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Focus on Uhuru as court bars Sonko from office : The Standard

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Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko at a Milimani court during his bail and bond ruling. [George Njunge/Standard]
Focus now shifts to President Uhuru Kenyatta and the constitutional court after Nairobi County Governor Mike Sonko was barred from office.

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Yesterday, Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti ordered Sonko, who is facing a Sh380 million graft case, to stay away from office. The directive triggered a leadership crisis at City Hall, given Sonko does not have a deputy to act as governor for the time he will be on trial.
Yesterday, County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi told ward reps that they would have to wait for an advisory opinion from the office of the Attorney General to determine the next course of action.
Leadership vacuum
SEE ALSO :Uhuru launches construction of JKIA-Westlands Expressway“Following the ruling of the court this morning and the speculation on the leadership vacuum in the county, the Assembly will proceed on the scheduled recess as we await an advisory and for a recall for a special sitting pursuant to provision of the standing orders should the need arise,” said Elachi.
Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja implored Uhuru to urgently convene the Summit – a meeting of the 47 governors that the president chairs and which is deputised by the deputy president, to seek a way out of the constitutional crisis facing Nairobi County.
“There’s a constitutional crisis in Nairobi now. The president should now take the leading role to help navigate the situation. In the prevailing circumstances, the county government is operating on autopilot,” said Sakaja.
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“The president should convene the Summit urgently to discuss the options available in addressing the Nairobi matter even if the proposals will touch on amending the County Governments Act,” he said.
Sakaja announced that senators would seek an interpretation in court but will wait for the ruling of the Court of Appeal on two previous cases touching on Kiambu and Samburu governors.
SEE ALSO :Sonko wanted by anti-graft agency over ‘criminal’ pastThe senator said that although tough bail conditions were imposed on Governors Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu) and Moses Lenalkulal (Samburu) by Justice Grace Ngenye and Justice Mumbi Ngugi respectively, Nairobi’s case is unique.
“These two counties have deputy governors. Nairobi has no DG. The senators will also be engaging the Council of Governors (CoG) through the chair, Governor Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) on the matter,” he said.
Sakaja called on Sonko’s cabinet to continue discharging their duties as required in law.
The CoG had at the weekend sought an emergency Summit meeting with the president to address the leadership crisis in the capital city.
The president’s Jubilee Party, according to insiders, is also reported to be planning to seek an advisory from the courts.
SEE ALSO :Chaos as Sonko fights cheating claims by EACCYesterday, former Jubilee vice chairperson and close ally of the president, David Murathe said Nairobi is the hub of the country’s economy and, therefore, the national government’s involvement is crucial in resolving the crisis.
Murathe made reference to a proposal in the Building Bridges Initiative that seeks to abolish Nairobi County and replace it with a Metropolis City.
“The management of the city county is important. This is a conversation we must have now,” said the former Jubilee vice chairperson.
He also said that the Assembly speaker cannot assume the role of a governor as the law clearly states that their role is limited to 60 days in preparation for a by-election in the event of a vacancy in the offices of governor and deputy.
But some Jubilee party ward reps in Nairobi insist that there is no leadership vacuum in the county and that Sonko is still governor.
SEE ALSO :Embattled Sonko losses bid to block corruption probeJubilee Party Majority Leader at the Assembly, Charles Thuo, insisted that normal operations of the county would continue even as they sought a legal interpretation from the Judiciary on how to proceed.
“We will seek a legal interpretation after consulting the party. In the event that the governor also appoints a deputy then we will call for a special sitting to vet the name of the candidate,” said Thuo.
Opposition ward reps, however, called for an extension of the plenary sittings to seek legal interpretation on the matter. They also hinted a possible impeachment.
Special sitting
Minority Deputy Chief Whip Moses Ogeto confided to The Standard that the opposition allied-ward reps would be calling a special sitting to discuss the crisis.
“We will be pushing for a special sitting because as we currently stand the county is stuck and we cannot allow the county to continue operating this way,” said Ogeto.
Minority Chief Whip Peter Imwatok blamed the Jubilee party for the crisis, arguing that the party failed to compel Sonko to appoint a deputy following the departure of Polycarp Igathe in January last year.
[Reporting by Roselyne Obala, Moses Nyamori and Josphat Thiongo]

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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.
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.

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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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