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Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

 

Rogue police officers who engage in crime draw anger from public

By JOSEPH OPENDA
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By MERCY KOSKEY
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On the night of September 13, 2018, the home of Richard Lang’at, a former National Social Security Fund managing trustee, was raided by unknown gunmen at his home in Chepnyalilo village in Olenguruone, Kuresoi South, in a botched robbery.

In what appeared to be a well-planned raid, the robbers, who were allegedly privy to information that there was money in the house, gained access into the compound by jumping over the fence.

The plan was, however, bungled when the robbers discovered that Mr Langa’t’s family was at home contrary to their expectations.

FAILED ROBBERY

The new development forced them to back off the plan although it was too late as the security guard had already raised the alarm.

As they were escaping, one of them accidentally dropped a pistol magazine with 15 rounds of ammunition. They escaped with the guard’s mobile phone.

Police detectives traced the magazine to a gun belonging to a police officer attached to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations in Molo who was later arrested.

Investigations further led to the arrest of three more police officers alongside seven other civilians linked to the failed robbery.

FATALLY SHOT

The suspects, who appeared before a Nakuru court, were charged with robbery with violence.

The incident elicited fear among the residents, leading to public outcry over the rise in criminal activities linked to police officers.

Previously police have used firearms in contravention of the law.

On February 18, an Anti-Stock Theft Unit police officer fatally shot his wife and daughter at Suswa Camp in Subukia, Nakuru County, following a domestic row.

The officer, identified as Mr Cosmas Biwott, is said to have picked a quarrel with his wife before he turned the firearm on her and their child.

TRAGIC EPISODE

Subukia OCPD Alex Ng’ang’a said the officer used a colleague’s firearm to shoot the woman and the five-year-old girl before fleeing. Neighbours who were shocked by the incident said the officer, who loved his drink, always quarrelled with his wife.

He was arrested in Nandi Hills, Nandi County, a day later and taken to Nakuru to face murder charges before the High Court.

Members of the public were also treated to another tragic episode by police in September 2017, when a police officer fatally shot his girlfriend at their residence in Nakuru town before turning the gun on himself.

Neighbours said the two, who cohabited at a rented apartment, had fought over allegations of an “affair”.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Mr Joshua Omukata, the then Nakuru OCPD said the policeman had sneaked a gun from his work station to his residence.

In another shocking incident on June 23, 2016, four police officers — Fredrick ole Leliman, Stephen Cheburet Morogo, Sylvia Wanjiku Wanjohi and Leonard Maina Mwangi — and a Mr Kamau were arrested and charged in connection with the murder of a city lawyer, Mr Willy Kimani.

Mr Kimani, a human rights advocate, was abducted and killed alongside his client Josephat Mwenda and a taxi driver Joseph Muiruri.

Their bodies were recovered from a river near Donyo Sabuk a week after they were reported missing.

POLICE REFORMS

It is because of this misuse of firearms by police officers that the debate on the security of the public continues to gather momentum even after President Uhuru Kenyatta announced major reforms in the police service.

The decision by President Kenyatta to abolish the policy requiring junior police and prison officers to live in free institutional houses is still under public scrutiny with residents giving diverse opinions on whether it will help reduce crime.

President Kenyatta, while defending the decision, said it will see the police take their services closer to the citizens.

However, those against the move argued that interactions between the police and citizens might lead to more killings.

A police source who spoke on condition of anonymity felt that many police officers resort to crime due to poor pay.

According to the officer, interactions between police and citizens is likely to lead to competition that may force the police into crime.

Mr David Kuria, the chairman of the Nakuru Human Rights Network, said that most officers want to earn quick money by breaking the law which they are mandated to enforce.


Movements of taxi in city lawyer’s murder traced for days: Police

By SAM KIPLAGAT
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Security TV footage aired in court showed a vehicle belonging to murdered taxi driver Joseph Muiruri was last seen on June 23, 2016.

Administration Police officers Fredrick Leliman, Stephen Cheburet, Sylvia Wanjiku, Leonard Maina Mwangi and police informant Peter Ngugi have denied killing Mr Muiruri, Mr Willy Kimani and Mr Joseph Mwenda.

