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Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

 

Chelsea snatch draw as Man United edge Benfica

By AFP
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Chelsea were grateful to Eden Hazard for grabbing a 3-3 draw in a Champions League thriller against Roma on Wednesday, while Manchester United, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Juventus all won.

Hazard headed in his second goal of the night from a Pedro Rodriguez cross with quarter of an hour left at Stamford Bridge to rescue Chelsea after they had earlier blown a two-goal lead against the Italians.

With Carlo Ancelotti, former Chelsea coach and Roma player, watching from the stands, David Luiz curled the English champions into an early lead and Hazard increased their advantage.

But Aleksandar Kolarov pulled one back for Roma before the interval and Edin Dzeko equalised with a stunning volley on 64 minutes before his header put the visitors ahead to the disbelief of the home fans in west London.

Hazard’s leveller allowed Chelsea to hold onto top spot in Group C with seven points, two points clear of Roma and five better off than Atletico Madrid.

FIVE ENGLISH CLUBS

Beaten finalists in 2014 and 2016, Atletico could only draw 0-0 away in Azerbaijan against Qarabag, who claimed their first ever Champions League point despite having South African striker Dino Ndlovu sent off late on.

Chelsea’s draw also ensured that the five English clubs in the competition all picked up points this midweek, with United grinding out a 1-0 victory at Benfica to maintain their perfect record in Group A.

Jose Mourinho was returning to Lisbon to face the club where he had a brief spell as coach in 2000 but it was Benfica’s teenage goalkeeper Mile Svilar who stole the headlines.

The 18-year-old Belgian was handed a start to become the youngest ever goalkeeper in the Champions League and was at fault for the only goal of the game.

Chelsea's Belgian midfielder Eden HazardChelsea’s Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard celebrates after scoring during a UEFA Champions league group stage football match between Chelsea and Roma at Stamford Bridge in London on October 18, 2017. PHOTO | ADRIAN DENNIS | AFP

Svilar was caught out when Marcus Rashford delivered a free-kick from wide on the left on 64 minutes and he could only carry the ball over the line.

Benfica’s misery was completed when captain Luisao was sent off in stoppage time.

PERFECT RECORD

Basel, who beat pointless Benfica 5-0 last month, followed that with a 2-0 win at CSKA Moscow, Taulant Xhaka and Dimitri Oberlin scoring for the Swiss champions.

Barcelona still have a perfect record in Group D as they beat Olympiakos 3-1 despite having Gerard Pique sent off in the first half.

Driving rain meant the mostly uncovered 99,000-capacity Camp Nou was largely empty as it opened to fans for the first time since a violent crackdown of an independence referendum in Catalonia on October 1.

Those who did turn out saw Pique stupidly collect a second yellow card for handling the ball into the net late in the first half.

Barca were already ahead at that point from a Dimitrios Nikolaou own goal and they added further goals in the second half with Lionel Messi netting a free-kick — his 100th European goal — and setting up Lucas Digne to score.

Nikolaou pulled one back for the Greeks, who are still pointless.

 NeymarParis Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar (centre) celebrates scoring a goal with teammates Dani Alves (left) and Marco Verratti during the UEFA Champions League Group B football match between RSC Anderlecht and Paris Saint-Germain at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium in Brussels on October 18, 2017. PHOTO | EMMANUEL DUNAND | AFP

Juventus are second in the group after coming from behind to beat Sporting Lisbon 2-1 in Turin, with Miralem Pjanic curling in a free-kick to cancel out Alex Sandro’s own goal and Mario Mandzukic heading in a late winner.

PSG continued their superb start in Europe this season as their ‘MCN’ attack all scored in a 4-0 victory at Anderlecht.

Kylian Mbappe opened the scoring inside two minutes and Edinson Cavani headed in the second before the interval.

Neymar’s free-kick made it three in the second half, with substitute Angel di Maria completing the rout late on.

PSG are top of Group B with nine points, three more than Bayern Munich, who eased to a 3-0 victory over Celtic.

With the 72-year-old Jupp Heynckes back in the dugout, the Germans cruised past their Scottish visitors. Thomas Mueller, Joshua Kimmich and Mats Hummels were all on target.


