Main Menu

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

 

It is too early to judge Kimemia, clergymen tell critics

By WAIKWA MAINA
More by this Author

After a year in office, Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia undoubtedly knows the difference between being a politician and a top presidential appointee.

The supremacy battles and back-stabbing in the region have refused to go away, frustrating the efforts of the soft-spoken former secretary to the Cabinet and head of public service.

But despite the hostilities, religious leaders say the county is heading in the right direction, and that it is too early to judge Mr Kimemia.

But his critics say he has failed to address the critical issues in his manifesto.

The battle started soon after he was sworn into office on August 20 last year, when the County Public Service Board rejected his list of nominees for the positions of chief officers and instead wrote their own list, which Mr Kimemia refused to forward to the county Assembly for vetting and approval.

To date, the governor is working with some inherited chief officers and has appointed others in an acting capacity, attracting the wrath of the CPSB, which wrote to the Speaker protesting the appointments.

The list Mr Kimemia rejected had the names of some officers now facing corruption charges in court.

Mr Kimemia’s administration also appears to be held hostage by the Assembly, which is opposed to many of his initiatives.

Recently, the budget-making was characterised by blackmail and delays after the Executive slashed the Assembly’s budget to fund its priority projects.

But Speaker Wahome Ndegwa maintains that the Assembly is not at war with the Executive, but is actively playing its oversight role.

Meanwhile, religious leaders, led by Catholic Bishop Joseph Mbatia and Nyandarua County Council of Churches Chairman Josam Kariuki, say they are happy with Mr Kimemia’s leadership.

“We understand they had a problem when the budget was not approved by the Assembly, but I think now that they have a budget.

“We have started seeing some positive impact. Roads have been graded, Ol Kalou town has been upgraded, and I believe with the money they will be able to do quite a lot,” Bishop Mbatia said.

He added that the governor should focus more on the health sector and infrastructural development.


Kenyan women reportedly selling sex for fish

The communities around Lake Victoria in Kenya rely heavily on fishing to earn their living. With the population increasing and competition fierce, many women are being forced to have sex with fishermen to secure a share of the daily catch.

According to msn online, hundreds of women wait on the beach, looking out over the water, plastic buckets in their arms.

Wooden fishing boats piled high with mukene, small sardine-like fish native to Lake Victoria, sail towards them. When they arrive, the women seem to know exactly which fishermen they can buy from.

The women leave quickly, their baskets full of fish, but no money appears to change hands.

That’s because the women have to pay for their wares in a currency that cannot be seen.

It’s not spoken about at Sindo Beach, but everyone knows it’s part of the job: sex.

“You have to sell your body,” says Perez Anjango with a broad grin that shows a large gap between her front teeth – not because she’s happy about it, but because for women like her, who live on the lake in western Kenya and sell fish for a living, it’s simply a fact of life.

“I had to do it,” says Anjango, who estimates that she’s now about 55 years old. When she was younger, she spent 15 years as a fish seller. “You don’t get fish unless you’re friends with the fishermen,” she says.

“Friendship” – that’s what most women call it. The practice of having sex with fishermen in order to secure some a share of the catch is officially known as “jaboya.”

And it’s a widespread phenomenon around Lake Victoria, the biggest lake in Africa, surrounded by Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

Fish and the fish trade are an inextricable part of life here. But overfishing and pollution have been putting a strain on the lake for years now, while the introduction of the Nile perch in the 1950s has led to the extinction of native species.

All the while, the population around the lake is growing and more fish are needed to feed them.

When and why the practice of jaboya was established is not clear.

Irene Ojuok, an environment management expert at aid organisation World Vision, has her own theory. “At some point, the demand for fish just couldn’t be met,” she says.

The competition for fish was so great and job opportunities so limited that the fishermen could choose what they wanted from the saleswomen. “So the women became the victims of circumstance,” says Ojuok.

Jaboya can have deadly consequences. “So many women have got illnesses,” Anjango remembers. “Some of them have died because of this work.”

Around 1.5 million Kenyans live with HIV, the virus which causes AIDS, according to the Health Ministry. That’s around 5.9 per cent of people above the age of 15.

