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Thursday, August 16th, 2018


Reverse dearth of research in universities

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Reports that more than 20 Kenyan universities are not actively engaged in research is a sad statement on the state of higher education in the country. A study by global market and social research company CPS International shows that more than 18 per cent of the institutions have less than 10 lecturers dedicated to research and that 35 per cent of them do not have research laboratories or incubation centres.

This sorry situation is only made worse by the fact that the government runs a research endowment fund under the auspices of the National Research Foundation, which is mandated to finance and coordinate research and innovation for national development. This means the dearth of research is not entirely due to inadequate funding but rather a grave structural gap or systemic failure.

Universities have three missions — teaching, research and community service. They exist to create knowledge through research and innovation. They are meant to transform people’s well-being and their countries’ fortunes by bringing new ideas and skills to confront daily social and economic challenges. A university that does not have research at the heart of its operations is not worth the name. It is essential that the Commission for University of Education takes a keen interest in goings-on in the institutions.

Most postgraduate courses place a high premium on research and new knowledge; which begs the question, how are universities without innovation centres allowed to operate? In a nutshell, such institutions are like referral hospitals without an operating theatre.

It is heartening that some universities have remained true to their mandate by producing numerous publications and journals that make them measure up to the best. Survival and progress of the institutions depend on their investment on research and innovation.

No one owes anyone any political favour

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Democracy is about freedom to make choices. It is antithetical to coercion and intimidation. Political leaders and parties have the constitutional right to campaign, lobby and impress voters to support them. But no one should force or compel others to support their cause. And none should be made to feel that he or she is entitled to any political position. Political offices are competitive and open to all Kenyans.

We are getting concerned about the growing calls by some groups that keep insisting that their man must be supported for the presidency. In the first place, elections are four years away and the focus should be on executing promises made at last year’s election. It is too early to start the 2022 campaigns.

In fact, it is very tiring and irritating to see some politicians and their supporters criss-crossing the country largely to woo voters under the disguise of initiating or supervising development projects. We cannot have a situation where we jump from one election to another. Ascension to political office is not an end in itself; it is what one does in a national office that counts.


Secondly, experience has shown that political parties or coalitions are mere vehicles for seeking political office — they are never ideological, which is regrettable. Deals are struck and broken all the time. But at no time can the political deals be used as collateral to demand for support. Politicians cannot hang onto a gentleman’s agreement to exact demands and, worse, make the entire population believe that so and so is entitled to this or that. That sort of brinkmanship has no place in a democracy.

At any rate, when a group demands and seeks to pulp everyone to submit to the fact that it is their person who should become the President, what does that mean for others? How do we achieve national unity and equity when some positions are being ring-fenced and reserved for some people?


Kenya’s politics has changed diametrically since the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga in March. The accent has shifted to building bridges and repairing relations after the flames that followed the controversial two presidential elections last year. Therefore, the drive is to bring communities together and narrow the gulf borne out of political contests. For, division and perennial combat cannot take us anywhere.

We must end this obsession with elections and premature campaigns. Let those in national and county leadership execute their duties. Importantly, we should desist from creating a siege mentality based on a sense of entitlement. Nobody owes anyone anything. The only debt the leaders owe is to Kenyans — which is to implement policies and programmes they committed to.

Let corruption not rob us of the freedom Mau Mau fought for

My return to reporting corruption these past two months has left me deeply disturbed about the state of our country and the character of some Kenyans.

In 1952 or thereabout, young people from various parts of the country took up pangas against the most powerful empire on earth at the time. The question of why they did such a foolhardy thing has been answered, mainly by people who were collaborating: They were fighting for freedom and land.

But what does that mean? What does fighting for freedom mean?

My father was always cagey about the deeper motivation for quitting the kitchen where he worked as a “boy” and taking up arms. There was talk of taking your hat off to white children, not being able to cross what is now Moi Avenue if you were black and all that, but was that enough?

