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Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

 

Atwoli calls for probe into NSSF over graft

By KENNEDY KIMANTHI
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The Central Organisation of Trade Unions-Kenya (Cotu) wants the corruption purge in the public sector extended to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) over the loss of taxpayers’ billions of shillings.

Cotu Secretary-General Francis Atwoli said yesterday that a forensic audit he commissioned in 2015 exposed the loss of funds through manipulated processes to irregularly approve four construction projects in Nairobi.

It is out of this report compiled by audit firm Ernst & Young that Mr Atwoli, a board member of the pension fund, wants further investigations conducted and those implicated prosecuted.

BILLIONS LOST

He further invited Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji and the Director of Criminal Investigations, Mr George Kinoti, to investigate the NSSF.

The giant fund manages billions of workers’ money and the workers’ and employers’ representatives on its board include those from Cotu and the Federation of Kenya Employers.

“It is the workers’ resolution that we are supportive of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s war on graft. The NSSF is one of the institutions where corruption has been reported and we demand that proper action be taken to protect workers’ contributions,” said Mr Atwoli, during the closing of the Trade Union Federation of Eastern Africa conference in Nairobi.

CONTRACTORS

The audit report exposed the incompetence of the NSSF’s top management on the four projects — Hazina Towers, Milimani Executive Apartments, Nyayo Estate Embakasi Phase VI and Tassia.

In the Sh1.6 billion Milimani Executive Apartments project, auditors observed that the contractors overstated the rate of return.

It was found that the projected rate of return at 40 per cent as per the feasibility study conducted by AAKI Consultants was not attainable.

“The recomputed rate of return is 17.8 per cent and a payback period of 15 years. The feasibility study did not consider potential risks,” the firm stated.

FEASIBILITY

In the Nyayo Estate-Embakasi project, there was a questionable payment where the contractor was advanced Sh215.5 million without board approval. There was also no disclosure that one of the plots targeted for development lacked a title deed.

And in the Tassia scheme, auditors revealed slow collection of contributions from owners.

Documents seen by the Nation show that auditors faulted Tana & Associates, the consultant for Hazina Towers project in Nairobi’s CBD, for a “misleading” feasibility study, the board relied on to review the design from 24 to 34 floors.

This was done by overstating the rate of return at 11 per cent with a nine-year payback period. “But the auditor recomputed it to 3.3 per cent with a payback period of 30 years,” Ernst & Young said.


Innocent men suffer as sex offences law is used to settle personal scores

By JOSEPH WANGUI
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The increasing number of cases in which men have been falsely accused of defilement is putting the Sexual Offences Act on the spotlight with calls for reforms.

Investigations by the Nation show that last year, some 6,458 sexual offenders were charged in courts across the country.

Many of these cases were based on false allegations as a result of differences between the parents of the minors and the men who were accused.

One of the cases involved a 68-year-old retired agricultural extension officer in Tetu, Nyeri, identified as J.I.D.

LAND DISPUTE

He was arraigned in court after his neighbour claimed he had defiled minors aged three and nine.

It, however, turned out that the woman implicated him because of a land dispute. The man had also punished the girls after he caught them picking avocado fruits from his farm.

The grandmother coached the minors to claim that they had been sexually assaulted by J.I.D. who was arrested and charged in court.

He risked spending the rest of his life in jail as the penalty for the offence but Nyeri Chief Magistrate Wendy Kagendo acquitted him after taking note of the minors’ mischief and that of their grandmother.

“There was a grudge between the minors’ grandmother and the accused person. It would appear that the grudge is what motivated the grandmother to lie and coach the children to tell lies,” said Ms Kagendo while acquitting J.I.D.

She made the findings after hearing six prosecution witnesses.

“Children are, however, innocent and cannot maintain a consistent lie and that is why their story collapsed. Indeed, this was an unfortunate case which has dragged through the court system for over five years,” said the magistrate.

The man’s lawyer, in his submissions, told the court that the minors testified that they were beaten by the accused person for stealing his avocado fruits but were not sexually assaulted.

They denounced their grandmother’s evidence that the accused undressed them and took them to his bed and molested them.

In Nanyuki, an artisan condemned to life imprisonment for defiling his 15-year-old daughter was released after convincing the court that the allegation was false.

He was implicated by his sister-in-law who was opposed to his marriage, he said.

