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Wednesday, April 11th, 2018


Sub-Saharan Africa is beacon against death penalty

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When Amnesty International started its global campaign against the death penalty in 1977, the use of this cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment was rife in sub-Saharan Africa.

Not one country in the region had abolished the punishment for all crimes.

Forty years on, the region has witnessed remarkable progress against the death penalty.

Starting with Cape Verde, in 1981, some 20 countries have abolished the punishment for all crimes.

Fifteen more can be considered abolitionist in practice because they have not executed anyone over the past 10 years and are believed to have a policy or established practice of not carrying out executions.

This has established sub-Saharan Africa as the beacon of hope in the struggle for the worldwide abolition of the death penalty.

Globally, the use of the death penalty went down last year, according to a new AI report.

AI recorded 993 executions in 23 countries in 2017, a reduction of four per cent from 2016 (1,032) and down by 39 per cent from 2015 (1,634).

The reduction was due to decreases in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which had the highest numbers in 2016.

There were 2,591 death sentences in 53 countries last year, a significant decrease from the record-high 3,117 in 2016.

The report also confirms the region as having made the most significant progress towards abolition in 2017.

Generally, death sentences decreased from 1,086 in 17 countries in 2016 to 878 in 15 countries in 2017.

There was a drop in the number of executing countries from five in 2016 to two in 2017 with Somalia and South Sudan the only ones known to have carried them out.

The Gambia has, within months, under new President Adama Barrow changed its attitude towards the death penalty.

Notorious for its staunch support for the death penalty under former President Yahya Jammeh, it has suddenly become a shining regional example of progress towards abolition.

In a series of moves, The Gambia has shown that it is committed to the abolition of the death penalty: President Barrow has pardoned people under sentence of death; on September 2017, the country signed the international treaty that commits state parties not to carry out executions and to take all necessary steps to abolish the death penalty; and, just a few weeks ago, the president announced an official moratorium on executions.

As 2017 came to a close, Guinea became the 20th sub-Saharan African country to abolish the death penalty for all crimes — a remarkable feat for a country which, only two years ago, was considered retentionist.

Through reforms that began in 2016, Guinea expunged the death penalty from its laws.

First, it removed the use of death sentences as a punishment in its criminal code.

Secondly, last year, it deleted the death penalty provisions from its military justice law, then the remaining legislation with that provision.

In Chad, a new law, which abolished the death penalty except for terrorism, came into force in 2017.

And in Burkina Faso, a provision outlawing the death penalty completely was included in proposals to revise the Constitution.

In addition, Kenya’s Supreme Court declared the mandatory use of the death penalty for murder illegal.

The effect of this is that judges in murder cases now have discretion not to impose the death sentence.

The apex court ordered cases of people who were given mandatory death sentences, following convictions for murder, to be reconsidered with a view to determining new sentences.

The sentences of these condemned convicts are likely to be replaced with less severe punishments.

The decision has put Kenya in the same league as other countries in the region, Uganda and Malawi.

Nevertheless, it is not over yet. The abolitionist movement in sub-Saharan Africa, for now, cannot declare total victory against the death penalty.

This inhuman punishment, though dying slowly, is still alive and kicking.

For instance, while only Somalia and South Sudan are known to have carried out executions in 2017, Botswana and Sudan have already resumed executions this year.

Also, the very high number of people under death sentence in Nigeria is extremely worrying.

By the end of last year, the courts in Nigeria had sentenced a staggering 621 people to death and the country had some 2,285 people on death row — both being the highest figures in the sub-Saharan Africa region.

However, despite these concerns, victory against the death penalty in the region remains an attainable goal.

Mr Popoola is Amnesty International’s advocate/adviser on the death penalty. [email protected]

Mortgage financing facility will boost affordable housing agenda

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The mortgage liquidity facility the government seeks to establish in a bid to promote affordable housing is key to stimulating growth and transformation of the housing development ecosystem.

The Kenya Mortgage Refinance Company (KMRC) is expected to drive the affordable housing pillar of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ‘Big Four’ agenda through a public-private partnership that has commercial banks, pension funds, savings and credit cooperatives (saccos) and international finance agencies.

This model of raising long-term finance for the primary and secondary mortgage market has helped many countries to scale up the stock of housing for low- and middle-income buyers and tenants.

