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Saturday, June 2nd, 2018


Pains, gains of new EU data privacy law

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In the last few weeks, you must have seen a surge in the number of emails and alerts from online companies informing you about changes to their privacy policies. Don’t delete them. Don’t ignore or gloss over them. Understandably, they are written in dry legal tone, but bear the pain and read through.

These emails have been sparked by a new European Union law known in short as GDPR: the  abbreviation stands for General Data Protection Regulation. The law can be distilled down to two points: that companies need your consent to collect your data; and that you should be required to share only personal data that is necessary to make their services work.


This move is aimed at protecting personal data for EU citizens, or foreigners’ data held by EU companies.

Personal data, in GDPR directive refers to any information related to a person such as a name, a photo, an email address, bank details, updates on social websites, location details, medical information, or a computer IP address.

GDPR opens a new window on how companies will henceforth manage and use our personal information. It gives you and I more control over our information. It also gives us the Right to be Forgotten. In other words, if your data are held by a company in the EU, or by a country that complies to this new law, you can request them to delete your personal information in their server if you no longer need their services.


Although the weight of this law will be most felt in the EU countries, its compliance is not related to where a company is physically located in Europe.

Companies with offices within the EU, or those that process data of individuals within the EU, must comply with GDPR. Subsequently, many companies have employed a team of data protection experts to help them put in place and maintain compliance measures.

Facebook, for example, which has been under scrutiny for the improper harvesting of user data by the political profiling firm Cambridge Analytica, has updated its privacy controls. Cabridge Analytica was accused of mining millions of Facebook profiles, with the intention of using the data to tip the elections in US, Kenya and Nigeria.

Organisation that processes or stores large amounts of personal data, whether for employees, individuals outside the organisation, or both, are expected to have a data protection officer to oversee and advise on matters to do with data security.

Organisations that fail to follow this law will face a painful punishment. Those that should have a data protection officer but fail to employ one will be fined. If there’s a data security breach, the company can be penalised; and fines can be up to four per cent of their global turnover or up to €20 million.

In the wake of these changes, organisations will have to re-think and re-organise how they collect, store and manage data in order to avoid the dreaded penalty.

This law is far more advanced than laws enacted by other countries and it will, without doubt, shape the data landscape for many countries for the foreseeable future. Many countries and companies will model their data security management principles and laws using the GDPR template.

Kenya does not currently have specific data protection legislation to regulate the collection, retrieval, processing, storing, use and disclosure of personal data. There is however a bill pending in Parliament since 2015.

The EU law will affect many companies that do business with EU. To play competitively, we have to build or update our data security laws and systems in tandem with changing technology landscape. 

Importantly, countries, companies and colleges must put in place skills-building plans for data privacy, and use them to build an army of data security sleuths.

Mr President, enough is enough! Slay the dragon

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This past week Kenyans have forcefully expressed their opinion on corruption in government. On Thursday they demonstrated across the country and rallied to speak about their disgust that government officials have grown so shameless that they are stealing huge amounts of money without even bothering to justify the expenditures. Revelations that dozens of officials paid billions of shillings to dubious characters in exchange for nothing at all served to heighten public anger against government, and even people formerly known only for effusive praise of government actions spoke out indicating that they had had enough.


The government reaction to the recent revelations of high-level corruption has been typical. The President, for the umpteenth time, issued “tough warnings” to all those involved in corrupt deals that their time is up. Visibly angry, he warned all those involved in illegal deals that they will be jailed and their property will be forfeited to the state, to be used in improving the quality of life of Kenyans. Unfortunately Kenyans are now inured to such tough talk, and only tangible action will convince them that the government is serious in its anti-corruption drive.

The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions also seemed to wake up from its long slumber, and arraigned dozens of Kenyans in court in relation to yet another scam at the National Youth Service (NYS) in which billions of shillings were paid even to persons who acknowledged that they had no idea what the money was for. The Principal Secretary and senior officials at NYS were arrested and charged, and the government argued successfully against their release on bail.


Unfortunately even this action has not convinced all critics. We are coming from a history of show trials that drag on for so long that our collective gnat-sized memory cannot remember what the problem was in the first place. In most such trials, the officials are often quietly acquitted and they resume “normal life”, even managing to compete successfully for public office. Many of us are convinced that this will be the outcome of these trials.

We expect that the prosecutions will be shoddy, that the evidence will be weak, that the suspects will retain stellar advocates, that the judges will be compromised, that something will somehow be made to go wrong in order to result in an acquittal. We fully expect that once that happens the entire Executive arm of government, and most of the Legislature, will go hammer and tongs after the Judiciary, accusing it of being an obstacle in the “war against corruption”. We know all this, yet we will watch the charade unfold and eventually make disappointed noises and move on with our lives. This is how corruption and impunity will continue to thrive in this country.


