulted were computed were riddled with anomalies and might have been falsified.

The Judge said she had personally scrutinised the forms and found them in order.

She also disagreed with the observation that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission had defied the court’s order to grant access to its computer servers, thereby raising suspicion that it had something to hide in relation to claims that the system had been hacked and the election results manipulated.

In her opinion, IEBC had complied with all that was asked by the court. Interestingly, the lawyers for President Kenyatta, the IEBC and its chairman Wafula Chebukati did not, at the appropriate time in the course of the hearing, raise the objections that came to make Judge Ndung’u’s belated defence.

But what is clear is that President Kenyatta and Jubilee supporters have eagerly seized on the dissenting minority findings of Justice Ndung’u and Justice Jackton Ojwang’, which they give more weight over the majority decision that carried the day.

It is the minority argument that seems to embolden President Kenyatta’s claim that he was robbed of electoral victory, and provide justification for renewed attacks on Chief Justice Maraga and the Supreme Court in General.

The President has suggested Jubilee will use its numbers in Parliament to tame the Judiciary.

Apart from Mr Ngunjiri’s petition against the CJ awaiting its turn at the Judicial Service Commission, the orchestrated onslaught also includes a separate petition against Deputy CJ Philomena Mwilu and Justice Isaac Lenaola filed by Mombasa activist Derrick Malika Ngumu.

CONFEDENTIAL DATA

The petition raised eyebrows because it included alleged mobile telephone call logs meant to prove that the two Supreme Court judges were in communication with Mr Odinga’s lawyer James Orengo and Nasa co-principal Moses Wetang’ula in the course of the presidential petition hearing.

It is illegal and irregular for Safaricom, Airtel, Telkom and any other telephone service provider to release such confidential data to a private citizen without a court order.

The National Intelligence Service and the Kenya Police Directorate of Criminal Investigations can acquire call records in the course of legitimate investigations, but there is no indication in this case that there were such investigations.

And where such data is legally acquired, it would still be an offence for the investigative agencies to pass it on to private citizens.

If the call logs are genuine, that would point to high-level collusion involving State security agencies, the phone companies and the petitioner.

CONTROVERSIAL LEGISLATION

They could also be fake and only meant to tarnish the names of the judges, but that will only be established once the hearing starts at the Judicial Service Commission. It might therefore be important that the hearing summons NIS and DCI bosses, Major-General Philip Kameru and Mr Ndegwa Muhoro respectively, as well the mobile phone company chief executives, to validate call logs before they are admitted as evidence.

Jubilee is also moving ahead with controversial legislation designed to make it harder for the Supreme Court to invalidate a presidential election. One specific step outlined in the proposed amendments to election laws is the provision that a failure or irregularities in the transmission of election results cannot be grounds to annul the outcome.

Systematic irregularities and illegalities in the both the manual and electronic transmission of results is what persuaded the Supreme Court that the declaration of President Kenyatta as winner of the August 8 poll could not be allowed to stand.

Jubilee is also examining an unprecedented move to try and get the Supreme Court decision “reviewed” largely relying on claims judges who voted in favour of the petitioner relied on faked documents supplied by the Court Registrar.

INVESTIGATIONS

This is contrasted with Judge Ndung’u who allegedly scrutinised “genuine” documents and determined that they were not riddled with inconsistencies as claimed.

To push this version, the government is behind also unprecedented investigations of the Supreme Court case, entrusted to both the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

The two agencies have been specifically tasked to investigate Supreme Court Registrar Esther Nyaiyaki for allegedly giving the judges doctored documents out of the scrutiny ordered by the court of election results forms 34A and 34B.

These investigations were curiously launched and fast-tracked on the a basis of a complaint by a “voter”, Mr Rashid Mohammed, who wrote to the EACC alleging the documents examined by Justice Ndung’u were the genuine IEBC forms, while the other judges relied on fake forms.

It is not clear how a private citizen could have come across such information, but it is notable that Mr Mohammed filed his complaint through a lawyer well-connected with the Jubilee machinery, Mr Kioko Kilukumi.

The speed with which the investigations were launched might not be surprising considering that DCI Muhoro and EACC boss Halakhe Waqo both have well-earned reputations for pursuing the Jubilee Party line in a myriad of criminal and corruption investigations.

It is unlikely that any review of the Supreme Court hearing or the Muhoro-Waqo investigations will result in anything that can reverse the presidential election verdict.

However, the strategy might be to sufficiently malign the verdict and the judges as a prelude to a concerted push for their ouster at the appropriate time.

In that regard the legal and administrative manoeuvres are being mounted in tandem with the vicious propaganda offensive being played out on both the political platform and social media.

It is not a coincidence that when dirty tricks propaganda arm of the Presidential Strategic Communications Unit launched the social media tirade campaign against Justice Maraga, it readily borrowed directly from President Kenyatta’s depiction of the Supreme Court as wakora.

CIVIL SOCIETY

The unit created the #WakoraNetwork hashtag, under which it tried to depict the judges who annulled Mr Kenyatta’s election victory as corrupt and acting under the influence and direction of a civil society cartel that had allegedly taken control of the judiciary.

Civil society is a favourite target of President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, alongside independent media, and with a non-compliant judiciary now apparently added to the list.

The social media campaign against the Supreme Court bears the imprint of President Kenyatta’s official social media guru, Senior Director for Digital, Innovations & Diaspora Communications Dennis Itumbi, a long-time champion of the propaganda offensives against civil society.

Mr Itumbi rose to notoriety in the run-up to the 2013 elections when he created the #Evil Society campaign against civil society groups blamed for helping the International Criminal Court crimes against humanity prosecutions of Mr Kenyatta, Mr Ruto and four others out of Kenya’s slide into 2007-2008 post-election violence.

That was the time he first created an organogram purporting to define the links between key civil society individuals and groups, their international partners, and ICC.

PROPAGANDA

Mr Itumbi enjoys extraordinary leeway to run social media propaganda campaigns outside the formal reporting and accountability system of the Presidency.

He is probably the only public servant in Kenya, politicians excluded, given leeway to directly attack members of the Judiciary or any other officers who attract the President’s ire.

In the run-up to the presidential election petition this year, his propaganda unit retrieved and updated the chart in a renewed effort to demonstrate ties between civil society, foreign donors and political opposition.

