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Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

 

Chebukati’s decision unfair, says Ezra Chiloba

By JOHN NGIRACHU
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Electoral commission chief executive Ezra Chiloba has questioned the directive by chairman Wafula Chebukati to send him on compulsory leave to allow for an audit of major procurements last year.

On Monday, Mr Chiloba wrote to Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission vice- chairperson Consolata Maina, who is acting in the absence of Mr Chebukati, expressing concern about the manner in which the decision to make him proceed on leave was arrived at.

“As the aggrieved person in this matter, I wish to state that I am not opposed to proceeding on leave. However, you must bear in mind that there are some procedural gaps in that decision leading to injustice and unfairness,” he said in the letter seen by the Nation.

Mr Chiloba said he is in the process of preparing a handover report in compliance with the chairman’s memo and notified Ms Maina that Mr Marjan Hussein, the deputy CEO, would take over in his absence.

The CEO also took issue with the fact that the decision was made by Mr Chebukati and two commissioners and that neither he nor Mr Hussein was in the meeting, “meaning that there was no one to take minutes”.

Among the procurements related to the ICT component of the election was a Sh2.4 billion tender to Safran Morpho for the modification of the Kenya Integrated Election Management System kits for the repeat presidential election on October 26.

The tender was one of the reasons put forward by Nasa for the withdrawal of their candidate, Mr Raila Odinga, from the repeat election after the Supreme Court annulled the August 8 poll. In its successful petition, Nasa had also sought access to the electoral agency’s servers to help prove its claim that the election was rigged. Nasa said the agency did not fully comply with the order.

In a response, Ms Maina also questions the process leading to the decision to send on compulsory leave Mr Chiloba, whose five-year contract expires in January 2020. “I take note that the memo by the chairman to you was not copied to the commissioners,” she told Mr Chiloba in the memo written on Monday.

Ms Maina, however, said Mr Chebukati had written another memo to Mr Hussein that was copied to other commissioners asking the deputy CEO to include additional resolutions from the Friday meeting in the minutes.

RESOLUTIONS

The “additional resolutions” she was referring to include the decision to send Mr Chiloba on leave. “Unfortunately, I was not at the meeting where the additional resolutions were made. I am made to understand only the chairman and two commissioners were present. With regard to the issues you have raised in your memo, they will be effectively responded to by the chairperson on his return,” said Ms Maina.

On Monday, Mr Chebukati defended the decision, saying it was endorsed by a majority of the members of the commission. “It is important to note that in making the decision to carry out a comprehensive audit, the commission is performing its oversight role to safeguard public resources,” he said.

OFFICIAL DUTY

The chairman left for Nigeria over the weekend on official duty. Friday’s meeting was attended by five of the six commissioners – Mr Chebukati, Ms Maina, commissioners Abdi Guliye, Boya Molu and Paul Kurgat. Ms Margaret Mwachanya was in Dubai on an official assignment.  Ms Maina and Dr Kurgat are said to have walked out in protest when Mr Chebukati introduced the agenda for removal of the CEO.

Another commissioner, Dr Roselyn Akombe, resigned and fled the country last year ahead of the repeat presidential election.

AUDIT REPORT

“The commission’s plenary meeting held on Friday April 6 received and discussed an audit report on some procurement matters. Subsequently, it was decided through a majority voting to expand the audit scope and that the CEO proceeds on compulsory leave for a period of three months to enable conclusion of the audit,” Mr Chebukati said in a press statement.

Mr Chiloba has survived several attempts to oust him, the latest being last month when the board was split down the middle with three for and three against his removal. The scales against him this time round appear to have been tilted by Ms Mwachanya’s absence. The audit will be undertaken by the Office of the Auditor-General.


Raila rails at Wetang’ula in Nasa wrangle

By IBRAHIM ORUKO
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Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and its leader Raila Odinga have responded angrily to statements by Bungoma senator Moses Wetang’ula in which he alleged that Mr Odinga conspired to have him sacked as the Senate Minority Leader.

In separate statements on Tuesday, the two claimed that Mr Wetang’ula was being dishonest and was trying to hide behind Mr Odinga to mask his personal failures during his stint as the Minority Leader.

