Main Menu

Monday, September 10th, 2018

 

Stop using Raila’s name in vote hunt, ODM tells rivals

By VIVERE NANDIEMO
More by this Author
By ELISHA OTIENO
More by this Author

Opposition leader Raila Odinga will only support ODM candidate Ochillo Ayacko in the Migori senatorial by-election, the party has said.

In a statement posted on Twitter on Sunday, the Orange party said Mr Odinga would soon visit the county to campaign for the party candidate ahead of the October 8 by-election.

The party added that it is not bothered by aspirants from other parties who have been using Mr Odinga’s name in their campaigns, saying they will not succeed in swaying voters.

“In Migori, the Party has only one candidate who is Dr Ochillo Ayacko. He is the candidate Raila Odinga supports and will be campaigning for. Anybody else using the party leader’s name or any of his nicknames known to his supporters to attract attention will not succeed,” the party said.

THROAT CANCER

The seat fell vacant following the death of Mr Ben Oluoch Okello, who succumbed to throat cancer at a Nairobi hospital in June.

Migori ODM chairman Philip Makabong’o had recently threatened to sue Mr Ayacko’s rivals for publishing posters and billboards with the word ‘Baba’.

Federal Party of Kenya candidate Eddy Gicheru Oketch has erected several billboards within Migori town with words “Wan the wan jokababa (All of us are Baba’s children)”.

Mr Peter Jobando, the Green Congress of Kenya candidate, has also designed his posters with the name ‘baba’ inscribed next to his initials.

Meanwhile, the killing of Rongo University student Sharon Otieno has added a twist to the senate seat race, with leaders allied to ODM using the incident to castigate Mr Obado, who had declared his opposition to Mr Ayacko’s candidature after the Orange party handed him a direct ticket.

Mr Obado shifted his support to Mr Oketch after former MP Dalmas Otieno withdrew from the race.

CAMPAIGN TOOL

Mr Oketch’s supporters have complained that ODM politicians from the county are using Ms Otieno’s killing as a campaign tool.

“It’s true the incident is a major setback to our campaigns because Mr Obado will now concentrate on clearing his name and it’s true he has lost some moral ground,” said an ally of Mr Oketch, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

“We were really banking on his massive grassroots networks and of course his deep pockets,” he added.

Other candidates in the race are businessman Jobando Peter (Green Congress Party of Kenya), Mr Ogolla Dickson (Independent), Mr Otieno Samwel (Independent), and Mr Samuel Hodo (PDP).


KRA calls for dismissal of cases against VAT on fuel

By SAM KIPLAGAT
More by this Author

The Kenya Revenue Authority wants four cases in the High Court challenging the 16 per cent VAT imposed on petroleum products dismissed, saying there is nothing unconstitutional about the law.

The authority argued that the cases by the Central Organisations of Trade Unions (Cotu), activist Okiya Omtatah (right), lawmakers Babu Owino, Antony Oluoch and Senator Cleophas Malala, are an abuse of the court process.

The authority said that, through the petition, the applicants are asking the court to take over the powers of the Executive and Legislature, in contravention of the doctrine of the separation of powers.

While Justice Chacha Mwita had declined to suspend the law, Justice Stephen Riechi, sitting in Bungoma, issued temporary orders suspending it.

DEFIED PARLIAMENT
On Monday, the parties appeared before Justice John Mativo in Nairobi and were directed to argue the case on September 17.

Mr Omtatah and Cotu argue that the National Treasury, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and KRA have defied Parliament’s intentions by levying the VAT, which lawmakers voted to suspend until September 2020.

Cotu, through lawyer Okweh Achiando, argued that taxpayers might not recover the money already collected. Mr Omtatah added that Parliament’s intention was clear in voting for the suspension of the new levy.

STATE ORGANS

“The court, being one of the State organs, cannot afford to hide under the doctrine of judicial deference, but should listen to the voice of the people of Kenya and their cries brought about by the operationalisation of the VAT charge. The people of Kenya who live below the poverty line cannot, in the economic circumstances, afford the tax levied,” Cotu boss Francis Atwoli said in suit papers.

Mr Omtatah said Kenya depends 60 per cent on petroleum fuels for industrial and domestic use, and an increase in the price of petroleum products elicits an instant rise in the cost of most products and services.

“We cannot talk of growing the economy while at the same time escalating the cost of the factors of production by huge margins,” Mr Omtatah said.


