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Saturday, September 28th, 2019

 

Many Malawians see a double standard in HRDC’s outcries for Justice

Headlines screamed Police and protesters clashed in three cities in Malawi during countrywide demonstrations over the disputed result of last month’s presidential election. Thousands of opposition supporters participated in the demonstrations in the capital, Lilongwe, demanding the immediate resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Jane Ansah. During these violent demos  police officers were severely injured […]

The post Many Malawians see a double standard in HRDC’s outcries for Justice appeared first on The Maravi Post.


Risk in cash-for-food plan

EDITORIALBy EDITORIAL
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The government’s prompt intervention over the years to ensure that relief food is quickly delivered to any corner of the country facing food shortages has often saved lives.

And year in, year out, people in remote arid and semi-arid lands have had to grapple with the challenge of food scarcity.

Their vulnerability is evident in the stark helplessness that drives them into a demeaning culture of perennial dependency. And it is manifested in their inability to fend for themselves.

However, there is nothing as humiliating as having to rely on other people’s benevolence to survive.

This has led to the stereotyping that stigmatises needy communities that would, if they could, proudly reject those handouts.

Every parent wants to be able to provide his or her children with food. But the reality is that sometimes, due to circumstances beyond their control, including harsh weather that hampers agriculture, some Kenyans have died of starvation.

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CORRUPTION

In this regard, the government’s announcement this week that cash disbursements will now be preferred over food aid is food for thought.

The logistical burden of moving food over long distances is enormous. Some would-be beneficiaries perish before the food reaches them, which is heart-rending for families, communities and those involved in mobilising its distribution.

Sometimes the food gets stolen by those charged with delivering it.

However, sending cash to the starving instead of distributing food could just compound the situation.

First, in a country notorious for its endemic corruption, especially in the public sector, the lure of cash could present worse problems.

PRODUCTION

As has been demonstrated before, there is potential in these arid lands that can be tapped by boosting irrigation, and it is better to show people how to fish instead of giving them fish.

Also, there is a likelihood of some cash recipients opting not to buy food and using the money on other things, aggravating their situation.

Even more importantly, the idea of food subsidies or cash handouts should be discouraged.

The best solution is to seek to grow enough food, and it is possible through greater investment in modern agricultural practices.


Unless saved, Lapsset projects will collapse

EDITORIALBy EDITORIAL
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The grand plan to build a modern and expansive port in Lamu to serve a host of countries and enhance regional trade was a noble idea.

However, the reality is beginning to dawn that it may not have been well thought through.

Questions have to be asked now. Was this a viable project in the first place? Was there a proper feasibility study with accurate advisory on financials and timelines? What does this mean for other projects in the future?

Conceived and launched with fanfare under the Grand Coalition government in 2012, the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) Corridor was planned as a mega infrastructure project comprising a modern port, a rail and road network, and international airports in Lamu, Isiolo and Lodwar.

Geographically, the Sh2.4 trillion project was to create a multi-transport corridor linking up Kenya, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo Brazzaville.

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However, what is obtaining on the ground is painfully sobering: the project may not realise that grand objective.

After seven years, various components of the project have not taken off and may not in the foreseeable future.

The first berth at the Lamu Port is complete and can start operations, but that cannot happen because the roads linking it with the hinterland have not been built.

In Isiolo, an international airport that forms a key pillar of the corridor is complete but lying idle due to minimal human and cargo traffic, bringing to question its continued sustainability.

Various road networks that link the port to diverse destinations have either not started or stalled due to lack of funding, inept contractors and waning commitment.

LOST OPPORTUNITIES

These are the reasons President Uhuru Kenyatta has expressed disappointment with the project, which is the feeling among the public as well.

At conception it looked promising, but the current reality is different. Countries that signed up have since changed course and are pursuing other interests.

Ethiopia, a major partner, has shifted interest to Djibouti Port, which, due to proximity, makes economic sense.