The three were kidnapped after leaving Mavoko law courts. Their bodies were recovered from River Athi a week later.

SEVERAL CAMERAS

Mr Kimani, a lawyer, was representing Mr Mwenda in a complaint he had filed against Mr Leliman at the Independent Policing and Oversight Authority.

Presenting slides in court, Mr Kennedy Kirandi Mwadime — a detective — said the vehicle was last captured on CCTV cameras on Mombasa Road near Syokimau Railway station. The time indicated in the footage is 12.27pm. The only occupant of the car is the driver.

The car was, however, captured by several cameras on Forest Road, near Kolobot Road junction from 5.05am.

It was later captured on Waiyaki Way at 5.21am heading towards ABC Place, then at Uthiru junction on its way to Kinoo.

TWO OCCUPANTS

Around 6.28am, the car appears on Lang’ata Road near Bomas of Kenya heading towards Galleria. It has two occupants.

The vehicle then headed towards Rongai, then Mombasa Road. It was then driven towards Mlolongo with two occupants at 7.44am.

Mr Mwadime provided to court the movements of the car from June 20 to 23, 2016. Most of the trips the taxi made were on Waiyaki Way, Westlands.

NUMBER PLATE

The footage shows the vehicle registration and its occupants but their faces are not clear.

“On the last day it was captured, the driver was light-skinned and appeared different from the person who was operating the vehicle that morning,” the officer said.

The system, operated at Jogoo House, is known as automatic number plate recognition solution. It is also used for capturing information in the new police mobile phones.

POLICE RADIO

Mr Mwadime said from the system, he can pick a call and tell if the signal is from the AP, regular police or the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

He said he can also tell if the signal is from a police division, county headquarters or a station.

The witness said he was asked to tell the history of a frequency on the police radio used by the officers at Syokimau AP camp and the movement of the holders.

The hearing continues on Thursday.


Proposed prompt payments law is a good idea but it falls short

By JAINDI KISERO
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I have decided to stay away from the current obsessions of the media to tackle a significant policy issue that the Ministry of Trade and Industry is grasping with but which is not getting adequate public articulation.

One Monday, the Business Daily reported that the ministry is coming up with regulations that will cut the average payment period within which the retail sector pays invoices to 30 days from the current situation where supermarkets arm-twist suppliers to accept credit periods of even up to 240 days (eight months).

If the proposal by the ministry comes to pass, small- and medium-sized enterprises (commonly known as SMEs) which supply vegetables, fresh fruits and other perishables to supermarkets will, by law, have to be paid within 15 days of their production of statements.

DISCUSSION

I hope to see a national discussion ensue on whether the government is approaching plans to introduce a prompt payments law and regime in the right way. But first, what is a prompt payments law and where else does the system work? What trends can one observe in other countries?

A prompt payments law refers to regulations that aim to regulate and reduce the period within which a supplier must be paid for services provided.

In our context, we must remember that delay in payment of invoices is what has killed all those well- intentioned programmes the government introduced to support young and women entrepreneurs. You win a tender, supply the goods but are forced to wait for months on end before you are paid.

PAYING INVOICES

Such a move as to introduce a prompt payments law will be a shot in the arm for SMEs as it will bring financial sustainability to the sector.

Secondly, a prompt payments law is how we will cultivate a culture of paying invoices on time within this economy.

It allows you to curb abusive behaviour by large retailers that dominate and control valuable customer channels and retail shelf space. Supermarkets, especially, know how to take advantage of market power to stretch payment of invoices way beyond the normal trade and industry credit periods.

NAKUMATT COLAPSE

Last year’s collapse of the then-gigantic Nakumatt supermarket chain was an eye opener. It emerged that the big manufacturers and SMEs, especially suppliers of perishable goods, lost billions of shillings in unpaid invoices.

We saw how this big retailer had become so powerful as to literally force manufacturers and suppliers to be their financiers and bankers — by delaying payment of invoices and dictating credit periods.

Manufacturers are in business to supply products, not to finance the operations of Nakumatt, Uchumi, Naivas or Tuskys. Yet the circumstances surrounding the collapse of Nakumatt clearly showed that manufacturers were converted into unwitting lenders.

