Sunday, September 9th, 2018
BAMAKO, Sept 9 (Reuters) – Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita named new defence, mines and foreign ministers on Sunday as he began his second five-year term presiding over a country ravaged by jihadist and inter-ethnic violence.
Keita was sworn in last week after winning a landslide re-election despite escalating attacks by Islamist militants and clashes between herders and pastoralists that have killed hundreds of civilians this year.
The violence has spread to neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso, alarming Western powers like France and the United States, which have deployed troops and air power across the region’s sprawling desert landscape.
Keita maintained Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga as prime minister and most of the 33-member Cabinet was also unchanged, according to the announcement on state television.
His pick for defence minister, Tiemoko Sangare, was previously the mines minister.
Sangare’s predecessor as defence minister, Tiena Coulibaly, was moved to justice minister.
Lelenta Hawa Baba Bah was named the mines minister after having led the National Directorate of Geology and Mines. As minister, she will oversee the government’s bid to revise the mining code, potentially by reducing the length of operators’ exemptions from changes to the fiscal regime.
Mali is Africa’s third-largest gold producer behind South Africa and Ghana, with major investors including Randgold Resources Ltd and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd.
Keita also named Kamissa Camara as his new foreign minister. She served previously as a foreign policy adviser to him at the presidency.
Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Peter Cooney
Corruption, just like climate change and crop pests, is a major threat to Africa’s dream of kicking out hunger by 2030.
Leaders and experts say “dirty” politics and poor management of resources are hurting the agriculture sector, leading to persistent food insecurity in the continent.
Speaking during this year’s African Green Revolution Forum that ended on Saturday in Kigali, Rwanda, former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer said corruption in agriculture sector and vested interests of politicians and government officials, have serious impact on food production.
Dr Frazer, who is also the managing partner of Africa Exchange Holdings, an organisation that supports farmers access to markets and assists on finance opportunities, said accountability in agriculture sector is key for Africa to eliminate perennial hunger.
“A leader gets elected today and the following day starts accumulating money for the next election’s campaigns. The few projects they implement are meant to attract votes and not to empower the people. Without accountability in agricultural sector, food insecurity will persist for decades to come,” said Dr Frazer.
Former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair, while addressing the forum, said poor prioritisation, improper policies and mismanagement of resources in agriculture sector hurt food production in Africa.
“It is sad that millions of people in Africa still struggle to put food on the table despite having fertile land,” said Mr Blair, who is also the executive chairman of Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.
DELAY AFRICA’S DREAM
Rockefeller Foundation President Rajiv Shah said corruption in agriculture sector could delay African’s dream of achieving food security by 2030.
“It is a fact that corruption in agricultural sector is rampart and it needs strong leaders to uproot it,” said Dr Shah.
He says if corruption is tackled properly, agricultural production could increase even in the face of climate change and other threats bedevilling the sector.
“If farmers apply the right fertilisers and governments use the available resources well, food production will improve in Africa,” he added.
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) president Gilbert Houngbo said most African countries mobilise a lot of resources but too little reach small-scale farmers who provide 80 per cent of food and agricultural products consumed on the continent.
“African countries mobilise resources for development of agriculture but the greatest challenge is having them reach the ground.
Without putting the rural community at the centre of planning, Africa’s goal of eradicating hunger in the next 12 years might remain a dream,” said Mr Houngbo, who is also a former Prime Minister of Togo.
The African Union (AU,) during its 30th Assembly of Heads of State and Government held early this year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, declared 2018 the year of fighting corruption, saying the vice is a hindrance to sustainable development.
The Africa Agriculture Status Report 2018 says many countries on the continent invest in big projects for quick kickbacks while neglecting small-scale farmers who feed the population.
The report warns that African nations will struggle to grow their economies and eradicate poverty unless they tie high-level political will to government action to help small-scale farmers.
In Kenya, corruption in agriculture sector, ranging from distribution of fake fertiliser to importation of contraband food products that flood the market, adversely affect local farmers.
For the third year running, Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) will this year administer national examinations without a substantive chief executive officer.
This is despite calls by National Assembly’s Education Committee and Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) that the current acting chief executive officer, Dr Mercy Karogo, be confirmed or another person be hired.
Knec chairman, Prof George Magoha, told Nation.co.ke that the council will not be able to have a substantive boss before the examination starts next month.
The recruitment process for a CEO started in August last year.
