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December, 2018


More than 395,000 children will be born worldwide on New Year’s Day

As the calendar turns to 2019, UNICEF calls on nations to meet every newborn’s right to health and survival

NEW YORK, 1 January 2019 – An estimated 395, 072 babies will be born around the world on New Year’s Day, UNICEF said today. Of those, a quarter will be born in South Asia alone. In cities around the world, revelers will welcome not only the New Year with great festivities but also their newest and tiniest residents. As the clock strikes midnight, Sydney will greet an estimated 168 babies, followed by 310 in Tokyo, 605 in Beijing, 166 in Madrid and finally, 317 in New York.

Fiji in the Pacific will most likely deliver 2019’s first baby; the United States, its last. Globally, over half of these births are estimated to take place in eight countries:

  1. India — 69,944

  2. China — 44,940

  3. Nigeria — 25,685

  4. Pakistan — 15,112

  5. Indonesia — 13,256

  6. The United States of America — 11,086

  7. The Democratic Republic of Congo — 10,053

  8. Bangladesh — 8,428

Around the world on January 1, families will welcome countless Alexanders and Ayeshas, Zixuans and Zainabs. But in several countries, many babies will not even be named as they won’t make it past their first day.

In 2017, about 1 million babies died the day they were born, and 2.5 million in just their first month of life. Among those children, most died from preventable causes such as premature birth, complications during delivery, and infections like sepsis and pneumonia, a violation of their basic right to survival.

“This New Year Day, let’s all make a resolution to fulfill every right of every child, starting with the right to survive,” said Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director. “We can save millions of babies if we invest in training and equipping local health workers so that every newborn is born into a safe pair of hands.”

2019 also marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which UNICEF will be commemorating with worldwide events throughout the year. Under the convention, governments committed to, among other things, taking measures to save every child by providing good quality health care.

Over the past three decades, the world has seen remarkable progress in child survival, cutting the number of children worldwide who die before their fifth birthday by more than half. But there has been slower progress for newborns. Babies dying in the first month account for 47 per cent of all deaths among children under five.

UNICEF’s Every Child Alive campaign calls for immediate investment to deliver affordable, quality health care solutions for every mother and newborn. These include a steady supply of clean water and electricity at health facilities, the presence of a skilled health attendant during birth, ample supplies and medicines to prevent and treat complications during pregnancy, delivery and birth, and empowered adolescent girls and women who can demand better quality of health services.


Notes to Editors

For complete un-rounded estimates on births and life expectancy for 190 countries, click here. For top ten baby names across 20 countries and number of births across 26 cities, click here. For the data, UNICEF worked with the World Data Lab.

The estimates for the number of babies born draw on the period indicators and the life tables of the UN’s World Population Prospects (2017). Building on these datasets, World Data Lab’s (WDL) algorithm projects the number of births for each day by country and their corresponding life expectancy. Similar methods were applied to compute the number of babies born in specific US and international cities. Other data sources include UN Data, different US governmental services, and national statistics across several countries.

To download photos to accompany this story, visit here.


UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit

Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook

For more information, please contact: Sabrina Sidhu, UNICEF New York, +1 917 476 1537,

Delocalisation may be bitter pill to teachers but will benefit nation

If the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Union get their way, there will be another strike early this year.

This is to protest delocalisation of teachers that their employer, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), has been carrying out since early last year.

The teachers’ unions have raised many issues. But whatever arguments one may have against delocalisation, these should not be the basis for a national strike by teachers.

It is arguable that the TSC should have staggered the programme, beginning with new promotions and phasing out the locally deployed institutional leaders as they retire or when they are next due for promotion.

That would have taken 10-20 years to effect, however, because a majority of school heads and deputies are in their mid-forties, just shy off the mandatory retirement age of 60.

To their credit, TSC has ensured that delocalised officers settle in their new stations and enjoy a peaceful transition.


But does delocalisation have a positive impact in the general provision of service in such a critical sector? It is true that many schools, especially in peri-urban and rural set-ups, have almost always had all the teaching staff come from the same locality. With support staff from the locality, that gives the institution a tribal image, later affecting the learners’ worldview.

