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Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

 

Kenya protests EU’s ‘disdainful’ release of elections report

By ELVIS ONDIEKI
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Kenya on Wednesday protested the release, by the European Union, of an elections observer mission report without Nairobi’s input, calling the move unprocedural, condescending, and disdainful.

The head of the EU mission to Kenya during last year’s General Elections, Ms Marietje Schaake, released the findings Wednesday afternoon in Brussels, Belgium, and immediately attracted the ire of Kenya’s ambassador to Belgium and the EU, Mr Johnson Weru, who called the move “condescending”.

Ms Schaake explained that she would have preferred to release the report in Nairobi but the government was unwilling to receive her. And, with the deadline agreed in a June 8, 2017 memorandum of understanding between the EU and Kenya on when to release the report fast approaching, she decided to do it from a “remote” location.

But Mr Weru called Ms Schaake’s actions “unprocedural and premature”, saying it was she who had gone against the MoU between Kenya and the EU.

“Her actions are disdainful and condescending, and offend the multilateral understanding under Article 8 and 96 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement between EU and 79 countries,” he said in a statement.

The report, among others, faults Jubilee’s use of state resources to campaign, intimidation of judicial officers after the annulling of the August 8 presidential election results, violent acts by opposition supporters against election officials, and the long time it takes to prosecute electoral offences.

Ms Schaake had, in an EU parliament webcast, said “this is one of the very few times” that a presentation of an EU election observation mission final report was taking place in the European parliament “instead of the country where we observed”.

She noted that her team was “entirely prepared” to come to Nairobi this week for presentation of the 75-page final report and the recommendations, but there was a hurdle.

“We’ve understood that the Kenyan Government is not prepared to receive us within the terms foreseen in the memorandum of understanding signed between the EU and Kenya; because that specifies that we will present our final report within three months of the Election Day,” she said.

Speaking with the Nation later, she said: “I cannot speak for the government of Kenya, but it was made very clear they were not prepared to receive us at this time.” And, in an interview with the Financial Times, she said Kenyan officials wanted the release postponed.

“I can only speculate, but they’ve said before they were not happy with what we’ve had to say,” Ms Schaake told the publication.

But Mr Weru, in a statement, said Kenya was in constant consultation with Ms Schaake’s team and was, in fact, supposed to hold a meeting Wednesday “which has been rendered nugatory by this action”.

The EU mission had also planned a meeting with Nasa on January 12 and it now remains unclear whether it will happen.

DIPLOMATIC CHANNELS

 “The Government of Kenya has, through diplomatic channels, been in consultation with the EU-EOM (Election Observation Mission) on scheduling for the release of the report in Kenya in line with the stipulations of the MoU,” he said. “In the latest communication of January 6, 2018, the EU-EOM had confirmed its agreement to scheduling the visit for between mid-February and mid-March 2018.”

In Mr Weru’s view, Ms Schaake’s “rushed” release was a betrayal.

“It is my belief that the EU, with its strong desire to be a key actor in sustaining a rule-based international order, cannot afford to have its agreements with partner states like Kenya flouted with such cynical ease,” he wrote.

“We regret this political grandstanding as it has broken the aims and procedures of the EU-OEM, well-captured in its MoU with the Government of Kenya. We further regret (Ms Schaake’s) personalisation of the mission, including her addressing a letter to the Kenyan Government, on her personal stationery in her own personal capacity, and note that this action is an escalation of a political position she took during the process when she should have, in fact, been a neutral actor.”

The final report, uploaded on the EU website after Ms Schaake’s address, has 29 recommendations which the observers say Kenya has to implement if it has to improve its election procedures.

They include strengthening independent institutions, promoting democracy within political parties, and developing the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation into a “genuine public service broadcaster with full editorial and financial independence”.

The observers question a long-held requirement that people aspiring to be leaders need not be bankrupt. They also wonder why there are educational requirements for vying.

The EU also accuses Jubilee of using its incumbency to abuse state resources. “However,” it adds, “the advantages of incumbency at county level were evidently to the benefit of both political camps. During the 141 rallies watched by observers, 27 instances of misuse of state resources in 16 counties were witnessed.

