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Monday, July 23rd, 2018

 

Malawi Judiciary legality questioned for siding with manufacturers against plastic ban

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The Malawi Judiciary system legality to serve the nation interest is under microscope following its continual conduct of siding with the manufacturers against long battle on plastic ban.

This comes after the sitting High Court in the capital Lilongwe again on July 12, 2018  suspended the enforcement of the plastic ban which was ordered on June 14, this year.

Following the judicial review case number 20 of 2016 between the state and the Director of Environmental Affairs as respondents against Aero plastic industries limited and Abdul Majid Sattar Rainbow plastic as applicants, Judge Justice Potani ruled in their  (the manufacturers ) favor.

Judge Potani has therefore set August 9, 2018 as the date for inter-parte hearing while the suspension remains intact.

“Upon hearing counsel for the applicants and upon hearing  the sworn statement of Frank Farouk Mbeta filed herein, it is here ordered and directed that the enforcement of the ruling of this court dated 14th June, 2018 herein be and is suspended pending the inter partes hearing scheduled for 9th August, 2018” reads the statement copied to The Attorney General which was made available to The Maravi Post.

The ruling has however angered Malawians from different background questioning the judiciary mandate on public interest including the country’s leadership political will.

Association of Environmental Journalists in Malawi (AEJ) members reacted angrily on the ruling considering that in June this year the organized the match against the plastic ban on World Environmental Day that falls on June 5, yearly.

“Three steps forward-Five steps backwards! This is retrogressive,” worried Kondwani Magombo of Malawi News Agency (MANA)-Mangochi.

Thomas Psyata of Galaxy Radio chipped in; “Perhaps the judiciary needs a bit of an interface so that they appreciate the extent of this climate change”.

“Sad how these mwenyes (Indians) can get away with anything just because they have the money. They have taken all our land, abuse our brothers and sisters and now they are destroying our environment. Lord have mercy,” worried Pauline Kaude of  MANA-Ntchisi.

One of the renown human rights activists, MacDonald Sembereka added; “This judge will grant the applicants which I know. Check this space with Mbeta as their lawyer eish”.

Malawi case is different with Uganda on the same as  President Yoweri Museveni in January  ordered the country’s security chiefs to enforce the ban on the use of polythene bags.

President Museveni further ordered 45 manufacturers to stop churning the products in line with a shelved law which had barred use of plastic bags.

With the directive, Uganda becomes the third African country to ban the use, sale, and manufacturing of plastic bags.

Kenya banned plastic bags in 2017 while Rwanda has had the order in force for years.

“My message to the plastics industry is that you should manufacture, distribute and sell only permitted quality plastics,” Daily Monitor quotes Museveni.

“The continued manufacture of banned products must stop,” the president said during celebrations to mark the World Environment Day.

The Uganda President added that since the 2010 law on use of sacks and bags of ethene and polyethene had not been repealed, it should be enforced.

A UN report released in the sane January proposed to governments to consider banning or imposing heavy taxes on manufacturers of single-use plastic bags.

The report recommended on grounds that “less than a 10th of all the plastic ever made has been recycled.”

The comprehensive study says that up to 5 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year, according to Reuters.

“The scourge of plastic has reached every corner of the Earth,” Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, says in the report.

“Only 9 per cent of the 9 billion tonnes of plastic the world has ever produced has been recycled,” the report said.

“Most ends up in landfills, dumps or in the environment.”

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Soccer-Ethiopia, Eritrea set to play first match in two decades

NAIROBI, July 23 (Reuters) – Ethiopia are set to play Eritrea in a friendly soccer match, the state-affiliated Fana news agency reported on Monday, weeks after a dramatic end to a 20-year old war between the two east African states.

The match would be played in late August in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, the agency said on its twitter feed.

The match is part of attempts by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to sweep away a generation of hostility between the nations since signing a peace deal last month.

Triggered by a border dispute in 1998, the conflict killed more than 80,000 people. At least 350,000 people living along the border on both sides were uprooted and forced to flee.