Hence, a delocalised teaching force would encourage a healthy cross-cultural exchange that can be the trigger for a more inclusive and much-touted national unity.

A delocalised leadership also tends to reduce financial and other malpractices. There are schools where serious official business is transacted in the prevalent local language and the secretary translates the minutes.

It is not unusual to find a great discrepancy in what is recorded and the actual proceedings. Tenders end up in the hands of relatives or a small cartel and jobs are given to cronies and kin. Disciplinary issues involving staff and students are usually dealt with unprofessionally since nobody wishes to rock the communal way of doing things.


A case in point is the recent highlighting of pregnancies among thousands of primary school girls, to the embarrassment of all right-minded citizens, yet a keen outsiders’ eye, without the shadow of sociocultural practices to deter him or her, would have acted differently in good time.

Above all, delocalisation will, in due course, inject fresh thinking and new ways of approaching traditional challenges affecting the internal processes of the school and even the relationship of the school and the community.

This is because the new leadership will be under pressure to find ways of building bridges and maintaining existing ones with all stakeholders while remaining cognisant of the fact that acceptance or rejection depends on performance, not an attachment to the community.

SAMSON NYARIMA, educationist, Kisumu.

Are you making New Year resolutions? Such a cliché! Try this instead

Show me who invented New Year resolutions and I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it.

The tradition was invented by a group of guilty people, who feel sorry for themselves. People who have spent the best part of the year lavishly and in disuse and now burdening a new year with a promise of reversing their misery.

Unless you are a company, coming up with a strategic plan, New Year resolutions are just limits we put on ourselves. They are promises we make for ourselves to feel better; a temporary sedative we give ourselves before we reincarnate to our old selves.

Instead of limiting yourself to some specific, wishful promises, how about being open-minded, exploring what life has to offer?

We were never created like a robot, with pre-set commands. Man is an intelligent being, innovative and creative, designed to pursue adventures and outgrow his limitations and do the things he thinks he can’t. And New Year resolutions negate that. Embrace the freedom of being open and contented in one’s mind.

If at all a new year means a new beginning to you, consider going for the important goals; the immaterial. This entails prioritising self-care and self-love above what the society’s idea of change is. And this shouldn’t always wait for a new year or month; change happens at any time and at any moment.

Surprise yourself when you can; don’t be limited and predictable. Try also to be of use; like a candle, light up the society. After all, these are the things that do matter. Stop trying to find the forest and just enjoy the trees.

It’s the year to put country on runway

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Happy New Year dear readers! We join the rest of the world in marking the first day of 2019. The New Year carries with it new tidings and hopes. Opportunities abound; so are challenges. Success depends on the foundations that we establish at this early stage and the commitment to execute the plans.

As a country, we are coming out of a turbulent period characterised by political animosity, economic hardships and social challenges. For most of last year, we struggled to recover from the shocks of the 2017 elections. The key milestone was the rapprochement between erstwhile political rivals Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga in March that dramatically changed the equation and set the country on a path of reconciliation and recovery.


A number of issues will dominate the national landscape. Top on the cards is the flagging economy and rising debt burden. Economic indicators show inflation was below double-digits last year. The average economic growth was 5.5 percent. Agriculture was relatively robust, owing to good rains and steady food prices. But the economic indicators were below projections. For the country to grow, experts postulate continuous growth at 10 per cent. We are halfway there — but below the growth years of the Mwai Kibaki era, when at one point the economy grew at seven percent.

The challenge for President Kenyatta is to put in place prudent policies to spur real growth. At present, the focus is on four pillars — agriculture, health, housing and manufacturing. But beyond the podium pronouncements, there is no roadmap to actualise them to leverage economic growth and national development.

A more worrying issue is the debt portfolio. We closed the year with Sh5.1 trillion on the debt register — projected to hit Sh5.6 trillion in June and Sh7 trillion in 2022, when President Kenyatta’s second and final term ends. Essentially, the debt is nearly double the annual budget of Sh3 trillion. Experts, and even donors, have warned that Kenya is walking precariously to the edge. We are nearly at the tipping point.