WEEKLY STATEMENT

This is despite the fact that the manufacturers and suppliers did not have security. They stand no chance of getting back their money, having been relegated to very last row in the queue of the supermarket’s creditors.

What are the trends elsewhere?

I read somewhere that, in the budget for 2010, the United Kingdom set a target of paying 80 per cent of valid invoices within five days and announced that it was exploring the option of moving to faster payments through electronic invoicing by suppliers.

In Ireland, the target for paying invoices in the civil service is five days. In the United States, payments must be cleared by the 23rd day of the month, and all in 30 days.

SUPPLY AGREEMENT

And there are regulations which enforce prompt payment to suppliers within specific time frames. If there is a query on any invoice, public agencies are obliged to pay 90 per cent of the invoice even as the dispute is being resolved.

But clearly, what the Trade ministry is trying to introduce does not as much as scratch the surface of the problem.

This is how the proposed regulations say with regard to suppliers of perishable products: “Unless otherwise provided in a supply agreement, payment terms for vegetables, fruits and fresh produce delivered shall not exceed 15 days from the date of the weekly statement.”

SME COMMISSIONER

Where is the protection to the SME when the regulations say that a supply agreement entered between the supermarket and the supplier reigns supreme? Who will enforce the new regulations? Where are the systems to force supermarkets and other suppliers to pay interest to the suppliers whenever they delay their payments?

The proposed law needs a stand-alone law, complete with an enforcement mechanism. How about an SME commissioner?

We must embrace a culture of prompt payment. When we do not pay our bills on time, it is the economy that suffers.


Why I brought back Moi Day public holiday

By GREGORY NYAUCHI
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Last year, I filed a case in the High Court questioning the government’s decision to scrap the Moi Day public holiday. In a November 9 judgement, Justice George Odunga declared that October 10 is, in fact, a public holiday and should be observed.

Legend has it that the month of August has 31 days because Caesar Augustus wanted his month to be as long as Julius Caesar’s. Fast forward to 1989, leave the Roman Empire for the Republic of Kenya and history repeats itself.

NOSTATEMENT

The second president of Kenya has a day named after him and declared a public holiday, just like the first president did. A look around Kenya and its institutions are a testament to that vanity.

In a vain attempt at immortality, the two men stamped their names across the country in its various institutions, made themselves felt temporally by dedicating days and insinuated themselves into every monetary transaction. But roads become potholed, currency is worn through and statues decay and crumble.

Yet after President Daniel arap Moi’s exit Moi Day was celebrated as a public holiday for eight years. Then came the 2010 Constitution with the definition and dates of national days, renaming Kenyatta Day as Mashujaa Day but making no statement on Moi Day.

EXISTING LAWS

Within the 2010 Constitution is the proviso that all laws existing before it have effect as long as they don’t contradict it. One of these is the Public Holidays Act, which Parliament amended during Moi’s time to give him his day. It recognises Moi Day not as a national day but a public holiday.

This is an important distinction showing the Public Holidays Act does not contravene the Constitution. Boxing Day is also celebrated on December 26 as a public holiday for the same reason.

This means Moi Day is still a public holiday; we just conveniently forgot about it.

One of the tenets of democracy is the rule of law. The law, as a ruler, binds everyone — even the government. It states that October 10 is Moi Day and should be celebrated as a public holiday. This has not been done for eight years.

BUILT-IN IRONY

Breaking the law in order to tear down a monument to a ruler we don’t think deserved it has the unintended effect of strengthening the monuments to lawlessness that constituted the worst parts of that regime.

There is a built-in irony to the consideration of Moi Day. Then-President Moi did not stand up and declare it a holiday; he had Parliament amend the Public Holidays Act.

In this, the rule of law was adhered to and yet, nearly 30 years later, after the fight for multipartyism, promulgation of a new constitutional dispensation and even the overturning of a presidential election, the proper procedure to have this day taken off the books was not followed.

There is another necessary reason to observe this holiday: Workers.

21 LEAVE DAYS

In this country, only a tiny minority are granted the 21 leave days that the Employment Act provides for. Most people go to work everyday except weekends. In a country with an attitude towards worker’s rights as that displayed by most employers, a public holiday is a necessity. It is, for many, the only day they get to rest and relax.