Our entire government system was set up to facilitate corruption, and unless it is completely reformed, no single action will make a dent on this vice. We have systematically ignored Chapter Six of the Constitution on Leadership and Integrity, and allowed our top leadership to literally get away with murder while arguing about being “innocent until proven guilty”. We have elected idiots into Parliament forgetting that one of their functions is to ensure that the Executive is prevented from shafting the public. We have looked the other way when “our sons” bring home the loot from the public coffers.

Now our President says he is serious about fighting corruption. He must demonstrate this in action rather than in words. He needs to fire his senior officers implicated in corrupt deals. He needs to support the investigative and prosecutorial functions to ensure that watertight evidence is tendered to enable the Judiciary to convict the culprits. He needs to stop attacking the Judiciary, undermining its credibility and ability to deliver on its mandate. He needs to stop shouting and telegraphing his intentions on national TV.

The war against corruption will not be won by using the same old tired means that have been tried and defeated in the past. Mr President, enough is enough. End this charade, and let’s slay this dragon once and for all.

Atwoli is an associate professor and dean of Moi University School of Medicine. [email protected]

How rogue police get away with murder by bungling thousands of their cases

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Human rights groups and security experts have raised concern over the increased cases of fatal police shooting of innocent civilians and the failure to investigate and prosecute them fully.

Last month alone five innocent Kenyans were shot dead by police officers either in suspected hit jobs, cases of mistaken identity or just sheer police impunity.

In all the five cases, the victims, who include a university student, were not linked to any criminal activity, which is usually the favourite line of defence for the police when they come under fire for extra-judicial killings.

The latest case to shock the nation was the shooting of Mrs Janet Wangui Kirubi, 41, and her nephew Bernard Chege, 26, by two police officers while relaxing in their car at Nairobi’s City Park on a Sunday morning two weeks ago. 


Administration Police Constable William Chirchir from Makadara Police Station and AP Constable, Mr Godfrey Kirui, from Industrial Area Police Station, pumped 15 bullets into their vehicle.

The officers explained that they shot the two after they started behaving “suspiciously”—another favourite police line—by ignoring a stop order. They further intimated that the two were having sex in the car, a claim which was denied by the family of the deceased.

In these days of terrorism, a statement from the police said,  the officers could not take any chances after prompting the curiosity of the officers by taking too long to disembark from their car.

Kirubi, a mother of three, died on the spot and was buried on Thursday in Murang’a. Her nephew narrowly escaped death with serious injuries and is still admitted in a Nairobi hospital.

Statement recording

The two police officers involved in the incident recorded statements and were freed on bond. “Same old story,” said Mr George Musamali, a former General Service Unit officer and now an independent security expert.

“The police usually mollify the public by arresting the police suspects, and taking statements from them. From past experience, often this is just the process of laundering them clean,” he said.

Even as he nurses his wounds, Mr Chege complained last week from his hospital bed of harassment from the police who he said want to forcefully collect DNA samples from him.

He said he had learnt that the officers wanted to carry out a DNA test to ascertain he was the one at the scene of the shooting. “I suspect these officers are up to something else. What do they want to ascertain when they are the same people who helped me get to hospital?” he told the media.

But this incident is not isolated. On the same day that Kirubi and her nephew were assaulted, a matatu conductor was also shot by another AP officer in Waithaka village in Dagoreti South, Nairobi.

The deceased, David Kariuki, was going about his usual business of picking up and dropping passengers when the incident occurred. Eyewitnesses said the police officer had been on a nightlong drinking spree.


Kariuki was buried last week in Thogoto, becoming another statistic, a victim of trigger-happy police officers. The officer who shot him is in police custody but is yet to be formally charged.

Ten days before Kariuki met his death, another fellow youth, 24-year–old Brian Chacha, a student at the Kisumu campus of KCA University, was shot dead by an off-duty senior police officer.

Chief Inspector of Police Sebastian Ambani, an OCS at Kehancha police station in Migori County, shot Chacha at a bar in Mamboleo area after they brawled while drinking. 

On the same day young Chacha’s dreams were being snuffed out by the bullet of a rogue law-keeper, the police were announcing the killing of a “most wanted” criminal.

Shimoli Junior is the son of Edward Maina Shimoli, alias Carlos the Jackal, who was arrested, jailed, then gunned down shortly after he finished his prison term in 2007.


Buruburu Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) boss Jeremiah Ikiao said Shimoli Jnr had been terrorising sportsmen and fans near and around Camp Toyoyo stadium. The only problem is that the young man they had shot was not Shimoli Jnr, but 16 year-old Arnold Okongo who completed primary school last year and who was working as a part-time tout.

His father Thomas Okongo, the head coach of Jericho All Stars Football Club in Nairobi’s Eastlands, said police in plainclothes arrived just as he was boarding a matatu, pulled him down and shot him multiple times, even after he shouted that he is not the Shimoli they were looking for.

But when it became apparent that they had shot the wrong man, undercover cops claimed Arnold was a close friend and accomplice of Shimoli Jnr who is wanted for several robberies.

