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Sunday, January 7th, 2018


Number of suspected cholera cases in Yemen passes one million

Cholera Situation Update:

The cumulative total of suspected cholera cases reported since 27th April 2017, reached 1,005,207 as of 24 December 2017, with 2,229 associated deaths reported across the country, the overall case fatality rate is 0.22%.

● Most vulnerable age group and areas: Children under the age of 5 years represent 28.4 % of the cases. People over the age of 60 continue to account for the highest percentage of deaths 31.16%. 22 out of 23 governorates are affected representing 96%. 92% percent of districts are affected, 305 out of 333 districts in-country.

● Attack rate: The national attack rate continues to increase reporting 364.99 per 10,000. The five governorates with the highest cumulative attack rates per 10,000 are Amran, Al Mahwit, Al Dhale’e, Abyan and Hajja. As of week (51), there were 6,794 suspected cases reported and 1 associated deaths with 10% of the cases reported severe.

● Testing of samples: Use of rapid diagnostic test has increased since week 40, 586 RDTs were conducted in week 51 with 104 positive RDTs • Decreased cases, continued vigilance: Though the reported numbers for suspected cases of cholera are decreasing, the event is still being closely monitored, paying close attention to surges in numbers particularly when the rainy season begins.

● Dehydration treatment centres: As the MoPHP continues to lead, in close collaboration with WHO and partners, the support of dehydration treatment centres (DTCs) all over the country still continues

● Lab systems strengthening: Still ongoing is the support to strengthen laboratory sampling and diagnostics in-country (i.e. collection of stool samples for lab testing, transporting samples to lab and provision of operational costs), and availability of supplies and reagents.

● Continued surveillance: Disease surveillance as well as detection and treatment activities are still ongoing.

Diphtheria Outbreak:

As per the diphtheria report dated 24 December from the MoPHP, the suspected diphtheria cases are 381, including 38 associated deaths–the outbreak is currently affecting 18 governorates. As of week, 51–the vast majority of cases were reported from Ibb governorates (211) cases specifically from (Assadah, Yareem and Rural Ibb districts), followed by Al Hudaydah (38) cases, Aden (29) cases and Dhamar (19). Most of deaths cases were reported from Ibb (13 deaths) followed by Al Hudaydah (8 deaths), 3 deaths from Amran and Dhamar (2), Abyan (2) Aden (2), Taiz (3) and Hajjah (2), Aljawf (1) and, Sa’adah (1). Reported cases have made the first peak on week 38 (21 cases) and on week 44 (28 cases) onwards continued with more or less 20 cases, but started a sharp increase on week 48 (51 cases) followed by a decline to 38 cases on week 49.

Wycliffe Oparanya trains eyes on 2022 top seat contest

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Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya is emerging as one of the county bosses keen on ascending to the highest office of the land in 2022.

Mr Oparanya, who, after his victory in the August 8 General Election spelt out his agenda to his supporters for the next five years, further announced he would be going for a bigger post at the national level after completing his final term.

He pledged to ensure all projects he initiated were completed before exiting the county leadership to try his luck in national politics.

And the former Planning minister appears to have kicked off a quiet, behind-the-scenes campaign in preparation for the 2022 Presidential contest.

“My dream is to leave Kakamega a better place than I found it after I was elected the first governor of the county,” Mr Oparanya said after being sworn into office.

But the sailing into national politics for the county boss could turn out to be bumpy and unpredictable.

Unlike at the county level, Mr Oparanya will be called upon to mobilize resources for the tough battle ahead and carefully plan his campaigns to be able to attract support from the different regions.

Additionally, he will be competing for the same home support with more experienced rivals like Mr Musalia Mudavadi, the leader of ANC and Mr Moses Wetang’ula of Ford Kenya.

Mr Oparanya’s party ODM, where he is deputy party leader, lost ground in the region during the elections.


In the last two months, speculation has been rife that the county boss was positioning himself to be Deputy President William Ruto’s running mate in 2022.

