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Tuesday, December 4th, 2018


Silver and Bullets are geared for CAF return legs

By Mphatso Sam

Malawi representatives in the Confederations of African Football (CAF) club competitions, Silver Strikers and Nyasa Big Bullets say they are geared up for the return matches on December 5,2018 at the Bingu National Stadium and Kamuzu Stadium, respectively.

CAF Confederations flag carriers, Silver Strikers lost 1-0 to Cecrle Mbe’ri Sportif (AOC MS) of Gabon at Augustin Monedan in Libreville, Gabon in the first leg as they only managed to hold the hosts for 20 minutes before conceding a Nani Nono Yohane’s decisive goal.

In Kenya, at Moi International Sports Centre in Kasarani, CAF Champions League representatives, Bullets managed to hold Gor Mahia for 90 minutes before conceding a late goal at 93 minutes of added time from substitute Bernard Ondiyeke to give the Blantyre giants slim hopes in the competition.

Both teams will be playing their return matches on Wednesday with Bullets hosting the Kenyan Champions at the Kamuzu Stadium and in Lilongwe, Silver will face AOC MS at the Bingu National Stadium (BNS).

Interview with Malawi News Agency (Mana) on Tuesday, the Central Bankers’ Assistant Coach, Peter Mgangira said the team would use an attacking strategy to recover the 1-0 score line and upset the tables by scoring two goals.

“Anything is possible in the game of football. We are playing at our backyard so we are hoping that we will make a lot of things so that we can push the boys to get two goals,” he hoped.

Mgangira said Silver has watched and played AOC MS and that they have a clue on their tactics, style of play and how they are going to play at the BNS, adding that they would push for an early goal to put their opponents under pressure.

Bullets Team Manager, James Chilapondwa said Gor Mahia is not as dangerous as people used to say and being optimistic that a good result would come out at Kamuzu Stadium as they would utilize home ground advantage.

“Gor Mahia is an experienced side in Kenya and the coach has seen the weakness encountered during the first game. We will obviously get a good result, we managed to hold them at their backyard and we cannot afford to defeat them at home,” he said.

Silver Strikers will be going into the match with all their key players available whereas for Bullets, they will go into the field of play without the services of their hit man striker, Patrick Phiri who is still nursing an injury.

Bullets which is the most successful team in Malawi ever competed in the CAF Champions League having reached the group stages in 2004, made a return to the continental showpiece after they last participated in 2015 following their back to back league title wins in 2014 and 2015.

The Capital City giants returned to the CAF tournament after close to a decade of no show.

The League Champions winners will get US$1.5 million prize money whereas in the Confederations Cup, the winner will walk away with US$990, 000.



Lobby queries cash spent by counties on local travel

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A total of 29 county assemblies organised trips but failed to provide supporting documents for audit, with an expenditure of Sh500 million in doubt.
So bad is the situation in the regional assemblies that others such as Kiambu failed to account for every single coin they received for domestic trips.

An audit of the travel expenditure by the National Taxpayers Association as captured in the 2016/2017 Auditor-General’s report also showed that Kisumu failed to account for 80 percent of the funds, Nandi (60 percent), Bungoma (53.7 percent) and Tharaka Nithi (40.4 percent).

Out of the Sh2.28 billion domestic travel expenditure, Sh366 million was unsupported, as well as Sh123.6 million of the Sh386.7 million expenditure for foreign travel, the audit showed.
In foreign travel, both Lamu and Samburu counties failed to provide supporting documents for 100 percent of the funds they used, with Nandi, Isiolo, and Bungoma following closely.

“In Kericho, the assembly literally moved with 62 meetings outside the precincts totalling Sh131 million. The county assembly did not demonstrate the need to travel and sit away from the assembly. Out of 1,159 committee meetings totalling Sh187.3 million, only 18 reports and six statements were tabled in the assembly,” the analysis by the NTA showed.

Also highlighted by the taxpayers’ report is Tharaka Nithi. In the 2016/2017 financial year, the county paid Sh45 million in salaries but failed to provide payroll data because “the anchor information payroll system had crashed.”
The county then spent Sh540,000 to recover the data and recovered everything except the payroll data.

“How was this possible? Did it then have value for money? Why didn’t the county have a backup system?” asked NTA.
In West Pokot, the assembly put up a restaurant and car park worth 36.8 million that the association deemed unnecessary.

The county, the audit showed, further used Sh70 million on domestic travel and Sh10.5 million on per diems for activities such as report writing, annual retreat, and training of ward administrators.
NTA has now recommended that stringent measures be taken against counties that flout procurement rules or plunder public resources.