Before this, in late February, policemen shot dead Evans Njoroge, the secretary-general of the Meru University Students Association. His crime: Leading a demonstration against high school fees and poor learning conditions at the university.

Witnesses said two officers pursued him into a private compound in Karebe village and shot him in the head. “Police chased him through my compound before one of the officers shot him within my farm,” Dominic Limiri, a witness, said.


Witnesses claimed the officer who shot the student was dressed in AP attire, but changed into a T-shirt before leaving in a waiting car. No police officer was arrested for the killing.

These are just some of the egregious killings by the police this year. They add on to the unresolved killings of baby Samatha Pendo in Kisumu and Stephanie Moraa in Nairobi by the police in August last year during the demonstrations against the outcome of the presidential results. 

Six-month-old Pendo’s skull was shattered by police officers who stormed their home in Nyalenda slums while pursuing the demonstrators. On the other hand, Moraa was hit in the head by a stray police bullet as she played with her friends at the balcony of their home in Mathare North Area II.

The police were roundly condemned by human rights groups for using excessive force to quell the election-related demos in Opposition strongholds. 

A report released in late December last year by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) said that more than 90 people were killed by cops in election-related clashes.


However, the police said the force was reasonable and necessary in the circumstances. President Uhuru Kenyatta even commended them for being “firm” when confronting the demonstrators.

Whereas the issue of the amount of force applied by police to quell demos will always divide opinion according to party lines, some Kenyans have paid the ultimate price for poor police intelligence.

In October last year, Bunty Shah, the son Bobmill Group of Companies founder, Bobby Shah, was shot dead in his Westlands home by anti-terrorism police in another fatal case of mistaken identity.

On realising that they had the wrong target, the police disabled the CCTVs and vacated the compound, leaving Shah lying on the floor. His family is now demanding Sh730 million compensation from the government. The admission by the police that they got the wrong man in Shah’s case is indeed extremely rare for a police service that has grown largely impervious to public criticism over its misdeeds.

In April last year, Kenyans were left horrified when a video surfaced of a police officer dressed in civilian clothes wielding a pistol and shooting several times at an already badly injured man on the ground in Eastleigh, Nairobi.


The then Nairobi County Police boss, Japheth Koome, despite outrage over the shooting — which was termed by human rights groups as an extra judicial execution — said he has no apology to make over the action taken by ‘his officers’.

It is such kind of attitude from the police bosses that breeds and foments impunity within the police service, said KNCHR vice-chairman George Morara.

“That is not the kind of attitude we need for a reforming force,” said Mr Morara. “What lessons are the top bosses sending to their juniors when they publicly abet criminal acts?”

Indeed, police officers hardly get punished for violating the laws they have sworn to protect. The notable exception is the determination with which the police supported the prosecution of former Githurai police cop Titus Ngamau Musila alias Katitu who was recently jailed for 15 years for the killing a suspect in broad daylight in 2013.


Last week, the Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) released a detailed six-year report that blamed the National Police Service for derailing most of the 9,000 cases lodged with them.

According to the report presented by former chairperson Macharia Njeru, police officers covered up crimes or tampered with evidence to defeat IPOA investigations in cases where police are implicated.

This, the report says, includes “numerous failures to notify the authority on deaths and serious injuries as a result of police action, mishandling, mismanagement or interference of incidence scenes.”

IPOA achieved only four convictions in six years.

Re-thinking leadership must be at the core of our university reforms

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The latest advisory from the Commission for University Education (CUE) to the Cabinet Secretary in charge of education reflects the turmoil within the higher education sector.

Among other recommendations, the Commission advises the scrapping of school-based programmes. This will dim the aspirations of many teachers who wish to pursue further education and at the same time kill the cash cow that has been feeding the cash-starved universities.

The Commission further  reinforces the moratorium on the establishment of new universities. It also argues that with 73 universities, Kenya, with 48.4 million in 2016, overshot its banks on the number of universities it ought to have.

The Commission argues that 31 public universities and six public constituent colleges are too many for Kenya. South Africa, with a population of 55.91 million, has 26 universities. Rwanda, with a population of 12 million people, has one public university. The Commission, therefore, calls for the amendment of the Universities Act on the establishment of at least one university in each county.

It is time for sober reflection. South Africa, for instance, went through a painful process to reduce the number of universities. We have many lessons to learn from them. If universities should be like a flame that continuously illuminates society, then ours are flickering and dangerously so.

That is why the nation has to decisively deal with challenges facing university education. We have to take tough and unpleasant decisions. We have to adopt proactive interventions and not knee-jack reactions as we have witnessed in the recent past.

Our solutions and action plans should have a future orientation. Decisions that serve immediate political expedience are not helpful.

First, we need structured discourses involving all stakeholders. Far-reaching intercourse of minds will rejuvenate the river of higher education.

Commenting on the state of higher education in Africa, a recent issue of The Guardian notes that premier universities on the continent are faced with soaring student numbers against stagnant investment. This has led to overcrowding that is witnessed in libraries and lecture halls. A typical lecture hall on our campuses resembles a market day gathering. In such an environment, the phrase quality education is only a meaningless slogan.

