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Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

 

Probe into FlySax plane crash to take longer

By WAIKWA MAINA
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By ERIC MATARA
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Kenyans will have to wait longer to know the cause of the FlySax plane accident that killed 10 people in the Aberdares, the Nation has learnt.

On Monday, a team of  investigators made a torturous journey to the scene of the accident at the peak of the Aberdares, where they assembled and documented 32 two pieces of exhibits to be used in establishing the cause of the accident.

During the three-hour exercise, they collected samples of fuel, laptop hard disks, power banks and parts of the plane.

However, according to Kinangop Deputy County Commissioner Daniel Nyameti, the investigations on the cause of the crash will be conducted in Kitale, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and the Aberdares.

FORENSIC EXPERTS

It also emerged that the investigators’ file will be handed over to the Director of Public Prosecutions for further directions after the exercise. The investigators will include bomb and forensic experts, pathologists among other specialists.

At the same time, an investigation into a similar plane crash that killed five people on October 21, 2017 in Lake Nakuru is yet to be concluded, according to the Aircraft Accident Investigations Division (AAID).

CRUCIAL DATA

The State Department for Transport through the AAID led by Chief Investigator Martin Lunani on Tuesday disclosed to the Nation that computers containing crucial data about the chopper crash have been flown to the United States and France for further analysis and data retrieval.

“The computers had crucial information about the chopper crash including parameters of cockpit. Once they are further analysed, we will establish what caused the accident,” said Mr Lunani on the phone.


CSs in scandal-hit ministries should step aside, says Sonko

By DAVID MWERE
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By STEPHEN MUNYIRI
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Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko is not known for mincing his words. And he times his statements for maximum  effect.

On the day the Nairobi County Assembly rejected his controversial nomination of Mr Miguna Miguna as his deputy, for instance,  Mr Sonko asked Cabinet secretaries whose ministries have been  implicated in corruption to step aside.

Then he left friend and foe wondering about  his stand in the war on corruption by lambasting the Judiciary for denying the suspects bail.

“Let me state that I wholly support the President in his fight against corruption, but my basic understanding of the law is that everyone is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. In 2010, we passed a Constitution that guarantees the rights of everyone and we should not, therefore, break the same law in the name of fighting corruption “ Mr Sonko said during a funeral in Nyeri.

STEP ASIDE

But it is by asking CSs to step aside pending investigations, making him  the topmost person in the Jubilee administration  to do so,  that Mr Sonko  has surprised many. Among the Cabinet Secretaries whose ministries have been implicated in recent corruption are Ms Sicily Kariuki (NYS), Mwangi Kiunjuri (NCPB) and Charles Keter (Kenya Power, Kenya Pipeline and Ketraco).  

Mr Sonko said corruption should not be fought “selectively” and asked CSs whose ministries have been implicated in past and present scandals to step aside until they are cleared.

“I know  that, because there is currently no opposition in the county, people  are afraid of speaking the truth. I was not born a  coward and will, therefore, speak the truth,” he said.

Earlier in the day, word had come from Parliament that Cabinet secretaries Margaret Kobia (Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs) and Ms Kariuki (Health) had not appear before the Public Accounts Committee for the second time to answer questions relating to the scandals in their ministries.

According to letters sent to the National Assembly Clerk dated June 11 and delivered just before the PAC session, Ms Kariuki was in the US on official duty and is expected to return on Saturday.

Meanwhile Prof Kobia had written to the committee requesting that her session be rescheduled.

“The newly appointed accounting officer is away on official duty and she needs time to study the report to enable meaningful engagement with the committee,” she said.

GRANTED BAIL

On June 19, High Court Judge Hedwig Ong’udi will rule on whether the 46 suspects in the Sh9 billion scandal at the NYS should be granted bail.

On Tuesday, the prosecution argued that the suspects would interfere with witnesses. But the defence disagreed,  saying that  no compelling reason had been given for  denying the suspects bail, which is their  constitutional right. They have been in remand since they were charged  on May 29.


We’re committed to graft war, says CJ David Maraga

By ELVIS ONDIEKI
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Chief Justice David Maraga has promised that the Judiciary’s fight against corruption will be waged from both within and outside its ranks.

Asking other State agencies to support the courts, Justice Maraga said corruption will not be tolerated among judicial officers.

