Tuesday, August 21st, 2018
Police were on Tuesday looking into claims that Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula was the target in a shooting that saw five people suffer bullet injuries in a burial in Trans Nzoia on Monday.
Although there was no proof yet to the sensational claims, Mr Wetangula and a local leader who was injured during the burial of a bodyguard attached to Likuyani MP Enock Kibunguchy, claimed that the shots were aimed at the Ford Kenya leader.
The Bungoma senator claimed the incident at Mukuyu village Kiminini was political elimination against Ford-Kenya leadership.
“I saw the police who shot the MCA and he was aiming at us. I am perturbed that the bullet was meant for me,” claimed Mr Wetang’ula.
The sentiments are supported by Kapomboi MCA Ben Wanjala who sustained bullet injury during the fracas.
“The bullet which shot me was meant for Mr Wetang’ula, it missed him by a whisker,” said Mr Wanjala who is receiving treatment at Mt Elgon hospital in Kitale.
Dr Kibunguchy was on Tuesday summoned by detectives from Kakamega County to record a statement over remarks he made at a funeral service of his driver Trans-Nzoia County on Monday.
The detectives have asked the MP to shed light on claims that his opponents were behind an attack in which his driver was shot dead outside a motel at the Soy market.
The MP who spoke on phone said the chaos which erupted at his driver’s funeral was part of a scheme by his political opponents to eliminate him.
“We have summoned the MP to record a statement on his remarks that there was a plot by his political opponents to have him killed,” said Mr John Onyango, the county criminal investigation officer.
A section of MCAs from the Kakamega County led by Leader of Majority Joel Otwoma and nominated county representative Ms Auxillia Nyamwoma accused Mr Kibunguchy of inciting mourners to eject the County Executive for Sports Robert Kundu Makhanu shortly after he had arrived to attend the funeral.
“We condemn the remarks made by the MP while he was addressing mourners during the burial of his driver,” said Mr Otwoma.
The MCAs who are close allies of Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya said it was unfortunate that Mr Kibunguchy had incited mourners to attack the county official who had attended the burial.
They asked the MP to respect Governor Oparanya and other county officials and avoid using funerals to tarnish their reputation.
Mr Makhanu did not show up for the media briefing or respond to calls or text messages sent to his him. But according to Dr Kibunguchy the killing of his driver was an attempt on his life, was violence aimed at Ford-Kenya leaders who attended the funeral was engineered by the same people who killed his driver.
The Public Service ministry is moving to resolve a staffing crisis in the public sector that has been causing jitters.
It all started a few years ago with a freeze on employment and the extension of the retirement age from 55 to 60.
With no fresh injections into the service, and the looming exit of civil servants who were retained, there was bound to be a gap in the transition.
The worry about the impending loss of skilled and experienced personnel and the difficulty in getting ready replacements presents a big challenge.
Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia has set in motion a process that should less disruptions in the delivery of services.
She has directed all government agencies, including ministries, to carry out staff audits to give a clear picture of what shortfalls need to be plugged and in which areas.
That way, the problem of the growing numbers of staff exiting the public service at nearly the same time on attaining the mandatory retirement age of 60 will be more effectively dealt with.
The data should be submitted to the ministry by September 28. Indeed, this should have been part of a proper succession management to ensure that the looming exits do not undermine delivery of the vital services to wananchi that the public sector provides.
BLOATED WAGE BILL
It is so important because it will enable proper planning.
The audit also presents an opportunity to deal with the perennial problem of the bloated government wage bill, which has been lately distorted further by the excessive recruitment in the 47 counties. What is required in a lean and effective public service.
Prof Kobia and her team have an opportunity to evaluate capacity gaps and put in place a succession plan in order to strengthen the civil service.
Politicians never cease to amaze. Every policy articulation or decision is viewed from the narrow prism of political interest. Broad and long-term perspectives never come to play. And this explains wastefulness in public resource utilisation.