Jimi Wanjigi comes out of hiding after 72 hours

By BRIAN MOSETI
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Controversial businessman Jimi Wanjigi on Wednesday revealed his close ties with top leaders across the political divide when he re-surfaced  after 72 hours of a police siege at his palatial home in Muthaiga, Nairobi.

He accused the police of harassing his family because of his support for Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga.

He said this decision did not sit well with President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, whom he supported in the 2013 elections.

In a revelation that was hitherto unknown to many Kenyans, Mr Wanjigi revealed that the current regime was formed in his home and that it was the same compound that President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga shook hands as a sign of peace after the disputed 2013 polls.

PERSECUTION

The visibly shaken businessman wondered why a government that he helped form was now out to persecute him despite his house playing host to top leaders in the current government.

“The current regime was actually formed in my home, they have visited and even eaten with me. After the 2013 elections it is in my home where Baba (Raila Odinga) and the President came to and shook hands after the Supreme Court decision,” he said.

This sentiment was corroborated by Mr Odinga who admitted to having been there before.

“Jimi is no stranger to the President. We have been hosted here before, so Uhuru knows what he is doing,” said Mr Odinga.

Mr Wanjigi spoke to press flanked by Nasa leaders outside his home, with his wife holding him.

DESTRUCTION

The main entrance to the house bears witness to the events of the past three days — broken glass, the broken casing of a security camera — evidence of the struggle by police officers to reach the businessman.

Inside the house, a trail of destruction was visible, with Mr Odinga claiming that the police cut electricity wires and interfered with electronics.

Mr Wanjigi denied any links with the weapons found in a house in Malindi alleged to be his, saying all the firearms found in his house were licensed.

However, questions still linger over the licensing of weapons, in particular, an M4 (a military-grade rifle), which were found in his Muthaiga home.

FIVE PISTOLS

Police said they found the M4, five pistols and a shotgun at Mr Wanjigi’s Muthaiga home in Nairobi. They said they were hoping to find documents with information on importation and use of the weapons.

“The siege on my house was unjustified. My family need not have gone through it. I am innocent. What the police are saying is total fabrication. The guns found in a house in Malindi are a mystery to us, we don’t know what they are talking about,” he said.

 Mr Odinga alleged that the weapons found in the Malindi house were placed there by police.

“Those weapons were caught in the hands of other people in 2012. Check your archives and you will notice that those weapons were put there,” he said.

The raid was conducted by officers from the General Service Unit, Directorate of Criminal Investigations and Special Crimes Prevention Unit.

He said that one of the police officers who raided his house assaulted his wife when she tried to record what they were doing.

The opposition leader accused the State of having gone rogue and wanting to take the country back to a dark time.

Nasa leaders said that they were moving to court to file a case of contempt of court against the Inspector General of police and the Director of Public Prosecutions for failing to stop the raid after a court order was obtained to stop the search on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, there was still little activity at two other premises belonging to Mr Wanjigi, with police presence high.

The Caramel Lounge and Restaurant and Kwacha House, both in Westlands, have remained restricted with the media not allowed access them, as General Service Unit officers are in command of the premises.

A spot check by the Nation at Kwacha House revealed it is highly guarded, with both detectives and GSU officers in the compound and many cars present at the house located on the dusty General Mathenge Road.

CARAMEL LOUNGE

The detectives in civilian clothes could be seen entering and leaving the compound in their cars. The police did not respond to questions from journalists, who were told to be at least five metres from the gate.

Only the staff working at the firm were allowed in.

At around 10am, a contingent of 10 GSU officers arrived at the compound aboard a white police Land Cruiser but after about an hour, most of the officers left and only two remained at the gate, with guards from a private security firm that has since taken control of the gate, ushering visitors in and out.

At ABC Place, where the Caramel Lounge is, guards manning the building’s main entrance demanded that journalists get in touch with the restaurant’s management to get official communication before they are allowed in.

Additional reporting by Collins Omulo


Prepare for major demos on October 26, say Nasa leaders

By SILAS APOLLO
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By DAVID MWERE
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Nasa leaders on Wednesday vowed that there will be no fresh presidential election on October 26 as they rallied their supporters from the previous “no reforms, no election” clarion call to “October no election”.

Addressing a public rally on Wednesday at Kamukunji grounds, Nasa leaders Mr Raila Odinga, Mr Musalia Mudavadi, Mr Moses Wetang’ula and a host of MPs, told their supporters to prepare for major demonstrations across the country on October 26.

