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Saturday, October 6th, 2018

 

Writer bullied online for sharing a name with suspect in murder case

By ELVIS ONDIEKI
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Sharing a name with a suspect in a high-profile criminal case can turn your life upside down, as a 24-year-old writer in Nairobi has experienced first-hand.

Mr Brian Kasaine (pictured), who is also a motivational speaker, is a namesake of the neighbour of newscaster Jacque Maribe, who is being investigated in relation to a gun found in his house and its connection with the September 19 killing of 28-year-old Monica Kimani.

Having the same name as the other Kassaine, who is now in custody, has subjected him to toxic cyberbullying, incessant calls, sleepless nights and an anxiety that could not let him work.

So perturbed was Mr Kasaine (whose name has a single “s” unlike the suspect’s double “s” spellling) that he that had to present himself to Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters on Wednesday. The move was aimed at putting to rest rumours circulating on social media that he was the one being investigated by the police.

An employee of KenyaBuzz, a Nation Media Group product, Mr Kasaine decided to share his tribulations with the Sunday Nation, to set the record straight, once and for all.

His troubles began with news of Mr Kassaine’s arrest, which spread like bushfire last Saturday. For the better part of that day, he was attending a friend’s graduation at United States International University-Africa at Ruaraka.

The source of all the confusion, Mr Kasaine believes, is one local TV station that tweeted about the arrest of Mr Kassaine without offering much clarification on who that was.

“I got the first call at around 8pm, from one of the members of the Writers’ Guild Kenya. She is in Mombasa. The moment I picked the call, she said, ‘Oh, I’m so happy you’ve picked, because it means you are not the one.’ I was surprised and I asked her what was going on,” narrated Mr Kasaine.

An hour later, his phone was buzzing with calls from friends and relatives. From the enquiries, he decoded, there are people who thought he had relapsed to his old habits that had seen him expelled from a secondary school in Nakuru County in 2011 for leading a strike.

Whenever a friend or relative called to ask about his whereabouts, he assured them that he was safe, thinking this was a small misunderstanding that could go away soon.

He was wrong.

A blog called Kenyan Daily Post had carried the story of Mr Kassaine’s arrest and published the writer’s photo along with the story.

“If you googled the Brian Kassaine who had been arrested, he has no online traces, and my photos are available because I have been published here and there,” said Mr Kasaine.

SEEK REDRESS

He says he was “scared and bitter” when he saw the blog post. “The first thing I did was call my cousin who is a lawyer.” The lawyer instructed him to take screenshots of the publication so they could use it to seek redress.

All this time, his phone kept buzzing, and one of the callers was a lecturer from Co-operative University of Kenya, from where he finished his studies in June and is awaiting graduation in December.

On Tuesday as he headed to work, he came across a tweet that read: “These criminals engage in murder during the night and motivational talks on entrepreneurship during the day.” His heart sank.

“I felt so bitter, and felt tears welling in my eyes. Then I called my boss and told him I was on my way to work but I couldn’t make it there before going to town to set the record straight,” he said.

His first stop was Nairobi’s Central Police Station, where officers referred him to the DCI headquarters.

“I went there and they asked me a few questions and also helped relieve my stress because they were making fun of it, with one saying, ‘Kumbe (So) you are the one we were looking for,’” he said.

He later returned to the police station and got an OB number plus a typed statement, which police said could bolster his lawsuit against those who defamed him.

By Friday, the tension was dying down, but one incident at a hotel in Roysambu a day earlier was disturbing him.

The waiters kept staring at him and his friend, nudging each other and whispering.

“I am an introvert, so it really hurt me,” he said. Mr Kasaine considers the whole incident a bad dream. He jokes that as a creative writer, words are his “guns”.


Ex-Garissa staff Mukhtar's health improving

By ELVIS ONDIEKI
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A former Garissa County minister with a bullet lodged in his head after being shot in August is still in a coma although he is improving, a friend has said.

Mr Idriss Mukhtar, 33, was shot in Nairobi’s Kileleshwa in the early hours of August 19 in an attempted murder.

