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Thursday, April 19th, 2018


Counsel university students on new life

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Out of 69,151 students who scored C+ in the 2017 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination, 62,851 have been selected to join universities under the government-sponsored programme.

They comprise 36,945 male and 25,906 female students.

High school leavers usually experience a big, unexpected change in the environment when they join university.

When they leave home for university, the students embark on a new journey — one of self-reliance and self-discovery, which largely shapes up their outlook on life in the long run.

Most of them are young and grossly unprepared for the challenges of university life.

They are also naive. Most of them end up being overwhelmed, which results in their taking extra time to adjust to their new life.

University students should be able to prepare themselves, mentally and emotionally, for any problem they they may face.

The first year of university is always extra hard when it comes to adjustment to the new life as the students experience a culture shock because of how different things are compared to home or high school.

Some feel homesick, but that goes away after they eventually communicate with their relatives.

These students were used to intensive studies, going for games and, during their free time, reading story books.

But when they join university, there is a change as they follow the timetable and have more time on their hands.

The dress code is no longer prescribed or even monitored, leading to students dressing in all manner of styles.

Social media platforms also pose a huge problem to these students, often with a lot of influence on them.

Also on the campus, due to the newfound freedom, there are open friendships between students of the opposite sex and no one chaperones them.

These premature romantic relationships have often led to fights, abortions, early marriages, dropouts, invitation to parties, prostitution, drug and substance abuse, joining criminal outfits such as the terrorist group Al-Shabaab, diseases, lack of interest in learning and, sadly, even deaths.

During a television interview at Chuka University, a student revealed that the so-called ‘sponsors’ (sugar daddies) were a threat to the girls’ education.

Universities should contract organisations or individuals who can counsel and sensitise students on morality and the need to recognise and pursue what took them to the university, that is studies, as well as good living and the fear of God.

Parents should also create time off their busy schedule to talk to their children about illicit love affairs, which can turn deadly.

This talk should be done regularly, at least once a month, and peer groups formed to sensitise and talk to fellow students.

The ball is however in the universities’ court for them to create these forums.

Although this will not eradicate the bad behaviour and ills in the institutions, it will help to sensitise students and the university community on the need to safeguard their lives and education.

It will help those who join university with no experience.

Kenya is losing bright students to social problems that can be easily solved.

This sensitisation will ensure the country attains its sustainable development goals in education.

Ms Onjoro, a publisher, author, motivational speaker, educationalist and counsellor, is a PhD student at Mount Kenya University. [email protected]

Court to rule on Wajir governor's poll appeal today

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Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi will know whether he can relax or prepare for another court battle when the Court of Appeal decides on his case against the High Court’s decision to nullify his election.

Mr Abdi’s election was nullified by Justice Alfred Mabeya on January 12 on the grounds that the election had not been conducted according to the law, and that his academic papers were not proper since Mr Abdi did not have a genuine degree.

But in his appeal, Mr Abdi argued that the High Court misinterpreted the law and ignored crucial evidence when nullifying his election.

Through Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia, Mr Abdi argued that Justice Mabeya misunderstood the law and had bypassed key evidence when invalidating his election.

Mr Ngatia told the Court of Appeal judges that Justice Mabeya had focused on unsubstantiated claims that the governor lacked a valid university degree, claiming no evidence was presented to prove it.

He added that Justice Mabeya had lowered the legal standard of proof in concluding that the governor’s degree was invalid without having demanded evidence meeting the required legal threshold.

Why we’ll have to wait a little longer for right to be forgotten

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An increasing number of readers keep asking “to be forgotten” — that is, to have information about them removed from Nation Online.

People, for example, charged with a crime ask for the story to be removed from the Internet.

Such is the case of Elvis Tomasic, who was charged with drug trafficking. He has asked for the story to be taken down.

According to the prosecution, Mr Tomasic, a Slovenian, was arrested along with 21 Kenyans while packing bhang disguised as tea leaves for export in a godown near Moi International Airport, Mombasa.

