Wednesday was a long day for Deputy President William Ruto and his allies as they endured moments of humiliation before, during and after the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report at Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi.
That the DP was having an uneasy time was reflected in his demeanour and body language during the ceremony that was a culmination of the ‘handshake’ between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
Throughout the event, Dr Ruto appeared pensive as speaker after speaker heaped praises on President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Odinga for the Building Bridges Initiative. He laughed or smiled only occasionally.
As President Kenyatta laughed animatedly at jokes and jibes, Dr Ruto wore a blank face.
The ‘handshake’ drew President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga and their supporters close, but alienated Dr Ruto who has on several occasions accused the ODM leader of seeking to split Jubilee Party.
Their rivalry reached the climax during the recent Kibra by-election when they engaged in a supremacy battle.
Following the loss of the Jubilee candidate, Dr Ruto accused Mr Odinga and his ODM party of fuelling violence.
On Wednesday, President Kenyatta made light of the matter, saying the election had in fact demonstrated mature politics.
On Thursday, Dr Ruto’s supporters complained about what they termed as attempts of the organisers of the event to humiliate and embarrass the DP.
During the ceremony, leaders who have openly shown support for Dr Ruto under the Tangatanga faction of Jubilee were conspicuously missing from the list of speakers.
Only Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, who is the Majority Leader in the Senate, and Mr Adan Duale, the Majority Leader in the National Assembly, got a chance to speak.
“We were not even informed that we would speak as we were not given any programme indicating the list of speakers of the day,” Mr Murkomen said Thursday.
“I guess that it was an afterthought to allow us to speak, reading from the mood in the building.”
Mr Murkomen said although the event was meant to start a conversation on national unity, the running of the event and mobilisation of delegates were aimed at silencing the DP’s supporters.
“It was purely a one-sided event,” he said. “They mobilised their own people; they didn’t want us to talk and they heckled us.”
Mr Murkomen was heckled when he complained about the treatment given to some leaders.
Dr Ruto’s supporters said the DP had been forced to wait for some minutes for President Kenyatta’s convoy and that of Mr Odinga to leave the venue before he was cleared to leave.
The DP, in the co-driver’s seat, watched the convoy of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga leave ahead of him.
Some delegates leaving the venue also shouted at the DP, accusing him of opposing the initiative.
Earlier during the day before the meeting started, Dr Ruto was seen waiting outside the VVIP holding area where President Kenyatta, Mr Odinga and other dignitaries were holed up as members of the Presidential Escort Unit and the President’s aide-de-camp Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Lekolol kept guard outside the door.
As the event started, Tangatanga politicians tried to protest after discovering that Suna East MP Junet Mohamed was listed as an emcee for the event.
Unlike in past events, the official programme was distributed about 30 minutes after it had started.
In the programme, Mr Odinga spoke after Dr Ruto and it was the ODM leader who invited President Kenyatta to address the meeting.
“The programme looked like that of an ODM party convention. They even selected Junet Mohamed who is one of the party’s loudest mouths to be the emcee in the section meant for leaders’ speeches,” Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro complained.
According to Belgut MP Nelson Koech, Mr Mohamed only picked ODM and Kieleweke-leaning politicians to speak.
“It seems he was forced to call on Mr Murkomen and National Assembly Majority Leader Adan Duale after protests from other leaders present. Before that, he hadn’t called any leaders who openly support the DP,” Mr Koech said.
North Mugirango MP Joash Nyamoko accused Mr Mohamed of being partisan.
Allies of the President and Mr Odinga who spoke at the event include women reps Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay) and Sabina Chege (Murang’a), governors Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Ali Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Charity Ngilu (Kitui), Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga) and Kiraitu Murungi (Meru). Siaya Senator James Orengo also spoke.
The other speakers who have in the past said Dr Ruto had no chance of becoming President in 2022 but who were invited to address the gathering were Kanu secretary-general Nick Salat and Cotu boss Francis Atwoli.
Mr Junet called party leaders Musalia Mudavadi (ANC) and Ford-Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula to speak before asking Mr Duale and Mr Murkomen to air their views.
“It was either a break of protocol or that we were never meant to address the gathering at all,” Mr Murkomen said.
The allies Ruto on Thursday vowed to support the BBI report, saying they had already read and understood it.
Mr Duale said he will rally his fellow legislators behind the BBI report. “I don’t know where Mr Odinga got the idea of the appointment of a Committee of Experts to take the BBI forward as this is not listed in the report,” he said.
ITUMBI KICKED OUT
He added “There is also no clause for a referendum in the report. If they want a referendum, they can forget the BBI report and choose the route of collecting at least one million signature so as to push for a popular vote so as to change the Constitution.”
Mr Duale said he had spoken to the President and pledged to support the BBI report through the parliamentary process.
Notably during the Wednesday event, the President summoned Interior Security Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i for a chat after which Dr Matiang’i went and said a word to his Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho.
Moments later, Mr Dennis Itumbi, the State House Digital Secretary who has in the past voiced his concerns over the BBI initiative, was whisked away from the presidential podium by security officers.
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.