And the region with by far the highest HIV rate is the one around Lake Victoria. In the county of Homa Bay, where Sindo Beach is located, around 26 per cent of the population is HIV positive.

“The jaboya problem is one of the main factors behind the high HIV rates in the region around the lake,” says Ojuok.

Fishermen leave the beach at Sindo, around an hour and a half’s drive down bumpy roads from the town of Homa Bay, at night and return in the early morning.

The women are waiting for them. They’ve slept with the fishermen beforehand, says Anjango, so they can be sure they won’t come away empty-handed.

If you’re a fisherman’s particular “girlfriend” you might get a slightly bigger share of the catch, she says. Or you might be served first and get the freshest fish, which will sell best at the market.

But sex doesn’t replace money. “You have to have sex with a fisherman. But after the sex you have to pay him,” says Caroline Alima, a 38-year-old who was also a fish seller for many years. “So the sex is basically free.”

A full bucket of fish, around 35 kilos, costs around 1 000 shillings (10 dollars).

Collins Ochieng, the local government administrator at Sindo Beach, admits that “some women” have sex with the fishermen at his beach.

It happens in secret, he says. Many of the women are very poor; often, they are widows.

“The women try by any means to get the fish,” he says. And because the population is growing, the problem is getting worse.

The sun is now high in the sky, beating down on the beach, and most of the women have collected their fish. With the help of other women, they lay out huge nets on the sand and fasten them down with large stones.

The fish have to be dried so they can sell them later at the market. If they remain wet for too long, they spoil.

If you ask them about jaboya, most of the women will talk about it, but few will admit to doing it themselves.

Jaboya seems almost impossible to combat, but World Vision and other organizations are trying to train women up in other professions in order to free them from it.

Anjango and her husband have been breeding fish since last year in their own pond, which is around half the size of a tennis court.

Life is much easier now, she says. “You earn more and the work is easier.” She is speaking just a few metres away from the lake which for years guaranteed her income but also inflicted so much shame and pain.

One of her three daughters sells fish now too, but she only buys it at the market, says Anjango. “She keeps right away from the beaches.”


Ex-MP Criticos fights county over World War One battlefield

By LUCY MKANYIKA
More by this Author
By BRIAN OCHARO
More by this Author

A row is brewing between the Taita Taveta County government and former Taveta MP Basil Criticos over the fencing off of a historic site.

Mr Criticos has fenced off Salaita Hills and marked it as private property, with a warning cautioning the public against trespassing.

The fencing of the hills has sparked a tiff between members of the public and the county leadership on the one hand and Mr Criticos on the other over access rights.

The county leadership has called for clear demarcation to separate public land from private.

Talking to the Nation on phone, Mr Criticos maintained that he owns the land and has a title deed for it.

“This is my land since 1972, so I don’t see anything wrong with fencing it off,” he said.

He said he was fencing the land because historical artefacts are being stolen from the site, making it to lose its value.

“People come as tourists with metal detectors and take away the artefacts. This site is a national heritage that needs to be protected,” he said.

Following the fencing, anyone who wishes to visit the site will now be screened as they enter and when leaving, he noted.

“The fencing is to ensure that people don’t leave with things they didn’t come with because collecting the artefacts is depriving the site its relevance as a historical site,” he added.

He said that those calling themselves conservationists are the ones involved in theft of the artefacts.

“Anyone in doubt that I own the land can confirm with the county land surveyors,” he said.

INVESTIGATION

However, Deputy Governor Majala Mlaghui maintained that Salaita Hills is a national heritage site.

“We shall conduct a search to set things clear on issues of the title deed,” she said. She however did not reveal measures the county would take following the incident.

She said the matter calls for thorough investigations that will require surveyors to go to the ground with the map and clear the air on issues of boundaries and the Salaita Hills title deed.

Nominated MCA Anasitance Mombo said the national heritage site belongs to the county government and that it is not clear why the former MP has fenced it.

“What we know is that historic sites belong to county or national governments” she said, adding that lack of a heritage committee in the county assembly is hampering deliberations on the matter.