He is still at the intensive care unit in Nairobi Hospital and he has since begun breathing without the use of a ventilator.

According to Mr Salah Yakub, a friend who has been coordinating advocacy efforts following the shooting, the former Finance executive committee member can now cough a little, swallow saliva and execute small movements.

“His condition in terms of blood pressure, pulse, heartbeat, all those things are stable, just like a normal person,” Mr Yakub told said on Friday.

He added that recently, doctors at the hospital performed a minor procedure to remove fluid from Mr Mukhtar’s brain.

“The family is now thinking of relocating him to India so that he can get further treatment and the way forward in terms of bringing him back to consciousness, by either removing the bullet or whatever it is,” Mr Yakub, who served as a minister with Mr Mukhtar under former governor Nathif Jama said.

“There is consultation between doctors in India and Kenya. It’s a very expensive exercise because he has to be transported in a private medical jet,” Mr Yakub.

SUSPECT DIES

The shooting of Mr Mukhtar caused shock waves in Garissa, especially after incumbent Ali Korane was questioned by police on whether he was involved in the crime.

It raised more eyebrows when Mr David Mwai, the main suspect in the shooting, died mysteriously at Parklands Police Station.

Already, two suspects have been charged in connection with the shooting. The trial of Mr Mohamud Hussein Aden and Ms Juliet Charity Njoki will start on October 17.


Our answer to encroaching new tech is to become more human

By SUNNY BINDRA
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I had the pleasure of hosting some people from the future earlier this week.

Let me explain. No, I haven’t discovered a time machine. I did not whisk in my guests from a future era by reassembling their molecules in the here and now. I was actually hosting futurists from The Centre for the Future of Work, a think-tank set up by Cognizant, one of the world’s leading technology services firms.

My guests may not actually live in the future, but their jobs certainly entail not being in the present. Their job description is to be five or 10 years ahead of the rest of us in understanding and forecasting the many profound changes that may be coming in our careers, business models, and societies.

The fact that technological disruption looms large in all our lives is not news to regular readers of this column. But it was reassuring to listen to experts whose job it is to evaluate and research the many technologies driving profound change in business platforms and work patterns.

Many people are deeply concerned about a “jobless future” — the idea that automation, robotics and artificial intelligence will lay waste to millions of existing jobs. Many of us will simply not be able to cope with machines that are stronger, faster — and someday, more intelligent — than we are.

The folks at Cognizant are more optimistic. They recognise that many jobs currently done by humans will indeed be retired. Machines will certainly be able to drive things, carry things, process things and do dangerous things much better than we can. But they also recognise certain timeless truths: that it has always been thus (work has always changed, and many jobs always become redundant — elevator operator, anyone?); and that we should never underestimate human ingenuity. When we are freed up to do other things, we generally find better things to do — and create more work.

We should also not bemoan the loss of certain types of jobs. Who wants to be a ditch digger or road builder or construction worker, after all? People do those jobs because they have no choice. That should not be the work of humans. If we can escape this past, escape it we should. To that list we will soon add miner, soldier, fireman …

A final truth is profound: Machines also need man. Humans are still needed to create the machines, market them, sell them; and machines are tools, tools that we must design to be good for us and make us better. We are substandard in so many fields of endeavour, and if we can upgrade our healthcare, our education, our money management and much more, why should we resist? This future is there for us to shape, not to be disrupted by.

So how will YOU survive (and thrive in) the new machine age, the so-called fourth industrial revolution?

I have said it often on this page, in my leadership programmes, in talks and seminars across Africa: The human’s answer to the machine has to be to become even more human. We can’t outdo the machine; we can only elevate ourselves to exist above it, on a higher plane.

What my futurist friends offered was a handy framework that allows us all to think about our futures. There are “3 Cs” for you to contemplate: Coaching, Caring and Connecting. If your job is to help people get better at things; to care about their health, well-being or spirit; or to act as the connector to opportunities and better ways of doing things, you’ll pretty much always have a job.

