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Monday, April 16th, 2018

 

UNMASKING BEN PHIRI: The Truth behind the fake Persona

By Patseni Mauka

Introduction

Ben Phiri

Unless as a country we can take the time to put those aspiring to lead us under the microscope and ensure that they are honest men and women, we will always be in a vicious cycle of poverty and corruption. This is why fake and dishonest public personalities such as Ben Phiri need to be exposed. Fellow Malawians, we are now taking the trouble to do this for the benefit of all Malawians.

By way of background, it is our view that one of the reasons why Malawi still lags behind in terms of development, 54 years after independence and 24 years after attaining multiparty democracy is the tendency to allow dodgy and crooked characters to be at the center of the country’s leadership.

Malawi is known for excellent development policies and strategies which are products of numerous meetings and brainstorming by its excellent public and private officials. However, when it comes to implementation, the policies are headed by selfish, crooked and incompetent politicians who have no clue about anything.

In Malawi, you just have to gather courage, create a fake profile of yourself or have no profile at all and speak confidently to get a high post in a ruling party. Once you impress during rallies or radio interviews, you create scores of hand clappers who are always ready to elevate your image even when they know nothing about you! The rest of the population will follow blindly, no questions asked. It’s the impression and image that you portray that matters. Unfortunately smart, educated and experienced people think politics is dirty and they can only participate by voting during elections. No wonder, the courageous, crooked and incompetent people are still gaining ground and taking turns in sinking Malawi.

Ben Phiri as DPP Field Marshall

One of the dodgiest and most crooked characters that has undeservedly dominated Malawian politics is the man who calls himself Benson Malunga Phiri. The man who calls himself Ben Phiri is 39 years old. At such a young age, he has through devious and corrupt means amassed so much wealth that many non-questioning Malawians believe he is genuinely successful and that anything he says should be taken seriously. This is a tragedy. It is through this political manipulation that Ben Phiri made himself Director of Field Operations in the ruling Democratic Progressive Party. This position, mind you, does not exist in the DPP constitution, but virtually NO-ONE- From the party’s president Peter Mutharika, to the Party’s top brass governing council- have the nerve to tell him that his position does not exist. On the contrary, you would easily mistake him for the President or simply owner of the party. He calls the shots. He controls the President and as seen lately, can just wake up and hold a one man press conference on behalf of the entire party!

Most of the things that come from his mouth are lies! Lies are like the air that he breathes. He has managed to create a fake profile of himself that people are slowly starting to believe. His followers already believe him. Say anything contrary to what their master says about himself, you will be attacked by these rabid blind followers. The lies start from his name.

Who really is Ben Phiri?

Ben Phiri’s original name is not really Benson Phiri. The man has constantly changed his name to suit the purposes of conniving and manipulation that he has met along the path of his life. His original name, the one that he was given at birth will not be disclosed at this point in order to protect our source. The fact, however, is that Ben first changed his name to Benson Nkasala. Mr Nkasala was his stepfather. While in secondary school he decided to start calling himself Benson Phiri. He changed his name from Nkasala to Phiri in order to disassociate himself from the poverty of his mother!. Mr. Phiri was his well to do uncle. Why are we going into all this trouble of digging his names? Hold on to your seats for next is the illustration of how crooked this man is and why he should not be anywhere near the leadership of this country.

After failing to get the Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) several times, under the name Benson Phiri, he went to the United Kingdom in search of greener pastures. If you listen to his radio and TV interviews, he says he went to study and work. Then he says he came back to Malawi to ‘serve’ the country during the section 65 crisis where the opposition and government of Bingu wa Mutharika were in a deadlock over prioritizing application of the constitutional section or passing the national budget. All these are lies!

Stealing Mortgage Money in the UK to start businesses in Malawi

While in the U.K, he met Rachel Kumwenda and got married. It was while living with this woman that he got a mortgage of 75,000 pounds, got a house in Nottingham with an extra 25,000 pounds cash for rehabilitation of the house. He illegally used the 25,000 pounds cash to buy a house at Fargo in Blantyre as well as a truck. He then run away from the UK, abandoning his wife to suffer with servicing the mortgage. He came back to Malawi, sold the house as well as the truck and bought his first printing machine.