In the United States, then-President Barack Obama introduced affordable housing programmes that enabled Americans to own homes or live in decent rented housing.

Mortgage Refinance Company, established on June 2013, mobilises long-term housing development finance to ease Nigeria’s housing deficit of 17 million units while Mortgage Finance Company plays a similar role in Tanzania.

The profile of investors at last week’s briefing by National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich gives a picture of who might partner with KMRC in resolving Kenya’s chronic housing problem.

KMRC has the arduous task of resolving the binding constraints that have contributed to low mortgage uptake.

Commercial banks have only 24,000 mortgages in their books in a market with a deficit of over two million housing units.

The problem lies in the inability of banks to mobilise long-term deposits; hence, they only lend short- to medium-term, in line with the tenor of their deposit portfolio.
Mortgage refinance makes long-term finance available, enabling banks and other mortgage lenders to take a longer-term view, usually beyond 20 years — which is ample time for borrowers to repay their loans while enjoying decent shelter.

The innovative financing solution is expected to rapidly scale up affordable housing by stimulating the mortgage market to contribute to the envisaged 500,000 new units in the next five years.

KMRC needs to draw lessons from countries that have implemented the mortgage liquidity model and also global studies on challenges and opportunities of providing affordable and sustainable housing finance.

Innovative financing of affordable housing will be a key agenda at the eighth Global Housing Finance Conference hosted by the World Bank on May 30-June 1 in Washington, DC.


Finance is the most critical catalyst for affordable housing but several other factors and systems need to be addressed.

They include land, a serious impediment to economic development due to its cost, lack of titles in many areas and fraud in transfer of titles.

Digitisation of the land registry to curb fraud and expedite issuance of titles is critical.

Other inhibitors include repressive land policies, urban planning, building regulations and shortage of local technical skills and high cost of construction materials and services.

Improving the housing development ecosystem would have a profound impact on economic growth and social transformation.

Industry studies indicate that construction of one housing unit creates lots of direct and indirect job opportunities.

In a recent opinion in the Daily Nation, Rakesh Rao, the Crown Paints Group CEO, said building one house creates many jobs.

The government’s target of 100,000 housing units a year can create at least 1.5 million direct jobs and millions more indirectly.

Investing in affordable housing would enable Kenya to better tackle rapid urbanisation and protect the poor from falling deeper into poverty.

Follow me: Law to curb social media identity hijacking

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They say lightning does not strike twice, but for celebrity deejay Pierra Makena, the intrusive wave of identity theft on social media platforms has left her feeling helpless, twice.

In January Ms Makena’s Instagram account was taken over by “some Tanzanian guy” who uses it to spread false information about the celebrity.

“I had to hire a cybersecurity firm to get it back, but it was re-hacked after only a week. This guy really seems to like my account,” Ms Makena said on Wednesday.

She is among famous Kenyans, including socialites Vera Sidika and Huddah Monroe and journalists Shaffie Weru and Mark Masai, who have had their social media accounts stolen or reproduced by people seeking to ride on their fame for commercial and other reasons.

In the age of social media, famous people can make a living as influencers for various products and companies because of their huge following on social media, and such parallel accounts make it difficult for them to get jobs. Their plea? Do something.

“I would like the government to put in place systems to make it harder for these people (hackers) to do this.

“I believe prevention is better than cure, so they should look for ways to control these people,” DJ Makena told the Nation.

And Parliament appears to have heard her cry, and those of many other Kenyans, famous or not, who have fallen victim of cybercriminals.

The Committee on Communication, Information and Innovation has proposed that riding on other people’s identities on the Internet and sharing obscene material on such social media applications as WhatsApp, Twitter, and Instagram, be criminalised and those found guilty of the offence fined up to Sh3 million or three years in jail.

The committee further wants any person who intentionally makes use of a person’s name, business name, trademark, or domain name used by any other person on the Internet without authority fined Sh2 million or sent to jail for two years.

The proposals are contained in the report of the committee on the Computer and Cybercrime Bill, 2017, which is currently being debated in Parliament.

The bill, sponsored by the Majority Leader Aden Duale, also seeks timely and effective detection, investigation and prosecution of computer and cybercrimes.

The proposal on the sharing of intimate pictures comes in the thick of a storm created by MPs who recently complained of being cyberbullied and getting unsolicited nude pictures to their mobile phones.