Mr Oparanya has, however, denied such an arrangement and ruled out plans to join Jubilee saying he was happy to be in the Opposition.

“I won the election resoundingly on August 8, 2017. I have no plans to join Jubilee since those defecting to the party lost in the elections. I have not held any secret meetings with the DP to discuss being his running mate in 2022,” said the governor.

His critics, who include former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale, have accused him of being lukewarm in organizing and taking part in protests against the Jubilee administration in the region.

But Mr Oparanya, in response, said the accusations amounted to  witch-hunt: “There are things I cannot do as your governor and those who expect me to join protests and to demonstrate my support for the opposition are mistaken.”

He adds; “They have even tried to sour my relationship with ODM party leader Raila Odinga but I want to tell them to stop wasting their time.”

The governor adds that the “rumours” were meant to hurt his future presidential ambitions.

Mr Oparanya’s development scorecard propelled him to a resounding victory in the August 8 polls against his opponents who included Dr Khalwale.

During his first term in office, the governor focused on putting in place structures that would provide a plank for his development agenda and re-election.

The tarmacking of key rural roads and rehabilitation of infrastructure in the county including modern markets in the twelve sub-counties could serve as a major boost to the county chief in his campaign for the State House job.

Other key projects Mr Oparanya initiated in his first term include the rehabilitation of Bukhungu stadium into a modern sports facility at a cost of Sh1 billion, the ongoing construction of the County Teaching and Referral hospital at cost of Sh6 billion.


His supporters  say his performance in the last four years had shown he had the potential of delivering  at the national level if elected president.

Exuding confidence, Mr Oparanya said he had gained invaluable experience when he served as Planning Minister during President Kibaki’s administration.

“I decided to contest the governorship seat because of the vast experience I had gained as Planning Minister. It has not been easy actualising my dream to transform livelihoods in Kakamega by addressing rampant poverty in rural communities,” said Mr Oparanya.

The county chief says he has benefitted a lot by working closely with opposition leader Raila Odinga and hopes to step into his (Raila’s) shoes when he retires from politics.

Morally, intellectually corrupt politics causes countries’ ruin

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It has become increasingly difficult for me to argue rationally with people who are of the Jubilee persuasion about why this country is headed towards a sharp decline economically, politically and, importantly, socially.

Their default position on every argument I make is that Raila Odinga and Nasa are not any better than what we now have, and so we should let the status quo remain.

Demonising Raila and Nasa is their way of diverting attention from the issues at stake. When tribe is (explicitly or subtly) factored in, the argument leads nowhere.

I have no rosy illusions about Raila’s or Nasa’s ability to get the country moving on the right path; I am not so naïve to believe that Kenya under their leadership will become a better place overnight. But I do know one thing: The path we are on is treacherous and could lead to the country’s ruin.

A recent article by the American author James Traub that was published in Foreign Policy explains how even the most powerful and politically stable countries can collapse when decadence and depravity become the norm.


Traub predicts that, like the once-mighty Roman Empire, the United States will lose its power, thanks to a decadent elite that licenses degraded behaviour. Under President Donald Trump xenophobia, misogyny and racism have become normalised and narcissism and self-interest have replaced altruism and cooperation, he says.

“Perhaps in a democracy the distinctive feature of decadence is not debauchery but terminal self-absorption—the loss of the capacity for collective action, the belief in common purpose, even the acceptance of a common form of reasoning,” writes Traub.

Another characteristic of societies that are on the verge of collapse is extreme inequality. Almost all revolutions in history came about because the toiling masses were fed up with a self-absorbed minority elite that hoarded the society’s resources for its own benefit rather that of the majority.

There are many similarities between what is happening in the US and what we are experiencing.


In the US, those who question the Trump administration are dismissed as pessimistic cynics who do not understand the government’s “transformative development agenda”. The US president dismisses any report that he does not like or which is critical of his policies as “fake news”, which he counters by employing an army of propagandists.