The Kenyans pleaded guilty and each one of them was jailed for three years.

Mr Tomasic denied the charges and was freed on a Sh100,000 bond.

The story was published online by the Daily Nation on October 18, 2005.

I have found no follow-up to the story; so, it is not clear whether he was subsequently convicted or acquitted.

“Can you, please, remove the content from your web page,” Mr Tomasic now pleads. “This was an event in 2005.”

If he made the request in Slovenia, a member of the European Union since May 2004, he would be supported by a judge-made law and Google would, probably, be ordered to remove the story from its search engine so that nobody in Europe can read it.

In a case brought by a Spanish businessman who wanted a story about an auction for his foreclosed home for a debt that he had subsequently paid removed, the European Court of Justice ruled in May 2014 that there is a “right to be forgotten”.

People, the court intimated, should not continually be publicly linked with their negative past.

Google is now required in the EU to respond to any reasonable request to remove information that is “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive”.

Many countries, in fact, allow records of court cases to be expunged if the offender has stayed clean for a number of years.

In Kenya, however, there is no law, judge-made or statutory, that requires the expungement of court records as a right to be forgotten.

Article 35 of the Constitution, however, states that “every person has the right to the correction or deletion of untrue or misleading information that affects the person”.

But Article 35 would not help Mr Tomasic because he is not questioning the accuracy of the court story.

In general, the media are reluctant to unpublish stories unless they are legally required to do so because the stories are inaccurate or defamatory.

This is so because to take down a story is the equivalent of saying the event never took place.

For court stories, the standard practice is not to unpublish, but to add an update if charges are dropped or the accused acquitted.

The idea is to preserve freedom of expression and the integrity of the published record — all in the interest of the public’s right to know.

Takedown requests are, therefore, rarely entertained unless there are legal or ethical reasons to do so.

A takedown means removing a story entirely from the Internet.

But the same story cannot be “taken down” from a newspaper or television or radio broadcast. In such cases, only corrections can be published in subsequent editions”.

A printed or broadcast story, therefore, remains published forever; so, even taking down the digital version does not entirely unpublish it if it also appeared in print or on air.

A story should, however, be corrected on both digital and print platforms in the interest of justice and fairness as well as protection of privacy.

The best practice is to correct the story and tell the reader why it is being corrected.

To do so without revealing the reason for it is considered to be dishonest journalism.

Mr Tomasic is asking for a takedown, not correction.

I tremble to think what will happen when I take the request to the editor. That is, if I do.

Farmers fear losses as traders allowed to import maize

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Maize farmers in the Rift Valley and western Kenya are staring at losses after the government allowed millers to import cheaper grains from neighbouring countries.

Prices for a 90kg bag of maize have this week dropped to Sh1,500 from Sh3,200 after the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) stopped buying because all its stores in the region are full.

Farmers, who still have stock, claimed most of the maize at the NCPB depots was imported by cartels.

The grain supply improved in recent days with millers being allowed to import 6.6 million bags from neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania at Sh2,050 per bag.

In the market, the maize from Uganda is selling at Sh1,800 per bag.

Some cartels imported this maize and sold to NCPB while local farmers were still harvesting their crop.

“We are operating in a liberalised market economy and there is nothing wrong with doing business under the East Africa Common Market protocol,” a trader in Eldoret who requested not to be named said.

According to farmers, most of the traders who delivered maize to NCPB have received payments at their expense.

The farmers are owed Sh5 billion for maize deliveries to the board.

“The cartels took advantage of a loophole in the vetting process to deliver the maize undetected,” Leng’use Farmers Cooperative Society chairman Stephen Gathuo said.

NCPB has also admitted that most of its stores in western Kenya are full yet farmers still have stocks.

