Sunday, November 11th, 2018
The assassination of Nyandarua North lawmaker JM Kariuki 43 years ago left a deeply fragmented region now called Nyandarua County.
It happened decades ago but the wrangles in Nyandarua County Assembly can be traced to that killing. The wounds are yet to heal.
JM THE MESSIAH
JM Kariuki traced his roots to Nyeri District. His parents, like many other inhabitants of Nyandarua County, were uprooted from their homes to work in the thriving dairy and pyrethrum industries in the White Highlands of Nyandarua and Nakuru.
He became an MP soon after independence at only 33. To his legion of followers, JM was a messiah.
They identified themselves with him to a man.
That was because he helped many of them acquire land left by white farmers through the Settlement Fund Trustee.
Having left colonial detention centres just a few years earlier, they saw JM as one of their own who had become politically powerful, or so they thought.
They continued voting him to Parliament. In 1974, JM won with a landslide despite not addressing a single rally because of State-sponsored sanctions.
Barely four months later, JM Kariuki’s mutilated body was found by herders in Ngong forest.
The obvious suspect in the murder was the government that was led by Jomo Kenyatta and what analysts call the “Kiambu Mafia”. The Elijah Mwangale-led Parliamentary Select Committee investigation said as much.
JM died in the power game of politics. Unlike Dedan Kimathi or others, he did not die fighting for the country’s independence. He was attempting to negotiate his way from the murky waters of Kenya’s politics.
His followers, mainly from Nyeri, have never forgiven the Kiambu “minority” for JM’s death.
70 PER CENT
Forget the fact that it was Ben Gethi, the GSU Commandant, from Nyeri District, who has been named as the last person seen with the MP at Hilton Hotel on the night he disappeared.
The majority of ward representatives and more than 70 per cent of Nyandarua’s inhabitants had not been born when JM was killed.
But what they hear from their parents about the man cannot reconcile them with the hatred they harbour against those who trace their origin in Kiambu.
The governor and the county assembly speaker represent these two groups. Is it any wonder that Nyandarua is the least developed county in central Kenya despite its vast agricultural potential?
The first governor traces his origins in Nyeri and that is why there was no hostility towards his administration by the assembly.
The birther theory that was pedalled by Donald Trump to prevent Barak Obama from retaining the presidency in 2012 is unfolding in Nyandarua.
KAMAU NGURE, Nyandarua.
Too often, we allow fate to forge unity in our country instead of deliberately creating a cohesive society.
On many occasions, our leaders meet in funerals, where they are forced by circumstances to shake hands. There have been few or no attempts by leaders to spearhead political unity and social economic accommodation.
When President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga announced their “handshake” and the building bridges initiative, many Kenyans were surprised. A majority were and still remain suspicious of the decision. As time goes by, some are beginning to understand the meaning of the “handshake”.
That single move has heralded a new era in our politics.
Top on the list of merits is the ability to chart our political course. It was one of the rare success stories in Africa since such moves only happen when “big brother” has a whip.
Another unexpected decision was on Friday during the funeral Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s father. Mr Odinga read a speech by former President Mwai Kibaki.
Remember these two were once rivals but accepting to read the speech shows how much we are willing to accommodate one another.
Though political analysts may look at it differently, the big picture is where the building bridges initiative is taking us.
Instead of us dwelling on the unknown, why don’t we exploit what we know to redirect our nation?
ERICK WEKESA, Nairobi.
Cabinet secretaries Joe Mucheru (ICT) and Henry Rotich (National Treasury) will be questioned by MPs Tuesday, November 13, 2018 over the Sh2.5 billion loss at the Government Advertising Agency (GAA).
Mr Mucheru will be the first to appear before the National Assembly Committee on Communication, Information and Innovation on the scandal that has since seen Lugari MP Ayub Savula, former Broadcasting and Telecommunications PS Sammy Itemere and former GAA boss Dennis Chebitwey charged in court over the theft of Sh122.3 million.
