Friday, July 27th, 2018
We are compelled to revisit the circus surrounding the investigation of the scandalous sugar import because we feel the public is being taken for a ride and for far too long. Since the matter broke out a couple of months ago, several agencies undertook to carry out investigations to get to the bottom of the matter.
The government set up a multi-agency team bringing together security and regulatory authorities to expedite the investigations. After a much-hyped start, the steam seems to have run out. Nothing spectacular has been forthcoming.
National Assembly, significantly, seized itself of the matter and appointed two committees – Agriculture and Trade – to conduct the investigations and unearth the rot. Its performance has been anything but edifying. The investigating team prepared a draft report that was presented to the House more than a week ago, but was quickly rejected because it was disastrous.
It was a shoddy piece of work that did not merit attention of the August House. Since, the committee has been unable to conclude the report because of extraneous forces working overdrive to scuttle it altogether.
This week, the public was treated to theatre of the absurd as members of the joint-parliamentary committees tussled over how to handle the investigations. After listening to presentations and reading documents by various parties, the chairman of the joint committee, Kieni MP Kanini Kega reported that Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and Chief Government Chemist Ali Gakweli had requested to appear before it to clarify some pertinent issues. On Wednesday, Mr Gakweli was said to have been spotted within the precints of Parliament, but never appeared before the committee. Mr Kega later announced that Mr Gakweli, alongside Dr Matiang’i would appear before his team Thursday afternoon. It never happened.
The question is: Why is Mr Kega flip-flopping on this matter? In itself, the committee is divided down the middle, with a section clearly playing to the tune of the fellows being interrogated.
But all these are not coincidence. There is a pattern with clear end-game. Subtle but deadly attempts are being made to scuttle the investigations. Illegal sugar trade is big business and run through an efficient system with tentacles across the entire strata of the economy. The perpetrators are not sitting pretty; they are working to upset the applecart.
We have a crisis in our hand. Illicit and contaminated sugar is selling in our markets, not only threatening lives of the consumers but also local production and trade in the commodity. Since Parliament cannot resolve the mystery, President Uhuru Kenyatta should intervene and get government investigators to unravel the puzzle.
There is no doubt Savings and Credit Cooperative Organisations (Saccos) are playing an important role in our economy. They offer low interest rates on loans, high returns on deposits, lower insurance premiums and provide great investment opportunities. They also help build a cash reserve.
Saccos have become popular because they are easy to form. Members are also relieved from the fear of attachment of their private properties in case the society suffers financial losses or goes bankrupt because of the principle of limited liability.
However, despite their centrality, Saccos have continued to face a myriad of challenges, which are curtailing their work, which eventually limit growth to their members.
The latest onslaught is the move to review the law to introduce, into the Saccos, strangers who are likely to take key roles in management. We fear losing control over our investments, especially because the proposed changes touch on membership, voting rights and investment decisions of societies.
The strangers will enjoy the right to attend and participate in AGMs and will also be allowed to vote. They will also have the privilege of being elected into organs of the society.
But the question stakeholders are asking Why would anyone want to introduce people who have not been part of the growth of the sector and give them control over members’ savings?
The changes proposed to the Co-operative Societies Act and the Sacco Societies Act will see the Cabinet Secretary, by way of an ordinary resolution, create the ‘social impact members’ who shall not be subject to the primary and normal requirements that each member is expected to subscribe to, including purchasing a given number of shares to be admitted into membership of a Sacco. This means the strangers will have more rights than the investors.
We fear these people will unfairly gain from the sweat of our members who are also likely to lose control over their savings and ownership of cooperative societies.
Kenya has more than 20,000 unions and societies with an asset base of Sh780 billion. We believe the ‘social impact members’ and their masters are after this money. That is why we are against the changes that were proposed early this year.
Saccos operate on several principles, including democratic management, where a co-operative society is managed by the elected members from and among themselves. All members have equal rights and are equally important to the society. We should not allow strangers to destroy this spirit.
Even worse is the fact that the sponsor(s) of the proposed amendments is not known. This raises further questions over the motives behind these changes.