But, away from the MPs, Mr Weru, the journalist, was the subject of blackmail last year when a hacker got the login credentials for two of his social media accounts as well as his email.

He was told to give the hacker Sh30,000 for each login or else have all his information plastered on the Internet.

Other celebrities have had their photos and names used in fake social media accounts used to con people, especially those looking for jobs.

Television journalist Mark Masai in February complained on his official Facebook page of a person using a name similar to his and posing as him on social media.

“This Mark Masai Nassau is a fake account and I have nothing to do with it. I am rarely on Facebook and someone just brought it to my attention,” Mr Masai posted on his page.

The fake page has over 13,000 followers and uses his photographs.

During the debate in Parliament on Wednesday, Mr Duale and Minority Whip Junet Mohamed told the House of how a woman they did not name has made MPs afraid of using their phones while with their colleagues or family members as she has been sending them her nude photos.

“I have been afflicted,” Mr Mohammed said.

“I even have the pictures in my phone…. We have been bullied, seduced and the careers of some politicians have ended due to cyberbullying.”

Two weeks ago Mr Wazir Boniface Chacha was charged on crimes related to cyberbullying and trying to extort money from members of Parliament.

He is accused of soliciting money from MPs disguised as Murang’a Woman Representative Sabina Chege.

And in May last year, a middle-aged woman committed suicide in Nairobi after she was bullied online by members of a Facebook group after posting about the defilement of her three-year-old daughter.

Kenya’s media might win the fight for freedom by losing

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These are dog days for Kenyan media. Its journalists, editors and owners have been accused of pro-government partisanship, tribalism, corruption, cowardice, selling out … name it.

The election of December 2007 was, probably, the turning point and, since then, every election has brought a new crisis, newsroom turmoil and disillusioned readers and viewers.

The crisis the Kenyan media faces today, though part of it is self-inflicted, has also been driven by factors beyond its control — mainly the internet and social media.

Because people — some often writing anonymously on blogs or posting on social media — can call politicians all sorts of names and get away with it, they have shifted media consumers’ tastes.

What in the pre-social media era was considered brave and courageous journalism today comes across as cowardly.

But even as someone who braved many years in the trenches fighting for press freedom, made over 150 trips to the court to face the powers that be and spent a record number of hours in the police interrogation room over publishing stories that “endangered national security”, I am aware that, in the end, for editors and publishers, the biggest victory is to survive.

Take on the corrupt government and expose election theft, but a newspaper or television station that is shutdown or banned does not get to even publish football scores.

It is a source of tension with the public who, in Kenya at least, will no longer accept the compromise. The humiliations can sometimes be big — but still worth it.

Though in Uganda I always worked with either the most radical or independent newspapers, there was a time when we had to settle for stories that read:

“A certain minister, allegedly pocketed a certain amount of money, to award a contract for a big project to a business friend, who runs company X.”

That is because the publishers couldn’t let us get away with naming names.

But in the towns around the country, people in pubs would spend the weekend arguing and debating who the “certain minister” or “company X” was.

Because Uganda has a longer history of media repression, it developed a well-established underground news channel called “Radio Katwe”.

Previous dictators, including military ruler Idi Amin, would rail against “Radio Katwe” and threaten to arrest its perpetrators.

Radio Katwe, among other things, filled in the gaps where journalists couldn’t provide the news.

Its decline started with the more open media environment that came after 1986 and it eventually migrated to the internet.

Today, it’s perhaps embodied in a Facebook page by someone calling himself (or herself) TVO.

The Uganda government has spent a fortune trying to smoke him/her out, and even gone to court to compel Facebook to reveal the face behind it.

The thing is, even the most supine media is never useless.

It still tells important stories, though it might require a new reading code, which was alive in Kenya during the rule of Daniel arap Moi, and which ’80s Washington Post correspondent in Nairobi, Blaine Harden, writes about in his book, Africa: Dispatches from a Fragile Continent.

Wahome Mutahi’s Sunday Nation 1990s column, Whispers, was a big hit and comic relief to a besieged country.

He took to writing it after he was jailed for his political column, which he was forced to give up as one of the conditions of his release.

But there were many readers who saw it for what it was — ruthless Orwellian satire that was a criticism of the government of the day.

In Amin’s Uganda, with all independent journalist killed or exiled there was no free media. The biggest hit was a cartoon, “Ekanya”, in the government paper.