The three are also facing charges of conspiracy to commit a felony, abuse of office, obtaining money by false pretences, making a document without authority and aiding the commission of a felony jointly with 23 others.
On Sunday, Marakwet West MP William Kisang, who chairs the committee which has oversight of the ICT ministry, said that Mr Mucheru must tell the lawmakers how the money got lost and why media houses have not been paid despite rendering services to the government.
Nation Media Group is owed about Sh1 billion with Standard Group being owed around Sh700 million.
“We have summoned the CSs and we hope that they will come so that Kenyans know what is happening at the advertising agency. It is sickening to hear every other day that public funds are either misappropriated or looted,” Mr Kisang said.
According to the MP, the committee is also expected to interrogate principal secretaries Fatuma Mohamed (Broadcasting and Telecommunications) and Kamau Thuge (National Treasury) as well as Mr Itemere.
Also to appear is a top manager at a media organisation, who is said to have registered a dummy outfit that benefited from the irregular payments.
Mr Savula and his two wives are directors of M/s the Sunday Publishers ltd, Melsav company Ltd, Johnnewton Communications, the Express Media Group, Cross Continents Ventures Ltd and Shieldlock Ltd that benefited from the irregular payments.
Dummy firms were registered with names similar or close to those of existing media houses.
MPs have demanded that teachers in hardship regions be paid higher allowances to cushion them against the challenges they face while working.
In a report tabled in the National Assembly, the Education committee said the allowances should be reviewed regularly to boost the net pay for the teachers.
Currently, such teachers earn between Sh6,600 and Sh38,100 per month depending on their grades and experience.
“The ministry of education should constantly review the existing laws and regulations in order to address the emerging issues and challenges that face the entire teaching fraternity,” reads the report of the committee chaired by Julius Melly (Tinderet).
It also want the government to allocate more cash to the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) for recruitment of more teachers to plug staffing gaps in schools.
“The TSC should continuously recruit teachers on availability of funds to bridge the deficit gap and address the inequitable distribution of teachers in schools across the country,” says the report.
Currently the country has a shortage of 150,000 teachers while those who have graduated and are awaiting for employment are 290,000.
The reports says most public schools are operating with severe staff shortages and that the situation is more severe in some regions than others
The report encourages the TSC to continue with its policy of staffing delocalisation in public schools regardless of gender to promote national values, fairness, non-discrimination and equity.
TSC Chief executive Nancy Macharia recently told the committee that the teacher shortage is a direct consequence of budgetary allocation to the commission.
“Insecurity has mostly affected the arid and semi-arid counties-Mandera, Wajir, Lamu and Garissa due to Al Shabaab menace. The emerging trend by the terror groups to specifically target non-local teachers has worsened the situation,” said Mrs Macharia adding that the commission is currently defending numerous court cases where teachers have filed constitutional petitions contesting either transfers or posting to some counties.
Meanwhile, the Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) has criticised TSC for failing to enforce discipline among teachers. It accuses TSC of being railroaded by the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers.
“TSC is the employer and by law the regulator for teachers. It should live up to its billing. It cannot continue to give excuses. It must lead fairly but firmly. It must not be cowed by unnecessary calls for strikes by the trade unions,” it says in a report adding that the commission should not stand firm against the unions especially o important policy matters.
“The welfare of teachers is as important as the welfare of learners. Trade unionists cannot enjoy a right that infringes on the right of learners,” says the report.
“Delocalisation must go on. Affected individual teachers should be allowed to appeal especially if they have family concerns. TSC must deal with such appeals fast and in a humane way,” it adds.
Cofek also wants the government to reduce the term dates from 14 weeks to 12 for first and second terms and retain 10 weeks for the third term.
It also wants the subjects reduced to a maximum five both in primary and secondary schools.