The opposition leaders said there will be no election until their 12-point “irreducible minimums” presented to the electoral commission are addressed and said what will happen on October 26 will be an opinion poll of Jubilee supporters.

“The Supreme Court said the election must be conducted in line with the Constitution and the relevant laws. Our 12-point irreducible minimums were crafted from the court ruling. We have continued to negotiate with the IEBC for the fulfilment of our demands but to no avail,” said Mr Odinga, noting that Nasa will not tire of pushing for changes at the commission.

RESIGNATION

Mr Odinga also said the resignation of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission commissioner Roselyn Akombe was a clear indication that the commission was rotten and urged its chairman Wafula Chebukati to follow suit, saying he had ceded control of the agency to State House.

“This agency has been held hostage by Jubilee. This is the reason Ms Akombe resigned saying that the chairman is under siege. They (Jubilee and IEBC) are saying that my name must be on the ballot but I say no,” he said.

On Mr Chebukati’s continued stay in office, Mr Wetang’ula said: “If the alligator comes from the water and tells you that the crocodile is sick, you better believe it. It is time for you to leave.” He said this in reference to the resignation of Ms Akombe.

“Ms Akombe said there is a problem. Today you have spoken, you have moved but not moved enough. Nobody remembers those who served under your predecessors- the late Zacchaeus Chesoni, and Samuel Kivuitu and Issack Hassan,” he added.

SUPREME COURT

Nasa is pushing for the removal from office of the commission’s CEO Ezra Chiloba, director of elections Immaculate Kassait among others for their roles in the August 8 presidential election that was nullified by the Supreme Court.

“That is why we must go to the drawing board to rectify the issues affecting the commission so that we can have a country governed by the people not where leaders impose themselves on the people,” said Mr Odinga.

Mr Odinga told President Uhuru Kenyatta that he had seen worse days under the previous regimes.

“If we didn’t fear detention at the time the country had punitive laws against those fighting for their rights, we will not fear now. Kenyans will not accept the rule of the jungle to be imposed on them. There is a Constitution that must be respected,” he said.

A visibly charged Mr Odinga told President Kenyatta to respect Kenyans and the Judiciary, adding that he should desist from “using the Inspector-General of police Joseph Boinnet to kill and maim Kenyans”.

“Mr Boinnet has become the butcher- man of the people of Kenya but we will not accept it,” he said noting that the victims of police brutality will be remembered on October 20, a national holiday reserved to commemorate those who fought for independence.

Mr Mudavadi said Ms Akombe’s resignation had exposed Mr Chebukati.

“Mr Chebukati, the message is so crystal clear. This people will not change, they are putting you in a corner and when the time comes, you will be left alone. Don’t be used to commit treasonable acts,” he said.

He told President Kenyatta he will one day be called to account for injustices committed against Kenyans.


IEBC: Leaders must talk to resolve crisis

By EDITORIAL
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Electoral commission chairman Wafula Chebukati’s candid exposition of the sad status of affairs at the agency gives some compelling reasons for serious reflections on the fresh presidential poll slated for next week.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is beset by numerous challenges — administrative, legal, technical, and political.

Whereas most of these are within the purview of the IEBC itself and can be managed reasonably quickly, the political one is well beyond the province of the agency, and yet it has the greatest impact.

Politicians have infiltrated the commission and held the secretariat staff and the commissioners hostage.

Decisions are made based on the political interests of the external players, terribly undermining the professional performance of the commission.

PUNCHING BAG

Politicians from both the government and the opposition have turned the IEBC into a punching bag.

They routinely attack, threaten and malign election officials with the express goal of forcing them to kowtow to their sinister designs.

It is not lost on fellow citizens that when she resigned, commissioner Roselyn Akombe categorically stated that the commission is divided right down the middle.

Commissioners and staff, she added, are living under threat and that the agency is not fully prepared for the election. Opinions may differ on this, but it is an indicator, nonetheless that things are not looking rosy.

Precisely, this is the reason Mr Chebukati first directed the politicians to keep off the IEBC, and two, called President Uhuru Kenyatta and National Super Alliance leader Raila Odinga for an urgent meeting to resolve the stand-off.