Leaders have visited each other, and last week Eritrea reopened its country’s embassy in Addis Ababa. {L8N1UC1BX]

Ethiopia’s national carrier Ethiopia Airlines last week made its first flight to Asmara in two decades and was greeted by dancers waving flags and flowers as families separated by the war and the ensuing hostilities made an emotional reunion. (Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Ken Ferris)


Brunlehner strikes gold at Africa Youth Games

By AYUMBA AYODI
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Germany-based Maria Brunlehner struck two gold medals and a silver in swimming to hand Kenya its first medals as Africa Youth Games entered sixth day on Monday in Algiers, Algeria.

Brunlehner, who represented Kenya at Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, tore the waters for victories in girls’ 100m and 50m freestyle respectively adding up to her silver in 50m breaststroke.

On Sunday, Brunlehner clocked 58.87 seconds to claim gold in the 100m freestyle, a victory that warmed her up for the 50m freestyle feat on Monday where she broke the championship record with new times of 26.14 in 500m freestyle.

That feat saw her missing her elder sister Sylvia’s national record of 25.85 by a whisker.

Brunlehner edged out Ines Barbouch from Tunisia and Egyptian Enjy El Marasy to win the 100m freestyle contest. Barbouch tapped the wall in 59.26 for silver while El Marasy timed 59.39 for bronze.

Brunlehner had on Sunday finished second in the 50m breaststroke fray in 34.04 seconds to lose the battle to Moroccan Imane Houda El Barodi, who tapped the wall in 33.03.

SETTLED FOR BRONZE

Nesrine Jelliti from Tunisia settled for bronze in the 50m breaststroke in 34.10.

In boys’ hockey, Kenya crushed Namibia 3-1 on Monday to advance to the semi-finals. Goals from Bryton Ndwati, Edson Ndombi and Bryan Ogenche put Kenya through.

The hockey team started the championships badly, going down to Zambia and Nigeria in identical 2-1 losses. They got a walk over against Uganda in the last and final pool match.

That saw them finish third and get a lifeline to the quarterfinals.

In boys’ beach volleyball; Brian Kimeli and Kelvin Wafula won three of their four matches to earn a place in the quarterfinals.

The young Kenyans crushed Sudan and Togo in identical straight sets of 2-0 before they silenced Nigeria 2-1 to sail through despite having lost to Algeria 2-0.

BEACH VOLLEYBALL

In girls’ beach volleyball; Juliet Makokha and Gloria Nekesa’s campaign was jolted when they won one match against DR Congo 2-1 before losing to Cameroon (2-0), Sierra Leone (2-0) and Rwanda (2-1). 

The much-awaited athletics calendar starts on Tuesday with  Zenah Jemutai and Mercy Chepkorir battling in women’s 3,000m final at 8pm Kenyan time.

Athletics team manager Eliud Wambua said that Kenya has been allowed to field two athletes in some events after countries had protested last minute changes.

Maxon Kipng’etich and Jones Wambua will take part in boys’ 100m heats with Beatrice Anyango battling in girls’ 100m qualifying round.

Samwel Mwita and Judy Jepkoech take off the blocks in boys’ and girls’ 400m heats respectively while Nickson Lesiyia will compete in boys’ 1,500m first round. Sheila Chepkosgei will compete in girls’ 800m first round.


NYS has service, jobs good side too

By MARGARET KOBIA
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When there was a fire tragedy at Gikomba market, the telephone lines at the Ministry of Public Service and Youth Affairs were inundated with early morning calls from all over Kenya.

We received calls from Kenyans even from the diaspora. Callers wished to commend the NYS fire-fighting crew whom they had spotted as first responders on site following the deadly inferno.

NYS emergency response team was present before other response teams, fighting the fire and directing survivors to safety.

Barely two months earlier, following the Solai dam tragedy in Nakuru, the ministry received similar number of calls from all corners of the country.

Kenyans wished to commend the NYS emergency team after witnessing them provide first line of emergency services in the wee hours of that day; and later seeing them assist in recovery efforts, distributing alms and rebuilding schools.

Callers were impressed by the tenacity, discipline and dedicated service that the youthful recruits from National Youth Service exhibited.

NEGATIVE PRESS REPORTS

This was happening despite the negative press reports breaking at the time on the allegations of billion-shilling scam at the institution, the second in as many years.

Understandably, these scams evoke high emotions and negative attitudes towards the institution.