“We want to be thorough with the recruitment of a new chief executive officer. We are also almost to the examination and we cannot bring in a new person at this moment since the integrity of such a person must be very high,” said Prof Magoha.
Education committee chairman Julius Melly, recently asked Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang to speed up the recruitment process.
Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion said the continued delay in the appointment of a substantive CEO at the council would compromise the credibility of national tests.
Last year Knec invited candidates with Master’s degree in Education or other fields to submit their applications by September 29.
Budalang’i leaders have vowed to reject plans to scrap the constituency.
Foreign Affairs Chief Administrative Secretary Ababu Namwamba allayed fears that Budalang’i constituency might be scrapped in the next boundaries review.
Mr Namwamba, the former for area MP, assured residents that the constituency will still be in existence even after next year’s census by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
The constituency is among 27 others that risk losing their status after next year’s census, which is expected to inform the planned boundaries review by the electoral commission ahead of the 2022 polls.
Mr Namwamba, who was addressing a congregation at St Nicholas Catholic Church in Port Victoria on Sunday, said he had already written to the electoral commission, citing Article 89 of the Constitution that gives direction on formation and dissolution of constituencies.
Article 89 (6) directs that such a review should take into account geographical features and urban centres, community interests, historical, economic and cultural ties, as well as the means of communication.
“I was part of the team that drafted the Constitution and placed Budalang’i among the 27 others under protected territories to safeguard the interests of our people.
He went on: “Although I don’t have future ambitions of vying for the parliamentary seat, I will endeavour to spearhead the interest of the constituency.”
In a separate interview, area MP Raphael Wanjala opposed plan to scrap some constituencies.
“The review should focus on new constituencies that were created after the new Constitution, not the old ones.
“We were given the constituency to help us effectively manage perennial disasters such as floods, address terrain challenges and ease interaction with residents of neighbouring districts, the present day sub-counties and counties,” said Mr Wanjala.
The seven Busia constituencies are almost divided according to the sub-tribes that occupy the border county. The Iteso are dominant in Teso North and Teso South constituencies, the Bakhayo in Matayos and Nambale, Marachi in Butula, Samia in Funyula and Banyala in Budalang’i.
“Where will we fit if the constituency is scrapped? Scattering us all over only aims at making the great people of Budalang’i extinct,” said the MP.
He appealed to the Banyala in other parts of the country to return “home” before the census to help define population figures in the region. “I call upon all our brothers and sisters who relate with Budalang’i to return home because this is the time to stand out and be counted,” he said.
The region has about 39,000 registered voters and a population of about 70,000.
Preparations for this year’s national examinations have been finalised, Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has announced.
“We were able to avail additional 40 containers in some regions in order to ease the distances. All those charged with the responsibility for examinations management need to be vigilant in order to deliver credible examination results,” said Ms Mohamed.
It also emerged that a high-level meeting of officials from Education, Interior and ICT ministries will be held on September 17 to set the stage for the Kenya National Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya National Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations that will start late next month.
INTEGRITY OF EXAMS
Ms Mohamed assured Kenyans that the integrity of the examinations would be maintained at all costs.
“We need to endeavour to have zero tolerance to examination cheating and irregularities. Teachers, parents and the stakeholders in this sector need to assure our children who are candidates that hard work pays. It is therefore the duty of the teachers to complete their syllabus in time to instil confidence in candidates as they prepare for their examinations,” said the CS.
She observed that candidates are often tempted to cheat in the examinations when they are ill-prepared.
The CS at the same time urged parents and teachers to instil positive values and virtues in their children in their formative years as one way of preventing indiscipline in schools later.
“This year we witnessed cases of indiscipline in our schools. Such acts of violence must stop. As a Ministry, we shall ensure the full force of the law is applied to those found culpable,” said the CS.
She added: “The School Boards of Management, the Parents Association and the Students Council have to be given their chance to play their role and students introduced to civilised ways of airing their grievances for resolution.
She made the remarks during national celebrations to mark the 52nd International Literacy Day held in Wajir County on Saturday.
The CS added that adult education centres should be utilised as avenues for equipping them with parenting skills and positive attitudes towards shaping the character of their children.
“It is against this background that the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) lays emphasis on parental education and engagement. I appeal to all parents, guardians and teachers to play their respective roles in the learners’ growth and development and not to abdicate this role to teachers, who are also parents in their own right,” said Ms Mohamed.
The International Literacy Day is set aside to focus on raising awareness of literacy in human development”.