“Mr Wetang’ula’s sentiments are dishonest, frivolous and evasive. They are meant only to whip up emotions and sympathy over problems of his own making,” Mr Odinga said in a statement issued by his spokesman, Mr Dennis Onyango.

FALSEHOODS

Late Tuesday, the Nasa Parliamentary Group also released a statement criticising Mr Wetang’ula’s “bloated ego and falsehoods,” declaring that his removal was as a result of a unanimous decision by the parliamentary group in compliance with the law and the Senate Standing Orders.

Announcing that he had totally broken ranks with Mr Odinga, Mr Wetang’ula said on Monday: “I know for a fact that nothing happens in the rank and file of ODM without the knowledge, sanction and even approval of its leader.”

Mr Odinga had denied knowledge of the plot to bring down Mr Wetang’ula and convened a meeting at which the matter was going to be discussed further. By that time, however, Mr Wetang’ula had already been sacked and replaced by Siaya Senator and a confidant of Mr Odinga, Mr James Orengo. Mr Wetang’ula angrily refused to attend the meeting, saying he was no longer interested in the post.

REJECTED CLAIMS

In an interview with the Nation on Monday, Mr Wetang’ula further claimed that the decision by the coalition to pull out of last year’s October 26 repeat presidential election was not properly discussed within the coalition, accusing the ODM wing of the coalition of having forced the matter down the throat of other partners.

ODM rejected the claims as “false”.

Mr Onyango clarified that Mr Wetang’ula was rejected by senators from all the Nasa parties, not just ODM, pointing out that, to date, none of the Nasa senators has come out to support him.

“That kind of rejection is unprecedented and pointed to a deeprooted problem between him and his colleagues,” Mr Onyango noted, revealing that the problems had come out clearly in a meeting at Panafric Hotel called by Mr Odinga to allegedly broker peace between the senator and his colleagues.

“The senators accused Mr Wetang’ula, in his presence, of being aloof, selfish, arrogant and having the tendency to impose decisions on them under the pretext that they were directives from the Summit, which often was not the case.”

Mr Onyango claimed that Mr Odinga, as the Nasa boss, “did all he could” to save Mr Wetang’ula’s job, including instructing the coalition’s chief executive Norman Magaya to write to the Senate to retain him.

Such a letter would have had no effect because, according to Senate rules, the leader is elected by senators, not appointed by party bosses.

“The persistent efforts by Mr Wetang’ula to avoid the facts and blame his problems on Mr Odinga point to a personal vendetta and a refusal to face and deal with the truth,” said Mr Onyango.

In their statement released through their leader James Orengo, the legislators insisted that Mr Odinga had no role in the decision. They said Mr Wetang’ula was sacked out of the need to maintain a balance between the coalition generally and the coalition in Parliament.

“Nasa senators have tremendous respect for the Summit, which is the highest decision-making organ of the coalition. When it called upon us to explain the decision to change leadership to the principals, the senators fully justified the basis and rationale for the decision,” they said in the statement.

They further confirmed that there was no provision in the coalition’s agreement that awarded any position in Parliament to any specific individual or political party .

“It is unfortunate that one of our principals would seek to denigrate the outcome of a democratic process on the platform of politics of ethnic division, sectarianism and parochialism. Mr Odinga should be kept out of this as there was no single senator from the constituent parties who voted against his removal,” the senators said.

POWER BROKER

ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna described Mr Wetang’ula as an experienced power broker who had decided to pick a war with Mr Odinga “so as to mortgage the Luhya community to the highest bidder, Deputy President William Ruto”.

“Mr Odinga called the meeting at Panafric hotel in good faith. The meeting was supposed to be candid. Senators were encouraged to speak freely because that is the only way issues can be solved,” Mr Sifuna said, pointing out that had Mr Wetang’ula been a good example to his colleagues, Mr Odinga wouldn’t have attended the meeting.

“This was an in-house problem which Mr Wetang’ula should have easily solved by talking to senators. Mr Odinga was there because Mr Wetang’ula invited him in the hope that he was the only person who had the power to save him.”


TSC reviews pensions for 23,811 teachers who retired in 1997

By OUMA WANZALA
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The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has completed a review of the pensions of the 23,811 teachers who retired in 1997.