STRONG EGOS

The biggest problem is that the two leaders are driven by strong egos and egged on by stubborn cheer-leaders hellbent on brinkmanship.

We concur with the chairman, as he rightly put the blame where it belongs. It is about politicians engaging in reckless activities that stand to undermine the elections and render the outcome unacceptable.

Yet given the delicate political environment and fear of an implosion, it makes a lot of sense for the two leaders to agree to a joint meeting to thrash out some contentious matters.

It is never a show of weakness or failure for a leader to humble himself or herself and talk with an opponent.

The stability and future of the nation depends on the leaders. The issues under contention are not beyond their capability to resolve.

So it defeats reason that they cannot meet to discuss and resolve them. It would be a mark of maturity, patriotism and selflessness for them to do so.

DISRUPTING TRAINING

But politics has lately taken an even more worrying dimension. In some counties, residents have taken to disrupting trainings for election officials and threatening to attack them should they go ahead to administer the presidential election next week.

Not only is this criminal, but it sets a dangerous precedent that is likely to destabilise elections now and in future.

It also poses a grave security threat, entrenches a culture of lawlessness and is bound to be a serious disenfranchisement of citizens keen on casting their ballots.

CREDIBLE ELECTION

Those driving this nefarious campaign must be stopped in their tracks.

Even so, Mr Chebukati cannot run away from the fact that he must tackle the administrative and operational challenges at the commission.

The responsibility to deliver a credible election rests with him; he must live up to his oath of office.

It is not too late to redeem the situation, though. President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga must just agree to meet and talk and unlock the impasse that threatens the forthcoming election and the country’s stability.


Why morality is the precursor of justice

By ELIAS MOKUA
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Yes, even in politics, there is a big difference between being legally right and morally right. It means that one can be legally right but morally wrong. Yet, morality is the precursor of justice. Seeking legal right without morality is a waste of energy, resources and time because the end result is always futile.

This is where we have confusion in our political set-up. There is so much effort by both Jubilee and Nasa to get their act legally right. But nothing, if at all, is given to us in terms of moral righteousness in reducing the political tension threatening our peaceful existence.

What is to be legally right? We need law and order to govern ourselves. Every society has its mechanisms for creating and sustaining its system of governance as well as the conduct of leaders.

We have a Constitution — unfortunately, the preserve of a few legal minds — that we fall back on when need arises.

ELECTION CAMPAIGNS

One lesson we can learn from this year’s election campaigns from the party nominations, the emergence of independents — oh yes, are there independents still? — to the August 8 elections and now the repeat presidential election, is that our political elite operate best within “legal frameworks”.

Just like people convicted of crimes they never committed, there is much ambiguity in the legal goings on from both Jubilee and Nasa, aiming to “right the wrongs” committed in the August 8 elections.

And, indeed, both are entitled to seek legal redress. However, good systems of governance are not just about “righting wrongs” in courts and in the Legislature.

It is not simply about getting oneself power. Politics must embrace morals, and, therefore, justice, to right wrongs.

LEGAL CORRECTNESS

Legal redress should not be merely about fulfilling the law without considering, as well, moral implications. Justice transcends legal correctness.

One reason great leaders such as Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and Nelson Mandela hold a lasting legacy in world history is because of their prioritisation of moral obligation above legal duty. For Mwalimu Nyerere, much as the Ujamaa philosophy failed, many still find his spirit of national unity and the Tanzanians’ care for one another a legacy to bequeath to future generations.

Nelson Mandela’s fight against apartheid had everything to do with his inner moral drive than just raw political ambition.

As the president, he would have easily imprisoned many of the white supremacists in South Africa who tormented the blacks for decades.

Yet, he rode on moral righteousness to call for reconciliation and understanding. He left the presidency after one term when he had a chance to rule till death.

Morality is a component of maturity in politics. Kenyans are not looking for legally correct persons to lead them. We want leaders who will fight corruption, nepotism, improve government services and be accountable to the citizens. Kenyans are after a leader who has a conscience and knows that power is exercised on behalf of the people and not against the people. 

Reading about political happenings in the media, one gets the impression that we lack capacity in self-governance. Let us not hide under the cover of “politics is dirty” to deny ourselves political decency.

It really does not matter what political party one supports. What is important is the collective value we derive by co-existing. This is a choice each Kenyan has to make. Party loyalty is a means to an end.