I think African men got to the point of “we can’t live like this anymore”. The revulsion and anger of being treated like filth built up to a point where the very point of being alive was lost.

Struggles are expensive

My recent experiences convince me that, in a different way, we have reached that point again.

The lesson from the 1950s is that struggles are expensive.

In prison, those brave freedom fighters who survived the hangman were in the hands of folks who almost considered it their birthright to break our people: The brutal beatings, the killings, the torture, the hard labour, the hostile climate …

(One day I drove up to the gate of Manyani Prison and said I wanted to see the place where my father served part of his seven years in prison. They politely asked me to get lost.)

The loneliness of being separated from your young bride and child who, left on their own in a country at war, had to fight to stay alive.


I think the biggest sacrifice the Mau Mau made was to suppress the furious desire to have a second civil war to take the country back from the traitors, collaborators and homeguards.

The Mau Mau lost everything. They lost the war, they suffered in prison, they lost their land, which was given to the collaborators, and their most valuable heritage — the burning patriotism and sacrifice which drove them to the forests — is lost to their children.

In the 1950s, those who just minded their own interests — those who kissed the white man’s boots and sold their countrymen down the river so that they could attend school, make money, educate their kids, get free land and well paying jobs — prospered. In the same way, those who are looting the Treasury, allowing poison to be fed to children, selling their positions like mangoes in the market … these folks are millionaires.

What have we ended up with? A country where opportunity is almost exclusively limited to stealing, a country which can’t protect itself because of corruption, where, if you start an industry, you are wiped out by fakes allowed in by your government, a country in which the government buys fakes from the Chinese rather than its own citizens, a country which imports everything so that ‘tenderpreneurs’ can make money, a place where you are not sure what you are feeding your children, where government projects are corruption schemes, where thieves are more powerful and more venerated than our war heroes …

A country whose future is uncertain, a people whose only value is money, however it is made, even if it is on the bodies of dead innocents.

I respect the fact that there are Kenyans who have chosen not to have values, who don’t care how many people are harmed so long as they make money. I do hope that they also respect the fact that there are those of us who believe that we just can’t live like that.


Doing business with the government is not corruption. As a matter of fact, the government is the biggest business in town. But it has to be good, clean business where the businessman gets a reasonable, normal return and the taxpayer value for money.

Other avenues of investments must be created so that Kenyans stop inheriting corruption, from father to son, like a generational curse or a city council house. Rather than pretending that the government can build houses, how about creating the structures and incentives for individuals to do it?

Finally, is it possible for us to rediscover honesty and humanity? How can a nation be so ruthlessly and brutally greedy? Can something be done to change Kenyans from approaching life as if they are a herd of feeding hippos?


There are many Kenyans, since they are so corrupted that their souls have evaporated, who do not believe that one can act out of a sense of duty. They believe that when a journalist goes to do a story, he must have been paid by someone. Or if a government official takes a decision, it must have automatically been influenced by a kickback.

We need to honour service and sacrifice, not the wives, relatives and sycophants of politicians. And we need to start putting the thieves who have been exposed and charged away for a very, very long time.

That is the choice: Turn our backs on corruption or give up our country.

ODM leader calls for probe of MPs in bribery shame

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Opposition leader Raila Odinga has demanded investigations into claims that some Members of Parliament were bribed to throw out a report on the sugar scandal.

He said those who gave the bribes and those who received them should be equally held responsible.

“Those bribing MPs should also be blamed. We should investigate who they are and why they went to tempt MPs. It takes two to tango,” said Mr Odinga in Tala, Machakos, during the burial of Christine Wausi, an aunt of former Senator Johnson Muthama.


He said he agreed with President Uhuru Kenyatta that corruption was a menace that should be eradicated and the culprits punished indiscriminately.