The saving grace is that the government ordered immediate and thorough investigation and suspects have been arraigned in court. We can only hope that the rule of law will take its course and any perpetrators of such acts are brought to book. That said, Kenyans still need to have an objective conversation on NYS and the role it plays in youth empowerment agenda.

Clearly, ordinary Kenyans who have had opportunity to witness NYS youth at work appreciate their disciplined and dedicated performance in serving their communities and country.

Since its strengthening and expansion in 2014, the institution has served as a youth empowerment vehicle by offering vocational and technical training to thousands of recruits in its Naivasha and Gilgil campuses, and in its 17 schools spread across the country. Every year NYS has been graduating about 30,000 youth, up from 4,000 in 2014.

RECEIVE TRAINING

To meet the high demand of youth seeking training opportunities, the institution has partnered with 47 Tertiary training institutes spread across the country to train the large catchment of youth.

Youth receive training in engineering, mechanics, garment design and agriculture production among others. What’s more, since 2014, the service organized youth groups in communities and established 230,000 cohorts who have been serving in all parts of the country, with a daily earning of Sh500.

To appreciate the unique contribution of NYS as a youth empowerment program, it is important to examine the kind of youth it recruits and trains.

A background check on majority of recruits reveals that most come from considerably poor backgrounds and from all corners of this country.

The level of training NYS offers include artisan, certificate and diploma levels. Interestingly, these are the levels of qualifications currently sought after by many employers. They are scarce as most middle level colleges, and tertiary institutions stopped offering these courses long time ago.

POOR BACKGROUNDS

At the NYS training campuses and the tertiary training institutions we have partnered with, you will find sons and daughters from economically poor backgrounds.

They are sons of struggling farmers, hawkers, and cobblers. Many are from single parent households and others are orphans.

To these youth, accessing the courses at the NYS gives them hope in life and a lifeline which they otherwise would never access. The training programs offer opportunities for them to get gainfully engaged in national development duties.

Even as we speak, and the earlier challenges mentioned not-withstanding, the institution is active in our communities assisting the government in the attainment of the Big Four agenda.

The courses offered in the campuses and schools and the practical service projects in the NYS farms and industries all answer to the goals of the government’s Big Four agenda.

The challenge of availing youth with employment and empowerment opportunities is still with us.

Youth population has continued to expand each year and demand for opportunities continues to rise.

We have an obligation to avail these opportunities to the youth in line with Chapter Four Article 55 of the constitution of Kenya 2010.

ACCESS EDUCATION

The constitution compels the state to take action to ensure youth access education, training and employment opportunities.

NYS is one of the outfits designed to help us meet this constitutional obligation. The potential for NYS to upscale to reach more youth is real.

The service remains a viable model that many county governments are in the process of replicating in their counties, with technical guidance and assistance from the national service team.

Despite the challenges and negative perception that the institution has experienced, and our resolve as government to conclusively deal with it, Kenyans must not lose sight of the bigger picture.

YOUTH EMPOWERMENT

NYS paramount goal of youth empowerment needs to be nurtured through focused reform and strengthening of the institution.

We need to clean and fumigate the institution of unethical practices through structural and administrative transformation.

Reforms already kicked off with the appointment of a new Director General and the posting of new procurement personnel.

More changes in systems and structures are in the pipeline. I appeal to Kenyans to be patient as we embark on the transformative agenda to fundamentally reform the institution for the benefit of our youth.

Prof Kobia is the Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs. 


The heavy burden of trucking crude oil to Mombasa

By NJIRAINI MUCHIRA
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Sometime in 2016, the Kenya Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas (KCSPOG) sent a questionnaire to the then Ministry of Energy and Petroleum seeking answers on various issues regarding the newly launched early oil pilot scheme (EOPS).

In one of the questions, KCSPOG sought to know whether the transportation and production costs were recoverable, and if not, who was going to take the responsibility of bearing the costs?

Mandarins at the ministry responded with a plain assertion that “the costs incurred are costs recoverable.”

With the rolling out of the EOPS early last month, the cost implications of the scheme, which only the government, British firm Tullow Oil and its joint venture partners Africa Oil Corp of Canada and Total of France seem to understand, hover large.