“There is no way NCPB stores in areas which are not maize growing can be full yet the yield was expected to be low this season due to armyworm invasion and drought,” Mr Kipkorir Menjo, the Kenya Farmers Association director, said.

This week, Deputy President William Ruto admitted that middlemen have made it difficult for the government to adequately address the farmers’ plight.

“It has become difficult for the government to differentiate between middlemen and genuine farmers when they take their maize to NCPB depots,” Mr Ruto said.

The government, he added, had put in place stringent measures to stamp out middlemen enriching themselves at the expense of maize farmers.

“We will not allow unscrupulous businessmen to take advantage of our farmers. We will not use taxpayers’ money to pay brokers,” he warned while in Elgeyo-Marakwet County.

But the imports mean that Kenyans, mostly the consumers in urban areas, are set to pay less for maize flour.

However, farmers on Thursday said the drop in prices means they will be unable to access capital to purchase farm input for this season’s crop.

They said millers were reluctant to buy their maize due to flooding of the imported produce in the market.

NCPB also plans to release more than 600,000 bags from the strategic grain reserve at Sh2,300 a bag, which is expected to result in lower maize flour prices in retail outlets.

The price of a 2kg packet of maize flour rose to Sh150 last year, following a shortage, forcing the government to intervene through a subsidy programme that lowered the cost to Sh90.

The programme ended last December and the price increased to Sh115.

A packet of Soko flour is going for Sh100, Pembe at Sh100 and Jogoo at Sh101, having dropped by an average of Sh5.

But even with increased imports and local stocks, some experts say the country may run out of the staple food by mid this year.

Kenya consumes about three million bags of maize a month. In 2016, farmers produced about 30 million bags.

This reduced by five million bags in 2017 because of drought and pest infestation.

The experts say the government may be forced to either import maize or reintroduce the subsidy programme by mid this year to cover for a shortfall of about five million bags.

“Food shortage is unavoidable due to declined production this season caused by erratic climatic conditions during the planting season and middlemen with enormous stocks stand to be the major beneficiaries,” Mr Jackson Kosgey from Moiben, Uasin Gishu County, said.

Mr Ruto explained that last year farmers supplied more maize to the NCPB depots than had been anticipated.

The board received at least one million bags of maize, which consumed a budget of Sh3.5 billion, but the supplies increased this year to 3.5 million bags, gulping Sh7.1 billion so far.

Moiben MP Silas Tiren has demanded that a list of those who import maize at the expense of local farmers be tabled in Parliament.

“Some leaders claim that some farmers are colluding with brokers.

“There is no maize which comes into the country without passing through the border and the government knows every lorry that brings the grains.

“We want this list to be made public so that every Kenyan knows who is hurting our farmers,” Mr Tiren said on Tuesday at a function in his constituency.

A list of farmers who have received subsidised fertiliser from NCPB should also be tabled in Parliament, he said.

“There are brokers also involved in the purchase and sale of fertiliser,” the MP said.

Tea firms to pay taxes for using picking machines

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Multinational tea companies who replaced thousands of tea pickers with machines to cut down on high operational costs have suffered a blow after they were slapped with taxes.

Companies in Nandi County are set to pay heavy taxes on operation of tea plucking machines, following the approval of a bill by the county assembly to protect the labour market.

The assembly on Thursday adopted a motion to introduce new levies on companies using the machines.


The levies, according to Kapchorwa MCA John Kebenei and his Kabwareng counterpart Jackson Swadi, will protect tea workers from being sacked as a result of the machines.

“The Kenya Bureau of Standards and Ministry of Health should probe the effects of tea plucking machines on the safety of workers,” Mr Kebenei said while decrying mass sacking of workers following introduction of mechanised tea picking.

Mr Swadi said: “Apart from the possible health hazards, the tea plucking machines compromise the quality of tea in the international market, denying the country foreign exchange.”

Kenya Plantation and Agriculture Workers Union Nandi secretary Eliakim Ochieng supported introduction of the taxes, arguing that the move will protect workers from unnecessary sackings.