“As the Judiciary, we have adopted a zero-tolerance policy to corruption, both internally as an institution as well as matters that are brought to our courts,” said the CJ at an event organised  yesterday by Kenyan editors in Nairobi. “The current effort to stem the vice is an important process for all of us,” he said.

The CJ made the promise while giving the keynote address at a luncheon for the Kenya Editors Guild’s new project — the Press Club. During the forum on freedom and responsibility of the media, the Judiciary was put to task on why it has been awarding hefty sums to those who win libel cases against media houses.

“We must find it odd that when it comes to court awards, suing the media is fetching more than losing a limb in an accident,” said the Guild’s Chairman Churchill Otieno.

LESSER DAMAGES

“How do we explain that a paraplegic is awarded lesser damages for injuries sustained in an accident than the same person would get for three lines of libel in a newspaper?” wondered Mr Otieno, who is also Nation Media Group’s digital editor.

Speakers also took issue with the rising number of gag orders by courts against media houses. Mr Otieno said such orders, especially pre-emptive ones, are gaining currency.

His position was echoed by Kenya Union of Journalists Secretary-General Eric Oduor. “Nowadays, if somebody is not comfortable with ongoing stories in the media, they run to the Judiciary and get gag orders,” he said.

But the CJ defended the Judiciary. “The courts are not gagging the media on a general kind of situation. Each case is decided on its own facts that are brought before the court,” he said.

“When you feel that you are aggrieved by a court order, please challenge it on appeal. And we have had quite a number of decisions of our courts upset on appeal,” he added.

The forum, whose topic was “The Media, Constitutionalism and Democracy – What Options for Kenya”, was attended by editors from different media houses. Mr Otieno said the Guild would hold quarterly round-table meetings for peer review. 

“It has also committed to hold county town hall sessions to ensure the media serves more than just the interest of the elite and privileged,” he said.

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Vice-Chair George Morara challenged editors to relook the way they make Kenya’s elections a never-ending cycle.

EDITORIAL PRIORITIES

“When the votes are counted and the electoral circus tents are taken down, immediately the discourse shifts to the next election. What are we doing in terms of our editorial priorities?” he asked. He also asked media houses to give journalists decent pay. Outgoing US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec said he was looking forward to more established freedom of the press. “It’s critical in maintaining the democracy which you have built,” he said.

Speaking for the Media Owners Association (MOA) , Nation Media Group’s Editor-in-Chief Tom Mshindi said they were ready to give all the support that editors needed. “I hope we will see a lot more forums after today’s inaugural one. We fully support this initiative and we intend, as MOA, to back it as much as we can,” said Mr Mshindi.

ILLEGALITY

Standard Group Chief Executive  Orlando Lyomu challenged media practitioners to redefine their perception on patriotism. “A lot of times, as the media we find ourselves at a crossroads, where by doing what we are supposed to do, we are either labelled left or right, black or white,” he said.

Veteran editor Macharia Gaitho took the audience back to the events of January when the State shut down transmission signals of TV stations, saying the government was wrong to say that broadcasting an illegality is illegal.

But the CJ said: “That’s a live issue in court, I’m not going to comment on that.”


Ministry warns of disease outbreaks in several counties

By FAITH NYAMAI
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The Ministry of Health has issued an alert on disease outbreaks in several counties.

Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko said on Tuesday that four epidemics had been reported in the country since January.

Cholera, measles, Chikungunya and Rift Valley Fever outbreaks have been reported in various parts of the country.

Dr Kioko said the ministry had been working with the affected county governments to contain the epidemics.

He noted that a total of 4,954 cholera cases had been reported since the beginning of the year. Out of these cases, 75 deaths had been reported, he said.

The affected counties are Mombasa, Garissa, Siaya, Tharaka-Nithi, Meru, Kirinyaga, Busia, Tana River, Turkana, Murang’a, Trans Nzoia, West Pokot, Nairobi, Nakuru, Isiolo, Machakos, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Kiambu and Kilifi.

CONTAIN OUTBREAK

Dr Kioko said nine counties had managed to contain the outbreak.

The ministry had responded to the cholera outbreak by appointing a national disease outbreak task force.

He said the ministry had also responded by issuing alerts and educative materials.

Dr Kioko added that the ministry had been providing technical and logistical support to the affected counties by distributing testing kits and testing of referred samples at the National Public Health and CDC laboratories.

At the same time, the director said that a total of 39 and 103 cases of measles had been reported in Wajir and Mandera counties, respectively.