It is more or less the same chart that has again been dusted-off and updated with additional villains in the effort to depict a Supreme Court captive of “Evil Society”.

CHIEF VILLAIN

In 2013 the chief villain was the ICC. Earlier this year, the propaganda unit targeted Hungarian-American financier and philanthropist George Soros, whose global Open Society initiative was accused of sponsoring “regime change” through local NGOs.

The latest alliteration in the wake of the Supreme Court annulment of President Kenyatta’s election now accuses the same NGOs of essentially holding the court hostage and even dictating the verdict.

It latches largely onto a long-standing Judicial support programme under the International Development Law Organisation (IDLO), with funding from the Danish International Development Agency (Danida), United Kingdom Agency for International Development (UKaid) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) to make claims that the Supreme Court was under control of civil society and foreign partners who allegedly influenced the presidential election judgment.

The key ‘evidence’ is presented as a Judiciary Bench Book on Electoral Dispute Resolution launched earlier this year which apparently suggested a ‘qualitative’ rather than ‘quantitative’ approach to election petitions, hence the Supreme Court verdict giving primacy to vote count transmission processes rather than the actual vote count.      

NO EVIDENCE

It is a tenuous argument at best. No evidence is offered that the programme or the guidelines unduly influenced the judicial decision.

Names are thrown-in from the hate list of civil society players—the usual suspects such as Makau Mutua, Maina Kiai, John Githongo, Kenya Human Rights Commission, AfriCog—but no evidence offered of their alleged role in IDLO or influence on the Judiciary.

CJ Maraga’s predecessor Willy Mutunga incidentally sits on the international advisory board of IDLO, and he was the first target of the ‘Evil Society’ campaign when Mr Kenyatta’s propaganda machinery tried to block his ascension to the Supreme Court presidency in 2011.

The propaganda conveniently overlooks the fact that IDLO support for the Judiciary predates Justice Maraga.

INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT

It also ignores that similar programmes of international support for the Judiciary and wider justice sector including the police and other security organs actually dates back many years, to the period in 2003 when then Justice Minister Kiraitu Murungi, now the Meru Governor championed a Governance, Justice Law and Order Sector (GJLOS) reform programme.

There is no evidence that international support then and now has influenced or directed Judicial findings.

Neither is there any evidence that such support has been ulterior or offered without the knowledge, support and approval of the all other relevant departments of government, including the cabinet.

It is interesting, however, that the Ngunjiri Wambugu petition against Justice Maraga was almost a carbon copy of the State House ‘Evil Society’ propaganda offensive trying to tarnish the Judiciary.

Prof Makau and Mr Kiai, who were named in the Wambugu petition, have already asked to enjoined so that they can have their say when hearing starts. They have opposed withdrawal.

And Judge Lenaola has in turn filed notice of intention to sue Mr Itumbi for defamation on the ’Evil Society’ campaign; as well the Standard Newspaper for publishing details from Mr Derrick Malika Ngumu’s petititon before the papers were actually filed.


Kenyans fear State is reversing hard fought freedoms

By KIPCHUMBA SOME
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When Kenyans strongly endorsed the new Constitution in August 2010, they thought they had finally done away with the excesses that had been the hallmark of the Executive since independence.

With the Constitution’s robust checks and balances, Kenyans thought scenes of police unleashing violence on university students or academics and political dissenters being restricted from travelling abroad were behind them.

They thought there would be no more meddling with independent state institutions, such as the judiciary, by State House, a practice which was routine during the Kanu regimes of President Jomo Kenyatta and his successor Daniel arap Moi.

However, this week, Kenyans witnessed a return of these old practices in what is being termed a gradual but accelerated erosion of the democratic gains made over the decades through sweat and blood.

“We are already there, in the dark ages once again,” said lawyer Gitobu Imanyara who supported President Uhuru Kenyatta during the August 8 polls but who feels that he is taking the country in the wrong direction.

NEW CONSTITUTION

“The current leadership opposed the new constitution in the first place. They felt their predicaments at the ICC (International Criminal Court) were brought about by the new laws and they set out to dismantle them,” said Mr Imanyara.

President Mwai Kibaki, who promulgated the new constitution, had less than two years to implement it, and the promise of the new laws was supposed to come to fruition under President Uhuru Kenyatta who came to power in 2013.

However, under his leadership, there have been many attempts to change laws, some successful; some not.

In 2015, Parliament amended the Judicial Service Act which required the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to forward only one name to the President for appointment as Chief Justice.

The plot to have JSC submit three names to the President for consideration, thus giving the Head of State more leeway in appointing a CJ seen to be friendlier to the regime, was only defeated in the courts.

Early last year, President Kenyatta acquired powers to hire and fire top police chiefs through a Miscellaneous Amendment that removed the role of Parliament and reduced that of the National Police Service Commission in vetting and hiring them.

JUBILEE PRIORITIES

In fact, last month the Leader of Majority in Parliament, Garissa Town MP Aden Duale, said Mr Ouko’s removal alongside that of National Land Commission chairman Muhamad Swazuri, are Jubilee’s priorities in their second term.

There are two key areas that define the new Constitution — the dispersal of executive powers through devolution and the creation of new or strengthening of independent institutions to check on the Executive.

Whereas the promise of the new constitution has been realised in certain areas, such as devolution, the country has witnessed an increased effort by the State to curtail the work of, or entirely do away with, some of the independent offices.

Following the annulment of the August 8, 2017 presidential poll, Jubilee Party has been on the warpath with the Judiciary, especially the Supreme Court, which it accuses of having “stolen” their victory.

In an uncharacteristically coarse language, President Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto promised to deal with the “wakora” (fraudsters) — the four Supreme Court judges who voted in favour of annulling their victory.

JUBILEE ONSLAUGHT

The culminations of Jubilee’s sustained onslaught on the court is a Bill that was tabled in Parliament this week which seeks to clip the powers of the Judiciary and make it almost impossible for the Supreme Court to overturn future election results.

While President Kenyatta has defended the Bill saying it was necessary in order to prevent the court from reaching a similar decision on flimsy grounds, critics see a sinister ploy to undermine the institution.

The National Super Alliance (Nasa) presidential candidate, Raila Odinga, has termed the proposed amendments an act of “extreme provocation” and an “attempt to change goalposts” ahead of the repeat election on October 26.

However, Senate Deputy Speaker and Tharaka Nithi County Senator Kithure Kindiki said the amendments are necessary to close gaps identified by the Supreme Court.