Most multinational tea companies in the county have sacked thousands of workers leading to protracted strikes and legal battles.

Companies in Nandi and Kericho counties suffered losses running into millions of shillings due to the strikes.

The companies pay tea pickers Sh15.5 per kilogramme of green leaf and the machines cut down on labour costs.

The workers operating tea machines are paid Sh4 per kilogramme.

“Tea machines consume little fuel and are managed by one person who can do work for more than 20 tea pickers, cutting down on the cost of production by a huge margin,” a director at one of the tea companies said.

Schools free to review revoked KCSE exam results

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Schools whose Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exam results were cancelled due to cheating will be given an opportunity to scrutinise them as directed by court, Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang has said.

Dr Kipsang told National Assembly’s Education committee on Thursday that all schools that have requested that the cancelled results be reviewed will get the opportunity.

“We will give others the same opportunity to go through the same process,” Dr Kipsang said, adding that the tough measures being taken by the Ministry of Education are for the good of the students.

In January, Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) cancelled the results of 1,205 in 10 schools over malpractices in last year’s exams.

However, some schools such as Chebuyusi High School, Ortum and St Cecilia Secondary schools went to court and the cancellations were quashed.

Dr Kipsang said the ministry would respect court orders and allow the students and their parents to go through the scripts to understand why the results were cancelled.

“We will reform our examinations systems so that results are not an end to itself. This will help remove high stakes attached to the examination,” the PS told the committee.

He said the council invited representatives from Chebuyusi Boys High School on March 28 to a meeting as directed by Justice George Odunga on March 21.

“The purpose of the meeting was to afford them an opportunity to be heard, which was in line with orders of Justice Odunga pertaining a case in which parents of the school had sued the council and which required that it affords the school an opportunity to be heard,” Dr Kipsang explained.

However, the MPs put Dr Kipsang to task regarding how their colleagues Emmanuel Wangwe (Navakholo) and Benard Shinali (Ikolomani) were treated at the council offices in Nairobi during the meeting with the parents.

The two had gone to the council and wanted to be part of the meeting but were blocked by security officers.

They told the committee that as representatives of the people it was wrong to deny them access to the meeting, with Mr Wangwe arguing that he was paying fees for close to 20 students at the school.

But Dr Kipsang said the council was not aware the MPs were attending the meeting and could therefore not make arrangements to receive them.

“Due to the nature of the matter that was to be discussed, strict security was enforced at the venue and all participants were required to leave all mobile or electronic devices outside the meeting room,” he said.

He said the requirement was applied to everyone, including the acting CEO.

“The security team at the gate was informed that no one should be allowed to interrupt the proceedings once they commenced,” he said.

#ifikiewazazi shame was post to parents in poisoned chalice

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If there has been one thing most parents would like to forget, it is this week: Sad and disgusting.

The avenue the children chose to reach them in what they trended on social media as #IfikieWazazi (loosely, a post to parents) was, to say the least, shocking.

This was a message delivered in a poisoned chalice. They are telling them what their parenting has led them into.

The #ifikiewazazi debacle is a wake-up call for parents and the nation to evaluate ourselves and holistically address parenting and whether we inculcate the values that produce a whole and total person.

Most Kenyan parents have left the role of bringing up their children to maids and schools.

The children are telling them that, while they were away, they chose a path that they felt could fill the lacuna they created.

There is a missing link between parents and children.

We have left them to the vagaries of the fast life we go through. Our children cannot handle the destructive influences.

The ‘Ifikie Wazazi’ children gave us a very miserable weekend but also food for thought: Kenyan parents, and society, have failed.

DAVID M. KIGO, Nairobi.

* * *
Social media platforms were meant to enable people to interact and exchange information.

But most youth have changed this platform into one where they compete in posting their nude photos and exposing themselves.

Parents should be aware of how their children use social media platforms and guide them.