It was alleged that he had been defiling the minor for eight years.

THREATENED

The minor’s mother learnt about the defilement from her sister. She reported to police leading to the arrest and prosecution of her husband.

But it turned out the sister, identified in court papers as Esther, was opposed to their marriage from the very beginning.

“Esther did not want me to marry her sister and even threatened to incite her brothers to beat me up if we did not separate,’’ the accused said.

In January 2011 his wife with whom he was living in Nairobi left their house following a disagreement over a text message he is said to have received from another woman. She travelled to Nanyuki and left their daughter with the man.

Esther, who also lived in Nairobi, took advantage of the situation to falsely accuse him of defilement.

Testifying in court, his wife said: “My sister took up this matter. She has differed with the accused since I got married. She is the one who reported the defilement to me. True, there was a time she wanted me and the accused to separate.”

The man was saved from jail by Justice Jairus Ngaah following a finding that the imprisonment was a miscarriage of justice.

A bishop at a church in Endarasha, Nyeri County, is another victim of false accusations. He was acquitted of defilement charges by a Nyeri magistrate’s court.

EVIL SPIRITS

He was accused of defiling an 11-year-old girl, a daughter of one of his church followers. He said he was fixed by the minor’s family after “delivering her from demon attacks”.

“She was brought to my church by her parents for special prayers because she had been attacked by evil spirits,” said the bishop.

“I prayed for her and she got healed. Her parents decided that she should live at my home due to stigma at their home village which is about 10 kilometres away,” he told the court.

The girl lived with the bishop’s family for 14 days. But the court heard that the minor’s larger family was not happy about the spiritual healing.

14-YEAR-OLD

“Her uncle vowed to teach me a lesson on grounds that I embarrassed their family. The minor’s mother was being fought by her family for attending my church,” said the bishop.

In another case, a man, 21, was handed a 20-year jail term for marrying a 14-year-old girl, a Class Eight leaver. The girl said the marriage was consensual and that she had notified her parents and even her father met some elders.

The accused told the court that when the girl came to their home, he notified his parents who went to talk to the girl’s parents.

“My parents approached the girl’s parents and they talked. Her father had called two elders. They met for the talks,” said the suspect.

While securing freedom for the accused person, his lawyer argued that it was not necessary to jail him considering the age difference between him and the girl.

“Bear in mind the purpose of sentencing and punishment policy which cannot be correctly said to be aimed at ruining the lives of young people,” pleaded the lawyer.

REHABILITATION

By the time, the accused person had already spent six years in prison when Justice John Mativo quashed the sentence and ruled that he did not have the intention to commit the offence.

“I have evaluated the evidence tendered by the prosecution and the accused person in the lower court and I am persuaded that the same does not disclose a guilty intent on the part of the suspect. He notified his parents and arrangements were made to notify the girl’s parents,” said Justice John Mativo.

And a 14-year-old boy committed to a rehabilitation institution for three years for defiling his six-year-old cousin was also freed after appeal. The court stated that the two families were not in good terms and there was no evidence to convict the boy.

Lady Justice Rachel Ng’etich found the conviction was a miscarriage of justice as the prosecution failed to prove defilement. The judge also asked why a crucial witness in the case, who was present when the alleged incident occurred, was not called to testify.

The boy’s lawyer argued that witnesses were trying to suggest an element of incest but the trial magistrate made a finding of defilement.

He argued that in the offence of incest, the issue would have been relationship. He added that the requirements of defilement and incest, in sexual offence trials, differ greatly.

A Murang’a County government psychologist and child counsellor said 10 per cent of girls taken to her on allegations of defilement had been coached to lie.

“I have confronted some girls alleged to have been sexually defiled to tell the truth and they revealed that they were coached by their mothers on what to say. Most victims allege to have been defiled by their close relatives like fathers, cousins and teachers,” said the health worker who is not authorised to speak to the media.

The officer says she knows the girls are lying due to inconsistencies in their statements.


Must-see gala event on last day as music festival ends

By ANTHONY NJAGI
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Finalists in the Kenya National Music Festival will be on stage Thursday for the gala event at Dedan Kimathi University.

The best teams, which have been picked during the event that has been held at the venue for the last two weeks, will showcase their skills to the audience.

The best items will be presented before President Uhuru Kenyatta at Sagana State Lodge on Friday.