Court grants order to freeze Ngirita assets in NYS case

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The Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) has obtained an order freezing property, including land and vehicles, belonging to the Ngirita family, who are facing charges related to the loss of Sh468 million at the National Youth Service (NYS).
Justice Hedwig Ong’udi granted the orders after the agency said it has reasons to believe that the property in question was acquired through proceeds of crime and money obtained from NYS.

The property is associated with Ms Phyllis Njeri, Mr Jeremiah Gichini Ngirita and their mother Lucy Wambui Ngirita.
It includes a parcel of land in Kitale’s Waitaluk, measuring 0.7 hectares and registered in the name of Ms Sylvia Ajiambo Ongoro.
The agency said the land was sold to Mrs Ngirita on June 2, 2016.

Another piece of land is situated in Naivasha town and was sold to Mrs Ngirita by New Hope for All Nations on July 8, 2016 and another one acre in Nakuru East, which she acquired on April 25, 2017.
She is also said to have bought land in Kiamunyi, Nakuru town, on October 28, 2016 while Mr Gichini is said to have acquired a parcel in Mwicingiri, Naivasha, on July 1, 2016.
The Ngiritas have denied charges of fraudulently receiving payments from NYS for goods not supplied.

Other than Mrs Ngirita, her daughter Njeri and son Gichini, her other daughter Anne Wambere Wanjiku and daughter-in-law Catherine Wanjiku Mwai also face charges.
Evidence in court showed more than 36 companies participated in bids to supply goods to NYS in 2011 and the Ngirita family, said to have received more than Sh226 million, was not listed among the firms.
ARA said preliminary investigations have revealed the Ngiritas received huge amounts of money through their companies and personal accounts, which were split into several transactions.

The said money was transferred within the same bank into accounts owned by the family members and associates, said the agency, with some of the funds being used to buy the suspected property.
“It is in the interest of justice that preservation orders are issued prohibiting the respondents jointly or singly or their agents from dealing in any manner with the aforementioned assets,” the application reads.
Also ordered to be preserved are three vehicles.

Duale’s gender bill flopped in House for being poorly drafted

In 2010, Kenyans participated in the first constitutional referendum since Independence and overwhelmingly voted in favour of the draft constitution.
However, most of them have since confessed that they did not understand the document before voting for it; they simply did because President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga convinced them to do it.

The duo did not mince words in comparing it to the American and South African constitutions. They, however, admitted that “20 per cent” of the proposed supreme law contained some contentious issues but that would be ironed out later.
The new Constitution is eight years old and it is apparent that Kenyans have learnt a key lesson: Voting for the draft blindly was a big blunder. The Constitution created a bloated two-tier system of governance at the national and county levels, which consumes a huge chunk of taxes.

The two-thirds gender rule proposed in the Constitution has also remained unresolved despite efforts by, mainly, women parliamentarians to have the necessary legislations enacted to operationalise it. Whenever it comes up for debate in Parliament, most of the male MPs express their reservations, arguing that, if passed, the new law would not further the course of public interest.
Of great concern is failure to come up with clear criteria on nomination. In the past, owners of political parties have dished out these seats to kin and cronies.

Many would have expected National Assembly Majority Leader Adan Duale to prepare a Bill that responded to such concerns. But he failed to do so and ended up presenting a poor draft that was rejected by MPs.
The minimum required to pass a Bill of this nature is 233 MPs but, on that day, more than half of them did not show up, prompting Duale to plead with the Speaker to postpone the vote for lack of quorum.
For me, Duale was just playing politics when he pushed for deferment until February. He said he will lobby the same MPs to pass the Bill; how does he expect to convince them to support it in its present form? They have already voiced their concerns and asked him to draft a new one.

When Dr Willy Mutunga was the Chief Justice, a petition seeking an advisory opinion on this matter was filed before the Supreme Court. The court declined to support the petitioner’s argument to dissolve Parliament. As such, the issues around gender parity should be implemented progressively.
I have no problem with affirmative action. However, that cannot be achieved by dishing out free seats to women.
The old constitution provided for 210 elected MPs and 12 nominated ones to represent special interest groups. Listening to ordinary Kenyans, the popular view is that we should revert to it.
Joseph Mutua Ndonga, Nairobi.

With barriers known, it's time we became gender-equal country

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Tima Mohamed sat quietly, confidently and spoke with unmistakable humility. For the three days of the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), she took charge of part of an exhibition stall of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations – Kenya (FAO Ke).