The recent directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta stopping new mega development projects has become the subject of political contest. Some politicians have taken issue with it, arguing that it will deny their constituencies a chance to develop. This is a rather simplistic perspective.
A major challenge facing the country is poor coordination of development projects.
Often times, the government initiates multiple projects, some without proper feasibility studies, but fail to complete them because of lack of financing, resource mismanagement or corrupt practices. Repeatedly, the prices are grossly exaggerated because of underhand dealings.
Many grand projects lie incomplete, huge sums of money having been sunk into them, demonstrating sheer carelessness and poor thinking on capital development.
It does not make sense to start new ones and commit taxpayers’ hard-earned money into them and predictably leave them half-done, just in the name of doing projects.
Worse, a number of the multi-million-shilling projects are vendor-driven, intended to create avenues for deal-cutting for the so-called ‘tenderpreneurs’ and their ilk with no value for money.
For now, the government should undertake an audit of all ongoing projects to give a status report, identify those on course and the scheduled completion dates and, importantly, highlight the stalled ones and the reason for that.
This should provide a basis for making decisions on what ought to be done, especially those that should be revived and the financial commitments required.
For example, the current administration started the mega Galana-Kulalu irrigation project at the Coast billed to address food security but that was not to be.
This is the time to do an appraisal. It would be disingenuous to insist on proceeding to phase two or three of such a project when the pilot has failed.
We need a framework for capital development. A practice has evolved where every regime that comes to power commences own projects and abandons existing ones. The situation even applies at the constituency and county levels. Clearly, this is not the way to develop. Projects should not be regime-specific; rather, they ought to be designed to benefit the citizenry irrespective of those in power.
Simple economics demands prudence in management of public resources. The craze for capital development without properly planning must stop.
Focus on completing existing or stalled projects.
Conservationists in Kenya are warning of an imminent poaching crisis should proposals to open the doors to game hunting sail through.
Dr Paula Kahumbu, CEO of WildlifeDirect, told Daily Nation over the phone on Tuesday that the proposed consumptive utilisation of wildlife would be a shoo-in for international wildlife poaching syndicates, who are after wildlife trophies, to return into the country as well as exacerbate the problem of local bushmeat hunters to go on hunting sprees.
Loss of wildlife has been detrimental to the tourism sector for decades. Kenya Wildlife Service has over time complained about lack of adequate equipment to carry out anti-poaching operations as the main challenge the country faces to dealing with the problem.
“Commercialising bush meat trade is a major threat to wipe out Kenya’s precious natural heritage entirely,” said Kahumbu. “But beyond that it will lead to an escalation of poaching rates for the most imperilled elephants and rhinos that we already know are highly targeted for their horns. As conservationists, we are convinced that this is a very bad idea.”
According to her, even though the only people who would be able to produce game meat on a commercial scale will be the private sector, national parks and reserves would become soft targets for poachers.
Union of Veterinary Practitioners of Kenya chairman, Benson Kibore warned such a move would reverse the gains that have been achieved in the conservation sector in the last decade. He said the CS was “out of touch” and had “not considered the ramifications.”
“Already we have seen wildlife populations decline, except monkeys. Breaking that stigma especially among communities that live with these animals will never be undone if Kenya ever decides to rescind the decision. So this is a place that Balala should not take this country,” said Kibore.
The task force launched by Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala on March 29, wrapped up its work on Tuesday.
The task force chaired by Dr John Waithaka (Chairman), and Carole Kariuki (CEO) was charged with assessing and advising on modalities for implementing of wildlife utilisation in Kenya.
During the taskforce’s unveiling, Balala went on record to deflate concerns that the move will only make the poaching problem worse.
“All wildlife belongs to the government and the government is determined to keep the recognition of the industry worldwide in the wildlife sector,” he said.
He said the government was exploring other ways of increasing the number of tourists coming to Kenya. He compared Kenya’s paltry 1.4 million tourists per year to competing destinations like South Africa at 10 million and Tanzania’s 2.2 million. He said Kenya was aiming at getting at least 5 million in 10 years.
