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How handshake shocker changed political terrain

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President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition chief Raila Odinga pulled a shocker on their closest allies in a surprise truce that has radically altered the country’s political equation.

After months of charged political electioneering that pushed Kenya to the brink of disintegration, Uhuru and Raila publicly met after days of delicate and closely guarded behind-the-scenes negotiations.

However, the secret talks that culminated in the Harambee House handshake on March 9 excluded the two leaders’ closest allies, including Deputy President William Ruto. Also kept in the dark were Raila’s Nasa co-principals, Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula. As was lawyeer and confident James Orengo.

The consequences of their exclusion from the negotiation table followed. It immediately triggered new political realignments as suspicion and mistrust began to rock the two major political formations — Jubilee and Nasa.

The opposition bond had already been debilitated by Raila’s January 30 mock swearing in ceremony, which his co-principals snubbed.

Political analyst Mark Bichachi says the handshake dealt a staggering blow to the foundation of both political outfits.

“Members of these two political formations were experts at fighting each other. Jubilee was a special purpose vehicle against Raila and Nasa a special purpose vehicle against Uhuru and Ruto. Disintegration was inevitable because there is nobody now to fight,” he told the Star.

He predicts even major political realignments in the New Year because of the anticipated census, delineation of boundaries and, possibly, a referendum.

“The confusion will even be deeper with the 2022 polls beckoning… Obviously, there will be realignments. You are seeing people like Gideon [Moi] coming out strongly, and people like Mudavadi trying to reinvent themselves as the speakers of the opposition. Realignments are going to be the order of the day,” he said.

Raila has since been named AU high Representative for Infrastructure Development, while Wiper leader Kalonzo is peace envoy for South Sudan. The new assignment has particularly diminished Raila’s role in local politics even as Nasa disintegrates.

Read: Gains and fears from handshake year after hotly contested polls

The coalition’s four affiliate parties — ODM, Wiper, Ford Kenya and ANC — have already withdrawn direct funding to its secretariat, sounding its death knell.

Ruto and his allies have been jittery that Raila is plotting to infiltrate Jubilee and disorient their succession plan. In October, a furious Ruto claimed Raila was planning to kick him out of Jubilee.

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“I was in ODM before and they kicked me out… I want to tell you here today that you cannot kick me out of ODM and then follow me to Jubilee to do the same, it’s impossible,” he said. Ruto’s lieutenants have also claimed that the renewed graft war, part of the handshake deal, is targetting him.

But despite the protest from Ruto’s wing, Uhuru has remained steadfast and is not about to disregard his deal with Raila.

“And I know there are many who were not happy with what we did. We know! We are hearing from all sides. Some from my side, some from his [Raila’s] side,” Uhuru said during the funeral service for multiparty democracy crusader Kenneth Matiba in April.

“That’s why I’m surprised that when we meet with Raila and shake hands, stories started about 2022. As Raila has said, there’ll be 2022, there will be 2027, and there will be 2020 and 2030. Let’s leave these politics aside. Let’s focus on what matters to our people.”

Last month, the President delivered even a bigger surprise to those positioning themselves to succeed him. In an unprecedented move, Uhuru said his choice of successor will be a shocker.

See: Uhuru tells off handshake critics, says will continue working with Raila

Political observers have said the statement was the clearest signal that he might renege on his pledge to back Ruto for the top job. Jubilee had an informal deal of a 10-year presidency for Uhuru, and another 10 for Ruto.

“You can’t take the President’s remarks lightly. They mean a lot, especially when they come at a time when Kenyans are aware there was an obvious political deal for 2022. The DP should know that the master is not happy,” Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny said.

Ex-Nasa communications official John Onyando said Uhuru’s succession will be determined by two factors — how far he is determined to block Ruto and to what extent he accommodates Raila.

“While Ruto is the frontrunner in the Uhuru succession, without state machinery on his side, his campaign will quickly founder,” he said.

“Unlike Raila, Ruto has no national constituency and cannot finesse a wave that will propel him beyond his Kalenjin base. He, however, would cash in on unravelling of the handshake. Thus, Uhuru cannot afford to play Ruto and Raila at the same time — notwithstanding the immense leverage he holds in influencing his succession.”

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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.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

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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