TSC chief executive Nancy Macharia told the National Assembly’s Education Committee on Tuesday that they had submitted 16,523 revised claims to the Director of Pensions at the Treasury.

 “More than 7,358 claims are ready for submission,” she told the committee chaired by Mr Julius Melly (Tinderet MP).

This means that the teachers are now likely to get their pension arrears estimated to be more than Sh17 billion.

“TSC only processes the payments while the Director of Pensions pays and, therefore, any delay cannot be blamed on us,” she told the committee at County Hall, Nairobi, in a meeting that was also attended by Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed.

She said the law should be amended to allow the commission to pay retired teachers in order to avoid the inconveniences they go through.

Already, the committee has promised to propose an amendment to the pensions law to enable the commission to handle teachers after retirement in order to end the agony of waiting several years to get their pensions.

The pension will be paid out to teachers who had been in service when the government agreed to pay salary increases of up  to 150 per cent in five phases beginning from 1997.

But the government reneged after the first payment, only for the deal to be renegotiated in 2003 and the agreement implemented until 2007.

Since the initial 1997 deal was to be paid in two phases until 2001, teachers who retired between those years moved to court demanding to be paid their share since they could have benefited from the deal had it been paid on time.

The High Court, in its judgment on October 23, 2008, ordered the TSC to process pension based on the salary award in the 1997 agreement.

Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers chairman Omboko Milemba, who is also the Emuhaya MP, welcomed the announcement, but demanded that all families be paid including those of teachers who have since died.

“It’s good to know that they will be paid after a long struggle,” said Mr Milemba. 

The case was filed in the High Court in Nakuru against the TSC by the teachers who were in service between July 1, 1997 and June 30, 2003 but had since retired.

They sought orders “for the declaration that together with other retired teachers they were entitled to retirement benefits inclusive of all other benefits provided for in the 1997 agreement”.

As a result of the case, the High Court in its judgement on October 23, 2008 ordered TSC to process pension based on the salary award in the 1997 agreement

Attempts by the TSC and the Attorney General to lodge an appeal against the Judgment failed as higher courts re-affirmed the judgment of the High Court thereby dismissing the Appeal.

TSC was also ordered to pay costs of the suit in the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

At some point, the retired teachers moved the High Court seeking orders to hold in contempt, the former Commission Secretary Gabriel Lengoiboni.

Kenya Union of Post Primary Teachers (Kuppet) Chairman and now Emuhaya MP Omboko Milemba welcomed the development but demanded that all families should be paid including those who have since died.

“It is good that they will be paid after a long struggle,” said Mr Milemba.

The more than 52,000 retired teachers have been pursuing the release of Sh42.3 billion salaries and pension arrears from the government for the last 18 years.


Tread carefully on energy

By EDITORIAL
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The rising demand for cheaper energy to power industries and the need to minimise environmental pollution pose a major challenge for the country.

On the one hand, the country has the option of sticking to and even expanding its renewable energy resources such as hydro and geothermal power to remain part of global efforts to reduce carbon emissions and reverse the effects of climate change.

On the other hand, the country needs to generate more power for its expanding manufacturing sector to enable it transition into a middle-income economy.

YAWNING GAP

The installed power capacity of 2,333 megawatts, against a supply of 1,600 megawatts, from hydro, geothermal and diesel powered sources, leaves a yawning gap.

To meet the shortfall, the government has been seeking to build a coal plant in Lamu County to generate 1,050 megawatts. It is also toying with the idea of setting up nuclear plant to inject another 1,000 megawatts into the national grid by 2027.

Ironically, these energy sources the country is eyeing, are being shunned by countries that have been using them to power their huge manufacturing industries. Instead, these advanced nations are slowly shifting to more environmentally friendly energy sources to reduce air pollution, which is blamed for over 6.5 million deaths globally in 2015 alone.


Probe expired drug sale saga at Kemsa

By EDITORIAL
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The revelation that some employees of the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa) have been colluding with rogue business people to sell expired drugs is horrifying. Expired drugs are lethal. It is, therefore, extremely heartless for employees of a State corporation — those employed by taxpayers and are in the know — to engage in such activities that endanger people’s lives.

The revelation of this hazardous trade has, however, also opened the lid on a veritable problem about drug procurement and management.