“If we do not have numbers, it will not sustain the economy,” he had warned. But according to Dr Kahumbu, the CS is misguided on the most immediate wildlife concerns in the country.
“The biggest issues that afflicts the wildlife sector right now in Kenya are human-wildlife conflict and population decline. But seems the CS is yet to release this,” she said, “There’s nobody clamouring for wildlife meat. No restaurant or public demand in Kenya for wildlife meat. In fact the reverse is true, as has been witnessed with donkey meat, people are wary about it. But now the ministry is trying indoctrinate it in the eating habits of Kenyans?”
She said there was a serious risk in removing stigma around wildlife meat among Kenyans. “We already know people don’t want to eat these animals. But once we remove that stigma we will create a poaching crisis because all those species will now start supplying into that market,” she noted.
“For the ministry to be pushing this and spending so much money to be moving around the country gathering views, yet it is not the number one priority to me is very suspicious,” she added.
According to Dr Kahumbu, efforts should instead be made to improve the living standards of communities living alongside wildlife through conservations endeavours, through good government policies that focus on poverty alleviation for sustainable development to encourage them to conserve the country’s heritage.
The Kenyan economy earns almost Sh300bn a year from tourism which is reliant on wildlife.
“The problem is going to be that if now you have to fence off place and start producing game for meat you reduce the wilderness value of the country’s tourism product,” she said.
Dr Kibore compared the proposed development to that of legalising donkey meat trade which has seen populations plummet. The number of donkeys has declined from over 3 million during the legalisation in 2013 to just 1.5 million today.
“In just within a span of three years we have already halved the population of donkeys. Now imagine what will happen to zebras which are the sisters to donkeys,” he said.
He wondered why Balala was in a rush to legalise game meat when Kenyans had not exhausted the other protein sources.
“Why would we be in a hurry to slaughter our wildlife. This will disturb the ecosystem completely and as the union we can’t sit and watch it happen,” he said.
He said another point of concern was the transfer of zoonotic diseases from the wild to humans. The most commonly known disease are Marburg virus, Ebola, Brucellosis, Tb from wildlife, monkey pox among others.
“How much is Kenya willing to spend to tackle zoonotic diseases from wildlife that will cross over to humans? This would be scary looking at the crisis in DRC,” he said.
Besides, Kenya Wildlife Service, with only seven veterinarians to monitor and inspect the meat, lack adequate capacity. KWS’ budgetary allocation was also reduced from Sh4bn 2017-18 to Sh3bn 2018-19.
A month after the Kenyan government shortened the treatment period for patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has added a new drug to the list of priority drugs to be used for treating patients with Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB).
The announcement made ahead of the United Nations high level meeting next month, in New York, also called on countries to prioritise an all-oral treatment over injections as the latter causes serious side effects.
In a statement sent out early this week, the WHO said that the injections, while considered “life-saving”, are known to leave some patients deaf and cause kidney failures, prompting them to discontinue the treatment.
The communique brings on board crucial changes to the MDR-TB treatment, which include expanding the usage of the latest tuberculosis drug, called bedaquiline by adding it in the list of ‘priority’ drugs for patients with MDR-TB.
RAY OF HOPE
The drug is said to have become “a ray of hope for patients” in the last few years as it lowers the rate at which they can infect other people.
“Building on the available new data, and with the involvement of a large number of stakeholders, WHO has moved forward in reviewing the evidence and communicating the key changes needed to improve the chances of survival of MDR-TB patients worldwide,” said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, WHO Deputy Director-General for Programmes in a statement on Friday.
The international health agency however, warned that it does not have evidence on the safety and effectiveness of bedaquiline use beyond six months, as it was insufficient for review.
Last month, Kenya’s TB programme reduced by half the time patients with drug-resistant TB need to take their drugs after research showed that the drugs can achieve the same cure rate whether taken for two years or nine months.
Longer MDR-TB regimens usually last 18-20 months and may be standardised or individualised, a WHO, Kenya official said. These regimens are usually designed to include at least five medicines that are considered effective.