“These included 18 instances involving Jubilee and four involving Nasa. This primarily concerned the use of official county and national government vehicles to and from campaign events, including one military helicopter in Makueni County.”

PUBLIC RESOURCES

To prevent this, they recommend enforcement of the ban on using public resources to campaign, “including removing the exemption for Cabinet secretaries and members of county executive committees”.

The observers’ general take is that the repeat presidential election was much improved than the first one, with greater standardisation of results forms, enhanced transparency through the projection of tallying at constituency centres, and extensive electronic transmission and display of results forms.

The team also notes that the opposition and its supporters assaulted and intimidated polling staff, attacked IEBC offices, and disrupted electoral preparations.”

The team also wants timelines for prosecuting electoral offences shortened and a ceiling placed on how long disputes from nominations should last.

It also accuses Jubilee leaders of “harsh rhetoric against the Judiciary” and “intimidation of civil society”, both of which were “not consistent with international commitments and good practice for democratic functioning”.


Passengers of ill-fated matatu warned driver against speeding

By STEVE NJUGUNA
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By PETER MBURU
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Passengers in a matatu that crashed on the Nyeri-Nyahururu Road killing five on the spot had protested and warned the driver against speeding shortly before the accident, it has emerged.

Survivors of the accident said the driver — a teacher at Baari Primary School in Mairo-Inya township, identified as Mr Wellington King’ori — who was also the owner of the vehicle, had ignored their pleas to slow down before the 14-seater matatu rolled several times at Mahiga. Police and survivors say he lost control of the vehicle.

The death toll rose to nine, after other passengers died while receiving treatment. Three of the causalities, including the driver, were members of one family.

Five of the passengers died on the spot, including the driver, while four other people, including a two-year-old who had accompanied her grandmother, died on arrival at Nyahururu County Referral Hospital.

Among the dead was the driver’s mother, who had also pleaded with her son to stop speeding. She died on the spot.

Bodies of the deceased were taken to the Nyahururu Country Referral Hospital Mortuary.

The victims were mourners returning from a burial in Mukurwe-ini, Nyeri County. They came from the same Shauri village in Ndaragwa.

“Several pedestrians had alerted us that the vehicle’s tyres were not in a good condition but the driver did not heed our pleas to slow down. Besides, we warned the driver several times against speeding but he did not listen,” Ms Leah Kamau, a survivor, told Nation from her hospital bed. According to Ms Kamau, the driver veered off the road and hit a fence.

Emotions ran high as family and relatives of the nine victims arrived to identify the badly disfigured bodies at the mortuary.

“We had difficulties in identifying my sister’s body at the mortuary because it was badly defaced until when her son arrived and identified her by the clothes she was wearing before leaving for the burial,” said Mr John Maina, whose sister Agnes Nyambura died in the accident.

Ms Nyambura had accompanied a female friend to bury her mother. She died at the Nyahururu hospital.

County Police Commander  Philip Opiyo said preliminary investigations revealed that the accident might have been caused by speeding.


Wiper demands Nasa talks over House positions

By PATRICK LANG’AT
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The Kalonzo Musyoka-led Wiper Party Wednesday reignited the Nasa disagreements over leadership positions in parliamentary committees after it demanded a reversal to what it said was the originally agreed on line-up.

In a meeting chaired by Mr Musyoka at the party headquarters in Nairobi, Wiper said it was dissatisfied with how it was treated in the sharing of the slots.

“It is not a light matter. Our members have expressed strong sentiments that when Mr Kalonzo was away, the committee positions were not shared as agreed,” the Wiper party chairman, Prof Kivutha Kibwana, told journalists. “We will be looking for a reversal to the original agreements.”

The committee leadership elections were done when Mr Musyoka was on a 10-week stay in Germany where he was taking care of his sick wife Pauline.

They both returned to the country on January 2.

