Fireworks are expected in Jubilee as the party prepares its formal proposals to the Building Bridges Initiative.
According to insiders, the party hierarchy has already instructed the secretariat to start working on a draft report that will be presented to the Yusuf Haji-led Initiative.
The team drafting the proposals has been traversing the country collecting views from Kenyans.
The ruling party is, however, yet to agree on its final proposals to the Building Bridges team, especially on the thorny issue of whether or not the country needs a referendum ahead of the 2022 General Election.
President Kenyatta, who heads Jubilee, has repeatedly hinted at the need for a referendum to correct excesses in the current Constitution while his deputy, William Ruto, through his allies, has repeatedly dismissed calls for the plebiscite.
Speaking in Kisumu on Thursday, President Kenyatta maintained that there has to be a way to ensure there is inclusion after every election. He said the culture of winner-takes-it-all should be done away with, giving the clearest sign that he was for a referendum.
“We said we must look at this issue of winner-takes-it-all. If that is why some people feel left out of government, we must ask ourselves, ‘Is is a good thing or not?’,” President Kenyatta said when he toured the lakeside city of Kisumu.
President Kenyatta’s allies have also insisted repeatedly that there will be referendum, preferably in 2021, to possibly reintroduce the position of Prime Minister. This has been the same position taken by opposition leader Raila Odinga and his allies.
Mr Ruto has been blowing hot and cold on the matter. In October, the DP gave two conflicting messages on the issue. Speaking in Nyandarua, he said that it was wrong for Mr Odinga, who was the strongest campaigner for the Constitution in 2010, to now start calling for its amendment. He explained that he was opposed to an exercise that would raise the wage bill for the benefit of creating positions for “a few” individuals.
It is against this backdrop that proposals of the party will be a closely watched affair.
Jubilee Party vice-chairman David Murathe maintains that there should be no worries on what the party will present.
“We are listening and keenly watching what other parties are presenting. We will define and refine our positions as a party when time comes. There is a team at the secretariat already working on a draft,” he said, even though he was non-committal on when the party will present its proposals.
The party’s deputy secretary general Caleb Kositany confirmed that indeed a team was working on the draft proposals, but added that all elected party leaders would have a say on what to present to the Building Bridges team.
“We are proposing that a retreat be held where members will have an opportunity to give their thoughts. It is a political process and people have different opinions but in the end we will agree,” he said.
A close ally of Mr Ruto, Mr Kositany said he was opposed to a referendum meant to create seats for individuals but added he would support a process that safeguards the interests of Kenyans.
The Building Bridges task force was formed following the March 9 handshake between President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga. The 14-member team was gazetted in May.
The government wants the team to evaluate the national challenges outlined in the joint communique and make practical recommendations and proposals that build lasting unity.
The team is also be expected to outline the policy and implementation modalities for each identified area.
It has also been mandated to conduct consultations with citizens, religious leaders, and cultural leaders, the private sector and experts at both county and national levels.
“In the performance of its functions, the task force shall regulate its own procedures including appointing revolving co-chairs from among its members,” the gazette notice says.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
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.
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.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
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.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
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.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
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
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
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.
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.
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.