Tullow is spending Sh1.5 billion in over five years to pay companies transporting crude oil to Mombasa before a pipeline is completed in 2022, but the breakdown of the payments and shareholding of the three companies is a closely guarded secret; so much that even Petroleum Cabinet Secretary John Munyes is in the dark. “I don’t know how much Tullow is paying. It has a contract with the companies,” he said. The companies are Oilfield Movers, Multiple Hauliers and Primefuels Kenya.

SPENT SH13 MILLION

Tullow did not respond to our questions on the scheme.

Nation has learnt that Tullow spent Sh13 million in organising the commissioning of the scheme in Lokichar, which was presided over by President Uhuru Kenyatta on June 3.

Dubai-based El Mansoura Petroleum Company is also being paid Sh1 billion for supplying temporary equipment that connects all the 40 wells that Tullow has drilled to enable to it hit the daily target of extracting 2,000 barrels of crude for the EOPS. When the scheme was halted last month after residents protested demanding enhanced security in the area, only 600 barrels were being ferried daily.

Tullow has also contracted consultancy firm EMC Consultants to undertake the environmental and social impact assessment for the scheme.

“This is a logistically difficult operation to execute, with the many political interests. It’s rationale beyond what the government is saying is difficult to comprehend,” said an expert in a leading research firm on condition of anonymity.

Studies in mature oil and gas markets like the United States with enviable infrastructure show that it costs four and three times more to transport a barrel of crude by truck compared to pipeline and rail respectively.

STRUGGLING FOR BUSINESS

On average, it costs about Sh2, 000 to transport a barrel of crude oil by trucks compared to Sh1, 200 by rail and Sh500 by pipeline. Why the oil cannot be transported by rail for some distance at a time the standard gauge railway is struggling for business and the meter gauge railway from Nairobi to Eldoret remains underutilised is yet to be explained.

Last week, Mr Munyes said operations in Lokichar and the trucking of oil would resume this week. “We are signing a return-to-work formulae with stakeholders and mobilising staff to get back to Lokichar to set up the systems and resume operations,” he said. Employees of Tullow and the crude transporting firms have since refused to return to Turkana for fear of their safety, forcing Tullow to consider shutting down operations.

“Based on the current inventory estimates, essential supplies necessary to run Kapese Integrated Operation Base will run out in the next 14 days after which we will have no option other than a complete shut-down of the camp.

HUGE LOSSES

This will further delay resumption of crude oil trucking by about two months,” said Tullow Kenya Managing Director Martin Mbogo.

The grounding of the trucking is already amounting to huge losses totalling Sh200 million in one week alone, and they could hit Sh1.6 billion if normal operations take eight weeks to resume.

In the wake of the scheme being halted, Tullow is demanding assurances that its business will not be interrupted. “We are working hard on reaching an agreement that will make sure our operations will not be interrupted in the future. Discussions are ongoing, and we are optimistic that we will be able to start crude oil trucking again soon,” noted Mr Mbogo.

According to KCSPOG Chair Odenda Lumumba,, Kenya will only manage to reap optimal benefits from its oil reserves if the operators and the government comply with extractives related legislations.  


Bishop fights defamation suit filed by three priests

By JOSEPH WANGUI
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Bishop Joseph Kagunda of the Anglican Church, Mt Kenya West Diocese, has opposed the hearing of a defamation case filed against him by three priests he attempted to suspend over allegations of engaging in sexual immorality.

Bishop Kagunda argues that the suit is an attempt by the priests to gag him from discharging his canonical duties.

He says the issues in the suit are similar to those in another case heard and determined by the Employment and Labour Relations Court, where the priests were reinstated and awarded Sh6.8 million in compensation.

Bishop Kagunda, who was recently committed to a civil jail for failing to reinstate the priests, filed the preliminary objection through the Church Chancellor Wachira Nderitu, following permission granted by Justice Abigail Mshila on June 16, 2018.

LEGAL BATTLE

The objection has, however, opened a new legal battle with the priests — Reverend Paul Warui, Archdeacon John Gachau and Reverend James Maigua — arguing that the issues in the two cases are completely different.

“The issue before the High Court is that of defamation and damages thereto. Those at the Labour Court are constructive termination of employment and unfair hearing by the church tribunal,” said the priests through lawyer David Onsare.

Bishop Kagunda urged Justice Mshila to find out whether the suspension letters he issued to the priests on August 22, 2015 were published anywhere as to constitute defamation in law.

