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Thursday, October 17th, 2019

 

Punish thieving MCAs, recover the public money they had looted

By LETTER
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The paramount purpose of devolution was to take development and services closer to mwananchi.

But this noble idea has been hijacked by greedy, self-centred county leaders, among them MCAs, who have designed all manner of tricks to steal development funds.

Out of the money allocated and collected by our counties, the bigger percentage goes towards paying wages and salaries while an incredibly small part is left for development.

Shockingly, it’s this small portion that MCAs have been filling their pockets with. According to a report by the Controller of Budget, some MCAs pocket up to Sh25,000 daily in allowances.

This does not augur well for the expectations and dreams of the majority highly-impoverished Kenyans, who are in dire need of development and government services.

TIME FOR CHANGE

Majority of governors have been rendered helpless by MCAs through intimidation and threats of impeachment. This has left the county chiefs as lame duck leaders and at the mercy of the ward reps who arm-twist them.

Interestingly, most of the counties lack basic facilities, services and policies needed to spur growth.

Medicines, health equipment, farm chemicals, seeds, livestock vaccines and firefighting equipment, to mention a few, have been out of stock in a number of counties.

This, undoubtedly, shows poor prioritisation by the county leadership, who seem out of touch with the day to day struggles of the electorate.

It is time the MCAs rethought the interest of those who elected them and do what they should.

Wachiuri Wachira, Nairobi

Reports that MCAs in some counties are paid as much as three times what the rest who respect accountability earn are nauseating, to say the least.

This is not a matter we expect anyone to remain silent about. President Uhuru Kenyatta should note that things are going haywire. He should shout first when such profligacy is reported.

The President should order a crackdown on those MCAs who think it’s “their turn to eat” and order them to return the money.

Githuku Mungai, Kiambu

George Orwell wrote in Animal Farm that “all animals are equal but some are more equal than others”. I am gutted by the latest revelation that some MCAs are taking home hefty, undeserved and unnecessary allowances.

Money that could have been used to improve our lives through important projects is instead being channelled to their already ‘fat accounts’. It is such a shame.

Philip Mwangi, Nairobi

The Daily Nation has revealed that the country is chocking on debt yet MCAs have the guts to line their pockets at the expense of projects to uplift Kenyans.

The poor will remain poor while the rich continue to prosper. Somebody somewhere somehow needs to step up and tame the bud of this gluttony.

Or what was the essence of the austerity calls by the President, since nothing has changed?

Edwin Kariuki, Mombasa


Tackle the floods menace

EDITORIALBy EDITORIAL
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The rains are once again wreaking havoc right across the country with nearly 10 people killed so far.

While rain is traditionally seen to be a blessing, the latest downpours have caused massive destruction with homes submerged and roads and bridges badly damaged. Thousands of livestock have died and crops swept away.

The irony is that the meteorological department had warned well in advance that this short rainy season would see torrents.

Thanks to its increasingly accurate forecasts, the department has warned that the heavy rains will persist until December.

So, nobody can say they were not warned about the fury from the skies unleashing untold suffering.

But the failure to take precautions exposes people’s helplessness against natural calamities that speaks volumes about the sorry state of disaster preparedness.

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HARVEST WATER

After waiting for so long for the rains to come, the people are unable to mitigate the consequences of the mighty destructive force of nature.

Reports from the north of the country have been heart-rending. Nearly 1,000 people have been displaced, with their homes and motor vehicles swept away by flash floods.

Heavy floods have cut off villages in Marsabit, Wajir and Mandera counties, and this comes after months of biting drought. The victims are also on the verge of starvation, as businesses count huge losses after floods cut off roads.

There is a need to build the capacity to avert the destruction or mitigate the effects of the flooding menace.

One is to enhance the means to tap and prevent the water from just flowing to waste. Building dams and boosting rain water harvesting are solutions that should be implemented.

Nothing exemplifies underdevelopment like having floods wreaking havoc today, and facing an acute water shortage the next season.


Stop this bleeding of counties by ward reps

EDITORIALBy EDITORIAL
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Greed, graft and fraud pose the greatest threat to stability of counties and success of devolution.

Although the objective of the county system is to promote development at the grassroots, they have become entities for wastage, pilferage and embezzlement.

