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Kalonzo calls for government of national unity

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By JUSTUS WANGA
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Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka now says it is time President Uhuru Kenyatta considered forming a government of national unity as a way of healing the country once and for all after a fiercely contested presidential election last year.

Mr Musyoka, who served as President Mwai Kibaki’s Vice-President between 2008 and 2013 under such an arrangement, argues that it is possible to have an inclusive government while at the same time playing the watchdog role.

“We hope every community will feel part of government and this should be actualised in 2019. We would want, in my view, to see a government of national unity going forward,” Mr Musyoka said in an interview with the Sunday Nation.

But he said that even as they engage with Mr Kenyatta, none of the Nasa principals was willing to take up a government appointment.

They would, however, suggest to the President names of those from the opposition they would wish appointed, he implied.

“It must, however, be clear that at the level of Raila (Odinga), Musalia (Mudavadi) and I, we will be out of mainstream government until the next elections. I can’t, for instance, see myself going to ask Uhuru to make me a Cabinet secretary, no way.

“The more respected position is to make Raila AU envoy and in my case peace ambassador in South Sudan. That is a role we are ready to play,” he said.

Mr Musyoka said that even as they play these roles abroad, they will still be active politically at home.

“Some think that since Raila will be going around Africa and myself in Juba, now we have no role to play at home. That is far from it.”

Signalling that he, the President and Mr Odinga had agreed on a common position is so far as changing the laws goes, he said a referendum was the only way to address the problem of inclusivity in government.

“Our democracy needs serious reform and the President agrees with me on this. They had said 20 percent of the Constitution needs relooking. This is the time to do so.”

Without naming him, Mr Musyoka also took a swipe at Deputy President William Ruto who is against changing the law before the next General Election.

“You have seen some who vehemently opposed the Constitution in 2010 now in a very tragic manner saying do not touch it. They’re saying leave it as it is because they are enjoying the benefits accruing from it. I find this a very selfish way of looking at it. True nationalists must brace themselves for a referendum,” he said.

He said the referendum question should be framed in a manner to hold the country together.

“We can actually have a non-contested referendum. There are many such examples elsewhere. When Eritrea had a referendum to break away from Ethiopia, nobody contested it. It was the same case in South Sudan.

“We can borrow a leaf from such. All we need is to ensure that the initiative is inclusive, let the churches, other religions and everyone be brought on board. I suggest we do it in 2019 or latest 2020,” the former vice-president said.

Mr Musyoka said that he will be rooting for a more vibrant opposition through reintroduction of the official opposition in Parliament.

“One of the things that call for the question is whether the person who comes second and his/her running mate should be in Parliament if they do not capture State House. This will strengthen the opposition and democracy. They will control the debate and keep the majority side on check.

“We can bet, if Raila and I were in Parliament today, the House would be stronger compared to the current situation where lawmakers from our parties on many occasions ignore our advice on important matters when they get to the House,” he said.

Mr Musyoka said he will be running for president in 2022.

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“It would be very strange for me having been in public service and leadership and gained experience, and having supported my brother Raila for 10 years, to want to be anyone’s number two in 2022. If I prepare to run as somebody’s number two then I have lost it. I may not even be helpful to that person I will be seeking to deputise,” he said.

On his “errand boy” remarks during the burial of his father last month, which triggered a political fireball that saw DP Ruto coming out to say that he is the only official “errand boy” for the President, the opposition leader said that while it was made in jest, he meant that there will be a lot of realignments in the country ahead of 2022. This is already happening.

“It should not shock William that we may find ourselves on the same side going forward as errand boys. Anything is possible and as a former British Prime Minister said, even a week is a long time in politics,” he said.

“If there are people who have a sense of that guilt then that is their problem. If you have up to 40 percent of the country’s budget going to individuals’ pockets, then there is a problem which has to be urgently addressed. We support the President on this.”

He accused the Church of condoning corruption in government by accepting monies stolen from the public.

“The Church is the salt of the earth and the Bible says we discard salt when it loses its taste. It is the conscience of the country. You remember the 80s and 90s during the days of the likes of the vibrant Kipsang Muge, Bishop David Gitari and Henry Okullu when the church would issue pastoral letters.

“This is not happening any more. My brother Mudavadi has been very vocal and consistent on this. You cannot bribe God, not possible,” he charged.

At a time the three governors from his backyard – Charity Ngilu (Kitui), Alfred Mutua (Machakos) and Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) – have been considering a future of the region’s politics without him in it, Mr Musyoka shrugged this off, insisting that he had a firm grip on the region.

“That community is very solid. If anybody wants to challenge me for the Wiper leadership, they are free. We have room for divergent views and this should not be construed to mean rebellion, I have never been a dictator and do not plan to be one.

“However, party matters should not be discussed in the streets. There are channels to raise any emerging issues,” he said.

Prof Kibwana has publicly criticised his party boss over his dalliance with Mr Kenyatta, accusing him of acting unilaterally and demeaning himself.

“I am not answering my chairman, let’s be clear on this. But it is worth pointing out that the party was fully consulted on the way forward. I was not just talking haphazardly.

“The NEC (National Executive Council) of the WDM sat in November and a resolution to work with the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta with regard to the fight against corruption, addressing inclusivity in government, unifying the country was made and this was read out by the party chairman,” he stated.

On his role at the joint monitoring and evaluation commission (JMEC) on South Sudan, Mr Musyoka said:

“The media actually jumped the gun. When they reported that I had taken over, we had actually gone to Juba with Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma to deliver President Kenyatta’s letter to his counterpart, Kiir. The negotiations are well on course,” he said.

He asked critics to be patient with Mr Kenyatta’s government on the question of the soaring public debt.

“As long as we are able to show transparency in expenditure, Kenyans will have no problem. But Parliament must also address the issue by capping it against the GDP.

“Having come from a highly divisive election, I do not advise that we go the Khartoum or French way where there are riots triggered by high cost of living. Ours has not gotten there but it has to be addressed.”



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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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