I would go further and advise that your business should also be focused on the three Cs of the future. Does it coach people to achieve more? Does it show genuine human empathy for its constituents? Does it act as a gateway or portal or network to better things? That business, too, has little to worry about. It will remain useful to its customers, and that is the best way to survive any business disruption.

In sum, what’s the lesson from the future? Embrace the new tech, don’t dis or resist it. Play nice. Augment and enhance yourself and your work with technology, so that we all get uplifted. If work improves, lives improve. As the waves of mind-boggling technological change swirl around us, remember the 3 ‘Cs’: Are you coaching enough, caring enough, connecting enough? The work of humans lies right there.

Bindra’s new book, The Bigger Deal, is now on sale.

www.sunwords.com 


To get it right, audit Constitution first before clamouring to change it

By KWENDO OPANGA
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Kenyans must not be stampeded into a politicians’ referendum. We should be persuaded it is important that we have one and then be guided into it having agreed it is ours to own because it is in our best interest that we do.

In this regard, it is not enough to tell Kenyans, as does Mr Raila Odinga, that we should prepare for one next year because President Kenyatta and he have agreed that we should have one. It is important we be told what the referendum is about and why it is important.

WESTMINISTER STYLE

Kenyans know that Mr Odinga wants the Constitution changed in order to drastically reorder the political and structural architecture of the country by, inter alia, making the shift to a Westminster-style parliamentary system and a three-tier government. It sounds, and is, complex.

Mr Francis Atwoli, the Secretary- General of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions, wants a change of the Constitution that will guarantee President Kenyatta a national role in the political pecking order when his legal tenure comes to an end in 2022. That’s eyebrow-raising.

ELECTIVE POSITIONS

Since the President recently justified imposition of austerity in government and taxes on the populace on an expensive Constitution that created myriad salaried elective and non-elective positions, many politicians want the constitution changed. This is the bandwagon effect.

There are serious thinkers, among them experts in constitutional law, who are asking for an independent audit of the basic law with a view to spelling out, for exhaustive national discussion, what marketers would call its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This is creditable.

MANY VIEWS

I first called for a rethink of the Constitution in 2015 and revisited the matter in the lead-up to last year’s General Election and its tumultuous aftermath. My view has been that the Constitution should be changed to strengthen devolution and to create and enshrine inclusivity.

There are, therefore, as many views on what needs to change in Kenya’s constitution to make ours a better society as there are people with opinions. But there are opinion leaders and people with power, such as politicians and legislators, in particular, who influence and make the law.

END TRIBALISM

And therein lies the problem: Politicians support a certain setup, not because it bears the tool kit to make Kenya a prosperous country, but because it will give them power and stop the next party from getting it. In Kenyan political parlance, politicians always have a hidden agenda.

Deputy President William Ruto and conservative clergy opposed this Constitution in the 2010 referendum. Now he is opposed to a referendum on change of the basic law. He sees the clamour for change as designed to stop him from succeeding President Kenyatta.

Mr Odinga dived deep into the duvet with President Kenyatta after fighting him furiously for us, he said, to find out where the rain started beating us; to end tribalism; pursue electoral justice; have national dialogue; find plenty within our borders; and justice be our shield and defender.

IEBC’S EXIT

This was to engender national healing after a bitter election pushed Kenya to the precipice. But Mr Odinga is yet to tell Kenyans how his secretive and exclusive contract on Kenya with the President is a driver of national healing and not a purveyor of political division and exclusion.

In the lead-up to the last General Election and in its sordid aftermath, Mr Odinga completely discredited, damaged and demolished the reputation of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission as a polls umpire. He surely cannot call for a plebiscite before demanding IEBC’s exit.

COMMISSIONS

Before Mr Odinga dived into the duvet with the President, he had campaigned for national dialogue, but he would appear to have assigned this role to his handpicked 14-person task force. But, ominously, it is largely unseen, unheard and moribund until Mr Odinga talks about it.

Strategically, political protagonists use task forces, as commissions of inquiry, to buy time, pull the wool over the eyes of opponents, or as safety valves to ease tensions while according them time and space to plot and act.