That was the genesis of the printing company, which is now part of Beata Holdings. He did this to deprive his wife of any claim to the investments made from the mortgage balance. He divorced the wife so that she could not claim anything from the new investments. As a result of the mortgage scandal, he changed his name again to Benson Malunga. Malunga is his maternal grandfather’s name. After he joined full time politics, he attached the Phiri surname again, literally bought a doctorate degree from a diploma mill and now calls himself Dr. Benson Malunga Phiri! Yet the truth is that he doesn’t even have an MSCE! This character, folks, is at the center of the ruling party and has the all believing ear of the most powerful man in Malawi, President Peter Mutharika!

Back in Malawi Politics

Crooked people like him are very good at suppressing educated and competent people while promoting people they can easily manipulate . As I write this article, Benson Phiri is leading a camp which wants 80 year old President Peter Mutharika to stand again as a Presidential candidate next year. During the one man press conference that he held this month, he said Vice President Saulos Chilima is not ‘experienced’ enough to become President of the country. Amazingly, Ben Phiri and fellow crooked characters, without any experience, education and achievement whatsoever are the de facto rulers of Malawi! On the other hand, Saulos Chilima is a highly educated and accomplished person of high integrity just at the right age to take Malawi into new heights. Upright people need to know that without their participation in the countries politics, nothing will change for the better. Dodgy characters should not have a chance to lead and further impoverish this country.

The views expressed in this article are not necessarily the views of the Publisher or the Editor of Maravi Post

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The fall of Saulos Chilima, fortunate Atupele Muluzi and watchful MCP

By James Tsegula

A lot has been said on the issue ignited by Callista Muthalika that Dr. Saulos Chilima should be the DPP`s torch bearer in the 2019 presidential elections. There have been mixed opinions on the issue on social media where a lot of the people who wrote, favored the Veep.

Allow me to put forward my opinion based on analyzing the feedback from social media, Malawi`s voting trends and a bit of psychology. My opinion is that the events surrounding the candidature of the Veep in Democratic progressive Party (DPP) will lead to his downfall if it is allowed to go on, and possibly increase the chances of Atupele Muluzi to rise on the political ladder.

Chilima as DPP president
Judging from the comments on the social media and the people who have spoken on the issue, there seem to be a collective feeling that Saulos is likely to win the election if he uses DPP machinery. It is believed by many that combining the votes from the people who like Chilima style from other parties and that of DPP fans, he will surely win the election without much struggle.

However, let us look at the possibility of Chilima becoming DPP president. I personally feel that Chilima had more chances of becoming DPP president before Callista`s movement than after. The way the issue has been handled, it divides DPP more and this does not work in his favour.

Psychologically, the praises that Saulos has received in the past few days will not be a rosy thing to Peter and DPP loyalists even though they cannot admit it. It is human nature. The gap that callista and others are creating between APM & SKC will make APM and some DPP loyalists to look for ways to make him unpopular. Obviously, they will do anything possible to make sure that he does not become DPPs president. This will also increase the chances of the Veep to be left out as a running mate. The big question is what will happen next.

Obviously, if Chilima contest as an independent candidate or form his party now, he will get a lot of votes in the 2019 polls, but not enough to beat MCP and DPP, not even UDF if it goes alone to the polls. Thus Chilima will be out of picture for about 5 years, and this will reduce his morale from the public. He will join the likes of Chimunthu and malewezi.

On the other hand, DPP will opt for Atupule to get votes from the eastern region which will guarantee them a win whether they go with APM or not. APM is likely not to finish his second term due to age and health issues and Atupele becomes Malawi President.

Trust me, if Atupele rises to President or Veep, it will be difficult to remove him. He will use all means necessary to remain in power. That means Saulos will remain out of picture for at least 15 years. This will be the end of his political career surely.

Chilima as DPP (APM or whoever) running mate
If Chilima is considered to be running mate in the 2019 polls, he is likely to become Malawi`s president for more than 10 years. As I said, Peter is likely not to complete his second term if he wins. Then Chilima becomes president and no doubt two other terms on top will follow.

But the likelihood of Chilima becoming DPP Veep and running mate with what Callista has initiated is as weak as him becoming president of DPP itself. The move is dividing the party even though the DPP NEC members are denying, but people in DPP have divided minds. Others for Chilima in 2019, Others for Chilima in 2024, and still others will say no Chilima at all.