Ekanya was a loud-mouthed, cynical urbanite.

Everyone, including the regime hatchet men, loved his jokes about things like how to tell who were the drunk drivers on the roads — it was the fellows who drove straight.

The ones who were sober zig-zagged because they had the sense to avoid the potholes that had turned Uganda’s roads that time in moon surfaces.

None of them realised that the cartoon was a critique of regime failure with potholes being the symbol of it.

It’s important to keep up this sublime level of political conversation.

In the battle for media freedom, sometimes you win by losing. It’s a very lonely place to be, though.

Mr Onyango-Obbo is publisher of and explainer site [email protected]

Wrong data in legal documents ruinous

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The ongoing collection of data on learners in primary and secondary schools using a new computer programme brings to the fore the important role of clerical officers, typists and copy takers.

Though holding junior positions, these officers nevertheless discharge a very important mandate in the public and private sector.

They type or key in data into what ends up as a permanent record, such as identity card, title deed, academic certificate, death certificate and birth certificate.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child states that every child should be registered at birth.

The birth certificate is not only important to the child’s identity and access to certain rights but the data so captured also informs the government’s planning and allocation of resources.

This explains why those behind data collection must rise beyond reproach when discharging their duties.

Many parents have been grappling with the deadline of submitting their children’s birth certificates to schools.

The rationale for the data capture — which targets 11 million learners — is to test the electronic preparedness of schools ahead of the full rollout of the National Education Information Management System (Nemis) countywide.

Specifically, it is to assess the capability of schools to host a functioning computer platform and have internet connectivity.

It also seeks to find out if school staff possess adequate skills to navigate the system.

Some parents, and teachers’ unions, now want the period extended further. But some delays are a result of inaccuracy.

Mr Chrispinus Omar, a small-scale farmer in Butula, Busia County, has been following up on the document for almost a year.

Initially, the forms he had filled were misplaced and he started afresh.

It still took long. Eventually, when the certificate was found, his son’s name was misspelt.

Confronted by a possibility of another long wait, should he consider leaving the document behind to be rectified or take it?

He chose the latter option. His son is now “Tyron Rodney Jur” instead of Tyron Rodney Jr.

Such minor errors have huge implications. However, they can be avoided if the officers are more cautious.

We have had cases of title deeds being released to a land buyer without double ‘N’ for the name Dennis.

Or the name Lora comes out as “Laura” in a certificate despite the owner having travelled across the country to a border county to give her correct particulars.

It hurts when your name is misspelt on a permanent document that is legally binding.

In some strict jurisdictions, one might be required to swear an affidavit to transact business.

Separated families have suffered more due to such errors.

Women who quit abusive marriages with children are finding it difficult to access essential services due to a mismatch of data in their legal documents.

Educational institutions have kept students waiting because of failure to indicate the right duration that they were there.

Even cases of students being awarded marks for subjects they did not study abound!

Officers handling sensitive assignments need to be retrained to appreciate the value of their jobs.

That will improve service delivery, besides avoiding wastage of resources.

But even with a re-engineering of the public sector to enhance accuracy, innovativeness, competitiveness and effectiveness, there is a need to emphasise values in the curriculum so that children join the labour market having internalised them.

Teachers and parents alike have a duty to be dependable role models.

Mr Odunga is an assistant director, corporate communications, at Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD). [email protected]

Experts warn of food crisis as armyworm attacks maize farms

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Kenya could lose half of its maize crop and face a massive food crisis following an invasion of the Fall armyworm. 

Although the ministry of Agriculture has no reliable data on the extent of the infestation and the impact it will have on food, the US Agency for International Development (USAid) estimates that up to 50 per cent of the maize crop could be destroyed.

The pest also attacks millet, sorghum, cotton and sugar.

Regina Eddy, the coordinator of a USAid task force on the threat, said Kenya and other African countries provided the ideal climate for the spread of the Fall armyworm because of the absence of frost.

Maize is the staple food for about 80 per cent of the population, including the urban.

An increase in the price of maize meal is not just an economic nightmare, with consequences across the economy, but is also a national security concern due to the risk of political instability.

In 2016, almost 30 million 90-kilogramme bags of maize were consumed.

About 40 million bags are produced in a good year, some of which are exported.

Last year, the government spent Sh6 billion on a dubious maize subsidy programme.