During the elections, Nasa leader Raila Odinga’s ODM was accused of bulldozing the rest of the coalition partners in the watchdog committees where the opposition has the majority, and the chairmanship by right.

ODM took the Public Accounts Committee chairmanship through Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, although the coalition had reportedly settled on Mr Musalia Mudavadi’s pointman, Sakwa Bunyasi (Nambale, ANC).

In the Public Investments Committee, Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir was elected the chairman, leaving Butere MP Tindi Mwale of ANC complaining that his party had once again been shortchanged.

Mr Nassir will be deputised by another ODM lawmaker, Wajir North’s Ahmed Ibrahim.

In the Parliamentary Service Commission, Wiper has claimed it was cheated out of a seat that was to be handed to Borabu MP Bernard Momanyi.

Mr Momanyi, in a previous interview, said ODM should have evenly distributed slots in the Parliamentary Service Commission. “ODM should take two because of their numeric strength and Wiper the remaining one slot,” he said

Wiper now wants Nasa to call a retreat of all its elected leaders to allow consensus over the seats.

This, Prof Kibwana said, will allow Wiper to vent its anger over what it said was the breaking of a gentleman’s agreement.


Sale of popular cough syrups without doctor’s note banned

By ELIZABETH MERAB
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The Pharmacy and Poisons Board has banned the sale of medicines that contain an opioid pain reliever known as codeine without a doctor’s chit.

By clamping the sale of these drugs without proper prescription, the board wants to tame abuse of and addiction to codeine.

Among the drugs that will need a doctor’s prescription before purchase are three common cold medicines and a painkiller.

Prescription will be restricted to three days.

The board also gave manufacturers six months to change packages of drugs that contain codeine to include clear and prominently positioned warnings on labels, summary product characteristics and patient information leaflets about the risk of addiction and the importance of not taking them for more than three days.

SEVERE PAIN

The agency said codeine was a controlled substance that could no longer be sold over the counter.

Though he did not give a list of drugs that would require prescription before being dispensed, board registrar Fred Siyoi said the medicines were being abused and used for recreational purposes.

“We have received many complaints about the abuse of these drugs. Anything that the government feels is becoming risky to the public has to be restricted,” said Dr Siyoi.

Codeine, used to treat mild to moderately severe pain, is an opioid medication which is sometimes called a narcotic. Pure codeine is mostly prescribed as a painkiller and falls under controlled substances.

Because of the restriction, users look for codeine elsewhere, with cough syrup being the easiest. Almost all these syrups contain only 10mg of codeine and five per cent alcohol.

ACCESSIBLE

Some of the most common and easily accessible codeine-containing cough syrups are Benylin with Codeine, Coscof C and a cough suppressant known as Actifed with codeine syrup.

Betapyn tablets, used to treat headaches, toothache and joint pain also contain codeine and are often sold without prescription.

The board warned pharmacists against refilling the drugs if buyers failed to present prescription notes.

“Please note that no refill will be allowed for prescriptions with medicines that contain codeine,” Dr Siyoi said.

It has become a trend to abuse codeine cough syrup by mixing it with soda or alcohol.

The problem is now global. A recent study shows nearly four million Americans older than 12 abuse prescription pain relievers, including codeine.

Whereas the number in Kenya may be marginal, health data estimates that about 90 people die from opioid overdose annually in Kenya.

Last year, for instance, a Nairobi-based accountant confessed to weaning off a crippling two-year substance dependence on a codeine-based cough syrup.

A few years ago, a magazine published a story on former TV anchor Cynthia Nyamai who traced her addiction to the cough medicine, saying the syrup helped her deal with the pain of her divorce.

Ms Nyamai said she realised one bottle was not enough and as her life spiralled south, she began taking an extra bottle.

To minimise the risk of overuse and addiction, the board has converted medicines that contain codeine as one of the active pharmaceutical ingredient from pharmacy-only medicines to prescription-only.

“Prescribers and dispensers should not offer for sale medicine that contains codeine without a valid prescription from a duly registered medical practitioner,” Dr Siyoi said.