The Kenya Hotel Keepers and Caterers Association Tsavo and Amboseli tourism circuit chairman, Willy Mwadilo, said that Salaita Hills had been gazetted by National Museum of Kenya as a heritage site.


Maina Njenga pushes for creation of prime minister post

By JOSEPH WANGUI
More by this Author

Former Mungiki sect leader Maina Njenga has vowed to push for a referendum to create positions of the prime minister and two deputies ahead of 2022 General Election.

Mr Njenga said he would use his new outfit, Amani Sasa Foundation, to drum up support for the constitutional reforms.

Before Mungiki group was declared illegal, he had a huge youthful following, mostly in Mt Kenya, Nairobi and Nakuru regions. He said his followers are still intact.

“We want changes in the constitution to increase positions within the Presidency. The changes include re-introduction of the Prime Minister’s seat with two deputies,” Mr Njenga told the Nation.

INCLUSIVITY

In his proposal there will be a minimum of five national leaders drawn from different tribes.

They include the President, Deputy President, Prime Minister and two Deputy Prime Ministers.

But his suggestion has sparked mixed reactions among elected leaders, including senators and members of Parliament.

Murang’a and Meru Senators Irungu Kang’ata and Mithika Linturi, respectively, supported calls for the constitutional change saying it is long overdue.

Mr Kang’ata, who is a lawyer and currently doing a PhD on constitutional reforms, said the change is needed to treat ethnic divisions in the country.

“We need to expand government to have all ethnic groups feel included. In constitutional theory terms, we need a consociation government for all ethnically divided society. Countries like Lebanon and Ireland expanded the executive,” Mr Kang’ata said.

But the demerit of expanding the executive, he said, is that it will lead to a weak opposition and an increased wage bill.

Alternatively, the senator called for an amendment to raise the threshold of the minimum votes that a Presidential candidate should garner to be declared the winner.

“Raise the bar from the present 50 per cent plus one to 70 per cent. It is a mechanism that will force candidates to campaign in all parts of the country and not only in their ethnic blocs,” the lawmaker explained.

He however insisted that constitutional and legal experts should be consulted to give their options.

Mr Linturi said there are sections that do not work for Kenya.

“One area that needs to be looked into is how power is shared because the main problem in Kenya is inclusivity. It is about how many people make decisions for the country and whether they have the mandate of the people.”


MPs call for audit of varsities amid cash crunch

By OUMA WANZALA
More by this Author

The National Assembly’s Education Committee has directed the Ministry of Education to conduct a financial audit on expenditures and revenues, including internal control systems, in all public universities.

According to the Committee chaired by Julius Melly (Tinderet MP), the audit will help establish how funds released by the exchequer and those generated internally are used and accounted for by the universities.

In their report, the Committee also wants the State Department for University Education, in collaboration with the National Treasury, to carry out a payroll audit to establish actual numbers of university staff and the cost of their monthly salaries.

PAY NEGOTIATIONS

The report follows a petition by Universities Academic Staff Union regarding the 2013-2017 and 2017-2021 collective bargaining agreements (CBAs).

Universities have been complaining about the meagre resources the government is allocating them with the situation being worsened by declining enrolment of students under the self-sponsored programme.

Also to be audited is the Sh10 billion that was disbursed to universities to implement the 2013-2017 CBA, and which lecturers said was not properly put into use.

The Committee also wants lecturers and the government to commence negotiations on the 2017–2021 CBA and arrive at an indicative offer pending conclusion of a job evaluation exercise by Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

STATUTORY DEDUCTIONS

The team also wants public universities to remit their financial statutory obligations to the Kenya Revenue Authority, National Social Security Fund, National Hospital Insurance Fund, Retirement Benefit Schemes, cooperative societies and banks on a regular basis to enhance the welfare and well-being of their employees.

“All vice chancellors of public universities should ensure that they immediately settle all pending arrears for statutory deductions in staff salaries accrued over time.

“Going forward, the vice chancellors should remit all statutory deductions in respect of NSSF, PAYE, NHIF, union dues, bank loan deductions and other contributions to the relevant authorities within the stipulated period as provided for in the relevant legislation and financial regulations to avoid unnecessary penalties and interest and inconveniences caused to the staff members,” the report adds.