The anticipated destruction caused by the insect, which is actually a caterpillar and not a worm, could worsen critical food shortages afflicting parts of Kenya and other African countries, Ms Eddy said.

“The first mouth that will be fed will be the Fall armyworm’s,” she said with regard to its impact on smallholders.

In addition to depriving families of food, the pest will take a toll on farmers’ incomes, she said.

A study commissioned last year by the British government’s Department for International Development found that in 12 African countries, total potential losses could range from $2.5 billion (Sh252bn)to $6.3 billion.

The countries included Tanzania and Uganda, but Kenya was not on the list.

According to the director of Crop Research and Agribusiness in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Johnson Irungu, it is still early to predict the impact of the Fall armyworm.

“Our officers are currently gathering data on the impact of these pests and we will soon have a report on the actual status in the country,” Dr Irungu said.

The government, he revealed, is currently developing an integrated pest management (IPM) package, which will include use of parasitoids and technology to combat the pests.

“Our aim is to develop and test these methods for efficacy and use chemicals as the last resort in the fight against the Fall armyworm and other destructive pests,” Dr Irungu said.

He however said there was no deliberate effort by the government to introduce GM crop varieties, owing to the ban on these crops in the country.

While the Fall armyworm was first seen in the major maize-producing counties such as Trans-Nzoia, others have reported similar sightings raising the alarm about an impending disaster.

Reports from the department of agriculture in Nyeri reveal that the caterpillar has invaded five out of six sub-counties (Kieni, Mathira, Tetu, Mukurwe-ini and Othaya), ravaging maize, grass, onions, cabbages and tomatoes.

The infestation that hit the county in June last year led to massive food crop losses and, as the pests continue to spread across the county, farmers are now staring at a crop failure for the second year running.

The majority of farming households that ordinarily sustain themselves through subsistence farming have now been forced to rely on food bought from the market.

Even as the government has identified and recommended 10 types of pesticides to combat the pests, farmers such as Margaret Njeri from Karima village in Othaya complained of the high cost of the chemical, adding that they are no longer sure of getting returns from their farms. 

“I am very scared because we might not realise our full investment in the farms.

“The pest is really destructive. Since last year I have not harvested anything,” Njeri, who has invested Sh7,000 in her small garden, said.

Farmers want both the national and county governments to bail them out of the crisis that could see them realise little or no harvest at all.

Nyeri County executive for Agriculture Henry Kinyua said that surveillance was being carried out in farms by extension officers, adding:

“This year we have intensified training of farmers and our extension agents to scout and identify the pest early enough and apply the relevant measures.”

Nyeri South Agricultural officer Ruffas Mwangi said farmers should target the pest while at its early stages as it gets resistant to pesticides.

Dr Irungu told farmers to spray against the pest at night when there is less movement.

In Nakuru, more than 70,000 hectares of maize were lost to the avid pest last year, which accounted for 30 per cent general loss in the crop countrywide.

According to the United Nation’s (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation (Fao), the amount of food Kenya lost to the pest last year was enough to feed Nakuru and Homabay counties for a year.

When the Nation team visited Mangu village in Rongai, Nakuru County, Mr Daniel Kiprono’s two acres of beans and maize appeared healthy and strong with a lush green across the farm.

Mr Kiprono was however keen to identify any changes on the crop stems and leaves for possible pest infestation.

“In 2017, I harvested only 26 bags of maize from this farm, which normally produces more than 60. I lost the crop to the voracious armyworm,” he said.

“The pests attacked my maize crop when it was three months old and two feet tall.

“When they get into a farm they begin by laying many eggs, then attack the farm like an ‘army’, sweeping across it relentlessly,” he said.

The affected maize crop, he said, cannot even be fed to livestock due to rot.

“We tried spraying but it didn’t work. We even applied ash on the crop that had not been affected to no avail,” Mr Kiprono said.

When Fao conducted a training session for agricultural officers from all the 47 counties in February, it was revealed that chances of eradicating the pest were minimal.

“We are facing a new, determined, voracious and adaptive enemy, which is threatening the future of our crops and the general food security.

“Fall armyworm is a formidable pest that feeds on anything in its sight,” Fao representative in Kenya Gabriel Rugalema said.

Nakuru Agriculture County Executive Committee member Immaculate Njuthe says the county has a budget to control the pests and has bought traps to help combat them.