Uganda and Rwanda have variously oscillated between working with Kenya or Tanzania, signalling that we are not the only option, and therefore not indispensable.

Lapsset demonstrates the folly of venturing into major infrastructure projects without proper investment plans.

Huge sums of money are being invested without commensurate returns.

The standard gauge railway, completed two years ago, is making losses. It is time to review the status of the Lapsset project and determine what ought to be done to rescue it.


Marché des arts du spectacle d’Abidjan : Des artistes béninois sélectionnés

Des artistes et groupes d’artistes béninois ont été sélectionnés dans diverses catégories pour prendre part à la 11e édition du Marché des arts du spectacle d’Abidjan (Masa 2020) devant se dérouler du 7 au 14 mars 2020 dans la capitale ivoirienne. La sélection officielle de l’évènement révèle la programmation dans la catégorie ‘’Musique’’ du salséro Jospinto, de Thibaut Le Magicien dans les Arts du cirque et de la marionnette, des compagnies Oshala dans la danse et de Tout gran Theatr Djogbé dans la catégorie ‘’Théâtre’’.   


Parc national de la Pendjari : La saison touristique ouverte le 15 octobre prochain

« …Nous rouvrons nos portes le 15 octobre afin de permettre aux visiteurs de découvrir ce bastion de la faune sauvage ouest-africaine. Nous nous réjouissons de vous faire part de nos dernières avancées en matière de tourisme. Nous souhaitons à tous une saison touristique 2019-2020 fructueuse et stimulante. » Tel est le message publié par le Parc national de la Pendjari pour inviter les amateurs de sensations fortes et autres amoureux de la nature à renouer avec les odyssées dans cette réserve de biosphère aux immenses potentialités et à y faire des découvertes. Ainsi dès le 15 octobre prochain, à l’ouverture de la saison touristique 2019-2020, cette aire protégée du Bénin, située à l’extrême nord-ouest du pays, dans le département de l’Atacora, sur les communes de Tanguiéta, Matéri et Kérou, à la frontière du Burkina Faso, connaîtra le flux de visiteurs qu’elle accueille généreusement sur ses presque 5000 km² de superficie.

Il constitue une composante principale du complexe transnational W-Arly-Pendjari (WAP) de 35.000 km², réparti sur trois pays: Bénin, Burkina Faso et Niger. Il s’agit du plus grand écosystème intact d’Afrique de l’Ouest et du dernier refuge de la plus grande population d’éléphants de la région et de lions d’Afrique de l’Ouest en danger critique d’extinction, dont il reste moins de 400 adultes desquels 100 vivent à la Pendjari, présente l’Ong African Parks Network à qui incombe sa gestion depuis mai 2017. Le vaste paysage de la Pendjari contient d’importantes zones humides qui sont essentielles pour un certain nombre d’espèces locales, notamment les guépards, les buffles, diverses espèces d’antilopes et plus de 460 espèces d’oiseaux.

Depuis que la gestion de la réserve a été déléguée à l’African Parks Network, la fréquentation est repartie à la hausse avec une moyenne de 7 000 visiteurs par an, annonce-t-on.


Goodbye Fellow Humanist, Patrick Naagbanton!

My hand is shaking as I pen this piece, as I tried to articulate a befitting tribute to my dear friend and fellow humanist, Patrick Naagbanton. Patrick’s sudden demise has emotionally devastated me. I am in shock and cannot believe that Mr. Naagbanton has passed away. The news of his death did not come to […]

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SportPesa and Betin close shop in Kenya over tax standoff

PAUL WAFULABy PAUL WAFULA
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Betting firms SportPesa and Betin have finally thrown in the towel.

The two firms have halted their operations in Kenya and are set to send home thousands of their employees after a prolonged tax standoff with the Kenyan government.

The betting firms, which control more than 60 percent of the market share in Kenya, said separately they had resorted to take the action after the taxes slapped on the industry made the business no longer viable.