In addition, a public holiday is, for almost everyone, the only day that a family can gather and friends can see each other.

Mr Nyauchi is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya. [email protected] Twitter: @gmagaria.


Give peasant woman knowledge to empower herself, not tokenism

By NJERI RUGENE
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Angelina Kavithe Francis is a small-scale farmer in Kitui county who dropped out of school at Standard Three. But that did not stop her from addressing a panel at the United Nations headquarters in New York during this year’s Commission on the Status of Women in March.

The married mother of five and grandmother of four was confident as she proudly narrated to a full house how far she has come from a struggling peasant to a successful farmer. She laboured through her English, throwing in a Kiswahili word here and there.

STANDING OVATION

She nevertheless passed her message — to a rousing response and standing ovation to boot! Needless to say, she was impressive.

Kavithe explained how her life and that of her family and groups of women in her village that she has helped to mobilise to get trained have changed after learning new farming methods through technology, hard work and persistence.

She and her neighbours used to work year in, year out without making much of a profit from their small shambas, cultivating mainly tomatoes and maize. This is because middlemen and brokers would rush and buy their produce at throwaway prices, right at their farms, but end up making more profit than the women despite all their toil.

POTENTIAL MARKETS

Kavithe is today a successful horticulture farmer on her three-acre farm. She managed to shrug off the middlemen, bought a motorcycle — which she rides to deliver her tomatoes, spinach and green maize, among other produce, to Kitui and Kwa Vonza markets. She is eyeing two new universities in the locality as potential markets.

For now, Kavithe tells me, her focus is to “emancipate” fellow women to physically go to the market and sell their produce — as opposed to selling to unscrupulous middlemen.

“I make sure I take them there,” Kavithe told me last week, when I called on her, before riding off for the mission. “I hate to see them go through the exploitation that some of us suffered over the years.”

In Murang’a County, some women have been grappling with how to improve productivity of their bananas, add value to them and get a market for the crop.

VALUE ADDITION

Listening to these women, one gets the feeling that what they need is some guidance and help as well as intervention in linking them to the market, value addition and possibly some cottage industries, and they will be good to go.

Thankfully, there is an example and inspiration that these women can learn from. Ms Pauline Kimani from Kigumo grows bananas at her home in Murang’a County and in Juja, in neighbouring Kiambu County. She has managed to do production and value addition to the banana, complete with a cottage industry based at Safari Park Crescent in Nairobi County, where she processes and packages her produce as Pramat Foods.

In Kakamega County, Rosalinda Mukhwana is another successful horticulture woman farmer. When she asked her husband to set aside for her part of the family shamba, where he grew sugarcane, he was, at first, hesitant.

CHANGE FORTUNES

Years later, and a lot of learning through technology, however, Rosalinda is a shining example of what guidance and exposure can do to women living in the rural areas and change their economic fortunes. And her husband, like Kavithe’s, is one of her greatest supporters in that project.

In Molo, Nakuru County, Mrs Wairimu Kanyiri is now a renowned horticulture and dairy farmer, from a struggling peasant. Thanks to training and technology, she grows and rotates various crops at different intervals on her land. So successful is Wairimu that she quite often hosts agriculture students at her farm.

Affirmative action is a good idea but making the woman at the grassroots self-sufficient is a better one.


It's time Kenya abolished the death sentence

By JOHN MUTHURI
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Death is the most controversial topic in many cultures and societies. Some believe life is cyclical; it doesn’t have an end. Others believe life is lineal; there is an end to it.

While some talk about it freely, in most African cultures death is usually spoken about in hushed tones and whispers. In some communities, it is an abomination to talk about death. They believe it is an enemy of life and life should be preserved by all means, even if the case is hopeless.

I take ‘hopeless’ to mean those suffering from incurable diseases, habitual offenders, murderers or other people or conduct that disrupts, or terminates, life.

Most human beings fear death. We can tell from the many inventions and products churned out on a daily basis to prolong life, prevent ageing and delay death. If this is the case, what about that person who knows that on a certain date they will meet their death in the most inhumane way?

No matter how hard we try to justify the death penalty through religion, culture and laws, it still is inhumane. Death is barbaric, inhumane and degrading. Why should one human being condemn another to such cruelty?