“It is about curing illegalities and voiding a case where individuals sabotage an election. The question of undoing gains does not arise, it is misleading,” he said.

DESIRED AMENDMENTS

Jubilee managed to push through their desired amendments through their numerical strength in Parliament. They changed Parliamentary Standing Orders that require a Bill to be published within 14 days after tabling, to only one.

Outspoken Elgeyo Marakwet County Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said fears that the old habits and practices of Kanu are coming under President Kenyatta’s rule are unfounded.

“The very people who brag that they fought for our constitution are now its greatest danger,” said Mr Murkomen, who is also the Senate Majority Leader.

Criticised at first as doomed to fail, the dissolution of small parties to form Jubilee Party has, in hindsight, proved a masterstroke. The party now has an overwhelming majority in the Senate and the National Assembly which allows it to pass laws as they wish without the need for bipartisan considerations.

This consolidation of power by the ruling party has blurred the line between the ruling party and the State.

Still seething from his annulled victory, President Kenyatta told a meeting of Jubilee supporters from Ukambani who paid him a courtesy call at State House on September 11, that the party would use its Parliamentary strength to impeach Mr Odinga if he wins the repeat poll.

TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY

“In the National Assembly, with more than 200 members we are 13 members shy of a two-thirds majority, meaning we can change the Constitution. Even if he is elected we have the opportunity in Parliament within two [to] three months to impeach him,” he said.

Interestingly in mid-October, last year, top Jubilee officials drawn from the 47 counties visited the Communist Party of China on a month-long training on how to run and manage a party “for 100 years without collapsing.”

One cannot miss the subtle implications of this trip. For nearly a century now, the Communist Party has controlled every facet of life in China. To be expelled from the party means an end to one’s political or even professional career.

Anti-riot policemen arrest a University of Nairobi student after protestsAnti-riot policemen arrest a University of Nairobi student after protests against the detention of ODM legislator Paul Ongili (Babu Owino) in Nairobi, Kenya, on September 28, 2017. PHOTO | COURTESY  

During the eras of President Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi, State House nearly became party headquarters complete with parliamentary group meetings and other party caucuses, chanting of party slogans and wearing of party colours.

President Kibaki embraced it half-heartedly, but the practice has now returned in all its former glory under President Kenyatta who has been hosting huge delegations.

Prof Peter Ndege, who teaches history at Moi University, says: “Presidential absolutism is the cancer in our body politic and it has the tendency to reproduce itself like biological organisms.”

He says the founding President and his successor, Moi, fortified the presidency, with the latter going further to co-opt Kanu into the state craft and at some point the party was really the government.

POLITICAL ARISTOCRACY

Further attempts at democratisation since then have fallen prey to a class of political aristocracy which came up with ethnic parties, he said.

A group of Jubilee MPs and party officials have indeed encouraged President Kenyatta to be a “benevolent dictator”, just like Rwanda’s Paul Kagame. Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro and Jubilee Party vice-chairman David Murathe have openly called on the President to adopt this posture.

Koigi exile

However, former Subukia MP Koigi wa Wamwere, who was detained and finally exiled for a long period for his fight against the one-party rule of President Kenyatta senior and his successor President Moi, condemned the proposal by the two Jubilee leaders.

“The reason Kenyans fought against colonialists was to get independence and the reason  we fought for the Second Liberation was to have democracy,” he said. “The way we cannot afford to lose our independence is the same way we should not agree to lose our democratic gains,” he said.

Ironically, Mr Nyoro represents a constituency that was once represented by Second Liberation icon Kenneth Matiba whose valiant fight for multipartyism in 1991 earned him a period in detention during which he developed health complications from which he has never recovered.

SUBVERSION

Mr Owino was first arrested on Monday and charged on Tuesday with subversion after uttering words seemed to demean the President and his mother during a political rally in Nairobi last week.

Although the court released him on bail on Wednesday in connection with the first charge, police officers pounced on him outside the courts, held him overnight and charged him the next day with assaulting a man during campaigns for the August polls. 

“Arbitrary arrests have become the order of the day with right to fair hearing disregarded,” said Siaya County Senator James Orengo, who was also one of Mr Owino’s lawyers.

Mr Owino’s arrest sparked pockets of riots by students of the University of Nairobi where Mr Owino was a long-serving chairman of the students’ union. The protests attracted a harsh crackdown by the police evidenced by videos that were secretly taped of police officers clobbering students in their lecture halls.

DEMOCRATIC STRUGGLE

Historically, university students have been part and parcel of Kenya’s democratic struggle and Wednesday’s police assault on UoN students brought back memories of Moi’s harsh crackdown on radical university students. Efforts to reach the Inspector-General for a comment on what action he has taken against the officers were fruitless as he did not return our calls.

Dr Wandia Njoya, a Daystar University lecturer, attributed the return of autocratic tendencies to what she called low immunity occasioned by a distressed economy and a bitterly contested election.

“We have not completely recovered from our pre-2010 condition,” she said, alluding to the period before the passing of the new laws. “The remnant germs of oppression are now thriving because of our low immunity,” she said.

On Thursday, Nasa deputy presidential candidate Kalonzo Musyoka and Bungoma County Senator Moses Wetang’ula claimed that attempts had been made to bar them from travelling to Uganda for a graduation ceremony.

Two weeks ago, State House banned all international travel by civil servants ostensibly to reduce the wage bill, but the move has been condemned as retrogressive as it also affects academics and researchers travelling for self-sponsored seminars or teaching assignments abroad.

CIVIL SOCIETY

Alongside the judiciary, the civil society has come in the crosshairs of Jubilee Party which accuses non-governmental organisations of working together to mount what they have termed  a judicial coup.

On Saturday, the government cut ties with an international NGO it accuses of having undue influence on the Judiciary.

In a letter to International Development Law Organisation (IDLO) Director-General Irene Khan, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said the agreement between Kenya and the organisation was being suspended.

“The Government of the Republic of Kenya and International Development Law Organisation (IDLO) negotiated and signed a Host Country Agreement on 31st December 2016 to establish a branch IDLO Office in Kenya. This is to convey to you the decision of the Government to suspend the Host Country Agreement with immediate effect until further notice,” read the letter dated 13th September 2017.

