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Tuesday, October 8th, 2019

 

Makueni MCAs reject Punguza Mizigo bill

PIUS MAUNDUBy PIUS MAUNDU
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Makueni ward reps joined county assemblies rejecting the Puguza Mizigo bill Tuesday in a heated session punctuated with criticisms on the ‘good intentions’ of Ekuru Aukot who is behind the constitutional review initiative.

The local leaders said that Dr Ekuru Aukot had suggested an unrealistic solution to Kenya’s burdens and that he had not consulted widely.

The motion to reject the bill was moved by Nguumo Ward Rep Alfred Mutuku, who had chaired an ad hoc eleven-member committee tasked by the Assembly Speaker Douglas Mbilu to look into the bill.

The committee noted that reducing the number of elected and nominated leaders as suggested in the bill would disadvantage marginalised groups.

Mr Mutuku was seconded by the Assembly Majority leader, Kyalo Mumo who had an issue with Dr Aukot’s proposal that a president should last only one year seven term. “This one term presidency would make us the first people to practice that so undemocratic system,” said Mr Mumo.

Most of the law makers who spoke at the floor of the House hailed Dr Aukot for being visionary. Thange MCA Nicholas Maitha, who voted to reject the bill, likened Dr Aukot to American’s Martin Luther King and India’s Mahatma Ghadhi whose great visions for their countries took long to materialize.

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“What Dr Aukot’s is dreaming of may not see the light of day soon, but probably many years later, people will come to realize that this very good man had a good dream,” he said. They, however, said that he should have consulted widely while creating the initiative.

Those who voted against the bill cited the heavy burden caused by recurrent expenditure that tax payers in the country are forced to shoulder.


JKUAT submits report on questionable PhD degrees

OUMA WANZALABy OUMA WANZALA
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Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology (JKUAT) has finally submitted a report to the Commission for University (CUE) on the questionable 118 PhDs that the institution awarded graduates in June this year.

CUE chief executive officer Mwenda Ntarangwi said they will study the report and advise the university accordingly.

“We had demands that we put to the university to fulfil and we will be looking at them in the coming days,” Prof Ntarangwi told Nation but declined to reveal the contents of the report.

After the award of the PhDs, CUE launched investigations and which revealed shocking details on failure by the University to follow laid down procedures in award of the degrees.

The University Senate was then given three months to meet and review the PhDs that were awarded during the 33rd Graduation ceremony held on June 21.

CUE directed the University to submit evidence of the students’ publication of two articles in referred journals for each PhD awarded failure to which the non-conforming PhDs would   be recalled until the graduation requirement is fulfilled.

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CUE also directed JKUAT to review all PhDs awarded in the past graduations.

A total of 327 PhD degrees and 2,101 master’s degrees were awarded during the 31st, 32nd and 33rd graduation ceremonies held between June 2018, November 2018, and June 2019.

The CUE report revealed poor monitoring of students’ progress during PhD training and there was non-adherence to the University Statutes in; allocation of supervisors, constitution of Board of Examiners, conduct of student seminar presentations and evidence of supervision.

“There was non-adherence to the guidelines with respect to; supervision load and duration of research component of PhD programme ,” read the report.

Vice Chancellor Victoria Ngumi defended the institution saying all degrees of the University are meritoriously earned and no student is allowed to graduate without going through the due process regarding coursework, seminars, original research, external examination and publications.

However, Tuesday, the management of the university was not available for comment as the communication department did reply to email or pick calls.


Mombasa protesters against SGR cargo order set free

MOHAMED AHMEDBy MOHAMED AHMED
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Police have set free demonstrators who were arrested during a protest against the monopoly use of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

The 13 protesters, who included truck drivers and human rights activist, were freed on Monday evening unconditionally.

They were however required to report back to the Nyali Police Station where they were being detained on Thursday.

‘NO CRIME’

“We have been asked to go back on October 10 and report to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations office. We will comply because what we know is that we did not commit any crime, but exercising our constitutional rights,” said Muslim for Human Rights (Muhuri) rapid response officer Francis Auma, who was among those arrested.

Other activists who were also arrested include Haki Africa’s executive director Hussein Khalid, his rapid response officer Mathias Shippeta and another official identified as Michael.

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Truck drivers and officials from another lobby group, Fast Action Movement were also arrested and released.

Their release was welcomed with excitement by their supporters, who had camped outside the police station.

The Nation, established that charges were drafted against the protesters, despite their release.

