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Thursday, October 4th, 2018

 

Stop this fight over water

By EDITORIAL
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This was bound to get pretty ugly and is now developing into a potentially deadly conflict that must be resolved to defuse the rising tension.

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has dared his Murang’a counterpart, Mr Mwangi wa Iria, to make good his threat to shutdown water supply to the national capital in his somewhat obstinate push for a share of revenue from this resource.

Water Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui has been drawn into the controversy, and he is not mincing his words in denouncing Governor Wa Iria’s claim.

According to the governor, Murang’a owns the water that is supplied to Nairobi and Kiambu and must, therefore, get a part of the revenue, a position that Mr Chelugui has flatly rejected as not just wrong, but also illegal.

For his part, Governor Sonko has made it known that the county holds the title deed to Ndakaini Dam in Murang’a and will not entertain attempts to interfere with its ownership.

There is a need for cool heads here. And we could not agree more with Mr Chelugui’s position that water is a natural transboundary resource no county can claim to own.

It’s also a fact that the water the Murang’a leadership is laying claim to is not made there; it comes from high up in the Aberdare Ranges and Mt Kenya on its way elsewhere and remains a shared resource to which every Kenyan has a right.

And although Nairobi is a county, it’s also the seat of the national government and home to citizens from all the counties. It cannot, therefore, be denied access to a national resource.

It’s all very good for Murang’a and other counties to seek to develop natural resources within their areas, but they must not overstep their mandate and stir up needless conflicts.

Water and other natural resources must be tapped for national development and prosperity.


Resolve dispute over teachers’ welfare now

By EDITORIAL
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The Teachers Service Commission and the Kenya National Union of Teachers have, once again, locked horns over transfer and appraisal of teachers.

There seems to be a lot of mistrust and bad blood between the two groups that, although they have rescheduled to meet in two weeks, it is unlikely that they will find common ground.

The differences run deep and bring to question whether it is personality-driven or principle-based.

It is unfortunate that the wrangles are coming at this delicate moment, when schools are getting ready for national examinations that are due in two weeks.

This shows insensitivity to what is going on in schools. Power struggle is dominating and over-shadowing important matters that require undivided attention.

For several months, the TSC and Knut have been at loggerheads over the shifting of head teachers to different counties in a move intended to achieve two things.

First, end the practice where a head teacher stayed for a long period in one station and, second, ensure all regions are well-served with qualified head teachers.

Overstaying in a station, especially in a home county, breeds complacency and a sense of entitlement that undermine quality service delivery.

But as we have argued in the past, the TSC was squarely to blame for that odd arrangement.

Influential head teachers had devised ways of manipulating TSC officials and getting their way.

Transfers, however, should never be punitive. It is part of the job requirement and every teacher is acutely aware of that.

Nonetheless, it should be methodical and professional to avoid distractions and conflicts.

Similarly, the performance appraisal should never be a subject of acrimony.

It is standard practice in industry and teachers have no excuse not to adhere to it; they cannot purport to extricate themselves when it is a tool for service delivery.

However, it is troubling that such straightforward issues cannot be resolved amicably.

RESOLUTION

That TSC and Knut must fight before they agree on anything.

Yet, none other President Uhuru Kenyatta had directed that the two meet and thrash out their differences.

As they wrangle, there are even more intractable issues yet to be tabled, among them new pay package for teachers, which is bound to elicit even more hostility.

Indeed, the question is, why can’t the two organisations sit down and engage in meaningful negotiations?

The clash between the TSC and Knut has reached alarming levels.

We ask them to sober up, reflect and find an amicable resolution to the contentious issues.

The education sector cannot afford any distraction at this crucial hour, especially coming from a disagreement between the two organisations.


Naciones Unidas inaugura oficina en Barranquilla

Barranquilla, 04 de octubre de 2018 / El Sistema de Naciones Unidas en Colombia inaugurará una oficina en la capital del Atlántico para apoyar la respuesta del Estado colombiano a las necesidades de la población proveniente de Venezuela que se han asentado en los departamentos de la Costa Caribe.

