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Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

 

MPs, cabinet secretaries to testify against Wazir Chacha

By GALGALO BOCHA
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Several MPs and Cabinet Secretaries are expected to record statements and testify against Wazir Benson Masubo, who allegedly conned them.

Masubo, alias Wazir Chacha, allegedly solicited money from the legislators and CSs disguised as a female legislator.

A Nairobi court on Tuesday granted Chief Inspector John Kipruto, the investigating officer, four days to complete  investigations  before making the appropriate charges.

“I require more time to complete my investigations  to enable me to recover other exhibits needed in this matter,” said Mr Kipruto, a senior Directorate of Criminal Investigations detective at the National Assembly.

Mr Kipruto told Senior Principal Magistrate Christine Njagi that he is investigating the 25-year-old for conspiracy to defraud, obtaining money by false pretence,  intent to defraud and impersonating a civil servant.

He said Chacha was arrested in Tanzania on Friday while allegedly attempting to escape to the Democratic Republic of  Congo.

However, Chacha, through his lawyer Job Ngeresa, opposed the application, saying the detective should have concluded his investigations during the three days his client was held at the Muthaiga Police Station.

The lawyer rebutted the claim that his client was a fugitive, saying he had gone to Muhimbili National Hospital, Mwanza, to seek treatment for a mental illness.

Mr Ngeresa said that his client’s brothers and other relatives had told him that Masubo suffers from a mental disorder and has been in and out of hospital.

The lawyer asked that Chacha be released on bond, and that he  be taken to Mathari Hospital for psychiatric assessment. He also opposed the application by the investigations officer to have Chacha  detained, saying police had  had ample time to conduct investigations since his arrest last Friday.

In her ruling, Ms Njagi directed that Mr Chacha be taken to Mathari Hospital for psychiatric assessment, and that the medical report be tabled in court on Monday, when she will issue further instructions.

She further ordered that he be detained at the Central police station for four days to allow the investigating officer time to complete his work.


Students turn on the style at national drama festival

By ANTHONY NJAGI
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Thrilling oral narratives, dances and plays marked Day One of the 59th edition of the Kenya National Drama and Film Festival that got underway at Lenana School in Nairobi on Tuesday.

Laiser Hill Academy’s Lennox Agwenge staged a gripping narrative titled The Hotbed which tells the story of a poor village school competing in the national drama festival for the first time.

The students are shocked and intimidated by how  their rivals have heavily invested in costumes and backdrops as compared to their modest spending on the same.

But in an interesting turn of events, they actually qualify for the gala – a performance for the president by winning teams –  because their items had a “Hotbed of Storylines.”

REAL SUBSTANCE

The story satirises some schools which heavily invest in gadgetry at the expense of the real substance – the story.

The narrative is scripted by Clifford Ouma popularly known in the festival circles as Nyakwar Dani, he of the Otonglo Time fame.

Kenya High School presented a Dholuo creative dance Alando. The heroine of the dance is neglected by her parents who are preoccupied with their careers, delegating their parental duty to ‘Jakasi’ (the house help).

Menengai High SchoolAn emotional moment in the play ‘Gorias Glory’ presented by Menengai High School from Nakuru County. PHOTO | ANTHONY NJAGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Menengai High School staged a play Gorias Glory’ scripted by Michael Kiguta, as Friends School Bukembe weighed in with a thrilling creative dance, Lutungu, scripted by Masibo Eric and choreographed by Orexided Barasa.

STAND-UP COMEDY

The dance revolves around two siblings. When they go to school, the daughter performs well but the son, dismally.

The son is rebuked by his father, who even chases him out of the family home, but his music talent saves him. In the meantime, pressure amounts on the father, after failing to raise money to take his daughter to college.

Maseno School presented a play on media freedom while Gathungururu Girls presented a stand-up comedy.

The festival was officially opened by Nairobi Regional Commissioner Kangethe Thuku, who said drama helps students polish their diction and appropriate intonation.

Others present were national chairman, Prof C.J Odhiambo, regional co-ordinator of education, Nairobi, John Ololtuaa, and the event executive secretary James Indimuli.