According to the charges, the protesters are accused of violating Section 83 of the Penal Code which prohibits rioting after proclamation by police.

Nyali police bossSimon Thirikwa termed the demo as “illegal” as the proclamation was made to the demonstrators who opted to defy it.

“It is an offence to ignore the proclamation. We are still going to deal with them. They conducted an illegality,” said Mr Thirikwa.

The activists and the transporters took to the streets to push the government to effect an order it had suspended on the use of SGR as the only means of transport of cargo from Mombasa to Nairobi.

They staged their demo at the Nyali Bridge along the Malindi-Mombasa Highway after the transporters had claimed that they had been denied access at the Mombasa port to carry and nominate the cargo.

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) general manager Captain William Ruto however dismissed the claims saying the trucks had been allowed in the port as agreed by the government.

On Thursday last week, leaders from Mombasa led by Governor Hassan Joho met with Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, his Transport counterpart James Macharia and other port stakeholders where it was agreed that the order to give SGR monopoly of transportation of cargo be suspended.

On Monday, Mr Macharia insisted that business had been opened for everybody as per agreement with the port stakeholders.


More blows to Punguza Mizigo bill as Nairobi, Mandera reject proposal


Ethiopian Airlines jet makes emergency landing in Dakar

AFPBy AFP
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An Ethiopian Airlines jet made an emergency landing in Dakar with one of its engines on fire, though all 90 passengers and crew were unharmed, airport and airline officials said.

The Boeing 767 aircraft had just taken off from Dakar airport en route to Addis Ababa when the pilot asked to return and make an emergency landing, Tidiane Tamba, a spokesperson for the Senegal airport said.

Ethiopian Airlines confirmed one of its jets had suffered a “mechanical problem” and had safely returned to its point of departure, without giving more details on the cause.

The airline said all those onboard were safe.

The Dakar incident came after an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX crashed in March shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people onboard.

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Proprietors want order on unregistered schools squashed

MAUREEN KAKAHBy MAUREEN KAKAH
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Owners of non-formal schools across the country have taken the government to court for closing down unregistered schools.

Through the Kenya Alliance of Non-formal Schools Welfare Association (Kanswa), the owners have sued the Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang while seeking to have the directive quashed.

KCPE CANDIDATES

They told the High Court Tuesday that the order issued via a circular dated September 26, will likely affect preparation and performance of learners who are just about to sit for their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE)

They claim that over two million pupils in about 20,000 unregistered schools will be affected by the directive and that their right to basic education will be violated.

“Kanswa is apprehensive that unless this matter is heard urgently and the implementation of the impugned circular stopped,  learners in over 20,000 non-formal schools will suffer irreparable losses, damage and prejudice,” said their lawyer Sherwin Njoroge.

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In their filed case documents, the lobby argues that the non-formal schools operate under the Alternate Provision of Basic Education and Training (APBET) guidelines formed in 2009 but were eventually implemented in 2016.

They claim that majority of learners in these unregistered schools come from marginalized communities in urban informal settlements as well as arid and semi-arid areas hence they stand the risk of missing out on basic education contrary to the provisions of the constitution.

They also claim that majority of these communities are poor, either lack a public primary school, are overcrowded, are far away or lack necessary infrastructure to serve needs of all learners.

They allege that parents of such learners too have various reasons as to why they have taken their children to those unregistered schools yet now they are being forcefully required to transfer their kids to public ones.

The lobby has termed the directive as discriminatory, unreasonable, procedurally unfair, contrary to the Fair Administrative Action Act and good public policy.

According to the Kanswa’s chair Allan Masika, Sh 100 million was disbursed to 430 APBET institutions with 129, 448 learners and that the directive is a cover up for the government’s failure in ensuring delivery of free and compulsory education as well as dishonesty in the said allocation of funds.

The government ordered closure of unregistered schools after a classroom at Precious Top Talent School in Nairobi collapsed on pupils on September 23 killing eight of them.


Ferry tragedy: Equipment yet to arrive in the country

SIAGO CECEBy SIAGO CECE
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The Kenya Navy is yet to start searching for the bodies of a woman and her four-year-old daughter, who drowned in the Indian Ocean last week.

Government officials said Tuesday that the equipment to be used in the retrieval operation is yet to arrive in the country. 

Head of the rescue team, Col Lawrence Gituma, confirmed that the equipment is not available locally and will be imported from South Africa.

Kenya Ferry Services managing director Bakari Gowa told the Nation that private divers hired by the victims’ family continued with their mission Tuesday morning at the Likoni Channel.