“Pupils and students, with the support of parents and teachers, will need to decide early enough if they are going for sciences or arts focus. If they choose arts, as many will do, they don’t need to be trained in science-based subjects which will not be useful to them,” reads the report.
More than a year after the 2017 General Election, the High Court has ordered a fresh evaluation of the controversial media campaign tender by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
This follows a finding by High Court judge, Justice Pauline Nyamweya, on October 24 that the tender for strategic communication and media campaign was irregularly done and that IEBC and the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board (PPARB) failed to observe the law when they awarded the Sh350 million tender to Scanad without paying regard to provisions of the law that gives local companies (with at least 51 per cent shareholding by Kenyan citizens) preference over foreign firms.
The judge also bashed PPARB for ignoring evidence that had been placed before it during the review hearing. Twice, PPARB had endorsed the award of the contract to Scanad while dismissing Transcend’s appeals.
“The applicant’s (Transcend Media) request for Review No. 63/2017 with regard to Request for Proposals for Provision of Strategic Communication and Integrated Media Campaign Consultancy Services be and is hereby remitted to the respondent (PPARB) for reconsideration and re-evaluation of the applicant (Transcend Media) and 2nd Interested Party (WPP Scangroup Ltd) proposals and evidence, including the application of margin of preference, in accordance with the applicable provisions of the constitution and the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act,” the judge ordered.
The judge also quashed PPARB’s July 24 ruling that seemed to have given Scanad the greenlight to proceed with the contract.
A contract was signed three days later on July 27 between IEBC and Scanad for strategic communication and media campaign just in time for the General Election.
A date has yet to be set for the court-ordered fresh evaluation and it remains to be seen how the fresh evaluation will be done given that the tasks under the contract could have been concluded by now.
It is the public, however, which could end up paying tens of millions of shillings if the review turns out in favour Transcend Media as the firm will likely claim damages for the wrongful denial of the tender and loss of business.
According to the judge, the failure by both IEBC and PPARB to “lift the veil and find out who the shareholders of WPP Scangroup Limited were”, was an error of the law.
“In the present case the respondent (PPARB) clearly took into account an irrelevant factor of the registration of WPP Scangroup Limited in determining its citizenship status for purposes of Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, as a result of errors of law made by the respondent as found in the foregoing,” the judge stated.
Mt Kenya lawmakers Sunday hit out at Deputy President William Ruto’s opponents accusing them of a plot to lock him out of the 2022 presidential race by adducing fresh evidence to the International Criminal Court.
The politicians claimed that Mr Ruto’s rivals were crafting ways of scuttling his ambitions by providing ICC with information to build on a case against him regarding the 2007/2008 post-election violence.
Led by Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa, the MPs speaking during a fundraiser at PCEA Kangaita in Tetu Constituency, Nyeri County, said that an attempt to pin down Mr Ruto will not succeed.
Among the lawmakers present were James Gichuhi (Tetu), Kanini Kega (Kieni), Jane Kihara (Naivasha), Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu), Sylvanus Osoro (South Mugirango) and Patrick Mariru (Laikipia West).
Mr Ichung’wa said that those opposing the DP were giving information to the ICC prosecution to frustrate his quest to succeed President Kenyatta in 2022.
In the latest ICC annual report submitted to the United Nations General Assembly, it emerged that chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda continued to receive information related to the case in the past year.
The case against Mr Ruto and former radio presenter Joshua arap Sang, was vacated by a majority decision in April 2016 due to lack of incriminating evidence, however, the judges rejected an application of acquittal by the accused.
Earlier in March 2015, President Kenyatta’s case was terminated under similar circumstances.
The MP noted that the investigations will not stop the DP from contesting the top seat in the country.
Mr Nyoro claimed that the same people who dragged the DP to The Hague were also plotting his downfall.
“The thieves who united and incited criminal charges against the DP and the President have been taking information to ICC. We want to tell them that the wave of the DP cannot be fought,” he said.