On Wednesday, performers in the dance, music, public elocution and poetry classes performed very well in their bid to qualify for the gala concert and the State Concert, which many performers aim for.

CATEGORIES

Among the main categories in the festival yesterday was a special own composition choral verse on the role of teachers in promoting ethical culture and values among students. The category, which attracted 14 entries was sponsored by the Teachers Service Commission.

The poems emphasised the need for teachers not to profile children, keep time when attending classes, not go to school drunk and to desist from sexually abusing students.

Ironically, in a bid to censure their colleagues, all the verses were composed by teachers.

Among the performers in this class were Maryhill Girls High School, Ganze, Masinga, Mukumu and Karima Girls.

GOLDEN OLDIES

Kuoyo Kochia, Kariobangi, Kambeni, Gachika Secondary and Precious Blood Riruta Girls also performed. Others were Utumishi Academy, Mirogi Girls, Our Lady of Assumption, Tawas Girls and Mabaga Girls.

In the African folk songs from the Kipsigis, Nandi, Keiyo and Sabaot dances, schools from the Rift Valley unsurprisingly dominated.

This was with the exception of Nairobi’s Ruthimitu Girls, which presented a very well-choreographed dance. The others, most from Rift Valley Region, were Chelilis Girls, St John’s Sigowet, Jecinta Girls, Laboret Girls, Our Lady of Glory, Apostolic Camel and Mutito Boys.

The class which attracted the biggest audience and applause, however, was the zilizopendwa (golden oldies) category.


Teachers Service Commission to employ 4,000 more teachers

By OUMA WANZALA
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The Teachers Service Commission has announced recruitment of 4,683 teachers to replace those who have exited service through natural attrition.

Chief Executive officer Nancy Macharia said 4,245 teachers will be posted in primary schools while 438 teachers will be deployed in secondary schools and colleges.

The teachers are replacing those who exited the service in the month of July this year alone. Those interested in the positions must submit their applications by August 28.

MERIT LISTS

“Eligible candidates should meet the following basic requirements: be Kenya citizens, must be 45 years of age and below, must have original professional and academic certificates, must be registered as a teacher as per Section 23 of the Teachers Service Commission Act 2012,” said Mrs Macharia in an advert.

She said applicants for vacancies in primary schools must be holders of a P1 certificate and will be selected from the county merit lists compiled during the May, 2018 recruitment of additional teachers’ exercise.

“Successful candidates will be deployed to serve in stations in any part of the country and not necessarily in the County where they were recruited,” said Mrs Macharia.

“Applicants for vacancies in post-primary institutions must be holders of a minimum of Diploma in Education certificate. Interested candidates should apply to the Secretary, Board of Management of the School/Institution where the vacancy has been advertised, and submit a copy to the TSC county director,” said Mrs Macharia.

She said TSC will only deal with county selection panels and boards of management in the exercise and individual application to the Commission will not be considered.

According to TSC, there are close to 290,000 trained teachers who are yet to be employed. Mrs Macharia said 20,665 primary schools need 40,000 instructors.

ALLOCATION

“Over the years, the commission has consistently requested for increased allocations to employ 20,000 teachers annually. This would translate in hiring 8,000 primary school teachers every year,” Mrs Macharia said. 

Meanwhile, Mrs Macharia has directed teachers who will be involved in the management of national examinations this year to be vigilant and uphold the ethical and integrity standards governing the teaching profession.

She also asked the examiners to ensure that any form of examination irregularity is detected, forestalled and appropriate remedial action taken in tandem with the relevant laws and regulations.

COMPROMISED

In a circular dated August 9, and addressed to Principals, head teachers and all teachers, Mrs Macharia asked them not to accept to be compromised at all.

The Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) are set to commence on October 29, and November 2, respectively.

“The Commission relies on you for the successful completion of the forthcoming national examinations. On behalf of the Teachers Service Commission, I wish to congratulate and sincerely appreciate you all for your dedication, commitment and devotion towards preparing candidates for the national examinations,” said Mrs Macharia.

INVIGILATORS

She went on: “However, your efforts in moulding the candidates and the enormous investments by parents, government and other stakeholders in this regard may not come to fruition if the integrity of the national examinations is not safeguarded.”

Mrs Macharia explained that centre managers, supervisors, invigilators and examiners will play a crucial role in ensuring that the rules, regulations and guidelines governing the conduct of national examinations are strictly adhered to by all stakeholders.