* * *
Going by the moral degradation being witnessed in the country, I see no reason why the government shouldn’t prohibit indecent dressing, public display of affection.


* * *
Lately, the youth have gotten the perception that taking nude pictures is normal. Getting many ‘likes’ on social media is the new swag.

Somebody forgot to tell them about the grave repercussions of negative celebrity status.


* * *
The Bible advises young people to not let anyone despise their youth.

But they have misunderstood that to mean living frantically since “You Only Live Once” (Team Yolo).

Let us teach our youth not to lose their dignity and self-respect trying to make people appreciate them.


* * *
The government should pursue and punish those taking the nude photos posted on social media.
FELISTER A. OJWANG, via email.

* * *
Before parents start complaining about their children being indecent, let them look at themselves. They are our role models.


* * *
Most parents don’t care what their children do. The youth should know the internet never forgets!


Getting internship in Kenya is ‘mission impossible’

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It’s an imperative requirement by institutions of higher learning that final year diploma and degree students undergo industrial practical attachment, also called internship.

They are required to work at private companies or government institutions affiliated to the specific course of study being pursued so as to get hands-on experience in the field.

However, getting an internship in any government or private institution has been a higher hurdle than even getting a job.

At most of the government institutions that I have visited seeking internship, the officials have demanded that I bribe them to be favourably considered.

In the private sector, most of the firms respond thus: “There is no vacancy at the moment. Just drop off your CV; we will contact you in due course.”

I request the relevant heads of government institutions and the captains of industry to intervene and offer the qualified youth internship opportunities.

That will help to eradicate the unemployment disaster in which our country is drowning.

The youth would also want to acquire practical skills so as to be more valuable when they join the career of their choice.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said his government will reserve space for college and university graduates to be interns.

We are waiting, Your Excellency.

Fake is not cheap, let’s embrace honesty and avoid steeper cost

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I watched in horror yesterday morning as a big, black, expensive Toyota Landcruiser VX, registration KCL, that was coming from Kipande Road, was driven against traffic at the Globe Cinema roundabout.

I was so shocked I stopped in the middle of the road, with my mouth wide open.

Out of curiosity, I followed the vehicle into town.

A bodyguard opened the door for a lady, who walked out, talking on the phone. She was probably late for a hair appointment.

If you cannot obey simple rules which cause inconvenience but no major pain, you will not obey the big laws which require painful sacrifice and the expenditure of huge amounts of money.

The casual dishonesty of a person who uses the police and government resources to break traffic law exposes a fatal flaw in the Kenyan psyche.

We may present ourselves as polished and educated but our scarcity mentality — the fact that our pockets are full but our hearts keep telling our heads that they are empty — shows that, however much we pretend to be an aristocracy, in actual fact we are still peasants, hunched over a smoky fire in a hut with holes on the wall somewhere deep in Africa.

Until we conquer this epidemic of dishonesty and impunity, we will never get anywhere as a society.

This week, I got a counterfeit copy of James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership.

I deleted it; I will buy a legitimate digital copy at only a few hundred shillings.

The reason I did that is because I know the destructive effect of dishonesty and the infringement of copyright.

Sometimes in the traffic, a driver will do something stupid that will have a knock-on effect, culminating in the foolish driver being unable to move.

In other words, you think you are smart but you only end up snookering yourself.

Consumers might not always know it but the search for cheaper or free goods hurts them.

You have noticed that medication you buy abroad has a different effect from most of what you get locally.

That is because 30 per cent of the drugs on sale here are fake.

A full 40 per cent of malaria tablets, that is nearly half, which are on sale in Kenya were found to be fake a few years ago.

It is not exactly clear how many people die from using these “cost-effective” medicines, but they are bound to be many.

A 2012 report estimated that fakes occupied 40 per cent of the market.

In 2013, manufacturers were losing Sh30 billion in revenue to counterfeiters and the government Sh6 billion in taxes.