Uncharacteristically, the leadership is not bothered. The President has consistently argued that the country can meet its obligations. But we are not convinced. Recently, Auditor-General Edward Ouko warned about the risk to national assets such as the port should the country default on the Chinese loan used to build the standard gauge railway. That is not an idle threat.


In the social sector, education reform will take centre stage. Already, the government has declared intent to roll out a new curriculum that markedly departs from the current 8-4-4 system. On paper, the 2-6-3-3 system, sounds novel. But clearly, its implementation is bound to be chaotic because of official blundering. Procrastination and policy bluffs have created a mess out of the endeavour. Empirical evidence has been adduced showing the country is ill-prepared to roll it out this year due to lack of finances, infrastructure, teaching and learning resources and competent teachers — but the government is hell-bent on running with it.

Education reform is a momentous undertaking. It creates or destroys a country. If poorly conceptualised and badly executed, it can ruin a generation. This is why we ask President Kenyatta and his administration to think through the process and, given the technical and practical evidence, postpone the roll-out for at least a year to allow for proper ground work. Tied to that, he requires competent and visionary leadership to steer it.


Another task for the administration is the war on corruption. Already, laudable efforts were made in 2018 to seize and charge high-profile suspects. Unfortunately, most cases have not been concluded, raising serious questions about the efficacy of investigations, prosecution and trials. Mere arrests and prosecutions are not enough. What is important is conviction and recovery of stolen assets. Corruption must be made painful and expensive.

Crucially, the referendum debate is bound to feature strongly. Closely linked to it is the succession quest as politicians align themselves for the post-Kenyatta era. Our concern is that the thrust for constitutional change is to create positions and entrench political interests at the expense of vital issues. Any legal reform must be designed to improve the welfare of Kenyans.

After the nasty politics of last year, the country needs sanity. Politicians should spare us the empty noises. Focus should be on economic growth, tackling youth unemployment, revitalising social sectors such as health and education, fighting graft and intensifying infrastructure development. It is incumbent upon the President to provide the leadership to realise all these.

With census, referendum on the cards, 2019 political hot potato

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I would like to wish all family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, acquaintances, readers, fans and critics Happy New Year. May you all have a wonderful, peaceful and prosperous 2019.

Now let’s cut the rituals and get a dose of reality: 2019, for most people, will be anything but happy, placid or rewarding. It will be a year of divisive politicking with noise levels almost unprecedented for midterm through an electoral cycle.

If campaigns for the 2022 presidential election started prematurely — even before President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto had settled down after securing re-election in 2017 — we can expected heightened decibels with the new year.

The General and Presidential Elections are not due until August 2022 but this year comes with a confluence of events intertwined with politics and providing fertile ground for early campaigns.

One will be release of the report and recommendations of the Building Bridges Initiative, most likely calling for far-reaching constitutional amendments that would require a referendum. The other will be the national population census — which is held every 10 years and is becoming increasingly politicised.

Ordinarily, both should be mundane events providing no reason for political tugs of war. The Building Bridges, championed by President Kenyatta and perpetual opposition campaigner Raila Odinga, was touted as a path to national healing and reconciliation and an end to politics that stoke ethnic animosity and violence, a re-engineering of governance structures to inculcate a new spirit of national unity and inclusivity.

It became anything but that when the DP saw it as a political scheme to elbow him out of the way and scupper his chances of stepping up to State House in 2022 under the Jubilee Party power-sharing and succession pact.

Because of that, any referendum out of the BBI is likely to be a Ruto-Raila duel — a loud, noisy, raucous and divisive prequel to 2022 which will destroy and reshape political alliances.

Then we have the census, also in the middle of the year. In Kenya, it is not just about counting the number of people, goats, cows, sheep and huts in the country. Rather, it has become a Nigeria-style competition between regions and ethnic groups for the numbers that then determine the political equation and access to national resources.

The 1999 census results were withheld for ages because not even the officials in charge could believe the numbers. The population data had to be recalibrated later before any meaningful numbers could be made available for planning purposes.