Traub describes this mentality thus: “Your story fights my story; if I can enlist more people on the side of my story, I own the truth.” Owning “the truth” means distorting facts so that they suit Trump’s personal and political interests. Under Trump, scientific evidence has become a dirty term and journalists are vilified and called liars. Climate change is no longer a reality — it is just a figment of the opposition’s imagination.

Similarly, in Kenya, we refuse to critically examine the Jubilee administration’s debt love affair with China, which could have dire economic consequences; nor are we willing to acknowledge that a two-tribe oligarchy at the helm of national affairs can sow the seeds of discord and disunity and, perhaps, even lead to the fragmentation of the country.


We do not question why people who have been implicated in mega corruption scandals are now running counties or why the “Githeri Man” receives State honours while our world-famous athletes have to use their own resources to compete because funds assigned to them are stolen by those in charge of their welfare.

We do not ask church leaders why they accept donations from corrupt politicians, nor do we question leaders who spend millions of shillings in public funds on unnecessary self-promoting junkets while there are millions of people in the country who do not have enough food for their families.


Our society is fragmenting in other ways too: Before, only some government departments demanded bribes before rendering a service; now, despite — or, maybe, because of — digitisation, asking for bribes has become near-universal if the reports that I hear are true.

And when the majority of youth in the country, as a recent survey showed, say that their ambition is to become rich and that they don’t care if they use corrupt or criminal means to achieve this, you know that decadence has set in.

Traub, who has penned several books on world affairs, says a democratic society becomes decadent when its politics becomes morally and intellectually corrupt. I am afraid Kenya may be headed that way.

We deserve better, women tell President Kenyatta

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The Federation of Women Lawyers has accused President Uhuru Kenyatta of treating women as ‘second class citizens’ after he failed to name any of them in his first batch of nine members of the Cabinet.

Fida said that in retaining only six men in his Cabinet, and naming three more as new entrants, he had failed to acknowledge the contribution women had made to the nation in the Cabinet.

“We are really upset,” Josephine Mong’are of Fida-Kenya told the Nation on Sunday.

“The President is treating women of Kenya as if they are second class citizens. Even if they will be in another list, it is the second list.”

Women who were in President Kenyatta’s Cabinet were Amina Mohammed (Foreign Affairs and Trade), Raychelle Omamo (Defence), Phyllis Kandie (East African Community, Labour and Social Protection), Sicily Kariuki (Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs), and Judi Wakhungu (Environment).


In naming his Cabinet on Friday, President Kenyatta only retained Dr Fred Matiang’i (Interior), Charles Keter (Energy), James Macharia (Transport), Joe Mucheru (Information, Communication and technology), Henry Rotich (National Treasury) and Najib Balala (Tourism).

Those President Kenyatta added to his list are former Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko, former Marsabit Governor Ukur Yatani, and former Turkana Senator John Munyes to complete the first batch of nine CSs — all men.

Like the eight men who are said not to have been expressly retained, the five women have been put in abeyance, unsure of their fate.


“Appointments should comply with the not-more-than-two-thirds gender principle at all levels. Affirmative action should be used where fair competition and merit fails to bring this desired result,” Dr Florence Wachira, the National Gender Equality Commission member, said in an advisory opinion.

Ms Mong’are said that while they could not question the move by President Kenyatta not to have any woman in the list of six ministers he retained, he should have named some in the list of new entrants.

“As he appointed Tobiko, Yatani and Munyes, he should have named at least a woman too,” she said.

“But he has 22 slots to fill, with nine already filled. We hope he gives the 13 remaining to women.”

KRA in battle for Sh2.6bn tax from sugar importer

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A titanic legal battle in which a sugar importer is asking to be allowed to bring in 40,000 tonnes of sugar duty free is heading back to the courts in Mombasa on Monday.

The case, in which the Kenya Revenue Authority is seeking to collect Sh2.6 billion in taxes, has already been through the hands of two High Court judges.

The dispute arises from the decision mid-last year — at the height of the drought and maize flour crisis — to allow the duty free importation of maize, milk as well as sugar to alleviate shortages.