These divisions may compromise his chances of being a DPP running mate, his only ticket to presidency. Another factor is the DPP top members perception of Chilima. From the comments from the social media, they will increasingly become resistant to his rise for fear of dismantling the DPP one day. The view that Chilima is likely to form his own party soon after winning on DPP ticket is shared by many in DPP and they might not allow that to happen.

Some say that these DPP top members are stealing from the government and the rise of Chilima will make them exposed and arrested. That is a correct observation and the exact same reason that Chilima will not be recommended for DPP running mate or President. Why would they allow Chilima to use its machinery and rise to power so that he deals with them? These people will convince Peter to drop Saulos as running mate. The option will go to Atupele for the eastern region vote. As I said the rise of Atupele is not a good thing to Saulos`s political career.

Pressure from the media
It is a fact that Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) favours DPP and Times Group (TV, Radion and newspapers) favours opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP). The reason that Times and other media stations are escalating the issue is not to see Chilima president of DPP, but rather to steer things up in DPP and divide them and in the end give chance to MCP.

Times and the other media houses supporting the movement knows as much as we all do that Chilima and a united DPP with Atupele running mate is a landslide for DPP and MCP out of picture for another 10 years. Are you sure that is what MCP and times want? Times and MCP are playing a mind game here, they want to use the situation to increase the cracks in DPP so that every president that they opt to feature will receive resistance from within.

The block for Chilima in DPP will chose not to vote for APM if he insist of seeking reelection and vice versa. If this happens, it is MCP with a big chance to win the election. Callista`s movement, if allowed to continue, is likely to make any DPP candidate face resistance from within and give chance to UDF or MCP. If UDF or MCP takes government, Saulos being in opposition for 10 years is not a good thing. That the end of his political career. UDF is likely to win in this scenario because of the voting patterns in Malawi where most people from DPP would prefer voting for UDF than MCP if the wangle continues.

Saulos Forming his party
This move will not be good for 2019 elections. He will get some votes from majority of working class and some youths. However, this will not be enough to make him president in 2019. It means he has to wait for 5 years and work hard to establish a base for his party.

If Atupele rises to Veep in 2019 or president on the way, Saulos is likely to lose in 2024, not because he will not have many votes, but the UDF-DPP coalition may manipulate the results and keep him in the opposition. His had a best chance to be DPP president or running mate in 2019, but Callista has just initiated divisions in the party that will see him not getting any of that from the DPP convention. Chilima will neither become DPP president nor DPP Veep with the current hustle started by Callista. APM was likely to hand over power to Chilima before than now. Hatred and the view that chilima is going to kill DPP are now growing in APM now.

He trusted Chilima before and worked with him so well, but things will change drastically now and will lead to the fall of Chilima. MCP and Times know this well, and they are taking advantage of it to gain MCP popularity and power
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Chilima joining another party other than DPP
I personally think that Chilima only lacks party machinery to be Malawi president due to Malawi`s voting patterns. Whichever party he joins (MCP, UDF, DPP or PP), he will win the 2019 election. Now looking at the possibility of Chilima joining these parties, is not something that we can just say will or will not happen. Looking at the voting patterns in Malawi which have not changed since 1994, we can make some conclusions. He cannot join MCP and become president or veep.

Chakwera will still be the party`s representative in the 2019 polls and Mia is likely to be running mate because MCP will need votes from the South and Muslim community to increase its chances. Joining UDF may not make him the president of UDF because Atupele will not allow being running mate. I see a possibility of Atupele allowing him to be running mate and use him to get power and damp DPP.

Your guess is as good as mine, Atupele will need to make him less popular otherwise he will face the same challenge Peter is facing now. Thus, Chilima will face what Malewezi and Joyce Banda faced and this will be his end. I hope he knows this pretty well and cannot make that mistake. Maybe PP will allow Saulos to be president, but the chances of winning might be a bit slim.

Peoples Party (PP) is a dwarf star. So I only see his future lying in DPP which Callista, Winiko and others are ruining by creating divisions in the party. Though many times DPP says there are no division, trust me there are and they are being worsened and something needs to be done, otherwise MCP will win the election.