In Kenyan laws, the death penalty is prescribed in the Penal Code for offences of murder, robbery with violence, attempted robbery with violence, treason and administration of oath to bind a person to commit a capital offence.

MITIGATION

Until recently, the courts did not have discretion to consider mitigation when meting out the death penalty unless where the accused was mentally ill, pregnant or a minor.

The death penalty is a residue of the colonial laws imposed on Kenya by the British colonial master, who used it to uphold “good governance, justice and civilisation”. Violence and death were tools to control the African and facilitate operations of the State.

The application of the death penalty in Kenya was heightened during the Independence struggle. Records show that 280 of the 3,584 people sentenced to death were executed in 24 years — 1963 to 1987.

Around the world, 106 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, seven for ordinary crimes, 29 are abolitionist in practice (including Kenya) and 56 retain the practice.

The death penalty, whether in law or practice, deprives a person of their humanity. Living on death row is a two-pronged punishment: Psychological torture for waiting to die and the death itself.

But how can a regional economic power and democratically progressive nation such as Kenya keep such a heinous punishment in its laws? The penalty has not deterred crime. The threshold in some of the capital offences that attract the death penalty are low.

Further, Kenyan prisons are congested due to limited infrastructure.

While the prisons authorities might try to offer good living conditions, the high numbers of inmates make it hard to manage the wards, especially in regard to personal hygiene. This usually leads to infections and diseases. This further threatens their rights to life, dignity and privacy.

REINTEGRATION

I have spent time with inmates who had been condemned to death before the sentences were commuted to life imprisonment.

I have seen them making use of their time in prison in many useful ways: Studying for degrees, teaching their colleagues in the prison school and using their technical skills in the workshop, among other vocational programmes.

I have witnessed some of these people, who had a date with the hangman, supporting fellow inmates to access justice and even challenging unconstitutional laws in court.

I have talked to people who, in my opinion, have reformed and are ripe for reintegration. I have seen people who were on death row released either through acquittal on appeal or the presidential pardon moving on to provide immense service to the community.

EFFECTIVENESS

I do not even want to get to those who, for whatever reason, have innocently found themselves in prison.

 I wonder what loss we would incur if these useful members of society had been killed.

The British, who enjoy a cordial bilateral relationships with Kenya, have a moral obligation to advocate against death penalty in their former colony too. They introduced this heinous law and should, therefore, come out to condemn it and support the abolition movement.

As we mark the 16th World Day Against Death Penalty today, it is time Kenya looked at the effectiveness of the death penalty and whether we need to continue having it in our books or not.


Aukot inches closer to 1m signatures in push for referendum

By NATION TEAM
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A campaign by the Dr Ekuru Aukot-led Thirdway Alliance to amend the Constitution has now gathered 600,000 signatures, 400,000 shy of the one million needed to pass through the first stage of the planned referendum.

The signatures will be presented to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission for verification before the Referendum Bill can be presented to the 47 county assemblies for approval. It will then go to the National Assembly and Senate after which, if passed, it will be presented to Kenyans in a popular vote. Thirdway has proposed a referendum to introduce a seven-year-one-term presidency, install 194 members of the National Assembly and the Senate, down from the current 417, abolish nominations in both Houses, as well as impose a life sentence on people convicted of corruption and theft of public funds.

The party is further proposing that salaries for State officials be capped at Sh500,000 inclusive of allowances for the President, and Sh300,000 for MPs.

“This campaign is now taking a life of its own. It is no longer a party affair, but a Kenyan affair. Kenyans are endorsing it regardless of their political persuasion,” Dr Aukot said at his party offices yesterday.

In the National Assembly, MPs Justus Murunga (Matungu), Didmus Barasa (Kimilili), Tindi Mwale (Butere), Titus Khamala (Lurambi) and Ayub Savula of Lugari called for the scrapping of the Senate and the appointment of ministers from among the elected MPs.

“What we want is to see the wage bill go down, and it must start from the top,” Mr Murunga said, noting that reduction of the 349 MPs and about 2,400 MCAs is top on the agenda.

Mr Savula said: “The current Constitution was crafted by activists.”