‘DAMAGING IMPACT’

SportPesa, which had earlier indicated that it was coming back to business, now says it is disappointed with the decision by the Kenyan legislature to impose a 20 percent excise tax on all betting stakes.

“The tax is based on a fundamental misunderstanding by the Rotich-led treasury of how revenue generation works in the bookmaker industry. This decision will have a damaging impact on both customers and treasury,” the firm said in a statement.

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“Further compounded by the currently in-effect 20 percent withholding tax on winnings, the economic incentive to place bets will be completely removed as the taxes will deprive consumers of their total winnings,” the firm added.

It argues that this will have severe consequences for licensed betting companies, which dutifully pay their taxes and ultimately will lead to a decline in government tax revenue to near zero and will halt all investments in sports in Kenya.

“Until such time that adequate taxation and non-hostile regulatory environment is returned, the SportPesa brand will halt operations in Kenya,” the firm said.

On its part, Betin has sent a notice of termination to all its staff on grounds that it has not been operational since July 2019.

“Management has had several extensive meetings with relevant government entities regarding the company’s licence renewal without much success,” the firm explains in the staff memo.

“In view of the above, we have had financial constraints as you might all expect. As a result of the deterioration of the profitability, the management has had to rethink its operational model and to proceed with the exercise of termination on account of redundancy,” it added. It said it had tried to find an alternative between July and September 2019, but it has now become financially impossible to maintain the entire workforce.

“We hereby notify you that positions will be rendered redundant on 31st October 2019,” firm said.

With the shutdown of the two, more than 2,500 people who depend directly on the industry will be out of jobs in coming days as the government crackdown on the sector draws its first casualties.


ACK bishops elect new Dean as bid to change constitution gathers pace

JUSTUS WANGABy JUSTUS WANGA
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Meru Bishop Charles Mwendwa is the new Provincial Dean for the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK).

The change of guard has been occasioned by the retirement of Maseno West Bishop Joseph Wasonga, the previous holder, on September 1. Bishop Wasonga has since been replaced by his former diocesan Secretary, John Mark Haung Godia.

CHURCH CONSTITUTION

Bishop Mwendwa was picked during the Synod sittings, which started on Wednesday and ended the next day at the All Saints Cathedral, the church’s seat of power. The Synod meets every two years.

The post is the second most powerful after that of the ACK Archbishop.

At the same time, a push to amend the Church’s Constitution has gathered momentum after the bishops sent a number of proposals to the dioceses for debate and eventual ratification.

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“In order to respond to the ever-changing needs and operational environment and remain true to our mandate in a holistic manner, we commit to re-examine our constitution, processes and the way we do business guided by ACK Decade Strategy 2018-2027. In this regard, this session resolved that where Dioceses have in place Human Resources Policies and Procedure Manuals, such documents should be harmonised with the Provincial Human Resource Manual within a grace period of one year,” Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit said in a communication.

ELECTION DISPUTES

“One of the areas we want to look at is having the elections three months after the bishop retires to avoid the influence of the incumbency,” a high-ranking official from the archbishop’s office said.

Given the high number of post-election disputes that have flooded the courts in the past four years, the bishops are keen to create a conflict resolution organ to lead arbitrations going forward.

“Some of the issues can be sorted out administratively without having the aggrieved go to the secular courts. The absence of such an organ has meant that every slight dispute after the elections finds its way to the courts to the detriment of the Church’s image,” Bishop David Kodia of Bondo Diocese, a member of the constitution amendment committee, told the Sunday Nation yesterday.

Equally, there is a strong desire to increase the eligibility age for one to vie, from 35 to 45 years.

“Many people are not comfortable with the current arrangement. They say that when one is elected at 35, it means the faithful will have to contend with him or her for 30 years when they retire. Their concern is that if the leader has glaring shortcomings, then putting them through such is not healthy for the church,” Prof Kodia said.

WOMEN CONSECRATION

Increasing the age to 45 means that the maximum period a prelate can serve is 20 years since they retire at 65.