En esta sede tendrán presencia la Agencia de Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (ACNUR), la Organización Internacional para las Migraciones (OIM), el Fondo de las Naciones Unidas para la Infancia (UNICEF) y la Entidad de las Naciones Unidas para la Igualdad de Género y el Empoderamiento de las Mujeres (ONU Mujeres).

En esta región de Colombia se han identificado necesidades humanitarias agudas en la población proveniente de Venezuela. De acuerdo con cifras oficiales del Gobierno Nacional, la región caribe es una de las de mayor concentración de población venezolana en el país: más del 18% se encuentra entre los departamentos de Atlántico, Magdalena y Bolívar sumando más de 172 mil personas de nacionalidad venezolana. Por eso se ha hecho necesario fortalecer la presencia de Naciones Unidas en la zona, con el fin de reforzar la atención y protección a la población en situación de vulnerabilidad, y personas en riesgo de diferentes formas de explotación sexual y violencias basadas en género, incluyendo refugiados, migrantes, colombianos retornados y comunidades de acogida.

El Sistema de Naciones Unidas en Colombia reitera su absoluta voluntad para apoyar la respuesta, en coordinación con las autoridades territoriales y la sociedad civil, a la situación de flujos migratorios mixtos provenientes de Venezuela atendiendo de forma integral y oportuna tanto las necesidades humanitarias y de protección de derechos de la población venezolana, así como a las vulnerabilidades de las comunidades colombianas de acogida.


Banish interview anxiety with these tips

By LILYS NJERU
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Have you ever walked into an interviewing room and all of a sudden your stomach started rumbling? Or you were asked for your name and for a moment, you couldn’t remember it? You were nervous! The feeling takes many forms. It could be temporary memory loss, distorted speech, sweaty palms, dry mouth, shaky feet, inability to smile and even palpations.

Stories abound of many young people who have lost opportunities they are qualified for because they couldn’t express themselves during the interview or those who dread interviews because of anxiety.

However, it is possible to manage nervousness before and during the interview.

Here are some tips to help you beat that feeling:

PREPARATION IS KEY

If you have a job interview, you need to take it seriously and commit yourself to prepare for it. It begins with researching the organisation in question -know the products and services they offer, their culture and scrutinise the job description to determine your strengths and weaknesses with regard to the particular position. Also, ensure that you are suitably and comfortably dressed for the interview.

If it’s your first time to attend an interview in that particular field, it may help to call your friends especially those in the same field and ask for advice on what interviewers ask.

KNOW YOUR CV 

Go through your CV; try to predict the questions that it may prompt and have confident answers to those questions. For example, why are you applying for a job that is on a different career path with your professional background?

How do you explain why you have worked for three different organisations in a span of two years?

Having these responses in mind will stop you from fidgeting or having a distorted speech while responding to them. Taking a copy of your resume with you is essential.

Days before the interview, think of the possible questions you might be asked and sound the responses.

You could request a friend to practice with you and ask that they take notes of what you said and describe your nonverbal expressions – posture, hand movements. Through practice, you realise that even the question ‘tell us about yourself’ can be a tricky one.

CONFIDENCE

Right from the organisation’s gate, carry yourself confidently. Remind yourself that you are qualified for the job and you are determined to give it your best shot. This will help to ease up the unnatural tension.

Also, accept the fact that it’s normal for everyone to feel a little bit uncomfortable in such a setting. To break the ice, you can engage in a small talk with other interviewees or the receptionist. Give the interviewers a firm handshake and ensure that your sitting position exudes confidence.

GENERAL TOPICS DURING CONVERSATIONS

An opening in most companies attracts people of different ages, sizes and with different qualifications.

At the waiting room, engage in conversation about the general topics such as the weather, economic situation but nothing concerning their qualifications-professional and educational background.

If other interviewees have more certifications, you might conclude that they are better than you and this will about anxiety in the interview room.

READY FOR UNUSUAL QUESTIONS?