What should Chilima do then?
As I have been arguing, and shared by many, he has a big chance of winning through DPP, either as its president or running mate. If DPP wins the election with him as running mate, he will rise to presidency in 2024 with no doubt. But the divisions in DPP are widening, and this is doing more harm to him than what most people are seeing, and he will not be picked as running mate.

Times and MCP supporters who are supporting the movement on Facebook and other platforms will not vote in a DPP convention. The only way for him to rise, hopefully many will not agree, is to come out clear that he supports APM as DPP torch bearer and that he belongs to DPP. He is smart and his advisers are smart too, they can design a speech that does not put away many supporters of Chilima outside DPP and at the same time build love and trust from DPP.

Others will say remaining quite will help, but that works for us who are not in DPP. His continued silence will mean something else to DPP to the point of thinking that he is behind the misunderstandings. It will then be too late to come out and try to unite the DPP later.

It is now or never. He holds the key to end the clacks in DPP now due to the nature of the disagreement and its source than APM. It will take a few words to guarantee your presidency SKC i.e “I respect the views coming from the people and I respect that. However, this time let us focus on helping our president to achieve the promises made in the manifesto.

The presidency goes to what the people wants, but for now let us remain focused on developing Malawi”. The fire will seize, and the presidency guaranteed to him.

These are just my views and I am open to constructive criticism and I am not all knowing. Other can have better views that can make more sense than these.

***The views expressed in this article are not necessarily the views of the Publisher or the Editor of Maravi Post

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Never neglect young people in Climate Change agenda-Malawi Govt told

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Young people converging at the first ever national youth conference on climate change under way in the capital Lilongwe have one voice, calling Malawi government include them in climate change agenda if the country is to make head way.

The young people are seeking a clear definition of their role our role in the existing action plans stipulated in government’s framework on climate change fight including mitigation and adaptation actions.

The conference which under the theme, “The Role of the Youth in Climate Change Negotiations, Sustainable Adaptation and Mitigation Actions in Malawi”, the young people say have the energy, strength and time towards addressing effects of climate.

They added that are in greater percentage to labour force, but only abused in political violence

Addressing the official opening of the conference,Lisa Banda, from Lilongwe University of Natural Resources (Luanar-Bunda campus)’Bunda Environmental Club urged Malawi government to give space to young people in fighting effects of climate change.

“This calls for awareness creation, capacity building and empowerment of the young people. Incorporating young into climate change policies can lead to the development of effective mitigation and adaptation strategies that are cost-effective, participatory, and sustainable.

“According to the National Statistical Office, the youth represent about 70% of the total population in Malawi. As such neglecting young people in Climate Change agenda(mitigation and adaptation actions) can frustrate government efforts to reaching the established priorities related to Climate Change,”says Banda.

In reaction, Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Aggrey Masi who graced the two day conference assured young people in Malawi of government commitment to incorporate them it climate change agenda.

The Minister Masi therefore lauded young people for mobilising themselves with an agenda to come up with practical mitigation and coping mechanism to address effects of climate change.

The conference which runs from April 16 to 17 is expected to invigorate youth ideas on how local and international legal framework can meet their participation in mitigating effects of climate change.

The country’s National Youth Network on Climate Change (NYNCC) with its partners is the one hosting the gathering which has attracted over 100 youth people across the nation from different background of social front.

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Malawi traditional leader goes back to school at the age of 74

Senior Group Village Head woman Jonasi whose real name is Chifuniro Ndelamani of Traditional Authority Mponela in Dowa district is back to school in Form One at Mpando Community Day Secondary School (CDSS) after 17 years of dropping out from school.

Speaking in an interview with Malawi News Agency Thursday, Senior Group Jonasi said she dropped out from school while in Form Two in 2000 at Tchawale CDSS to take over the chieftaincy of her grandmother, who at that time was aged and not able to discharge her duties well.

Jonasi said she made up her mind to enroll in Form One at Mpando CDSS in the district because of her involvement in many forums where she is asked to stand and deliver speeches.

She recalled that while she was in the Girl’s Empowerment Committee, she was meeting several English people from UNFPA, however, she failed to mix with them freely and was using her interpreter for proper communication, a development which has been paining her for years and think of going back to school.

Jonasi has an ambition of getting into the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) and become a prominent farmer.

Born on 11th October, 1974, Jonasi who looks younger than her age is happily married to Katsache and is blessed with 5 children and 2 grandchildren.