ACTIVE CASE SEARCH

“This outbreak has since been successfully contained through active case search, case management and enhanced outreach vaccination services,” he said.

Regarding Chikungunya outbreak, Dr Kioko said 1,302 cases were reported in Mombasa, with 32 confirmed through laboratory tests.

In Lamu, he noted, 199 cases were reported, four of which were confirmed through lab tests.

Meanwhile, seven cases of Chikungunya were reported in Kilifi, with two confirmed through laboratory tests.

Dr Kioko further noted that 15 cases of Rift Valley Fever were confirmed in Wajir County last week, with five deaths reported.

“Four isolation centres have been set up to facilitate case management in the affected areas and Integrated Vector Control measures targeting mosquitoes are being undertaken in Basir area, Eldas Sub-County,” he said.


NYS scandal suspect Lucy Ngirita taken ill as bail ruling put off

By SAM KIPLAGAT
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By STELLA CHERONO
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A Nairobi magistrate on Tuesday directed that Mrs Lucy Wambui Ngirita, the mother of three suspects in the National Youth Service (NYS) scandal, be taken to Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) for medication.

Through her lawyer Cliff Ombetta, Mrs Ngirita said she is ill and the condition at Lang’ata Women’s Prison, where she was remanded, has worsened her condition.

Looking tired and frail, Mrs Ngirita told the court that she has not been feeling well. Prosecutor Verah Omolo said she was not opposed to the application that she be referred for treatment.

Mrs Ngirita, through her company Waluko Investments, is alleged to have fraudulently received Sh59 million from NYS. Her daughters – Ann Wanjiku Wambere and Phyllis – and son Jeremiah Gichini are among the suspects implicated in the Sh469 million scam.

BEING HARMED

At the same time, Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti directed prisons authorities to ensure all suspects in their custody are protected.

He said expressions of fear made by the accused persons should not be taken lightly.

Mr Ogoti made the order following an application by Mr Gichini who said he feared being harmed following claims he made through an affidavit – touching on the investigating officer in the case, Mr Mike Muia.

Mr Gichini, whose company – Jerrycathy Enterprises – allegedly received Sh72 million, told the court that he was fearful that he might be harmed after linking the lead investigator to his businesses.

MAXIMUM SECURITY

“I direct that all the accused persons be accorded maximum security. Their fears should not be taken lightly,” Mr Ogoti said.

Mr Gichini alleged in the affidavit that his company has been trading with NYS in partnership with Mr Muia since 2014.

He said his company has been carrying out renovations and supplies to NYS together with Mr Muia and he made several payments through Mr Muia’s bank account. He further stated that his relationship with Muia went bad and he vowed to use his position to fight the family.

Mr Muia has denied the allegations through an affidavit, saying he has never done business with NYS. He has, however, acknowledged that they are friends with Mr Gichini. He said that the Sh800,000 paid to his account by Mr Gichini was a debt.

Mr Muia said he forgot a deposit slip in Mr Gichini’s car after depositing Sh800,000 in his account at Cooperative Bank Gilgil Branch on October 21, 2016.

GIVE DETAILS

“It is worth noting that the said deposit slip does not bear the customer’s signature and mobile number as I was depositing it to my account. It is common knowledge that if depositing cash into someone’s account, you have to give your details,” he said.

Mr Gichini alleged that when their business relationship went sour, the officer vowed to use his position to deal with the family and that before their arrest on May 26, the officer called a meeting with his two sisters at Rafiki Club on Lang’ata Road in Nairobi.

In his defence though, Mr Muia denied the allegations saying that on the alleged date, he was with his family in Makueni and even had a meeting with his other friends at Wote town between 5 pm and 7 pm. He said he travelled to Nairobi on May 27.

Mr Muia dismissed the allegations, saying that the suspect and his three family members were arrested on the same day from Naivasha and taken to Naivasha police station, then taken to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations. 


Early campaigns a threat to progress

By EDITORIAL
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It is hardly a year after the elections yet politicians have hit the road with campaigns disguised as meet-the-people tours, which are bound to raise temperatures and derail the development agenda.

It is incredible that leading politicians are trashing alliances and are busy working on new coalitions — which simply means rallying their ethnic communities into unions with others in a bid to seek political power. It is raw greed for power; devoid of vision, mission or agenda.

We must resist this. After the protracted and deeply divisive campaigns last year, people are tired with politics and want to get on with life.

They demand services. Several indicators show that we are doing badly.