If you ask most of the job seekers about how an interview went, they are likely to tell you “I didn’t see such questions coming.” You might have well prepared for an interview, but on many occasions, there will be that question that you will find unusual or unrelated to the job you applied for.

For instance, if you are being interviewed for an accountant position, would you expect the potential employer to ask you about marketing? Yet, they might.

When responding, be confident in your responses and don’t be afraid to ask the panel to repeat the question.

RELAXATION TECHNIQUES

Most human resource practitioners agree that being confident and relaxed during the interview not only gives you an edge on others but it also makes the interviewing panel attentive and interested.

Ensure that you have enough sleep the previous night, take a healthy breakfast on the material day and arrive some minutes earlier before the interview starts.

From the previous interviews, if you know keeping calm is not one of your strengths, you might seek professional help.

BE RATIONAL

If you enter into the interviewing room with a negative mind that you are not going to be picked up for the job, chances are that you will mess up the interview.

The fact that you were called in for the interview is proof that they saw your potential for the position. Remind yourself of the things you’ve achieved and use those to build your confidence.

Rationalising your fears helps you to think of it as a meeting rather as an interview which enforces the fact that it’s a two-way process.


War of words between governors Wa Iria and Sonko continues

By NDUNG’U GACHANE
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A proposal to levy water sourced from Murang’a County and consumed in Nairobi County has taken a new twist after Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko traded barbs with his Murang’a counterpart Mwangi Wa Iria.

The Nairobi warned Mr Wa Iria that if he continue demanding for a levy, he will reiterate by demolishing his houses which he claimed have been built on a road reserve.

Speaking Thursday during the official opening of Nairobi ASK Show attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta, Mr Sonko said he has the Ndakaini Dam tittle deed and that Murang’a leaders have no right to demand for a share of the revenue from the water consumed by city residents.

DON’T TOUCH NDAKAINI

“Wa Iria should not joke with us. I will deal with him if he touches Ndakaini dam. We will act on the building he has,” Mr Sonko said in a speech on Thursday.

He added that Murang’a leaders have no right to demand for anything from the Ndakaini water, saying it comes from Nyandarua and Nyeri counties and is only stored at Ndakaini.

“Murang’a people have no right to discuss about the water. We bought the land. We have the tittle deeds and most of the people who consume the water come from Murang’a; they should respect us,” Mr Sonko said.

WA IRIA RATTLED

His statement immediately rattled Mr Wa Iria who accused the Nairobi governor of engaging in divisionary politics, saying there is no land dispute but what is at stake is getting a percentage of the water revenue.

The Murang’a governor slammed his colleague for issuing threats to demolish his houses, daring him to do it immediately.

Mr Wa Iria vowed never to succumb to threats intended to stop him from advocating for the rights of Mt Kenya people.

“It is ridiculous for the Nairobi governor to assume that I can be cowed from speaking for the rights of Mt Kenya residents by threats that I have a building in Nairobi which he claims he can demolish. He should have done it yesterday.

DEMOLITIONS

“Mt Kenya people in Nairobi has suffered unrecoverable loss and trauma through unreasonable destruction of kiosks and business premises and we are now ready to pay whichever price to redeem our people from these oppressive forcers,” the governor told the.

He castigated Mr Sonko for dragging the national government into the matter, saying that Mr Sonko is a direct beneficially of Murang’a water.

He said destruction of properties and businesses as a weapon to intimidate and silence Mt Kenya people must stop.

“Saying that Murang’a people in Nairobi benefit from the water is the biggest insult to us. Does the Sonko expect Murang’a people who live in Nairobi to buy water and ferry it to Murang’a County where their kin live?” posed Mr Wa Iria.

He told off Mr Sonko, saying he has failed to rehabilitate Nairobi River which could be the source of water for his county.

“Mr Michuki tried to clean Nairobi River and if Sonko is serious about water issues, let him clean the river which has converted into flowing sewerage,” he said.

Murang’a MCAs are expected to hold a public participation meeting at Ndakaini shopping centre on Monday next week to discuss the proposed water Act which will address the levy issue.