We have to invest in quality education to reap from it. Granted, there are a number of public universities which have done well in modernising their infrastructure. But at what cost? They are choked by loans and with dwindling numbers of students, they stand precariously on the precipice.

In virtually all our public universities radical transformation of infrastructure is required. The archetypal lecture hall requires an overhaul to meet the requirements of the 21st century. This is why universities need funds to invest in infrastructure that support interactive discourse.

Whatever we say, the nation has to rethink the concept of financing university education. The concept of Differentiated Unit Cost (DUC) may not be the panacea to our predicament. We have to rethink university expansion programmes and establish institutions that we have capacity to support. There is a need to fully fund new and young institutions that we establish if we want them to survive. There exists a glaring mismatch between the country’s developmental goals and university programmes. That is why we have to rationalise the number of universities, restructure them and “re-member” them in line with the manpower needs of the nation.

The link between academia and industry is a blurred one. Consequently, we continue to witness skills gap. Enduring partnerships between various agencies and universities should address this problem.

We need to create synergy between universities and technical and vocational institutions. They should be seen as strategic allies in achieving development agenda and solving existential problems facing our nation.

In Kenyan universities research does not dine on the same table with teaching. Research is usually left under the table to feed on crumbs. A paradigm shift is urgently needed so that university staff can re-dedicate their efforts to research.

Creating publishing research channels eliminates the practice by staff and students to publish in available “predatory” journals which charge expensively with little attention to rigour.

We also need to rethink our management structures to ensure they are serving us. Do we need all these management levels within these institutions or they only serve to sap the meagre resources we have? It is imperative to focus our resources on key strategic areas to eliminate duplication.

With support, dons should adopt modern pedagogical practices and make learning more interactive. Adhering to maximum class sizes will support this.

In many instances students are forgotten actors in the education sector. They must be brought to the centre-stage in discussions about higher education. 

Lastly, pure sciences and social sciences have a role to play in development. And they all need to be supported. Any policy that regards one more highly than the other is an enemy to Kenya’s progress.

Prof Kabaji is founding principal, Turkana University College ([email protected]), while Dr Mbithi is a lecturer at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) [email protected]

Kenya Airways to take over JKIA in new strategic move

By Jaindi Kisero
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Operations of the national flag carrier, Kenya Airways, and the Jomo Kenya International Airport (JKIA) are to be merged in a move that carries far–reaching implications for competition between the national airline and African and Middle East carriers.

The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting last week.

Two large State-controlled institutions are being brought together under one roof in an audacious effort at consolidating State assets in the aviation industry to mirror the same model practised by Middle East carriers where airlines also own airports.


To avoid long legal issues and procedures, the decision is to be effected through a concession with Kenya Airways as the private party and Kenya Airports Authority as the contracting authority.

Under the  new arrangement, JKIA – now under the management of the State-owned  KAA, and with estimated annual revenues of Sh7 billion – is to be owned and managed by a holding company that will, in turn, be 100 per cent owned by Kenya Airways under a concession agreement that is to run for 30 years.

KAA, which will continue running the remaining airports, will earn concession fees from Kenya Airways. All JKIA staff will be taken over by the holding company.

The move will have major financial implications for the operations of KAA because almost 90 per cent of its revenues come from the operations of JKIA. Last month, the National Treasury and the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure and Housing tabled a Cabinet memorandum seeking approval to open negotiations between Kenya Airways and KAA on the merger arrangement.


By last week, a joint brief prepared by both managements of KAA and Kenya Airways had been prepared and presented to President Uhuru Kenyatta. Well-placed sources told the Sunday Nation the changes may be implemented within months. Even though the issue has not come up in the documents, all indications are that the company may be delisted.

Kenya’s aviation sector has been struggling in the last decade manifested in the declining fortunes of the national flag carrier, and loss of business by JKIA to other competing hubs notably, Ethiopia Airways and the Emirates.

In handing over JKIA to Kenya Airways, the government may find itself accused of practising uncompetitive practices by the national flag carrier’s main competitors.

The current wisdom within government is that in the next stage of the new experiment, the national airline will be made to operate more or less like Middle East carriers by being allowed advantage and control over aviation-related businesses such as ground handling, fuel distribution and catering and maintenance repairs and overhaul businesses.


It remains to be seen whether the airline’s competitors will interpret the new move by Kenya as subsidisation of its flag carrier’s operations especially in the context of the 2015 Africa Union’s Declaration on the Establishment of the Single African Air Transport Market – commonly known as SATTAM – that Kenya adopted. Advocates of the new direction adopted by the government counter that Kenya had to take the bold move because the national airline was at a point where it was beginning to be pushed out of the market by the heavily government supported Middle East carriers operating from Nairobi and by Ethiopia Airways.