Migori Governor Okoth Obado who had also accompanied the DP said that despite the new evidence produced at the ICC, the case against Mr Ruto will collapse again.
Nyeri Woman Rep Rahab Mukami asked Mr Ruto not to falter even as his opponents gather to introduce new evidence against him at the ICC.
However, the Deputy President steered away from the debate insisting that politicians should concentrate on development instead of politicking.
“Work must continue because we do not have time for propaganda. We have united with those we were competing against to foster unity among Kenyans,” he said.
Contrary to reports that Mt Kenya leaders would keep off 2022 succession politics and early campaigns after a stern warning from President Kenyatta when he visited the region last week, the lawmakers did not change tune.
Meanwhile, Kieni MP Kanini Kega has opposed calls to consolidate Tetu Constituency with another during the boundaries reviews scheduled in the next one year.
“We shall not allow Tetu to be wound up during the imminent boundaries review because it has the requisite numbers,” he said.
As we prepare to celebrate women who have made tremendous achievements in our country, we should also spare a thought for women who are victims of domestic violence. For many women who have achieved great things, there are many more who could not due to domestic violence.
This is a matter that is not going to go away soon and we must put measures in place to protect victims.
Kenya has legislated well enough to be able to deal with the aftermath of domestic violence, but has done very little to physically protect victims. The most recent development is the introduction of the Emergency Line that victims can use to seek help.
LOW LITERACY LEVEL
This is not enough in a country with a low literacy level among women, not to mention searing poverty. We must now seriously consider establishing refuge centres in the counties where women and children can be sheltered and protected from violent partners.
In the last few years, the number of deaths due to domestic violence has been on the rise. The perpetrators are either current or ex-partners.
Even where a victim moves to a safe place, this has not proved effective. Some have, in fact, been tracked down by enraged partners and killed.
We read of many shocking incidents of domestic violence almost daily and must now act. We all remember the harrowing incident involving Lucy Njambi, who was brutally murdered by her estranged husband despite moving away to save her life.
Jacqueline Mwende’s story is also still fresh in our minds. The woman from Machakos whose hands were severed by her husband in a domestic dispute. There will continue to be many more Njambis and Mwendes if we do not prioritise setting up centres for women facing domestic violence.
Changes experienced in the country are not only on the economic front, but socially as well. The community structures that were used to quell domestic disputes are now disappearing as we urbanise. The African family dispute resolution mechanisms that played a pivotal role in domestic matters are threatened by modernisation.
Many families are now isolated in different places, with little input from the traditional community set-up that formed a backbone of family stability.
The government must herald a protection plan for women and children that can fill the void left by village barazas.
In the many forums I have sat in on Gender-Based Violence in Kenya, the excuse I keep hearing is that refuge centres won’t work.
I am not persuaded by that argument. We have a witness protection programme that has been successful apart from a few hiccups.
I fail to see why we can’t adopt a similar strategy to protect victims of domestic violence? The number of deaths in the hands of perpetrators of domestic violence is rising by the day. We cannot sit by and just say it will all wash over one day or that the courts are enough to deal with such a complex matter.
Creating refuge centres will be more cost effective than waiting until a woman suffers domestic violence for the courts to step in. By the time courts come in, it is too late for many.
A lot of the women caught up in domestic violence are, sadly, economically challenged to be able to pave an escape route for themselves and their children.
It is important that the government takes the issue of domestic violence more seriously and consider setting up refuge centres.
Many counties can and should offer leadership in this area. I am sure they can rise up to the plate with incentives and support from the central government and other stakeholders. Leaving it all to charities has the potential of putting lives at risk.
While I support the work of charities, my experience has shown that vulnerable women become cash cows for unscrupulous NGOs whose only interest is in the donor funds with little to prove on the ground.
My suggestion is to try and get volunteers to run the domestic violence line and refuge centres. As long as they are vetted, I am sure the program will work.