Melania Trump arrives in Nairobi

By OUMA WANZALA
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US First Lady Melania Trump has arrived in Nairobi on the third day of her solo trip to Africa to promote health and education.

Ms Trump has already visited Malawi and Ghana; she will later head to Egypt.

More follows


Tea earnings grow to reach Sh85.74 billion

By BRIAN NGUGI
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Tea earnings rose by 9.4 per cent last season to hit a record Sh85.74 billion setting up farmers for handsome earnings.

This is despite high supply of green leaf dampening returns per kilogramme of the produce.

It also marks the third year of improved earnings consecutively.

Farmers are as such set to receive higher returns on account of improved production despite lower price per kilogramme of green leaf delivered which stood at an average rate of Sh52.51, a drop from Sh58.61 earned in 2017.

Kenya Tea Development Agency linked the drop in price per kilogramme to “escalating costs of production and depressed prices” during the last quarter of the financial year.

Consequently during the year, tea farmers earned a total of Sh62.35 billion as take home pay, 8.6 per cent higher than the Sh57.44 billion paid out in the year to June 2017, translating to better average returns for the over 600,000 growers according to the agency.

The farmers have already earned Sh18.03 billion in initial monthly payments and will receive Sh44.33 billion second payment later this month.

The payout represents a return of 73 per cent of the total tea revenue, while the remaining 27 per cent “went to cover various costs of production,” KTDA said.

“The increased earnings this year were due to high volumes of green leaf produced by farmers as a result of improved rainfall and stable tea prices,” KTDA group chief executive Lerionka Tiampati said. The agency said the period saw a 21 per cent growth in green leaf production as tea-growing areas received improved rainfall compared to the dry conditions experienced the previous year.

KTDA-managed tea factories received a cumulative 1.18 billion kilogrammes of green leaf up from 976.78 million logged during the same period in 2017.

Farmers earn Sh15 per kilogramme of green leaf delivered per month while the rest is paid as second payment after a financial year ends. bKTDA said its factories faced a number of challenges such as high costs of energy and labour among others.

“The factories are also grappling with other challenges such as tea hawking that has led to a reduction in the quantity of green leaf available to some factories, thereby affecting their operating capacity, and quality of leaf available for processing,” it said.

To deal with rising costs of production, KTDA said, factories are investing in small hydropower stations (SHPs) to deliver affordable power to factories. Some of the SHPs that have been completed and are generating electricity include Imenti, Gura and Chania.

Factories have, the agency added, also established wood plantations that are expected to be a long term source of fuel for factories.


Deschamps unfazed by mounting Pogba-Mourinho feud

By AFP
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France coach Didier Deschamps insisted Thursday he was not concerned by escalating tensions between Paul Pogba and Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho after he named his latest squad ahead of games against Iceland and Germany.

Pogba told reporters he was “not allowed” to talk as he passed through the post-match mixed zone interview area following United’s 0-0 draw with Valencia in the Champions League on Tuesday.

It was the latest episode in an increasingly tense atmosphere at the club, where a growing rift between Pogba and Mourinho saw the France international stripped of the vice-captaincy last week.

“I’m not worried at all. I’m definitely not Jose Mourinho and I’m not going to meddle in their relationship,” Deschamps said.

“Everything is clear with Paul. He knows each time why he’s here and what I expect from him.”

United are languishing down in 10th place in the Premier League after seven matches, and suffered a shock defeat by second-tier Derby County in the League Cup last week.

Pogba, a key member of France’s World Cup-winning side in Russia, also appeared to get under Mourinho’s skin after their recent draw with Wolves by saying United should attack more.

“There’s what’s happening at their clubs but that doesn’t just depend on them,” said Deschamps.

“You can’t separate individual performance from a team performance with certain clubs who can go through a spell where results aren’t as good.

“That goes for all the players. You have to take that into consideration, but the set-up is different when they join us in the France squad.”


Portland: We’re broke but will pay workers

By LYNET IGADWAH
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East African Portland Cement Company (EAPCC) says it has factored in its financial statements in the Sh1.4 billion it owes workers but declined to give a timeline for payment amid a cash crunch.

