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Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

 

70% of Tongan population affected in wake of Tropical Cyclone Gita

The full scale of destruction is beginning to emerge from Tonga in the aftermath of the severe tropical cyclone Gita.

Around 50,000 people, or almost 70% of the country’s population, have been affected, a third of whom are children.

Water supplies across the main island of Tongatapu have sustained significant damage, making the risk of further outbreaks of waterborne disease a very real threat. Tonga was already addressing an outbreak of dengue fever in Tongatapu before the storm hit.

Jane Foster, Oxfam’s country director for Tonga, said: “Homes have been destroyed, government buildings flattened, and churches devastated. We have one report of a man, who is one of our local partners, sheltering in his home with his family as part of it was ripped away while they watched in horror.

“The impact of this severe storm will be felt on many people’s livelihoods for a long time to come. We also have grave concerns for the immediate threat from damage sustained to water supplies as the risk of contamination is high. There is a real risk of a second disaster from water and mosquito borne illnesses like dengue.”

“Our focus right now is to support our local partners to conduct assessments as quickly as possible – they are out there now finding out exactly where the most urgent needs are. Oxfam’s main relief efforts will focus on our area of expertise: providing safe water for people, as well as sanitation supplies and public health support to help prevent the spread of water-borne diseases.”

Severe tropical cyclone Gita made landfall in the southern part of Fiji last night. Ms Foster said the agency was deeply concerned for communities in the outer islands, who are yet to make contact.

“Some of these islands that are going to be affected are extremely remote and hard to reach in the best of times. We hope that preparedness plans and evacuation centres keep people safe until support reaches them.”

New Zealanders wanting to support people affected by Cyclone Gita are urged to ensure their generosity has the biggest impact by sending cash, not goods, Ms Foster said. “In a disaster, many people are often moved to send goods they think can help. But for the cost of shipping nine litres of bottled water from New Zealand to Nuku’alofa, Oxfam can produce over 16,200 litres of safe drinking water in Tonga.”


El río Pilcomayo en la Argentina no baja y complica el regreso a casa

Las lluvias que se registran en la zona y los niveles del río Pilcomayo, que no ceden, complican las tareas de reconstrucción, especialmente de las zonas de La Curvita, Monte Carmelo y Marca Borrada.

Aunque la situación en Santa Victoria Este parece tranquila, el río Pilcomayo no cede y complica el regreso a casa de los evacuados de los parajes ubicados en la costa, mientras el paso por la ruta provincial 54 permanece cortado hacia Misión La Paz, informó el Comité de Emergencia.

Por eso, los pobladores que estaban retornando a sus hogares soportaron nuevos anegamientos.

En Misión La Paz y Pozo Hondo, el Pilcomayo marcó esta mañana 6,43 metros en creciente, mientras que en Villa Montes, río arriba, estaba en 4 con tendencia a la baja.

Los voceros del Comité Permanente de Emergencia de Salta indicaron que el río no tiene una crecida estable sino en sube y baja, según los distintos sectores del cauce.


Malawi First lady for hygiene practices

Thyolo, February 13, 2018:  The country’s First Lady, Gertrude Mutharika on Monday reiterated the need for communities in Malawi to follow hygiene and health practices to prevent communicable diseases such as cholera.

The First Lady said this at Luchenza Catholic Primary School when she presided over a cancer awareness meeting.

This comes in the wake of cholera outbreak in some parts of Malawi.

During the awareness meeting, people had a chance to learn more on family planning, cholera, esophagus, breast and cervical cancer from different health experts.

“Every household ought to have a toilet that must be used by all. However, we should also remember to wash hands every time we visit the toilet and whenever we are preparing food,” said the First Lady.

She then asked Malawians that had gathered at the meeting to always rush to the hospital whenever they fall sick, so that they remain healthy and take part in the development of their families and the country at large.

Mutharika also tackled on family planning, where she urged women to take family planning seriously.

“Let’s have children that we can manage to take care of. Time is past where one will depend on relations to assist in the upbringing of our children, we should have children that we can manage to clothe and send to school,” advised Mutharika.