Sugar traders were allowed to bring in the commodity free, provided it was loaded in the country of origin not later than July 30. The period was later extended, by gazette notice, to August 31.

Darasa Investment Ltd, from which the KRA is demanding Sh2,548,542,325, is accusing the taxman of being unfair in refusing to allow it to offload and put in the market its consignment.

However, in the papers filed in court in previous suits, KRA argues that Darasa did not meet the conditions for tax exemption. Basing his argument on the documents filed by Darasa, the taxman has raised doubts about the origin of the sugar, the date when it was loaded, the date and place where it was inspected as well as its ownership.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich had granted the one-month extension following a request by his Agriculture counterpart, Mr Willy Bett, intervening on behalf of 14 companies that failed to meet the earlier deadline, apparently because of “logistical difficulties, low tides delaying loading of cargoes, turbulent and unfavourable weather in the high seas and delays in transshipment ports”.

In a November 20, 2017, letter, the KRA commissioner in charge of Customs and Border Control Julius Musyoki points to the contradictions of the applicant’s documents which he said appeared to suggest that the sugar was loaded before being produced.

He also points out that the paper trail shows the owners of the sugar as a Ugandan company and not Darasa.

“The reason for the delay in the clearance of the sugar consignment was entirely caused by the failure by the importer/owner to provide information to address the discrepancies addressed by customs,” wrote Mr Kariuki Githigi for the deputy commissioner in charge of Compliance, Policy and Programmes at the KRA in a letter dated December 20, 2017. Mr Gichigi cites a number of discrepancies.

“The bill of lading indicated the date of loading as July 15, 2017, from Santos Port, Brazil, on board vessel Anangel.

The shipper as per the quoted BL is Angolgest Consoltoria Gestion, SL Madrid, in Spain, on behalf of Sabrina Engineering Company Ltd, Kampala, Uganda. However, another copy of the BL marked as “draft” shows the shipper as Lumira General Trading for Multi Commerce FZC, Sharjah, issued in Dubai without indicating the date of issue. (It is) just xx/xx/xx,” writes Mr Gichigi.

He further says the importer failed to satisfactorily justify the three months delay between July 15 and October 30, 2017, the date of arrival of the sugar.

KRA also questions the movement of the consignment from Brazil to Dubai and to Mombasa and is not satisfied with the applicant’s explanation that the initial vessel MV Anangel Sun could not dock in Mombasa because of its size and unfavourable weather conditions, necessitating a rerouting to Dubai and the transfer of sugar there to the MV Iron Lady.

Subsequently, on November 21, KRA wrote to Darasa Investments Ltd declining to grant the tax exemption and asking the company to pay taxes amounting to Sh2,548,542,325 “to facilitate further processing and clearance of the consignment.”

Darasa on December 18 sued KRA and obtained orders from Justice Eric Ogola of the Mombasa High Court compelling the taxman to allow the offloading of the consignment to the warehouse of the applicant’s choice.

KRA then challenged the order before Justice Mugure Thande who allowed KRA’s initial order to have the sugar detained at the Mombasa Port precincts, pending the resolution of the matter. She directed that the sugar be kept in port sheds.

While opposing the request to transfer the sugar to a warehouse outside the port, KRA cited revenue risks. It argued that the warehouse preferred by Darasa is not a customs bonded warehouse and there was risk of the cargo being released.

In its counter-argument, Darasa said no port shed is big enough to hold the entire consignment, the sugar would have to be spread all over the port, compromising its security.

The sheds are also in a bad state and the sugar could be rained on. The case will be heard with all parties present Monday.

11 prominent personalities whose deaths shook the nation

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The year 2017 will go down as the year that saw one of the highest number of deaths of prominent personalities in Kenya’s history.  February, July and August were particularly grim.

Nicholas BiwottNicholas Biwott. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Nicholas Biwott

The once powerful Cabinet Minister in the Kanu administration lived a life shrouded in secrecy and mystery.