The letter was copied to Attorney-General Professor Githu Muigai and Director of Immigration Maj-Gen (rtd) Dr Gordon O. Kihalang’wa.

In the same breath, the government is now lobbying 14 other counties that have ties with IDLO to terminate them.

On Wednesday, Ms Mohamed was in Egypt where she informed Egyptian authorities on the workings of IDLO.

CANCELLED LICENCES

Soon after the election was annulled, the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) Coordination Board cancelled the licences of three NGOs which it claimed were in the payroll of “foreign masters” to help the judiciary mount the coup.

The board cancelled the licences of the Kenya Human Rights Commission whose chairman is US-based Prof Makau Mutua, and the African Centre for Open Governance headed by Gladwell Otieno, both critics of President Kenyatta.

It is hard to believe Mr Mahamed Fazul, the board’s chairperson, acted unilaterally given the fact his organisation falls under the ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, which falls in the Office of the President.

Though the Constitution explicitly forbids civil servants from engaging in overt partisan political activities, the government welcomed the participation of several senior state officers in raising money for President Kenyatta.

Mr John Njiraini, the Commissioner-General of the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), and Mr Joseph Njoroge, the Principal Secretary in the ministry of Energy, are members of Friends of Jubilee, a lobby that supports President Kenyatta’s re-election.

The duo said they were members of the group in their personal, not professional, capacities and hence owe no one answers.

During the regimes of President Moi and President Kibaki, civil servants heading key government institutions were accused of milking them dry to fund the presidential campaigns. 

Jubilee’s current manoeuvres against the constitution call to mind the moves made by Jomo Kenyatta soon after independence that culminated in the creation of an imperial presidency.

KADU DISSOLUTION

The first was the dissolution of the opposition Kenya African Democratic Union (Kadu) and its merger with the ruling Kenya African National Union (Kanu), thus creating a monolithic party.

This was followed by the abolition of the Senate in 1966, which Kadu had agitated for during negotiations for independence as a way of protecting the interests of minority communities.

In October 1969, Kenya became a de facto one party state following the banning of Kenya People’s Union, the party that Jaramogi Oginga Odinga formed after being fired as vice-president by President Kenyatta in 1966.

All these moves, coupled with the use of the security apparatus, were intended to give President Kenyatta an upper hand in his fight against his friend-cum-enemy, Jaramogi.

Following the 1982 coup, President Moi further consolidated his power by abolishing guarantee of tenure for top constitutional office holders, among them the Attorney- General and the High Court judges.


Wafula Chebukati outlines tough demands on OT-Morpho

By JUSTUS WANGA
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Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has outlined tough new measures to technology company OT-Morpho after signing a new contract on Thursday to manage results transmission in the October 26 presidential election.

Classified documents leaked to the Nation by sources at OT-Morpho reveal IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati’s raft of ultimatums and terms of reference to the firm’s vice president and general manager, Africa and Middle East, Olivier Charlanes insisting that the reason the presidential polls were annulled was because of system failure he partly blames on them.

Mr Chebukati has demanded total compliance with what he says is the cure to what led to the annulment of results early last month.

He was replying a day later to a letter Ms Charlanes wrote on Wednesday.

In the letter, Mr Chebukati takes issues with OT-Morpho’s “selective reference” to Nasa in her letter yet Jubilee was also copied.

Ms Charlanes correspondence was prompted by Mr Chebukati’s communication to Nasa, a response to their conditions they want met before their candidate Raila Odinga takes part in the polls.

CONDITIONS

His conditions are also captured in the new contract.

In her letter and in what could further deepen the standoff with Nasa, OT-Morpho opposed the decision by the chairman to open servers before the election day, arguing the move may compromise data security.

“OT-Morpho would like to respectfully warn IEBC that opening access to servers, databases and logs prior to the elections might open security weaknesses. We would rather recommend that access to server and databases be provided after the Election Day. Anyhow, logs will be shared on a daily basis with IEBC. Agents should be allowed to review them at IEBC premises only,” Ms Charlanes wrote.

On embedding external IT experts in the system, she said they do not object but say there is need to agree on their scope and role.

Another frontier of clash is the decision not to have locally hosted backup system.

BACKUP SYSTEM

Mr Chebukati said the refusal to set a local backup system had landed them into problems when they could not fully comply with the Supreme Court orders to open up the servers for scrutiny.

“One of the easiest things to do is setting up ‘real-time master/slave database replication’. We already have the infrastructure in place,” he suggests.

Responding to conditions they have set out before they can participate in the polls, Mr Chebukati had promised Nasa that they would deploy a cloud server and a local backup system and that all these would adhere to the international standards.

“OT-Morpho will only deliver RTS (Results Transmission System) on a cloud platform as for the August 8 elections,” Ms Charlanes said in a letter addressed to the chairman.  The firm further informs Mr Chebukati that considering the limited time left to the date of polls, it is impossible to conduct a dry-run of results transmission as he had indicated to Nasa.

“Even though OT-Morpho was and remains willing to support such a dry-run, IEBC has to realise that conducting such an operation is hogging the RTS system for four days, so as to prepare, test, run and clean the system. In the current planning and considering the recent delays in receiving the SIM cards to start the KIEMS (Kenya Integrated Elections Management System) kits production as well as latest IEBC requirement, we fear we have no room any more for such an operation,” Ms charlanes had said.

In a counter-argument, the IEBC chief says this needs not take four days but a shorter time.  He also reminds them that the Commission is the boss and will define the terms of engagement.

“Dry run is essential confidence building measure to assure our stakeholders on the integrity of our system. For example, it can be one kit per polling station per county live on television. Such an exercise well-co-ordinated can take less than two hours,” he argues.

OT-Morpho also objected to the idea of initiating an external audit on grounds of limited time.

Further, on plans by the commission to display all the forms 34B from constituencies, the firm says it is technologically impossible to do this given the bulky nature of the forms.

DATA CAPACITY

Mr Chebukati insists that the tech firm should enhance its data capacity to accommodate the bulk data.

“Please not that since OT-Morpho are the ones who receive the forms 34A first, they must make them public. Text results without forms, shall not be allowed in whatever circumstances,” he tersely says.

He instructs them to avoid a situation that happened in August where some 10,000 polling stations sent results without forms.

OT-Morpho also say that based on IEBC specifications, the media cannot show live feed on verified results since there is no “mechanisms of verification of any kind of verification on the RTS platform before results sharing”.