Managing director Simon Ole Nkeri told Parliament that the troubled company is currently unable to pay the amount as ordered by a court, saying charging it to its books is an indication that it will eventually be settled. “…the 1.4 billion is an amount that ultimately will have to be paid…As to when the resources become available is a different issue,” he told the National Assembly Trade, Industry and Cooperative committee on Thursday.

The Labour Court had on August 2 allowed the Kenya Chemical and Allied Workers Union (Kcawu) to recover Sh1.4 billion that the cement maker owes more than 400 workers under the 2013–2015 CBA.

The Court of Appeal on September 21 gave Portland 30 days to deposit Sh350 million in court to demonstrate that it will honour the court’s directive.

The company had sought the Court of Appeal’s protection over a High Court decree that had attached its tools of trade. In its plea, Portland said the attachment would cripple its business operations, making it difficult to meet its obligations.

“We have not yet deposited the Sh350 million because the duration is not yet over but we are planning to do it,” Mr Nkeri told the comitee chaired by Kieni MP Kanini Kega. He was taken to task over why the management was exposing Portland to litigation by laying workers off against a court order.

None was sent home, the MD said, adding the board opted not to renew contracts of some staff.


US indicts 7 Russian agents in global hacking conspiracy

By AFP
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Washington

The US Justice Department Thursday indicted seven agents of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency as part of a joint crackdown with Western allies on a series of major hacking plots attributed to Moscow.

The indictments were announced as Dutch security services said they had thwarted a cyber attack on the global chemical weapons watchdog, the OPCW — expelling four Russian agents — and after Britain and Australia blamed the GRU for plots that notably targeted the US Democratic Party and global sports bodies.

John Demers, US Assistant Attorney General for National Security, confirmed the seven agents were indicted in connection to the attack on the OPCW, on football’s governing body FIFA and the US and global anti-doping agencies, and on the US nuclear energy company Westinghouse among others.

MONEY LAUNDERING

The indictments also include charges of money laundering, using virtual currencies like bitcoin, wire fraud and identify theft.

“Nations like Russia and others that engage in malicious and norm-shattering cyber and influence activities should understand the continuing and steadfast resolve of the United States and its allies to prevent, disrupt and deter such unaccountable conduct,” Demers told a news conference.

“The defendants in this case should know that justice is very patient, its reach is long and its memory is even longer,” he said.

The defendants, all Russian nationals and residents, were named as Aleksei Sergeyevich Morenets, 41, Evgenii Mikhaylovich, Serebriakov, 37, Ivan Sergeyevich Yermakov, 32, Artem Andreyevich Malyshev, 30, and Dmitriy Sergeyevich Badin, 27, and Oleg Mikhaylovich Sotnikov, 46, and Alexey Valerevich Minin, 46.

ELECTION MEDDLING

While the latest case did not arise from Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election meddling, it overlaps with it.

Yermakov, Malyshev, and Badin were among the 12 GRU officers indicted in July this year by Mueller, over alleged interference in the US polls in 2016.

Demers said the operations — dating back to 2014 — “involved sophisticated, persistent and unauthorized access into the victims’ computer networks for the purpose of stealing private or otherwise sensitive information.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly and angrily rejected similar charges, and Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, reacting to the British and Australian claims, that the allegations had been mixed together “indiscriminately.”

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg separately warned Russia to halt its “reckless” behaviour.

CANADA TARGETED

Canada confirmed Thursday it believes itself to have been targeted by Russian cyber attacks, citing breaches at its centre for ethics in sports and at the Montreal-based World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

“The government of Canada assesses with high confidence that the Russian military’s intelligence arm, the GRU, was responsible” for these cyber attacks, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

GRU stands for the Main Intelligence Directorate, Russia’s military intelligence agency which is one of Moscow’s three spy agencies along with the FSB security service and the SVR foreign intelligence agency.

London has also accused two of GRU’s officers of poisoning former double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the British city of Salisbury in March, using a perfume bottle containing a powerful nerve agent.