“Even if you are my brother and you are caught in corruption, you will carry your own cross because you did not steal on my behalf or on behalf of my tribe,” said Mr Odinga, adding that a national convention on the vice was scheduled for September 10 in Nairobi. Corruption was rife in all sectors including the national and county governments, parliament, the judiciary and parastatals,” he said.

Mr Odinga said his peace deal with President Uhuru Kenyatta on March 9 was the only way out of the election stalemate and explained that he knew many of his supporters felt betrayed by the handshake.


“I did not betray you. I was your leader and I saw building bridges as the only way out of the situation, ” he said, adding that many people died before and after last year’s elections while the country was deeply divided.

He said the opposition had not abandoned its mission to create a better Kenya but had only “retreated to build bridges after finding ‘crocodiles’ in the river.”

The building bridges initiative will usher all Kenyans to a new country devoid of corruption and poverty, he said, and thanked all those who voted for him in the last election.

Wiper Party Leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Senator Muthama supported Mr Odinga’s decision to join the President in the war on corruption.


“There has been tension and a lot of suspicion but it is important for Nasa to hold together. There are people who do not want us to be united. The people of Kenya are tired of corruption. If we win the war on corruption President Kenyatta will have established a proper legacy,” said Mr Musyoka.

Mr Muthama revisited the pact between Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka for 2022 presidential elections saying he was confident the ODM leader would back Mr Musyoka.

“Raila is not a liar. If he told Kalonzo he will support him, he will do it,” said Mr Muthama while urging the people to be patient. Others who supported the purge on corruption included Ms Wavinya Ndeti and MPs Gladys Wanga (Homabay), Simba Arati (Dagoretti North) and Stephen Mule (Matungulu).

Aid Worker Security Report 2018 – The numbers tell the story

By Adele Harmer, Partner at Humanitarian Outcomes

As we approach World Humanitarian Day, the latest numbers from the 2018 Aid Worker Security Report find us in a familiar place. The emphasis changes slightly year on year, but the overall picture for attacks on aid workers remains persistently, and unacceptably, high.

In 2017, 139 aid workers were killed while doing their jobs. Another 174 aid workers were kidnapped or injured in serious attacks. This fits an ongoing pattern: over the past decade, close to 300 aid workers have been affected by serious violence every year. In 2017 we saw a 30 per cent increase in fatalities from 2016, reflecting a heightened lethality in the style of attacks. National staff and organizations take the brunt of the attacks each year, but that share grew even larger.

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Athletics champ laid to rest as Ruto, Uhuru offer goodies

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A sombre mood Thursday engulfed Simat in Uasin Gishu County as hundreds of mourners paid their last respects to the 400m hurdles world champion Nicholas Bett who died in a road accident a week ago.

Deputy President William Ruto, Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa and several top athletes, among various leaders, attended the burial ceremony.

Most athletes could not hold back their tears as they laid to rest Mr Bett, who was a promising sportsman.

Those who eulogised Mr Bett recalled the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, China, where he won the 400m hurdles, beating renowned competitors.


That they were burying him less than two weeks after being part of a group of Kenyan athletes that topped the African Athletics Championships in Asaba, Nigeria, was too difficult to bear.

Mr Ruto, who conveyed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s condolences to the family, said Mr Bett will be remembered for prospering in a crowded field.

“We have lost a hardworking athlete who was still young and had a bright future. He made the country proud after winning the gold medal in the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, China,” said the DP.

He added that the government will support the family by funding a kitty to educate his children.


“The government will start a kitty through the insurance cover (for police officers) and we will donate Sh2 million. I have brought the money in cash from the President and I. We want the children to have everything that their father would have provided if he was alive,” added Mr Ruto.

He noted that the President had issued an order for the setting aside of 100 slots for athletes during the forthcoming recruitment exercises for all disciplined forces. He praised the sportsmen for promoting the country in various global competitions. “The President’s order is to appreciate athletes because they have always done the country proud internationally,” he said.

