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MCAs’ greed, stunts fuel idea to scrap county assemblies

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A number of Kenyans are agitating for the removal of MCAs should Kenya go into a referendum to decide on a new form of government. 

The majority of those proposing the move feel they are over-represented, hence the abolition of such positions would save taxpayers’ money.

There are currently 1,450 elected Members of County Assembly. There are 772 others who are nominated, bringing the total number to 2,222.

A number of county assemblies have been rocked by wrangles pitting MCAs against each other and with House authorities in some instances.

The row is rooted in a fight for leadership positions in the House, all happening at the expense of voters’ needs for development as fights stall budgetary processes.

Other issues cited are leadership feuds, corruption, harassment, assault, impeachment, and misappropriation of the public funds.

Nancy, a resident of Kahawa West says that she feels betrayed after she voted for her area MCA. 

She told the Star of the sorry state of roads in the ward adding that it was more regrettable that the MCA has not made any efforts to legislate for their repair.

MCA wetu tukimpelekea malalamishi hakuna kitu anafanya. Barabara yetu yote ni mbovu kabisa, hata haipitiki kukinyesha,” She said.

(When we air out our grievances to our MCA, he barely does anything. Our road is in a very poor state and is impassable when it rains).

Read: Majority opposed to referendum call – poll

 

Nairobi

Nominated MCA Mary Njambibe became famous in September after she alongside others attempted to evict speaker Beatrice Elachi from her office on September 10.

Now popularly known as ‘kirimino’ – for her cries that the speaker used pepper spray on her, she is presumably the face of the chaos at the city assembly. 

The speaker, who was impeached on grounds of abuse of office, gross misconduct and conflict of interest, is yet to resume office despite the court reinstating her.

MCAs endorsed Chege Mwaura as acting speaker but Elachi is waiting on the court verdict of an application she filed to stop her removal. 

Read: [VIDEO] Toka nje! Drama at City Hall as MCAs evict Elachi

 

Homa Bay

Hosting 60 MCAs,  Homa Bay has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons because of its MCAs who have fought in the assembly on a number of occasions in 2018.

The wrangles started after speaker Elizabeth Ayoo failed to recognise a new team led by current majority leader Walter Dada.

Chief whip Richard Ogindo and his team were kicked out, sparking chaos in the county legislative arm to the detriment of locals.

They were so intense that it caught the attention of ODM boss Raila Odinga who had to intervene. 

 However, the MCAs warned the party to stop interfering with the assembly’s activities.

The fracas led to two journalists being hurt.

Ayoo is accused of poor leadership, mismanagement of resources, incompetency, failure to meet the integrity, transparency and accountability tests.

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She was impeached but later reinstated by the court. 

 On November 29, her office was broken into and sprayed with chemicals.

Seven MCAs were later arrested and detained for four days for swearing in Evans Marieba as the acting speaker.

Read: Handshake deal ends Homa Bay assembly wrangles

 

Kisumu

Kisumu county assembly experienced two chaotic incidents this year.

First, MCAs clashed over an attempt to impeach Governor Anyang Nyong’o in June.

Majority leader Kenneth Odhiambo claimed that some MCAs had hired youths who accosted him at the county government offices.

He said the youths claimed there was a notice of motion prepared in the house to impeach Nyong’o.

In October, there were shootings in the assembly premises over a chaotic attempt to impeach speaker Onyango Oloo.

Some MCAs accused Oloo of mismanaging the assembly.

See: [VIDEO] Kisumu MCAs in fist fight after rumours of plot to impeach Nyong’o

 

Nyandarua

Chaos erupted in the Nyandarua county assembly in October when Majority Leader Kamau Gathungu attempted to hold on to the position against the will of agitated members who had removed him.

The MCAs accused speaker Wahome Ndegwa of bias for failing to recognise the new house leadership.

Ndegwa said Gathungu’s removal was illegal.

They wanted Gathungu replaced by Wambugu King’ori.

Ndegwa was forced to adjourn sittings.

The following month, the MCAs blocked Ndegwa from accessing the chambers after swearing in Kaimbaga MCA Gabriel Gathure in acting capacity.

Read: Nyandarua MCAs swear in new speaker during assembly drama

 

Murang’a

Blows, kicks and fist fights were what dominated in the Murag’a county assembly as they fought for leadership positions.

Fracas began when a section of MCAs led by deputy speaker Samuel Kihurunjo attempted to evict the county assembly clerk.

They accused Chris Kinyanjui of flouting tendering procedures by procuring substandard sports kits and uniforms.

It took the intervention of the police to calm down the legislators.

Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria on January 5, condemning the row asked DPP Noordin Haji to prosecute the MCAs.

He said such violence was a disgrace and the physical fights could lead to some deaths

Read:[VIDEO] Murang’a MCAs fight for the third time as leadership row deepens

 

Special committee formed to resolve wrangles among MCAs

The County Assemblies Forum in October formed a special committee to look into wrangles among MCAs in various counties. 

The forum’s secretary general Eric Mwangi told the Star that the forum is looking into the cases of infighting at county assemblies.

The Members Service Committee is tasked with fostering peace and harmony among MCAs.

Other country assemblies that have had chaos are Kakamega,Bungoma, Taita Taveta, Busia,Nyamira, Migori and Wajir.

Read: Committee to resolve wrangles among MCAs

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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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