PROFESSIONALS

Mr Odinga’s task force will likely follow his public lead and recommend a plebiscite. But this will be putting the cart before the horse. Let us first have an independent audit by capable and competent professionals to usher in a debate before we agree on the changes to the basic law.

The alternative is national dialogue because healing of Kenya should be an inclusive and not exclusive enterprise.


The four most burdensome chapters in our Constitution

By KARANJA KABAGE
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What Kenyans witnessed recently in the National Assembly during the passing of the Finance Bill 2018 marks the beginning of a period of challenges ahead. As the saying goes, there are no free lunches and hence the chickens have come home to roost. This is why.

Chapters 7, 8, 11 and 15 of the 2010 Constitution on representation, the legislature, the devolved government, commissions and independent offices, respectively, ushered in a new dispensation of runaway spending. In the constitution-making process, we had wish lists of benefits and entitlements but without a corresponding list of responsibilities and obligations, ushering in an expensive legislative bureaucracy and supervisory nightmare.

LEFT TO CHANCE

In the legislature (Senate and National Assembly) we ultimately determined a 417-member Parliament. What we never asked ourselves is, how shall we pay for it? More importantly, what work shall they do and, above all, do they have the wherewithal to perform?

That was left to chance, creating the democratic anarchy we have today. Under Chapter 15, we created many constitutional commissions and independent offices, with full-time commissioners whose mandate is protection of the sovereignty of the people and promotion of constitutionalism.

EXTERNAL SOURCES

The 2010 Constitution was largely left to undue influence of civil society and human rights forces who have a strong affinity and appetite for rights and benefits largely funded from external sources with their own agenda. On the other hand, under the devolved government, driven by excess hyperbole, we became even more generous in both the number of ward representatives (elected and nominated) who now are 1,400 spread across 47 county assemblies.

VALUE PROPOSITION

Nairobi is a perfect example of over-representation with 22-plus elected and nominated legislators in Parliament and 125 MCAs. Despite being the economic hub and the national capital, it calls to question the rationale behind the huge numbers — because from a practical standpoint and experience there is no value proposition to the electors to justify the size of their representatives.

A preliminary analysis reveals that on average every parliamentarian costs taxpayers between Sh2.75 and Sh3.75 million monthly, all factors taken into account, while an MCA costs Sh1.25 million during the same period. Can we afford to carry this huge burden?

NATIONAL DIALOGUE

Certainly not, and any intelligent person will come to the conclusion that it is not sustainable and soon we could be headed to the Greek financial crisis scenario with serious repercussions. Therefore, as a matter of urgency, invoking the popular initiative under Article 257 of the Constitution is an imperative in order to effect amendments by 2021.

This will unshackle the burden borne by the electors who had been led to believe that elections are their rights, without appreciating that for every right there is an obligation and for every obligation there are financial consequences. Our constitution, though less than 10 years old, needs a national dialogue to effect amendments. The sizes and number of counties must be consolidated to affordable levels of between 18 and 25.

AUSTERITY REALITIES

I cannot, however, endorse what has been proposed by the National Dialogue Group which has recommended a leadership structure with a president, a prime minister and two deputy prime ministers as it is not consistent with austerity realities. Creating more high-level positions must not be an option. Our economy can ill-afford it — not now or in the near future. Let us pause and think how best we shall ameliorate the situation by rationalising the number of elected representatives through reduction of at least one third.


The day I forced Joseph Kamaru to return to secular music

By DOMINIC WAMUGUNDA
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During the Nigerian Biafra war something tragic happened which prompted one of our Kenyan scholars to write a book of fiction. I am talking about the late Prof Ali Mazrui. He heard a news item on radio which said that one Christopher Okigbo had been killed while fighting in the war alongside his tribesmen.

MENTAL CALCULATION

Apparently, Mazrui had met Okigbo when they were both students in England. As soon as he heard the news Mazrui reflected upon the matter, made a quick mental calculation and immediately started writing a story which became a book called The Trial of Christopher Okigbo.
In this book, Mazrui imagined what may have happened to Okigbo after he got into what he calls the Hereafter.