In 2009, population numbers for large swathes of the country — including much of the present Mandera, Wajir and Garissa counties of the vast former North Eastern Province, as well as Turkana County in the Rift Valley — were similarly scratched. They had all displayed population surges that defied all known logic and permutations, most likely the outcome of collusion between local leaders and census enumerators.

Population numbers matter even more now, in the devolved system. We have seen the furore after the Commission on Revenue Allocation released proposed allocation of funds to counties.

Some highly populated regions, especially in President Kenyatta’s central Kenya region, complained that they got a raw deal, while large but sparsely populated regions were not happy either.

The review of electoral boundaries at the ward and constituency level also follows numbers, and regional (or ethnic) blocs will each want as many representatives as possible so that they can have the critical mass to push for legislation critical to resource sharing.

Both the BBI and the census will clearly be heavily political.

President Kenyatta may be serving out his final term but he will be heavily occupied with his belated attempt at crafting a legacy while caught in the middle of what is bound to become an increasingly desperate battle between Dr Ruto and Mr Odinga ahead of their 2020 showdown.

He will also be fighting to remain politically relevant in a scenario where many of the central Kenya politicians who rode to Parliament on his coattails are jumping ship to secure their political futures under the DP’s well-resourced campaign machinery.

An early lame duck at State House might not only be powerless to craft a legacy built around the so-called ‘Big Four’ development initiatives but also at threat of losing dismally if the key Jubilee pillars — his central Kenya bloc and Dr Ruto’s northern Rift Valley — rebel against BBI and any resulting referendum.

For President Kenyatta, it might not be a happy and fulfilling 2019.

Ruto’s PhD could be a blessing in disguise for higher education

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It has been a while since Deputy President William Ruto was conferred a PhD degree in plant ecology from my alma mater but scholarly brawls about it continue apace online. The bone of contention is that, in the true sense of academic meritocracy, a person of Dr Ruto’s punishing political schedule could not have invested enough time to truly earn academia’s highest honour.

On the surface, however, this sounds like an argument from incredulity for, after all, the DP defended his dissertation before a panel of seasoned professors, who determined that he had met the threshold for a PhD.


And yet when you objectively contextualise this in terms of what ordinarily, but non-linearly, constitutes a PhD, the singularity of Ruto’s academic achievement sticks out like the thumb of Odysseus. This is especially so in the sciences, where collecting and analysing data, while imperative to the process, is hardly enough to make one a doctor (Latin for “teacher”) of philosophy.

Although inevitable, it’s never the end goal of a doctoral programme worth its name to arm PhD candidates with other people’s facts. Rather, it should facilitate creation of new knowledge through rigorous application of the Scientific Method — a systematic process of identifying a problem worth solving, formulating sound hypotheses around it and then deliberately subjecting these conjectures to empirical (in)validation or refinement through experimentation.

It’s the iterative nature of this latter part of the process, wherein cumulative knowledge and unbiased interpretation of data is used to continuously refine or interrogate the validity of hypotheses, that makes it intimidating and time-intensive and often distinguishes a great student from a mediocre one.

However, the PhD committee adjudicates a candidate on the total “body of work”: The depth of comprehension of both their work and the field of study, as well as material contribution to that area of research through original and independent thinking as judged by the quality of their dissertation and publications.


Consequently, most doctoral candidates in the sciences take at least five uninterrupted years to muster this requisite body of work. It is also one reason why admission to reputable science-based PhD programmes in the West comes with full scholarship and a stipend to ensure minimum distraction. I spent an average of 14 hours in school per day, six days a week for five straight years, to earn a PhD in chemistry. This schedule was very unforgiving to personal relationships, much less a second career.

With this context, it is now perhaps easier to understand why some are openly sceptical that Ruto’s ultra-intense schedule for the past seven years — comprising the 2011-2012 election campaigns; post-election violence case at the International Criminal Court; official duties as deputy president; and the monstrous 2016-2017 electioneering — would not have left any meaningful time for an equally demanding PhD. That as it may, the DP has joined the PhD club and is a “doctor’ no less.