According to him, there was nothing defamatory, malicious or ill-intended by the letters.

When suspending the priests, Bishop Kagunda said, he acted in his capacity as the Diocesan Bishop and not in his individual capacity, in good faith and without malice.

CANCELLED CONTRACTS

He cancelled the priests’ contracts on recommendation from a tribunal that investigated the sexual immorality claims.

“The Bishop is bound by the Church constitution and in exercise of his powers under Canon 15 of the constitution appointed a tribunal to look into a complaint he had received with respect to the plaintiffs.

Bishop was not a member of the tribunal and could not be said to have control over the proceedings and outcome of the said tribunal,” said the church chancellor.

“He only implemented the decision,” maintained Mr Nderitu.

Mr Onsare, the priests’ lawyer, maintained that the letters were defamatory, malicious and aimed at painting the clerics as people of bad repute and corrupt morals.

He added that the Bishop cannot raise the preliminary objection at this point during trial.

“The Bishop cannot abuse court process by raising a preliminary objection three years after the matter was instituted, examination-in-chief already conducted and the defence hearing being part heard,” said Mr Onsare.

The hearing of the case will resume on October 23, 2018.


Replicate presidential directive on freeze of projects in counties

President Uhuru Kenyatta has placed a moratorium on the initiation of any new projects until ongoing ventures are completed, except those that touch on his administration’s the ‘Big Four’ agenda.

This makes a lot of sense, given an ingrained culture of negligence by officials of initiating projects every other day and abandoning them midstream to embark on yet new ones in a clear case of little concern for the people’s welfare or essence of prudent use of public money and time.

The use of public money in Kenya has not yet reached a point at which those entrusted with its use for the public good ensure value for money. This is partly because no one is feels responsible for stalled, delayed or failed projects.

Unlike in the private sector, many of those who work in the public service have no targets to meet and also abuse the weak supervision from the assemblies and the general public through participation in governance — a mandatory stipulation of the law.

PROJECTS NEVER COMPLETED

This state of affairs does not only affect the national government but is also a serious problem at the county level as the officers there also treat their duties in a cavalier manner.

Many projects are begun but never completed in a given financial year. Procrastination seems to be the order of business and what can be done in a given financial year is pushed to a subsequent one.

In so doing, many a project is never completed, with a negative impact on development and a waste of resources.

Curiously, this is never about just recklessness but devious tricks that senior public officers use to be perpetually at the procurement stage in order to fix deals with contractors for the purpose of getting kickbacks.

All this can be traced to good old corruption, characterised by public officers whose only goal in office is self- enrichment, doing a great disservice to the nation.

The President’s directive should, therefore, be looked at as the continued fight against corruption in governance.

ENOUGH FUNDING

It is hoped then that, in the coming days, we will witness the sacking of public officers who continue the habit of starting projects that they do not see through.

The governors, being the chief officers in the regions, should, therefore, follow suit and direct that in their administrations there will be no more new projects unless those in the pipeline are first completed.

It does not make sense when the devolved governments complain of not being allocated enough funding and yet go ahead to commission a myriad projects that they fail to complete.

Failure to complete a task should be treated for what it is: Incompetence. And the least that should apply here is that the officer in charge should take responsibility. Such officers should promptly be sacked.

Onyiego Felix, Kisii.


Global disability summit a call to action for inclusion, equality

By NIC HAILEY
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Three weeks ago in the 800-year-old Westminster Parliament, our International Development secretary delivered a statement in sign language for the first time in that institution while announcing the inaugural Global Disability Summit set to take place in London today.

Co-hosted by the United Kingdom and Kenyan governments and the International Disability Alliance, the summit will see government representatives, civil society and people with disabilities from around the world agree a set of commitments to promote disability inclusion and equality.

In the days following her statement, Ms Penny Mordaunt spoke of the overwhelming response she received. Individuals, schools and organisations reached out, explaining that, through her actions, they felt she had recognised the status of sign language, their needs, their culture and their concerns. This signal of recognition was powerful because, around the world, people with disabilities still feel marginalised.

Kenya has made great progress, and shown great leadership, in recognising the rights of people with disabilities, enacting ambitious domestic legislation and signing up to international commitments.