Host principal William Kemei said the festival does not only give students an opportunity to showcase their talent and cultural diversity, but was also a forum for uniting the country.


Biased judges soiling Judiciary, says CS Matiang'i

By JOHN NGIRACHU
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The controversy surrounding the deportation of opposition activist Miguna Miguna is the basis of a new cold war between the Executive and the Judiciary, with Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i saying there is a group of judges trapped in an unholy alliance with civil society groups and activist lawyers intent on embarrassing the government.

Dr Matiang’i told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday that his ministry has asked Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki to appeal his conviction by High Court Judge George Odunga last week for contempt of court for failing to produce Mr Miguna in court as ordered.

Also convicted were Immigration Principal Secretary Major-General (rtd) Gordon Kihalang’wa and Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet.

“There is a clique in the Judiciary that has been captured by the civil society and activist lawyers who want to embarrass the government,” said Dr Matiang’i. “It is an evil clique of judicial officers who want to drag us by the collar through trial by the public court.”

RECEIVING END

The Judiciary refused to comment on the accusations on Tuesday. It has been on the receiving end of the Executive since last year and, other than one-off assurances by Chief Justice David Maraga that it will safeguard its independence — he has previously warned that the attacks have become “bolder, persistent and institutionalised” — it has not made a strong case against the accusations.

Last year, Jubilee Party, through its secretary-general Raphael Tuju, sent a letter to Mr Maraga complaining about the conduct of Mr Odunga. Mr Tuju wanted the High Court Judge to recuse himself from cases filed against the government or he be replaced from his current assignments.

And, on July 9, 2017, President Uhuru Kenyatta accused the Judiciary of working with the Opposition when the High Court ruled that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission must re-advertise a tender for printing of presidential ballot papers. A day later, Deputy President William Ruto accused judges of working with the opposition to postpone elections.

FILE PETITIONS

On Tuesday, Dr Matiang’i told the Administration and National Security Committee of the National Assembly that his ministry will file petitions with the Law Society of Kenya against Mr Miguna’s lawyers for lying about the whereabouts of his Canadian passport, and with the Judicial Service Commission against judges for making a slew of orders “based on untruths”.

He said the judges had also refused to give the AG a chance to be heard in the High Court last week and ended up giving 11 orders against the Interior ministry ex-parte.

Of the judges singled out for working with the civil society, Dr Matiang’i only identified Justice Roselyn Aburili by name, but said they “are not more than five”. Justices Odunga, Luka Kimaru and Chaacha Mwita have handled the various cases involving Mr Miguna, and Justice Odunga is expected to report to his new station in Machakos today.

Justice Odunga convicted the CS, PS and IG for contempt and fined them Sh200,000 each; Justice Aburili ordered them to produce Mr Miguna in court; Justice Kimaru ordered the release of Mr Miguna hours before he was deported in February; and Justice Mwita ordered the ministry to facilitate Mr Miguna’s return.

Dr Matiang’i quoted the assertion by Justice Odunga last week that even if the Interior ministry trio appeared in court they would not be heard as proof that the intention has been to embarrass the government and appear heroic.

Mr Nelson Havi, one of Mr Miguna’s lawyers, could also find himself in trouble after he said in an affidavit that Mr Miguna’s Canadian passport had been taken by Kenyan immigration officials, only for the deported lawyer to say when he arrived back in Canada that he had hidden it all along.

“I want to see what the Law Society of Kenya and the Judicial Service Commission will do now that their officers have been caught lying on oath,” said Dr Matiang’i.

There has been discomfort in the Executive with the manner in which judges have been issuing orders against ministries and agencies, with the unease going back to the time Opposition MPs secured orders to have their security and firearm licences returned.

On the Miguna case, said Dr Matiang’i, none of the orders issued by the High Court last week have been served on Interior ministry officials. When Mr Miguna’s lawyers were prevented by police officers from serving officials with the orders at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport last week, they pasted them on a door and left.

The Cabinet Secretary lamented that the security sector has suffered the most from “one-sided decisions” by judges.