Currently, more than 50 per cent of flights leaving JKIA are by competing airlines and statistics show the share of Kenya Airways in the hub has significantly dropped in the last three years. Indeed, successive managements and boards of the airline always whined that Kenya Airways was – among its competitors – the only airline that is treated with the same rules as any foreign carrier.

Another usual grouse is that one of its main competitors, Ethiopian Airlines, is highly protected in its own market – that the competition is consistently restrained from expanding operations at their airport – and that it has monopoly over airport services such handling.


Qatar, Emirates and Etihad have recently faced persistent criticism in the US and European Union of receiving subsidies such as favourable treatment when it comes to slot allocations, monopoly of ground handling services, airport charges and monopoly of refuelling which they deny.

But in reality, the reason the government is moving with speed to merge the operations of Kenya Airways and JKIA was mainly because of poor financial health of the airline which had left it facing tough options over the future of its national carrier. Implementing a massive retrenchment programme was going to be politically messy. On paper, returning some of the aircraft to manufacturers and reducing the destinations it flies to — was an option.

But the risk was that reducing the number of destinations was essentially reducing Kenya Airways into to a mere regional player. And, although the option of merging the airline with another player was also an option, the truth of the matter is that the shape of the company’s balance sheet was such that a merger with a stronger player would imply loss of the national brand. Yet the stakes were very high because the financial health of Kenya Airways has implications to the health of JKIA.


If Kenya Airways and JKIA fell into deeper problems, the aviation industry’s contribution to the tourism industry was going to take a major hit. The merger of the operations of Kenya Airways offered the airline the best and most sustainable option of getting the national carrier out of its financial doldrums.

Over the last three years, Kenya Airways has accumulated debts running to $2.2 billion — mainly the result of an ill-timed aircraft acquisition programme that went belly-up. As a result, the company, not able to service its debts, was tottering towards insolvency.

Consequently, it implemented a government-supported financial restructuring exercise in the form of a sovereign guarantee to the company’s main creditors amounting to $750 million. As it turned out, the financial restructuring process only served to keep the company afloat in the short-term.


Cash flow problems remain because the financial restructuring programme did not bring in much cash. KLM that had pledged to pump in $100 million during the restructuring process only managed to fork out $25 million. Under the circumstances, the company struggles to pay its suppliers.

And, with no budget for Capex, the company is unable to engage or execute projects to lower costs, enhance revenues and improve productivity. Whether the merger of the two entities will put Kenya Airways on a profit path remains to be seen. According to documents seen by the Sunday Nation, the assumption is the merged operation is likely to push revenues up from $1 billion in 2018 to $2.9 billion in 2022 – with  airport operations being the main contributor of revenues – the rest coming from cargo operations, ground handling, contracted maintenance and overhaul services, fuel distribution in Nairobi, and catering services. What there is no doubt about is that the company is slowly going back to the firm control of the government as a fully-fledged parastatal.


As a result of the recent financial restructuring of the company, the government has become the largest shareholder, its stake moving from 29.8 per cent before the transaction. Indeed, the hand of the government was strengthened when the State took the biggest risk by providing $750 million of sovereign guarantees to 48.9 per cent.

In contrast, the stake held by KLM came down from 26.7 per cent to 7.8 per cent. And, the stake by the public float came down from 43.3 per cent to a mere 2.8 per cent. Among its competitors, Kenya Airways is the only one that is publicly-listed and that doesn’t benefit from airport revenues.

Two footballers, a winner and loser, and what our real world has become

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The UEFA Champions League final took place last weekend. The team expected to win, Real Madrid (a record holder in this competition) won 3-1. The challenger to the throne, Liverpool FC, was vanquished with some ease.

No news there, so why are we discussing it this Sunday?

I want to zoom in on two footballers today: Real Madrid’s captain, Sergio Ramos, who lifted the trophy for his team for the third year in a row; and Mohammed Salah, Liverpool’s lightning-quick Egyptian forward. One epitomises all that is wrong with modern life; the other tries to do things the right way. One of them was injured badly during the game and now faces the prospect of missing out on the forthcoming World Cup tournament.

Mohammed Salah has been a revelation this season: He has broken all sorts of goal-scoring records with his new team, and was England’s footballer of the year. He was the main threat to Real Madrid in its attempt to clock a trio of back-to-back titles. He therefore had to be taken out of the reckoning. And Sergio Ramos is just the man to take people out.

Very early in the game, Ramos grabbed Salah by the arm, kept holding on to him as they fell together, executed a near-perfect judo flip, and made sure he landed on Salah with all his weight as they hit the deck together. Salah writhed on the floor in obvious pain; tried briefly to continue; then left the pitch in tears as he saw his Champions League and, maybe, World Cup hopes disappear before his eyes.

The referee took no action. Ramos smirked as Salah left the pitch. Job done. He then moved his attention to other key players: Liverpool’s goalkeeper, Loris Karius, who was elbowed craftily in the head when the ball was elsewhere; and striker Sadio Mané, whom Ramos tried to get sent off after faking an eye injury when he had not even been touched.