In sum, political legalism should not be allowed to supersede political morality. After all, we are largely a God-fearing people. Let us not a shame our God.


Safe alcohol good for health, income

By JANE KARUKU
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Evelyne Naipona, a mother of four, was a small-time shopkeeper four years ago struggling to put food on the table.

As she toiled to provide for her family in Olchorro in Narok County, she harboured a burning ambition to join her husband, Isaac Lemein, in barley farming. Evelyne had seen many of her neighbours growing barley send their children to school, build permanent homes and generally improve their standard of living.

She closed her shop to join her husband in their smallholder-contracted barley farming. It was a leap of faith, but today, she not only farms several hundred acres of barley, but she also owns a tractor, providing her with an extra income.

She is one of more than 30,000 farmers across the country who last year earned Sh2.2 billion from barley. Evelyne’s story came to mind as the 47 governors were taking their oaths of office.

HIGHER PAY

There are high expectations that the leaders will make an impact on the lives of ordinary Kenyans. The quest for change at the grassroots saw 27 new governors elected on August 8, yet the challenge of governing and delivering services is only getting harder.

The demand for higher pay by teachers, nurses and other civil servants will continue as the counties face additional pressures to deliver services.

According to the United Nations Development Fund, nearly four out of 10 Kenyans have no jobs, and worse still, they do not have the level of skills to make them marketable.

The UN Population Division, in its 2017 edition, forecasts that Kenya will have a nearly constant population of 10 million youth aged between 20 and 30 from 2015 to 2030.

The unemployment problem is compounded by the challenge of millions of low-skilled, idle, and disgruntled young men open to the influences of petty crime or radicalisation.

TOUGH CHOICES

In the next five years, counties will face budgetary squeezes that will force them to make tough choices. The big question is how do we solve the leadership and money questions in dealing with economic and social development challenges counties ought to handle urgently but cannot afford?

This is where the private sector comes in through partnership. As a company with strong roots that go back to 1922, Kenya Breweries has been a strong catalyst for economic, social and cultural development. A couple of years ago, the country faced a serious crisis of illicit alcohol. Families watched helplessly as their sons and daughters were wasted by unsafe illicit alcohol.

A solution to this crisis was needed. In collaboration with the National Treasury and the Ministry of Health, we found the answer in a sorghum-based value drink.

The beer now known as Senator Keg was priced to be affordable to the masses, while meeting the highest hygiene standards.

ILLICIT ALCOHOL

It became an instant hit and has over the past decade continued to fulfil its social mission of reducing the consumption of illicit alcohol, creating jobs, contributing to the growth of excise taxes, investor revenues and profits.

According to a recent study by McKinsey, a global management consulting firm, with every 39,000 litres of pure alcohol switched from the informal to formal market, a life is saved.

The study also found that more than 80,000 businesses are in one way or the other, dependent on KBL.

Together with farmers, transporters, distributors, stockists and bar owners, we have touched the lives of 1.8 million people.

We see major opportunities in our partnerships with the county governments, starting with the commitments we made in July to reopen our Kisumu factory.

INDIRECT JOBS

This will see KBL invest Sh15 billion, which will benefit 15,000 sorghum farmers and lead to the creation of 100,000 indirect jobs in farming, distribution, and retail, and increase taxation by Sh3 billion.

Our view is that the full potential for industry, the government and society has not been reached as 40 to 65 per cent of the alcohol sold is in the informal segment of the market.

This has a potential negative impact on health, industrial growth and government revenue. 

We are working closely with county governments to involve more communities in our value chain and ensure that we buy 100 per cent of our raw materials locally.

PREDICTABLE POLICY

However, for this to work, national and county governments should institute measures to focus on initiatives that benefit communities.

We look forward to an environment of predictable policy and a regulatory environment to allow us to plan our investment over the long term.


A deeply tense Kenya should remember Wangari Maathai

By CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO
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A few days ago, a conversation with a Kenyan activist took me to a very strange place.

With Kenya in the throes of a seemingly endless election cycle, one question was what would be the legacy of President Uhuru Kenyatta (or of his first term if he won a second one).

To explain the strange ways in which a legacy works, we ended up talking about Prof Wangari Maathai, partly because the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), had just been announced as the winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

Wangari Maathai, who died in September 2011, won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.