At Mpando CDSS, she performs all school activities such as sweeping, mopping and cleaning toilets just the same as all other female students are supposed to do, but she says she however feels ashamed to be called’ Madam” by fellow students.

Jonasi said she went back to school not as a Chief but a student and has encouraged fellow chiefs to go back to school.

She is calling upon all well-wishers to come in and assist her with school fees, uniform and books to enable her learn better in class and become a role model.

Senior Group Jonasi is in a class of 18 students and her favourite subjects are English, Mathematics, Agriculture and Physics.

Besides performing motherly duties at home, she is a member of the Women Guild of Nkhoma CCAP mission and during her free time, she enjoys playing netball

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New Finance Bank launched at Dzaleka Refugee camp

In an effort to promote financial inclusion, New Finance Bank on Thursday officially launched the first ever Bank at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa.

Officially opening the branch, Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security, Cecilia Chazama said the bank would ease the distance that refugees and asylum seekers had to travel to access banking services.

”I am aware that our refugees and asylum seekers had to go to as far as Dowa, Mponela, and Lilongwe just to access banking facilities,” she said.

Additionally she said the coming of the branch would ease pressure for the camp management in issuing exit permits to the refugees when they wanted to access banking services outside the camp.

Chazama urged New Finance Bank to offer quality services to the refugees, advising them to extend its services to cover all transaction needs for the refugees.

She pledged support to the new branch through the Reserve Bank of Malawi, in ensuring that operations in the camp remain a success, saying their initiative was in line with the Malawi Governments Development Agenda to strengthen the private sector.

New Finance Bank Chief Executive Officer, Zandile Shaba said refugees world over are excluded from accessing formal banking services and the new branch offers access to simple products, such as micro-lending, group loans that will further benefit the economic development of the community.

“We are launching a fully operational branch here at Dzaleka refugee camp, this is indeed a departure from what banking institutions normally focus on and this speaks to our mission of making people’s lives better,” she said.

Shaba said the camp has seen an explosion of entrepreneurism, giving rise to successful micro-businesses, from farmers to barbers, to profitable enterprises that include grocery shops, saloons, restaurants and poultry businesses. “It is indeed a unique and flourishing economic ecosystem and the only thing missing from the community was a bank.”

“It is in this context that New Finance Bank has chosen to strengthen entrepreneurial progress and broaden financial inclusion by offering the community a conveniently placed banking opportunity, coordinated with the immeasurable support of the Malawian Government, and efforts of various NGOs like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),” Shaba explained.

Although the bank was being officially opened it has already been operating in the camp since November 2017, through a small kiosk that was erected at the camp, and over 1000 refugees have already opened bank accounts with the bank since it started operating.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Malawi Representative Monique Ekoko said the banking services being offered will empower refugees to make proper savings with the proceeds from their businesses.

“There is no denying that refugees will be delighted to benefit from these services just as any individual would, further, we look forward to additional banking services being offered in near future,” she said.

Adding: “What is also exciting is the fact that the branch will incorporate some Malawians and some Dzaleka community members in the running of its operations as UNHCR we are delighted with this news as it draws on the human resource capacities in the camp and also benefits the surrounding community.”

Dzaleka Refugee Camp hosts nearly 27,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia and Ethiopia

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Malawi President arrives in London, UK

Malawi’s President, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika on Monday arrived in London, United Kingdom, at around 8.00 am, London Time, to represent the country at the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) 2018 meeting.

He is accompanied by the First Lady, Professor Gertrude Mutharika, Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr Emmanuel Fabiano, the Ministry’s Principal Secretary, Dr Isaac Munlo and other dignitaries.

This is the second Commonwealth meeting Mutharika is attending as Malawi’s Head of State since he assumed the office in 2014. The first one was in Malta in 2015.

At that meeting in her address, the Commonwealth Chairperson, Queen Elizabeth the second emphasized the importance of unity and dialogue among member states to achieve common goals.

This year’s meeting will focus on youth empowerment, climate change, gender equality, international trade and health related issues among others.

Among his engagements during the meeting, Mutharika will also meet the Royal Highness Prince Henry.

As if to curtain-raise the 2018 CHOGM, back home, the country’s Ministry of Energy, Natural Resources and Mining elected Chimaliro Natural Forest Reserve in Mzimba to be the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy.