The following year, the losses were estimated to have gone up to Sh50 billion for industry and Sh20 billion for the taxman.

In the area of copyright infringement, the situation is even worse.

I am sure you have seen those guys on Telegram who offer copies of all the daily papers for a little money. To many people, it seems like a good deal.

Others take the newspaper, read it the whole day, lend it to others to read, then in the evening return it to a dishonest trader and pay Sh20.

The copy is returned as unsold to the publisher.

Both the dishonest Telegram trader and the reader think they are being clever.

In actual fact, their conduct will, in real terms, end up costing them a lot more.

First of all, the publisher spends billions of shilling every year to produce a quality product and put it in your hands.

In point of logic, why do you expect to get it for free or at a throwaway price?

Secondly, by participating in that corrupt dealing, you undermine the ability of the producer to make that product and bring it to you. In the final analysis, you will lose it.

Thirdly, producers can’t pay workers — which means job losses and the loss of future job opportunities.

Which means when your daughter graduates from USIU, she will sit in your house for many years to come just eating bread and putting on weight, because there are no jobs.

Finally, if you rob companies of the ability to pay — through their own taxes and the taxes of their employees — for the services you get from the government, then you will end up paying through the nose for them.

For example, if because of your love for fakes companies go down or their revenues shrink, they will pay less in taxes.

To implement projects, the government will borrow from China or some Eurobond affair. And who will pay those loans?

You will pay until you die, then your children will take over, whether they have jobs or not, and then your grandchildren.

Meaningful prosperity requires a certain minimum level of honesty. Fakes, in actual fact, are not cheap.

Driving on the wrong side of the road may give a temporary sense of importance to the perpetrator.

But the matatu driver is watching and coveting similar privileges.

In six months, when that black KCL is driven on the wrong side of the road, there will be a long-nose monster on the left and the right, doing the same thing and four more coming from the opposite direction.

So, who is smart, then?

Matiba gave back portion of Karen land to 'owner'

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The late Kenneth Matiba recognised that the Sh8 billion land in Karen belonged to Muchanga Investment Limited (MIL) by returning a portion which had been carved out by a surveyor, a judge heard Thursday.

Muchanga Ltd’s lawyer Cecil Miller said Mr Matiba’s daughter and proprietor of Hillcrest Group of Schools Susan Mwamto recognised the farm belonged to MIL whose shareholders are former Vice President Moody Awori and Mr Horatius Da Gama Rose.

“Besides the late Matiba, also the Ministry of Lands, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), the Court of Appeal, the Kenya Power Company and tenants recognised Muchanga Ltd as the bona fide owner of the 134-acre farm,” Mr Miller said.

“Mrs Mwamto wrote to Muchanga Ltd that a surveyor will streamline the boundary of their group of schools’ land and MIL which were neighbours,” MIL general manager Dimitri Da Gama Rose said while presenting documentary evidence to show Muchanga Ltd’s ownership of the land.

Mr Dimitri later said Muchanga Ltd sent their surveyor who rectified the boundary according to the original beacons, leading to reinstatement of a portion which had been hived off.

Hillcrest Group Schools bought the land from Mr William Berliam Worner who transferred 20.2 acres from the original 160 acres owned by Mr Grattham Biddulp Norman in 1922.

Mr Dimitri, who was on his second day in the dock to elaborate on the ownership matrix of the Karen farm with three title deeds, said the paper trail traces the ownership to Muchanga Ltd.

The judge was presented with evidence from KRA, KPC, the Nairobi County government in a bid to prove that these government bodies recognised the land belonged to Muchanga Ltd.

Mr Dimitri produced a Court of Appeal judgement record, correspondence for payment of land rates between 1978-2013 from the Lands ministry, parastatals, bank statements and county government land receipts and cheques drawn in favour of Muchanga Ltd by tenants who were residing in two buildings built on the suit land to prove ownership.

The hearing continues.