Apart from the orders on Mr Miguna, he cited the various orders secured by slot machine operators across the country that have made it difficult to clamp down on the betting industry. Dr Matiang’i wondered why the orders are issued to stop County Commissioners and other field officers rather than the Principal Secretary.

CRITICISED

The ministry has also criticised the orders by the High Court for the restoration of firearm licences for some MPs.

“We respect the Judiciary and we’ll respect court orders. All we are asking is that, as we respect the checks, we respect the balances as well. Judicial overreach is going beyond the checks and balances,” said Dr Matiang’i.

A majority of the committee’s members said the issue at the ministry appeared to have been an inability to communicate its side of the story as the drama at the airport escalated over the past week. Committee chairman Paul Koinange (Kiambaa, Jubilee) said Mr Miguna’s lawyers, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and, possibly, Mr Miguna, would also be invited to give their sides of the story.

The ministry has insisted that there is no way it could produce the self-declared general of the National Resistance Movement in court as he was not in their custody and had not entered Kenya after refusing to hand in his passport for stamping. Mr Miguna also tore up the forms provided to regularise his citizenship and refused the assistance of three consular officers from the Canadian High Commission in Kenya.

ISSUED IRREGULARLY

Dr Matiang’i said the basis for cancelling Mr Miguna’s passport was that it was issued irregularly when the late Otieno Kajwang’ was minister for Immigration and the lawyer an adviser in the Office of the then Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

He offered to submit the file to the committee to prove the fraud committed in issuing the passport.

The government realised Mr Miguna did not have a valid passport when he applied to renew his Canadian one 10 days to the next election, said Dr Matiang’i, and upon checking their records, found that he had a Kenyan one acquired irregularly.

The Cabinet Secretary said he did not know whether Mr Miguna was drugged before he was taken to Dubai last Friday. He said the lawyer was “removed from the airside at JKIA” but not deported as he has been saying.

Asked about the assault on journalists at the airport, the minister said the Independent Policing Oversight Authority is investigating the matter but insisted they should not have been filming at the immigration area.

Mr Kihalang’wa revealed that Mr Miguna would also have to regularise his identity card when he gets back into the country, but only after he regularises his passport.

He said the impression created, in photos taken by Kenya National Commission on Human Rights official Kamanda Mucheke, that Mr Miguna had been held in a toilet at the airport was false.

“That is a self-contained room with a bed, mattress and bedding,” said Gen Kihalang’wa.


Detectives: It was long hunt for Wazir Benson Chacha

By STELLA CHERONO
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The smiles he exhibited were tinged with anxiety which he tried to hide, as he gazed at the Muthaiga Police Station, where he would spend two nights waiting to be presented to court.

It was probably going to be the first time he was being ushered into the cells in the glare of the cameras from almost all media stations in the country. After all, he was now famous.

Beneath Wazir Benson Chacha’s articulate demeanour lies controversies. He is the man who allegedly extorted money from over five Members of Parliament (MPs) disguised as one of them. When this was discovered, he allegedly paid Sh648,000 to a Zanzibar hotel, where he intended to live for 10 months.

The 25-year-old, who has been using the name Jamal Chacha Mwita since he was declared wanted, was arrested at the prestigious PKM Inn in Tarime, located 20 kilometres from the Kenyan border, a day before he could travel to Zanzibar.

OBTAINING MONEY

A day after the Director of Criminal Investigations, George Kinoti, appeared before the National Assembly Security Committee to explain why police had not arrested Mr Chacha for obtaining money from MPs by falsely pretending to be Muranga Woman Rep Sabina Chege, a ‘Wanted’ poster was printed in the newspapers.

Mr Kinoti was offering a Sh20,000 award to whoever would volunteer information leading to his arrest, as he could not be traced. His telephone number and the one he had registered under Ms Chege’s name were all switched off.

The same day the poster was published, Mr Chacha is said to have booked an overnight bus to Migori and then took a taxi to Masaba to the house of former Kehancha Mayor Chacha Masubo who is his father.

“A day before he arrived, police officers had visited the home and, when he was informed, he went to his sister’s house in Kehancha. And this is when he briefly switched on his phone, signalling to the detectives about his whereabouts,” an officer attached to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations said.