So discreet was Mr Biwott that even on his death, most Kenyans had no idea where he lived, his children and the number of houses and properties he owned.

Not even his former boss, retired President Daniel arap Moi, knew where he lived.

At his requiem Mass and burial, the man who served in eight ministries and was nicknamed ‘Total Man’, was only eulogised by his Israeli wife, Hannie, and grandchildren. Also present were Hannie’s two co-wives, university lecturer-turned-politician, Prof Margaret Kamar, and Kalista Lessie.

A wealthy man who had interests in aviation, hospitality, agriculture and the oil industry, Mr Biwott’s life was not without controversy as his name was adversely mentioned in the death of his former cabinet colleague Robert Ouko. His name was however, expunged from the inquest files on the orders of the court.

He would later earn the title Bull of Auckland after an incident in which he was accused of harassing a hotel worker during a foreign trip. Before his death in July at Nairobi Hospital after a long illness, Mr Biwott had been reported dead numerous times through fake social media reports and rumours.

Prof Calestous Juma.Prof Calestous Juma. The US-based Kenyan scholar died in the US. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The US-based Kenyan scholar, who was in June named as one of the most reputable people in the world, died in December while undergoing treatment in Boston, Massachusetts.

Prof Juma was the only Kenyan to be listed in the inaugural list of “2017 Most Reputable People on Earth” alongside luminaries such as Bill Gates, Barack and Michelle Obama and the Pope.

Until his death, a member of faculty at Harvard University, Prof Juma was one of the most sought after experts in the field of application of science, technology and innovation to sustainable development in developing and developed countries.

An intellectual, he was prolific on social media, frequently sharing his writings on Twitter.

In 2012, 2013 and 2014, he had been listed among the most influential 100 Africans by the New African magazine.

The Budalang’i-born scholar began his career as a science teacher in Mombasa between 1974 and 1978, before becoming the first science and environment journalist for the Daily Nation between 1978 and 1979.

 Okoth OkomboProf Okoth Okombo. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Generally regarded as the father of sign language studies in Africa and a leading light in the field of Nilotic Language Studies, Prof Okoth Okombo died on November 2 while undergoing treatment at the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi.

Born on November 8, 1950 on Rusinga Island, the founder and director of the Kenyan Sign Language Research Project, exited the stage aged 67.

He was a passionate proponent of teaching young children in their mother tongue and believed that a language policy that favoured English had condemned millions to illiteracy when many were, in fact, “geniuses”.

The University of Nairobi-based lecturer was revered as the ‘Noam Chomsky of Africa?” because just like the father of modern linguistics, he dabbled in such varied disciplines as mathematics, philosophy and politics.

 Laikipia Senator GG KariukiLaikipia Senator GG Kariuki. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The senator, who joined politics in 1959, served in all post-independent governments.

At his death on June 30, 2017 aged 78, he was the only serving lawmaker who had also served in the first Parliament after Kenya’s independence in 1963.

In 2015, he once again made history when at 76 he attained a PhD from the University of Nairobi.

In his heyday, GG’s clout at the apex of his political career was matched only by that of Kanu-era strongman Nicholas Biwott who died the same month as the senator.

The diminutive man who made up for what he lacked in frame with martial arts,  was adversely mentioned in the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) report over gross human rights violations during his tenure at the helm of the Internal Affairs docket.

Bishop Cornelius Korir.Eldoret Catholic Dioceses Bishop Cornelius Korir in a past photo. The Bishop, who died on October 30, 2017, was mentioned by Kenyans on Twitter as deserving a Head of State Commendation posthumously for his commitment to peace building. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Bishop Korir, the Eldoret Catholic Diocese bishop, was pronounced dead on arrival at St Luke’s Hospital in Eldoret in October.

He took over leadership of Eldoret Diocese from Bishop John Njenga after he was transferred to Mombasa before his retirement.