“The idea, is to increasingly replace injectable drugs which are considered painful and more toxic with oral medicines,” the official explained, adding that the decision was informed by wider studies.
Senate has summoned engineers from the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) to explain why safety measures were not taken to avert the accident which claimed the lives of 10 school pupils in Mwingi two weeks ago.
The Roads, Transport and Infrastructure Committee also summoned the contractor doing routine maintenance on the Kanyonyoo — Mwingi Road, the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), traffic police officers in Mwingi and the school’s administration.
Chairman Kimani Wamatangi had given KeNHA until Tuesday afternoon to file a report with his committee explaining why guard rails were not erected on the river bridge where the school bus plunged, among other things.
“Our conscience should not always be awoken by the blood of our innocent pupils when they perish on our roads.
My committee will get to the bottom of this matter and if anyone is found to have neglected his or her duty, action will be taken against them” he said.
Mr Wamatangi said the accident, where scores of other learners sustained injuries, could have been avoided had all the actors involved in ensuring road safety done their job including expanding it to the requisite standards.
“The committee wants to establish why this section of the road is in such poor state. There were no speed bumps or proper signage along the sloppy narrow stretch to warn motorists” the Kiambu senator said when his team visited the crash site last Saturday afternoon.
NO GUARD RAILS
He was accompanied by his colleagues Enoch Wambua (Kitui) and Ekal Imana (Turkana), and Mwingi Central MP Gideon Mulyungi.
“We can’t understand why a bridge on a road that existed for so many years, and being an international highway can be left without guard rails which could have saved the innocent lives” said Mr Wamatangi.
The senator said they want to scrutinise the ongoing contract especially the scope of works, the contract sum, when it was awarded and why it has taken long to complete the repairs, to establish whether Kenyans are getting value for their money.
“These questions must be answered in a submission that must reach the Clerk of the Senate before close of business on Tuesday,” he said adding all parties must appear before the committee on September 5.
Mr Wambua said the section of the road has become a death trap, pointing that the road section has remained neglected despite being part of the Mombasa — Kitui — Moyale Highway and that many lives are lost every year.
“There can never be an explanation why we still do not have guard rails three weeks after the accident yet there is a contractor on site. If we establish malpractice on the part of the contract we’ll recommend they be blacklisted” he said.
Mr Mulyungi said it was unfortunate that millions of funds are spent every year to repair the road but nothing is achieved.
Amani National Congress (ANC) party leader Musalia Mudavadi has hit back at Deputy President William Ruto saying that he owes him no political debt.
Last Saturday, DP Ruto said that Mr Mudavadi and the Luhya community owed him for supporting them during the 2007 General Election.
“There is no debt. We should not create a political ‘Zacchaeus’ who wants to collect political debts because they will be dangerous,” said Mr Mudavadi during an interview with a local television channel on Tuesday night.
Mr Mudavadi has, instead, asked Mr Ruto to make an appeal to the community to support him in 2022. The ANC leader, however, reminded the DP that he would also go for the presidency.
He said that leaders should not target individuals and communities over ‘political debts’.
“I am a competitor and I may come to ask him (Mr Ruto) for his support,” Mr Mudavadi said.
The former vice-president also denied claims by the Deputy President that they had a pre-election pact in 2007.
Mr Ruto said that as Orange Democratic Movement, they had agreed that he would be Prime Minister, Raila Odinga President and Mr Mudavadi vice- president only for him to be shortchanged.
“What Constitution were we dealing with then? Where are the documents? was I even part of the Serena talks. That is a hoax,” said Mr Mudavadi who refuted claims that Luhya community is divided.
The ANC party leader explained that the community has always remained united. He cited examples where the community supported former president Mwai Kibaki in 2002 and Mr Odinga in 2017.
“Whose narrative is it that Luhya community is divided? It is not good to vilify a community for being the most patriotic by voting for anybody,” he said.
It is essential to emphasise how evil, nefarious and debilitating corruption and its many related bedfellows are to a country and its citizens.