Mr Chebukati had written that the commission would provide access to accredited media houses to cover results announcements at all levels. Media will be encouraged to show a live feed of the verified results. Given the haphazard way with which the IEBC handled GPS technology last time, the chairman is also asking OT-Morpho to ensure that they activate the technology in a way that is easy to install locally.

They will also have to stay around longer after the elections so they can easily help with the information in case of an election petition in court.

After Mr Chebukati’s conditions, OT-Morpho rebranded to IDEMIA the following day (September 28) in  a strategy to better reflect its position as a global leader in trusted identities for an increasingly digital world following the May merger of Oberthur Technologies and Safran Identity and Security.

Commission CEO Ezra Chiloba confirmed that they now had a new contract in place. Mr Chebukati was not available for comment.

“The Commission held a series of meetings with OT-Morpho on the level of support we required for the fresh presidential election. This culminated into an addendum to the contract that was signed on Thursday evening after negotiations were concluded as per the procurement law,” Mr Chiloba told the Nation on Saturday.

INFRASTRUCTURE

He said the only way to ensure that elections happen as scheduled is to have suppliers of critical infrastructure on board early enough. “It is only 25 days to the election and some of the key infrastructure is still being debated,” he said, casting doubt on the whole state of preparedness.

At the same time, sources from the IEBC indicate that the chairman has been overruled in most of the disciplinary actions he had sanctioned against staff members from the ICT department he believes contributed in the bungling of the polls. He had recommended disciplinary action against ICT boss James Muhati and other junior officers. He was ruled out in a plenary meeting last Tuesday by a majority decision of 4 against 3 commissioners.

Part of the ongoing preparations will also see all returning officers recruited by Monday. Reshuffling, and bringing new ones on board is part of radical measures aimed at restoring public confidence in IEBC. 

The Nation also established that returning officers who refused to sign the forms containing results were summoned to Nairobi last week with those who are permanent employees facing the sack.

But even as they engage in all these, the biggest headache for the commission right now is getting Nasa to participate in the polls. Should they snub it, the credibility of Mr Kenyatta’s mandate will suffer a great deal were he to be declared winner. According to proposed law by Jubilee wing in Parliament, the President is poised to be announced elected unopposed under the circumstances.

UNCERTAINTY

The uncertainty is already unnerving investors as the economy takes a beating.

Nasa already objected to the awarding to OT-Morpho a new tender.

“Nasa objects firmly to this criminality. We demand that IEBC and OT-Morpho explain to Kenyans how the figure was arrived at. We also demand that the Attorney General Githu Muigai and the Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich tell Kenyans on what basis they approved this fraud,” he said.

The opposition claims the figure was inflated to cater for kickbacks for some senior IEBC officials as well as Jubilee luminaries in a similar fashion as the infamous chickengate, a scandal unearthed after investigations by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in the United Kingdom about British firms dishing out bribes codenamed “chicken” to some former IEBC officials to secure tenders in the run up to 2013 elections.

“Until the French absolve themselves, the award further confirms that OT-Morpho is firmly part and parcel of a criminal enterprise that has hijacked the Kenyan electoral system with the sole aim of profiteering and frustrating the democratic ambitions of the people of Kenya,” they said.

UNETHICAL CONDUCT

The opposition last month wrote to the French government seeking answers on what it calls unethical conduct by OT-Morpho in the August 8 elections where is claims its victory was robbed through connivance of the state, IEBC and the agents it contracted like the French firm and Al Ghurair which printed the ballot papers.

“It seems no one believes that there are a few individuals who do not pursue material aggrandizement other than utmost service to the country. And if such is our frame of thinking and doing things, then much will be said about anything and in the end the country will lose. We need to shift our way of thinking,” he said.

He said IEBC should be allowed space to prepare for the fresh presidential election.

“Kenyans out there are anxious about what is going to happen. I am told businesses are slowing down because of uncertainty in the political environment. If we let the Constitution to function, then IEBC should be let to do its part as ordered by the Supreme Court.”


Impact of loss of spouse is heavy and journey to healing not easy

By NJOKI CHEGE
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Former TV presenter Janet Kanini’s husband, Mr. George Ikua, remembers his last moments with the TV personality. Five other recently widowed men also recount the painful experiences of breaking the news to their children and how they coped in the weeks and months after the death of their wives.

In the second and last part of the Widowers series in NTVs show Victoria’s Lounge show, the six widowers tell of life after the death of their wives.

George Ikua

Occupation: ICT Entrepreneur

Wife Janet Kanini, former TV personality, succumbed to lung cancer after eight years of marriage, leaving George with two children.

Trust Janet gone April fools. March 17 was our daughter’s birthday; Janet had been really doing badly. The whole month of March, she was in hospital but convinced the doctors to allow her to come home for her daughter’s birthday. That was her final strength. When the guests left, I had to carry her upstairs.

HEALING TIME

I took her to hospital the next day and she said she needed to focus on her healing in time for her son’s birthday on April 5. She did not want any visitors except me. Her last 24 hours, on Friday morning she asked me to focus on work.

I bought flowers in Hurlingham and took two pictures of the children to surprise her in hospital. Later that day, I got a call to visit the hospital that Janet was out of control, yelling and screaming.

As I was getting ready to go, I called again thinking that if she heard my voice she would calm down but nobody was picking up. They finally picked up and he said “I am sorry.” I called a friend who drove me to the hospital. I found they had removed her from the wards and put her on the stretcher in another room preparing to transfer her to the morgue. I stormed into the room and I will never forget she had this look of defiance. She had fought till the end.

EXTREME ANGER

I got home and told my children; “Mummy is with the Lord,” my son said “So she is dead?” and walked out while my daughter insisted on seeing her. by then the whole country knew what was happening.

For me, the last five months has been extreme anger. I even got angry at her for going. I felt anger because there is no prayer that we didn’t pray, for the general healthcare system and general anger for the fact that she never lived to see her children. It was especially difficult to mourn publicly, I was not only grieving but also playing to the court of public opinion.

The tear-jerking experiences were narrated to NTV’s Victoria Rubadiri.The tear-jerking experiences were narrated to NTV’s Victoria Rubadiri. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What I realised, was that my seven-year-old son is exactly like his mother. My daughter never really got the gravity of her death. We decided we would have my son’s birthday anyway. The massive pain is that there is a 7-year-old and 3-year-old who will never see their mother again.