The Office of the Controller of Budget report this week depicts a worrying trend where MCAs are literally bleeding the counties to the bone.

Through coercion, intimidation and manipulation, they have pushed their earnings to levels never imagined and in an economy that is tanking.

A survey by the Controller of Budget reveals that MCAs in some counties earn as much as Sh700,000 a month through numerous allowances that cannot be explained.

NON-PERFORMANCE

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By all counts, that is a tidy sum of money for individuals who first, have questionable credentials and second, do not do any tangible work to merit such cash.

And this is not to mention other perks they enjoy, including housing benefits. Besides, they influence use of ward funds and often the cash is directed towards projects and activities that serve their interests.

When the MCAs are not awarding themselves huge perks, they are busy travelling for all odious reasons, through which counties spend princely sums at the expense of service delivery.

And the MCAs have formed the tendency of intimidating county assembly speakers and governors to submit to their demands, creating a lawless environment in the counties.

MCAs’ earnings are a sure cause for outrage. Some comparisons provide the perspective. A university professor with years of service in teaching, research and publication earns an average of Sh200,000 inclusive of housing and travel allowances.

A top medical doctor in a government hospital earns no more than Sh400,000 a month, while a top high school principal takes home about Sh120,000. Even chief executives in many government parastatals do not earn Sh700,000.

The disparity cannot be justified. The trend must be stopped and onus falls on county speakers and governors to reject such outrageous payouts when everybody else is starving and sacrificing.

Counties are struggling to survive. Many cannot pay salaries, forcing workers to go for months without an income.

LOW REVENUE

Suppliers and contractors are owed huge sums of money, a number forced out of business because of cash flow problems.

Productivity is at the lowest ebb. Revenues collected by counties have fallen drastically, forcing counties to depend on the national government.

Yet it is the business of MCAs to provide oversight on county governments and ensure they deliver services to the citizens.

It’s preposterous that they are paid so handsomely for zero work done.


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Satanic Temple has right to gather, US Naval Academy says

AFPBy AFP
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Washington

The Satanic Temple, recognised as a church in the United States, has the right to gather at the US Naval Academy on the condition it does not hold services, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

But the Temple said its Naval Academy members want to hold services and vowed to fight for that “right”.

“Recently, a group of Midshipmen with beliefs aligned with those practiced by The Satanic Temple… requested a space where they could assemble to discuss and share their common beliefs,” said Commander Alana Garas, a spokeswoman for the academy which trains future naval officers.

RECOGNISED AS CHURCH

“The request was for a ‘study group’ space, not for holding ‘satanic services’,” Garas said, calling the Temple “a non-theistic religious and politically active movement” which the Internal Revenue Service recognises as a church.

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“Midshipmen have the right to assemble to discuss their beliefs as they choose,” Garas said, but she added that in accordance with Department of Defence policy, military members may not engage in partisan political activities.

On its website, The Satanic Temple distinguishes itself from another organisation, the Church of Satan, calling itself “the primary religious Satanic organisation in the world.”

GLOBAL REACH

It says it has chapters around the world and has undertaken “a number of high-profile public campaigns designed to preserve and advance secularism and individual liberties.”

In a separate statement, the Temple said it wants “Satanic services” held at the Annapolis, Maryland-based Naval Academy, in accordance with equal treatment for religious denominations, and would take legal action if it is discriminated against.

Religious freedom is constitutionally protected in the United States.

“If the Naval Academy wants to ban Midshipmen of a particular belief from holding services because their church speaks to social issues of political relevance, they will be obligated to deny the services of Catholics for their church’s political lobbying against abortion, the services of LDS-affiliated Mormons for their political activism related to gay marriage, and most every Protestant denomination for both,” said Lucien Greaves, spokesperson for The Satanic Temple.

The Temple says its mission “is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will.”


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Closure of detention centre in Libya exposes migrants and refugees to even worse conditions

  • Following the closing of a detention centre in Misrata, refugees and migrants have been moved to other facilities in Libya

  • They are being exposed to increasingly inhumane and dangerous detention conditions.

  • More life-saving evacuations outside Libya are needed, as are alternatives to detention. Without such measures, vulnerable people will continue to be condemned to endless detention and exposed to major threats and suffering.