This was after the visit to the forest by the Duke of Gloucester, Prince Richard while in Malawi two weeks ago when he also met Mutharika.

The 53-member strong organization will have its deliberations under the theme ‘Towards a Common Goal’.

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Metropolitan sacco probed over cash woes

By PETER MUNAITA
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Investigators from the Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority (Sasra) have raided Metropolitan National Sacco in a bid to establish its stability following its ambitious expansion that has left it without enough money to meet the needs of more than 100,000 members.

The investigation comes after complaints by members that they could not access their salaries or loans when they are channelled through the sacco’s banking wing. When they did, it was restricted to an amount determined by the management.

“They are serving us on a first-come first-served basis. When I went there on Monday, I was told I can only withdraw Sh20,000 if I’m among the first 20 customers at the branch,” said a primary school teacher in Dagoretti. The teacher had applied for a loan of Sh300,000, which was approved. He was told the money could not be transferred by cheque, dispensed at ATMs or paid in full. The sacco mostly serves teachers who are paid by the Teachers Service Commission.

At a meeting between the management and teachers’ representatives on April 3, it was agreed that access to salaries and loans should not be limited and that the sacco would go round the country explaining the circumstances surrounding the financial distress.

“We want regulators to investigate what is going on in order to safeguard members’ savings. If it is mismanagement and misappropriation, those responsible should be suspended and taken to court. If need be, the sacco should be placed under statutory management,” said Mr Macharia Mugwe, the Nairobi Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) executive secretary, who represented members at the meeting.

On Monday, a team from Sasra led by the chief manager sacco supervision Peter Njuguna took control at the Metropolitan’s Koinange Street head office to assess its operations. “We have a team of five at the Metropolitan offices to establish what the situation is. A preliminary report is expected on Wednesday and a final decision will be made by Friday,” said Sasra communications manager Ann Kago.

NORMAL SERVICES

On Friday, Sasra CEO John Mwaka told the Nation the authority, which polices deposit-taking saccos, was working with Metropolitan’s management to normalise operations. “The foundations are good and we are working with them so that normal services can resume. What is left is monitoring of the operations,” said Mr Mwaka.

That investigators have been sent to the sacco, however, points to the authority establishing the facts with a view to taking administrative action to stem the liquidity crisis. Among the actions allowed under the law include stopping further lending and expulsion of staff and board members who might be found culpable of flouting regulations governing saccos.

The management traces its precarious financial position to December when high demand for deposit refunds could not be matched by the sacco’s finances. It blames this on delayed remittances by some companies and counties. The sacco is also struggling to service liabilities of Sh5 billion owed to two commercial banks.

CHALLENGES

“We have a few challenges which we are trying to sort out. Some members were unable to access money, attracting social media debates and causing panic withdrawals,” Metropolitan CEO Francis Ng’ang’a said in a telephone interview on Thursday. He said the sacco had suffered a run on deposits of about Sh1.2 billion over the past two months. The sacco had deposits of Sh7 billion as of December last year.

However, its books of accounts raise some questions on the society’s prudence.

Among the sticking points is lack of full disclosure in the society’s reports to members, the sacco guaranteeing members to take loans totalling Sh2 billion from a commercial bank, an innovation that saw members get loans as soon as they joined the society, rapid expansion and decentralisation of lending to the branches.

Also contentious is how the sacco declared and disbursed interest on member deposits (rebates) at the rate of Sh11.7 per cent totalling Sh583 million, and Sh3.8 per share as dividend, totalling Sh135 million, for 2017 in February while the run was already evident.

Sasra approved the accounts that allowed the payment of rebates while it is empowered under the law to block distribution of money to members where a society is financially unstable.

The management says disclosures such as the bank guarantee scheme and risk classification are captured in accounts presented to Sasra, but which were not shared with members. It also says Sasra was aware of the lending to new members who had not saved with the organisation for at least six months as is required under the law. Sasra denies this.

To allow members get loans on joining the sacco, Metropolitan would give the amount applied for and retain a third of the proceeds as deposits to comply with its bylaws that say a member gets a loan equivalent to three times the savings and after saving for at least six months. Under this scheme, deposits by members in the sacco grew by more than Sh2 billion in one year. “It was an innovation that helped members access loans earlier than they ordinarily would,” said Mr Ng’ang’a.