On the stubborn question of women bishops, the church is also effecting a deliberate push to encourage senior female priests to vie whenever a vacancy arises.

“Right now, the Constitution just talks of priests of good standing being allowed to run in bishopric elections. We want to take this a notch further and affirm the consecration of women to become bishops in the revised document,” Bishop Kodia said.

The Anglican Constitution explains that a Provincial Dean is a sitting bishop elected by the Standing Committee of the Provincial Synod from a list of Bishops recommended by the House of Bishops. He acts as the Archbishop when the latter is absent from the Church or is incapacitated by any cause.

Given that he is the longest serving prelate after Bishop Wasonga left the service, the synod settled on Bishop Mwendwa through consensus. The Diocese of Meru was carved from the Diocese of Kirinyaga in 1997.

WATER TOWERS

The committee has also been charged with coming up with a guideline on setting up of new dioceses to guard against possible ‘mushrooming’ of such units in future. In May, Garissa Diocese became one of the newest units, bringing the number of religious divisions to 40, with Bishop David Mutisya at the helm.

At a time the government is leading a crackdown on those who encroached into the Mau forest, the church also weighed in on the raging debate on saving water towers.

“The session noted with deep concern the devastating effects of climate change on general welfare of Kenyans. We call upon the government, county governments and others to step up efforts in combating the effects.

“To this end, we resolve to scale up our efforts through tree planting and growing, promotion of green energy within our areas of influence and waste management as well as champion policies and reforms in various sectors,” Archbishop Sapit said.


Christian Coleman stuns Gatlin to win 100m gold

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Christian Coleman stormed to victory in the 100 metres at the World Championships in Doha on Saturday, emphatically shrugging off the missed drug test controversy which had threatened to derail his career.

The 23-year-old American, who escaped a doping ban earlier this month on a technicality, swept over the finish line in a world-leading 9.76sec to claim his first major outdoor championship gold medal.

Defending champion Justin Gatlin took silver in 9.89sec while Canada’s Andre De Grasse claimed bronze in 9.90sec.

It completed a flawless championship campaign for Coleman, who had been the only man to duck under 10 seconds in both Friday’s opening rounds and Saturday’s semi-finals.

Coleman’s victory was never in doubt, the stocky 2017 World Championship silver medallist exploding out of the blocks to take the lead over the opening 20 metres.

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‘ROAR OF TRIUMPH’

Coleman let out a roar of triumph as he crossed the line before punching the air in jubilation.

The victory was the culmination of a rollercoaster season for Coleman, whose participation in the championships had been in doubt until only a few weeks ago.

Coleman, who has strongly denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs, was left facing a lengthy suspension in August after it emerged he had registered three drug-testing “whereabouts” failures in a 12-month period.

The violation is regarded as equivalent to a failed drug test and often followed by a ban of up to two years.

Yet Coleman avoided a sanction when the case against him was dropped in early September because of a technicality.

Coleman had recorded his first whereabouts failure on June 6 last year, before two more offences in January 16 and April 26 this year.

However the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) abruptly withdrew the charges on September 2 after a review of the rules regarding how the 12-month window should be calculated.

Under an obscure regulation in the International Standard for Testing and Investigations (ISTI) guidelines, Coleman’s first missed case in June last year should have been backdated to the first day of that quarter, April 1, 2018.

That meant the dates of the three offences fell outside the required 12-month time-frame for a doping offence to have occurred – leaving Coleman in the clear and free to compete in Doha.


Hassan strikes gold, Tirop gets bronze in 10000m

Kenya's Agnes Jebet Tirop celebrates with the national flag after finishing third in the Women's 10,000m final at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Khalifa International stadium in Doha on September 28, 2019. PHOTO | ANTHONIN THUILLIER |

Kenya’s Agnes Jebet Tirop celebrates with the national flag after finishing third in the Women’s 10,000m final at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Khalifa International stadium in Doha on September 28, 2019. PHOTO | ANTHONIN THUILLIER |  AFP