Scepticism has greeted the proposal also because the new group will get special treatment at the expense of the original members. We also feel cartels and individuals want to clean ill-gotten money and they think they can use Saccos to do this.
One of the reasons Saccos are being attacked is the perception that they are poorly managed. It is this perception that has seen the government lock them out of key revenue generating business such as trading in Forex, and distribution of tax money and national payment system. The decision is unfair as it has denied them business opportunities and a chance to grow through diversification.
In July 2016, Kenya’s financial watchdog, the Capital Markets Authority, issued a new regulation that foreign dealers wishing to trade in Kenya will be required to maintain an equivalent of the Sh50 million capital. Many Saccos have met this and other requirements but the government won’t let then engage in foreign exchange.
We are also unhappy that the government has refused to admit Saccos into the National Payments System, which are conduits through which buyers and sellers of financial products and services make transactions. They are an important component of a country’s financial system. Some of the borrowers have their accounts in commercial banks. Saccos are forced to deposit the money into their commercial banks accounts yet the same banks cannot make payments through Saccos because they are not in the payments system. This has seen Saccos lose their liquidity. Saccos end up paying higher rates to borrow the same money from the banks when they have liquidity challenges.
Yet Saccos are some the most highly regulated institutions in Kenya. The Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority, the Cooperatives Act and the Central Bank of Kenya regulate Sacco activities. Based on the above observations, these regulatory frameworks can also be enhanced if at all that is required to ensure Sacco’s thrive.
In terms of efficiency, Saccos are top as their management structures start all the way from the grassroots to the national level. Therefore, I don’t see why they should be denied an opportunity to do business.
Instead of punishing them, the government should view Saccos as development partners by creating an enabling environment for them to work. The government has been subjecting to double taxation – taxing dividends given to members as well as the societies’ income. This is unfair and should stop for Saccos to grow and continue changing the lives of Kenyans.
Mr Kabugu is the chairman of Unaitas Sacco Society
Former Nyandarua governor Daniel Waithaka and two other officers who served in his office have denied charges of flouting procurement laws leading to the loss of Sh50 million.
Mr Waithaka, former Water executive Grace Gitonga and the sitting Water chief officer Mr Kihiu Gaiko were yesterday charged before Chief Magistrate Josephat Kalo in Nakuru where they were referred to after appearing before a Nyahururu court earlier in the morning.
Nyahururu Resident Magistrate James Wanyanga said the court lacked jurisdiction to handle the case.
Mr Waithaka and Ms Gitonga were charged with six counts of economic crimes including failure to comply with laws relating to procurement, contrary to Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Act.
Particulars of the charge sheet are that the two, while serving as governor and water executive, flouted procurement laws by commissioning a project without proper planning on April 30, 2014.
They are also accused of awarding a tender to Tahal Consulting Engineers Ltd for the development of the county water master plan and the design review of the Ol Kalou sewerage system design report, services which had not been planned for in the 2013/2014 financial year.
Mr Gaiko was charged with mismanagement of public funds and abuse of office.
SH10 MILION BOND
He is accused of breaching public finance management laws by making payment of more than Sh26 million to Tahal without an approved payment voucher.
He is also alleged to have used his position to improperly confer a benefit of more than Sh23 million to Tahal. Through their lawyers, the accused pleaded with the court for release on reasonable bond terms.
Mr Assa Nyakundi, the lawyer representing the former governor and his minister, told the court that his clients were not a flight risk.
The suspects were released on a Sh10 million bond each with surety of a similar amount. The court also granted the application by the prosecution seeking to have warrants of arrest issued against four other suspects: John Ngigi, Jesse Wachira, Chen Yochanan and Albert Atias.
The country is in celebratory mood again after the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Council caucus on Thursday in Buenos Aires, Argentina, awarded Nairobi the rights to host the 2020 World Athletics Under-20 Championships.