DETECTIVES

As detectives sprung their trap on Sunday, March 25, Mr Chacha moved from Kehancha and, by the time detectives traced his sister’s house a day later, he had left.

“We traced the signal again to Isebania but the phone was on only for five minutes. We had an idea that he was going into Tanzania and so we moved there and informed the authorities there,” an officer who helped trace the suspect said.

Luckily for them, they acquired a telephone from a relative who had helped Mr Chacha make a call to Tanzania. The call was made to the PKM Inn.

“We suspected that he was there. It was a really hard task trying to locate this man. We had to interrogate several people to try and locate him. He was very careful not to leave any clue that would help us locate him,” the detective said.

The officers booked a room at the PKM Inn after realising that he was a guest there. They then monitored Mr Chacha’s moves for three days, getting to know his new number, the people he met and the calls he made.

MONEY TRANSFER

“On Thursday, March 29, Mr Chacha received some money through a money transfer company from someone in Dubai and the next morning, he booked a bus from Tarime to Dar es Salaam. He was then to travel to Zanzibar on Sunday,” the officer said, adding that he was booked in a Zanzibar hotel as Jamal Hussein Mwita.

He was arrested on Friday evening and police found on him two sim cards, the sim card plate for the phone registered under Ms Chege, a phone, several travel documents, his Identity Card with the name Waziri Benson Masubo issued in 2016 and a notebook. The ID card indicates that he was born in December 12, 1994 in Masaba.

Police also said that their investigations revealed that Mr Chacha had sent several emails to bloggers, attaching emailed WhatsApp conversations with a number of female MPs. The emails also contain several pictures and videos.

NUDE PICTURES

“The conversations indicate that  he had been communicating with several of them, and he even travelled with some of them to South Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania and Dubai,” an officer said. They also suspect he is the administrator of a page in social platform Telegram, where nude pictures are shared.

Mr Chacha brags having had intimate relationships with 13 female MPs and other women. The Nation has not authoritatively confirmed the authenticity of these claims.

Mr Kinoti told the National Assembly Security Committee that his office  had discovered that the suspect was in a special relationship with some MPs. He, however, did not reveal their names.

He said investigations revealed that the suspect’s ring was wide and his office intended to arrest more people.

The suspect came to the limelight after he shared on the net pictures of him and a former MP alleging that they had been having an affair.


Are we becoming richer than we thought, or is this ‘statistics’?

By JAINDI KISERO
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According to the recently published ‘Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey’ report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the incidence of poverty has been trending downwards in the past 10 years.

Inequality within the Kenyan society is also reducing. And the unemployment rate dropped from 12.7 per cent to 7.4 per cent over the same period.

But where is the wealth these statisticians are a seeing and measuring in this country?

We all still remember that memorable quote attributed to former British Premier Benjamin Disraeli and popularised by Mark Twain that goes: “There are three kinds of lies, damn lies and statistics.”

Statistics is supposed to be an exact science. Are the statisticians giving us damn lies? I don’t know.

STATISTICS

Granted, the KNBS has the largest repository of trained economists and statisticians in the country. The problem is that the people in power don’t regard statistics highly.

In some jurisdictions, national statistical offices enjoy as much independence as the Central Bank.

Just how low data and statistics are regarded by policymakers here was demonstrated in the last Cabinet structure, where our statistics office was placed under the Devolution and Planning Ministry — lumping it with several unrelated departments, including graft-riddled departments such as the National Youth Service (NYS) and the Youth Enterprise Fund.

In some countries, national statistics offices conduct household surveys — not only frequently, but also continuously. Here, industrial surveys and labour market reviews are done infrequently.

In the absence of regular and updated data, our policy makers literally fly blind when designing policy.

PUBLIC OUTRAGE

Last time, there was public outrage when census figures showed that the population of (now defunct) North Eastern Province had increased by 104 per cent within 10 years. In the ensuing furore, the results in some districts were cancelled.

The KNBS has just announced that the census that it plans to conduct in August will be preceded by cartographic mapping. This is a good thing because more use of technology will help KNBS to improve data quality.