However, it is during times like these when some start to wonder, justifiably so, if we are truly giving our local PhDs the right kind of training, tools and exposure to help them to tackle our most pressing issues. Could this, perhaps, explain why we import the most basic of things from India and China instead of manufacturing them locally?


Nonetheless, it might not be a stretch to imagine a couple of unintended consequences from Ruto’s PhD, particularly in light of Vision 2030. One, he understands first-hand the need for, and cost of, creating a highly trained talent pool that would help propel our industrialisation dream.

Two, as the country’s second in command, he would be better placed to champion a step-change increase in funding research from the 0.8 percent of GDP (World Bank data) to at least 1.5 percent. This will enable institutions to attract top-notch talent, acquire state-of-the-art equipment and pay stipends and tuition waivers for postgraduate students.

Three, there is a sizeable army of diaspora Kenyans with PhDs; with proper incentives, he might have some leverage luring them back home to tap into their unique skill sets and expertise.

The ball is in your court, Dr Ruto!

Encourage women to join mining sector

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Despite the progress made globally in promoting women’s participation in the labour force, gaps exist in traditionally male-dominated fields such as the extractives industry, which includes the mining and oil and gas sectors.

The gaps are particularly acute in mining, which has, for the better part of its centuries-old history, been characterised by policies and regulations that deny women the same opportunities as men. Until the 1990s, for example, legislation strictly forbade women to work underground in South Africa.

While such archaic laws no longer exist, some of the attitudes that inspired them linger. In some cases, women in mining are subtly stereotyped as intruders into a male domain. They are inevitably subjected to more layers of scrutiny before securing key roles, dimming their prospects of upward mobility at the workplace.


To create a safe space for women to prosper in mining, industry players must abandon old human resource models — which have achieved limited results in integrating women into the workplace — and take a leaf from younger players pioneering innovative models.

Of the workforce at Kwale Mineral Sands Project, Kenya’s largest mining operation, where Base Titanium has been mining titanium since 2013, 16 percent are women, with those in management positions 30 percent. Even in economies with a history of affirmative action, few mining firms come close.

Collectively, titanium ores accounted for 58 percent, or Sh13.6 billion, of the country’s Sh23.7 billion mineral earnings in 2017, surpassing other key mineral exports, according to data from Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

A 2017 study by Adam Smith International and International Women in Mining shows the direct participation of women along the value chain of large-scale mining projects is less than 10 per cent globally while those in management and leadership positions are at a dismal five percent.


Base has strong linkages with key industry stakeholders, such as the Association of Women in Extractives in Kenya (Aweik), which provides advanced training to women in the extractives sector. The training is critical since the percentage of women pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses in Kenya is small, mirroring the situation in most countries.

This also opens an opportunity for to fill the massive skills gap the local mining sector faces. Not only because 75 per cent of jobs in the future for will require skills in Stem-related fields but many young women will need to be well versed with these skills so as to not miss out on jobs.

More emphasis is being placed on inclusive business practices, where women get equal pay, are involved in decision making and work under conditions that are suited to their unique and diverse roles in their families and society.

Going forward, only those companies with human resource policies that give women an equal chance will maintain their social licence to operate.

New storyline needed to appreciate roles of MSEs better

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At a presidential roundtable on micro and small enterprises (MSEs) at Strathmore University, Nairobi, last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta rejected his written speech after listening to the business community. He said that it misrepresented the story of MSEs in the national economy and their relationship with the government.

The misrepresentation is not unusual in everyday development and academic discourse, having began with the work of Keith Hart and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in the 1970s, when they were labelled as the “informal sector”. Then, Hart and ILO contrasted the informal to the formal sector.

Informal sector was said to contain the following attributes: Ease of entry, reliance on indigenous resources, family ownership, small scale of operation, labour intensive and adapted technologies, and skills acquired outside formal school system.

The formal consisted of the opposite, including: Difficulty of entry, frequent reliance on overseas resources, corporate ownership, large scale of operation, capital intensive and often imported technologies, formally acquired skills, often expatriate, and protected markets (through tariffs, quotas and trade licences).