The DP noted that the three stadiums, Kipchoge Keino (Eldoret), Kipchoge (Kapsabet) and Kamariny (Iten), will be completed in the next one year, adding that the government, through the Ministry of Sports, was working on a policy which will be forwarded to the Cabinet for approval so that the projects could be completed on time.

Mr Echesa said that he was aware the athletes were facing lots of challenges but the ministry was already preparing policies to cater for their issues and improve the sector.

“We understand you are going through a lot of challenges under various managements but we are working on policies that will see athletes rewarded accordingly,” said Echesa.

Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet praised Mr Bett, who was a police officer based in Kisumu, for balancing work and his sports career.

“Bett was a hardworking servant and at the same time an international athlete. We are going to reward the family by employing one of them in the National Police Service. That has been our tradition in the force. When our officer dies, we recruit one immediate family member,” said Mr Boinnet.

Nandi Governor Stephen Sang promised to help the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) in the fight against the vice, saying it was ruining the country’s name.

“As we mourn our hero who brought fame to the country, I also want to say that we are going to support agencies like ADAK in the fight against doping,” said the governor.

His Uasin Gishu counterpart Jackson Mandago said that they will meet soon with the Sports CS and agree on how to complete the Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret.

“The second phase of Kipchoge Keino Stadium has stalled and we shall have a meeting so that we can see how to complete it.”

 The athletes need to use the facility and we have to speed up things,” said Mr Mandago.

Other top government officials who were present included Lands Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney, Sports Principal Secretary Kirimi Kaberia and Uasin Gishu County senator Margaret Kamar.

Uhuru visits Nyeri for music fete gala amid 2022 debate

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President Uhuru Kenyatta heads to Nyeri County today amid intense lobbying from camps allied to Deputy President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga to win his support in the 2022 elections.

It is expected that the President will come face-to-face with elected leaders in the region, who have defied his orders to stop early election campaigns, and endorsed Mr Ruto for the top job in 2022.

The President has since the repeat presidential election of October 26 asked Jubilee leaders to keep off succession politics and focus on development and implementation of the ‘Big Four’ agenda.

Governor Mutahi Kahiga and five MPs have been at the forefront in campaigning for Mr Ruto in the region, with the only opposition coming from Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu.

Yesterday, the MPs, led by Mr Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira), said they had not defied the President and that they were only engaging in development initiatives.

“The issue of 2022 succession was discussed and agreed on in 2013 so there is nothing to debate. You cannot campaign when the election is four years away,” said Mr Gachagua.

His Tetu counterpart, Mr Gichuhi Mwangi, said that as politicians, they were only affirming that the President and his deputy were working together. “We are politicians and we must engage in politics. This does not mean we are defiant,” he said.


But Mr Wambugu disagreed with them, accusing them of going against the President’s instructions.

“He has been very categorical that he does not want campaigns but some leaders have turned a blind eye to his directives,” he said.

Mr Kenyatta will be in Nyeri to host the finalists of the Kenya National Music Festivals at the Sagana State Lodge.

Mr Wambugu told the Daily Nation that the elected leaders were lobbying for a meeting with the President to register their complaints.

Mr Gachagua said: “There are many projects going on and others at the procurement stage but government has not done what people wanted.”


On Thursday, a group of elders from the Luo community asked President Kenyatta to back Mr Odinga in the 2022 elections, saying the opposition chief was best placed to realise the Building Bridges Initiative after 2022.

The group, commonly known as the Luo Council of Elders, said Mr Odinga was now in a better position to succeed President Kenyatta in 2022 following the March 9 handshake.

“The implementation of the nine-point agenda agreed on by the two leaders (Mr Odinga and President Kenyatta) can only be fully implemented by themselves. If President Kenyatta retires in 2022, then Mr Odinga, as the cosignatory to the March 9 deal, will be the best placed person to effect the resolutions,” said the council’s executive director, Mzee Owino Nyady.

A section of Kalenjin elders, on the other hand, dismissed demands from a rival group that President Kenyatta support Mr Ruto in the 2022 race.