CHOSEN PATH

In his thinking, Okigbo must have been put on trial when he got there for having abandoned his calling and chosen a path that was totally different and probably even opposed to his vocation. Before joining the army, Okigbo had been a lecturer and poet. He had rejected all that and gone on to become a soldier in order to be with his tribesmen.

POPULAR CULTURE
Last Wednesday, a Kenyan who I think many Kenyans have never even thought about and particularly people from his community — the Gikuyu — died. He is a popular musician by the name Joseph Kamaru. I must say here that Kamaru had become a friend of mine in the last 20 or so years. The reason for our friendship arose from my own interest in popular culture when I was doing my higher studies in Europe in the late 90s. When I came back in 1999, the first person I looked for was Joseph Kamaru.

GIKUYU PEOPLE
At that point, Kamaru had moved on from singing popular secular music to gospel music and started preaching. Apparently, he had one way or another been convinced that he was sinning all the time he had been singing popular secular music. He and I had quite a number of cups of tea at the Norfolk and this was my message to him. “Kamaru, when God created you, he meant you to be a prophet to the Gikuyu people and not a preacher. You were an effective prophet when you were singing secular music.”

THE CARNIVORE

After a lot of argument, he agreed with me and forced me to go to the Carnivore and sing with him. I did.
From then on, Kamaru went back to his secular singing and that is what he has been singing in his last years of his life. I am happy that Kamaru, in the Hereafter, will not be put on trial like Okigbo.
Fr Wamugunda is the Dean of Students, Univeristy of Nairobi. [email protected]


Leaders defined by mad rush for ill-gotten wealth

By PHILIP OCHIENG
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High-powered individuals – including priests and politicians – enjoy illicit sex, namely, with people who are not their licit partners. As a rule, the extra-marital activities of such politicians and priests occur in the darkness of night. Might that be the reason that some of Raila Odinga’s supporters recently told Vice-President William Ruto to “… keep off the AFFAIRS …” of the Opposition leader?

HORRIFYING EMBARASSMENT

I stress the word AFFAIRS because it is the crux of the matter. For it would be wholly unbecoming for the Opposition leader to share the female objects of such “affairs” with the Vice-President of the same Republic. Moreover, in an age of Aids, it would also expose one probable future president to a horrifying national embarrassment.

Fortunately, “affairs” include the “foreign affairs” of one of our ministries in which so many of Kenya’s top politicians and civil servants reportedly involve themselves whenever they visit Caucasian Europe and North America.

POWERFUL QUESTION

No, to be Caucasian is not the problem. Nature has so arranged it that the opposite sexes do attract each other through their natural bodily differences. Yet the question is powerful: Why do Caucasian Euro-North Americans look so different from the Sino-Japanese Asians and from the Negro Africans? However, by his discovery of evolution Charles Darwin has long ago answered that question. All species respond adequately, if differently, to their natural circumstances. To every essential change in their circumstances, they change appropriately in their bodily structures and outlooks.

CHARLES DARWIN

Europe’s own Charles Darwin has long ago answered that question satisfactorily. The remaining question is: Can anyone discover and benefit from that knowledge? The answer lies in humanity’s powerful natural desire to experience the exotic, especially in sex. The only problem is that, by the word “affairs”, most Kenyans mean only what they allege to be “ministerial offices”.

PRESIDENTIAL ADVISORS

For one instance, Kenya’s office dealing with foreign countries is called “Ministry of Foreign AFFAIRS”. Borrowed from Britain’s political arrangements and England’s language, our system encourages the habit of calling “affairs” the offices of our top presidential advisers. But, obviously, “affairs” is not a happy term.

Since all members of the Cabinet belong to the same economic class notorious for its avarice and grabbing, Kenyans otherwise know such officials as “ministers” and “assistant ministers”. For them the President should devise a different term because the word “minister” has become so mired in dirt. Positively, to MINISTER is to serve without using your office to get materially well off.

JESUS’ NAME

The question, then, is: can you serve without uttering Jesus’ name insincerely? For, both in Europe and everywhere else in which Europe has planted the doctrine, a whole human class has arisen which gets fatter and fatter by shouting Jesus’ name at every street corner. That is why the “affairs” of all political ministerial officials the whole world over sound so deceptive in my ear.