BUILDING BRIDGES

At the same time, former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto and former Roads Minister Franklin Bett want the Building Bridges Initiative Committee — the 14-member team formed after the March 9 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga — reconstituted in the wake of calls for constitutional amendments.

“The committee has outlived its usefulness and there is a need to expand it to include those who were not available or were not involved during the meeting between President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga, which resulted in the handshake,” the two leaders said.

Former Cabinet ministers John Koech, Paul Sang and Langat Magerer, former MPs Zakayo Cheruiyot (Kuresoi), Sammy Koech (Konoin), Anthony Kimetto (Sotik) and former Kericho Woman Rep Hellen Chepkwony said the proposed constitutional amendments should address the issues that were left out in the new Constitution promulgated in 2010.

REDUCE COUNTIES

Speaking when they visited former Konoin MP Nathaniel Chebelion, who is ailing, at his home in Bomet, the leaders said the proposed constitutional changes should be well thought-out and not hurried to create an impression they are meant to benefit certain people.

 Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, Keiyo South MP Daniel Rono and Soy MP Caleb Kositany warned Mr Odinga against what they said was using the referendum to derail the Jubilee administration from achieving the Big Four agenda. “Raila wants to bring confusion in government because now we may not focus on the Big Four but chase the referendum,” said Mr Cherargei on the phone.

In Vihiga, Governor Wilbur Ottichilo yesterday supported calls to reduce the number of counties from the current 47 to 14. Dr Ottichilo said some counties, Vihiga included, are not viable, and that is why they are joining regional economic blocs to create bigger and viable units. “Devolution was about development but the wage bill in most counties is too high, leaving only 30 per cent for development,” he said.

“Let us go for the Bomas draft that proposed the country be divided into 14 regions.”

INCLUSIVE PROCESS

But the proposal was rejected by Laikipia Woman Rep Catherine Waruguru. “I reject any efforts to merge these counties at the expense of development. Laikipia is a marginalised county and it will not be possible to merge it with a land flowing with milk and potatoes like Nyandarua or Nyeri,” said Ms Waruguru in Nyahururu.

In Embu, Senator Njeru Ndwiga, Mbeere South MP Geoffrey King’ang’i, John Muchiri (Manyatta) and MP Cecily Mbarire said it was wrong for a few individuals to set the questions, which the public do not have a chance to interrogate.

They said every Kenyan must be included in the process. “They should bring their questions and we give ours. We know the problems the government is facing. I was there in the clamour for the current Constitution, we don’t want people who think they own the Constitution … it is ours,” said Mr Ndwiga.

Ms Mbarire said: “People should not come to us telling us what they want changed in the Constitution; they should come to Kenyans and ask their views. We want an all-inclusive process.”

Reported by Patrick Lang’at, David Mwere, Vitalis Kimutai, Charles Wanyoro, Steve Njugunah, Onyango K’onyango, Tom Matoke, and Derick Luvega.


Resolve parliamentary staff grievances

By EDITORIAL
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Complaints by parliamentary staff about being mistreated by the MPs they work for have the ring of truth around them. Indeed, the worst-kept secret is that many constituencies are poorly managed with the MPs obsessed with only rewarding their close allies, aides and relatives. As a result, the professional workers end up getting needlessly frustrated.

There are, of course, a few exceptional cases where MPs and their staff run efficient outfits. And these have often been recognised with awards for efficiency in the delivery of services. But the majority are in a mess. That’s not surprising, since the MPs’ core business of politics is not always accompanied by good managerial skills.

REGULATIONS

It is encouraging, therefore, to hear from the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr Michael Sialai, that his office has received complaints about long working hours and late payment of salaries. Such treatment of staff is the easiest way to demotivate them and the constituencies will not only not get value from the workers but the MPs will also suffer the backlash from poor services.

Parliamentary staff play a key role in executing administrative and other tasks to enable the lawmakers to concentrate on their principal duty. It is in the MPs’ interest to ensure that they have competent and experienced constituency managers to properly plan for the implementation of projects and programmes.

Clerk Sialai has advised the parliamentary staff to take their grievances to the constituency liaison officer for redress. This is commendable, but it does not go far enough to solve the problem. And he has pointed out that there are clear constituency regulations on how to deal with cases of staff indiscipline.