It all worked. Liverpool were left without their most potent attacker; and then suffered a meltdown when their goalkeeper committed two bizarre blunders. The glory was Real’s and their “legendary” captain Ramos took the trophy home.


I am writing about this because I think all lovers of football, and of fair play in life, should be outraged and refuse to accept this.

Real Madrid is a team of legendary players, some of the best talents ever assembled together. They don’t need to do this — and yet they do, year after year. The head assassin is always Ramos, who has a long record of nasty fouls, vile provocation and fake injuries aimed at key opponents. It’s not just him; this team (and many others these days) see this part of the game as vital if you want to be “winners”.

Many footballers and parents can be heard saying these days that talent and dedication alone are not enough; you have to be “smart” and know how to win. You don’t win just by being good footballers; you also have to practise the dark arts.

So Mohammed Salah, who works incredibly hard and is by all accounts a humble and devout man, gets carried off; while the snide and nasty Ramos gets plaudits and bouquets. I was watching the game with my son; what should I tell him about success? Be like Salah if you like, kid, but there are no guarantees; if you want assured success, be like Ramos: Game it, rig it, fix it in your favour. Just be clever enough not to get caught…


Because that is what success has increasingly become. The match referee in the final did not seem to notice a single thing wrong that Ramos did; UEFA will not look at video footage to take retrospective action. And so the Real/Ramos formula is clear; don’t rely on talent or hard work or luck; do the thing that guarantees wins. Cheat.

If this is the world we want for our kids, then let’s all look away as the scum of society rise to the top. Let’s clap as the liars, fraudsters, scammers and spivs take over our worlds, make all the money and grab all the trappings of success. Let’s watch as the beautiful game itself suffers, and actually playing it well becomes optional.

If we refuse to express our outrage or acquiesce in the face of degradation of rules and fair play, let’s also do nothing as our worlds are run and dominated by the worst, most corrupt amongst us and regulators are made irrelevant.

Or did we already do that?

Five things we learnt from Uhuru Show last week

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The major events of this past week can be safely summed up as the Uhuru Kenyatta Show. From his sick joke about the Deputy President’s early campaign movements at Nairobi’s Jacaranda Grounds to the impromptu apologies parade of the 2017 election’s bitter rivals at Safari Park Hotel and the tough talk on corruption during the Madaraka Day celebrations in Meru, the President was the star in the high drama that also gave Kenyans a glimpse of the State of the Nation. Here are five things we learnt.

1. Kenyans want bigger fish

The anti-graft war declared by Mr Kenyatta has recently claimed the scalp of a principal secretary and the chief executive of the National Youth Service. But the public mood remains ambivalent amid reports about the existence of some sacred cows in government. The portrayal of a young woman with a pretty face from Naivasha as the poster girl of the NYS scandal has heightened suspicion of a grand cover-up.

2. EACC losing relevance

Forget the Ngiritas — the Naivasha family that had four of its members dragged to court and remanded over the NYS scam. The biggest casualty of the ongoing anti-graft fight is the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) which has found itself very much sidelined. Embarrassed at having had to fire some ministers using a corruption dossier that the EACC later admitted was half-baked, the President has demonstrated his distrust of the Eliud Wabukala-led commission by keeping faith with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the new Director of Public Prosecutions this time round. 

3. Ruto snubbed

Another of the big losers of the anti-graft war has to be William Ruto, the Deputy President. Long used to sharing credit for every bit of the Jubilee administration’s achievement, real or perceived, with the President, Mr Ruto is hardly being mentioned for any major role in this one. It was noteworthy that the best public compliments the Deputy President received from his boss last week had to do with his kutangatanga (loitering) habits.

4. The handshake effect

It has been hard to see how the March 9 handshake between the President and opposition leader Raila Odinga had anything to do with the fight against corruption despite the latter playing it up in his public pronouncements about the deal. Well, the handshake is playing some role after all. At least it has robbed corruption suspects and architects the chance to politicise the crackdown. In the past, one only needed to characterise any official corruption allegation as a grand scheme by the opposition or Mr Odinga to bring down the government and the ruling party machinery or a whole ethnic community would rally to his or her defence.

5. Kalonzo’s handshake moment

Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, he of the nitapita katikati yao fame, has done it again. He hasn’t concealed his wish to have a public handshake with the President. He finally got it at the National Prayer Breakfast last week. 

MPs face increasing racist abuse and death threats on social media

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The hero of Liverpool football club is an Egyptian Muslim, Mohammed Salah, who scored a record 32 goals in 36 games in the season just ended. The fans even created a special chant for him:

If he’s good enough for you,

He’s good enough for me.

If he scores another few,

Then I’ll be Muslim, too.

Sitting in the mosque is where I want to be.

Mo Salah, Mo Salah, la la la.

It’s good to hear positive references to Islam in the public domain, where racists use the anonymity offered by crowds to attack foreigners, their colour, race and religion.

However, it would be a super-optimist who would conclude that the Liverpool experience suggests racism is on the wane here. Some contrary examples:

– A stab victim, Zena Edwards, 18, refused to let a hospital doctor tend her because he was black.

