Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i is on the spot as the punching bag of politicians allied to Deputy President William Ruto, who are accusing him of not being apolitical, as a Cabinet minister is theoretically supposed to be.
Just like his predecessors in the Interior docket who had tiffs with former vice-presidents (now called deputy president), the divide between Dr Matiang’i and DP Ruto is seen to have widened, with the two now said not to be on working terms.
Last week, during a fundraising event in Kirinyaga, at the home of Interior Security Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, Dr Matiang’i further revealed the bad blood between them when he told off his critics who seemed to suggest that he was not respecting the DP.
Dr Matiang’i told the gathering that he was appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta “and is hence only answerable to him because a home cannot be run by two men”, a statement that is viewed as a direct jibe at the DP.
Although the relationship between the two appeared fractured months before Mr Kenyatta gave Dr Matiang’i sweeping powers in overseeing government programmes, the cracks have since deepened after some legislators came out to say that they will support the CS if he seeks the presidency in 2022.
Political commentator Dismas Mokua feels that Dr Matiang’i is facing the harsh criticism by the DP’s allies as a result of President Kenyatta’s 2022 succession politics.
“One of the arguments is that the President gave him more responsibilities so as to groom him for the 2022 race,” Mr Mokua says.
Friends of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga and Mr Kenyatta allege that Dr Matiang’i is among individuals being considered as possible presidential candidates in 2022 if Mr Odinga chooses not to run.
“Although we have the traditional presidential hopefuls like Musalia Mudavadi and Kalonzo Musyoka, the likes of Matiang’i are also emerging and are now a threat to Ruto’s presidential bid,” Mr Mokua posits.
Last week, several MPs allied to the DP taunted Dr Matiang’i for acting as if he was the President’s deputy.
“He (Matiang’i) should know that the only Deputy President we have is William Ruto. It seems that power has got into him,” said Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa.
Dr Matiang’i has been accused of deploying security agents to work against Tangatanga leaders during the Kibra by-election and mobilising the crowds that jeered pro-Ruto speakers during the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report launch at the Bomas of Kenya.
“It seems that Matang’i is leading the side of the government that is undermining Ruto and his allies. It is not right for civil servants and the president’s appointees to appear to oppose the DP,” says Erneo Nyakiba, a former Kanu official who comments on political issues.
But former Interior security minister Julius Sunkuli says that the holder of the docket faces many adversaries due to the resources and power that come with it.
Other former holders of the position include Joseph Nkaissery, James Gichuru, George Saitoti, G.G. Kariuki, Njoroge Mungai, John Michuki, Justus ole Tipis, Jackson Angaine, Jackson Kalweo, Chris Murungaru and Joseph ole Lenku.
In most, if not all, of the cases, the holders are loved and hated in equal measure.
Mr Sunkuli gives the example of his bad relationship with the Vice-President Saitoti.
He says that the resentment arose from the 2002 Moi succession politics.
“As the Interior minister, I was responsible for the ‘Uhuru Project’. This infuriated Saitoti, who also harboured presidential ambitions,” he recalls.
And adds that although Moi initially preferred Saitoti as his potential successor, things went haywire during a meeting of Maasai leaders from Kajiado held at State House.
The meeting, which almost ended in a fist fight, with the leaders telling President Moi to his face that Saitoti was not well-grounded even in his own Kajiado backyard to be considered as a possible contender for the presidency.
“Despite the opposition he faced by leaders from his backyard, he took it out on me as we campaigned for Uhuru Kenyatta,” Mr Sunkuli says.
By running a budget of Sh140 billion, a huge chunk of the national expenditure, Dr Matiang’i has become one of the most powerful insiders in President Kenyatta’s government.
Dr Matiang’i also chairs the National Development Implementation and Communication Cabinet Committee, whose membership includes all Cabinet secretaries, the Attorney-General and the Head of the Public Service.
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.
Get breaking news on your Mobile as-it-happens. SMS ‘NEWS’ to 20153
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.