On cervical cancer, the First Lady took time to encourage women to go for cancer screening individually or in different groupings that they belonged to.

“Let’s not be afraid, it’s a simple process, it’s painless and it does not take time. Cervical cancer is difficult for one to identify at home as its signs are difficult to detect, as such, let us make time and go to the hospital for screening in large numbers so that we are treated in time,” she said.

In his welcome remarks, Sub Traditional Authority Ndalama expressed gratitude to the First Lady for taking time to raise awareness on cancer and other life threatening diseases.

Ndalama said the First Lady’s visit had really encouraged and empowered the women to demand their rights on health.

“The safe motherhood programs that you are undertaking in the country are helping to make lives of mothers healthy. We ask you to continue with these visits so that you reach out to a lot of women in this country,” said Ndalama.

Malawi is one of the countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa where a lot of women have died and some are suffering from cervical.

As one way of showing love and respect for the elderly, the First Lady distributed hampers with assorted items to over 400 men and women.

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Mchinji man arrested for murdering cousin over sex with his wife

Mchinji, February 13, 2018: Police in Mchinji have arrested a 40 year-old man Ezala Kamwendo for murdering his cousin, after catching him red-handed having sex with his wife.
Mchinji Police Publicist, Kaitano Lubrino told Malawi News Agency (MANA) that in September last year, Lebiasi Timoti who hails from Mavwere Village, T/A Mavwere in Mchinji reported to the police that his younger brother, Smith Timoti (now deceased) had gone missing.

Lubrino said investigations were instituted until the month of January this year, where the suspect, Ezala Kamwendo of the same area, who is also the cousin to the missing person, was nabbed after he was connected in telephone call-log investigations.

In his statement, the suspect confessed and disclosed to the police that he killed his cousin by strangulating his neck on September 17, 2017, after he had personally caught him having sexual intercourse with his wife at Kuphazi Village in the area of Chief Katsabola in Mozambique about five kilometres from Malawi.

The Police PRO said the revelation forced Mchinji Police Management to send a team of police officers who worked jointly with the Mozambican counterparts and visited the place.

The suspect led the investigating teams from Malawi and Mozambique to Liwuye River, where he claimed to have buried the body. The police exhumed the body of Timoti which was found in a decomposed state.

Kamwendo will appear before court soon to answer a case of murder which is contrary to section 209 of the penal code.

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Standard Bank offers 10% interest rate loan to Civil Servants

In a quest to continue providing tailor-made financial solutions to customers Standard Bank has launched a new loan offer that allows civil servants to get loans of up to K15 Million at a low interest of 10 percent.

Announcing the offer, Head of Products Charity Mughogho said Civil Servants loan represents Bank’s bold commitment towards fulfilling its promise to move our customers forward along with it are on the journey into the future.

“This Civil Servant loan service gives Standard Bank customers the swiftness and real-time efficiencies befitting. It allows customers working with Malawi Government to acquire loans at an interest rate of 10 percent against the standard interest rate of 25 %,” said Mughogho.

Mughogho said as a bank that strives to make progress real and to lead according to its motto of moving forward by bringing to its customers superior and innovative banking solutions to meet their customer’s needs.

“Moving Forward, Standard Bank remains committed to transforming the lives of our customers for the better and to contribute to the country’s prosperity. We believe that when our customers are empowered with financial solutions that meet their needs, they will be better placed to contribute meaningfully to their personal and business life as well as the nation. Ultimately, we are passionate about moving our customers forward,” he said

According to Mughogho all Civil Servants of Grades P7 and above (as per instructions from Malawi Government) can now access a loan of up to MK15, 000,000 with a maximum period of 72 months upon opening a salaried account with the bank.

Mughogho also made reference to the recently launched bouquet of digital products, “We have also recently rolled out a number of Digital Products ranging from our mobile app, USSD accessed through *247#, as well as our revitalized internet banking, all of which allow customers to make transfers in and outside Standard Bank, bill payments and other value added services. In addition to that we also introduced E-Commerce which allows customers to purchase goods online through their card. Having recently concluded our card based promotion we would also like to encourage the civil servants to take part in these exciting offerings” she said.