In all former European colonies, most individuals seek to get rich by methods which the Jesus of the same European gospels would never have countenanced.

UNJUST ACTIVITIES

Although I am not a Christian, I have the highest admiration for the Jesus of the New Testament. For he would never approve of the involvement of his ministers in Kenya today in the most unjust, illegal and unbecoming activities by most church leaders.

Yet, as long as such an activity can yield immediate financial and political benefits, human beings will plunge into it. This is what reduces Kenya to one of the human world’s most corrupt circumstances. The rush for ill-gotten wealth defines all of Africa’s leadership in all social fields.


Align school with job creation to address our economic woes

By NYAGA KINDIKI
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Schools, colleges and universities are meant for educating people, developing minds and building character. The world over, employment is not based on mere certificate, diploma and degree qualifications, but on the skills employees are expected to contribute. The premise that education is necessary for development, growth and poverty reduction is undisputable. Nevertheless, economic development depends on the knowledge and skills that people acquire, not necessarily the number of years that they sit in a classroom. Education of young people is encouraged with the hope that the economy will become more productive as the proportion of educated workers increases since educated workers can better carry out tasks that require literacy and critical thinking. In equalisation of the equation of education and employment, the importance of going to school and getting “a well-paying job” is also emphasised.

EXAM CHEATING

Due to these imaginations and hopes that education can solve many challenges facing the society, Kenyans — like other people elsewhere in the world — powerfully embraced the transformation of the call to action from education “for all” to “learning for all” which is an element of massification of education. Learning-for-all syndrome has led employers to question the integrity of certificates, diplomas and university degrees because of the poor skills and character exhibited by some of the employees. We need to congratulate the Ministry of Education for the steps they are taking to curb cheating in national examinations because this could be the main source of attracting unqualified workforce. It has been reported that cheating is on the rise in national examinations for schools and colleges.

This does not exclude university education. It is common to find university students getting their research theses, projects, essays and assignments generated from cyber cafes. Although our country is considered to be a hi-tech hub, cyber café research and writing services are confirming a concealed form of cheating eventually undermining the integrity of certificate, diploma and degree qualifications. Universities find it difficult to make decisions on students who are engaged in the examination malpractices at cyber cafes simply because there are no proper legal procedures to curb this menace.

Yet if not checked, hi-tech cheating in educational institutions will make schooling a ritualised process of qualification-earning. Already, universities need to redeem their image because they offer education which has been transformed from elite to mass form of production. The massification of higher education, particularly through Module II, commonly known as parallel programme, provided more access to universities, and subsequently produced a growing number of college graduates looking for jobs in the labour market. The unfolding scenarios of education and development themselves are a worrying problem.

HOMEGROWN RESOURCES

For instance, one of the major job markets for the youth are the China projects in the country. But a series of worrying economic indicators are emerging to raise concern over how Kenya and many other African countries could cope with international aid strategies from China. Does the promise that these projects create jobs amid a population bulge hold? Instead of relying on heavy borrowing from China we should borrow a leaf from the model of the “Asian Tigers” who painstakingly built their own economies with homegrown resources.

Look at the apparel sector at Gikomba open-air market in Nairobi and many other open-air markets in towns and villages in Kenya. Does the apparel industry create jobs for school leavers? If the answer is no, I will ask, why not? If the answer is yes, I will ask, does academic qualification matter? Challenges associated with education qualification and joblessness among the youth are widespread.

CUT-THROAT COMPETITION

Young people with certificates, diplomas and degrees find themselves in a cut-throat competition for the few available elite jobs in the labour market. Yet, do all jobs need college education? Why don’t we align our education with employment creation instead of this mindless obsession with qualification and certification for its own sake?

Long ago children were instructed, “you have to go to school or else you suffer”. But today one would be forgiven for saying: “You go to school to suffer”. This is no music to the ears of parents and youth, but that is the sad state of affairs until we change it.

Admittedly, issues of education and employment are politically controversial, sensitive and cannot be exhaustively discussed here but the big question is; does the academic qualification matter in employment?