Our war on corruption ought to evolve into a national movement

By RICHARD KIPLAGAT
More by this Author

The latest data from China indicates that more than 1.5 million government officials of all ranks have been netted since President Xi Jinping started his anti-graft campaign in 2012. This is close to 30 per cent of Norway’s national population and, conservatively, 25 times the inmates in Kenya’s prisons.

Most observers, myself included, attribute China’s progress in the war against graft to the popular support the campaign enjoys among ordinary Chinese. The people’s efforts to eliminate the vice precede President Xi’s tenure by centuries. China’s rich long history has taught its citizenry unforgettable lessons on graft.

Legend has it that the Great Wall of China, whose construction began in the seventh century BC and is widely recognised as the greatest defence fortification ever built, was first breached by the enemy not by breaking it down, scaling it or going around it but by bribing the gatekeepers with a few bags of gold.

PART OF THE SOLUTION

Drawing on that, the Chinese appreciate all too well that, when it comes to corruption, you are either part of the problem or part of the solution. However, in more recent times, avenues for citizen participation in the graft war have largely been unavailable due to the centralised government.

This explains why, despite the sustained crackdown, China’s ranking on the Transparency International index last year was 77 out of 180, an average score that is uncharacteristic of a leading global economy.

There is much that Kenyans can learn from China in view of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s spirited anti-corruption crusade. An overwhelming majority of Kenyans say they back the President, with the latest poll by Infotrak indicating that 94 per cent support the arrest and prosecution of graft lords.

MERE LIP-SERVICE

However, is this outpouring of public support mere lip-service or are Kenyans genuinely ready to make the personal sacrifices needed to fight graft? If the support is genuine, the war on graft should evolve from being an initiative of the President to a national movement that is owned by every Kenyan.

For that to happen, critical influencers — such as religious leaders, Parliament, the Judiciary, foreign missions, the business community, musicians and celebrities — need to lead from the front. This does not mean holding press conferences or issuing platitude-laden statements but taking strong decisive actions to eliminate graft in their own backyards.

In leading by example, these stakeholders will gain greater credibility, which will allow them to successfully mobilise Kenyans from different levels of society into collective action against corruption. It would be a game changer if Kenyans from all walks of life periodically held nationwide peaceful marches to demonstrate their support for the war on corruption.

AWARENESS RIBBONS

That can be complemented by measures such as wearing awareness ribbons to demonstrate public support for the fight against corruption and officially honouring ordinary citizens who have taken a firm personal stand against corruption, often at great personal sacrifice.

Another initiative would be hosting free public photo exhibitions in the counties to display both the cost of corruption and the contributions some are making to end it. These efforts would send a clear message to those perpetuating the vice that they have no allies in our society.

Collective action against graft, provided it includes Kenyans from all levels of society, will ensure that the push to end corruption and impunity is sustained long after President Kenyatta and Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji leave public service.

And, unlike the Chinese, Kenyans have more constitutional avenues for public participation in national issues. We should utilise them to translate the 94 per cent public support for the corruption war into a real, measurable impact.

SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Integrity and transparency are critical force multipliers in socioeconomic development. The 20 most transparent countries on the 2017 TI rankings are also the most developed — Denmark, Switzerland, Singapore, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Japan. In contrast, the least transparent nations — such as Chad, Yemen and Syria — are also the least developed.

This is a challenge to all Kenyans: The prosperous future we dream of for ourselves and our children depends on us choosing to take a strong personal and active stand against corruption today.

Mr Kiplagat is the chief commercial officer and managing director (East Africa) of africapractice. [email protected]


Let top lawyers prosecute graft cases

By MICHAEL MUGWANG’A
More by this Author

A story is told of a man who went out hunting with his hound. They ran into luck as the dog bumped into a hare in its lair. As the hare took off at high speed, the dog gave a spirited chase with the hunter cheering it on. After a distance, the canine, panting and running out of breath, gave up the chase and collapsed into a heap. The hare disappeared into the horizon. The hunter was disappointed with the dog.

The hunter, after getting over his rage and the dog having regained its breath, ridiculed the poor animal for its failure to catch the hare after being outrun by the smaller animal. The dog responded: “Ah, master, it’s all very well for you to laugh but we had not the same stake at hazard. He was running for his life; I was only running for my dinner.” The master was humbled.

That is the situation Kenyans are in as far as the war on corruption goes. Actually, not just corruption but crime in its entirety.

NYS SCANDALS

Look at the two National Youth Service scandals, for instance. When then-Youth Affairs Principal Secretary Lillian Mbogo-Omollo and then-NYS Director-General Richard Ndubai and tens of ‘smaller fish’ were arrested in a Rambo-movie style in May, the country went into a rare celebratory mood.