The standard of living and quality of life of virtually every Kenyan is literally debased.
A recent report sponsored by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) and the World Bank paints a depressing picture of the dilapidated and decrepit county hospitals.
Whatever money the government receives barely covers the salaries and wages of core staff. They limp along with limited medicines and the overstretched workforce is often short of vital doctors and medical support staff.
Relatives and friends of those unfortunate to be incarcerated in these so-called hospitals are encouraged to bring food, linen and even medicines to patients.
Of course, there are administrative glitches and shortages of vital funds but the underlying cause is corruption, coupled with maladministration.
Corruption traverses virtually every institution and is not purely a government or local government affair.
It spans the political, social and economic landscape. It is often generously fed by the private sector, which is willing to supply overpriced items with kickbacks and be a party to the theft of resources.
The venerable Professor Makau Mutua summed it up neatly when he described the menace as “the endemic corruption that has infested the bone marrow of the State”.
The zest with which Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji and company are carrying out their mandate is encouraging and exceedingly laudable.
I have maintained that his office needs much more forensic and administrative capacity and it is encouraging to see some of that being received.
Charging suspects is one thing but convicting them for their crimes is the ultimate goal. It is interesting to see that the idea of plea bargaining is starting to be entertained. This is used the world over to turn some insiders into State witnesses, which, in turn, secures crucial evidence and, consequently, more convictions.
It is essential to get at the facilitators as well as the end culprits themselves.
Chief Justice David Maraga has taken some actions to be prepared for this avalanche of cases. Goodwill is one thing but the capacity to dispense justice equitably and swiftly is another. I have yet to be convinced that our judicial system is up to such a herculean task, bearing in mind that the courts will be grossly overloaded.
Outsourcing prosecutors, even on a contract basis, is a must, just as recruiting advocates to be Commissioners of Assize. It is practised elsewhere when the judicial system gets overloaded.
It must be a multi-pronged co-ordinated effort involving the Office of the DPP and the Asset Recovery Agency.
Demolishing buildings built on riparian land is one thing. But their construction involved a human and paper trail of applications, approvals and facilitations which, in most cases, were irregular or plain illegal.
These individuals, public officers and entities, whoever they are and wherever they may be, are all culpable and should be tracked down and prosecuted. Accessories to a crime are also suspects and subject to the due process.
The same applies to grabbed land. All parties involved in the deed must be charged. That will, undoubtedly, affect senior and junior officers in many national and county government departments and even some previous and serving governors and Cabinet secretaries as well as private individuals. So be it.
Punishment for such mega crimes should be commensurate to the crime. This is grand theft, not knavery.
Freezing of all bank accounts of suspects is just an elementary start. Forfeiture of assets commensurate with the crime is a must and we need to move down that road soon.
The bottom line is, make the price of corruption so high it does not pay to be corrupt.
Reducing the level of corruption is the key to many things. It will raise the standard of living and the quality of goods and services, create a greater degree of social justice, even help to reduce the horrendous divide between the rich and the poor and the haves and have-nots. It will make the ambitious ‘Big Four’ agenda that little bit more attainable.
It is not the magic bullet per se but, if followed diligently, it will give this country renewed oxygen and energy. Kenyans are proud of their country but very cynical of its failings, largely due to corruption. Reduce the latter significantly and give this country a fantastic future.
Kenya’s development objective is to transition to a higher middle-income economy of $.4,036 per capita from the current lower-income status of $1,245.
Such a shift to that level of economic development will require more additional investments in manufacturing, improved healthcare, affordable decent housing and increased food security — which form the core of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s economic blue print, the ‘Big Four’ agenda.
Kenya seeks to transform the manufacturing sector from the 8.4 per cent share of the country’s wealth to 15 per cent in the medium term.
To achieve this, we would be required to spur manufacturing output by an additional Sh1.6 trillion from last year’s Sh648 billion.