WANGARI MAATHAI

Given her larger than life image in the environmental and Kenyan democracy movements, there were some who thought that in appointing her as assistant minister for Environment and Natural Resources, President Mwai Kibaki had given Wangari Maathai a “ka small thing”. She deserved to be full minister.

For her part, she carried on with the job with energy and good spirit. Why did she? That is where the story got very interesting.

When Wangari Maathai became a minister, she chose a seemingly strange and obscure battle — to change the font size and spacing of official government documents.

Most people wouldn’t think that is how to gain fame.

OFFICIAL COMMUNICATION

When the Kibaki  government took office, long-standing tradition had been to write official communication in either Size 14 or 16 font (letter type) size, and the gap between the lines was one-and-a-half or two spaces.

A lot of money and bureaucratic fortunes hang on these seemingly mundane things.

There is, for example, the old-fashioned and erroneous view that the bigger a report, the more serious and comprehensive it is.

Thus, a 50-page report which is printed in Size 10 font, and single space, could become a meaty 125-page product printed at Size 15 font and double spaced.

If your ream of printing paper has 250 sheets, it will give you only two copies of the report printed on one face.

For the small stationery shop that has a contract to supply printing paper to the ministry, the big fonts and double spaces are big business.

If just 10 copies of the report were printed, it would sell five reams of paper.

But there was another even harder shilling face to it.

INCREASE MARGINS

If the government set up a committee to investigate, say,  cattle rustling in Turkana, and it produced a 25-page report because it was in point 10 size font, it would be deemed not to have done its work.

It might be that the committee spent some Sh50 million.

Burning all that for a 25-pager, would bring howls of protest, and the waste and corruption would become a big story in the media.

However, just increasing the margins, going to font 16 and slapping a huge space between the lines would bring the same report close to 100 pages.

Now that would be considered “substantial”.

If the committee ate Sh40 million and only used Sh10 million, it would get roasted over the small report.

But by just increasing the size and space of the letters, it would get praise instead. Letter size was, therefore, a big deal.

Wangari Maathai, being a top environmentalist, wanted to save on the amount of paper the government uses, because it would translate into fewer trees somewhere being cut down to make them.

Therefore, Wangari Maathai chose to reduce the official letter font and spaces in government documents, and also pushed a policy to print on both sides of a paper.

My activist friend tells me many of her colleagues were bemused, and others dismissive.

POLITICAL SUPPORT

They thought that it was just another of Wangari Maathai’s quixotic green pursuits.

One man, President Kibaki, was sufficiently intrigued by the eccentricity of it, and offered the political support that made it possible.

Today, government documents are printed in sensible 10 or 12 font size, with single spacing.

Most people have forgotten, or don’t know that there was a time when the story was different.

“It was easily the most radical thing to happen in the Kenyan Government in over a decade, and something that endures today,” he said. “The trees that didn’t die, the savings that were made were enormous. But no one thinks about it and it will never make it into the history books.

“That,” he said, “is a legacy”.

The author is publisher of Africa data visualiser Africapedia.com and explainer site Roguechiefs.com. [email protected] 


President Kenyatta rules out talks with Raila on repeat poll

By NATION TEAM
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President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have ruled out talks with the opposition on the repeat presidential election, saying Jubilee is ready for next week’s poll.

At the same time, the President warned individuals planning to disrupt next week’s repeat election that they will face the law, as he condemned attacks on electoral commission officials across the country.

Addressing rallies in Trans Nzoia, Baringo and Laikipia counties, the Jubilee leaders dismissed National Super Alliance (Nasa) leader Raila Odinga’s call for a meeting to discuss changes at the electoral commission before the repeat poll.

“We are ready for the election set for October 26 and I will not hold talks with anyone,” President Kenyatta told hundreds of supporters in Kabarnet.

“The only talks I will hold are with the people of Kenya, going to the voters to ask for votes. The IEBC (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission) has been supported by taxpayers with Sh12 billion and their job is to organise elections and not to hold dialogue with anyone,” he said.

The President added: “I heard that they (opposition) want to have talks with me. I have no time for such talks. If Raila is not ready to vote on October 26, then he can go and sleep in his house and leave alone Kenyans who are ready to exercise their democratic rights.”