She is a member of a group based at Shimoni, Kwale County, in the coastal region. Kibuyuni Seaweed comprises mainly women and grows and nurtures sea weed, from which they make soap. It costs Sh250 a piece.
On day one, the High Commission of Canada and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) held a side event, ‘Women of the Blue Economy: Lessons from the field for better equity and participation”. Here, and at a similar one hosted by, among others, Fisheries Department, the challenges of women in this economy, and success stories and opportunities for growth and empowerment, were discussed and shared.

At the Canadian event, a short feature documentary captured stories of a number of women who work in the fisheries in Kenya and Somalia was shown. The women’s experiences as narrated by them are basically similar — mainly their daily struggles to buy fish from fishermen and brokers, although they all live near the ocean, to fend for their families and themselves. They spoke of climate change and related challenges that have reduced fish stocks, pushing them to do menial jobs amid cultural barriers and other obstacles.

But they were clear about what they need: Among other things, better working conditions, market for their fish and more access to opportunities, equipment and storage as well as value addition. In short, they are able to work and do their bit but need some intervention.
Questions were raised on what the government, those in the Blue Economy and interest groups are doing to deal with factors hindering women from prospering in fisheries. Some observed that the women have been reduced to hawkers.
But there is hope.
A week ago, a unique critical initiative which aims at concrete actions to advance and achieve or move closer to gender equality and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was launched in Nairobi.
Deliver for Good Kenya brings together about 20 civil society organisations and the government to “inspire action to assist the country to achieve the SDGs and become a gender-equal nation”. It was initiated internationally in 2016 by the Women Deliver, with Kenya the first focus country.

Ms Katja Iversen, president and CEO of Women Deliver, noted that Kenya has a strong and impressive network of advocates for girls and women and has shown a strong commitment to the SDGs.
But it is Crown Princess Mary of Denmark who summed it up, remarking that the campaign would focus on solutions and benefits and the resource that women and girls are rather than focus on their problems because “we know them too well.”.

Prof Margaret Kobia, the Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Cabinet secretary, observed that the campaign’s policy priorities are aligned with the ‘Big Four’agenda.
The local coordinating partner is Federation of Kenya Women Lawyers (Fida Kenya).

The campaign’s four policy priorities with a focus on SDGs include implementation of National Land Policy’s principles of equitable access to land and secure land tenure in both urban and rural settings.
The other focus is to push for the increase of government contributions to a new programme for financial inclusion designed to offer women, youth and people living with disabilities access to low-interest business loans.

There is also the push for implementation of the National Adolescent Sexual and Health Policy at the county level and effective implementation of the constitutional two-thirds gender policy principle.
The bottom line is, whenever we push for action on gender issues, focus should be on enabling the woman to stand on her own rather than give her a prop that can easily break and make her beg for another one.

How Kenya can alleviate economic distress in face of rising debt

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Kenya, like most other developing economies, is drowning in public debt, the necessary means to an end for governments to borrow to spur economic growth.
Accumulation of public debt in Africa has skyrocketed with no signs of slowing. Kenya’s public debt-to-GDP ratio is close to 20 per cent higher than what the International Monetary Fund would recommend. Critics say Kenya is in a stalemate situation — trapped by debt with irreversible detrimental impact on the economy.

On the one hand, and according to basic economic models, debt-financed public expenditure can reduce future economic growth by crowding out private investment. The scale of borrowing can increase interest rates, discouraging the private sector from making capital investments, rendering the whole thing cost-prohibitive.
In the most extreme of cases, an economic downswing may occur, reducing the amount of government revenues (most notably taxes), resulting in the need for additional money and, by extension, a vicious cycle of borrowing and crowding out.

But private investment behaves differently. These precarious times might be the genesis of the much-needed sustained private investment, which, historically, has been significantly underutilised. While public debt has felt like being stuck in the mud — particularly if the borrowings are ineffectively and inefficiently used — the wheels on private investment keep on turning.

Ernst and Young recently reported that Kenya is now the third-most attractive market in Africa for private funding, underscoring not only the potential of this diverse economy but also the high interest of global capital looking for opportunities.
To give credit where it is due, the efforts by the government to enhance private investment in the country have paid off and investment is forthcoming.

For example, over the past decade, the local private equity industry has evolved in terms of the range and depth of participants drawn to attractive valuations of assets and a relatively stable political environment. From foreign direct investment (FDI) through to the top global GPs establishing Africa-focused vehicles, and well-connected and increasingly well-capitalised local investors, private investment has grown.

Although significant headway has been made, policymakers need to keep the iron hot on economic reforms to offset the headwinds from external factors and build up financial resilience that can map out the path for improved and inclusive growth.
The private and public sectors need to combine tactics. The two are highly related and public investment significantly enhances private investment, particularly in terms of the large ticket items such as infrastructural development.