In his remarks Assistant Accountant General Abel Mwambinga welcomed the initiative saying it will go a long way in ensuring that Civil Servants access bank services.
“We are so excited with this initiative of Standard Bank because you know we are busy people and them coming here providing banking services will reduce the time we spend in banks. It is a welcomed initiative we are very excited about it,” said Mwambinga.

For Civil Servants require accessing the loans they need to discuss with their line ministry, open a Transactional Account with Standard Bank, channel salary to the account for at least a month and provide a 6 months statement from the previous banker.

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Catholic Church in purple revolution to counter Valentine’s red

By BONIFACE MWANGI
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The Catholic Church vowed to start a purple colour revolution Wednesday to counter the red that is normally associated with Valentine’s Day.

The Church said Tuesday it would also oppose efforts to celebrate World Condoms Day, saying condoms are not a real and moral solution.

The Church said it will continue to campaign against use of condoms, and asked faithful who are not married to abstain from sex as one solution to stop the spread of HIV/Aids.

It also asked married couples to stick to one partner. 

Fr Peter Githinji, the head of Health Nyeri Archdiocese, said faithfulness in marriages will see the world become free from HIV/Aids in a few years to come.

“Today, many couples and lovers will paint their towns red to mark and celebrate Valentine’s Day but for us as Catholic faithful, we will colour our towns and villages with purple,” said Fr Githinji.

“This will symbolise two things, one, the start of Lent season — a 40-day period of fasting and penitence observed by many Christians in preparation for Easter,” added Fr Githinji.

REPENTANCE

The purple colour is also used to seek repentance and hope from God, and it is for this reason that Fr Githinji said they will also use the occasion to campaign against the use of condoms as they seek repentance on-behalf of those who have been advocating and using them.

“Although we support the lovers’ day, it’s good the Lord made it coincide with Ash Wednesday so that we can celebrate both in a different style, which is abstinence from condom usage,” he said.

Fr Githinji urged Catholic faithful and other Kenyans who are supporting the Church to turn up in large numbers donning purple, and help in sensitising youth, who are the most targeted, to shun condoms.

According to the Roman Catholic, all condoms are fake since they have been scientifically proven that they have micro-pores.

“This is a business gimmick being played by manufactures who continue to milk money from poor people,” Fr Githinji told Nation.

He said: “Using condom contradicts the divine plan to bring new life and this latex-rubber products are not 100 per cent efficient. It is because of this reason that we strongly condemn any artificial contraceptive.”

He said usage of condoms has encouraged sex among young people who end up contracting HIV/ Aids, sexually transmitted diseases and getting unwanted pregnancies.

Fr Githinji said couples have been lured to polygamy and out-of-marriage relationships because of condom use.

Fr Githinji said they will Wednesday also launch a drive to sensitise youth on the dangers of early sex, polygamy and usage of condoms.


Man tapped to head State Law Office has rich stint at Judiciary

By SAM KIPLAGAT
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Justice Paul Kihara Kariuki, the man President Uhuru Kenyatta has tapped to head the State Law Office and Department of Justice, was appointed a Judge of the High Court in October 2003 by President Mwai Kibaki.

The judge, known for carrying his ink and fountain pen to the courtroom, occasionally cracks jokes during court sessions.

This is especially when lawyers tire litigants with their legalese.

He would also act as the master of ceremonies when the Judiciary holds big occasions, because of his oratory skills.

STAREHE PETITION

Among the cases he heard and concluded during his tenure as a Judge of the High Court is an election petition filed by Maina Kamanda against Bishop Margaret Wanjiru for the Starehe seat.

He nullified the election and ordered a by-election.

Other than his stint at Milimani Commercial Courts, Justice Kariuki also served as a Judge in Machakos.

During his stint at the High Court, he was made the Director of the Judicial Training Institute by Chief Justice Willy Mutunga.

He was succeeded in the position by High Court Judge Prof Joel Ngugi.

COURT OF APPEAL

In 2012, he was elevated to the Court of Appeal and in February 22, 2013, Justice Kariuki was elected the President of the Court, beating his sole opponent, Justice David Maraga, after two rounds of voting.