MARGINALISED

But many people with disabilities in Kenya, as in my country, still feel marginalised, stigmatised and often misunderstood.

No country has got it right yet. I hope the summit will help us to work together, sharing ideas and good practice, taking us towards our shared ambition of a more prosperous world where no one is left behind.

Not only is that the right thing to do for a common humanity; it is also the smart thing to do. An estimated three to seven per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) is lost in low- and middle-income countries due to exclusion of people with disabilities from labour markets.

Tackling this issue, therefore, doesn’t just benefit people with disabilities but everyone.

This doesn’t have to be complicated. Take Ali, for example. Ali is visually impaired — as a result of which he dropped out of school early and felt excluded and marginalised.

Through the UK Aid-funded Spark programme, Ali received business training and established a kiosk. He now provides for his family and plays an active role in his community.

VISUALLY IMPAIRED

Or consider Istarlin, who is also visually impaired. We’re supporting Istarlin to continue her education by providing specialist software that enables her to study computer literacy, helping her to move towards her goal of working in an office.

Or Christine, who has a physical impairment as a result of post-polio paralysis. We’re supporting her to participate in the literacy and numeracy classes she was so eager to take by providing accessible transport and an adapted desk.

These are solutions which support people with disabilities to support themselves. As Istarlin put it: “Having a disability doesn’t stop us from living. We learn, and can depend on ourselves”.

Technology provides a new opportunity to tackle disability inequality. In Kenya, the Silicon Savannah, up and coming young innovators are also looking at creative ways to support people with disabilities — from the sixth-sense echolocation mobility aid listed for the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa Prize to machines which produce prosthetics using 3D printers.

SUPPORT EDUCATION

The summit’s agenda and focus has been shaped by disabled people’s organisations. It will focus on all disabilities, including hidden ones. It will look at how we can support the education and economic empowerment of disabled people worldwide and will seek to end stigma, which prevents many people from participating in their society and community.

At the end of the summit, governments will sign up to ambitious commitments.

During my conversations with disability activists, I’ve heard their thoughts on what can be done to promote disability inclusion and equality in Kenya — from better data collection, leading to inclusive policy making, to better facilities to support people with physical impairments to lead independent lives.

I know the Kenyan government has also heard those thoughts and is committed to supporting people with disabilities. The UK is ready to ensure all Kenyans have the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

The summit is a call to action but it is just the beginning.


‘UhuRao’, waken slumbering Building Bridges, graft war

By MACHARIA GAITHO
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Dear President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Raila Amolo Odinga, please allow me to address you jointly as UhuRao.

It is a convenient moniker that obviates the need for a mouthful with every reference. It also, Mr Kenyatta, echoes the reference to the UhuRuto partnership with your Deputy President William Ruto.

If you two pull out your calendars and count back, you will find it’s going to 20 weeks since you famously stood on the steps of Harambee House and exchanged a handshake that reverberated across the landscape.

Many of us were enthralled and captivated by your joint promise of cessation of a generation of family and community political animosities and commencement of a brave new initiative to finally address the source of suspicion, hostilities, grievances and conflicts that all too often make Kenya a powder keg of ethnic conflagration.

We were filled with hope and optimism that, finally, Kenyans would stop burying the heads in the sand, seize the opportunity to exorcise the demons of the past and at last begin laying the building blocks for a peaceful, stable, united nation where all individuals and communities can claim equal co-ownership.

DREAM DEFERRED

Sadly, it is beginning to look like a dream deferred, yet another of those fraudulent political bridges to nowhere that we have been condemned to for so long.

Dear UhuRao, 20 weeks has been more than enough time for your Building Bridges initiative to show real signs of progress.

Upon announcement of the new movement, you also appointed your hand-picked cohorts — Martin Kimani and Paul Mwangi — to jointly head a secretariat that would plot the way forward.

But after that, the pair seemed to have gone to sleep for some seven weeks — before you unveiled a team of 14 ‘drivers’.

It was not an inspiring team, dominated by old-style Church leaders better known for their roles as self-appointed spokesmen and elders for your respective ethnic political formations rather than for fidelity to proclaimed faith. They simply don’t look the kind of personalities who can chart progressive, imaginative, brave and daring new paths outside the direction set by the appointing authorities.