The 2018 Trade Week and Exposition saw the launch of an aggressive integrated exports development and promotion strategy that seeks to grow exports by 25 per cent annually to achieve a trade surplus. One of the most ambitious policy frameworks since Independence, it will see mobilisation of more than Sh800 billion from trade, industry, agriculture, fish, livestock, mining, petroleum, handcrafts and services economic sectors.
Indeed, Kenya is set for economic transformation, where it is expected that the wellbeing of Kenyans will be improved in line with Vision 2030, which postulates a high quality of life.
A surge in illicit trade, however, may turn out to be the biggest deterrent in the realisation of the Big Four. Illicit goods and services remain the biggest impediment for Kenya’s realisation of a healthy nation, one that accords decent and affordable housing to its citizenry and is food-secure.
CURB THE MENACE
Illicit trade has driven manufacturing industries out of business, creating joblessness, and caused terminal illnesses and deaths, in addition to loss of wealth, in part through low tax revenues, collapse of buildings and low agricultural productivity.
The forms of illicit trade that inhibit our path to industrial revolution include counterfeiting, tax evasion, sale of prohibited goods and dumping.
The government’s deliberate move to curb the menace should be welcomed.
Recommendations during this year’s trade expo include strengthened trade support institutions, improved border controls, awareness creation, public alerts on illicit goods, genuine trade promotion in and out of the country, and formation of a trade remedies agency, which is under way.
During the trade week, both licit and illicit products were showcased as part of creating awareness.
This will enhance the consumption of genuine products, including the ‘Made in Kenya’ brands, locally and internationally.
That way, our exporting companies will gain a local, regional and global market presence and recognition.
County and national trade fairs and exhibitions will be held during the year to sensitise Kenyans on both the licit and illicit products as part of escalation of the fight
against illicit trade. Kenyans are called upon to seize the moment and support the fight against illicit trade to safeguard the country’s much-needed progress envisaged in the Big 4 agenda.
Myriad studies over the recent past show that more than 70 per cent of Kenyans rely on public service vehicles, especially matatus, for transport. Interestingly, even Kenyans who own personal cars often prefer public means.
Some years back, regulating this industry was perceived a hard nut to crack, which, in turn, led to widespread cases of gross misconduct among the operators to the extent that it accounted for a substantive number of road accident fatalities.
However, as Transport minister, the late John Michuki, famed for the ‘Michuki rules’, proved the country wrong; he demonstrated that the industry, like any other, could be regulated.
There have been other subsequent major regulatory strides made to streamline the industry — such as the order by Michuki’s successor Amos Kimunya that all matatus be registered with a sacco.
Besides employing thousands of Kenyans, millions of shillings change hands in the matatu industry everyday.
However, despite the incredibly high revenue generation, just a paltry amount finds its way into the national government coffers in the form of advance taxes payable at the beginning of the year.
More than 90 per cent of the employers in this vibrant industry pay their crews on a daily basis — as opposed to monthly, as is the case with other employers.
If you compute what an average matatu driver pockets in a day, for instance, it translates to more than Sh23,000 a month — way above the lowest Pay As You Earn (PAYE)-taxable threshold.
The National Treasury last year set the lowest PAYE bracket at Sh13,486 with effect from January 1, 2018. This means any employee who earns above that pays tax.
If it roped in the matatu crews’ income, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) would collect more from the PAYE tax head. There is, therefore, a need for Parliament to pass a legislation for terms of service for matatu crews with an eye on taxation.
Matthew Mworia, Nyeri.
The monthly review of petroleum product prices by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is hurting Kenyan workers.
It does not reflect the mileage rates for workers, for example, whose rates are fixed for a very long time and cannot be changed since it’s negotiated in the CBA.
The latest review, with the intended 16 per cent VAT, will hurt the motorist and even public transport even more, given that matatu operators have given notice to increase fares.
The price of petrol is at a 48-month high; increasing it will have a snowballing effect across the economy. Petroleum products will hit the highest price in Kenya this month, contradicting the favourable economy promised by the government.
Kolil Kosgey, Deputy Secretary General, Kenya Electrical Trades and Allied Workers Union (Ketawu).