ECONOMIC STAGNATION

For the past two years, the country has experienced economic stagnation that require singular resolve to reverse.

Essentially, this was due to bad politics that one, consumed everybody’s energy at the expense of productive engagement and two, created tension that scared off investors. We cannot afford a similar scenario.

Next, governance and management of public resources is a real challenge.

Corruption has resurfaced in a big way and threatens to undermine the gains in all sectors of the economy.

Fighting the vice is hazardous and depends on strong political will and commitment.

But that is not possible in an environment where politicians are mobilising for political office.

POLITICAL CARDS

Not when the corrupt play ethnic and political cards to wriggle their way out.

Despite past experiences, the search for new alliances is premised on ethnic mobilisation, not ideology. The politics of ethnicity is fundamentally the politics of exclusion. Communities are rallied to win power and guaranteed access to public resources at the expense of others. Consequent to this is disillusionment among the excluded and the predisposition to protests, itself a threat to national unity and economic stability.

It is dishonest for politicians to stand on the podium to preach about this being the time for national development while at the same time running around and dividing the people as they angle themselves for the 2022 General Election.

Politicians must stop these premature campaigns; they are an unnecessary distraction.


A historic step for peace

By EDITORIAL
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The world is abuzz with the news of the first meeting ever between sitting leaders of the United States and the reclusive North Korea.

Mr Kim Jong-Un confounded doubters by heading to Singapore for the ground-breaking summit with Mr Donald Trump.

There may still be some doubts over whether something constructive will come out of this rare encounter and quell the fears over nuclear proliferation. However, the significance of the historic handshake between the two is indisputable.

DIPLOMATIC COUP

This is a second diplomatic coup for Mr Kim following yet another first, his recent historic meeting with South Korean leader Moon Jae-in.

Some have described Tuesday’s summit as ending with “vague pledges of nuclear disarmament” but they would, perhaps, take some solace in a Chinese saying that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. This initial contact indicates a willingness on both sides to secure the world from a nuclear holocaust.

PERSONAL TRIUMPH

For Mr Trump, it’s a personal triumph for a leader whose foreign policy credentials have been frequently mocked and denigrated for lack of depth and predictability. We could not agree more with US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel that the Trump-Kim summit was a “major step towards historic peace”. Indeed, the stage has been set and the momentum should be seized to relentlessly strive for a more secure world.  


Governor, find out why pupils sang about problems

There was an interesting and curious news item on Thursday evening in one of the TV stations where the Laikipia County boss scolded school children and their teachers for expressing their problems in song and dance.

Governor Ndiritu Muriithi was opening a health facility. He was livid because the school pupils elucidated in the song lack of toilet facilities in their schools, which did not please him, and he told the teachers in the face that they were misusing the students.

MISSING THE POINT

Mr Muriithi is missing the point here. Some of our elected leaders become quite rare after the elections and the only chance the electorate has to express their needs to them is through such a function. The students did nothing wrong in calling a spade a spade in front of the governor.

Music and drama, and the governor knows very well since he was a student once, are meant to praise, pass messages and pour ridicule on vices in the society.

BECOMING FURIOUS

That the governor got the message is confirmation enough that the timing was appropriate and his reaction in public can only be interpreted to mean he and his government are going to act — and this is exactly what the students and teachers wanted.

Lastly, instead of becoming furious with the honest little angels, the governor should go back to the drawing board and establish why the people who elected him have decided to address him through song and dance.

DAVID M. KIGO, Nairobi.


TSC should address plight of discriminated diploma teachers

For one to pursue a Diploma in Education course, the minimum requirement is an aggregate of C+ and C+ in the subjects one wishes to specialise in.

These are the same requirements to be met by those pursuing a degree course in Kenya; still, they are the same requirements needed by the employer.

When diploma holders secure a Teachers Service Commission (TSC) job as teachers, they join the service at job group J(C1) while the graduates start at K(C2); which is alright, because the former takes three years and the latter four.

However, both groups have an equal workload and responsibilities at the work station.

Unfortunately, of late, the diploma teachers have been discriminated against by the employer. An example is biased scoring during interviews in the recently concluded interviews to common cadre promotions.

CAREER PROGRESSION

I wish to talk about the latter for now. Recently, the TSC launched career progression guidelines for all teachers, which came into effect with the implementation of the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) on July 1, last year.

According to the new document, it’s clear that all employees, both fresh and in service, would have only two common cadres as from November 9 2017.