I have been lucky to have a support network of three people. Our friend Norah, my nanny of seven years has held down the house and my sister who stepped up to help us. When the house helps rearranged the house and removed all of Janet’s clothes, packed into paper bags and stashed into drawers , I broke down completely.

Dan Kinyanjui

Occupation: Actor/Biker based in Mombasa

His wife Druscillah Walowe died in May this year while giving birth to their second born son.

The most important thing for me was to have a good support system. One person that I will single out was my mother who was very good friends with my wife Dru. She sacrificed and moved in to my house to take care of our infant Darrel so that I could work.

Another way of coping is that I busy myself a lot. I try not to be idle. I used to be a very fun-loving person and I do not want to change that.

I also try to keep the same routine I had when Dru was around. For example, we used to have date nights every single Wednesday, I try to keep that as well. There will never be a replacement for Dru.

Even if I ever settle down with anyone, she will never be the mother to my boys. I am taking it a day at a time. I am also trying to fix my relationship with God. Dru loved this lesso I am wearing now. The early morning that we walked out of the house, I remember she wrapped this around herself.

The interesting bit is the message on this lesso Mungu uinuliwe kwani siku hii ni ya kipekee (God is exalted in this special day). I never read the message until the 23rd when I was given the news. When she was getting out of the car when we were getting to hospital she gave me this and asked me to hold it for her. I feel her spirit in my son, because he is always jovial, like his mother.

David Kariuki

Occupation: Marketer

Lost his wife Betty Kariuki while she was expecting their first children, who were triplets.

From the word go, I knew I had to engage myself. I knew I had to keep myself busy. Initially I would travel a lot, pack a few things into the car, drive somewhere and check into a hotel with a book. A critical support is very important.

My sister moved in to stay with me for a year. That really helped a lot. My family stood by me and I have friends who would text me almost on a daily basis. That would really keep me going and give me strength to face another day.

The loss of a loved one, with whom you had a daily routine, is the worst experience you can ever go through. We had a routine to have brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Then suddenly you wake up on Sunday, I want to go to church but I cannot, as I cannot face that moment without her.

Martyn Alwala

Occupation: Chief executive  and Founder, Palms Decors

Wife Sheila Alwala died of breast cancer, leaving him with two sons

My church, CITAM Karen stood with me, sent people to the house to pray with us. The full entourage of the pastoral team was there for me and my last born Jabez. My last born Jabez would ask me “Now that mummy has gone to heaven, when am I following her?”

My first born, an adolescent, who felt that part of his mother going, was also part of me going. It became a battle to some point where we did not see each other eye to eye. But I thank God through the journey, he began to understand that life has to move on.

The first night I went to our bedroom I was alone, I couldn’t sleep, I had to sleep with my last born. I have never accepted until today. People tell me that I am strong, but I wish they knew what I go through. I couldn’t even concentrate watching TV, seated on the seat we used to sit on together. I would find myself talking to myself thinking I was talking to her.

Tony Wachira

 Occupation: Insurance Agent. Also a Rotarian, a mentor and a studentof counselling psychologist.

His wife Pauline died of cancer, leaving him with four children.

The needs and demands of children keep you on your toes. They have to eat and go to school and life has to go on for everyone.

When they go to sleep, I go to bed alone and that is where the absence hits you, you can almost touch it. One of the heartbreaking moments was to see the children- especially our eldest- when he would break down and saying he misses his mother. You have to let him cry because incidentally, crying is very therapeutic. I am happy, three years later, he is getting over it. Our youngest, who was too young (three years) when the mother went, still cries sometimes.

I encourage them, anytime they miss mum and they feel like crying, they should just cry because it is okay to cry. My presence has to be at home more than ever before, when they are out in school, I am with them. Death is a reality, and until we understand and accept that life has a beginning  and end, then coping and healing will become very difficult. The question we used to ask God was “Why” we now realise that God is powerful and Pauline went because God allowed it. I now realise that Pauline was a gift, God brought that angel in my life.

John Githoitho

Occupation: Businessman

He was married 42 years, his wife Mary died of breast cancer

I was so traumatised to be alone after 42 years, because the children have their own families. The biggest problem came from friends and other people. Every time I met them, they would say “pole” and they would remind me.

The counsellor told me that while I would not prevent people from saying that, I should instead have a positive attitude towards them. Another problem is that I came to do things I was not doing before. Now I have to feed and take care of the chicken. The counselling was really helpful.


We must guard against tearing down Constitution

By EDITORIAL
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History has demonstrated the decline towards dictatorship and autocracy is gradual but systematic. Liberties are circumscribed in small bits, dissenting voices are muzzled and the authorities tend to be intolerant and overbearing. The antidote is to be vigilant and parry off attempts to shrink democratic space.

Events of the past few weeks are worrying and point towards a slow but progressive walk down the slippery path. This week, the government sponsored two motions in Parliament aimed at amending two laws — Elections Act and Election Offences Act.

The reasoning was the amendments were aimed at curing anomalies in the administration of elections, and which were the reasons for the invalidation of the outcomes of the August presidential election. In reality, the objectives were suspect and timing inopportune.

TRIM POWERS

Among others, the amendments seek to trim powers of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), institutionalise manual transmission of election results as opposed to electronic, and also overturn regulations that disallow use of State resources during election campaigns. Changing the law haphazardly and without just cause is the beginning of tearing down the Constitution.

Second, the government recently issued a directive requiring all public officers, including university lecturers, to seek clearance from the Office of the President for any foreign travel. This may seem a simple administrative regulation but experience has shown this can undermine fundamental freedoms and liberties.

Third, the country was treated to gory sights of police brutality against students of the University of Nairobi. Various agencies such as the Independent Policing Oversight Authority and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights have undertaken to conduct investigations to establish what happened, which is the right thing to do. But the general impression is that police are becoming excessive in execution of their powers.

SUSTAINED ATTACK

Fourth, there has been a sustained attack and vilification of the Judiciary since the Supreme Court annulled the presidential election.

Put together, there is a trend that should make all of us worried. These were the experiences during those darks days of the 1970s and 1980s. Fortunately, we now have a very progressive Constitution that protects civil liberties. But that is no reason to sit pretty.

The citizens and independent voices like the religious organisations and civil society organisations have a duty to resist the slide to repression.