During a Jubilee rally in Nanyuki, Laikipia County, on Wednesday, President Kenyatta warned: “Anyone who will attempt to disrupt the election or beat election officials will be dealt with regardless of their position. You cannot stop a democratic process.”

He added: “We cannot allow a few individuals to destroy our country.”

OFFICIALS ATTACKED

He cited incidents where IEBC officials were attacked while conducting training for the coming poll.

The President accused Mr Odinga of instigating the attacks, adding that the opposition was free to withdraw from the election but not to disrupt polling.

“Mr Odinga, we have respected your decision to keep off the election. Why do you think you have a right to deny Kenyans a chance to vote?” he asked.

The Head of State said the security of IEBC staff will not be compromised and they should be allowed to do their work without intimidation.

The President spoke shortly after mobs stormed areas in Kisumu and Vihiga where election officials were holding training workshops ahead of the election.

In Kisumu, a training session at the county’s Huduma Centre was disrupted after youths stormed it and vandalised chairs and tents.

RESIGNATION

In her resignation statement Wednesday, Dr Roselyn Akombe, who was a commissioner, cited fears that the IEBC staff had, especially over attacks during training sessions. She referred to attacks that saw staff sustain injuries in Mumias, Bungoma, Homa Bay, Siaya, and Kisumu during training.

In Nanyuki, Deputy President William Ruto said the October 26 election was unstoppable, whether IEBC commissioners resign or not.

“They can call press conferences as they want and resign as they desire but we must go to the polls,” he said.

The DP insisted that there are schemes by the opposition to destroy the country. He said it is time the country moved on.

“Kenya cannot be stopped from moving forward because of people who are not interested in development of the nation. We have said enough is enough of these games, schemes and rackets,” Mr Ruto told Jubilee supporters during the Nanyuki rally.

He warned Nasa leaders against going back to the streets with demands on reforms at the IEBC while their candidate, Mr Odinga, had withdrawn from the election.

Reported by Grace Gitau, Gerald Bwisa, Florah Koech and Mwangi Ndirangu


Keep off IEBC, Chebukati tells Uhuru and Raila

By PATRICK LANG’AT
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By BERNARD NAMUNANE
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Electoral commission chief Wafula Chebukati on Wednesday cast doubts on the possibility of holding credible elections next week, blaming it on a sharply divided commission and a creepy political class.

Mr Chebukati, who said he would not quit his job, asked both Jubilee and opposition coalition leaders to keep off Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) staff,  and told top secretariat managers who have been adversely linked to electoral malpractices to resign, to pave the way for free, fair and credible elections.

He painted the picture of a commission which is deeply divided, and which has been taken hostage by political interests, with commissioners acting as stooges of rival political parties.

“Under such conditions, it is difficult to guarantee free, fair and credible elections. I am convinced that without critical changes in key secretariat staff, we may not have a free, fair and credible election. I ask the staff who have been adversely mentioned to step aside and allow the project team to function without interference,” he said, referring to a group of managers he recently mandated to manage the October 26 presidential election.

Mr Chebukati said he would organise a meeting of all the presidential candidates to prevail upon them to put Kenya first.

“I know there are elements who would love nothing more than to hear me announce my resignation at this point. In reality, that will be the easier thing to do, but we all have to put Kenya first and that is why I am determined to make this commission work,” the besieged chairman told journalists at the Bomas of Kenya.

He spoke just eight hours after commissioner Roselyn Akombe, the vocal official in charge of election operations, fled the country and resigned while in New York, USA.

“She was one of our finest and it is sad that we could not provide an environment for such minds to find full expression without fear for their lives,” Mr Chebukati said and urged Jubilee and Nasa leaders to shelve their hardline stances and resolve the differences that have led to heightened tensions across the country, in addition to holding the commission hostage to their interests. He asked the leaders to allow the commission to conduct its affairs independently, saying it was the only way to a free and fair election.

“As a referee I want to issue a stern warning to the players in this game on all sides that they should stop all attempts to interfere with the process. Let me and my commission do our job and we shall deliver. Interfere as you have been doing and we get stuck as a country,” he said.

In her resignation letter, Dr Akombe blamed a divided commission that she said had made her take positions she never believed in.

“Sometimes, you walk away, especially when potentially lives are at stake. The commission has become a party to the current crisis. The commission is under siege,” she said in a statement she sent out at 5.30 am.