For instance, a diploma holder in secondary school moves automatically from job group J(C1) to K(C2). Ironically, the employer promoted diploma teachers whose due date of promotion to L(C3) was past last July, when the CBA had already been implemented, and left out those whose promotion to job group L(C3) was November 9, 2017.

I believe the two groups should be treated the same way because they fall under the same 2017-2021 CBA.

Job group L(C3) in the new career guideline is referred to as Secondary Teacher 1 – Scale 8 and it is clearly stated that it is a promotional grade for secondary school teachers.

DUE FOR PROMOTION

Diploma teachers due for promotion to job group L(C3) have met all the conditions to be promoted — apart from those that the employer is yet to roll out such as the Teachers Professional Development (TPD) modules and Teaching Certificate.

In fact, those university graduates employed in 2014/2015 and have already served for three years have been promoted to job group L(C3) without TPD modules and Teaching Certificate because the employer has not yet launched them.

Unfortunately, diploma teachers who have served for more than six years are being locked out of L(C3), which has been their common cadre.

The question is, why change the game midway? Is this a way of motivating or demotivating diploma teachers?

Lest you forget, many of the victims have advanced their studies and the employer has failed to upgrade them.

Jane Mwangi, Laikipia.


Reform NHIF to boost healthcare services

By AMIT N THAKKER
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President Uhuru Kenyatta’s pledge to deliver universal health coverage (UHC) by 2022 is a tough act to pull off.

While he should be hailed for attempting to hit the target eight years ahead of the global goal of 2030, Kenyans have pointed questions about how to get there that fast.

A key element to UHC is affordability. Kenyans are inundated with requests to contribute to one medical harambee or the other.

Kenyans must access the health services that they need without auctioning their assets or begging.

The government’s target of 100 per cent UHC in five years for all households by enrolling 13 million Kenyans and their beneficiaries in the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) is ambitious. It should first rebuild the NHIF.

However, we must not let this motivation compromise quality. It is too risky to leave the health of all Kenyans in the hands of the premier national health financing scheme.

FACE DANGER

We face the danger of erratically increasing payroll taxes and contributions with little attention to the availability of basic primary healthcare and specialist health services thanks to a fragmented and unresponsive health system.

First, we must shake up the weak NHIF accountability and governance structures, which hinder the success of a seamless rollout of UHC.

We must tackle all the challenges to proper implementation of the coverage. These include systemic delays in reimbursing health providers, false claims from some providers and poor quality of care in some facilities.

The public trust in the NHIF need to be urgently restored through a well-designed strategy to increase awareness on the services covered.

From the financial data available, it’s quite clear that almost half of the NHIF funds are inappropriately used.

MEDICAL CLAIMS

For example, in 2012, the agency collected Sh9.5 billion and paid out Sh5.9 billion in medical claims (62 per cent pay out rate) while in 2016 it paid out Sh10.2 billion in claims from an annual receipt of Sh28.5 billion (36 per cent). Where is the money going, if it’s not to the health of Kenyans?

Too much attention is being given to the ‘rich’ through the NHIF ‘Supa Cover’ with benefits such as medical evacuations, referrals to other countries like India for high-level cancer treatment. This, while there is a huge population in Kenya that cannot access basic outpatient treatment in the counties.

What are our priorities? The NHIF should look into enrolling the poor first before enhancing benefits for the wealthy.

But even with these reforms, the NHIF will not meet the demands for provision of health insurance for all single-handedly. We need to confront the reality of the multiple players in the health insurance and provision playing field.

HEALTH FINANCIAL SCHEMES

Kenya needs an appropriate mix of private and public health financial schemes that consider all approaches with the lowest-possible costs that fairly distribute the financing burden and ensure equity of access to healthcare services.

As the first phase for UHC, we need to build multiple suitable, innovative, cost-effective medical plans — including county government ones — that, in turn, could be re-insured by the NHIF. This kind of competition will drive the NHIF towards greater accountability and quality.

Further, we need a law to oversee the management of the schemes, to protect consumers even as it promotes affordable, quality medical covers.

Finally, a Health Benefits Regulatory Authority would play the subtle role of overseeing registration and licensing of all financing plans as defined by the law.

That would ensure all players are on the same page for the benefit of every Kenyan.

Dr Thakker is the chairman of the Kenya Healthcare Federation. [email protected] Twitter: @docthakker