It has further directed unions to engage the government directly in the talks and not through Inter-Public Universities Councils Consultative Forum.

According to Ministry of Education report released in June, public universities have been deducting workers billions of shillings but not remitting the money to relevant agencies.

The report was ordered by Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and the amount in question is about Sh10 billion.

Universities said they are only paying their staff net salaries due to the financial crisis.

Vice Chancellors Committee chairman Francis Aduol said that even though universities are indicating statutory deductions on payslips running into billions of shillings, they are not remitting the money to the relevant institutions.


Police arrest self-incriminating online sex pest

By KALUME KAZUNGU
More by this Author

Police in Lamu are holding a 23-year-old man who has been bragging online of his alleged sexual relationships with minors.

The man, who is from Kilifi County, was arrested in Mpeketoni, Lamu West, on Wednesday evening.

Confirming the arrest on Thursday, County Directorate of Criminal Investigations boss Paul Leting said the man had already been interrogated but will need to be taken to Nairobi for further questioning.

“It is true. We have arrested the man who has been posting messages on social media about how he engages in sexual relations with children.

“We arrested him in Mpeketoni. We are moving him to Nairobi where we believe he belongs to a bigger syndicate of cybercrime and child molestation,” Mr Leting said.

He called on members of the public and social media users to be alert and report such individuals to the police so that action could be taken against them.

In most of his pictures that have gone viral on social media, the man, who is a guard at a local security firm, has been boasting that he is untouchable by police.

In the photo captions, the man describes how he lured his victims, including a Form Two girl and a small child aged between five and six years, and what he did to them.


Big relief as teachers union calls off strike

By OUMA WANZALA
More by this Author
By FAITH NYAMAI
More by this Author

More than 10 million learners and parents across the country can now breathe a sigh of relief after Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) on Thursday called off its planned strike to allow for negotiations.

This means that the national examinations set for October and November, for close to 1.7 million candidates, will take place as parties engage in talks.

It also means that schools will re-open on Monday for the third term without fear as Knut lifted the gloomy shadow of a nationwide strike it had threatened would commence on September 1.

It took more than six hours of marathon talks for Knut and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to agree to form an eight-member team to look into salient issues the teachers had raised.

The team has until early October to submit its report to TSC and Knut.

Their focus will be on the controversial teacher appraisal and performance contracting for heads of institutions, promotion of more than 30,000 teachers, delocalisation (transfers), among others.

Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion confirmed that the talks went on well and expressed confidence that the issues raised will be addressed amicably to avoid disruption of learning.

TSC chief executive officer Nancy Macharia said in a statement that the meeting took place in an open, candid and cordial environment and addressed issues touching on promotion of teachers, career progression, teacher appraisal programme and transfers.

“After intensive deliberations, both parties agreed to hold a five-day retreat between September 30 and October 5 for an in-depth examination and consensus on all the emerging issues.

“In particular, matters relating to transfers, career progression and teachers’ professional development and appraisal programme will be addressed in a conclusive and comprehensive manner,” said Mrs Macharia.

She said that TSC was committed to finding an amicable settlement to issues affecting teachers in the course of their professional duties.

She thanked the Knut leadership for their continued engagement over important professional issues.

Mr Sossion confirmed that there would be no strike, saying that the move to call off the strike was to allow for dialogue.

“We will allow learners to report back to schools starting Monday and learning to continue as we address the issues raised,” he said.

He added that the TSC had acknowledged that appraisal and delocalisation are not working.

“They also admitted that promotion of more than 30,000 teachers must be done and the schemes of services that were in place but replaced will be reinstated,” Mr Sossion said.

DELOCALISATION

He said the team of eight will play a key role in originating policies in the right manner and ensuring that they are negotiated and agreed upon.

The TSC also agreed to conduct transfer of teachers with a human face.

Last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta intervened on delocalisation and asked TSC to review the policy, saying he has received concerns from teachers and other stakeholders.