Prescription will only be considered if it contains the patient’s as well as the medical practitioner’s details, including their registration number and signature made in indelible ink.

City pharmacies have begun implementing the directive as a number of them are hesitant to sell the drugs without a doctor’s note.

“We cannot sell you these drugs if you do not have a prescription,” said one during a spot check by the Nation on Wednesday.


Painkiller causes infertility among men, study shows

By RUTH MBULA
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A new study has found that frequent intake of ibuprofen painkiller may lead to infertility among men.

The drug is often used by athletes, among other groups of people, to treat minor aches and is often used as an alternative drug by those sensitive to aspirin.

This could mean hundreds of athletes — including from Kenya — are at risk, though unaware of its side-effects.

Also, the study indicated that men who are used to over-the-counter drugs to relieve minor aches could be at a higher risk of suffering even more serious health problems.

Apart from pain, this drug is used to treat fever and inflammation.

MALE HORMONES

“Use of over-the-counter ibuprofen results in a disorder in the human testis caused by a boost of the male hormones,” said the study published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

The study, conducted by a group of Danish and French scientists, was carried out following concerns over declining male reproductive health. It showed that the pain reliever affects the hormonal balance in adult men.

Men who take about 1,200 milligrams of ibuprofen a day experience hormonal imbalances that are associated with infertility, the researchers found.

“Our study addresses this issue by extending data showing anti-androgen effects of analgesics (compounds found in ibuprofen) and suggests that such compounds may be involved in adult male reproductive problems.”

WITHIN 14 DAYS

The study recruited 31 male volunteers between 18 and 35 years.

Of these, 14 were given a daily dosage of ibuprofen and were given a 1200 mg-per-day dose.

This is the maximum limit as directed by the labels of generic ibuprofen products. For the men taking ibuprofen, within 14 days, there was a sign of dysfunctional testicles.

Among the main brand names of ibuprofen are Advil and Motrin.

The research followed an earlier one that had found the testicles of male babies were affected by the use of over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen.

An earlier research published in the European Heart Journal – Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy (EHJ-CVP) – also linked ibuprofen to increased risk of cardiac arrest.

The research warned that increased cardiovascular risk is a global concern because the drugs are widely used to relieve pain, reduce inflammation and bring down temperature. Yet another research indicated that infertility among African men was on the rise. Changed lifestyles had led to decline in sperm count by 57 per cent around the globe.


Workers to enjoy lesser tax burden from end month

By NATION REPORTER
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Workers will begin enjoying a lesser tax burden from this month as the government moves to cushion homes from the high cost of living.

Adjustments by the Treasury on the Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) bands and monthly personal relief (MPR) means that workers will take home more money depending on salary levels.

Beginning the end of this month, the income tax bands will be expanded by a further 10 per cent as promised in last year’s budget by Treasury secretary Henry Rotich, who also announced that he will increase taxpayers’ monthly personal relief  from Sh1,280 to Sh1,408.

The changes will yield monthly tax savings ranging from Sh184 to Sh667.5 depending on salary.

This will be the second year running that the government has tweaked the tax bands, building on a similar 10 per cent expansion of the personal relief and tax categories in January last year that resulted in savings of between Sh181 and Sh609 per month.

TAX-FREE INCOME

The changes will raise the effective tax-free income threshold from Sh12,260 to Sh13,486, largely benefiting those at the bottom of the income pyramid such as security guards, waiters, messengers and cooks.

Mr Rotich said the reforms are intended to benefit low-income earners while reducing income inequality.

The tax savings, which amount to about one per cent for most employees, will however be eroded by inflation which has averaged at 8.1 per cent in the past 12 months.

The changes will benefit high-income earners the most in absolute terms, with those paid a gross salary of Sh50,000 and above set to record monthly savings of Sh667.5.

Employees with lower salaries will get smaller tax cuts starting, for instance, at Sh184 per month for those earning Sh20,000 whose tax will fall to Sh977 from Sh1,161 after the relief is deducted.