– New figures show that a black person in London is four times more likely than a white person to have force used against them by a Metropolitan (London) Police officer. When Dijon Joseph bumped fists with his brother outside a shop in Deptford, police accused them of exchanging drugs.

–Black MP David Lammy revealed two offensive messages he had received recently and passed to the police. One said he should be “grateful that we have taken you in as a black man” and suggested he should “go back to your country”. Mr Lammy was born in London.


The other said in part, “Why don’t you get in your canoe and paddle back to N— land, climb up a tree and eat a banana, you big, fat, stinking —–?”

After the 2017 General Election, Labour and Conservative MPs alike reported instances of racist abuse, anti-Semitism and death threats on social media.

Conservative MP David Davis told the BBC that abuse of politicians is “definitely getting worse,” and a spokesman for Mr Lammy said, “David regularly receives abusive and malicious communications, often of a racist nature.

“All such letters are passed to the police. As David has made clear, receiving racist abuse will not have any impact on his work.”


Many people tweeted to condemn the messages sent to Mr Lammy, variously calling them “despicable”, “disgraceful” and “disgusting”. Clare Jordan wrote that these anonymous spreaders of hatred “ought to hang their heads in shame”.

The bile is not confined to matters of race or religion. Women-haters are there, too. Labour MP Sheila Creasy was subjected to sustained abuse on social media in 2014 when she campaigned to put the image of the writer Jane Austen on the £10 note.

She succeeded and Jane Austen’s face appears on the new polymer note.

The judge described it as “an act of pure evil.”

Mark van Dongen, 29, told his partner, Berlinah Wallace, 48, that their relationship was over. But he stayed one last night at her flat in Bristol.

Wearing only boxer shorts, he woke at one point and saw Wallace glaring at him. She said, “If I can’t have you, no-one can,” then flung a glass of acid over his face and naked body.

Screaming in agony Van Dongen staggered out to the street where he was found by alarmed neighbours who dialled 999. The Dutch engineer was left paralysed from the neck down, lost an ear and an eye and his left leg had to be amputated.


More than a year later, unable to endure the constant pain, van Dongen ended his life in a euthanasia clinic in Belgium. His father, Kees, said, “Mark was so brave when confronted with this hellish pain, but eventually it became too much for him to bear.”

The South African-born Wallace was acquitted of murder but found guilty of throwing a corrosive substance with intent. She was sentenced to a minimum of 12 years in prison.

Mark’s father said, “I’m very pleased she will be locked up for 12 years, but really it’s too little, because we as a family have been sentenced to life.”

Latest advice from the medical experts: Give up alcohol and you won’t get cancer.

My reaction was exactly that of a letter writer to the Metro newspaper: “Why don’t we all live in padded rooms encased in bubble wrap, breathing filtered air and eating carrots? Then some of us might live five years longer. Can’t wait!”

Jake: “What does your father do?” Joe: “He’s a magician, he does tricks like sawing people in half.” Jake: “Do you have any brothers or sisters?” Joe: “I have four half-sisters and a half-brother.”

Son: “Dad, are bugs good to eat? Father: “We don’t talk about nasty things like that at the dinner table.” After dinner, the father asked: “OK son, what did you want to know?” Son: “Oh nothing. You had a bug in your soup, but it’s gone now.”

MPs push for Sh200bn roads bond to accomplish infrastructure target

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MPs are proposing a Sh200 billion infrastructure bond  to help the Government honour its pledge of building 10,000 kilometres of roads by 2022.

The proposal by the National Assembly’s Transport Committee means Kenya will commit Sh10 billion from the Fuel Levy Fund each year to repay the bond.

In a presentation to the House Budget Committee, the roads team said the bond was the only way to address the Sh115 billion budget deficit in the roads sector and at the same time, ensure the realisation of Jubilee’s infrastructure dream — a key plank of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s second term promises.

“As it stands, we have the money in the Fuel Levy Fund sitting there waiting to be spent. If we go this direction, by 2022, we will have delivered 10,000 kilometres of complete tarmac,” Transport, public works and housing committee chairman David Pkosing told the Budget committee on Friday.


Mr Pkosing, who is also the Pokot South MP, was making his committee’s presentation on the budget proposals  to the budgetary committee team at Boma Hotel in Nairobi.

But before bond, Mr Pkosing told the committee, the House should ask Treasury to borrow Sh18 billion from the annuity fund to repair roads damaged by floods, adding that the cash should be refunded after the bond is  floated.

“The ongoing floods damaged critical roads and bridges connecting towns, social amenities and health facilities and trading centres across the country,” Mr Pkosing said.

Of the Sh18 billion, Sh11 billion has been proposed for rural roads, Sh3 billion for the national highways and Sh4 billion for urban roads, mostly in Nairobi.

“Out of the Sh18 billion for floods damaged roads, Sh8.7 billion will be distributed equally to the 290 constituencies, with each constituency receiving Sh30 million,” Mr Pkosing proposed.