They hit out at the elders’ body, known as Myoot, for dictating which presidential candidate to support in 2022. They urged other politicians who have declared interest in running for the high office in 2022 to visit the region and sell their manifestos to the voters.

“Everybody is free to run for the presidency and it is up to the electorate to decide,” said Mzee Chepkieng Chesoi from Elgeyo Marakwet County.

“The Myoot elders are an advisory group and not a political outfit. The decision to support Mr Ruto for the presidency is a clear indication that they have already taken sides,” said Mzee David Chepsiror from Nandi.

This comes after the Myoot elders led by chairman Major (rtd) John Seii, demanded that Mr Ruto be rewarded for being loyal to President Kenyatta and challenged their counterparts from central Kenya to support his 2022 presidential bid.


“In 2013, Myoot elders agreed to support Uhuru Kenyatta and, in return, he should back Mr Ruto when it comes to his quest for the presidency,” said Major (rtd) Seii.

But the rival group disputed this, saying the community should be left to decide who succeeds President Kenyatta.

“As a community, we voted for President Uhuru Kenyatta in the last two general elections because of his quality leadership and we will support a candidate with similar qualities,” said Albert Katam from Trans Nzoia County.

In Kisumu, the Luo elders urged Mr Odinga to throw his hat in the presidential ring one more time, saying he stood a big chance of winning the contest.

Reported by Grace Gitau, Joseph Wangui, Justus Ochieng and Barnabas Bii

Unions using delocalisation to portray teachers as weaklings

I often admire the teachers unions for the gusto with which they defend issues affecting their members. I even stood on the side of  Knut secretary-general Wilson Sossion’s fight to maintain both the union and nominated parliamentary seats.

However, when it comes to delocalisation of school heads, the teachers unions have goofed.

Teachers Service Commission secretariat staff, education officers and other Ministry of Education officials serve anywhere in Kenya; so why can’t teachers, specifically secondary school heads? If a school head who is about to retire suffers if transferred, how come retired civil servants are redeployed and posted to far-flung stations, including embassies abroad, and survive?


Are Knut and Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) saying school heads have a ‘use-by date’?

Another mirage is that there are school heads who are perpetually on high or low mean score levels in examinations. This myth was shattered when former Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i cracked down on exam cheating (or buying).

Take any committed teacher to head the school with the best facilities, provide great support from parents, teachers and other stakeholders and hey presto! Your results will be great.

The secondary school heads association must fight this stereotype being peddled by their unions. People whom they went to college with are nominated to lucrative positions in the government, parastatals and foreign service, where they serve long after retirement.


Knut and Kuppet must begin lobbying the President to appoint teachers to these positions. When teachers retire they have nowhere to go, while their colleagues in the ministries live to enjoy benefits beyond their 70s. Among teachers we have persons who qualify to hold positions as engineers, technicians, chemists, administrators, journalists and diplomats, among others.

Teachers have exceptional leadership qualities. Like soldiers, they are highly trained and serve in a disciplined environment. Like farmers and parents, they are nationalistic, hardworking, responsive and nurturing to those under their care. And as people who survive on meagre salaries, they are untainted by corruption.


We are denying our country quality leaders by not allowing teachers to pursue appointments outside the education sector and the political arena without losing their TSC benefits. That does not require a statute or an amendment to the Constitution.

Unions must not give an impression of being herders of a clueless flock. Teachers make great leaders. Retired President Daniel arap Moi and Tanzania’s founding president Julius Nyerere were teachers. Teachers have also made quality political leaders at other levels.

RASHID BOGE, via email.

Firm seeks change in law on tea leaf hawking

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A private tea processor in Meru County wants rules on hawking of tea changed, terming them discriminatory and unconstitutional.

Njeru Industries Limited has opposed the rules that govern hawking of tea, saying they are meant to stifle competition and “criminalise” private investment. The firm packages orthodox teas under the brand name Kappa Chai.