Local civil society groups should be active at Africa level

By MIKE OLIEWO
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Societal problems can best be addressed by engaging directly with the people who are most affected by them.

It’s in this spirit that the African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council (AU/ECOSOCC) was born. With its secretariat at the Citizens and Diaspora Office (Cido) in the African Union Commission, the initiative seeks to create a platform for the African people through their civil society organisations (CSOs), to be fully involved in the deliberations and development of appropriate policies. This is done through national chapters and cluster committees.

The AU/ECOSOCC plays an advisory role to the African Union (AU) by facilitating the creation of a solid voice for CSOs within it and its organs and decision-making processes.

The CSOs come from all aspects of life — including labour, business, professional groups, service providers and think tanks — which are then segregated into 10 sectoral cluster committees.

The committees were crafted to be viable vehicles for building synergies and aligning of their programmes and activities with the AU strategic documents.

The clusters and committees act in support of Aspiration 3 of Agenda 2063 on the role of civil society in the development agenda, good governance and democracy. They develop work plans, strategy papers and implementation plans to actualise their ideas and channel them to the AU.

They also explore funding possibilities for their programmes and develop strategic partnerships and alliances on the execution of their preferred activities and the implementation plan at national or sub-national levels.

Kenyan civil society organisations should claim their spaces within this august initiative as it is the most appropriate vehicle for accessing and influencing decision making at the continental level. This is a sure avenue that is devoid of government restrictions regarding generation and processing of ideas for the welfare of citizens.

PRINCIPLES

To join the system, a CSO has to be national, regional, continental or of the diaspora and free to transact beyond the national borders. It must also have principles and objectives that are consistent and in congruence with the principles and objectives of the AU.

AUECOSOCC structures deal with policy formulation, policy implementation, policy evaluation and audit.

These include the General Assembly, the highest decision-making organ, followed by the Standing Committee, which coordinates the work of the organ, and finally, the 10 Sectoral Cluster Committees, useful for generation of ideas and channelling inputs into concrete policies and programmes of the AU.

CONSERVATION

The AU/ECOSOCC was established in 2004 under the chairmanship of Kenya’s Nobel Peace laureate, Prof Wangari Muta Maathai. It appears, however, that Kenya’s CSOs at the AU level have not kept pace with the late environmental conservation icon’s standards.

Obviously, expectations are that Kenya should claim its rightful place in championing the right of inclusion of African CSOs in the deliberations and development of appropriate policies for the development and progress of Africa.

Mr Oliewo is the director, Public Research and Development Consultants (PRAD). [email protected]


Now Parliament is the weakest link in fight against corruption

By PETER WARUTERE
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Reports of MPs being bribed to reject a parliamentary report on contraband sugar is not really news. Angry citizens and parliamentarians alike aren’t really surprised by the MPs being compromised; it’s a regular occurrence.

It is disappointing that the implicated lawmakers sold their conscience for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver and betrayed the people who elected them.

It was alleged that the MPs were each bribed in the corridors of the National Assembly with just Sh10,000 ($100) to trash the probe report by the joint Agriculture and Trade committee on the contraband contaminated sugar that flooded the local market earlier in the year.

But like many other investigations by Parliament, the outcome was predictable. The lawmakers see no evil, hear no evil. They are indifferent to the public outcry over the massive loss of public funds to systemic graft. The estimate in 2016 by then-Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission chairman Philip Kinisu was that Kenya loses a third of its annual budget to corruption.

GATHER DUST

The estimated losses then were more than Sh600 billion on a budget of Sh2 trillion; with the current Sh3 trillion budget, it could hit Sh1 trillion. That is more than sufficient to extend the standard gauge railway from Nairobi to Kisumu, construct the proposed 473-kilometre Mombasa-Nairobi dual carriageway and build a state-of-the-art Level Six hospital in each county.

The sugar report will gather dust in the dump — together with others before it, on gambling, mobile money, Ruaraka land saga, National Youth Service, Kenya Pipeline Company, Kenya Power et al.

Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi has ordered a probe into the claims. But the public perception is that the National Assembly and the Senate have failed in their oversight roles. They have become the weakest link in the fight against corruption — perhaps worse than the Judiciary, which has been in the spotlight for a long time.