The family of Mariam Kighenda and her daughter Amanda Mutheu contracted five divers from SubSeas Services, a commercial diving company operating in South Africa. The government brought in three others from South Africa.

Kighenda and her daughter drowned on September 29 at the Likoni Channel after their car slipped off the ferry.

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On Monday, the government announced that it had procured more equipment that will assist the new team in the retrieval mission. The equipment includes an advanced system of remote operated cameras with high resolution to ease visibility.

Col Gituma, said in a press release on Sunday that the cameras would speed up the retrieval of bodies. “The ones we have are good, but we are getting more that are advanced, which will give us a better resolution,” he said.


ICRC employee kicked out of Kenya for using racial slur

MARY WAMBUIBy MARY WAMBUI
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LEONARD ONYANGOBy LEONARD ONYANGO
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An expatriate who has been accused of insulting guards and racially abusing a woman at the Lavington Mall in Nairobi is leaving Kenya following the termination of his contract.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) staff, who is yet to be named, reportedly called the woman who was trying to calm him down a monkey on Sunday.

“A decision to have his assignment terminated was made last evening (Monday) after investigations were concluded,” said ICRC’s communications officer Ms Anne Kilimo.

“He is leaving the country today (Tuesday). We do not entertain what he did. It is not good and should serve as a lesson.”

ICRC said it was also addressing the issues surrounding the contract it had signed with him.

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The Nation was told that the man started hurling insults after he was asked to pay Sh50 parking fee.

According to sources within the mall, which is guarded by SecurKenya Group Limited, the expatriate had made a brief visit to the mall and was driving towards the exit where he inserted his card in the slot machine.

“The card was rejected since he had not paid the parking fee,” said a source at the mall who sought anonymity citing sensitivity of the matter.

“He was asked to pay the amount due but blatantly refused saying he had only stayed at the mall for 10 minutes.”

Our sources revealed that the man was then asked to park by the side to give way for other customers leaving the mall but he instead became angry and hurled insults at the parking attendant, guards and customers.

“He caused a commotion and a crowd gathered around him,” said another source who wished not named because he is not authorised to issue press statements.

“Our customers and onlookers started filming him. A few minutes later, he was allowed to leave without paying the fee.”

CONDEMNATION

The video clips and the mall’s CCTV have since been reviewed by the ICRC and Red Cross Kenya teams.

The Nation has learnt that the footage provided by the mall was the evidence relied upon by ICRC to make the final decision to terminate his contract.

The mall’s management declined to comment on the matter that has since been solved internally.

SecurKenya Group Limited condemned the incident but did not report the matter to the police.

“Our guards manning Nairobi’s Lavington Mall were insulted. We do not condone such but we are extremely proud of how professionally our guards handled it,” the firm posted on Twitter.

Red Cross Kenya Secretary General Abbas Gullet lauded ICRC’s move to sack the official saying “he went against the fundamental principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.”

“I applaud the action taken by ICRC in terminating the mission of their delegate. This sad action was that of an individual who went rogue and against the fundamental principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. He was not representing his employer,” said Mr Gullet.

He said that the action taken against the rogue staffer was a clear indication that ICRC does not tolerate acts of racism.

In a statement released on Monday, the ICRC said it also met witnesses who narrated what had happened.

“We appreciate those who came forward and reported the incident, especially those who made time to meet with our team,” read the statement signed by Mr Olivier Dubois, Head of Regional Delegation International Committee of the Red Cross.

“The ICRC has a long presence in Kenya, one that has been made possible by our relationships with the public, Kenyan authorities, our partners at the Kenya Red Cross, our dedicated staff, and above all, the communities we are here to serve,” he added.

The investigation on the incident by ICRC began when Dennis Itumbi, the digital communication secretary at the office of the President, called for action to be taken against the expatriate.

“A concerned lady whose only interest was to protect the good name of your organisation tried to calm him down and he dismissed her as a Monkey,” tweeted Mr Itumbi.

His post prompted response from the Kenyan government, with Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau threatening action.

“This has been brought to our attention and we shall be seeking remedial action,” Mr Kamau responded in a tweet.

“Kenya has no patience and is no place for bigots and racists cloaked in humanitarian or any other liberal garb,” he added.

ICRC responded by confirming that the man Itumbi had posted about was indeed their employee and that necessary action would be taken after investigations are completed.

“We confirm that this is our staff and vehicle. We do not condone insulting behaviour and racism by our staff. We are investigating the matter and will take the necessary action. Apologies to those involved,” responded the ICRC .