For instance, the lowest paid teacher — a primary school teacher II, whose grade has been categorised as T scale 5, and currently earns between Sh21,304 and Sh24,250, will, at the end of the month be expected to pay income tax of between Sh1,173 and Sh1,246 respectively.

The highest paid teacher on the other hand, a chief principal, whose grade has been categorised as T scale 15, and whose gross salary is between Sh144,928 and Sh148,360 is now expected to pay tax of between Sh43,056 and Sh44,085.   

The lowest paid doctor, who earns a gross salary of between Sh54,532 and Sh68,165, will now be face the personal relief deductions, the balance of which will be subjected to a 30 per cent tax, which is charged on income above Sh47,059.

This means that at the end of this month, doctors in this category will pay tax of between Sh15,937 and Sh20,027.

ALLOWANCES

On the other hand, the highest paid doctors who earn a gross salary of between Sh221,058 and Sh282, 954 will at the end of this month pay a tax of Sh65,895 and Sh84,464.

While low-income earners have gained less from the changes, they will continue to be the exclusive beneficiaries of tax exemption on their bonuses, retirement and overtime pay that took effect in January last year.

The exemption only applied to workers whose taxable employment income before bonus and overtime allowances do not exceed the lowest tax band previously set at Sh134,164 annually or Sh11,180 a month.

The taxable floor will rise to Sh147,580 per year or Sh12,298 monthly this year. The first band is taxed at a rate of 10 per cent, with the levies rising in a series of taxable income bands that terminates at the maximum of 30 per cent on the highest band, which currently starts from Sh42,781.


While the old world seems to be ending, Africa is beginning

By CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO
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The world is changing “bigly”. Take, for example, the results of a new poll conducted by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that ranked US President Donald Trump, China’s Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt as some of the world’s leading oppressors of press freedom and free speech.

Also in that club is Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Aung San Suu Kyi (Myanmar) and Andrzej Duda of Poland.

If this poll had been done 25 years ago, it would have looked very different with African and Latin American strongmen making a stronger showing than they are doing today.

In fact, in the last few days, Ethiopia, once the leading jailor of journalists, made a surprise announcement that it was going to release several political prisoners and close a prison notorious for torture in order to “widen the democratic space for all”.

It is hoped that the country’s long-suffering journalists might benefit from this unlikely opening.

And, as if to illustrate that Addis Ababa never lost its sense of humour, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said the Mae’kelawi prison would be converted into a museum.

In Zimbabwe, in what has been called “barracks democracy”, in November, the military ended President Robert Mugabe’s disastrous 37-year rule, giving the country’s media a small break.

In 1988, when I was a very young man, I bought a book that was causing waves then. The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000, by Paul Kennedy, was a 1,200-page or so tome that had been published the previous year.

Because then I had no responsibilities, I locked myself in the house over Christmas and read it all.

One of Kennedy’s most controversial theses was that American power was on the wane, much as had happened with previous global powers such as the Romans and the British.

It sounded outrageous, considering that the Soviet Union was in the throes of death and the US looked poised to straddle the world like a colossus.

Yet, here we are today, and Kennedy’s prognosis no longer looks like a long shot. Liberia’s outgoing President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (and half of Africa’s leaders) is considerably less frightening than Trump.

Many ideas about the world that we had held to firmly continue to tumble. A few of them continue to be true.

For example, that the Middle East is generally not fertile ground for democracy. Even Israel, which sees itself as the only democracy in the region, torments its Arab population and is a cruel occupier of Palestinian lands.

Thus, it was held that economic prosperity usually leads to liberal democracy.

China tells us that that is not necessarily true. While social freedoms have opened in China, the Communist Party keeps its boot firmly on the necks of media and political freedoms.

Poland has become more repressive when it’s rich than when it was poorer in the early years of its post-communist life in the 1990s.

The bottom of global poverty rankings is still dominated by African countries.

However, many of them — such as Mali, Liberia, Guinea and Burkina Faso — are far freer than Russia, Turkey and, possibly, Poland, right now.

Within Africa, we are also seeing both strange and exciting developments.

For example, the two places that are most likely to hold truly free elections in Africa today are the Somali breakaway republics of Puntland and Somaliland, which are not internationally recognised.

