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2022 transfer of power fuels Judiciary wars : The Standard

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Supreme court judges Njoki Ndung’u (left) Smokin Wanjala(centre) Deputy Chief Justice Philemona Mwilu, Chief justice David Maraga, Jackton Ojwang and Isaac Lenaola at the supreme court during the reading of the verdict that lead to the upholding of President Uhuru Kenyattas victory at the supreme court on 11/12/17 [Beverlyne Musili, Standard]

The race to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2022 has been cited as partly fuelling silent succession wars in the Judiciary.

Observers say that Uhuru succession and Chief Justice David Maraga’s tenure that ends before 2022, have stirred a vicious battle to reconstitute the Supreme Court.
CJ Maraga, and two other judges are set to retire before the next General Election. The fate of three other judges hangs in the balance after petitions were filed against them.
Observers say rival political camps are attempting to influence the composition of the Supreme Court, arguing the unfolding events are calculated to trigger the reconstitution of the court that handles presidential election petitions. 

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Simple majority
A dispute at the apex court is determined by a simple majority of the seven judges. Analysts argue that political rivals would want to have majority of the judges on their side should a presidential election petition be filed after the 2022 poll.
That the court may be called upon to decide on the eligibility of a key contender in the poll has further raised the stakes. Former Jubilee Party chairman, David Murathe, has vowed to fight to the Supreme Court to block the candidature of Deputy President William Ruto.
At 68 years, Chief Justice David Maraga is set to retire in January 2021 upon attaining the mandatory retirement age of 70.
CJ’s predecessor

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However, sources close to the CJ said he may decide to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, former CJ Willy Mutunga, and leave at least one year before his retirement age to give the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) enough time to recruit his successor.
Dr Mutunga was supposed to retire in June 2017 but exited office in June 2016. Then, JSC moved to avoid a vacuum and nominated Maraga in September 2016.
Although JSC has recommended that the President appoints a tribunal to investigate Justice Jackton Ojwang, the judge was bound to retire next year, creating yet another vacancy at the Supreme Court.
Justice Mohamed Ibrahim will be next in line for retirement while the fate of judges Smokin Wanjala and Njoki Ndungu are still in the hands of the JSC.
Deputy CJ Philomena Mwilu is fighting prosecution in a criminal case, accusing the Director of Public Prosecutions of seeking to oust her from the Supreme Court.

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2017 poll
In the 2017 presidential election, four judges- Maraga, Mwilu, Wanjala and Isaac Lenaola- nullified the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta following a successful petition by Opposition leader Raila Odinga.
The petition victory sparked outrage with thinly veiled threats that the Jubilee government would “revisit” the ruling.
Raila boycotted the repeat vote which Uhuru easily won. The Supreme Court subsequently upheld his election alongside Deputy President William Ruto.
Raila, who struck a deal with Uhuru in March last year to end political acrimony following the disputed presidential vote, and Ruto are seen as front runners in the race to succeed Uhuru who retires at the end of his second term in 2022.

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Yesterday, former East Africa Law Society President, James Mwamu, said that based on what happened in 2017, Jubilee will be keen to see who takes up the slots at the Supreme Court.
“We can’t rule out political interest in the race to reconstitute the Supreme Court. There are a lot of intrigues and power play that is going to influence the succession in the Judiciary before 2022. The executive will not just sit back and watch things happen,” argued Mwamu.
According to the lawyer, 2022 will be a year for change of guard in leadership, and politicians want to be part of any process of reconstituting the top court in readiness for election petitions.
Lawyer Henry Kurauka argued that political interests in who takes the helm at the judiciary is already manifested in the composition of the JSC.
The composition of JSC has a huge impact of who becomes the next CJ and judges who sit at the apex court, making it the entry point for politicians and wheeler dealers who want to control the judiciary.
Kurauka argued politicians are behind the numerous complaints filed against judges of the Supreme Court.
“It is true there are intrigues and competition to outshine each other. There is a lot of politics in the Supreme Court and the succession battle is taking another shape. It is most likely that the next CJ might be from outside the court,” said Kurauka.
Judge’s integrity
Nandi Senator Samson Cherargey said that when Jubilee criticised the Supreme Court over the nullification of Uhuru’s election, it promised to revisit the issue of judges’ integrity.
Mr Cherargey, who is the Senate Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chairman, said the committee is keenly watching the Courts’ succession process.
“It will be dangerous to have judicial officers with political leanings. We know there are those who will want to lobby and that the appointing authority will want to have its own, but we must have credible officers in our judiciary,” said Cherargey.
Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior, however, doubted that the push against the Supreme Court was politically driven. Instead, he blamed internal wars arising out of 2017 election petitions.
“I doubt the wars in the Supreme Court are politically driven. The jury is out on the 2022 race. The Supreme Court is a victim of its success or failure,” he said. 
Opaque judiciary
Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu said the perceived pressure on the Supreme Court comes from the fact that the Judiciary is shrouded in opaqueness. 
“The lack of transparency in how they operate has led to every person running their little part the way they want. This is how we have ended up with weird rulings and conflict among judges,” he said. 
He suggested that to solve the problem, Kenyans must demand 100 per cent accountability, beginning at the JSC. 
“I am working on a Bill that will make it compulsory for all JSC members to go through vetting, and for a mechanism for regular audit of judicial decisions that the public queries,” said Wambugu.
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale argued that there is a growing perception that the Supreme Court is pro-rich.

President Uhuru KenyattaChief Justice David MaragaSupreme Court



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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
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Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
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Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

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Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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