Kenyans on Twitter also called on ICRC to dismiss the official. 

“His assignment in Kenya has been terminated, meaning he can be assigned duties in another country…. This sounds weird especially taking note of the fact that you offer aid! How can you allow such a character to be part of your mission?” Kayman George posed.

Others asked ICRC to ensure that the racist man does not work for them again.

@Kadasia99 tweeted: “They just transferred the racist behaviour from Kenya to another location. He still works for them. Nothing resolved.”

OTHER INCIDENTS

This is not the first time an expat is being deported from Kenya for gross misconduct.

In September 2018, the government deported Liu Jiaqi, a Chinese national, after he was caught on camera calling Kenyans monkeys.

Liu was secretly captured on video by a worker he had threatened to sack from his motorcycle shop. 


Sisi has to change tack

EDITORIALBy EDITORIAL
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Egypt, which was the theatre of the 2011 Arab Spring, is once again tottering on the edge. The masses are becoming increasingly convinced that the revolution in which so many were maimed and others paid the ultimate price for has not set the country on the trajectory they were desirous of.

And in a show of rare defiance, they have now come out in the open to express their disenchantment with the direction President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is steering their country. But the military general-turned-president would hear none of it. Due to deep-seated corruption and the dictatorial tendencies of the President, Egypt is reeling from a tense weekend of anti-government protests for the second week in a row.

President Sisi has presided over a crackdown since the start of his rule in 2013 and analysts believe he may have neutered opposition and thus may not be in any immediate danger. He is also believed to be enjoying good support from external powers.

In the latest episode, he moved quickly to quash dissent, culminating in the arrest of around 2,000 people in just seven days. Dissent is growing and the masses are more emboldened.

It is high time President Sisi, who is also chairman of the African Union, reflected deeply on his leadership style, not only for the sake of Egypt, but also the continent. Notably, Egypt’s immediate neighbour to the west, Libya, has never recovered from the Arab Spring crisis and is the haven for all manner of malfeasance. To the south, in Sudan, a recent popular uprising uprooted Omar Bashir from power after three decades of unflinching dictatorship, as was the case with Abdelazziz Bouteflika in Algeria.

Africa can hardly afford a replication in Egypt, a state with invaluable geo-strategic and economic significance.

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To remain tops, tackle challenges in athletics

EDITORIALBy EDITORIAL
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Team Kenya put up a splendid performance to once again finish second both in points and medal standings at the just concluded 17th edition of the World Championships in athletics in Doha, Qatar. The team collected 11 medals: Five gold, two silver and four bronze medals for a total of 122 points in what was a replica of the previous 2017 London World Championships.

Kenya that had a contingent of 56 finished behind United States, who topped with an improved tally of 29 medals; 14 gold, 11 silver and four bronze. They had 10 gold medals from 2017 London.

Notably, Kenya’s continental rivals Ethiopia finished fifth with eight medals; two gold, five silver and once bronze with Uganda coming in ninth with two gold medals. Nigeria only managed a bronze, while South Africa had no medal. We can’t take it for granted that our athletes remain at the top, once gain beating powerhouses like Jamaica, Britain, China and Germany.

The performance might not have matched the historic 2015 Beijing Championships where the country topped the medal standings, but replicating the 2017 London World Championships feat in Doha was by all means a big feat.

Yet, performance could be better with good facilities and preparations, improved remuneration for athletes and diversification to sprints and field events, many from the middle long distance events. Already, there are concerns that the country is losing grip on its traditional events like steeplechase where Kenya used to win with ease. That the country is now getting serious challenge despite having won both men and women’s titles in Doha is real.

There is nothing to write home about in men’s 10,000m and 5,000m, men and women’s 800m and women’s 10,000m.

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These are areas where Athletics Kenya and other stakeholders, especially top coaches and managers, should address. Kenya is yet to win the men’s Olympic and World 10,000m titles since Naftali Temu in 1968 and Charles Kamathi in 2001 respectively.

Lack of proper training facilities has been another major concern with athletes mainly from the Rift Valley, the area that produces the bulk of the athletes, finding it difficult to train or access good equipment. We have had the government talking about how it’s committed to providing facilities with the construction of stadia across the country, but that has remained empty talk.

The Nation has, in the past weeks, serialised the poor state of facilities across the country, yet money has been released in some cases for stadium construction.

Lastly, we wish Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge, the marathon World record holder, success as he bids to run a marathon under two hours on Saturday in Vienna, Austria.