There are also three countries, where either the president or his family have ruled for nearly 40 years, that are restless.

It seems there was again a coup attempt a few days ago in Equatorial Guinea against Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who has been dictator there for 38 years.

In Cameroon, strongman Paul Biya, in power for 34 years, is facing separatist insurrection in the south of the country and is beginning to look wobbly.

In Togo, Faure Gnassingbe — who between him and his ruthless father Gnassingbe Eyadema, whom he succeeded in 2005, have ruled for over 50 years now — has been besieged by pro-democracy protests for nearly a year now.

If all those three fall this year, for the first time in modern times, over 75 per cent of Africa could live in freedom by this time next year.

You couldn’t have bet on that two years ago.

Mr Onyango-Obbo is publisher of Africapedia.com and explainer site Roguechiefs.com. Twitter: @cobbo3


Prof Calestous Juma’s indelible footprints in Comesa

By SINDISO NGWENYA

Once in a while, humankind gets blessed with prodigious talents to light the world and dispel darkness. Civilisations and breakthroughs in human history have arisen from such gifted people.

Such was Prof Calestous Juma, who died on December 15, 2017, after a battle with cancer, and interred last Saturday.

His death sent shock waves throughout the world, among political leaders, his peers in the academia, his large community of students and social media followers and global family of friends. 

Some will remember Calestous as an academic, a scientist, the founding executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, or the founder of the African Centre for Technology Studies. But many of us will remember him as a development engineer who fervently sought solutions to social economic problems afflicting humankind. 

Prof Juma was successively named among the 100 most influential Africans and most reputable people in the world.

INSPIRATIONAL FORCE

When in 2010 King Mswati III of Swaziland chose science and technology as the theme and organising logic for the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), Calestous Juma was the man who provided its intellectual underpinning. “This bright son of Africa”, as the Comesa ministers affectionately called him, has over the years been a transformative and inspirational force for the bloc. 

The Comesa Virtual University, a network of 22 universities, and the Comesa Innovation Awards (17 given so far), were concrete proposals he made which have been operationalised. So are the Comesa Committee of Ministers responsible for Science and Technology, and the Comesa Innovation Council.

Calestous was at hand to make comments on working papers and numerous documents and write policy briefs on key issues on request. He was always prepared to try new models. He thus organised and gave in Lusaka, Zambia, the Harvard Kennedy School of government science technology and innovation executive course for Comesa senior officials.

FREE TRADE AREA

Calestous closely followed the negotiations for the Comesa-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area, covering 27 countries, and those for the African Continental Free Trade Area, covering 55 countries. These have been the biggest and most ambitious FTA negotiations ever.

The professor was about to publish a book he has written on these negotiations with Dr Francis Mangeni, the Comesa director of Trade and Customs.

Gifted with immense wit, charm, courage, humour and modesty — itself a rare combination — Prof Juma was a trusted adviser to heads of state and government throughout the world on critical issues affecting humankind.

He was a mentor and inspiration to many young students, professionals and political leaders that he taught over the years and a public educator and entertainer to his very large family of social media fans.

SAVING THE PLANET

Through his writings and public engagements, he has made an indelible and enduring contribution to humankind’s understanding and efforts in saving the planet and creation in all its vibrancy and biological diversity, and in eliminating poverty, hunger, disease and ignorance through education and training, entrepreneurship, and better productivity.

He believed, taught and demonstrated that, through science, technology and innovation, we could positively change the world and our circumstances at the societal and individual levels.

A scholar of incredible brilliance and energy, his multi-disciplinary and inclusive approach to problem identification and solving, covering governments and public policy, the private sector and civil society organisations, as well as the academia, was, and remains, pertinent for our times, given the hair-breadth specialists many of our education systems produce.

SYSTEMATIC SOLUTIONS

He was a master of the big picture and structure of things, from which he constructed institutions and systemic solutions for change. His autobiography will, therefore, be much awaited. In characteristic modesty and humour, he titled it The University Drop-in, a Memoir.