Just as worrying, UhuRao, your Building Bridges initiative seems to have gone back into deep slumber since the negotiating team was unveiled at the end of April.

DIVERT ATTENTION

That has been another 12 weeks wasted. In the intervening period, brutal and selfish politics around crumbling political alliances and premature campaigns for the 2022 elections have served to divert attention and focus from two of the most important issues.

One is the Building Bridges initiative, which can set Kenya away from the usual path of destructive ethnic competition onto a brave new world of sustainable peace and shared prosperity. The other is the relaunched war on corruption.

UhuRao, you proclaim unstinting support for the campaign to root out institutionalised graft. Rampant theft of public resources by those in positions of power and authority has been the millstone around the neck of every Kenyan since Independence. Corruption diverts money from education, healthcare, water supply, roads, law and order, social services, food security and other critical public investments just to line the pockets of a few and fuel destructive political campaigns.

We are seeing powerful forces at the very heart of government resisting and sabotaging the anti-graft war.

They are playing the old card of political and ethnic victimhood, inciting their supporters with the retrogressive and dangerous ‘our people are being finished’ narratives that can easily spark ethnic conflict.

REACTIONARY ELEMENTS

UhuRao, you can only halt these reactionary elements by lending unstinting political support to the war against corruption.

Jointly, you can mobilise your legions of supporters to recognise that the war against corruption is a war to safeguard their own resources; and a war that mercenary Parliamentarians can only sabotage at the risk of losing their seats.

Of course this crusade must be waged in a fair manner with no hint of political victimisation or favouritism.

If defeating corruption must be the Number 1 agenda, then it must be twinned with the Building Bridges initiative.

Dear UhuRao, it follows that must now move with haste to pull Building Bridges out of hibernation. Those you have entrusted to drive it must wake and up and be seen worth the onerous task.

Building Bridges will also make more sense when it expands beyond a ‘private’ UhuRao family and community parley to a broad-based all-inclusive national conversation.

That is the only way it will triumph over the reactionary forces of corruption and ethnic incitement and deliver on its sacred mandate.


Anxiety as lands agency orders developers out of public estate

By KAZUNGU SAMUEL
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Anxiety has gripped private developers who got land at a public housing estate in Mombasa town after the National Land Commission (NLC) gave them three months to vacate the premises.

The 6.93-acre piece of land located in Makande estate was subject of a public inquiry called by NLC to gather information on how the property ended up in private hands.

Last Thursday, NLC vice-chairperson Abigael Mukolwe chaired the inquiry at the Kenya School of Government, where developers explained how they acquired portions estimated at millions of shillings at Jomo Kenyatta Housing Estate’s Block 114 in Makande .

Ms Mukolwe, who toured the property together with her team, dismissed the developers as strangers as they have not been issued with valid title deeds.

The estate is owned by National Housing Corporation (NHC) which assumed ownership in a debt swap with the defunct Mombasa Municipal Council.

BLOCKED SEWER

Residents told the commission that the blocked sewer line was a health hazard to them and called for a speedy resolution of the matter, as lawyers representing the NHC, too, pleaded for speedy intervention in the dispute.

The inquiry was told that ownership documents indicate that the estate was transferred to the corporation in 2009 after the title deed was discharged from Kenya Commercial Bank following the debt swap.

NLC further heard that the estate had been developed by the NHC, which in turn handed it to Mombasa Municipal Council.

However, the municipal council was unable to service loans given by NHC, as a result of which ownership reverted back to NHC

During the years the estate was under the municipality, the commission was told, there was illegal allocation which led to grabbing of public utilities including sewer lines, parking spaces, playgrounds among others.

REPAIR ESTATE

When NHC tried to develop and repair the estate, those allotted plots by the municipal council moved to court for orders that stopped NHC from accessing the property.

NHC then moved to court and won the case but again its bid to access the property was thwarted, forcing it to petition NLC to conduct a public inquiry.

During the session, 18 individuals and companies presented purported letters of allotment from the council.

They claimed that the municipal council gave them the land but were at pains to explain how the council obtained powers to allocate land that did not belong to it.

NHC managing director Andrew Siasi, who was present at the inquiry, said the tenants at the estate had suffered for over 20 years after the corporation was blocked from upgrading amenities at the estate as the private developers persistently sought protection from the law courts.