Formalisation of the informal sector — that is, making it acquire the attributes of the formal one — was proposed as a development strategy.

The attributes of the informal sector represented an indigenous strategy that was ubiquitous and would save on foreign exchange. But instead of adopting it, African governments were advised to prompt the formal sector, most of it import substituting that depended on foreign skills, technology and capital. It would have made sense to promote the informal sector without trying to change it or spreading coloniality.

The second misrepresentation happened during the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), when the sector was identified as a safety net for shielding people from the adverse effects of the liberalising economy. But instead of first studying how the sector had evolved since Hart and ILO, the strategy was an extension of formalisation.


The period coincided with Hernando de Soto’s writings of the other path. According to De Soto, the informal sector was the pathway to capitalist development, which had been shut out by laws and regulations on property rights and lack of business registration. If these legal hurdles were cleared, the informal sector revolution would take place. The strategy adopted during this neoliberal period entailed further intensive formalisation. Programmes included the World Bank Voucher Training Programme, supply of equipment and training and demonstration centres by the UNDP. The government created the Ministry of Technology and Technical Training and asked county councils to provide Jua Kali spaces and the artisans were encouraged to form associations. The underlying factor was that Jua Kali is a faulty sector that needed reform and guidance.

MSEs could contribute greatly to the revival of our economy if we allowed the sector to tell its own story about survival. Elite development and academic professionals should learn and engage with subaltern knowledges in the sector. That involves understanding the solidarity entrepreneurialism; how they share space and transaction costs in places such as Uhuru Market, Kamukunji and Gikomba, Nairobi.

Secondly, learn how MSEs build communities to harness human agency and creativity. It takes a lot of creativity and self-determination to produce goods in these markets. It involves setting rules for fairness and order in production and exchange.

Thirdly, understand their philosophy on wealth and well-being — values and norms about gifting, sharing and reciprocity in determining wealth and well-being.

Fourthly, there is a need to understand how learning takes place in the MSE clusters. What kind of pedagogy is transferred? How it is transferred and delivered? What are the dos and don’ts? What are the rewards and punishments? How is order maintained?

Then, we shall know how to engage with MSEs without feeling embarrassed. We can then design programmes that will enhance the sector rather than trying to change it.

MSEs are part of our solutions for development. We need to understand their story and stop misrepresenting them in our development, academic and political discourse. This will serve as a basis for technical and vocational education.

Dr Kinyanjui, a researcher at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Nairobi, is the author of several books. [email protected]

Kalonzo, Kivutha wrangles intensify

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Differences between Wiper Chairman Kivutha Kibwana and party leader Kalonzo Musyoka have escalated, with the former now claiming that the latter cannot be trusted to develop Ukambani.

The differences boiled over in November when Mr Musyoka’s declared himself as President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ‘errand boy’, sparking outrage from among others, Prof Kibwana. Although Prof Kibwana, the Makueni governor, reiterates that Ukambani is poised to develop more should its leaders forge a formal working relationship with the national government, he feels that Mr Musyoka is not the right entry point for such a working formula.

“What some of us have objected to after our National Executive Council approval to work with the government is the fact that Mr Musyoka decided to negotiate while escorted by a few close buddies. The negotiations ceased to be a structured party to party affair and became personalised. This is why we asked for a broader platform after our entry into the ‘Handshake deal’.”

He added: “This is why this time round we as the three governors of Ukambani — Charity Ngilu (Kitui), Alfred Mutua (Machakos) and Kibwana — wish, if possible, to also discuss development matters with the highest office of the land. We do not mind seeking development for our people as Mr Musyoka targets his 2022 presidential ambition,” he said in a statement yesterday.

The governor was reacting to a Sunday Nation report in which Mr Musyoka portrays him and others faulting the deal he entered with President Kenyatta as insincere. Mr Musyoka exuded confidence that he is firmly in control of Ukambani, the region he hopes to use as a launch pad for his 2022 State House bid.