And, although he beat Justice Maraga to the seat, it was the latter who would have the last laugh, after becoming the President of the Supreme Court and the second Chief Justice in the new constitutional dispensation.

This is because, for many years, speculation was rife that Justice Kariuki would succeed retiring Chief Justice Evan Gicheru.

Before his appointment as a judge, Justice Kariuki served as Chancellor of the Anglican Church of Kenya. He also served as the Director of the Kenya School of Law.

In September 2013, judges of the Court of Appeal defied him after he directed them to move to Elgon Place within a week.

The judges declined to move in, arguing that the telecommunications equipment around the building was emitting radioactive materials harmful to their health.

PIONEER LAW FIRMS

Justice Kihara is a former partner in one of the country’s pioneer law firms, Hamilton Harrison & Mathews.

He later moved to Ndung’u Njoroge and Kwach before being appointed a Judge of the High Court.

At the Court of Appeal he, together with William Ouko, Patrick Kiage, Gatembu Kairu and Agnes Murgor, overturned a decision of the High Court that had thrown out former Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission chairman Mumo Matemu on integrity issues.

The bench set aside the whole of the decision saying that the case did not provide adequate particulars of the claims relating to the alleged violations of the Constitution and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Act, 2011.

“The High Court misapplied the rationality test in adopting a standard of review antithetic to the doctrine of separation of powers,” the court said.

The Judges agreed that the High Court was entitled to conduct a review of appointments to State or Public Office to determine the procedural soundness as well as the appointment decision itself, to determine if it meets the constitutional threshold.


Schools race against time to join digital data platform

By OUMA WANZALA
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Schools are racing against time to provide details of students to the government for provision of personal student identification numbers.

The schools have until February 20 to provide the details with private schools now asking for more time, saying most schools have not received codes to help them upload the details.

The Ministry of Education has developed a comprehensive National Education Management Information System that is expected to give timely, accurate and reliable data to support evidence based policy development in the sector.

“We are on track and hope to complete the exercise as was directed by the government,” said Kenya Primary School Heads Association (Kepsha) chairman Shem Ndolo (left).

However, Kenya Private Schools Association chief executive Peter Ndoro said some schools may not beat the deadline.

“Private schools are excited with the programme; we are implementing it. However, a few schools do not have codes and thus may need seven more days to complete the exercise,” said Mr Ndoro.

According to Education Principal Secretary Dr Belio Kipsang, the development will enable the ministry to capture critical data on students.

Dr Kipsang hailed the new system, adding: “In the past we have been collecting data manually, but this year we have transcended to the e-platform for data collection, marking the beginning of a new digital dispensation in data management.”


Experts want State to freeze hiring of civil servants

By JOHN NGIRACHU
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A proposal to freeze employment of civil servants in a bid to keep the budget in check is set for debate in Parliament.

Parliament’s experts on economic policy and budgeting, who made the proposal, said this will make the budget manageable and realistic.

In a report prepared for MPs before the start of the budgeting cycle in Parliament, they said employment should focus only on essential services like security, health and education.

“The public wage bill has grown significantly over the past years; a freeze in employment and allowing natural attrition to take place will slow down the wage growth,” said the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO).

REDUCE SPENDING

The experts said freezing employment will reduce government spending and ensure focus was on other activities that contributed to economic growth.

The government spends nearly half of the money it collects as taxes on civil servants’ pay, according to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

The amount has increased from Sh464.9 billion in 2012/13 financial year to Sh675.8 billion in the 2016/17 financial year.

The freeze was among measures proposed by the office to reduce the budget deficit – the difference between what the government plans to spend and what it realistically thinks it can get in the form of revenue.

Another measure would be for the government to reduce its planned expenditure and only increase to allow for inflation, the report said.

“The 2018/19 budget should not exceed Sh2.2 trillion – 2017/18 budget excluding one-off payments. All government expenditure must be reorganised to fit this plan,” said PBO, adding that if this was done, the government could save Sh200 billion.

In its draft Budget Policy Statement, the Treasury said it intended to spend Sh2 trillion in the coming financial year.