The celebration, initiated globally at the World Conference of Education Ministers in Tehran, Iran in 1965, brings together all education stakeholders to take stock of the contribution of literacy and its impact on socio-economic development.
This year’s theme, “Literacy for Skills Development”, seeks to empower communities to participate in socio-economic development.
“Kenya has made great strides in its efforts to eradicate illiteracy. Notable among them is the Free Primary Education and the Free Day Secondary Education programmes.
Other initiatives geared towards eradication of illiteracy include the constitutional provision that every person has a right to education and that every child has a right to free and compulsory basic education,” said Ms Mohamed.
She expressed concern that Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) continue to lag behind in literacy.
“Collectively, the illiteracy rates in the North Eastern region are as high as 80 percent although not uniformly spread in all the counties
“The literacy rate in Wajir County is between 10 — 15 percent. The current enrolment of 1,341 males and 1,297 females is insignificant in addressing the problem of illiteracy in the county,” said the CS.
At least 15 schools have been closed in Narok South following ongoing inter ethnic skirmishes between the Maasai and Kipsigis communities.
Several trading centres also remain deserted in the area where four people have been killed so far.
More than 35 people have been injured and 29 suspects arrested and hundreds of families displaced in the clashes.
The affected institutions are; Enakishomi,Triangle,Olkaria,Osongorot,Olorwasi,Ololopangi,Olarakwei,Nkoben,Osotwo,Endebes,Olmosokwi,Olososhwa,Olmekenyu,Esimendwa,Oleretwet,Tirita,Oloiserr,Entere and Nadupa primary schools.
“The worst affected are Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) candidates who have fled the area along with their parents and teachers following the clashes,” said Mr Hillary Langat, a teacher.
Most of the schools have been turned into camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as those whose houses were burnt seek refuge with the few items they were able to salvage. “We have left our cattle and farms unattended following the attacks” Mrs Ann Towett said at Ololoipangi primary school.
Trading centers including Sokam, Oleshapani, Naiurur, Olmekenyu, wholesale, Simendwa, Ololaipangi, Torokiat, Lesuswa, Nkoben and Center One were deserted as traders closed their shops in fear of attack.
Security officers deployed to quell clashes in the area have been accused of taking sides favoring their respective communities and jeopardizing government efforts to restore peace in the area. Politicians have come under the spotlight for allegedly fanning the violence and hiding under cattle rustling incidents.
Eviction of families settled along the Mau forest, careless utterances, incitement and hate speech are the main underlying factors that have fueled the skirmishes.
While, on the surface, the skirmishes are alleged to have been caused by a cattle rustling incident resulting in the killing of a herdsman at Nkoben area, it has emerged that politicians are behind the violence.
Before the clashes hit the area, tensions had been building up following the eviction of illegal settlers from the Maasai Mau Forest by the national government.
So far, 9,000 settlers have been kicked out of their former farms around Mau Forest with another 40,000 earmarked for evictions in the second phase of the exercise, which Narok county commissioner George Natembeya says is an inevitable eventuality.
Belgut Member of Parliament, Mr Nelson Koech, and his Bomet Central counterpart, Mr Ronald Tonui, separately warned Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina against making statements that could aggravate the violence in the region.
Mr Tonui blamed the violence on careless utterances by local politicians. Maasai leaders, on several occasions, have threatened to mobilise their community to invade Mau Forest and occupy it if the government did not evict those who have encroached the forest.
“There is no way the Maasai can accept another destruction of the Mau forest. We are giving the government 14 days, to kick out squatters,” the leaders stated during a meeting at Nkareta last month, a meeting that many settlers affected by the clashes point out was the source of tensions in the area.
The battle for top positions in the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) to be filled during the 61st annual delegates conference in December has intensified.
Candidates have stepped up their campaigns across the country for the posts of chairman, first and second vice-chairman, as well as deputy secretary-general, hoping to convince the 1,887 delegates to elect them.
The fight for the lucrative positions are allocated to achieve regional balance, and those elected get to have a say on how the nearly Sh2billion Knut collects from its members, and its investments, are used.
Those elected will sit on the 11-member National Steering Committee that manages the day-to-day activities of the union, which boasts 200,000 members countrywide.
REPLACE MUDZO NZILI
Each region is allocated a number of delegates, as follows: Central (217), Nairobi (44), Coast (140), Eastern (393), North Eastern (21), Nyanza (330), Rift Valley (503) and Western (239).