Ideally, Kemsa should never hold expired stocks because the demand for supplies is endless. Public health facilities are in dire need of medicines all the time.

EXCESS STOCKS

If there is one problem that afflicts the facilities, it is lack of medication and other consumables. And it is the duty of Kemsa to supply the drugs. At no time, therefore, should Kemsa hold excess stocks — whatever it receives should be quickly dispatched to the facilities.

Second, Kemsa staff are fully aware of the regulations on drugs. They know what ought to be done when drugs expire. It is an abuse of professional and ethical conduct when they resort to retailing expired drugs.

Third, Kemsa must give a proper account of how it handles drugs. According to the 2016/17 report by the Auditor-General Edward Ouko, Kemsa had included in its stocks expired drugs valued at Sh11.7 billion. This is frightening. Why would it hold that kind of stock?

INVESTIGATIONS

Does the agency over-buy, purchasing huge stocks it does not need? Is that not an avenue for rent-seeking, vendor-driven purchase? Curiously, Kemsa is owed huge sums of money by county and national governments, amounts which it has failed to recover.

In the immediate term, the police, the Pharmacy and Poisons Board and other relevant agencies must aggressively take up this matter and conduct thorough investigations to establish the goings-on at Kemsa.

Any employee found to have engaged in the illegal trade of expired drugs must be seized and punished while Kemsa’s systems have to be streamlined in a bid to end stocking of expired drugs.


Kenya is ready for world of big data

By TONNY TUGEE
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Kenya has surged ahead of the rest of Africa in building tech-driven applications for mass consumption.

From standalone apps such as M-Pesa that drive financial inclusivity to I-cow, an innovative agricultural application driving growth and diversity in the agricultural sector, these technologies have made Nairobi stand out as the Silicon Savannah of Africa.

The ever-changing face of innovation means the Kenyan tech industry has to keep evolving even just to remain at par with the pack. But what does the future hold? How can Kenya remain on the forefront of the evolving tech chain?

INNOVATION

A couple of years back, the mantra “Content is king” ruled every aspect of innovation. We are now in an era where the trending terms are big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) and the new mantra is “Big data is king”.

Big data describes the massive volumes of structured, semi-structured and unstructured data that organisations can mine or analyse to gain insights which they can then use to enhance operational and strategic decision making. The sheer amount of data demands cost-effective and innovative ways to process information and make sense of it. That is where machine learning and AI come into the picture.

By effectively harnessing the power of big data, Kenya, and Africa, could drive massive productivity gains, cost savings and even new business models in sectors such as government, health, insurance and transport.

MACHINE LEARNING

Machine learning is the use of computer algorithms to crunch large data sets and conduct statistical analyses, enabling computer systems to access data and use it to ‘learn’ for themselves. This allows organisations to more heavily automate business and enhance productivity.

Several challenges can be addressed through the machine learning lens. Traffic, for example, is a nightmare for Kenyans. Machine learning helps to solve the problem by having street lights and cameras share data that is used to predict congestion or accidents. The more data gathered, the better the predictions about where problems could be expected.

Another example is streaming services such as Netflix, which allows subscribers to stream video content (movies and series) on demand.

The platform is built in a manner that accurately predicts what the subscriber will be interested in watching, based on previous selections, saving time that would otherwise be spent scrolling for content.

PERFORM TASKS

AI describes the ability of computer systems to perform tasks that require human intelligence — such as visual perception, speech recognition and translation — and then make decisions.

AI applications inform us what our heart rates should be during exercise and our ideal eating plans and will soon be used in medicine — informing us, for example, of potential health risks, potentially averting diseases like stroke and heart failure.

I-cow, a local app, is using AI in agri-tech, enabling farmers to add value to their harvest, linking buyers and sellers and predicting weather patterns.

GREAT PROMISE

The financial sector has not been left behind either. BlockChain technology holds great promise for Fintech.

With the great success we have had with M-Pesa, imagine if it were hosted on BlockChain — a fitting example of how BlockChain can be used in making cash transfer fast, simple and effective.

Today we have Bonga Points, next we can have a cryptocurrency application reliant on BlockChain, where we redeem points for products we would otherwise have bought with cash!

While it might take decades to eradicate physical currency and make Kenya a “cashless economy”, through M-Pesa, we have and can make more great strides.