This will free money for the government to be able to offer support to the victims by providing shelter, finance and crucial psychological input to help the victims back on their feet. I have volunteered in a few such schemes abroad and learnt that there are many people out there and I guess in Kenya too who can give their spare time to such a worthy cause with no qualms at all.
With concerted efforts between communities, professional organisations and government agencies, it should be possible to establish the safe zones. Let us celebrate the strong women, but also protect women victims of domestic violence. Refuge centres are a matter of life and death.
Nothing less than global health security is at stake when antibiotics are misused. From being miracle lifesavers, antibiotics are becoming ineffective against resistant infections, which can affect anyone, of any age, in any country.
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria (not humans or animals) become resistant to the active ingredients in these medicines. These resistant bacteria may infect humans and animals, making infections like pneumonia, tuberculosis and gonorrhoea harder to treat.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) will join the global community to observe the World Antibiotic Awareness Week from today to November 18, with the overall theme, “Think Twice. Seek Advice.” This year, the WHO is introducing sub-themes to showcase the immense work underway to tackle antimicrobial resistance, and which demonstrate how antibiotics are linked between humans, animals and the environment.
POOR INFECTION CONTROL
The reasons for the rising antibiotic resistance, include over-prescribing, misuse by patients who don’t follow the advice of healthcare professionals, overuse in farming, poor infection control, and a lack of new antibiotics. We can help by seeking advice from a health professional before taking antibiotics.
Laboratories and researchers have a critical role to play in identifying resistant bacteria and contributing to the global picture so the world can take appropriate action
Africa lacks data on the scope and scale of antibiotic resistance. However, antibiotic resistance is rising because common bacteria, which cause urinary tract infections, diarrhoea and septic wounds, among other ailments, are becoming resistant to readily available and prescribed antibiotics.
Across the continent, laboratories can help by looking out for evidence of resistance in the bacteria they see, and to feed this information into national and regional efforts to understand how it spreads and where it poses the greatest risk. Hospitals and health centres can help keep infections at bay with thorough hygiene and sanitation practices.
Healthcare practitioners should always practise good infection prevention and control.
In addition, they should only prescribe and dispense antibiotics when they are truly needed, inform patients on how to use them appropriately, and educate them on how to avoid common infections.
All hospitals and community health centres should control the spread of infections by making use of the best possible hygiene and sanitation measures available.
Patients should never demand nor share antibiotics, and only use them when prescribed by a certified healthcare professional.
Farmers and food producers can help by giving antibiotics to animals only to control or treat infectious diseases, and phase out the routine use of antibiotics to promote growth. Ensuring that patients and animals use antibiotics only when they are really needed is critical to keeping antibiotics effective for as long as possible.
Investments are needed to build a smarter world for safe, effective medicines.
Research and development is the cornerstone of new, life-saving antibiotics. However, since the 1980s, there have been very few new antibiotics.
Incentives for public-private partnerships to invest in new medicines, vaccines and diagnostic tools are urgently needed to stimulate the development of new antibiotics.
Governments, funding agencies and the private sector need to invest and work together to secure safe and effective medicines for generations to come.
The WHO in the African region has made the fight against antibiotic resistance a top priority, and is working with countries to develop and implement action plans to combat antibiotic resistance and generate reliable data for action.
We are helping countries to build resilient health systems through stronger regulation and policies, which promote the appropriate use of quality antibiotics.
Misuse of antibiotics puts us all at risk. I urge everyone to think twice and seek advice from a qualified health professional before taking antibiotics.
Dr Moeti is the WHO Regional Director for Africa.
Kenya is a rich country in terms of sporting talent, yet the importance of sports as a source of employment for the country has not been accorded the seriousness it deserves.
Issues ranging from underfunding, corruption, mismanagement, doping, and poor corporate governance in the sector have engulfed the sector.
Sports is a big industry all over the world, but especially in the developed countries where it employs millions of people and generates money either directly or indirectly through associated activities such as management, healthcare, and advertising, all of which contribute to the creation of jobs and alleviation of poverty.