Instead of expanding opportunities of fighting corruption, the two Houses have become a liability to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s spirited clampdown on graft cartels that continue to milk Kenya’s economy with impunity.

MANIPULATE

The thought of MPs being in bed with cartels is frightening. It can cause considerable damage to the economy if they bend laws specifically to benefit the insatiable cartels. They can manipulate the budget so as to facilitate the interests of the cartels — of course not based on national needs and priorities.

Being comprised turns Parliament into a toothless dog that has lost its moral authority to demand accountability on public expenditure by the Executive. It has happened many times before.

What the Treasury did, when Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich authorised open importation of sugar, was to use a script that was widely abused to facilitate importation of commodities, particularly during elections.

During the 1992 and 1997 general elections, the Treasury created a loophole that enabled sugar barons to flood the market with imports. What was particularly striking was how quickly the sugar arrived at the Mombasa port, immediately after the Treasury issued a legal notice, implying that it was in the high seas and the loophole was to benefit the importers.

TRANSPARENCY

Before then, the government used crude directives to force all the sugar companies to shut down for annual maintenance and then the entry and sale of imported sugar was expedited.

Such issues should raise fireworks in Parliament but they don’t. The time is now for the MPs to reassert their role and demand transparency and accountability in the government’s recurrent and development budget. They must choose good over evil by supporting the war against graft and smoking out wily colleagues from the chamber.

POPULATION

The combined force of Parliament, the Judiciary and anti-corruption agencies should cause tremors and shake the foundation of corruption. They should unite in their resolve to fight graft with passion to create opportunities for economic growth and jobs for the rapidly a rising youth population.

Eliminating opportunities for fraud and abuse of office will also help to change Kenya’s image from one of the most corrupt countries to a transformative one in which transparency and accountability of public funds is a key driver of economic growth and equity.


Cases of school unrest shows failed leadership

By AGUMBA NDALOH
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The term that just ended has not been easy for school heads. Not with threats from Ministry of Education officials related to how to handle national examinations, the spectre of transfers by the employer and, the worst of them, student unrest.

The indiscipline witnessed in schools is an indictment to failure of the society, more so the school leadership. Our society has been coy in addressing the signs of indiscipline among adults and children alike.

I recently came across some students, whom I learnt were Form Threes from one of the schools that suffered an arson attack. Their suspension from school seemed to have given them respite from the ‘hostile’ school environment. They were happy for the break. That disturbed me.

ENVIRONMENT

As an educator, I know that we should try as much as we can to make the school environment be as close to the home one as possible so that learners enjoy staying in school and teachers become local parents. But the truth is that the school environment is nothing to write home about.

Our schools are run like autocratic camps, where the principals are more of demi-gods. Add to this the poor infrastructure and equipment, inadequate instructional resources, limited finance and bully teachers and they become an antithesis for learning. Little wonder they have become breeding grounds for truants, cheats, miscreants, drug addicts and, now, criminals.

The much-hyped talk by education bureaucrats that students burn schools because of fear of the forthcoming exams is just a Trojan horse. Nothing explains the problem than poor leadership at the school and national levels.

HALF-BAKED

The half-baked measures may not achieve much. Better efforts should be made at mitigating the causes of the strikes than addressing the consequences. We should take counsel in the age-old adage that prevention is better than cure.

Let us make the lives of learners enjoyable at school. Give them hope. We should be cognisance of the psychology of adolescents. As adults, we should view the students as people who need help, not criminals.

Some years back, the government encouraged teachers to pursue guidance and counselling courses. Somewhere along the line the steam died. Our schools need counsellors. These are experts who will enjoy the confidence of the students, hence try to bring them to the right path.

INSPIRATION

Most schools have security guards who are poorly remunerated and not motivated. They become easily corruptible by those with ulterior motives. Students can easily bribe the guards to let them carry out nefarious activities.

Addressing the welfare of this lot can help prevent the arson attacks. We also need to increase the number of the guards in schools.

The school leadership should come out of their high pedestal and create a democratic environment in their institutions. We need inspirational leadership.

Address all the needs of those you lead. Let members of the school community be free to air their views. Work with all your teachers and other members of the school community. Do not segregate. Make them feel part of the school. Ensure that the learners can hold dialogue with you.

MENTORSHIP

Prepare the entire school community to any changes you introduce. We should encourage all learner participation in co-curricular activities and introduce mentorship programmes and peer mediation strategies.