With the explosion of mobile telephony, it’s only a question of time before the people become regular respondents in censuses and other surveys.

It is possible to use satellite imagery to literally see and gauge — from Outer Space — economic activity on highways, in ports and markets.

UNEMPLOYMENT

Tracking what people do, search or talk about on the Web can give you a picture of what they are engaged in. Still, what I find intriguing is how they come up with the numbers on unemployment. What constitutes a job in an urban economy that is informalising in very complex ways?

Does that able-bodied man who walks around Nairobi bars hawking secondhand clothes go into the books as employed? How about that hawker who walks along Uhuru Highway the whole day, his only stock in trade, fake Chinese hi-fi equipment and mobile phone accessories?

The jua kali sector is a place labour turns to only when the alternative is worklessness. These are just disguised forms of unemployment.

Yet, if you took random samples of the typical worker sitting in a matatu going to work in Nairobi, the majority will be hair stylists, fitness instructors, disco hall bouncers, cleaners, house-helps, watchmen, secondhand clothes hawkers and the workers in the car wash bays and kiosks.

SERVICES STALLS

A far greater majority will be jua kali mechanics, workers in M-Pesa outlets, employees of call centres, mobile telephone repair shops or photocopying and document binding services stalls.

Within the central business district, the formerly ubiquitous duka — as shops owned by Kenyans of Indian extraction were popularly known — are fast being supplanted by 10-by-10 so-called “exhibition” stalls selling uncustomed clothes, footwear, mobile phones and computers — which, invariably, will have been imported through Kismayu Port or Eldoret International Airport. Today, even the smallest urban area has a “Garissa Lodge” — jargon for such shops.

INFORMAL ECONOMY

But how many workers are employed in this informal economy and what wages do they earn? Clearly, the Integrated Household Budget Survey has painted too rosy a picture of living conditions.

We need to strengthen and fund the KNBS. And, for a start, can we rehabilitate or rebuild Herufi House — that derelict building that sticks out like a sore thumb between The National Treasury and the Central Bank of Kenya as if the sole purpose of its presence is to remind us that statistics is not important?


Indecent haste of SGR2A may be cover for opaqueness, short-cuts

By ROBERT SHAW
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The second phase of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR2A), which takes the line from Syokimau to Naivasha through the Nairobi National Park, is being railroaded through with indecent haste.

The SGR project was negotiated on a government-to-government basis, which raises the unhealthy spectre of opaqueness and poor value for money. Competitive bidding, not single-sourcing, should have taken place.

Even if this project is important and necessary to enhance the hub status of our economy, can one justify the amount spent or committed and the dearth of accountability? The government needs to be totally upfront about what collateral has been pledged and if, in any way, this involves the Port of Mombasa.

No sooner have we completed the first phase than we start committing more money to electrify it. We are told that an additional Sh24 billion will be borrowed to convert from diesel to electric. Why now? Why not when it was being constructed?

ELECTRIFICATION

The overall cost of SGR1 (Miritini to Syokimau) is in the region of Sh327 billion ($3.2 billion) — excluding electrification, which will obviously rise to Sh355 billion ($3.5 billion). Kenya has been paying Sh1.6 billion in interest alone every six months since 2014 and will start repaying the principal any time at around Sh14 billion per annum.

And how is SGR1 faring? It is struggling. Passengers have to get to Miritini or Syokimau; so, it is not a seamless trip to Nairobi or Mombasa. And even with good passenger numbers, it is ironical that its revenue is having a problem paying its day-to-day running costs and overheads. In terms of commercial viability, this is a bad sign as it has nothing to do with repaying the loans.

The freight side is even more questionable. One has to get the cargo to Miritini or Syokimau and arrange its onward connections, all at extra cost. Even the recent reduction of rates does not compensate for its lack of seamlessness.

STRONG ARM TACTIC

The government has also resorted to the strong arm tactic of making the transport of cargo it controls, or has influence over, go by SGR. Surely, this makes the cost of transporting that cargo more costly? Does it not amount to an indirect subsidy?