The government, therefore, needs to continue to strive for robust and appropriate macroeconomic policies that can secure a moderate budget surplus without imposing controversial interest rates. In turn, private investment needs to be embraced as a viable dynamic force to co-lead the country into a well-equipped economy and lay the foundation for a more prosperity.

Tell Sonko that light rail is the solution to Nairobi traffic woes

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It is a pity, indeed, that we have leaders who still believe that congestion in Nairobi’s central business district can be cured by merely tinkering around with traffic rules and regulations.
Have we forgotten that a similar experiment that sought to restrict vehicles from the Eastlands to the Muthurwa area failed miserably?

I was thoroughly amused when I heard Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, while addressing a Senate committee on Monday, describing his ban on PSVs as a permanent solution to the matatu madness. If he is serious about reducing traffic congestion in the city, he should have imposed the CBD ban on private vehicles first.

Sonko should approach the transport crisis we face today as an opportunity to implement fresh bold ideas. That assignment requires much more than tinkering with parking spaces and imposing new bus terminuses on commuters.
We are where we are because we have set very low standards for our leaders. As a society, we suffer from a culture of low expectations. We allow leaders to celebrate gestures even when what was required is boldness.

The long-term sustainable solution to the capital city’s rapid urban transport system is a light rail system that connects people from where they live to where they work.
The Ethiopians did it just a few years ago. To reduce congestion between Johannesburg, Pretoria and Oliver Tambo International Airport, the South Africans built the Gauteng Rail. Ghana recently signed a deal to build a light rail system for Accra.

I have seen many proposals for a light rail system in Nairobi. The problem is that we score very poorly when it comes to State capacity to deliver on projects promptly. What do I mean by the term State capacity?
The concept describes the speed and accuracy — also known as efficiency — at which government bureaucracy delivers projects. Within the region, Ethiopia scores much higher than we do in terms of state capacity.

Nairobi is in permanent flux, experiencing a constant process of generational and demographic change. Yet we have left the running and management of the complex urban growth patterns we are witnessing in the city to the Nairobi County government, an entity with no capacity to implement new projects on time. The county is totally bereft of new ideas.
There was a time when it was possible for a commuter to plan his day around the defunct Kenya Bus Service (KBS), which operated under a public-private partnership arrangement with the former Nairobi City Council (NCC).

Then, KBS operated under a franchise that obliged it to provide scheduled services in all parts of the city and create special routes to Pumwani Maternity Hospital and Kenyatta National Hospital. It operated on predictable time schedules and passengers would know when to expect the next bus.

The buses had corridors wide enough for standing passengers, making them the preferred mode of transport for women vegetable traders, connecting them from the farming areas around Nairobi to markets in the Eastlands.
Traffic congestion was limited because, besides private vehicles, only KBS buses were allowed into the city centre.

The rain was to start beating us in 1973, when President Jomo Kenyatta allowed matatus to operate in the CBD in total disregard of the fact that KBS had a franchise on city routes.
Under service level agreements, the company had to operate with timetables, fixed routes, a large service depot and a fleet of chase cars and inspectors.
Matatus don’t have an obligation to serve hospitals, schools and markets. In the old days, the bus company was even obligated to build bus stops for commuters.

If Sonko is serious about giving us a permanent solution, then let him announce a time frame for introducing light rail transport. Let’s have a route map for bringing in private sector investment in Nairobi’s rapid transit commuter system.
Admittedly, the city county does not have a healthy balance sheet. Sonko and company must start thinking out of the box.

Cities like Johannesburg have gone around balance sheet issues by coming up with creative ways of raising capital. They ring-fence revenues in the healthy segments of their operations, making it possible for them to issue bonds in capital markets against those revenues.
Have we forgotten that the defunct NCC used to issue bonds in our capital markets in the 1970s and ’80s?

The problem with the current leaders of Nairobi is that they approach management as if they don’t know that they are in competition with other cities for foreign investors.
Cities are campaigning between themselves for talent, innovation and investment. Nairobi needs a light rail system. Urgently.

Toxic nationalism leads to discrimination and violation of human rights

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The recent mid-term elections in the United States brought to light the benefits of welcoming a stranger.
The election of Ilhan Omar as the first Somali-American US congresswoman demonstrated that diversity can bring with it inclusive democracy. Her election was also a beacon of hope for globalisation at a time when the concept is being undermined by the rise of nationalism.

Sweden’s election a few months ago was a clear indication of how different countries are finding it important to “protect” their interest at the expense of regional integration and globalisation.
Though one of the most liberal nations, Sweden is now experiencing the wind of the far-right movements that is blowing faster than expected across Europe. This growth of the far right parties is founded on nationalism.