As sport continues to grow, so does its economic impact. In the 2017 season, the English Premier League, UK’s top football league and its clubs contributed £3.36 billion (Sh445.5 billion) to the nation’s GDP.
The league and clubs employ more than 100,000 full-time staff and millions indirectly. The league, which hosts 20 teams, is one of the largest in the world in terms of revenue, with only the US Major League Baseball and National Football League (American Football) ahead.
The value of Manchester United is about $1.4 billion, which equals the total annual output (GDP) of a country like Sierra Leone.
Many Kenyan youth have sporting talent. The integration of sports into the main national development agenda will be a vital step in developing the industry.
This sector should be added to the government’s Big Four Agenda that targets manufacturing, healthcare, food security and housing.
In difficult economic times, sports has always lifted the spirits of Kenyans, such as the national football team beating Ethiopia in the Afcon qualifiers recently, which sparked jubilation and united the country.
Nelson Mandela once said that “sports has the power to inspire and it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does; sports can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers”.
With the rising lifestyle diseases, a sporting and active population reduces national health expenditure, as fewer people get sick.
But the sector has suffered from scandals, corruption and mismanagement, ranging from the Rio Olympics team scam to mismanagement in football.
During 2013 General Election campaign period, the Jubilee Party promised in its manifesto five new stadiums in Nairobi, Eldoret, Mombasa, Nakuru and Garissa. Six years down the line, nothing has been realised.
Though stadia require heavy investment, other African countries, including Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa, and Libya, all of which are at par with Kenya in terms of economic development or slightly above, have built stadia and are reaping enormous benefits.
Investing in sports should be a priority as it has benefits such as improved personal health, job creation and income, fighting crime and drug abuse, and knitting the social fabric of a nation.
Stronger partnership needs to be forged between sports associations, government and the private sector to promote investment in infrastructure.
The strict enforcement of traffic regulations begins on Monday and there is anxiety over possible chaos on the roads.
We want to state right from the outset that the rules must be implemented without fear or favour. With horrendous traffic accidents killings many people and which arise purely from recklessness and sheer indiscipline, the government must act and bring to an end the menace.
But we are alive to the challenges. Already some public service vehicle operators have threatened to withdraw services, arguing that the notice was too short to install all the required safety gadgets and comply with the rules. That cannot wash. With or without the notice, the operators know pretty well that there are requirements they must adhere to. That there has been laxity in enforcing the rules does not extricate any party from abiding by them.
Commuters must be ready for chaos and some inconvenience but nothing comes without a sacrifice. We should not be intimidated and cowed by unscrupulous business people who do not care at all about the safety of commuters. We live in a society guided by rules and all must conform to. The authorities must act ruthlessly on those imagining they are above the law and can do as they wish must
Our concern is that the roads have become a perennial death trap. So many lives are lost due to sheer carelessness. Most public service vehicles thrive by disobeying rules. No seat belts, no speed governors and no discipline. Vehicles are driven badly, passengers are mistreated, prices are inflated whimsically and other road users are harassed. It is the rule of the jungle. That has no place in a civilised society.
Whereas the operators are to blame, law enforcement officers are equally culpable. Traffic police officers are notorious for extorting bribes and allowing unroadworthy vehicles to operate. It is not a secret that many of those vehicles are operated by some police officers and other senior people in government. Nobody can touch those vehicles even if they violate traffic rules. This must be stopped.
Cabinet ministers Fred Matiang’i (Interior) and James Macharia (Transport) have committed themselves to pushing through the rules and warned of drastic action against defaulters. We want to take them on their word. They must act firmly and determinedly and without relenting.
Past experience has shown that the road madness can be curtailed. Former Transport Minister John Michuki did it and made a name out of it. The moment to repeat that feat is now. More importantly, the ministers must be consistent. It would be catastrophic to introduce the rules for a few months and then relapse to the old bad manners.