SGR2A is already running into strong headwinds. The plan for it to slice through the park is subject to increasing controversy and opposition.

It has also been the subject of considerable research. Professor Rodney Van der Ree of the University of Melbourne, Australia, says the SGR design showed seven alignments that interacted with the park: Two on the perimeter and five through it. But “in contrast to best global practice in EIA (environmental impact assessment), no options that completely avoided the park were considered”.

The EIA was inadequate to the extent of being an open and shut rushed sham. It failed the basic criteria of proper stakeholder consultation. It appears the result was pre-determined, which is tantamount to the process being a self-fulfilling exercise devoid of credibility.

COMPENASATION

Having sat through several sessions listening to an array of experts thoroughly trashing Nema’s EIA of the proposed Lamu Coal Power Plant, I would go as far as to say that this criticism is applicable.

Was the park route picked because it was the cheapest?

One of the constant issues that has arisen with the SGR is that of compensation. Was the decision made on the basis of economy and saving costs?

Other questions include why the segmented approach to the construction and what the overall cost of the next phase will be as well as the funding and repayment modalities.

The cost factor again is most pertinent because the route to Naivasha is a more complicated construction and will be costlier. And this is only the second of four stages.


Use broadband for universal healthcare

By ADAM LANE
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One of the most talked-about issues facing Kenya today is healthcare.

It was by design that President Uhuru Kenyatta included universal healthcare in his ‘Big Four’ agenda. The Kenya Private Sector Alliance also found it fitting to convene the Kenya Health Stakeholders Forum, whose theme was ‘Accelerating Progress Towards Realisation of Universal Health Coverage in Kenya’.

But we need to take the conversation beyond healthcare. Kenya is acclaimed as a major technology hub that is competing with globally renowned ones, even earning Nairobi the nickname “Silicon Savannah”.

It is an obvious advantage that sits in plain sight which, if taken up, can leapfrog the universal healthcare dream.

Kenya has among the best broadband coverage in Africa with upwards of 75 per cent of the population covered by mobile broadband and fibre broadband growing rapidly.

STRONG BUSINESS

And there would be a strong business case for extending the broadband coverage quickly. Research shows that preventative healthcare saves up to 14 times the amount that is spent on curative healthcare.

With much of its population youthful, Kenya can use a systematic and nationwide approach to health promotion campaigns using digital platforms — from SMS campaigns to apps to chat-based helplines to seed out self-help information on healthcare.

With a greater share of the health burden coming from non-communicable diseases, which often face the elderly, digital information is a low-cost way of providing education on how to keep healthy as well as manage existing health issues.

After prevention, the health continuum starts with diagnosis and then treatment.

We can use the existing health workforce more efficiently through remote training and consultations, as well as remote diagnosis using information from connected medical devices.

COST-EFFECTIVE

With so many new forms of diagnosis possible using apps on smartphones, or simple and cost-effective accessories that can be plugged into a smartphone, there is no reason to delay the use of these latest technologies.

On financing, the focus must not only be on getting or spending more money but using our existing resources more efficiently to get better health outcomes at less cost.

Health insurance systems will also be crucial, and digital systems are necessary to recruit members, verify details and provide rapid payments and reimbursements. With large amounts of such data, algorithms can predict and improve the management of resources, quality of services and financial models whilst reducing administration costs of the health and insurance systems.

Digital technology is also crucial in collecting and analysing timely data to improve the efficiency and quality of care delivered.

Beyond the existing low-cost cloud-connected diagnostic devices and software, broadband technologies can reduce fraud in procurement or sale of health products and the supply chains that ensure health products are kept cold and are always in stock.

Health infrastructure also needs to be broadened to not just include buildings, equipment and beds but also explicitly recognise the need for IT and broadband infrastructure, which needs to be seen as critically and fundamentally important as electricity and provided to all health facilities.

Service delivery can also be improved through more efficiency and a culture change — based on data that focuses on performance and outcomes and not just activities and resources.

Leadership and governance can leverage the use of good data to better measure, monitor and manage staffing and facilities; allocate and incentivise appropriate activities; and ensure appropriate accountability that ensures high productivity and quality.

