Is Deputy President William Ruto quietly shifting his position on the looming referendum?
Politicians and close allies have told the Star in multiple interviews the DP will from the New Year campaign for the creation of an executive Prime Minister position in the event of a referendum.
In this proposal, Ruto’s team will press also for a ceremonial President and his deputy and two deputy Prime Ministers.
In a parliamentary system, the leader of the party with the largest number of MPs becomes the PM. The party leader is typically elected by party delegates during party polls. The president is normally a ceremonial Head of State.
In the event a party does not get more than 50 per cent of MPs in order to form government, the party leader can cobble together a coalition of other like-minded parties to make a majority.
Ruto has been forced into a tactical shift, according to his confidants, because he believes the writing is on the wall and he can longer bank on President Kenyatta’s support in 2022.
His handlers believe a parliamentary system will end the fratricidal wars sparked off by presidential election results every five years which is politically untenable in a young democracy because of the “tyranny of numbers”. The presidential duel, his allies say, is politically and socially too polarising for a country which needs cohesion after years of ethnic mistrust.
Ethnic alliances between the Kikuyu, Luhya, Kalenjins, Luo and Kamba traditionally determined who gets the job of President.
If Uhuru does not endorse his number two for the top job it will be a herculean task for Ruto to win the backing of either Luhya and or Kikuyu bloc to add to his Kalenjin base and therefore stand a chance of getting to State House.
“We are not taking chances. We will only back the referendum if it will create a pure parliamentary system of government. That way the Prime Minister who will be in-charge of the day to day running of government will be elected by Parliament,” said Majority Leader Aden Duale.
Two weeks ago, Duale told MPs that he and a group of politicians he chose not to name, but who are all believed to be pro-Ruto, will support the referendum if it creates a federal system of government or a parliamentary system.
Currently Kenya has presidential system where executive power is exercised by the president and in his absence his deputy.
Ruto’s team believes that the Presidency may be slipping out of their hands and the best bet would be to change the rules and then gun for an executive PM job.
“Ruto has many MPs in Parliament and is in control of the Senate as well. We believe he will continue to control the two institutions even after the next election. This will be our way to power if they insist on a referendum to share positions,” said jubilee whip Benjamin Washiali, a Ruto supporter.
On November 28, Ruto seemed to soften his stance when he said he will support enhancement of devolution if Kenyans resolve to go for a referendum. This was a radical departure from his earlier position in July when he would announce at every gathering that he was totally opposed to a referendum, even declaring at a church function in Kiambu that he had no time for a plebiscite as he had serious matters of state to deal with.
“I want to assure you that I will support any discussion on how to enhance devolution and increase its allocation, but not to create some positions at the top level alone,” said Ruto. But he would change in a matter of weeks.
He announced he was not opposed to a referendum to amend the Constitution, saying he has only given his opinion, which is his right, on some issues, just like the rest of Kenyans.
“I have a right to give my opinion on the proposed referendum just like any other Kenyan. In fact, I have no problem with presidential or parliamentary system of governance so long as Kenyans decide,” said Ruto.
Responding to Members of County Assemblies (MCAs) who vowed to oppose any move to interfere with devolution in case of a referendum, Ruto said he would back amendments that empower counties.
Ruto was addressing MCAs from Kakamega, Elgeyo Marakwet and Baringo Counties who called on him at his Sugoi home, Uasin Gishu County on Friday.
Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said yesterday that Ruto and his supporters will launch their constitutional demands soon.
“We are not stupid. We know that those opposed to the DP are scheming day and night against him. We will shock them with our demands,” said Cherargei.
Yesterday Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong’o said it was not surprising that the DP would now make a U-turn and push for a parliamentary system, which he surrendered to PNU in 2010 when he was then the ODM team leader during the Naivasha constitutional talks.
“He is simply rekindling the demand for the parliamentary system that has always been there in the agenda of the Second Liberation. It had been achieved in the Bomas Draft Constitution, but was mutilated in Kilifi before the referendum of 2005. It was smuggled out of the 2010 draft through the Naivasha ‘deal’ which was negotiated by Ruto,” Nyong’o told the Star yesterday.
After they won elections in 2013, Uhuru and Ruto told thrilled supporters they had a deal that would take the party to 2027.
The plan then was for Uhuru to serve his two five-year term and back Ruto to take over for another 10 years.
The plans seem to have been ruined by Kenyatta’s decision to reach a truce with ODM leader Raila Odinga. Ruto’s reluctant embrace of the handshake and the open rebellion of pro-Ruto MPs have hardened positions in Jubilee.
Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe has last week told Ruto to retire in 2022 “because he has served his 10 years with Uhuru”.
“Jubilee has no presidential candidate,” declared Murathe on December 26 during the Maragoli cultural festival in Vihiga last week.
His remarks followed his much-publicised meeting with ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi in November that sparked speculation that Murathe and by extension President Kenyatta was reaching out to Mudavadi with a view to making him a presidential candidate for Mt Kenya.
Some Mt Kenya politicians have also campaigned for law change so Kenyatta can land the job when his constitutional term ends in 2022.
The new Constitution was originally intended to create a parliamentary system, but MPs switched to a presidential system in the Naivasha talks in 2010 after then ODM team led by Ruto cut a back room deal with PNU at the expense of their party position.
Many liberal democracies such as Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, the Netherlands, and New Zealand use the parliamentary system.
The presidential system is used in democracies like the United States and France.
Ruto’s team, according to sources, will also be pushing for Cabinet Secretaries to be picked from elected politicians, a departure from now where ministers are technocrats.
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.