What then would Calestous have us do? He very much wanted the Juma Institute of Science and Technology (JIST), in honour of his parents and with the mission of supporting innovation and young entrepreneurs, up and running immediately. Let’s look into this.

Mr Ngwenya is the secretary-general of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa). Website: http://www.comesa.int. 


Faulty power line linked to blackout, says Energy CS Charles Keter

By SILAS APOLLO
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By SAMWEL OWINO
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The partial blackout that hit several parts of the country was due to a fault in the power distribution lines, Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter has said.

Mr Keter said the distribution line from the Olkaria geothermal station – one of the country’s main power suppliers – to a sub-station in Nairobi, was cut off after its conductors blew off leading to an overload in the system.

And since the power distribution system in Kenya is interconnected, the problem was transferred to several parts of the country, he said.

“The dual line from Olkaria, carried about 250mw each. And after one of the lines failed, the load was transferred to the other line, which due to the overload, equally collapsed,” said the CS.

Speaking in Nairobi, during a tour of the Juja sub-station, where the lines were cut off, Mr Keter, however, said the system had been restored and power redistributed to the affected regions. “But it is also important to note that this station was built a long time ago,” he said.

Several towns, including Nairobi, and shopping centres across the country were thrown into darkness on Tuesday evening leading to closure of businesses and disrupting services. Some of the traders said they recorded losses due to the outage.

Mr Keter said plans to upgrade and digitise the Juja station were underway to avert a similar occurrence.

The CS spoke as a section of opposition MPs asked the National Assembly to summon him over the increased power bills.

Mr Keter had on Monday attributed the rise in charges to an ongoing upgrade of Kenya Power’s billing system refuting claims of a change in tariff or backdating of electricity bills.

BETTER SERVICE

Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo and his nominated counterpart Godfrey Osotsi dismissed an earlier explanation by the CS, saying it did not add up as the system upgrade was supposed to lead to efficiency and better service provision and not  increased electricity bills.

The MPs also want the Kenya Power managing director Ken Tarus and director-general of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Robert Oimeke summoned by the parliamentary Committee on Energy for subjecting poor Kenyans to high electricity bills.

“Kenyans demand a proper explanation from the CS, Kenya Power and ERC,” said Mr Odhiambo, a member of the Energy committee.


Samburu community appeals Moi land case ruling

By JOSEPH WANGUI
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The Samburu have filed an appeal against a decision to dismiss a case in which they had sued retired President Daniel arap Moi for transferring 17,105 acres in Laikipia North to Kenya Wildlife Service.

Through its lawyer Suyianka Lempaa, the community wants the June 2017 ruling by the Environment Court ordering the eviction of its members from the disputed land set aside.

The appeal is based on 12 grounds, among them the decision to slap them with costs of the suit amounting to more than Sh11 million.

Mr Lempaa said the court did not give satisfactory reasons for the decision.

“State organs, including the Judiciary, should address the needs of…minority or marginalised communities and…particular ethnic or cultural groups under which…the appellants fall,” Mr Lempaa said on Wednesday.

He faulted the court for finding that the case, in which the community sought to have ownership of the land on grounds of adverse possession, lacked merit.

The lawyer said the community relied on the land, which was hived from the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, for livelihood, sustenance and survival.

“The judge failed to apply her mind properly to the matters…and failed to hold the scales of justice evenly,” the lawyer added.

Among the reasons the court dismissed the case was the community’s failure to list Ol Pejeta as an interested party.

DETERMINATION

The court also ruled that the community had never owned the land and that it did not prove the claim of adverse possession.

“The judge misdirected herself by failing to consider that once a proper determination was made that the appellants’ claim for adverse possession accrued when Ol Pejeta Conservancy was the registered owner, the only other elements of law the appellants had to prove were that they had been in actual, exclusive, peaceful, continuous and uninterrupted possession of the property for the requisite statutory period,” he added.

Mr Lempaa said the dismissal of the case was improper because the court did not allow a visit to the disputed land before issuing a determination on ownership.