Mr Wycliffe Etole Omucheyi, the acting national chairman, will be seeking confirmation to replace Mr Mudzo Nzili, who retired on May 16 this year. So far no other candidate from Western has expressed interest in the position, which is reserved for the region.
But the most hotly contested seat is that of first vice-chairman, which is traditionally reserved for Central, but which current assistant secretary-General Collin Oyuu from Nyanza is eyeing.
Mr Oyuu will battle it out with Kiambu East Executive Secretary Clement Gicharu and Nyeri Branch Chairman Patrick Karinga. Mr Karinga and other Central leaders have opposed Mr Oyuu’s candidature, saying he should focus on his current position.
But Mr Oyuu told the Nation that he will resign and vie for the first vice-chairman’s post.
He has dismissed the Central leaders laying claim to the position, saying Knut is a democratic union, and anyone has a right to seek any position.
“Good labour practices require that one be confirmed to the position when he acts more than six months,” insisted Mr Oyuu, saying he has been tested and he merits.
But Mr Karinga said the region will not go for any other position. “We should allow Central to get what it deserves, which is the position of first vice-chairman,” Mr Karinga told the Nation.
Until his retirement on April 2 this year, Mr Samson Kaguma was the first vice-chairman while Mr Omucheyi was second vice-chairman.
The second vice-chairman’s slot is reserved for the Coast, and those keen on the seat are national trustee Kadzo Unda and Taita-Taveta branch Executive Secretary Rosalie Mkanjala.
Candidates from Nyanza are campaigning for the position of assistant secretary-general, which will be vacant once Mr Oyuu resigns.
Candidates from Central could have a rough time marshalling the necessary support after they supported the ouster of Mr Sossion in May. They also objected to his close ties with Nasa, which nominated him to the National Assembly.
The union’s constitution stipulates that a candidate wins by a simple majority. Mr Sossion declined to be drawn into the campaigns, saying the decision lies with the delegates.
Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka has said he has no political debt with anyone and that no leader should expect payment from any quarters.
Mr Musyoka said those asking to be paid back in 2022 for having supported certain leaders were mistaken as, in politics, there were no debts to be paid.
“In politics there is no debt. You get what you go for. If you go for nothing, you get nothing,” said Mr Musyoka who was speaking at an event hosted by Nairobi County governor Mike Sonko to commemorate the death of his father on Saturday evening.
Mr Musyoka was responding to calls at the event from a number of lawmakers allied to the Wiper party for him to go for the top seat in the next General election, saying that it was time that he is also supported by other politicians.
Borabu MP Ben Momanyi, a member of Wiper, called for Mr Odinga not to run in 2022 but ‘return a hand’ to Mr Musyoka who has supported him twice in his unsuccessful presidential bids in 2013 and 2017.
“Raila should not have any intentions of running again in 2022. He should now back Kalonzo who supported him in 2013, and 2017,” said MP Momanyi.
The lawmaker’s sentiments were echoed by Kilome MP Thadeus Nzambia who said that leaders from Ukambani will settle for nothing less than the former vice president gunning for the top seat.
Supporters of the Wiper Party Leader have been agitating for Orange Democratic Party Leader Raila Odinga to support Mr Musyoka for the presidency in 2022 since Mr Musyoka has supported him in 2013 and 2017.
BIG FOUR AGENDA
Those of Deputy President William Ruto have similarly been asking President Uhuru Kenyatta to support Mr Ruto for the presidency in 2022 arguing that Mr Ruto has stood with Mr Kenyatta in three election campaigns.
But the former vice president stated the country must move forward without being tied down by issues political debts, adding that ‘leaders saying it is payback time show a serious inadequacy and lack of leadership credentials’.
He said the Wiper Party would support President Kenyatta’s implementation of the Big Four agenda pointing out that a member of the party, Ms Rose Museo who is Makueni County Woman Representative, is in the Building Bridges committee appointed by President Kenyatta.
At the same time, Mr Musyoka warned that he was ready to break ranks with his ODM counterparts in the event that a by-election for Embakasi South constituency is called if former MP Irshad Sumra and incumbent Julius Mawathe cannot reach a consensus.
Mr Musyoka said that if it were up to the National Super Alliance (Nasa) leadership — made up of ODM party leader Raila Odinga, ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi, Ford Kenya party leader Moses Wetangula and himself — they would not have allowed the competition between the two coalition members to happen.
More suspects implicated in the multibillion maize scam are to be arrested as the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) initiate the second phase of their probe into the loss of Sh11.3 billion meant to pay genuine farmers who sold their produce to the government.