ICT REVOLUTION

The internet in Africa has become more affordable and accessible to the masses. Kenya is ranked as having the fastest internet speeds in the continent, according to the ‘State of the Internet Connectivity Report’ by Akamai 2017 quarter one report.

Having the right infrastructure, capacity and security to innovate and explore these technology trends is crucial.

However, in Kenya, in spite of all our success stories already recognised globally, we are just at the beginning of our unique ICT revolution.

We are huge contributors to the “Africa Rising” narrative. Let us continue to innovatively explore how we can invest in these exciting future technologies which will take Kenya into its bright destiny.


Analysys Mason ideas might not work in our environment

By JAINDI KISERO
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Those who follow trends in regulation of competition in the telecommunications sector will know the Mexican telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim.

In 2014, Slim was regarded as the richest man with an estimated wealth of $79.6 billion (Sh8 trillion). But I read that by 2016 he had dropped to fourth place in the Forbes rankings, valued at $47.1 billion (Sh5 trillion).

How did this dramatic shift in fortunes come about?

It was mainly because the shares of his pan-Latin American mobile operator Movil dropped drastically in 2015 in the wake of competition regulations by the government of Mexico.

POORLY DESIGNED

That shows poorly designed rushed regulations can affect the health of even the most profitable listed company.

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) is preparing to implement recommendations of Analysys Mason — the experts who conducted a study to inform a new framework for regulating abuse of market dominance.

Methinks the best way to approach these recommendations is subject them to deeper interrogation, not rush to implement them.

We need to discuss how dominance by one player came about in the first place and figure out whether what is suggested is, in the long term, in the consumer’s interest. Expertise in an area is not the same thing as infallibility.

REGULATION

The recommendations would have far-reaching implications – a long list of controls including administratively determined floor prices, forced sharing of towers and at prices determined by bureaucrats, as well as regulation of promotion and loyalty programmes.

But I fault the experts for their failure to appreciate the broader political context of competition regulation.

A good competition regulation regime must seek to achieve, first, high quality of services and affordable prices to consumers; and secondly, provide access to advanced services in all counties at prices comparable to what is charged in urban areas. Thirdly, it must bring access to advanced telecom services to schools, healthcare facilities and libraries.

In our context, the experts’ prescription cannot take us where we want to go. As I read the recommendations, the following questions popped up in my mind.

INTRUSIVE REGULATIONS

First, do we really have a powerful competition authority that has the independence to make professional decisions on merit? Secondly, do we have a regulator that enjoys strong enforcement powers — has deep domain knowledge and experience on the subject matter — and exhibits an inclination to approach issues with even-handedness?

When you introduce intrusive regulations and laws as proposed and put execution in the hands of a weak authority, you will have created the perfect environment for regulatory uncertainty and distortions in the telecoms market.

We don’t have a functioning competition authority. As a matter of fact, the function of competition regulation is shared between the CA and the National Treasury-based Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK). The CA itself is a weak institution that is constantly subject to bullying by the political elite.

SUSPENSION

Just the other day, in the wake of the controversial suspension of its chief executive, Mr Francis Wangusi, it was revealed that bureaucrats at the ICT ministry routinely collect money from the CA to purchase airline tickets for ministers and principal secretaries travelling with their personal assistants to attend feel-good trips abroad.

Then there is the issue of governance. Despite the law stating that a director cannot serve for more than two three-year terms, the recently appointed chairman, Mr Ngene Gituku, has just begun a new term after sitting in that board since September 2012.

One of the reasons why the governance of the CA is a mess is that its board is packed with too many civil servants with little knowledge and experience in modern regulation of the telecommunications sector.

You have a better chance of helping the consumer if you start with a properly functioning and independent competition authority.

MAXIMISE REVENUES

And what really shapes our regulatory choices?

Sometimes the government behaves as if what it just wants to maximise revenues from the auctioning spectrum. This was amply demonstrated when President Uhuru Kenyatta recently directed the CA to fund a cyber security project for the government.

And there are occasions where the government behaves as if it is just too interested in the revenues it collects from the biggest taxpayer, Safaricom, of which it owns 35 per cent.

Well, let’s wait and see how far the recommendations of Analysys Mason will go.