What largely contributed to the successful bid was the country’s achievement in hosting the World Under-18 Championships last year that recorded a huge turnout. Indeed, the success of that championships has been the talk around the world, what with the fine organisation displayed at the game’s village at Kenyatta University. The country also earned accolades considering the just-ended World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland, attracted fewer crowds even as Kenya topped the medal standing for the fourth time in the history of the event.
Winning the bid might have been easy but the difficult part starts now. Early preparations will be key to success.
WARD OFF CARTELS
Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa has estimated the championships will cost Sh2 billion and will require proper planning, structures and systems to get it right again.
The team leader, who will be appointed to spearhead the preparations, should be a person of integrity, ready to make firm and judicious decisions besides warding off cartels that always swirl around where there is big cash.
Relevant ministries must pull together and avoid last minute rush and decisions that almost saw the IAAF move the Under-18 Championships to another venue.
Sports ministry officials must set up systems and start fundraising if we are replicate the success.
This last week, the UK government, in partnership with Kenya and the International Disability Alliance (IDA), co-hosted the first ever high level global disability summit in London. The aim of the meeting was to galvanise global efforts to address disability inclusion.
The summit brought together more than 700 delegates from governments, donors, private sector organisations, charities and organisations for persons with disabilities. Mr Ukur Yattani, the Cabinet Secretary for Labour and Social Protection led the Kenyan team.
DENIAL OF RIGHTS
Globally, one out of every seven people live with some form of disability, the majority in low and middle-income countries. In these settings, disability is both a cause and consequence of poverty because people with disabilities often face significant barriers that prevent them from participating fully in society, including accessing health services and attaining education and employment.
According to the World Health Organisation, about six million Kenyans are persons with disabilities. The Kenya National Survey for Pwds, 2008, says nearly 80 per cent of these six million people live in rural areas where they experience social and economic disadvantages and denial of rights. Their lives are made more difficult by the way society interprets and reacts to disability. In addition to these barriers, Kenya still lacks a policy that operationalises laws on disability. The National Disability Policy has remained as a draft since 2006!
But let us look at disability from different frames. Have we thought about the significant contribution in the economy made by people with disability as consumers, employers, assistive technology developers, mobility aid manufacturers and academics among others? According to Global Economics of Disability, 2016 report, the disability market is the next big consumer segment globally — with an estimated population of 1.3 billion. Disabled persons constitute an emerging market the size of China and controlling $1 trillion in annual disposable income.
Do people working directly in these industries pay taxes? Does anyone have an idea of the revenue — direct or indirect— collected by government from disability industries, organisations, import duty charges on assistive devices and other materials used by persons with disabilities? What of the multiplier effect of the sector; transporters, warehouses, and PWDs themselves who are active spenders and who pay both direct and indirect taxes.
Just look at it this way; six million Kenyans (going by WHO’s estimate) are persons with disabilities and its assumed about two million of them are wheelchair users. The cheapest outdoor wheelchair fabricated locally is about Sh20,000, translating to a staggering Sh40 billion! Imagine the rest using crutches, hearing aides, white canes, braille services and costs of hiring personal assistance. Undoubtly, this is a huge market.
The contribution of people with disabilities far outweighs what is allocated to them through affirmative/charity considerations.
President Mwai Kibaki signed The Persons with Disabilities Act, 2003, in what turned out to be the most unprecedented disability legal framework in Kenya. The Act led to creation of a State agency called the National Council for Persons with Disability. During his second term in office (May 2008), Kenya ratified the United Nation Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability.
One fact that most people have glossed over is the allocation given to the National Council for Persons with Disabilities, compared to the contribution made by PWDs to the social, political and economic spheres in the country. But then, in Kenya, studies to ascertain the actual contribution of disability as a sector have not been conducted.
We must change the narrative of disability for us not to leave out this vibrant community in development and other spheres of life. Disability must be viewed not as a burden but as a part of diversity, like any other. Disability is not about someone’s impairment but rather about a barrier – environment and attitudinal – in front of this person to freely and meaningfully participate in the society.