Such data is also critical to health research.

HEALTH INFORMATION

Very few health facilities are using broadband; neither are patients using it to access health information and services.

It would not be expensive to provide broadband in the two-thirds of health facilities within range of a signal or to better communicate with staff, volunteers and patients over such networks to prevent and manage healthcare better.

If we do this, we can make better use of ongoing government investments in broadband infrastructure and then invest in reaching the health facilities and patients not yet covered.


Governors demand changes in Revenue Bill

By KENNEDY KIMANTHI
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Governors are demanding the inclusion of conditional grants and donor cash for development projects in the Division of Revenue Bill, which has been approved by the National Assembly.

Council of Governors chairman Josphat Nanok said on Tuesday they have reviewed the Bill and made recommendations to the Senate to include grants worth Sh1.5 billion from the Global Fund, which exclusively finances programmes on malaria, HIV and tuberculosis. 

The funds pass through the national government, which acts as the principal recipient, to the Ministry of Health for allocation to counties.

The Bill has itemized conditional allocations for leasing medical equipment — from Sh4 billion to Sh9 billion. The governors however said they are not privy to any agreements on the funds.

The Revenue Bill is the annual law passed by Parliament for the sharing of funds between the national government and the counties.

The Bill is in the Senate and is on track for approval in Parliament before the end of the financial year.

Mr Nanok, who is also the Turkana Governor, pointed out that Sh1.8 billion from the Agricultural Sector Development Programme was also not provided for in the Bill.

He asked the Senate to reject the Bill over its failure to raise the allocation for the Road Maintenance Fuel Levy Fund from 15 to 19 per cent.

DEVOLVED UNITS

According to the Bill, devolved units will receive Sh8.3 billion, which is 15 per cent of the levy fund.

The increment to close to 20 per cent was agreed on at a meeting of the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council chaired by Deputy President William Ruto.

Mr Nanok said the council’s recommendations have been sent to the Senate’s Finance & Budget Committee.

“The Council recommends that the Senate spearheads legislative amendments of the Intergovernmental Relations Act to safeguard intergovernmental agreements and to fast-track the disbursements of county funds,” Mr Nanok said in a statement after an Extra Ordinary meeting of the council in Nairobi on Tuesday.


Varsity students cry foul as dons skip class in pay protest

By NATION TEAM
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Jane Akinyi, a fourth-year education student at Kenyatta University was to start her final semester in March, but that has not happened.

A few days after reporting back, lecturers went on strike. She stayed in the university for two weeks without learning and she is now at home as she awaits a solution, which might not come soon due to the hard-line positions taken by the government and the lecturers’ union.

This is the fourth time she has been affected by strikes in one academic year; first was in March, then July, and in December last year.

Last month, a student identified as Joy Kinya took to social media to appeal to President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene and end the strike that has paralysed learning in the 31 public universities.

“Mr President, this should have been my last month studying on campus. I should have done my final exams in April. It is the 29th day of March and I am yet to start my January semester,” said Ms Kinya.

PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES

She is among thousands of students in the public universities who have been forced to stay idle due to the strike.

And the standoff may not end soon as lecturers have lined up several protests to push for negotiations of the 2017-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), while the government insists on a staff audit and job evaluation.

University of Nairobi Vice-Chancellor Peter Mbithi told the Nation that the strike had badly affected learning in the institutions.

The university has about 300 international students, who have had to stay around or go back to their countries as they await the end of the strike.

Despite threats by vice-chancellors to discipline lecturers for participating in the strike, they have remained defiant.

 At Kisii University, Richard Muthii, a third-year student of software engineering, said the strike had turned he and his colleagues into idlers.

“Since we have not been attending classes, most of us have been forced to go back home,” he said.

STAYING AT HOME

The student’s union president, Peter Kuria, said they were tired of staying at home as they wait for their tutors’ pay crisis to be resolved.

Samuel Wasike faulted the government for ignoring the dons’ plea, saying they should be paid well as they play a big role in shaping professionals.

On Egerton University’s Main Campus at Njoro and the Nakuru Town campus,  more than 90 per cent of the students are away.