On 14 October, Libyan authorities closed the Karareem detention centre in Misrata, in the central coastal region of Libya, and transferred more than a hundred refugees and migrants arbitrarily detained in this facility to two other detention centres in the same region, Zliten and Souq Al Khamees.

The conditions of detention in these two centres are known by Libyan authorities and UNHCR to be extremely bad, as reported by MSF teams on several occasions.

“Closing one detention centre would be a positive step if refugees and migrants were provided freedom of movement, protection and assistance.” – Sacha Petiot, MSF Head of Mission in Libya.

Men, women and children arbitrarily detained for months and, in many cases, years, with little access to food, water and open air, will be exposed to the same inhumane conditions. Some of them suffered torture and trafficking during their stay in the country.

“Closing one detention centre would be a positive step if refugees and migrants were provided freedom of movement, protection and assistance,” says Sacha Petiot, MSF head of mission in Libya. .

“But here, they are moved from one detention centre to another, seeing their conditions go from bad to worse and stuck in an endless cycle of despair and violence. At the bare minimum, they should have been released and taken care of in a safer environment.” says Sacha Petiot, MSF head of mission in Libya.

The armed conflict that started in April around Tripoli has made the situation more dangerous for the refugees and migrants detained in the areas where clashes occur. In this grim context, the tragic death of an estimated 60 people during an airstrike on Tajoura detention centre late at night on 2 July prompted renewed calls for the closure of Libya’s detention centres, including by Libyan authorities themselves.

There are currently no safe locations in Libya where refugees and migrants can find protection and assistance. The only UNHCR-managed facility, the Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) in Tripoli, is now saturated and UNHCR has claimed that it cannot accommodate more vulnerable people.

“We need more life-saving evacuations outside Libya. And it is urgent to develop an alternative to detention, such as setting up shelters to provide immediate, temporary protection in Libya. Otherwise, the most vulnerable refugees and migrants are condemned to endless detention and exposed to major threats and suffering,” says Petiot.


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'Miracle survival' for newborn found in Indian grave

AFPBy AFP
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Doctors on Wednesday hailed as a “miracle” the survival of a newborn girl found several days after being buried alive, as police hunted for her parents who have been charged with attempted murder.

The nearly eight-day-old baby was found in a clay pot by a father Thursday when he was digging a grave for his own newborn daughter, who had died the day before, in a village in northern Uttar Pradesh state.

CRITICAL CONDITION

The premature infant weighing just 1.1 kilogrammes was taken to a government hospital in a critical condition with severe dehydration and blood infections before being transferred to a private hospital.

“It’s a miracle that she survived being buried for so long,” her doctor Ravi Khanna said.

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“The baby must’ve remained buried for 2.5 to three days because she was very emaciated from her cheeks to her neck, her stomach and legs.”

The girl, who is in an incubator, was now “out of danger” and responding to antibiotic treatment, he said.

“We are feeding her milk via a tube and also slowly increasing the quantity of milk being fed to her,” Khanna added.

“The baby’s weight has improved from before and is currently 1.2 kilos and the baby’s condition has improved a little as well.”

Doctors and police said the baby could have been buried for more than two days in the pot, which had some holes in it.

Lead investigating officer Pradeep Singh said his team was searching villages near where she was found and asking about recent pregnancies.

“We have filed an attempt-to-murder case and one for endangering the life of the child against unnamed parents,” Singh told AFP.

He added that she would be sent to a government-run adoption home after she is discharged from hospital.

But a local politician from the national government’s ruling party, Rajesh Kumar Mishra, who is paying for her treatment in the private facility, said he would adopt the girl he called a “miracle”.

“Can you imagine a newborn surviving such a situation for so many days? She is God-sent and I have decided to adopt her,” Mishra told AFP.

The lawmaker made national headlines in July when his daughter, then aged 23, accused him of sending his henchmen to kill her and her husband over their inter-caste marriage.

The couple publicly severed their relationship with him and remain in hiding.

Male children are traditionally seen as breadwinners in India, while girls are still regarded as a financial burden by many families as they require hefty dowries to be married off.

Sex-selective abortion, infanticide and the death of girls through neglect have left the country with a huge and alarming gender imbalance.

The skewed sex ratio stood at 940 females for every 1,000 males according to the 2011 census.