However, because the sacco did not fully know the new members and their ability to pay (some were drafted from security companies), this led to loan defaults now in excess of Sh600 million. It had liabilities of Sh11 billion including Sh7 billion in member deposits. The loans to deposits ratio was 1.7 cent more than double the 0.9 recommended by the World Council of Credit Unions. The average for saccos in Kenya was 1.1 per cent. The higher the ratio, the more a lender is dependent on borrowing for lending.

Mr Ng’ang’a said before the Sasra’s intervention the actions agreed on in the meeting with member’s representatives would be implemented by the mid next month.

“We expect the pressure to ease as we gradually retire debts and reduce servicing needs,” said Mr Ng’ang’a. The sacco paid Sh246 million as interest on loans last year, up from Sh220 million in 2016.


Ezra Chiloba was at odds with IEBC commissioners

By JOHN NGIRACHU
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The filing of a case at the Industrial Court by electoral agency CEO Ezra Chiloba, questioning a decision to send him on compulsory leave has exposed the extent of infighting in the commission.

Much of the infighting is linked to tenders and the management of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

At the centre of the decision to send Mr Chiloba on leave  for three months, were questions about the procurement of five tenders for the August General Election and the repeat presidential election in October 26.

The tenders were for provision of the Kenya Integrated Election Management System (Kiems) by OT Morpho, provision of satellite phones as part of the Results Transmission System, provision of servers by IBM to host the biometric voter register, the hosting of the Kiems database and provision of communication services by Scanad.

These contracts are now the subject of an audit by the Office of the Auditor-General.

But according to Mr Chiloba, there was more to it than that and although the chairman is yet to file his response to the case, the documents attached to the application reveal more details. Mr Chiloba says in his affidavit that the relationship between him and the commissioners began to deteriorate in April 2017, four months after they had taken office.

He raised the matter in a letter to Mr Chebukati on April 27.

“I have observed on several occasions that some commissioners directly issue instructions to members of the secretariat without my knowledge. This has placed staff in a very awkward position in terms of reporting lines,” said Mr Chiloba.

INTERFERENCE

He said the interference would make it difficult for him to report to the commission on policies that ought to be implemented.

There had been issues in the transfer of staff in Marsabit, said the CEO, and he had sought the help of Mr Boya Molu, a commissioner. “The commissioner was very particular on whom he wanted taken to those areas. We took his concerns into consideration, but yesterday evening, it became evident that commissioner Molu had prepared a separate list of transfers which he had handed over a while back,” said Mr Chiloba.

After analysing the list, the CEO said, he realised it had been prepared much earlier than the time when the recruitment of the county election managers took place and targeted about 50 staff.

“I wish to point out that immediately after the recruitment of county election  managers, a criteria of staff movement was prepared by commissioner Molu  and handed over to the officer. This was before we even discussed at plenary,” said Mr Chiloba.

The CEO said given there had been reports the list of transfers was being manipulated by officers at IEBC, the commission was badly exposed.

The same problems were evident in the decision to send on compulsory leave on May 26 last year Mr James Muhati, the ICT director at IEBC. In a two-paragraph memo, Mr Chebukati issued instructions to the CEO the same day and asked him to appoint Mr Christopher Musando in Mr Muhati’s place with immediate effect.

But there had been an apparent oversight in the hurry to send Mr Muhati home.

Mr Chebukati wrote: “Following the plenary decision and my memo to you dated May 26, it appears the officer was sent on compulsory leave without hand-over of assignments or projects he was undertaking on behalf of the commission.”

PROCUREMENT

There were also exchanges between Mr Chiloba and Mr Chebukati on the procurement of a company to print ballot papers.

In a July 18 memo, Mr Chebukati asked Mr Chiloba to prepare a report on the implementation of the decision by the commissioners to seek an alternative company to print ballot papers for the presidential election. He wanted the report the following day.

Mr Chiloba then attached a letter from Ren-Form, a company based in Johannesburg.


TSC: Teachers to undergo professional training

By OUMA WANZALA
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Teachers across the country will now be required to undergo professional development training six times in their career, their employer has said.

A policy framework by the Teachers Service Commission, which was made public by chief executive Nancy Macharia on Monday indicates that those in the service would be trained after every five years.