Far too many times, I have had to privately advise on who should undertake title surveys in Kenya. It’s therefore perhaps time I did so to a wider audience. Title surveys, commonly referred to as cadastral surveys by the surveying fraternity, are regulated under the Survey Act. All surveys undertaken for the preparation of any plan for registration of title to land in Kenya are governed by this law. It specifies who should do survey and to what standards, and further provides details of examinations and procedures for admitting surveyors to undertake such surveys. Title surveys are tightly controlled by statute since title deeds and leases enjoy state guarantee. Land owners are indemnified against any errors or incorrect description of their land, and can therefore sue the state for correction or compensation. The Survey Act dates back to 1923 but has since been severally revised. It’s however yet to be aligned with the 2010 Constitution and today’s realities, technology and laws.
So who is a surveyor under the Survey Act? Title survey can only be done by a licensed surveyor or a government surveyor who is an officer of the Survey Department of the government, in our case, Survey of Kenya. A licensed surveyor is a surveyor duly licensed under the Survey Act. A land surveyors’ board, which is chaired by the Director of Surveys, is responsible for examining candidates for licensing, issuing licences and for regulating the conduct of Licensed surveyors. The board however allows each Licensed surveyor to register survey assistants to help in the execution of their routine workload. The board maintains a register of licensed surveyors and their assistants and is responsible for disciplining surveyors, and even revoking licenses, where there’s misconduct.
Therefore, anyone undertaking title survey in Kenya can only do so when under the direction and supervision of the Director of Surveys, is a licensed surveyor or is a survey assistant registered under a Licensed surveyor to whom he routinely reports. Anyone doing title surveys outside this contravenes the law and is punishable if reported and found guilty. If the land surveyors’ board were to be proactive and thorough, many who masquerade as surveyors for title survey in our towns and rural areas would have been long charged and jailed. Anyone keen on checking out the bona fide licensed surveyors in Kenya can got to www.lsb.or.ke or give a call to the Director of Surveys’ office and ask to speak to the secretary of the land surveyors’ board.
Due to capacity issues and in order to grow the industry, as a matter of policy, the government privatised title surveys quite a long while back. This is the reason why Odhiambo in Bondo or Kamene in Makueni cannot go to the government county survey office to have the county surveyor undertake their subdivision survey. This is why Patel in Nairobi cannot similarly ask the Director of Survey to undertake his subdivision or lease extension survey within the city. All this was left to licensed surveyors in the private sector and the situation has been so for long.
But how are things playing out in practical terms? The situation is not rosy at all. The country boosts just over two hundred Licensed surveyors so far. But over ninety per cent of these are based in Nairobi. Kisumu, Kakamega, Mombasa, Nakuru, Nyeri, Embu and Meru have most of the others. The rest of the country has to do with big capacity gaps. This vacuum has been abused by all manner of persons who present themselves as surveyors.
The problem is that these imposters neither understand the inherent legal consequences nor do they have the technical knowhow, ethical standing or motivation to ensure quality surveys. Most of them have created serious ground problems and disputes that we shall have to live with for long. In most cases, the land surveyors’ board is largely to blame for a lax disciplinary system, and a licensing process that’s not up-to-date with current realities.
The board must therefore move out of its comfort zone and regulate practice more effectively within and beyond Nairobi. It should also revisit the licensing process to make the law and practical examinations more structured and predicable. This should have the effect of mentoring and examining more candidates from the public and private sectors faster.
Currently we’ve many examinable candidates who feel excluded or frustrated by the current system. Yet we certainly need more licensed surveyors to handle the country’s huge load of registered parcels, which is quickly moving towards 10 million.
The Cabinet Secretary can also help to expedite the review the Survey Act to take into account today’s technology and realities, and also open it up to regulate other sub-disciplines of survey, such as engineering and GIS. This would make the profession more inclusive as in medicine and law where practitioners proceed to pursue their respective areas of interest after licensing.
Page one of a recent Nation number might have been more fetching if the sub-editors responsible had left out one of the snippets and one of the last-column mug-shots. Moreover, the colour headline “Brace for colder days and nights” contained one language problem. For, strictly speaking, in that context, the verb to brace should be reflexive.