Kindiki is a professor of international education and policy. He is currently a visiting professor/researcher at Oldenburg University, Germany.


Respect journalists’ work

By EDITORIAL
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County assemblies are increasingly becoming a hostile ground for journalists.

Two weeks ago, Members of the Tana River County Assembly harassed journalists covering proceedings of the House, before locking them out as they embarked on discussing the county budget.

The only logical conclusion is that MCAs did not want journalists to report on the proceedings.

This presupposes there is something sinister they want to conceal.

And last week in Homa Bay County, an overzealous police officer attacked and seriously injured a newspaper photographer who was among journalists deployed at the Assembly. The officer also destroyed the journalist’s camera.

The officer was in a team sent to quell chaos that had broken out as the MCAs discussed the divisive matter of the post of Leader of the Majority Party.

He was reportedly working at the behest of a section of the MCAs who did not want the embarrassing scenes unfolding in the assembly reported.

Though he was called in to tame the rowdy ward representatives, the officer opted to turn his fury on the hapless journalist.

And the latent message is that the dark side of county operations should not be exposed.

These are just the latest in an emerging pattern in which journalists are routinely harassed, attacked and injured while performing their lawful duties.

The incidents involving the assemblies are just the tip of the iceberg that is the misconceived notion that all that anyone or group not happy about media coverage has to do is unleash violence on journalists to achieve their ulterior motive.

This should not be tolerated in a democratic country where media freedom and citizens’ right to information are clearly articulated in law.

County assemblies, and MCAs in particular, have to appreciate the fact that much as they appreciate the work of journalists when highlighting positive things about them, they have to exercise tolerance when the media turns its spotlight on unsavoury things they engage in at times.

Theirs are public offices, which must be spotlighted all the time to hold them to account.


The curse of endless political campaigns

By EDITORIAL
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Only a year after acrimonious elections, the country is increasingly getting electrified by politicians running around campaigning for the 2022 presidency but doing so under the guise of initiating development projects.

Already, the air is getting polluted and any visitor would be excused for thinking that elections are nigh in Kenya.

It is simply being insensitive to the needs and feelings of voters, who are hurting having gone through gruesome electioneering and contested outcomes of presidential polls that left the country divided right down the middle.

This is the reason we reinforce President Uhuru Kenyatta’s declaration yesterday that politicians should stop the endless political campaigns that are raising temperatures and consuming energies that would otherwise be spent on productive ventures.

It cannot be that ours is a country where campaigns begin immediately after an election is concluded.

An election is not an end, it is a means. For the citizens, an election is a chance to make decisions on who should be trusted with steering the country’s development agenda.

But it cannot be that we are put in a perpetual election mode. People are fatigued and deserve relief.

Two issues have now come to dominate political discourse. One is campaigns for the 2022 elections with the contenders emboldened by the fact that the incumbent President Kenyatta is exiting the stage.

The second is the call for a referendum on the Constitution which, though cloaked under the pretext of creating legal and policy changes, is actually a roundabout way also to the 2022 elections.

DEVELOPMENT

For the first scenario, those hell-bent on presidential campaigns must understand that ascension to that office is premised on concrete development agenda.

Economic, social and legal challenges abound. But development matters are fast being relegated to the back-burner as the political succession mantra takes the centre stage.

The quest for a constitutional referendum, on the other hand, presents two unsettling scenarios.

First, it does not give Kenyans a chance to fully implement the Constitution and realise its full potential.

To be sure, several provisions of the Constitution remain unrealised and it would be presumptuous to argue that it has failed when it has not been allowed to mature and run full cycle.

REFERENDUM

Second, a referendum will be a mid-term election fraught with all the inherent perils.

Bearing in mind that Kenya has had two referenda in the past 13 years – 2005 and 2010 – another one this time round and followed by a General Election in 2022 would mean we would have held eight elections in 20 years – an average of one every three years – since 2002.

Clearly, that would be a dubious distinction.

Simply put, premature presidential campaigns and the growing chorus for a constitutional plebiscite are unnecessary.