Besides his vocal stand against injustice in national politics, the late Bishop Korir’s 27 years of episcopal ministry in Eldoret stood out for his efforts aimed at keeping peace among the warring pastoralist communities of the north.

Bishop Korir was instrumental in the distribution of relief food to families affected by the 1991-92 clashes. The Bomet-born bishop played a key role in the restoration of peace in the North Rift during the 2007/08 post-election violence. He died aged 67.

Governor Wahome GakuruFormer Nyeri Governor Wahome Gakuru. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 


The Nyeri governor, who died in a road crash in November, was an academic and former director of Vision 2030 — the national development blueprint.

As a director of Vision 2030 in the Mwai Kibaki administration, Dr Gakuru was one of the brains behind the big infrastructure projects whose aim was to make Kenya a middle income economy in two decades.

He becomes the second Nyeri governor to die in office after Nderitu Gachagua died of illness earlier this year.

Dr Gakuru, 51, died in the morning of November 7 after his official vehicle hit a guard rail at Kabati on the Nyeri-Nairobi Highway.

He eschewed trappings of power, preferring to sit in the front seat of his car and having lunch at random restaurants in Nyeri.

But, once in a while, he let his competitors know he had a sharp mind.

Nderitu Gachagua Former Nyeri Governor Nderitu Gachagua. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The first governor in the country to die in office, Mr Gachagua had been battling pancreatic cancer for about two years. He died on February 24, 2017, at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in London aged 64.

He served as the first governor of Nyeri County having been elected in March 2013 on a GNU ticket. He however, spent long months in hospital abroad because of his illness.

Mr Nderitu studied law at the University of Nairobi. Before ascending to the governor’s seat, he served as the Member of Parliament for Mathira constituency.

  Bethwel Kiplagat. Bethwel Kiplagat. PHOTO/JENNIFER MUIRURI


Ambassador Kiplagat, who died in July at the age of 80 after a long illness, is remembered for spending most of his life as a peace crusader, campaigning for harmony in Kenya, East Africa and beyond.

He also chaired the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, which documented historical injustices against Kenyans. He served in President Daniel Moi’s government for 13 years from 1978 to 1991 as Kenya’s ambassador to France, high commissioner to Britain, and permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

But while he excelled in diplomatic ventures in Somalia and other parts of Africa, he was tainted in equal measure by two tragedies of Kenya’s history — the Wagalla massacre and the Robert Ouko murder mystery.

During an interview on NTV in 2009, then head of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission wept uncontrollably when asked what he knew about the death of former Foreign Affairs Minister Robert Ouko.

 Joseph ole nkaisseryJoseph ole Nkaissery, PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The 67-year-old physical fitness enthusiast who was head-hunted from the opposition to help rein in runaway insecurity in the country died suddenly on Saturday, July 8 at the peak of his sterling career.
Mr Nkaissery collapsed at his Karen home and was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Before joining the government as minister for Interior, Mr Nkaissery was Member of Parliament for Kajiado Central constituency on an Orange Democratic Movement ticket.

He had, however, since his re-election in 2013 gravitated towards the Jubilee administration.

The ghosts of his military days haunted him as his role in some of the operations he was involved in, particularly in West Pokot, received widespread condemnation from residents who implicated him in the TJRC report.

Former Kwale Senator Boy Juma Boy who died inFormer Kwale Senator Boy Juma Boy who died in February 2017. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The Kwale senator died on February 12, 2017, while receiving treatment for high blood pressure complications at the Aga Khan Hospital.

The senator would often dazzle the Senate with his flowing Kiswahili, the language spoken mostly by his Kwale County constituents and Coast residents at large.

The lawmakers who seemed unfamiliar with the alternate national language would listen in awe whenever he spoke.

A crowd puller, Senator Boy honed his political skills at the Central Organisation of Trade Unions where he was a virulent defender of workers’ rights.

Senator Boy succeeded his father, Juma Boy, as Matuga MP in 1983 and would later retain the seat in the 1988 and 1992 elections before disappearing from the scene to return in 2013.