What is required is a win-win situation, where staff issues are streamlined so that constituency operations are enhanced for the people’s benefit.


Teachers’ strike in exam season unfair

By EDITORIAL
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A threat by the Kenya National Union of Teachers to call a national strike just days to the national examinations is downright insensitive and irresponsible of the officials.

The union has said it will ask its members to down tools to pressure their employer, the Teachers Service Commission, to abandon a policy meant to delocalise the management of schools by transferring many head teachers and their deputies away from their home counties. It also wants to force the TSC to promote teachers who have acquired higher academic qualifications.

While the Knut’s sole mandate is to campaign for the welfare of its members and clinch the best possible deals for them, the timing of this threat is hopelessly out of touch with modern ways of dealing with labour issues. It is callous and insensitive of the union to seek to disrupt national exams just to get its voice heard over an issue that has nothing to do with the candidates and the tests.

Apart from trying to arm-twist the commission to do the Knut’s bidding, a strike would put into jeopardy the enormous resources, energy and time that thousands of candidates preparing to sit their Standard Eight and Form Four exams have invested in education.

INVIGILATE

Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion says the strike will begin on October 17, just five days before the Form Four candidates start their practicals. This means that the union is also asking the thousands of teachers contracted by the Kenya National Examinations Council to invigilate and supervise the tests, not to do so.

The issues that the Knut wants resolved were the subject of talks at a five-day retreat between it and the TSC, which collapsed on the third day after the union’s demands were contested.

As a precondition for the continuation of the talks, Knut wants the transfer of 85 of its officials immediately revoked. Obviously, the TSC declined to acquiesce to the ultimatum, saying the policy could not exempt the teachers on the mere basis of being union officials.

OBLIGATION

The TSC and the union must urgently convene another meeting to canvass the issues before the dispute escalates. More importantly, they must refer to the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and the Code of Regulations for Teachers, which aptly capture the issues in contention.

Both organisations and the country, at large, have an obligation to create a peaceful environment for the candidates, who are yearning to progress to the next level in their education and go on to join the careers of their dreams.

In the meantime, the government must speak out strongly against this strike threat and employ its security agencies to preserve the peace during the exam period.


Uhuru holds talks with leaders from Western, Wiper Party

By JAMES KAHONGEH
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President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday met leaders from five counties in Western Kenya as well as leaders from the Wiper Party for talks on development and the “building bridges” initiative.

Two principals of the National Super Alliance (Nasa), Kalonzo Musyoka of Wiper Party Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula attended the meeting which was also attended by current governors, senators and MPs from the Western region.

Some of the prominent persons present were former Vice-President Moody Awori, former Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende, former presidential candidate Cyrus Jirongo and two current MPs from Nairobi, Tim Wanyonyi (Westlands) and George Aladwa (Makadara).

Nasa co-principal and Amani National Congress party leader Musalia Mudavadi skipped the event but sent his apologies through Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula.

The talks with the President focused on the road map for the realisation of the ‘Big Four’ agenda, the heightened fight against corruption and the building bridges initiative, causes which the leaders pledged to support.

The revival of sugar companies in Western Kenya topped the agenda with President Kenyatta giving a one month deadline to a team working on a revival plan for Mumias and Nzoia sugar mills to complete their assignment and present the way forward.

“I am certain that within one month, we shall have the way forward on how to revamp the sector and where to invest more money,” the President said, adding that the government cannot continue pumping more money to dysfunctional companies unless they are revived.

Noting that corruption and mismanagement were to blame for the current woes facing the local sugar industry, President Kenyatta was optimistic that the report on the revival of the sugar sector will provide a clear roadmap to move the sector forward while benefiting sugarcane farmers.

Mr Wetangula called for a firm government policy that checks on imported maize and sugar to ensure cheap imports do not destabilise local production.

Wiper Party leaders pledged to fully support the President’s “Building Bridges Initiative” which seeks to unite all Kenyans. In a separate meeting with the President, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka revealed that the party leadership had passed a resolution to work with the government.

Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr said Kenyans fully appreciate the government’s development agenda as illustrated in the Big 4 Agenda, particularly efforts being made towards the realisation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Additional report from PSCU