This would be shared out among the national government (Sh1.7 trillion), Parliament (Sh31.8 billion), Judiciary (Sh17.8 billion) and counties (Sh315.4 billion).

Overall, the government’s spending has been increasing at a faster rate than its revenue collection. Spending increased by an estimated 20 per cent over the last seven years but revenue has grown by only 13 per cent.

This has forced the government to resort to borrowing to fund expenditure, especially investment in capital projects such as infrastructure. Now, most of the development is funded by loans.

PLANNED EXPENDITURE

PBO, which works closely with the departmental as well as the Appropriation committees, also proposed the reduction in government spending or sticking to the planned expenditure.

“Consider fully costed, quantifiable, policy driven rationalisation measures that will reduce the budget by Sh32 billion,” it said.

Treasury should also stick to the approved borrowing plan as well as the set limits, said the experts.

They also recommended that the government concentrate on finishing ongoing projects before embarking on new ones.

“In addition, the budget estimates should be accompanied by a detailed report on completed, ongoing and future projects,” said the experts.

PBO said in 2016 there were more than 1,000 pending projects at the time that would cost a cumulative Sh3 trillion to complete.

The office also indicated its concern at debt guarantees by the government to State-owned enterprises.

That debt is currently at Sh135.8 billion, just Sh64 billion short of the Sh200 billion threshold.

PBO said the risk on these kind of debts was that should the parastatals default, the debt would have to be paid by the national government, adding to an already significant burden.


Lovestruck or lonely? Celebs’ Valentine plans

By NJOKI CHEGE
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By THOMAS MATIKO
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Today’s big question is; how will you be spending your Valentine’s Day?

While a majority of Kenyans will be spending the day at work, the festivities will begin in the evening for those who are keen on Valentine, where they perhaps spend time with their significant others.

It will be an evening when men will be expected to buy flowers, chocolates, gifts and take their partners out for dinner.

It will also be an evening when some single young men might be carried away by the day’s mood and choose to get down on bended knees to propose to their girlfriends.

CELEBRITIES

As Kenyans spend the day with loved ones, their favourite celebrities in the music industry will be spending their day in various ways as Nation found out.

While some of these local celebrities are die-hard romantics, we also found some interesting attitudes about Valentine’s Day.

Polycarp Otieno, a guitarist and music producer with popular boy-band Sauti Sol, says he will ensure that his girlfriend will not get out of bed today as he will cook for her every single meal of the day. 

“She is creative like me so she does not have to go to work today,” Polycarp said.

According to the musician, Valentine’s Day does not mean much to him because it is only a one-day affair.

He urges couples to make efforts every day to express love and care for each other without necessarily waiting for Valentine’s Day.

“The kind of love you give to your partner should be constant. Don’t give them love today and be selfish the next day. Relationships are about consistency,” he said.

NYOTA NDOGO

Musician Nyota Ndogo will be alone because her Danish husband is away at the moment.

“How am I supposed to spend the day when my husband is not around? I will be indoors watching romantic movies,” she said.

Popular gospel DJ Sammy Muraya popularly known as DJ MO told Nation he plans to surprise his wife, gospel artiste Linet Munyali who is known as Size 8.

The couple will take their baby to her grandmother’s home in Thika to make room for a romantic dinner. “I plan to surprise mama. I will take her out for dinner in a nice hotel within the city, we spend the night there and then return the next day,” he said.

Rapper Jua Cali seems to be reading from the same script, and will be spending the evening with his wife and mother of his three children.

It will also be a time for the couple to catch up and reflect on “how far we have come.”

 Songbird Amani will be with her family. Gospel musician DK Kwenye Beat will be spending time with his girlfriend. 

Jemutai of Churchill Show regards Valentine as a normal working day and will be auditioning for the upcoming Naivasha Churchill Show.

Mamito, another comedienne, will not expect much for the day, save for a planned meeting and later “sleep all day.” 

Master Piece, a gospel artist, will be spreading the cheer to the less fortunate in society because he is currently single.  Coast-based musician Susumila does not believe there is anything special about the day.

“And who said that we should celebrate love on Valentine’s Day? Mapenzi ni kitu cha kila siku…”