The remainder, he said should be spent on rebuilding bridges.”


But while Mr Pkosing made the proposal, questions were raised about Kenya’s data on completed roads.

It is also not clear, from the official government data, how many kilometres of roads have been completed since 2013, with President Uhuru Kenyatta putting the figure at 3,000 during his 2018 State of the Nation address.

Mr Pkosing said 6,100 kilometres were under construction and that the government plans to work on 1,200 kilometres this year, translating to Sh48 billion against the allocated Sh25 billion. 

Political intrigues at Coast ahead of 2022

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Tongues have been wagging since last week following reports that Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi had abandoned his political cause while at the same time giving the strongest hint that he could be joining Deputy President William Ruto’s camp in readiness for the 2022 election.

The governor is one of the political kingpins in the Coast region who have been fierce critics of the Jubilee regime and his abrupt turnaround has sent some shockwaves as it seems to have left out Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho.

Mr Kingi has said he is yet to see the usefulness of the March 9 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

Whereas Mr Kingi seems to be casting his net towards Mr Ruto’s side of the political divide, Mr Joho on Thursday made news of his own when he hosted Baringo Senator Gideon Moi as efforts to build alliances start in earnest ahead of 2022.

In January, Mr Kingi had called for secession of the coastal strip from Kenya. He would soon after follow it up with a push to form a political party, all of which he appears to have abandoned. On Friday, he said the handshake “will have no impact if there will be no justice for the coastal people”.

Pwani University lecturer Hassan Mwakimako says once again the region is finding itself as the main theatre from where the 2022 presidential popularity contests will be waged.

“The upcountry politicians are storming the coastal region looking for alliances. The focus is on the Coast because none of its top politicians is ready to run for the presidency,” Mr Mwakimako told the Sunday Nation yesterday.

The increased interest in the Coast, he said, is proof of the potential of the main political actors from the region in national politics.

“The struggle is between the two on who will be the ultimate political kingpin of the Coast and thus the pre-eminent political actor in the region. In fact, both Kingi and Joho are using different paths to achieve the same goal,” he adds.

However, he notes that it is too early in the day for a conclusive analysis on the 2022 elections to be made.

Mr Herman Bond Manyora, a University of Nairobi lecturer, agrees that it is too early to make conclusions on the kind of political alignments that will define the Uhuru succession. He says the results of the handshake between President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga will decide the course of politics henceforth.


Another Pwani University lecturer Halim Shauri says cracks between Mr Joho and Mr Kingi started long ago “when Kingi thought he could stand on his own”. “And that is why he has been calling for the formation of a Coast political party. Mr Kingi’s thinking is to go his way ahead of 2022, not to win but to see him going for a run-off during the presidential election,” said Prof Shauri.

He argued that it is the same strategy that Mr Joho wants to use following his meeting with Mr Moi but warns that the pact will not allow them to win if they are to contest the top seat.

“Mr Joho controls only a third of the Coast votes while Moi has only a half of the votes of his region with which they cannot win the seat. Their unity  is just a strategy because sometimes elections are not won by votes but by strategy,” he said.

ODM Mombasa branch chairman Mohammed Hatimy said the Moi-Joho pact is aimed at uniting Kenyans noting that bringing Kenyans together is the “only reason the two came together”.

As Mr Kingi is warming up to the DP, his counterpart in Kwale Salim Mvurya has gone silent on national discourse even as it is claimed that he has quietly abandoned the DP. During the last General Election, Mr Mvurya was among the Jubilee pointmen in the region.


Since the swearing-in of President Kenyatta for his second term in November last year, however, the governor has been absent from Jubilee events. Just last week he gave a wide berth to the Third Annual Legislative Summit in Mombasa. Similarly, he didn’t show up for the Fifth Devolution Conference in Kakamega.

Efforts to get Mr Mvurya were unsuccessful as his phone was switched off.

However, a source close to the governor, and who did not want to be named so as not to appear to be discussing his boss’s issues without his permission, retraced the falling-out between Mr Mvurya and the DP to the Council of Governors politics.

Soon after the last election, it had been agreed within Jubilee that Mr Mvurya would take over the leadership of the council, with his Kirinyaga counterpart Anne Waiguru as his deputy.


According to the source, Mr Mvurya is unhappy because he believes the DP sacrificed him in favour of Turkana Governor Josephat Nanok.

Mr Nanok is said to have reached out to Mr Ruto where he succeeded in securing an agreement that allowed him to complete his one-year term before surrendering the seat to Mr Mvurya. While Ms Waiguru was catapulted to the position, Mr Mvurya missed out and his allies have blamed the DP.

“Mvurya is to blame for the political misfortunes that define his leadership. He is neither strategic nor assertive,” Mr Mwakimako says, pointing out that his “lack of a fighting spirit is to blame for his dull political career”.

“He is satisfied with being a governor and always believes he can get another appointment simply because he is a good man,” he adds.