“The pest has a preference for maize and so we have bought and plan to distribute traps to farmers in addition to the ones we received from the national government to help stop the voracious pest,” Ms Njuthe said.

In the Coast, Taveta and Voi are some of the worst-hit areas, while Marapu, Kajire, Wongonyi, Mata, Njukini, Chala and Kasigau have suffered the menace in the past.

Reports by James Kahongeh, Leonard Onyango, Irene Mugo, Peter Mburu, Lucy Mkanyika and Stephen Oduor

Appeals court hit by shortage of judges

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The Court of Appeal is grappling with a shortage of judges, which is affecting service delivery countrywide.

Court of Appeal President William Ouko on Wednesday said that after the appointment of Chief Justice David Maraga and his deputy Philomena Mwilu to the Supreme Court, their positions at the Court of Appeal have not yet been filled.

Speaking during the Judiciary Training Institute’s retreat for Appeal Judges at Serena Beach Hotel, Justice Ouko also noted that his predecessor, Justice Paul Kihara Kariuki, has been appointed the Attorney-General.

“After the exit of the three, we are yet to get replacements and that has strained our operations and proper service delivery,” he said and added:

“We also have a big shortage of clerks in our courts, forcing two or more judges to be served by a single clerk.

“For efficiency, at least each judge must have his or her own clerk but at the moment the workload is heavier because of the little workforce. We know some staff retired but they have not been replaced,” Justice Ouko said.

Justice Ouko used the four-day retreat to outline his five-year vision for the Court of Appeal, emphasising on integrity and asking the appellate judges to maintain the confidence Kenyans have in them.

He asked the judges to align their strategies with CJ Maraga’s overall vision of the Judiciary.

Teachers, lecturers top gainers in mini budget

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Teachers and lecturers are the biggest beneficiaries of the Sh40 billion supplementary budget, which was tabled in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

The Teachers Service Commission was allocated Sh16 billion, which is likely to go towards the recruitment of 68,000 intern teachers.

The commission had also requested Sh5 billion for recruitment of 12,696 teachers annually for the next four years, to ensure 100 per cent transition from primary to secondary school.

On Tuesday, TSC chief executive Nancy Macharia told National Assembly’s Education committee that the commission had requested funds to hire intern teachers to address shortage in public schools.

At the same time, the State Department of University Education has received Sh5.7 billion, which is expected to be used to implement the collective bargaining agreements between the government and lecturers.

The lecturers have been on strike for the past one month, demanding Sh38 billion to implement their 2017-2021 CBA.

Universities had offered Sh6.8 billion, but subject to government approval.

In the supplementary budget, the basic education department has been allocated Sh1.9 billion, with a big chunk of the funds set to go to paying teachers’ allowances.

The department’s development kitty has also gone up by Sh2.6 billion.

However, Sh1.3 billion was chopped from its development budget to finance recurrent expenditure.

Universities have also been affected by the reductions, as Sh7.2 billion has been taken from their development allocation.

The supplementary budget, which was tabled Majority Leader Aden Duale, shows that the government has drastically reduced its development spending to fund recurrent expenditure.

The Sh40.8 billion has been slashed from the Sh577.2 billion allocated for development in the supplementary budget.

The recurrent expenditure has received Sh23.2 billion.

The recurrent expenditure includes Sh17.5 billion allocated to the Ministry of Health, down from Sh18.1 billion.

To finance the ministry’s recurrent budget, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich has reduced funds allocated for development by Sh641 million.

The department of Planning and Statistics, which is preparing to carry out the national census, has been allocated Sh4.65 billion for development and Sh445 million for recurrent expenditure.

The Infrastructure department’s development budget has been slashed by Sh34 billion.

However, the Transport docket’s development budget has increased to Sh17.5 billion, from Sh15.1 billion.

Other beneficiaries in the supplementary budget are the National Intelligence Service, which has been allocated Sh2.2 billion for recurrent expenditure and the Judiciary, which got Sh1.2 billion for development and Sh350 million for recurrent expenditure.

The Presidency has been allocated Sh1 billion more for recurrent expenditure and Sh132.4 million for development.

The increase is mainly geared towards compensating employees, operation and maintenance expenses as well as facilitating the operations of the Cabinet and State House.

However, the Parliamentary Service Commission lost Sh1.1 billion in development budget and Sh160 million in recurrent expenditure.