Ruto likens self to punching bag at whom all take aim

By PATRICK LANG’AT
More by this Author

Deputy President William Ruto on Thursday described himself as a punching bag at whom all competitors take aim.

Speaking a day after an Ipsos survey showed that a third of Kenyans (33 per cent) viewed him as the most corrupt “of all the current, and past but still living political leaders”, Mr Ruto shrugged off the corruption claims and dared his opponents to a match he said he is sure to win — his and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s development record. He said they were behind the allegations.

“The constant, perennial and unending headlines about William Ruto this, William Ruto that, opinion polls this, corruption the other, is sponsored by our competitors because they cannot match our development records,” Mr Ruto said.

He was speaking during a breakfast meeting with Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru — who was ranked second in the Ipsos survey — and 33 members of county assemblies from the region at his Karen office in Nairobi.

Mr Ruto had on Wednesday argued that the survey used data that is “too politically correlated to be meaningful”, and hence, he said, produced “distorted opinions in a libellous crusade by shadowy sponsors”.

“When they are through with the headlines and the corruption propaganda, let us meet at the development arena of the people of Kenya because that is where the real contest is, and we will not allow them to take us to an arena that has no benefit to Kenyans,” the DP said.

“We have beaten them in serving Kenyans, now they have opted to fake opinion polls. As a matter of fact, they will never match our development records,” he added.

Later on Twitter, Mr Ruto was livid about unidentified people he suggested were blocking his planned ascent to the presidency in 2022.

“Those running injili ya shetani (the gospel of the devil) that unless your father was a minister, a vice- president or a president, however hard you work, you must remain poor and if not, you must be corrupt and have stolen, they should know that those without god fathers have God the father. Shindwe (To hell!),” Mr Ruto tweeted on his verified account at 2.20pm, before it was pulled down 30 minutes later.

He took the same stand he took during an interview with NTVlast month, during which he said that Kenyans judge him harsher than they do any other leader, most of whom he said were far richer than him.

“Can you truthfully say that William Ruto is a rich man in this Kenya? Richer than the people that we all know?

“I won’t say that I am a poor man, but I wouldn’t say that I would be in the class of people that Kenyans would want to be interested in what they own. There are people who own things in this country and I am not in that class,” Mr Ruto said in a spirited defence of his wealth.

During the interview, the DPsaid most of the things he was alleged to own were actually not his.

“William Ruto has never, ever been involved in any form of corruption, either as MP, or today as deputy president. And I give my pledge that I will not,” he said at the end of the interview with Mark Masai.

DEVELOPMENT

The Ipsos survey ranked former President Daniel arap Moi third among those Kenyans perceive to be most corrupt (17 per cent), with President Uhuru Kenyatta coming fourth (11 per cent).

Opposition leader Raila Odinga and former President Mwai Kibaki tied at fifth position (five per cent) in the poll that showed that more than half of Kenyans (51 per cent) feel that President Kenyatta is sincere in the fight against corruption.

Mr Ruto defended himself, saying the Jubilee Party’s development record — whose figures he has at his fingertips and frequently reels off during his numerous tours across the country — is unmatched, and linked what he said was an impressive record to his current woes.

“In the last six years of our leadership, we have put massive resources in the modernisation of roads and intensified power connectivity to households and businesses. Our goal is to make Kenya business-friendly and attract foreign investments,” Mr Ruto said.

While promising to support Mr Ruto’s presidential bid in 2022, Ms Waiguru observed that even though they have been advised to stop politicking, they have no option but to defend themselves against political attacks.

Kirinyaga County Assembly Majority Leader Kamau Murango said they were committed to supporting the deputy president.

“This is not a debt the people of Mt Kenya would be paying; they will be fulfilling a promise,” Mr Murango said.


Governors' secretariat faces eviction over unpaid rent

By SAMWEL OWINO
More by this Author

The Council of Governors secretariat risks being kicked out of their offices at Delta Corner Towers in Westlands due to an outstanding rent amounting to Sh19.37 million.

Auditor-General Edward Ouko, in his latest report for the financial year that ended in June 2017 tabled in Parliament by Majority Leader Aden Duale, pointed out that some counties have not been remitting their dues to the CoG for rent payment.