The last straw that broke the camel’s back, she told the BBC in an interview, was when she received threats on her life.

“I have never felt the kind of fear I felt in my own country.  If you get such messages and you have seen your own staff get that and be murdered, you would really be suicidal to think that nothing will happen to you,” she said, adding that she feared for her life and that “I don’t feel safe enough to go back home”.

She described Mr Chebukati as well-meaning with a temperament to run the agency, but one who needed to be a little firmer.

“If he was much more firmer (sic), I think, probably, we would have gone further, but you know there are aspects of his character that are helpful in a situation like we have right now but there are times that you just need firmness to be able to move on,” she said.

Eight hours later, Mr Chebukati, accompanied by motivational speaker Wale Akinyemi, emerged and echoed Dr Akombe’s description of the commission as deeply divided.

“I have made several attempts to make crucial changes, but all my motions have been defeated by a majority of the commissioners. Under such conditions, it is difficult to guarantee free, fair and credible elections,” he said.

He warned that he would no longer give in to pressure from a majority of the commissioners to accept partisan decisions.

LEGAL OPINIONS

“I cannot continue to be pushed by majority commissioners to accept legal opinions that serve partisan interests and are not grounded on the Constitution or the law,” he said.

Save for the October 26 project team members Salome Oyugi, Sidney Namulungu and Tabitha Mutemi, no commissioner accompanied Mr Chebukati at the press conference.

He said he had been forced to take a legal opinion from the commissioners — all of whom are not lawyers — against his better judgment as an advocate of more than 30 years.

DIVIDED COMMISSION

“I cannot move forward with a divided commission. I cannot move forward when presidential candidates refuse to put their personal interests aside for the country,” he said, adding that the technical aspects of the polls were ready, citing the standardisation of results declaration forms, printing of ballot papers, re-configuration of technology to right the August 8 errors, training for returning officers and improving network coverage in polling stations to guarantee fast and reliable results transmission.

Quoting former UN head Ban Ki-moon, Mr Chebukati said, however: “Conducting genuine elections requires more than improving technicalities or comparing processes against international practice. Elections are fundamentally political rather than technical events and are not an end to themselves.” For such a free and fair poll to occur, Mr Chebukati said, key secretariat staff adversely mentioned as having overseen the August 8 election irregularities should step aside.


Former PCEA head denies Sh40m theft charge

By ERIC WAINAINA
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Former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian  Church of East Africa David Riitho Gathanju and four former employees of the church have been charged with stealing close to Sh40 million in a case that is now threatening to split the church.

Rev Gathanju, who served as the Moderator between 2009 and 2015, and James Muiruri, Esther Wanjiku, Peter Mwangi and Stephen Kamau have also been charged with another count of conspiring to commit a felony against the church.

Four of the defendants denied the counts before Kiambu Principal Magistrate Stella Atambo on Wednesday.

Mr Muiruri, who was not in court  because he was said to be unwell, had his plea deferred to Monday.

According to the charge sheet, on different dates between January 2, 2016, and June 30, 2017, at the church head office in South C, Nairobi, the five, being servants of the PCEA church, jointly with others not before court, stole Sh39.9 million.

The money was the property of the church and had come to their possession by the virtue of their employment.  

In the other count, the five were charged with conspiring to commit a felony, namely to steal from the PCEA church, on the same dates and location.

Rev Peter Kania Kariuki has been listed as the complainant for the church which on Wednesday placed a public notice in the local dailies with photos of Mr Muiruri, Ms Wanjiku, Mr Mwangi and Mr Muhoro, indicating that they were no longer working for the church.

Rev Gathanju was represented by retired High Court Judge Robert Mutitu, who is a member of the church, while Ms Wanjiku, Mr Mwangi and Mr Muhoro were represented by Mr Dunstan Omari.

The two lawyers unsuccessfully asked Ms Atambo to defer the case to allow the church to arbitrate, warning that it is likely to split church members and cause irreversible damage.

Mr Mutitu said the matter is already being investigated by an ad-hoc committee of the church following instructions from the church business committee in May and, therefore, they should be allowed to first exhaust all the church conflict resolution mechanisms  as is the practice and procedure.

Ms Atambo ordered that the accused be detained until Thursday when she will make a determination on whether they will be freed on bail.