Biggest threat to the Judiciary is internal

By ERICK NG’ENO
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The clamour instigated by the wayward prosecution of Miguna Miguna before the courts indicated a perverse convergence of interests by the NRM legal cadres and elements of the Judiciary.

This convergence motivated the staging of what was intended to be an epic showdown with the Executive, or the State. It explains the hell-for-leather rush to produce one order after another in such bewildering succession and the procedural and legal shortcuts that entailed.

Proceedings against the government cannot, and should not, be initiated and concluded in two quick ex parte hearings. The government’s accountability radiates beyond a single incident and encounter and involves myriad officers located in diverse and far-flung parts of its system.

Similarly, contempt proceedings cannot be prosecuted in the deplorably summary fashion Kenya witnessed on live television. Indeed, the definition of contempt is fairly problematic when applied to Dr Miguna. Finally, the idea of justice — both procedural and substantive — to be expected from judicial institutions was severely undermined in the proceedings.

The legal framework governing contempt of court must be seen in the larger context of the essence of judicial authority, which is the administration of justice and the rule of law.

The right to fair hearing is part of the fundamental rights the Constitution ring-fences from qualification, reduction, alteration or derogation under Article 25(c). No statute, precedent, contingency or perceived imperative may be invoked to restrict or deny a party’s right to be heard before a court of law.

CONSTITUTIONAL DISPENSATION

Indeed, the authority of the courts and the rule of law depend very much on the Judiciary’s scrupulous adherence to our constitutional dispensation. Article 50 (1) makes fair public hearing mandatory.

Ex parte proceedings explicitly qualify the right to be heard to the extent that decisions are taken based on the claims of one party but enforceable against absent or unheard parties. This prejudicial state of affairs is antithetical to the very idea of justice.

This is the overarching understanding that must inform any contestation about the implications and applications of the contempt of court, government proceedings, civil procedure and other frameworks: The right to a hearing cannot be qualified under any circumstance.

PREJUDICED

Ex parte court proceedings that profile the prejudiced parties as lords of impunity brazenly depart the canonical as well as intuitive parameters of fairness.

They also introduce the depraved thesis that the end justifies the means: Since Matiang’i, or Kihalangwa, or Boinett, is alleged to be in contempt, their right to be heard may be arbitrarily extinguished.

When court orders are given arbitrarily, justice stops being a public good and becomes a private rent. In this state, the Judiciary can no longer claim to serve the public interest nor pretend to be the custodian of the rule of law.

CORRUPT CARTELS

It becomes the property of corrupt cartels, captive to vested interests and liable to inflict devastating damage to its own credibility, citizen’s rights, good governance and the rule of law.

Advocates are using affidavits to further claims and advance arguments. Replying affidavits and further affidavits are disguised pleadings that are not borne in fact. At the ex parte level, judges rely on these mutated quasi-pleadings, quasi-evidence to steal a march on parties who become prejudiced in the quest to produce the correct factual position. When fact is contestable, the rule of law is in trouble.


Alcoholism is a moral question whose cure is beyond polygamy

By WANDERI KAMAU
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The call by Kiambu Woman Representative Gathoni Wamuchomba to the Kikuyu community to re-adopt polygamy raises very salient concerns about the future of our society.

Angered by alarmingly high levels of alcoholism, which has decreased birth rates in central Kenya, the MP asked rich able men to adopt polygamy. But is her proposal the panacea?

Her concern raises the phenomenon of the intertwining of Westernised modernity, African norms and traditions, African philosophy and the wholesome future of the African society.

In most African societies, beer drinking was, indeed, a cultural requirement for men. In others, it symbolised a great sense of unity and egalitarianism among them.

Recounting the Kikuyu norms that governed drinking, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta asserts in his book, Facing Mount Kenya,  that it was strictly for men who had been “accepted” by the society.

COMMUNAL TESTS

“Acceptance” meant they had passed all the “communal tests” — such as being responsible husbands (most were in polygamous family set-ups), feeding their tens of children, building enough huts for their wives and maintaining order in their families, among others.

This was the universal cardinal rule of living in many communities. Those who defied them were excommunicated or faced grievous ramifications from the “wrath” of the gods.

That was meant to ensure that the nobility behind it was disabused. 

