The year 2018 was an interesting one for the 12th August House.
Key to note was the activities which unfolded when Parliament passed amendments to the Finance Act which ushered high fuel prices.
The House was also awash with claims of open bribery in the sugar probe. This saw male MPs visiting ladies’ toilets to ascertain the truth on the claims.
In July 2017, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi warned MPs against misconduct during committee sessions.
This followed claims of bribery and concerns by Majority Leader Aden Duale that their conduct is inappropriate.
MPs had been accused of jumping into matters under probe, either by the EACC or the DCI, with the aim of seeking favours.
On sugar, MPs ganged up to trash a committee report that had implicated Cabinet secretaries Henry Rotich (Treasury), Adan Mohamed (EAC), and former Agriculture CS Willy Bett.
In the most ignoble scene yet, lawmakers were seen openly scrambling for Sh30,000 which was allegedly dished out minutes before an afternoon sitting so that members shoot down the report.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the DCI were called to investigate the claims that some lawmakers were bribed to shoot down a report on contraband sugar.
The National Assembly’s Powers and Privileges Committee led by Speaker Justin Muturi concluded that MPs might have been bribed.
The committee said it reviewed videos and newspaper reports about the bribery claims. The team also listened to witnesses and scrutinised evidence presented.
On Finance Act, Majority leader Aden Duale and his Minority counterpart John Mbadi colluded to trick members to pass the controversial legislation that would introduce tax on fuel, data bundles, among other commodities.
President Uhuru Kenyatta had rejected the Finance Bill, 2018, which would have seen the 16 per cent tax on petroleum products shelved until 2020.
The contentious Bill was finally adopted by Parliament due to shrewd moves by Duale and those who were allied to the plan.
Sensing that members were preparing to shoot down the Bill, the speaker of the day Soipan Tuya ingeniously ordered a fresh vote before Duale chipped in with a cunning move to rally MPs out of the chamber.
At least 233 MPs were required to vote against the bill to shoot it down. Duale ensured there was a lack of quorum.
The House leaders had been asked by President Uhuru Kenyatta to ensure the Bill was passed in an arduous test on their leadership.
The stakes were high as the President had planned to sign the Bill into law on Friday, before leaving for New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.
The burden was on the House leadership to execute the mission. Uhuru assented to the Bill on Friday morning. Aware of the acid test he was facing, Duale used strong-arm tactics to push the Bill through.
Aware of the pressure from the anti-VAT brigade, Duale hatched a plot to deny the opponents the requisite two-thirds majority necessary to overturn the President’s reservations.
Immediately, temporary speaker Soipan Tuya called for division, Duale signalled some of the backers of the Bill to walk out of the chambers. A count afterwards showed there were only 215 lawmakers in the House.
Despite all these chronicles, below is a glimpse of the Bills which were passed by MPs in 2018.
Bill passed and Assented to
- The Division of Revenue Bill, 2018;
- The Supplementary Appropriation Bill, 2018;
- The Equalization Fund Appropriation Bill, 2018;
- The Public Trustee (Amendment) Bill, 2017;
- The Kenya Coast Guard Service Bill, 2017;
- The Finance Bill, 2018;
- The Supplementary Appropriation (No. 2) Bill, 2018;
- The Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Bill, 2017;
- The Tax Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018;
- The Appropriation Bill, 2018;
- The Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 3) Bill, 2017 (NA Bill No. 44 of 2017).
Passed and awaiting assent
- The Building Surveyors Bill, 2017;
- The Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill (NA. No. 12 of 2018);
- The Sacco Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2018 (NA Bill No. 18 of 2018);
- The Health Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018;
- The Capital Markets (Amendment) Bill, 2018;
- The National Youth Service Bill, 2018.
Passed and forwarded to Senate
- The Energy Bill, 2017;
- The Petroleum Bill, 2017;
- The County Allocation of Revenue Bill, 2018;
- The Copyright (Amendment) Bill, 2017;
- The Public Private Partnerships (Amendment) Bill, 2017;
- The Land Value Index Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018;
- The Division of Revenue (Amendment) Bill, 2018 (Sen. Bill No. 14 of 2018);
- The Irrigation Bill, 2017;
- The Physical Planning Bill, 2017;
- The County Allocation of Revenue (Amendment) Bill, 2017;
- The Kenya Roads Bill (NA Bill No. 47 of 2017);
- The County Governments Retirement Scheme Bill, 2018 (NA Bill No. 10 of 2018);
- The Urban Areas and Cities (Amendment) Bill (Sen. Bill No. 4 of 2017);
- The Government Contracts Bill, 2018;
- The Warehouse Receipt System Bill, 2017 (Sen. Bill No. 10 of 2017);
- The Assumption of Office of the County Governor Bill, 2018 (Sen. Bill No. 1 of 2018);
- The County Allocation of Revenue (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
Awaiting committee stage
- The County Governments (Amendments) Bill (Sen. No.11 of 2017);
- The Parliamentary Service Bill, 2018.
Undergoing second reading
- The Public Finance Management (Amendment) Bill, 2017;
- The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2018 (NA Bill No. 4 of 2018);
- The Sacco Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2018 (NA Bill No. 1 of 2018);
- The Pharmacy and Poisons (Amendment) Bill, 2018;
- The Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 2) Bill (NA. No. 13 of 2018);
- The Kenya Accreditation Service Bill, 2018;
- The Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2018;
- The County Governments (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2017 (Sen. Bill No. 7 of 2017);
- The National Flag, Emblems and Names (Amendment) Bill, (Sen. Bill No. 8 of 2017);
- The Warehouse Receipt System Bill, 2018 (NA. No. 2 of 2018);
- The Sports (Amendment) Bill (NA Bill No. 25 of 2018);
- The County Governments (Revenue Raising Process) Bill (NA Bill No. 24 of 2018);
- The Office of the County Attorney Bill, 2018 (Sen. No. 3 of 2018);
- The County Statistics Bill, 2018 (Sen. Bill No. 9 of 2018);
- The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2018 (Sen. Bill No. 12 of 2018);
- The Nuclear Regulatory Bill, 2018.
- The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) (No.2) Bill, 2018
- The County Pension Scheme Bill, 2017
- The Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 2) Bill, 2017;
- The Energy Bill, 2017;
- The Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Bill, 2017;
- The Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority Bill, 2017.
- The Election Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2017
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.