Every level of the training will take five years and it is structured in such a way that a teacher will move from one level to the next until the sixth.

“A teacher beginning the training will be required to complete seven sections of module one in order to be recertified,” says the framework, whose development was backed by Unicef.

Teachers will bear the cost of the training as is the case with other professionals, Mrs Macharia said.

REJECT POLICY

However, Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers deputy secretary general Moses Nturima criticised the commission for coming up with the policy “without proper consultation”.

Similar concerns were raised by Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association.

“We will reject this policy if we discover that it will not help teachers,” Mr Nturima said.

For renewal of a teaching certificate, one must have completed seven sections of a module and provided documentary evidence to TSC.

CERTIFICATE

“Teachers will be trained in not more than five days during school holidays. Upon commencement of the programme, a teacher will be required to acquire a certificate, which is renewable every five years while subsequent applicants for certificate of registration will be issued with both certificates,” the policy adds.

Any teacher who fails to go for the short courses would be deemed to have violated the TSC code of regulation.

Mrs Macharia said the development programme would address gaps identified in appraisals, facilitate career progression and ensure professional compliance.

TSC chairperson Lydia Nzomo said the training would provide teachers with opportunities for continuous in-service professional development.

“It helps teachers to upgrade their content knowledge and pedagogical skills and maintain high standards  of teaching,” said Dr Nzomo.


Time for Chebukati, skeleton IEBC to quit

By EDITORIAL
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Chairman Wafula Chebukati and what remains of his outfit should not inflict his leadership on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission one second more. He and the remaining two commissioners — Prof Abdi Guliye and Mr Boya Molu — should immediately resign and provide an opportunity to select a new team.

After Monday’s resignation of three commissioners — Ms Connie Nkatha Maina, Mrs Margaret Mwachanya and Dr Paul Kurgat — meaning that four of the seven members have since quit, Mr Chebukati’s position is untenable. Legally, he does not have the majority required to conduct business without the risk of litigation and endless disputation. And an attempt to replace those who have resigned would just be ludicrous.

The IEBC, for all intents and purposes, is dead — and at a time when it is required to conduct the scheduled boundaries review. Yet Kenyans had such high hopes that after the violence of 2007/8, largely caused by the bungling of the elections, and the subsequent revamp of the electoral system, those entrusted with election management would be patriotic, sober, impartial and careful not to take the country back to those dark days of death and pain.

It was also hoped that the days of runaway corruption at the commission would be a thing of the past, and that efforts would be made to keep procurement clean and above board to protect elections and their integrity. It is disappointing that the IEBC has become a theatre of the absurd, an arena for drama and brinksmanship, a swamp of procurement intrigue, a place where even the smallest of issues is settled by acrimonious votes and a fertile ground for destructive partisanship, vicious rivalry and backstabbing.

Which is a terrible shame since the IEBC had shown some promise of professionalism in the management of elections and the complex logistics that go with it. Indeed, in terms of the use of biometrics for voter identification and conduct of the election, the IEBC has been praised for doing a fairly good job, a situation only vacated by the finding of the Supreme Court that there were “illegalities and irregularities” in the vote.

But there were danger signs that all was not quite as it should be only months into its tenure. The brutal and still unexplained murder of IT manager Chris Msando, only weeks to the polling, and the shock and somewhat dramatic resignation of commissioner Roselyn Akombe exactly 10 days to polling exposed an institution in the grip of the most dangerous instability and intrigue.

After the presidential election was nullified, Mr Chebukati wrote a memo to CEO Ezra Chiloba demanding an explanation for a variety of complaints — a memo that was quickly disowned by five commissioners.

That became the formula of conducting business. Mr Chebukati lacked the support of the majority and was outvoted at every turn, leading to his threat to quit. When it was questioned whether the IEBC was ready to run a fresh poll and the matter taken to the Supreme Court, it was far from certain if he was confident that it was.

It was because of the fear that he would resign and plunge the country into a constitutional crisis that Jubilee Party, in a much-criticised move, changed the election law to allow the vice-chairperson to take over as the national returning officer for the presidential poll should the chairman become unavailable.

This unreliability is a fatal flow. Kenyans need a commission that will put electoral honesty and the country’s welfare above ego clashes and tender fights. Mr Chebukat and his whole lot must now go.