A reflexive verb, we recall, is one in which the doer is the same person as the receiver of a verbal action. In other words, both roles are played by the same individual. In this context, then, you do not simply brace. No, you brace yourself. Likewise, I brace myself, he braces himself and they brace themselves.
A reflexive verb, then, is one in which the verbal actor is, at the same time, the receiver of the verbal action. In other words, as you may recall from a recent contribution here, a reflexive verb is one in which the doer is also the receiver of a verbal action. For instance, I brace myself, he braces himself and they brace themselves.
Yet, in our example above, the page sub-editor was so proud of his/her headline that he/she sought to attract attention to it by ordering it printed in colour. He or she thus drew even greater attention to his or her own language folly. In that way, he or she had misled very many of the newspaper’s readers.
Newspaper sub-editors — those employed, among other things, to polish up and strengthen the language of writers (but who never get any bylines for those essential efforts) — may frequently order a headline printed in colour. That happens especially whenever a headline seems to the page designer particularly powerful or of especial human value.
For those unfamiliar with newsroom language, a byline is the “line”, usually just before the beginning of an article, which names the writer: for example, “By Ninani Huyo” and “By Nation Reporter”. I say “usually” because, if a page designer is imaginative, she or he may order a byline placed somewhere else in relation to the story.
However, a most important constraint I learned when I was the Daily Nation’s chief sub-editor many years ago is that the placing of a byline must never pose any danger of confusing the reader. In that interest, one sub-editorial rule is that the reader is by far the most important consideration all the time.
It is thus because of the reader that your headline language must always be both engaging and always polite.
To be sure, the politicians are among your most important headline sources. But be equally sure: The politicians use some of the crudest and most violent language against their critics, especially their constituency challengers.
As a sub-editor, therefore, among your most important tasks is to help those trying to civilise your country’s politicians by removing from the politicians’ mouths especially the crudest and thorniest words that these “ladies and gentlemen” habitually hurl at one another.
Deputy President William Ruto yesterday visited the turf of his rival Baringo Senator Gideon Moi where he delivered goodies to residents, who in turn promised to support his future political ambitions.
Although he shied away from making any reference to the 2022 elections, those who accompanied him promised to deliver the votes to him.
Mr Ruto, who was with his wife Rachel, was making a second visit to Baringo County in as many months, a region that voted overwhelmingly for Mr Moi in last year’s elections. Mr Moi was defending his senatorial seat against an onslaught by Mr Simon Chelugui, who had the full backing of the DP.
Mr Chelugui, who accompanied the DP yesterday, was appointed Water Cabinet Secretary after losing in the polls.
Yesterday, Mr Ruto said he was only interested in the politics of development calling to order Jubilee politicians who he asked to shun divisive talk.
Mr Ruto commissioned the construction of the 36-kilometre Oinobmoi-Barwessa Road, graced the opening of more than 70 boreholes funded by JICA and officiated a funds drive at Tenges Boys High School to renovate a dormitory.
He said that his focus is to unite and serve Kenyans irrespective of their tribes and political affiliations.
He observed leaders irrespective of their political affiliation should unite for the common good of all Kenyans.
The DP said that elected leaders were voted in so that they can serve the interests of their people and deliver what they promised to the electorate.
“Elections are over, we are also done with appointments to several positions. What is remaining is for our leaders, especially those elected in Jubilee, to focus on development because Kenyans will measure us through our track record,” said Mr Ruto.
BIG FOUR AGENDA
“Kenyans voted for Jubilee Party in 2013 and 2017 because of the development work we promised and fulfilled,” added the DP. He noted that their focus is on the Big Four Agenda touching on provision of universal health care, food security, housing and creation of jobs through improvement of the manufacturing sector.
The DP dished goodies promising to commission several development projects in the area.
Among the projects he promised is the construction of Poror-Sirwa-Sigoro, which he said the contractor will be on site in three months.