On his death he was succeeded by his brother Issah Juma.

 Former Finance minister David Mwiraria.Former Finance minister David Mwiraria. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP


One of the founding members of the Democratic Party in 1991, the Kibaki-era finance minister died on April 13, 2017. He had been receiving treatment for acute respiratory infection and cancer.

The accomplished economist and one of retired President Mwai Kibaki’s most trusted friends, was one of a few veterans who had been in the system since the 1960s, helping shape policy in post-independent Kenya.

Like Mr Kibaki, he was a graduate of Makerere University, where he studied for his master’s after attaining his Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics at the University of East Africa, Uganda.

First elected MP for North Imenti in 1992, he was credited with the recovery of the economy in the early Kibaki years after the Moi years meltdown.

His suspected meddling in investigations into the Sh50 billion Anglo-Leasing scandal in which money had been wired to shadowy companies contracted in the closing days of the Daniel arap Moi presidency, dimmed his political star. He lost his seat in the 2007 elections.

Uneasy calm back at St Mary’s Mission Hospital in Gilgil

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Uneasy calm is slowly returning to St Mary’s Mission Hospital in Gilgil, Nakuru County, after days of tension and violent confrontations due to a property ownership battle.

The confrontations saw a vehicle torched and operations paralysed at the institution.
A spot check at the facility on Sunday indicated that uneasy calm is returning and patients were receiving treatment.

A nurse at the hospital who sought anonymity disclosed that operations are back to normal, adding that they were seeing patient.

“Operations at the hospital have returned to normal and the public wishing to seek medical attention should not be worried,” she said.

More than five armed police officers could be seen patrolling the facility while others guarded the entrance.

On Friday police intervened to quell the tension that had built up at the troubled facility located at Elementaita, on the busy Nakuru-Nairobi highway, after the staff paralysed services for fears of forceful eviction by the new management.

Gilgil sub-county security team which was led by deputy County Commissioner Mithike Ndambuki held a two-hour meeting with the workers at the premises aimed at restoring normalcy at the hospital.

This was after they received information that some staff had decided to take away hospital property before the new management takes over.

Mr Ndambuki further disclosed that the planned eviction could not be executed after the staff obtained another court order restraining the new management from evicting or dismissing them.


After the meeting between workers and the police, it was resolved that the workers would go back to their respective departments and resume their duties as police provided security.
On Friday operations at the hospital were grounded for hours as relatives transferred their patients from the hospital following rising tension.
Tension grew after information spread that the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi, a group of Catholic nuns embroiled in a legal tussle with an American Missionary priest, Dr Bill Fryda, over the ownership of the hospital, had planned to evict them on Friday morning.

Bursary model has failed noble purpose

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Access to secondary education remains one of the main challenges facing the sector. Many bright but needy children hardly join high school or drop out because of lack of fees, which is the reason the government is rolling out several initiatives to open up opportunities to all eligible candidates.

This year, the government has doubled capitation to secondary schools to take care of tuition and make it possible for students to learn free of charge in day schools and streams.

Hence, parents will only pay for accommodation and living expenses. At the same time, the government has distributed free textbooks to schools at a cost of Sh7.5 billion to reduce learning costs.

Over the years, the government has allocated funds for bursaries with the express objective of supporting bright but needy students in secondary school.

However, the bursary is allocated through the constituencies in line with an Act of Parliament passed a few years ago to localise disbursement.


Despite all this, many bright and needy students cannot go to school. Reports how many students who qualified for Form One admission might miss out due to lack of fees.

This brings to question the effectiveness of the bursary. While the objective was noble, it seems the constituency model is not working. Previously, the bursary was handled by the Education ministry and the funds sent directly to schools. However, it was abused.

After years of experimenting with the constituency model, it is evident that it is severely compromised.

First, the criteria for picking beneficiaries is so skewed not all deserving students get the cash. Second, those who do get only part of the allocation. Third, the disbursements always delay.