Those remaining on the campuses are only participating in co-curricular activities.

 “I should have completed my third year and would be on industrial attachment, but we hadn’t even started the second semester. We are being told we will go for the field attachment after completing the fourth year,” Esther Nyamoita told the Nation.

 “The fourth-year group has not gone for attachment and they are expected to graduate. We are yet to receive our second-year transcripts, despite being half way through third year. We are afraid our graduation might be pushed longer,” Loventer Ochari said.

RESOLVE IMPASSE

At Maseno University, a third-year student, Denis  Jade, from  Taita-Taveta County, said he would not go back home as he called on the government to resolve the impasse.

 “It is unfortunate that we have faced four major strikes in a span of one year. I hope that the ongoing strike will not result in us staying longer than scheduled,” he said.

Ms Mercy Atieno, who sells food at Maseno shopping centre, lamented poor business due to the strike.

At Karatina University, both the students and the lecturers have stayed away from the lecture halls save for a few students.

Calvin Omollo, a third-year agriculture student, is one of those who have not gone home.

 “The cost of transport is high and it is better to save the money as we do not know when the strike will end,” he said.

Some students have resorted to picking tea on farms surrounding the school, while others are working as casuals for the contractor building the access road to the university for their upkeep.

DISRUPTED LEARNING

Universities Academic Staff Union Secretary-General Constantine Wasonga said thought the strike had disrupted learning, the government must negotiate with them.

Last month, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich told the National Assembly’s Education Committee that talks with lecturers could only take place once a jobs evaluation had been conducted.

He dismissed the talks between union and universities management that started last December and collapsed in February.

The CS said they were not of any value as the lecturers had stopped job evaluation through a court and yet it  was to guide the negotiation.

Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) Secretary General Francis Atwoli asked the government and trade unions to embrace dialogue to avert strikes.

Mr Atwoli attributed the increased strikes to lack of understanding between unions and the government.

He spoke in Nairobi, after meeting Public Service Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia.

“Dialogue is an international phenomenon that people engage in where there are differences. When we embrace dialogue, we will minimise these strikes,” he said.

The Cotu boss defended the trade unions against claims that they were quick to call strikes before engaging the government in dialogue, and sometimes walking out on the government during negotiations.

“Trade unions are not keen on their members going on strike. We are always open for dialogue,” he said.

 Reports by Irene Mugo, Ndung’u Gachane, Alex Njeru, Victor Raballa, Peter Mburu, Ouma Wanzala and Silas Apollo


MOC uncovers secret for Malawi’s football progress

By Brian Longwe

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Malawi Olympic Committee (MOC) says it is committed to exposing skilled and talented young footballers to be participating at national level.

According to MOC Co-opted Executive Board Member Rose Chinunda, the committee is undertaking such intervation through FutbolNet sporting activity which exposes hidden football talents from boys and girls aged below 15 years.

Chinunda said this in Lilongwe during a FutbolNet Cup which MOC organised with financial support from FC Barcelona in Spain, International Olympic Committee and Audi.

She further explained that FutbolNet equips children with more skills and values hence exposing them to famous football clubs within and outside the country.

Chinunda added “Our main target as Olympic Committee are the pupils from primary school. We discovered that there are alot of children at grassroot level who have bright future in football but they fail to make it up to the top, that is why MOC adopted this activity from FC Barcelona.”

“Malawi has already started reaping sweet fruits from FutbolNet. As of now, one of the boys who have been participating in this sport has been identified by Super League team, Masters Security,” Chinunda said.

Echoing on this, Centre Director and Project Officer at Malawi Olympic Committee Lovemore Kasonya said FutbolNet has 6 values which are commitment, respect, responsibility, effort, tolerance and teamwork.

Kasonya explained that the values are also paramount in fostering behavioural change among children.

FutbolNet was introduced in Malawi in the year 2014 and since then, teams from the country have been participating in competitions with other countries like Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mauritius and South Africa.

In his remarks, Chasonya said that during the cup, talented children will be picked to play with teams from other countries such as Zambia and Zimbabwe in June 2018.

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