Saitoti was a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

By KAMAU NGOTHO
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Early in 1997, my friend and colleague, Mwangi Chege, asked me to accompany him to a fund-raiser in his ancestral home in Nyeri County which was presided over by Vice President George Saitoti.

My friend had a special invitation from Mathira District Officer which entitled us to sit at the VIP dais as the rest of journalists, as usual, scorched in the hot sun. Being one of those rare occasions when a journalist sits on the opposite side, I found myself engrossed more in whatever was happening at the high table, and not the fund-raiser itself.

I noted that while the VIPs at the high table were sipping water from the bottles at the table, Saitoti didn’t touch his bottle but would sip from a bottle carried by his aide and immediately give it back to him.

It is as if the VP feared that one of the VIPs seated next to him would throw something into his bottle if it was left to stay at the table.

I also noted that the VP kept throwing scared gazes all over the place as if fearing somebody he didn’t like was present.

That amazed me because I thought as the country’s No. 2 big man he would be happy that people from as many walks of life attended his function.

But the real amazing one was at the burial of Dr Jason Likimani, a resident of Kajiado, and the first indigenous Kenyan medic having obtained a diploma in medicine in 1939.

Saitoti, as the VP and most senior resident of Kajiado County graced the occasion. As the ceremony proceeded, leading opposition leader and family friend of the Likimanis, Mr Kenneth Matiba, walked in. All of a sudden, Saitoti made a signal to his aides and hurriedly left. Years later I asked Kajiado politician John Keen, who was master of ceremony, why Saitoti abruptly left. He replied: “Saitoti wasn’t a man!” I never asked him what he meant by that.

My next encounter with the mystery of Saitoti was when my boss at the Nation Media Group, Dr Evans Kidero, asked me to do a story about his old school, Mangu High, a school that gave us a President, Mwai Kibaki, and two Vice Presidents, Saitoti and Moody Awori, among other notables.

The school principal allowed me access to all the school files but I never saw the name George Saitoti anywhere. True he was at the school but never used any of the names associated with him – George Saitoti, Kiarie wa Kinuthia, Kinuthia wa Muthengi, George Musengi – and perhaps any other name you know.

The other occasion I remember was at a restaurant in Karen where I bumped on then Kenya Football Federation chairman Sam Nyamweya. Sam is a good, interesting man. When you meet him, he always has a story to tell. And if there is no story to tell, he creates one. And as he narrates the one he has created, he invents yet another one. It was in the process of telling me his many stories when the person he was waiting for, Vice President Saitoti, walked in. On seeing me seated with Sam, the VP made a quick about-turn and called Sam on his hand-set to change the venue of their meeting. As he hurriedly left, Sam whispered: “You know that man can’t sit here now that he has seen me with someone he doesn’t know.”

Another similar one was at a friend’s office at Posta-Sacco Plaza on University Way. As I chatted away with my friend, the door flung open and Saitoti walked in. On seeing me, he stopped in the middle with an offended look. My friend quickly asked me to relocate to the boardroom. My friend would later tell me that Saitoti had taken considerable time inquiring who I was, what had taken me there, and whether I could have been tape-recording their conversation while seated in the boardroom.

Yet another occasion was at a high-end hotel in Mombasa in 2006. I had been assigned to do a story on how hotels at the coast had improved on their security as a result of terrorist threats. I was walking into the hotel lobby on a Sunday morning when some mean-looking man pushed me aside. Before I knew what was happening, Saitoti whizzed by escorted by even meaner-looking fellows than the one who had pushed me aside.

BULLETPROOF VEST

It was a very sunny morning and Saitoti was the only person I saw that day dressed in a suit and a tie. I would learn that he was always in a suit because he wouldn’t leave the house without a bullet-proof vest. Later as I talked to the manager, I mentioned that I had met Saitoti at the entrance. He looked surprised that Saitoti had spent the night there. He told me: “I know he comes here but he never makes his booking through us. We only get to know we have a VIP guest but can’t even tell exactly which room he occupies. We book him at least three rooms in different floors and never get to know which one he uses!”

It is in the same hotel where Saitoti spent the last weekend before his death while attending a top-level government function with President Kibaki. Officially, Saitoti was booked at another hotel where the rest of the Cabinet ministers were staying but he had asked one of his aides to stay in the room to give the impression that he was staying there. It is like the minister didn’t feel safe staying with fellow cabinet ministers.

Once I had a conversation with retired politician Kimani wa Nyoike, who was in college in the United States together with Saitoti in early 1960s. He told me that Saitoti was a mystery even in their college days. “I was leader of Kenyan students in our time and we lived us a community. But Saitoti was always a stranger to us,” Nyoike told me.

The retired politician also told me that Saitoti never liked anybody who knew his past near him. “It is like he had something he didn’t want known about him”, he told me.

In all his public functions, nobody remembers Saitoti uttering a single word in any of the 40-something dialects spoken in Kenya. On his death, word spread that members of the family had to ask top government officials to take away safes at his home which only the late minister had access to. Just before his death, he had just constructed a house in Kiserian, Kajiado County, which only select aides were allowed entry.

Postscript

It is at the requiem of the late Saitoti in June 2012 when the public saw for the first time the man who spoke as family friend of the Saitotis. His name is Jimmy Wanjigi. Yet another riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.


New Sh4.6bn medical cover for police takes effect

By ANGELA OKETCH
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By OUMA WANZALA
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Only 1,434 police officers and prison warders out of 122,708 will be allowed to seek direct treatment in private hospitals in a new Sh4.6 billion medical deal that takes effect today.

The deal was signed with the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).

A majority of the officers – totalling 121,274 – who fall between job group A and L, will access treatment in government hospitals and faith-based health facilities and will only go to private hospitals on referral.

NHIF takes over from AoN insurance brokers which has been insuring the police officers at Sh4.6 billion even in private hospitals.

CATEGORISED

The new scheme has been categorised into three groups.

One category covers police officers from job group R to T, which has only 122 officers and they will get Sh3.5 million for inpatient and Sh500,000 for outpatient.

They will get treatment in government hospitals, mission hospitals and private hospitals.

The other category, M to Q, has about 1,322 officers who will also get treatment in government hospitals, mission and private hospitals.

They will get between Sh2.8 million and Sh3.3 million for inpatient and between Sh350,000 and Sh450,000 for outpatient services  respectively.

