With a shaky political base and time running out on his presidency, President Uhuru Kenyatta is not sitting pretty.
His mood swings from anger to laughter, and he is easily irritated by criticism levelled against him.
Lately, he looks livid, and acknowledges as much, walking like a man with a huge political and social burden in a highly-indebted economy.
The president’s poise, sangfroid nature and his gentleness of yesteryear when among the ordinary people is slowly fading as the bulk of Jubilee Party MPs, who hitherto supported him, switch loyalty to Deputy President William Ruto.
That the president is outrightly facing a rebellion is now clear. On Tuesday, in an angry outburst in his mother-tongue, he promised a fightback.
Today, more than 100 Jubilee MPs will be meeting in the Rift Valley to rally together and to take on the president who had hoped for a quieter final term after trading horses with ODM leader Raila Odinga, his former political rival.
Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga’s Building Bridges Initiative, which resulted from the ‘handshake’ that ended their rivalry, has been the cause of political tension between the easily-identified Dr Ruto camp and others who gravitate around Mr Kenyatta or Mr Odinga.
The BBI had been marketed as the manifesto of the future that would heal an ailing nation.
But on Wednesday, and much to the chagrin of the proponents, a meeting organised by top government officials where MPs were to be taken through the BBI report by experts, was called off after Mt Kenya region MPs declined to attend.
This boycott came against a backdrop of a schedule released by MPs on where they would tour to discuss the BBI report.
President Kenyatta has now promised to return to the region, come January, to face his detractors: “They think I am a fool … that I know nothing.”
Despite the President having asked Kenyans to read the BBI report and make informed decisions, MPs in the Tangatanga group have already stated they will not support a referendum and instead want the money used on development projects.
While the President is yet to indicate whether he supports a referendum, and the BBI report has not called for any, the Wednesday outburst in Mang’u, Kiambu County, was an indicator that the future of Uhuru’s presidency is largely pegged on the success of this report.
Coincidentally, Mr Kenyatta is also not finding favour from Kenyans online, with people coming out to complain about his leadership style.
In the last few months alone, he has used strong language to remind all and sundry that he is in control despite his visits to the region being few and far between.
The relationship between the President and a majority of MPs from Mt Kenya region appears to be irrevocably broken.
Those who spoke on condition of anonymity said it is virtually impossible to reach the president and the few times he calls some of them, it’s always a top-down conversation.
But why they do not want to take him on directly and openly — without seeking anonymity — is another indicator that President Kenyatta could still provide a lethal sting in Mt Kenya and shape its politics.
“Apart from the two Parliamentary Group meetings we had when we were elected, I only see the President on TV just like everyone else. We understand he is a busy man but we see when he hosts leaders from other regions at State House Nairobi or Mombasa.
He can’t accuse us of going from one direction to another because we have not even been given a direction; we can only guess,” said an MP who sought anonymity.
OPPOSERS OF UNITY
Last week, over 45 MPs from the region met in Embu where they vowed to support the BBI report despite having had misgivings about it before it was released. It was this about turn that irked the President on Wednesday.
The President’s anger is borne of the fact that his deputy, despite public pronouncements, does not seem to stop from campaigning for presidency.
In June when he attended an Akorino fundraiser at Kasarani Stadium, Nairobi, the already fed-up President expressed himself using Kikuyu dialect where he insulted those opposed to his agenda of uniting the country and halting premature politics.
A quiet political moment would not only have allowed President Kenyatta to achieve his Big Four Agenda but would have allowed him to manage the transition, which he cannot easily do without a strong powerbase.
In a hard-hitting statement which he delivered in Kikuyu, the President called the defiant leaders ‘mikora’ (the crooks) who failed to support him in his unity bid to leave a stable and a unified country, and to end tribal ethnicity.
It was not the first time that President Kenyatta had scolded the MPs.
Last year, when he invited MPs to County Commissioner’s home in Nyeri — barely a week after they held a retreat in Mt Kenya discussing politics — he lashed out at them for trying to undercut him politically.
And earlier last month, MPs and opinion shapers from the region were summoned to State Lodge, Sagana, and the President once again warned them against premature politics.
With Mr Kenyatta’s anger always directed to MPs allied to Dr Ruto, it is not lost to observers that all is not well within the Jubilee Party.
Leaders allied to the president sympathise with him, saying some leaders do not seem to understand his mission.
Senate deputy chief whip and Murang’a Senator Irungu Kangata said the leaders who ought to be supporting the President to realise his agenda are busy doing 2022 politics.
“One can understand his Excellency’s position. He is busy fighting corruption, channelling money into the Big Four agenda and instead of leaders focusing on that, they are busy plotting for 2022,” Mr Kangata said.
Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu believes Tangatanga leaders have offended the President by making his work harder.
“These MPs have forsaken the president and are even making his work harder in the region,” he said.
Interestingly, Tangatanga MPs, who are the majority in the region, opted not to react over the president’s anger.
How the President navigates his new challenges and whether he will use the BBI report to plot the downfall of his nemesis in his own backyard remains to be seen.
But at the moment, Mr Kenyatta looks troubled — and shaky.
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.