Ministry officials should also treat the principals professionally. Let us do away with the culture of dictatorship and know-it-all that characterises today’s dealings between the school leadership and the officials.

The chaos have been attributed to ‘exam fever’. That points to a problem with curriculum development and implementation. If everything was right, learners would face exams boldly. We need to de-emphasise exams and make the way we set and manage them discourage cheating.

Our system of funding schools is wanting. Schools suffer from huge financial constraints due to delayed funds from the government and high cost of living.

FRUSTRATED

Running schools without money is quite a challenge to school leadership. Let principals be given money in good time to plan and finance various school programmes.

Research should be undertaken to find out why the strikes are more common in public schools in second term than the others.

We should think about empowering teachers to be in charge of the learners. It is strange that in a school with more than 500 students a strike can be planned without the knowledge of the teaching fraternity. Are teachers a frustrated lot?

Let us make our public schools avenues of training our youth to be responsible.

Dr Ndaloh, a curriculum, instruction and educational media specialist, teaches at Moi University. [email protected]


MPs’ World Cup trip report ready, at last

By DAVID MWERE
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The MPs who travelled to Russia for the 2018 World Cup have presented their report to the National Assembly, two weeks after Speaker Justin Muturi demanded that it be produced to apprise the country on their controversial tour.

The bench-marking tour saw 17 legislators spend more than Sh25 million on air tickets, meals and accommodation as well as match tickets at a time when the country was struggling to raise revenue.

In the report Sports, Culture and Tourism Committee chairman Victor Munyaka (Machakos Town) wants the government to develop at least eight new ultra-modern stadiums spread across the former provinces to enable them to host major sports events, which have eluded the country due to lack of facilities.

The committee also wants the five Africa Nations Championships (CHAN) stadiums – Kasarani, Nyayo, Machakos, Kipchoge Keino and Kinoru- be upgraded to FIFA standards.

Mr Munyaka also noted that Kenya’s stadiums pale in comparison to Russia’s.

The committee also wants the Sports ministry to develop academies in all constituencies to nurture talents from the grass roots in order to form stronger and better teams.

SPONSORSHIP

“Football clubs in Kenya should by now form their own strong academies,” Mr Munyaka says in the report.

Meanwhile, the committee wants national team Harambee stars, whose players were denied the chance to go to the World Cup, to be well funded.

“They need technical support and professional coaching services to be able to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The ministry and Football Kenya Federation should explore ways of getting private sponsorship and other local clubs to embrace the game in the country,” says the report

Notably, it is the Sports ministry, whose CS Rashid Echesa rubbished the MPs trip as pointless, that is required to implement the committee’s recommendations.

The legislators also want a proper sports infrastructure and that security personnel undergo refresher courses on how to deal with crowd control and that the football federation and the ministry implement online ticketing and accreditation system.

The MPs’ tour sparked outrage among Kenyans, who questioned why the MPs travelled to Moscow.


Bobi Wine: The Ugandan with a new political song

By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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Bobi Wine was already famous long before he won a parliamentary by-election in Kampala in June last year.

But that is because he was a singer, not a politician, who rose to fame mostly through his hit songs like “Sunda” (shake).

Locally, folks knew he was passing when his Cadillac Escalade zoomed past in the crowded streets of Kampala, its roaring engine punctuating his celebrity status.

Officially known as Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, Mr Wine had a chequered career in music beefing with artistes like Chameleon and Bebe Cool; as well as producing popular Ugandan dance music.

But for a man who wears sleek suits, flamboyant wrist watches and sometimes sunglasses— even at night— his beef with authorities was not initially political.

In 2009, he was accused of punching rival artiste Bebe Cool (Wine reportedly holds a professional boxing licence).

Then the Kampala Capital City Authority, the agency that runs the Ugandan capital, came for him one time, accusing him of constructing a building without following zoning procedures.

Somehow, he broke free of both accusations and his music flourished.

Then the politics started.

INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE

When Uganda went to elections in 2016, Wine stayed from the pool of artistes like Chameleone who had collaborated to sing a campaign song for veteran President Yoweri Museveni.

To him, there was nothing knew the old man was offering, having recycled policies, and failed to implement them, for three decades.

It was the first signal of what was to come.

In June 29, 2017, the musician joined politics proper after defeating National Resistance Movement (NRM) and Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) candidates to win the Kyadondo East parliamentary seat as an independent candidate.