Hope filled the air and acres of optimistic commentaries were penned to show how the war, for the umpteenth time, was about to be won.

The drama of the four-wheel-drive cars rolling down to Naivasha to take in alleged “air sellers” was breathtaking. The suspects were arraigned. Their pleas for bail were initially declined by Magistrate Douglas Ogoti, who rightly said the charges they faced were “worse than terrorism”.

DOG-HARE PRINCIPLE

It was deciphered then that the Judiciary was playing ball in the anti-graft war and the public was largely supportive. Then the dog-hare principle came into play: We soon heard of players in the investigation beginning to get compromised or compromising themselves.

A lead investigator was accused of seeking sexual and monetary favours from suspects in exchange for bungling the case. The matter has since gone cold. We cannot be sure that it has not been bungled.

But then, we set a poor investigator, whose only motivation was promotion in the job, against moneyed and aesthetically endowed suspects whose lives and lifestyles were in mortal danger. It is not hard to see which party was more motivated to run faster and who, like the disgraced dog, might run out of breath.

HIDDEN CARD

The came the Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu graft case. Without going into the merits and demerits of the case, it is clear that, unless there is a hidden card, the DCJ’s armoury is superior to that of her accusers.

Even before Justice Mwilu had been taken in, an army of well-known lawyers were falling over themselves to join her defence team. By the time she made her first appearance in the dock, a battery of 32 top lawyers, including four senior counsel, were at her service.

In the defence team were Siaya Senator James Aggrey Orengo SC, Dr John Khaminwa SC and Mr Okong’o Omogeni SC, among other notable legal names, including former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, Makueni MP Dan Maanzo and Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr.

PROSECUTION TEAM

Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Dorcas Oduor was the only memorable name on the prosecution team. The prosecution, which should, ideally, be fighting for the life of Kenya and Kenyans, is visibly disadvantaged.

The defence, which is fighting to save the DCJ, seems to have the upper hand. It is important for the country to take another look at motivation as a factor in public affairs management.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecution should urgently examine its mandate and resources as it embarks on saving the nation from the claws of crime.

The ODPP could start by making public prosecution an attractive career to smart minds. It could make remuneration competitive so that fresh Kenya School of Law graduates consider starting their careers there.

SPECIAL PROSECUTORS

Secondly, and most apt in this scenario, is to invoke the office’s liberty to engage special prosecutors.

Given that most Kenyans, including senior lawyers, are in agreement that grand corruption needs to be eliminated, DPP Noordin Haji should consider seeking the services of the likes of Mr Orengo, Dr Khaminwa, Mr Paul Muite, Mr Fred Ngatia and Mr Fred Ojiambo as prosecutors. Clearly, Mr Haji’s hound doesn’t look fast enough to catch the hare.

Mr Mugwang’a, a communications consultant, is a former crime and security reporter. [email protected] com. @mykeysoul


Illicit financial outflows hinder progress

By YVONNE MWENDE
More by this Author

The African Union estimates that 25 per cent of the gross domestic product of African countries is lost to corruption yearly, with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa data showing illicit financial outflows from the continent could be as high as $50 billion per year.

Arguably, such massive resource outflows continue to deprive Africa and its citizens of funds for progressive and gender-responsive services.

Meanwhile, the African Development Bank estimates that illicit financial outflows have drained Africa in excess of $1 trillion since 1980.

Research shows that these constitute 5.5 per cent of GDP in Africa and are larger than incoming foreign direct investment and vastly larger than the total of official development assistance flowing into these countries.

CORRUPTION

Conservative estimates have shown that, without illicit financial outflows from the continent, GDP would have been at least 16 per cent higher.

Kenya loses Sh608 billion every year to graft. To finance its highest-spending plan ever, the country will borrow Sh282 billion from foreign investors to finance part of its 2018/2019 Budget of Sh3 trillion. If such massive resource outflows were curbed, there would be no need for foreign borrowing.

The two National Youth Service scandals saw Sh11.6 billion lost to corrupt dealings.

The programme meant to offer vocational training to youth, was seen as a means to mitigate the high unemployment among the young people.

However, with such pilferage, joblessness continues to rise to dizzying heights with a recent survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) putting the figure at about seven million.

BIG FOUR AGENDA

Illicit financial outflows have a negative impact on Africa’s governance and development agenda as they render governments incapable of funding programmes. They also considerably weaken the countries’ ability to mobilise resources generated to fund development plans for the structural transformation of their economies.

If not halted, corruption will largely compromise Kenya’s ‘Big Four’ agenda, especially service delivery in the health sector, with women being disproportionately affected since the majority of them depend on public health services and sexual and reproductive health and rights services, in particular.