Nationalism can be defined as extreme patriotism; with it comes some negative effects. Far-right parties are mainly conservatives and uphold national values and traditions. However, they have, at times, exhibited fascism, white nationalism, neo-Nazism and racism.
The Sweden Democrats, a party that is founded on Swedish fascism, is both anti-European Union and anti-immigrants.

The party’s popularity has been rising steadily: In the 2010 election, it garnered 5.4 per cent of votes; 12.9 per cent in 2014; and 17.6 per cent in 2018.
The growth of such a party in a liberal country that is described as a “refugee-friendly nation” and which, at one point in 2015, absorbed more than 163,000 immigrants is scary in the face of human conflict.
Sweden joins a long list of nations such as Italy, Austria, France and the Netherlands where the far-right parties are gaining popularity.
European unity is at risk while asylum seekers and other forced migrants are likely not to be welcomed.
Other countries, such as the US and the United Kingdom, have in the recent past aligned their policies towards nationalism with “Brexit” from the EU by Britain and the Trump administration’s strange foreign and aid policies.

Closer home, there has been a silent but evident “split” of the African continent into sub-Saharan and northern Africa. Northern Africa, mostly Arab-dominated, has aligned itself to the Middle East in what is referred to as Middle East and Northern Africa (Mena).
The East African Community has also been affected. Tanzania, for example, feels that integration will force it to open up its borders to “strangers” who are only after its resources and land, especially considering that it has the largest land mass compared with the other member states.

Under the leadership of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Tanzania founded its values on Ujamaa (socialism) and this has fostered a spirit of nationalism that is difficult to change.
These cases of growth and separation, division, alignment and interest protection can be viewed as the wider expression of the individualistic ideology that is also growing and the fall of once highly sought-after globalisation.

Globalisation and integration should not only be viewed from a trade and economic point. Integration should encompass all the aspects of human development — including political, social and economic. The continuous overemphasis on economic integration is not only opportunistic in nature but also destroys the values of good relations.
Extreme nationalism has similar effects as war.

World War I can be attributed to the rise of nationalism. The sense of pride that European countries had led to the argument over the ownership of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the ensuing alignment by different countries sparking war.
Secondly, toxic nationalism can lead to the rise of extreme ideologies such as Nazism, racism and Islamophobia. A good example of people who held, and led, such an ideology is Adolf Hitler.

Hitler took pride in Germany and convinced others to believe in his idea. The murderous dictator had a proclamation that stated his future was Germany, his present was Germany and his past was Germany.
Nationalism can also lead to discrimination, violation of human rights and ill treatment of fellow human beings. The continuous ill treatment of Mexicans along the US-Mexico borders and “illegal” immigrants entering Europe is as a result of nationalism.
To achieve global integration, and in the words of Pope John II, countries should realise that there is no one who is too rich not to receive or too poor not to give.

Cases of violence against police officers a taste of their own medicine

Videos showing ordinary citizens physically assaulting traffic police officers ‘‘maintaining law and order” on our roads have recently gone viral on social media.
Whereas this is regrettable and uncalled-for, the National Police Service Commission and the senior leadership at Vigilance House, Nairobi, should be blamed for breeding defiance and civil disobedience by failing to firmly address complaints about rights abuses by police.
For instance, credible international human rights organisations and actors within local civil society raised concerns before, during and after last year’s General Election over the conduct of the officers, whom they blamed for sexual violence, extrajudicial killings, disappearances and torture of innocent citizens. Yet nothing was done. Instead, the officers were congratulated for being ‘firm’.
The police were also called out on several occasions for being openly biased in political contests and being a tool of oppression.
Recently, reports surfaced of the killings of over 15 young men residing in the city slums allegedly by police, yet no concrete step has been taken to hold the suspects accountable.
Also, the implementation of the “Michuki rules”, which saw thousands of public transport operators arrested countrywide in a degrading and inhuman manner, should be relooked at.
Such unresponsiveness by the authorities to complaints has led to citizens losing faith in police mechanisms to self-correct itself and abide by the constitutional Bill of Rights and international best practices contained in treaties that Kenya has ratified.
Elvis Salano, via email.

Scaring; Three expectant women die at Mchinji hospital in three days

Mchinji District Hospital has registered three maternal deaths in three days, it has been learnt.

This has happened at a time government is fighting for better health for pregnant women and new-borns.

The women are said to have died while giving birth at the hospital.

Health Promotion Officer for the district, Owen Chataika, confirmed the development in an interview.

According to Chataika, the deaths were caused by the deceased’s own negligence.

While admitting that the hospital is under-staffed, Chataika however dismissed claims that the deaths were due to workers negligence.