Officers in job group A to L will get unlimited inpatient and outpatient services in identified government hospitals.

Officers in all job groups, irrespective of their positions, will get Sh100,000 optical and Sh60,000 dental cover.

The officers will also benefit from in vitro fertilisation treatment services.

NHIF chief executive Geoffrey Mwangi termed this an extra benefit since it is not under the national scheme but only the civil servants can have the services. “Fertility services are very expensive and only civil servants can benefit because it is covered under premium,” said Mr Mwangi.

The cover shall also include injury or illness arising from an operation while on duty.

Officers suffering from HIV and Aids, STDs, and chronic and congenital diseases will be covered up to full limits.

OVERSEAS TREATMENT

According to the agreement, all treatment costs arising from a condition that warrants treatment overseas because due to unavailability in Kenya, will be covered in full.

NHIF will also meet the pre-tests costs for organ donor identification for cases involving cornea, small bowel, kidney, pancreas, liver, heart and lung up to a maximum of two days.

The potential donor shall be a paid-up registered member of NHIF. “The national health insurer shall also pay travel and accommodation costs for the patient’s donor subject to pre-authorisation. Travel and accommodation for a person accompanying a patient for overseas treatment will be covered subject to pre-authorisation,” states the deal.

Mr Mwangi said the cover is extended to officers who may be caught up in acts of terrorism unless they are directly involved. “Prosthetic devices needed as part of treatment, which includes external artificial body part, such as prosthetic limb or prosthetic ear will be provided,” he said. 


Ward Reps’ fascination with trips make the electorate furious

By NATION TEAM
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Ward Reps are on the spot for going on extravagant trips in the name of induction sessions.

The MCAs from various devolved units have received a major backlash from the public who have accused them of wasting public resources by ignoring cheaper options and opting to conduct their retreats in plush venues away from home.

The coastal city of Mombasa has emerged as their preferred choice.

The leaders have, however, defended the trips, insisting they play a crucial role in educating them on their key roles – legislation, representation and oversight. Most of the trips, they further argue, have not been funded by taxpayers, but by donors.

12 MILLION

In Kiambu County, for instance, Ward Reps recently gobbled at least Sh12 million on a five-day induction trip to a three-star hotel in Mombasa, putting them at loggerheads with the electorate.

The Nation has learnt that each member was entitled to Sh14,000 per day for five days as per diem, which translated to Sh70,000 in five days.

The Speaker and Clerks, on the other hand, were each entitled to Sh20,000 per diem per day, which translates to Sh100, 000 each.

At least ten assembly staff members, notably the sergeant at arms and assistance clerks, also attended the retreat. They were also entitled to a per diem that is equal to that of ordinary MCAs.

Given that Kiambu has 92 Ward Reps, both elected and nominated, the assembly spent Sh6.4 million on their per diems, Sh700,000 for the assembly staff and Sh200, 000 on the Speaker and the Clerk, bringing the total cost of per diem to Sh7.3 million.

PREVIOUS ASSEMBLY

The Nation has further learnt that those who attended the trip were also paid Sh20,000 each for transport even though reports indicate that the amount could have risen to Sh30,000.

The above cost is, however, not inclusive of the cost of hiring out the conference hall and stationery used during the induction period, tea breaks and other meals.

The amount spent is a far cry from what was utilised by the last assembly which held its induction retreat at the Brackenhurst Hotel in Limuru within the county.

Each member then received only Sh2,500 per diem daily.

In an attempt to distance his administration from blame over the issue, Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu wrote on his Facebook: “The fact that the legislature decided to have their induction – that is donor-funded – in a coastal city is its decision. It has nothing to do with the executive arm of government that’s headed by me as governor.”

NOT ISOLATED

Kiambu is not an isolated case. The situation has also been replicated in other devolved units. Ward Reps from Kisii County also undertook a similar trip sparking criticism from the public.

The county has at least 69 Ward Reps, all of who were entitled to allowances.

“Our Ward Reps could have easily held their retreat here in Kisii without wasting millions of shillings on such a trip,” human rights activist Thomson Osoro said.

However, assembly clerk James Nyaoga defended the trip, saying it was in line with the mandate of Centre for Parliamentary Studies and Training.

“The Ward Reps were in Mombasa for an induction training and not a luxurious trip as some have claimed,” he said.

DONOR FUNDED

“These activists are exaggerating things and trying to tarnish the name of the assembly yet the trip was valid and was conducted by many other counties as well,” he said. 

In Vihiga, Ward Reps, who followed their Kisii and Kiambu counterparts to the Coast also defended their eight-day trip, insisting it was funded by USAID to the tune of Sh5 million.

Majority Leader Wycliffe Masini said as a result of the trip, the Ward Reps acquired ‘necessary skills required to discharge their mandate.’

“The assembly has 28 new members who need to be acquainted with their key roles of legislation, oversight, budget making, and representation,” says the Mungoma Ward Rep.

In Narok, residents criticised the assembly for planning to also send Ward Reps to Mombasa for their induction retreat.

“We have so many government institutions in Narok where such functions can be held, including the Maasai Mara. What they are doing amounts to wastage of public resources,” said Meitamei Ololdapash, a resident.

However, in response, Narok Town MCA Bernard ole Torome defended the trip. “The assembly has its own budget to hold such trips,” he said.

In Meru, all the 68 MCAs also travelled to Mombasa for their retreat, spending more than Sh6 million in the process.

NOT TAXPAYERS

However, Speaker Joseph Kaberia said they did not spend a single shilling of taxpayers’ money to fund the trip.

“The trip was funded by donors. Some of them include the Centre for Parliamentary Studies and Training,  and the Agile Harmonized Assistance for Devolved Institutions  among others,” he says.

In Kirinyaga, the 33 MCAs travelled to Mombasa last week and spent seven days, triggering protest among residents.

“If the induction retreat took place in this region, then the expenses would have been less. They would have spent at least Sh400,000 and spare the rest for development,” said Njogu Mwaniki, a resident.

In Uasin Gishu, the 47 members  also travelled to Mombasa for a one-week retreat unlike in 2013 they  retreated to Kisumu.

 Reports by Eric Wainaina, Derrick Luvega, Elgar Machuka, Dennis Lubanga, George Sayagie, Isabel Githae, Ndung’u Gachane, Grace Gitau, Charles Wanyoro, Alex Njeru, George Munene, Mwangi Ndirangu