“The failure to collect budgeted receipts from the county governments while the planned activities are undertaken would adversely affect the continued operation of the council and financial sustainability of the secretariat,” Mr Ouko said in his report.

“In the circumstances, the secretariat being the tenant faces eviction and possibility of litigation,” he added.

CONTRIBUTIONS

In 2014, the secretariat entered into a lease agreement with Garden Properties for office space at Delta Corner Towers.

At the point of leasing the space, all the 47 county governments were to take up and pay for some space to establish their liaison offices.

The rent is payable quarterly to the secretariat who in turn pays the landlord.

On September 5, 2016, the council held a meeting and agreed that each county was to contribute Sh12.5 million and Sh2 million towards inter-governmental and devolution conferences respectively.

However, out of the total expected revenue of Sh681.5 million, the secretariat received only Sh290.2 million from the counties.

LEGAL FEES

Only one county government honoured its obligation in full towards the inter-governmental contribution while 20 did not give any monies at all for the same, whereas eight devolved units did not contribute any monies at all for devolution conference support.

Mr Ouko also raised questions over a decision by the Council of Governors’ to pay one lawyer Sh31 million to handle various cases between the council and various arms of the government without proper justification.

The lawyer was handling cases between Council and Senate, National Assembly and the IEBC during the 2016/2017 financial year.

The report also revealed an irregular Sh7.67 million payment for helicopter hire which was not backed by any documents.

Further, the Council promoted and recruited staff in various categories during the 2016/2017 financial year resulting into an increase in compensation of Sh60.8 million, this Mr Ouko noted was not informed by advice from the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.


Former MPs, governors to benefit from NHIF scheme

By AGGREY OMBOKI
More by this Author
By ANGELA OKETCH
More by this Author

Former members of Parliament, governors and senators will benefit from the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) Supa cover.

This is after successful negotiations between the NHIF and the Former Parliamentarians Association, which is their umbrella body.

Speaking at a Nairobi hotel on Thursday, NHIF Chief Executive Officer Geoffrey Mwangi said more than 200 former elected leaders had registered for the cover.

“We have completed registration of members and issued them with identity cards as well as a list of accredited healthcare providers who will attend to their medical needs,” he said.

Mr Mwangi pledged that beneficiaries will not be subjected to tests for pre-existing conditions.

RECRUITMENT

He said the members are entitled to outpatient cover worth Sh300,000 and up to Sh10 million per year for inpatient services.

The package also covers their spouses, children and travel to foreign hospitals.

He said the fund had accredited close to 8,000 facilities to provide services to principal contributors and their immediate families.

“So far the NHIF has accredited 7,800 facilities, 67 county hospitals, 21 private hospitals and is in the process of accrediting a number of facilities run by faith-based organisations,” Mr Mwangi said.

NHIF is currently engaged in a massive recruitment exercise and its latest bid to reach out to the politicians is an extension of a campaign that saw sitting MPs invited to register for the same scheme earlier this year.

“We are ready to rollout the scheme to more Kenyans and are encouraging them to register in large numbers so as to enable the country achieve its UHC target,” he said.

Mr Mwangi said the NHIF had launched an electronic claim scheme that would see clients digitally log in claims for payment of medical covers, saying it would eliminate cases of fraud.

“We have launched an e-claim system that is fully computerised and therefore a much harder for would-be fraudsters, as it tracks the beneficiary’s identity and details right from the time a patient makes a claim to the diseases he or she is treated for and the payment made for the services,” he said.

“We recognise the challenges and opportunities faced in expanding our reach and services countrywide.

“There is need to fully automate, extend and strengthen the accreditation systems, hence our decision to launch of the Electronic Health Management or e-claim system that will effectively replace the previous manual system, ” he said.

MEDICAL BILLS

Last week, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission released a report detailing how some unscrupulous hospitals administrators were fleecing the NHIF using inflated medical bills.

The CEO said the scheme was already active in several facilities in Nairobi.

NHIF Programmes Manager Abdi Fadow said the package included drug and rehabilitation services, emergency rescue services and dental services of up to Sh75,000 per family.