Gender-based violence will continue to thrive as a result of rampant corruption as it further exacerbates predominant inequalities between genders.

GENERATE PEACE

Rife corruption also weakens the criminal justice system, which pays little or no regard to formulation and enforcement of gender-friendly legislation.

Corrupt police officers have been reported to harass women in the informal sector and exhort illegal payment from these women, stifling their economic growth.

Corruption is also known to generate peace and security concerns such as the 2007/2008 post-election violence.

The war on corruption has to go hand in hand with the fight against illicit financial outflows if Kenya, and Africa by extension, is to achieve the transformation of citizens’ lives.


Kericho wants 30 per cent share of tea revenues

By ANITA CHEPKOECH
More by this Author

The Kericho devolved government is demanding 30 per cent of tea revenue just the way Turkana County benefits from oil.

Governor Paul Chepkwony said Kericho is the biggest producer of export tea — Kenya’s highest revenue earner — but locals are yet to realise any gains from the “green gold”.

“Whereas Turkana County gets 30 per cent of the revenue from petroleum, the government gets billions of dollars from our tea but we receive nothing,” Prof Chepkwony said at Kericho Green Stadium during the graduation of county enforcement officers on Friday.

“We have driven this country’s economy since colonial times.”

The ceremony was attended by Bomet Governor Joyce Laboso, Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot, his Bomet counterpart Christopher Andrew Lagat, Kericho Woman Representative Florence Koskey, Ainamoi MP Sylvanus Maritim and a host of ward representatives.

LARGEST TEA EXPORTER

Thousands of smallholder farmers under the Kenya Tea Development Agency and multinationals have made the country the world’s largest exporter of black tea. The annual produce averages 450 million kilogrammes.

Kenya’s tea earnings in 2016 stood at Sh120 billion, with the total amount that went through the auction in Mombasa hitting 480 million kilos.

It was the second highest in five years, according to East African Tea Trade Association.

The Kenya Bureau of Statistics says Kericho, Bomet and Nandi counties produce 46 per cent of the country’s tea.

Black tea contributes a significant 26 per cent of total export earnings.

It therefore means that the three counties contribute two per cent of Kenya’s GDP from just one crop.

GREEN LEAF PROCESS

But there are disparities in earnings, comparing what farmers get with the figures multinationals fetch.

A kilo of processed Kenyan tea, for instance, fetches up to £30 (Sh3,800) in the European retail market yet a farmer under KTDA earns as little as Sh23 per kilo of green leaf. Two and a half kilos of green leaf process a kilogramme of black tea.

One argument leading to the dissatisfaction is that multinationals have made great profits for years, with little impact on locals.

Feeder roads in tea producing regions have remained poor for long, especially after the scrapping of agricultural levies four years ago.

STRUCTURAL PROBLEMS

“If concerned authorities were serious, all the roads in tea zones would be tarmacked,” Mr Patrick Siele, a small scale tea farmer, said.

The high position of tea in the chart of revenue earners hides a myriad of structural problems and disparities ailing the industry.

If Kericho gets its way, it will join Turkana and Narok as some of the devolved units which have fought to gain from resources within their boundaries.

In Narok, Governor Samuel Tunai won a bid to draw 19 per cent of the annual revenue from Maasai Mara National Game Reserve, was effected about three years ago.


Behaviour of Nairobi MCAs most shameful

By EDITORIAL
More by this Author

The chaos witnessed on Monday in the Nairobi County Assembly, where Members of the County Assembly stormed the office of their Speaker Beatrice Elachi to eject her, marked yet again a dark chapter in the operations of devolved governments.

It rekindled the ugly sights of the defunct municipal and county councils that were characterised by unending battles that rendered them disorganised and dysfunctional.
In civilised societies, disputes are resolved through dialogue. Institutional structures also exist through which parties can iron out their differences. Physical combat has no room in this day and age.

Events of the past week have been anything but civil. City MCAs, who have been scheming all along to oust Ms Elachi, ganged up and passed a vote of no confidence in her in record time.

And the entire plot was well executed. They hurriedly changed the standing orders and threw out provisions that staggered the process; mobilised themselves well, closed ranks across the political divide and voted overwhelmingly for her impeachment.

COURT INJUNCTION
Although the Speaker later obtained a court injunction stopping her impeachment, the MCAs were not deterred; that is why they raided her office and forced her out in a manner most crude and disrespectful. This simply means they do not respect the rule of law, which is quite absurd.

