Methodist Church is considering inviting the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate individuals accused of running down its institutions in what is claimed to be organised plunder.
Those on the radar are said to have pilfered funds at the Kenya Methodist University (KeMU) and run down Maua Methodist Hospital and the Methodist Resort.
Methodist Church Presiding Bishop Joseph Ntombura is facing protests against his leadership.
The church has been in the news with a section of the clergy and members holding rallies calling for the ouster of Rev Ntombura.
But the Presiding Bishop said trouble started immediately after his predecessor realised he was not a ‘yes man’.
His predecessor, Reverend Stephen Kanyaru, has joined the calls for his removal citing lack of academic certificates, lying to the church and mismanagement of its institutions.
In an exclusive interview with the Saturday Nation, however, Mr Ntombura said he has faced backlash due to his efforts to remove saboteurs and seal loopholes used to pilfer money.
While Rev. Kanyaru said he handed over a healthy church and institutions in 2013, Rev. Ntombura painted a grim picture of the church, KeMU, Methodist Resort and Maua Methodist Hospital when he took over five years ago.
He said he inherited a “dying church” and pointed to an institution gripped by intense power play, with those fired for various offences coming out guns blazing.
“In the process of cleaning up these institutions and restoring the dignity of the church, I have encountered a battalion of enemies. Corruption is fighting back,” he said.
Mr Ntombura dismissed claims that he lacks academic papers as untrue, noting he completed his studies at St Paul’s Theological College and later earned a Masters degree at Cambridge University.
“Bishop Kanyaru backed my election and even protected me from opponents in 2013. But after my election, he backed efforts to block my induction through a court process which never went through. Even on my ordination day, there was a lot of sabotage and the seat meant for the new presiding bishop was missing,” Rev Ntombura added.
“After my ordination, I came in to a hostile reception by Bishop Kanyaru’s people. The church had been relying on loans to run its offices. Statutory deductions were in arrears. The official residence of the presiding bishop had no furniture. There was no money left for mission work.”
At KeMU, the bishop claimed, management presented “cosmetic” financial records indicating a stable institution with a surplus of Sh156 million in its account.
Rev Ntombura went on to say that within no time, the management sought approval from the council to get a loan, raising eyebrows about its financial health.
“We wondered why the university was borrowing yet it had a surplus of Sh156 million. The Vice Chancellor and the finance department could not explain, leading to a forensic audit that unearthed shocking details of cooked financial records,” he said.
“The audit revealed unpaid statutory dues, loans and credit amounting to Sh2.8 billion. We had to move with speed to restructure the loans to save the university from the auctioneers’ hammer.”
He added that a sustained effort to make the university dysfunctional led to the disappearance of the original registration document for the board of trustees, stalling the registration of the current team.
Regarding the KeMU chancellor post, the bishop said the church opposed a recommendation by the Commission for University Education (CUE) for it not to be the presiding bishop.
“We met the commission and the church gave its position – that it could not give up the chancellor post. The church is not interfering with the running of the university but the recommendation was due to a negative report by those fighting my leadership.”
He pointed out that the church was ready to bail out the university, which is now looking into specialisation to improve efficiency.
“Despite all the challenges, KeMU is the first private university to graduate medical doctors this year. It has assets that will help it remain afloat and return to its former glory,” he said.
The prelate further said various measures have been put in place to restore the hospital which had Sh2,000 in its operations account when he took over.
He said that under his leadership, the resort has become a vibrant facility which is now funding mission work.
On claims that he irregularly amended the church Standing Orders, Bishop Ntombura said they were meant to spur growth.
“Since I took over, the church has increased its presence from 29 to 42 counties. Membership has doubled and the clergy are motivated. The dhurch is now fulfilling its core mandate; the great commission,” he said.
However, the group rallying against the leadership of Bishop Ntombura maintains his stay is untenable.
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.
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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.