In Uganda, like most of East African nations, defections and disappointments at party primaries are common.

So a victory for Wine was seen as an opposition victory against the yellow movement party, NRM.

His speeches afterwards, though, showed a man with an eye on bigger things: revolution.

REVOLUTION

Legend has it that Ugandan senior citizens have often stuck with Museveni at the polls because they admire stability he brought, and fear new leadership could bring uncertainty.

Whether right or wrong, elections in the East African nation have also brought in claims of vote theft as witnessed in 2016 when observers refused to endorse the poll outcome.

Wine sees the solution as belonging to the Ugandans, not politicians.

His new slogan is “People Power”.

“The people of Uganda are ready for a new kind of leadership, a leadership which truly represents them. A leadership of the people, by the people and for the people in its true meaning,” he rallied in victory speech last year.

Wine has not necessarily indicated he wants to be Ugandan president.

But that has not stopped him crossing paths with Mr Museveni.

In 2017, they had days of arguments over what Uganda really needs.

“Our country’s former glory is gone,” Wine wrote amid debate on age limit, accusing the presidency of running down fortunes since 1986.

LEADERSHIP

But Museveni, in his characteristic mood for lectures, retorted with a lengthy article where he accused Wine of lying and drove through Uganda’s history of wars, which he argued he had ended.

“Where was the ‘former glory’ of our country when people had no salt, no sugar, no paraffin, no security of life or property?” he posed in a statement he signed off with an appellation as ‘Jajja’ (grandpa), perhaps to reinforce his lecture.

“Before colonialism, we had endless tribal wars; during colonialism, after a lot of bleeding, there was, eventually, peace in much of Uganda, but not in Karamoja; after colonialism, there was chaos and collapse until the NRM restored stability to the whole country about 10 years ago, after we defeated ADF (terror group Allied Democratic Forces), Kony et cetera and disarmed the Karimojong,” Museveni argued, repeating the same response to challengers on his throne.

POLICE CONFRONTATION
So why is he still popular in a society whose pulse has been controlled by NRM for year?

This week, Wine was accused of fomenting a confrontation with the police in Arua where he had gone to campaign for independent candidate Kassiano Wadri.

Mr Museveni claimed Wine and the candidate prevented his motorcade from moving, leading to a shooting to death of “an attacker”— Wine’s driver.

Wine denies the accusation.

Some commentators though claim his rise in popularity is offering a fatigued society a chance to breathe.

“Kyagulanyi’s win represents a situation in which young people are no longer seen as passive recipients of resources or as the cause of society’s ills more especially in Kampala, but rather as vital contributors to their national development,” Gilbert Buregyeya observed in the state-owned New Vision.

PEOPLE POWER
In an interview with NBS this week, Wine who still wears a rugged beard, argued his call was to ensure the Ugandans feel powerful to change things for the better, regardless of political party.

“The solution is people coming together, party or no party, because the problem we are facing is not unique to NRM, FDC, DP or any other party. It is a Ugandan thing,” he told the TV station.

“People should feel powerful as citizens. And when they say it is our power, it is an assertion. We can no longer be limited by the walls of the parties, we can only realise that we’re all prisoners. We’re in the eater and eaten situation.”

To defeat Museveni, he argued, “it will take more than one political party, more than one tribe, more than one religion and yes, more than one generation”.

To him, a challenge against Museveni is like the oppressor and the oppressed.


Over 400 Hajj pilgrims stuck at JKIA due to lack of flights

By Cecil Odongo
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More than 400 pilgrims expected to travel to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the annual hajj were stranded on Wednesday at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, due to lack of flights to Riyadh.

The pilgrims were told by the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) leaders that it has not been easy to get a plane from Saudi Arabia because most international airlines are booked for pilgrims from other countries.

Furthermore, the pilgrims risk missing the trip because from Thursday, the Saudi Arabian Government will not allow any flights from foreign countries into its capital as part of security measures being put in place for the pilgrims.

“People are really frustrated because of the way events are unfolding here. We are appealing to the Foreign Affairs ministry to help us get a solution,” said a Mr Omar, a pilgrim.

Supkem Assistant Treasurer Abdalla Ali, who was among the pilgrims, acknowledged the problems, but said they are in talks with the Saudi Arabian government to find a solution and ensure all pilgrims travel.