We take note of the ministry’s directive that all Form One students report Tuesday because of the cushions already put in place to support them. However, the more significant point is that we must review the constituency bursary scheme—because it is not working.

Boxing a work in progress

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The Champion of Champions boxing championships ended on Saturday at Kaloleni Social Hall with boxers battling for selection to the Kenya team to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, due in Australia from April 4 to 15.

However, the general poor standards of the game manifested by the boxers, referees and judges should not go unmentioned. The technical bench now has its work cut out for it if Kenya is to post good results in the ‘Club’ Games, having only won a bronze from the 2014 edition in Glasgow, Scotland.

The poor officiating was not as rampant as in the final leg of the National Boxing League in Mombasa, an indication that these cases were deliberate to deny some boxers victory.


Most boxers’ techniques were wanting and must be improved urgently. However, there is huge talent but the archaic methods of coaching will not produce the best in our boxers.

Again, most officials seem not to know how to score using the computer system, hence the mess in declaring the winners. Perhaps Kenyan referees, judges and coaches need refresher courses to update and upgrade themselves on the dynamism of the sport.

More so, such a big boxing event ought to be held in a conducive environment. Subjecting  boxers and fans to a deplorable, dilapidated venue as Kaloleni was awful. The Nairobi County government should renovate this hall, which has produced great sporting talent for the nation over the years.

Finally, the Boxing Association of Kenya should also cast its net wider for other sponsors besides gaming firm SportPesa, which recently announced that it had pulled out of sponsoring local sports.

Use private schools to spur universal education


Starting this month, secondary school education will be free in Kenya.

But education is about learning, not just schooling. One way to expand access and improve quality at low cost would be to allow private secondary schools to join the free secondary education (FSE) scheme—as has been done in Uganda for the past 10 years with good results.

One promising route for improving school quality is through public financing for students to attend private schools. Students at private schools often get better grades than their peers in public schools, and at lower overall cost, but is this still the case with public financing?

The Ark Education Partnerships Group recently commissioned a global review of such arrangements. And all the nine studies considered—from Pakistan, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Venezuela—found positive effects on learning.


One of these studies is mine, from Uganda, published in the Journal of African Economies, housed at Oxford University.

Uganda started its free secondary education policy in 2007. And due to lack of enough government secondary schools, it opened up the scheme to the private sector.

While the programme focused on widening access by ensuring there were schools in as many areas as possible, my findings suggest that it has also had positive effects on learning, and at lower cost.

Two other studies—by the Economic Policy Research Centre, Kampala, and the World Bank—find similar results.

Ugandan public and private secondary schools receive similar amounts in per-student subsidy but the government also pays for buildings and teachers’ salaries in its schools.

Parents then pay similar amounts in other costs (such as books and uniforms) in both public and private schools.


Whilst, on average, government-funded private schools perform better than State-run schools, there are some poor performers. The government is also, therefore, putting in place stronger accountability measures.

This month, Uganda will become the first African country to publish a new ‘value-added’ school quality measure that captures how effective a school is in increasing pupil achievement, regardless of where they started.

This information will allow for better targeted interventions to address underperformance.

Uganda is also reforming its inspection to bring a greater focus on improving the quality of teaching and learning. These kind of measures are essential to improve the overall system.

In Pakistan, a series of studies found that different schemes involving subsidies, vouchers and contracting out of government schools to private management have raised enrolment and learning.


The Punjab Education Foundation provides government financing to thousands of privately run schools, providing education to more than two million students at less than half the cost of running public schools.

There could be risks to providing public money to private operators; so, in the United Kingdom, only non-profit private operators are allowed to participate in the ‘Academy’ programme to avoid the risk of profiteering.

Ensuring that every child gets a good quality secondary education is crucial for both their wellbeing and the future of Kenya and the government should be applauded for its move to increase access to secondary school. Partnering wisely with the private sector, however, could make this investment go further.

 Mr Crawfurd is head of research and evaluation at Ark Education Partnerships Group, a UK charity that advises governments on education reform. [email protected]