The reduction is likely to affect the completion of the Sh2.5 billion office block for the MPs.

The Auditor-General’s office also lost Sh128.4 million in development but got Sh82.5 million in recurrent expenditure.

Meanwhile, the State Law Office received Sh256 million for development and Sh152 million for payment of staff salaries and allowances.

The National Land Commission has been allocated Sh173 million for development and Sh40 million for recurrent expenditure.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission however had its development budget slashed by Sh200 million while the National Police Service got Sh80 million to help fight crime.

Give up one post, Knut tells Sossion

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The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) on Wednesday told Secretary-General Wilson Sossion to choose between serving teachers and being a Member of Parliament.

The ultimatum came after a day-long meeting of the union’s top decision-making organ, the National Executive Council (NEC).

“We have agreed that he has to choose which position he wants, and he has indicated that he prefers to remain in Knut.

“We have given him a little time to decide, and the report will be tabled at the next NEC meeting for discussion,” a council member said.

But when contacted via phone, Mr Sossion said “NEC agreed that I remain SG of the union.”

He said the issues critical to teachers are performance appraisal, promotion and withdrawal of the delocalisation policy.

“We have agreed that the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) stops the delocalisation and appraisal until further discussions,” Mr Sossion said.

Earlier, a group of teachers from Kiambu and parts of Nairobi had camped at Knut’s headquarters on Mfangano Street demanding Mr Sossion’s resignation.

Led by Kiambu Knut chairman Joram Njoroge, the teachers said they wanted Sossion replaced by Deputy Secretary-General Hesbon Otieno.

“If Mr Sossion does not leave office, we, as members, have powers to direct the Teachers Service Commission to sack him,” he said.

Last year, the TSC deregistered Mr Sossion as a teacher after he was nominated to Parliament by the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).

He was among 11 trade unionists whom former Labour Cabinet Secretary asked to leave office after they joined politics.

Mr Sossion has challenged the sack in court.

Lawyers demand review of online land system

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The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) now wants the Lands ministry to form a task force to review electronic land registration and transfer for advocates even as Parliament debates regulations for the sector.

The society’s president Allen Gichuhi said having a task force handle the issue will save time when the House approves the regulations that give Lands Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney the mandate to prepare guidelines for implementation of the electronic registration system.

Lawyers said this will enable them carry out their roles online, therefore, saving time and allowing the fulfilment of the legal requirement for advocates to be the only people to draft various documents in land sales and transfers.

“Let us jump-start the process. As the parliamentary process goes on, we can now start constituting a task force to start the process to prepare guidelines for e-conveyancing,” Mr Gichuhi said.

LSK has opposed the ministry’s plan to take its services online, saying it will be in violation of legal provisions that mandate only lawyers to sign off on land documents and processes.

“We urge you to immediately suspend the impugned and illegal online transfer and to revert to the previous regime.

“We also urge you to immediately cease online processing of consents that require physical presence or third-party engagements,” Mr Gichuhi said in a letter to Ms Karoney last week.

Top among the services that have gone online are land searches, which usually account for about 80 per cent of the traffic at the ministry, as well as transfer of ownership or lease, issuance of consent and valuation requests.

With the switch, users only have to create an eCitizen account to transact from anywhere provided they have internet access.

The ministry has also said it will provide cybercafés at its registries.

The new system enables users to pay land rents electronically and be issued with clearance certificates online.

Also available online are payments for stamp duty, registration and consent fees.

However, one will need to be physically present at the registry in case of an application for registration, the original instrument and title document after payment of stamp duty where applicable.

Mr Gichuhi also faulted what he said was lack of a provision for verification of documents presented in land transactions, and the provision that some consents, which legally require physical presence, will be given online.

On Wednesday, he insisted that lawyers remain an integral part in the process and cannot be replaced, unless the law is amended.

“The notice purported to say that any person could lodge a transfer of land. It is like you have doctors who have gone through school, then you say now even witch doctors will come and operate on you.”

The ministry has clarified that lawyers will still be allowed to start the transfer of lands.

“The conveyancing and security instruments such as transfers, charges, and discharges which are by law required to be prepared by qualified persons, will continue to be so drawn,” Lands Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri said on Sunday.

“Execution and attestation of such instruments will similarly continue to be done in accordance with the law.”