They cannot purport to be enforcing sanity at the assembly when, in themselves, they disobey court orders.

We do not hold counsel for Ms Elachi and we believe that any official who transgresses must be brought to account.

We recognise that county assemblies, just like the county governments, are dens of corrupt dealings and many are thoroughly mismanaged.

But we would like to have a systematic approach to verifying claims of corruption or abuse of office — not mob lynching.

TROUBLEMAKING
Experience has shown that MCAs have the tendency for troublemaking. Quite often, the grouses are not motivated by the public good but insidious and selfish interests.

Either they are seeking avenues for quick cash or are out to achieve other extraneous goals. In this case, the truth will soon come out.

The way the MCAs behaved is not acceptable. Looking at the turn of events, it is not convincing that they have a genuine grievance against the Speaker.

There could be other hidden factors at play. Whatever the case, the goings-on at the assembly are deplorable.

We need sanity in the city’s leadership. Nairobi is not only the capital city but the region’s strategic business and political hub.

Those in leadership in the city must understand the crucial role they play and hence learn to act civilly.

The culture of lawlessness must end.


Diplomats can do better

By EDITORIAL
More by this Author

It’s embarrassing that Kenya’s Ambassador to the United States, Mr Robinson Githae, has had to come out and personally defend his staff against allegations of petty corruption.

That follows claims that some of the staff at the Washington embassy have been engaging in shady deals in the issuance of national identity cards to their compatriots.

This is the lowest people serving their country in a foreign mission could ever sink.

It’s understandable, therefore, that Mr Githae felt the need to come out strongly and not only dismiss the graft claims, but also allege that the reports were meant to damage the embassy’s reputation.

LOGISTICAL CHALLENGES

He particularly took issue with social media reports that it overcharges Kenyans seeking national IDs.

However, he did not explain why anyone would want to soil the embassy’s image.

But as the old saying goes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. However, from the explanation given by the ambassador, it is evident that there could have been a breakdown in communication. Perhaps the extra charges being complained about are necessary to meet some logistical challenges but were not explained in advance to would-be applicants. True, there is nothing as frustrating as being suddenly confronted with costs that one did not expect.

NATIONAL INTERESTS

Our foreign missions have a vital role of projecting the country’s image and promoting national interests, including boosting trade ties and attracting investments.

They should not be distracted by minor administrative hiccups such as a shortage of staff. This bad publicity comes not long after a parliamentary committee visited Kenya’s missions and found many of them in deplorable condition.

The Washington embassy, a major station, was again fingered as one of the eyesores that give our country a pretty horrible image.
The diplomats must up their game to justify their postings.


Child, mother detained in hospital over Sh168,000 bill


Aviation regulator denies 'near-collision' reports

By STELLA CHERONO
More by this Author

Kenya’s aviation industry regulator on Monday disputed reports that two passenger planes almost collided mid-air in the country’s airspace last week.

Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCCA) director-general Gilbert Kibe disputed the collision claims, terming them as misleading and not corroborated by Air Traffic Control (ATC) records.

Media reports indicated that an Ethiopian Airlines plane and an Italian leisure airline flight nearly collided over Naivasha town shortly after midnight on Wednesday August 29.

The aircraft were on the same altitude, but the Ethiopian Airline pilot, after being notified of the same, adjusted the altitude to 38,000 feet.

The two planes, according to video footage extracted from the radar capturing the dramatic incident, then maintained the altitude for five minutes, avoiding a collision.

FLIGHT LEVELS

The Ethiopian Airlines flight had, according to the report, was heading to Addis Ababa from Johannesburg while the Italian plane was flying to Zanzibar from Verona in Italy.

“The said aircraft were in communication with Nairobi on August 29, 2018 and they were maintaining correct flight levels. The Controller issued instructions to separate the aircraft before the minimum allowable distance of 10NM (nautical miles) was bridged,” Mr Kibe said.

He said none of the pilots has filed an incident report “as would be the case if indeed the pilot took the initiative on his own without getting instructions from the air traffic controller.

Mr Kibe maintained that the two aircraft are fitted with collision avoidance systems that would prevent such an eventuality.

TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS

The air traffic controllers, whose work includes preventing air collisions did their work as expected, he adds.

He took issue with flight tracking website, ‘Flight Radar 24’ saying it was not a recommended system for provision of surveillance services.

He also refuted claims that the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority was furious with Kenya Air Traffic controllers, saying the two authorities have mutually-agreed air traffic control arrangements.

“The agreement includes mechanism to manage non-adherence to agreed operational procedures and to date, none of the parties has initiated any communication indicating non-compliance,” he said.