In what is likely to escalate controversy over access of raw materials by processors, the firm wants the Agriculture and Food Authority’s (AFA) Tea Directorate to come up with a clear law on how excess green leaf should be absorbed by processors.


There are 68 factories owned by more than 500,000 small scale farmers across the country with their teas marketed by the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA), but a number of private factories also process tea.

However, there has been controversy pitting some farmers against KTDA with some of them demanding to break away from the agency. Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo has also tabled a Bill in Parliament which seeks to create the Kenya Tea Development Authority and abolish the KTDA.

Paul Njeru, Njeru Industries managing director, said the Crops Act 2013 is clear on how farmers are expected to deliver their green leaf.

“Every smallholder grower, for purposes of accessing economies of scale, shall have the freedom to register with the tea factory to which the person delivers green leaf, by supplying such particulars as the authority, by regulations, prescribe,” says section 14 (b) of the Act.

According to Mr Njeru, the rules on hawking were intended to create a negative perception of private tea processing. “The regulator should prioritise reforms that give rise to a competitive ecosystem that will encourage growers to expand their tea farms and give confidence to investors,” said Mr Njeru in a letter to head of Tea Directorate, Anthony Muriithi.

According to a survey commissioned by the Tea Directorate last year, Meru region has excess green tea production of 14 million kilos, while Murang’a has 15 million kilos. It recommends enhanced processing capacities in Tharaka-Nithi, Embu, Nyeri, Kiambu, Kericho and Kirinyaga counties.

Student strikes caused damage worth Sh48m

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The total value of property destroyed during the wave of unrest in public secondary schools last term stands at Sh48,308,720, the government has said.

During the unrest, 279 students were arrested countrywide but only 11 were arraigned in court to face charges after investigations.

The revelations were made by the Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Interior Patrick Ntutu when he appeared before the National Assembly Education Committee.

Since the start of the year, more than 50 schools have witnessed unrest with the second term recording the highest cases reported in at least 44 schools.


Mr Ntutu told the committee that the government has enhanced patrols and was working closely with the schools’ administrators to provide adequate security by hiring more private guards.

“We have encouraged the management of schools to carry out regular guidance and counselling programmes on disadvantages of participating in school unrest,” Mr Ntutu told the committee, which is chaired by Tinderet MP Julius Melly.

Other measures the CAS cited include removal of permanent grilles in classrooms and halls of residence to ease escape in case of an incident, and ordering schools to clear kiosks surrounding their compounds.

However, members of the committee took issue with the measures that require head teachers to remove kiosks around the schools and the removal of grilles for ease of escape, arguing that such measures were beyond the mandate of school administrators.


Mr Godfrey Odanga (Matayos) urged the Ministry of Interior to ensure that the business of removing such kiosks was restricted to security agencies and not schools, arguing that the mandate of the school heads should end at the gate.

“It is the Ministry of Interior that should remove the kiosks around schools because principals have no capacity to undertake such ventures,” he said, warning the ministry that, if left to principals, the issue could cause a crisis.

Mr Odanga further questioned the decision to arraign the students arrested during the unrest in court, arguing that the provision of the Children’s Act is that they should be charged in the children’s court.

He also asked why some of the children had not been taken to approved schools, wondering what had happened to the institutions that previously rehabilitated juvenile delinquents.


Mr Melly told the CAS that there are serious security issues in the management of schools and urged the government to make use of intelligence as one of the ways of curbing unrest.

“School unrest is sporadic and it is important that the government should use its intelligence unit so that strikes are stopped on time,” he said.

Kilome MP Thaddeus Nzambia said the ministry should deploy at least two police officers to patrol every school and ensure that people running private businesses are not allowed to operate next to school compounds.

Kabondo Kasipul MP Eve Obara objected to the removal of the grilles.

“Grilles should be removed after alternative measures are in place because their removal exposes children to external danger,” she said.