This comes after 16 suspects linked to the illegal purchase and payment of maize to cartels by the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) last season were arrested and arraigned in court.
The EACC Executive Director in charge of the North Rift, Mr Jackson Mue, on Sunday said investigations were ongoing into the multibillion scam after prime suspects were arrested last month as farmers continue to await their outstanding payments.
“We have entered into the second phase of our investigations to unearth the truth behind the maize purchase and payment,” said Mr Mue on phone. The anti-graft sleuths arrested 16 suspects, 10 of them from the North Rift region last month implicated in the maize scandal.
They include senior government officials, NCPB senior managers and staff, vetting committee members and traders.
“The suspects committed irregularities during the vetting process at the committee level, documentation at the NCPB and allowing illegal payment,” added Mr Mue.
Maize farmers are demanding Sh3.5 billion for maize bought by the government through NCPB last season for the Strategic Grains Reserve.
The treasury has only released Sh1.4 billion to be paid to the farmers on condition that they be vetted afresh.
Detectives have in the last three months pitched camp in various NCPB depots in Western Kenya region where cheap maize suspected to be from Uganda and Mexico were delivered and prompt payment made to the cartels at the expense of genuine farmers.
Eldoret, Moi’s bridge, Kitale, Nakuru, Bungoma and Kisumu are some of the NCPB depots that have been under investigations.
It has since emerged that unscrupulous traders brought in maize from neighbouring countries through porous border points like Suam and delivered the crop in large quantities to Moi’s-Bridge, Bungoma and Kisumu NCPB depots and were paid princely sums.
When he announced that slum dwellers in major towns will soon be included in the list of beneficiaries for the Equalisation Fund, President Uhuru Kenyatta gave the clearest indication that the fund would no longer be a preserve of the frontier counties.
In its second policy, the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) identified sub-locations within other counties other than the initial 14 to benefit from the billions.
This sparked a dispute among leaders in northern Kenya who said the expansion of the scope of the Fund was unconstitutional and, therefore, illegal.
The first policy identified Turkana, Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, Samburu, West Pokot, Tana River, Narok, Kwale, Garissa, Kilifi, Taita-Taveta, Isiolo and Lamu as marginalised counties.
They were singled out as those regions whose basic infrastructure such as electricity, healthcare, roads and water services needed lots of investment to improve.
But in its second policy, the commission identified 1,424 sub-locations spread across 366 wards in 34 counties as being marginalised.
Out of these sub-locations, CRA says, the bottom 20 per cent are where about five million Kenyans live. The new sub-locations included in the latest policy are in Bungoma, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Homa Bay, Kajiado, Kericho, Kisumu, Kitui, Laikipia, Machakos and Migori.
Others are spread within Murang’a, Nakuru, Nandi, Siaya, Tharaka-Nithi, Meru and Bomet.
According to CRA, 1,010 sub-locations in 11 counties will share 77.3 per cent of the Equalisation Fund. The remaining 22.7 per cent will be shared among 23 counties.
In the just concluded Arid and Semi-arid conference in Malindi, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale said they will also seek redress at the Supreme Court.
But CRA boss Jane Kiringai said that focus had shifted from identification of marginalised counties to marginalised areas, guided by the smallest administrative unit for which data is available.
“This meant that deprived areas in otherwise well-developed counties had a chance of being identified as marginalised. Similarly, developed areas in poor counties would be excluded from consideration,” she said of the second policy.
Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC) CEO Simba Guleid argues that while widening the scope of the fund will yield better results in tackling poverty in the whole country, the fund was intended to bring arid counties at par with other parts of the country.
He observed that until recently, areas where marginalised communities are found had remained largely ignored as having a hostile, unbearable environment and a mass trap of starvation, death, deprivation and poverty.
This was compounded by the total absence of infrastructure and social welfare facilities that other parts of the country enjoy.
“The Equalisation Fund was a levelling fund meant to help these counties be at par with the rest of Kenya. As FCDC, we are not against the protection of other poor parts of Kenya but what we are questioning is the process of arriving at this decision as it was not conclusively consultative,” he said.
Mr Guleid said this week, the bloc has invited Dr Kiringai for a meeting in West Pokot where they will be seeking assurances from CRA that in the future, such important decisions on the Fund should not be made unilaterally.
Governors from the beneficiary counties have also demanded the prompt disbursement of the monies to fund activities that spur development and improve welfare of pastoral communities.