The former VP has defended his declaration to work with President Kenyatta, a move that has divided Wiper. Those on Mr Musyoka’s side accuse Prof Kibwana’s camp of washing the community’s dirty linen in public. Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua led a faction of MPs and ward reps in condemning those questioning the deal at a rally attended by Mr Musyoka three weeks ago.

Mr Musyoka also accuses Prof Kibwana of discussing party affairs on the streets, an accusation the governor did not take lying down. “I do not raise party matters haphazardly on the streets. There is a pattern. I get accused unfairly and I have to put the record straight.” He also accused Mr Musyoka of looking the other way when Wiper ward reps attack governors in the region.

DPP Haji asks for CJ Maraga's help after Tom Ojienda reprieve

Following the suspension of criminal proceedings against lawyer Tom Ojienda, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji has asked the prosecution to prepare a response and Chief Justice David Maraga to intervene.

Prof Ojienda was arrested on December 21 over claims of fraudulent acquisition of Sh89 million from Mumias Sugar Company. On Monday, Justice Chacha Mwita halted his prosecution to determine whether DPP Haji acted illegally.

In a statement on Monday evening, Mr Haji noted that the order cripples his office and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

He pointed out that it also “jeopardises the state of witnesses and evidence in criminal cases”.

The DPP explained that the directive rendered it impossible for them to pursue cases involving Prof Ojienda until petition 470 is determined.

He pointed out that in the case, Prof Ojienda was to take plea before Senior Principal Magistrate Martha Mutuku but that he did not, even though all other pleas were taken.

He further noted that the prosecution and the accused were both represented in court, so the setting aside of the matter was for “unknown reasons”.

Judge Mwita had at the time been hearing matters to do with petition 470.

The ruling suspended investigations, recommendation of prosecution, arraignment, searches at Prof Ojienda’s homes and offices until February 18.

The DPP said his office will respect the ruling, but added that such determinations are bound to erode public confidence in the criminal justice system.

He termed them a “major setback” in the anti-corruption war but said they will respond in line with their obligations to the public, cane farmers in particular.

While citing several cases in which similar orders were issued in favour of Mr Ojienda, Mr Haji noted a trend in which conservatory orders are issued ex-parte, beyond the stipulated 14-day period.

“This requires urgent attention,” he said.

The Prof Ojienda cases that Mr Haji cited were:

  1. Petition 377 in which a November 2 order, by Judge Mwita, prohibited the attorney-general, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) from pursuing criminal charges for 2009-2016.

  2. Petition 418, in which Justice Wilfrida Okwany compelled the KRA to issue the lawyer with a compliance certificate for 2018/19 despite investigations on tax compliance. This order was issued on December 4.

  3. Petition 464, which concerned the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission. In this matter, Justice Mwita issued an order that prevented the commission from summoning, arresting and charging Prof Ojienda over the use of the government vehicle he was assigned.

  4. Petition 471 concerning the taxman, which was blocked from demanding a payment of Sh443,631,000 for 2009-2016 and Sh378,682,140 as taxes for the period 2011-2016. Justice George Odunga issued this order on May 11.

Mr Haji also cited a case which “the accused has exploited as a bar to his further prosecution”.

He said that in petition 122 of 2015, Justice Isaac Lenaola did not halt the probe but noted it would be best for Prof Ojienda to clear himself.

Mr Haji quoted the judge as saying, “Investigations of the nature he is facing are not akin to an inquiry of professional misconduct but a serious inquiry into alleged corruption.”

He said the lawyer has not sought to clear himself since then.

The DPP said he is concerned about these orders, “all in favour of a particular litigant” as they “raise serious questions on the principle of equality before the law”.


“I have read the DPP’s statement with utter shock and disbelief. I would like to state without any fear of contradiction that I do not, I cannot and I have never filed a fake case. I have never conspired with any person to be paid for work not done,” he said in a statement on Saturday morning.

The matters the society will address include Friday arrests which see suspects held by police for weekends, the issue of freeing suspects on police bonds, especially if they are not flight risks and the matter of arrest warrants.

LSK President Allen Gichuhi noted, however, that the challenge is for the good of all Kenyans, not just Mr Ojienda, and that this is not the first time they have raised the issue of weekend arrests.