Beer was (and still is) sacred in some communities as libations are still conducted to appeal to the gods and spirits. But, unlike in the olden days, the noble tradition of responsible drinking has been abused, with poor parenting often cited as a major cause.

However, while in modern definition parenting incorporates the presence of both female and male parents, inculcation of morals may not necessarily mean that one cannot singlehandedly bring up morally upright and responsible children.

In social philosophy, morals and gender presence are not disproportionate. I believe a responsible man or woman can successfully play the role of both genders in situations where one parent is unavailable.

Single mothers have raised very successful personalities. In the same breadth, there are fathers who have brought up their children to adulthood without their mothers.

Now, there are a million reasons which could have resulted in such situations — some natural, such as death, and others by default, like divorce or domestic violence.

In this context, therefore, alcoholism is a default rather than natural cause. As such, a woman may decide to bring up her children alone if the father is a captive of the bottle.

We find ourselves back to the moral question: Does the gender count?

The answer is relative. In a society where modernity has borne all ills, morality remains paramount despite the path through which it is achieved.

If the child will achieve all their dreams in the hands of a responsible mother or vice-versa, then we have no reason to invoke the completeness of the “family unit”.

Why would one live in a dysfunctional family to fulfil the “societal need”? Unfortunately, the “societal completeness” is being advocated by the religious community without taking heed of the prevailing circumstances.

ALCOHOLISM

The goal of every ambitious society is to anchor its foundation of growth in the moral philosophy. Alcoholism is one of the resultant ills of a broken social fabric.

And as social scientist Peter Sloterdijk postulates in his book, The Art of Philosophy: Wisdom as a Practice, any success of a society that is not anchored on morals is as vague as itself.

Then, if these ills overcome us as a society, we owe it to ourselves.


TSC wins MPs’ approval to hire 88,000 teachers

By OUMA WANZALA
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The government is going to hire 88,000 teachers after MPs on Tuesday approved a Sh26 billion recruitment request.
Most of the new employees — 68,000— will be hired as interns at a cost of Sh16 billion, while 20,000 will be given permanent jobs at Sh10 billion, said National Assembly Education Committee chairman Julius Melly.

The massive recruitment is meant to address a countrywide shortage that stands at 104,821. The matter is however subject to approval by Treasury.

“We are determined to have this issue of teacher shortages addressed once for all,” said Mr Melly, whose committee met with Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and Teachers Service Commission chief executive Nancy Macharia at Parliament Buildings in Nairobi on Tuesday.

SHORTAGE
The two had appeared before the committee to respond to questions by Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma on the shortage of teachers.
Mrs Macharia said primary schools are short of 40,972 teachers, while the secondary ones are grappling with a shortfall of 63,849. The campaign to achieve a 100 per cent transition rate from primary to secondary schools has also created the need for some 50,789 more teachers for four years.

“To date, the commission has in its register 291, 785 teachers who are unemployed. This figure outweighs the total shortage of teachers in the public institutions,” said Mrs Macharia, adding that they would ensure the new employees are distributed fairly across the country.

MPs questioned the delocalisation of schools policy, saying the ongoing massive transfer of teachers was inappropriate.

POLICY
ODM Nominated MP Wilson Sossion, who is also the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) chief, asked the commission to reverse the policy and instead post teachers to their home areas to avoid a situation where non-locals are targeted for attacks as has happened in the northeast.
Dadaab MP Mohamed Dahir Duale, who attended the meeting as a friend of the committee, opposed the transfer of teachers from the region due to insecurity, saying that police were capable of protecting all the workers in the area.

But Mrs Macharia said she would not hesitate to withdraw teachers from insecurity-prone areas, adding: “In the past we have withdrawn teachers from Samburu, Kapedo, Mpeketoni and other areas and I will not hesitate to transfer others if they are in danger.” She cited Garissa, Mandera and Wajir as some of the well-staffed counties, with minimal shortages.

TRANSFERS
Ms Mohamed said that some 1,200 curriculum assistants would be recruited and trained for two months to address the shortages in Wajir Country, created by the transfer of non-local teachers.
In the budget policy statement released in January, the National Treasury has allocated the TSC Sh218 billion from July as compared to Sh202 billion in the current financial year.