He also said that the tarmacking of the 70-kilometre Mogotio-Emsos-Majimoto-Loboi Road would commence in three months. “We have committed Sh600 million for the second and third phase of the Last Mile connectivity project which will see more than 15,000 households in Baringo County connected to electricity,” said Mr Ruto.
Baringo North MP William Cheptumo assured the DP that the Rift Valley will support his quest for presidency in 2022.
Others who attended the occasion were Irrigation Principal Secretary Fred Segor, Water PS Joseph Irungu, Baringo Central MP Joshua Kandie, Daniel Tuitoek (Mogotio) and former Tiaty MP Asman Kamama.
His sentiments were also echoed by Baringo Deputy Governor Jacob Chepkwony, former Baringo Central MP Sammy Mwaita and former Tiaty counterpart Asman Kamama.
Mr Kamama said asked Senator Moi to shelve his ambitions and support the DP.
“We started this journey long time ago and we have banked on Ruto to be our next President. Other people from Rift Valley who are eyeing presidency should forego the decision and support the Deputy President,” said Mr Kamama.
Two Jubilee MPs have hit out at National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale for opposing President Uhuru Kenyatta’s nomination of former Salaries and Remuneration Commission chairperson Sarah Serem for an ambassadorial position.
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and his Mathira counterpart Rigathi Gachagua, while speaking at Bishop Gatimu Ngandu Girls School during a funds drive on Friday, criticized Mr Duale for urging lawmakers to shoot the nomination down.
Mr Duale, while addressing the National Assembly on Thursday, asked members of the National Security, Defence and Foreign Relations Committee to reject Ms Serem’s nomination for slashing their salaries and allowances in the 11th parliament.
The Garissa Township MP said the vetting exercise would be a good opportunity for MPs to get back at Ms Serem, who has been nominated to be Kenya’s ambassador to China.
However, Mr Kuria vowed to mobilise his colleagues to defy Mr Duale and ensure Ms Serem’s nomination goes through.
“She is a nominee of the President. We will approve her name. The Majority Leader is wrong on this one and I will mobilise other members of Parliament to pass the nomination,” he said.
Mr Gachagua said: “MPs’ work is to process and approve the President’s nomination. We are telling Ms Serem not to be intimidated by Mr Duale’s sentiments. The President was right when nominating her and we will pass the recommendation.”
The Kiambu ward representative who early this month lost close to Sh2 million from his phone-based and conventional bank accounts nearly a month ago has gotten almost all his money back.
By Thursday evening, Ms Stanley Kiarie from Ikinu Ward said he had been refunded a total of Sh1.773 million out of the Sh1.873 million which was fraudulently withdrawn from his two bank accounts on July 3 and July 4, 2018 after his Sim card was swapped.
The money, according to the MCA, is being returned in installments to the respective accounts by the bank, which appears to have taken responsibility for the fraud.
The incident has been under investigation for the last two weeks.
“The money is being deposited as though it’s a transaction reverse. It’s being done in installments that are almost equal to the fraudulent withdrawals,” Mr Kiaire told Saturday Nation, noting that some of the refunds are of Sh50,000.
But he is yet to get a refund of approximately Sh41,000 which was also withdrawn from his phone-based account.
“Had my Sim card not been swapped, the fraudsters would not have accessed my bank accounts. A member of staff at the bank was used to generate my personal account’s PIN, and also edit my joint account’s data to link it with the swapped line,” he said.
The Sim card, which was swapped on July 3 while he was in Israel, was used to withdraw Sh339,000 from his personal account via mobile banking transfer and also command transaction of Sh1.5 million from the joint account, which was wired to accounts in other banks.
The fraud is reported to have been orchestrated by, among other suspects, the bank official in collusion with a former customer care executive at a mobile service provider, both of whom have since been arrested.
On Tuesday week, detectives from Central Police Station, where the MCA reported the matter, arrested Joseph Kuria, 27, from Uthiru, Grace Wanjiru, 39, from Kahawa Wendani and Mishack Okoth Okuta, 33, from Umoja Two.