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Ministers face Uhuru wrath over poor service delivery

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By WANJOHI GITHAE
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By IBRAHIM ORUKO
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They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. No better is this truism captured than in an image that has been circulating on social media that shows a not-so-happy President Uhuru Kenyatta in the company of ODM leader Raila Odinga and Sports CS Rashid Echesa.

The trio were at the mausoleum of the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga at Kang’o ka Jaramogi in Siaya where the President gave the CS a dressing down for the poor state of the facility.

President Kenyatta has of late shown open disdain for his Cabinet secretaries, begging the question how long some of them will stay in their dockets.

The President, the Nation understands, has also been admonishing his CSs privately so much that some dread receiving his call.

Though this could be his style of management, the President’s penchant for admonishing his key lieutenants who are supposed to deliver his vision for the country has left tongues wagging in the corridors of power.

Some of the CSs who have had the unfortunate encounter with the Head of State include Echesa, Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri and Health CS Sicily Kariuki.

The President also rubbished his entire Cabinet when he launched the Kenya Coast Guard and suggested he had to engineer the whole parastatal alongside Chief of Defence Forces General Samson Mwathethe fearing his own men and women would want to steal from the public.

Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen downplayed the issue, saying the President’s moves are informed by what the public perceives to be unmet promises.

“Let’s not read much into these issues, in reality the President is expressing impatience Kenyans have in unmet promises and, once in a while, this may come out in public,” he said.

According to an MP who was at Kang’o ka Jaramogi in Siaya, the President was concerned that Mr Echesa has hardly taken up his ministerial duties with the seriousness it deserves, but instead was giving undue focus on attending funerals and insulting other leaders.

“You seem to think that the work of a Cabinet secretary is to attend all funerals in western Kenya,” the President is reported to have told the shocked CS right in front of Mr Odinga and other senior government officials at the home of the former doyen of Opposition politics, Mr Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

“Wewe kazi yako ni kungoja wikiendi ifike halafu unaenda kwa kila matanga kutusi watu. Hiyo sio kazi ya waziri. Hio ni kazi ya wabunge. Ni Kama hujui kazi yako.”

(You seem not to know the job description of a Cabinet secretary. You only come alive on weekends where you attend every funeral with the sole aim of insulting your rivals. That is not the work of a CS. It is the work of politicians. You are not a politician but a CS).

According to the source, the President’s anger was triggered by reports that the Jaramogi Mausoleum has been neglected by the State even though it is a gazetted national monument.

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The grave was gazetted as a national monument in 2005 by the then Minister of State for National Heritage Najib Balala as a cultural, historical monument in remembrance of Jaramogi, who was Kenya’s first vice-president. The historical site is a one stop community museum and a Luo heroes’ exhibition centre.

The mausoleum is managed by the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) in partnership with Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation (JOOF).

However, when he toured the site, and after laying the wreath in memory of Jaramogi, the President was told that NMK had neglected its role and was hardly participating in managing the site.

There were complaints that staff have not been paid for many months prompting the President to intervene. However, when he turned to the ministry to establish the cause of the neglect, Mr Echesa was clueless as it appeared he had not received a brief from the technical staff.

It is at this point that the President decided to give him a tongue-lashing in full view of all those who were in the compound.

The CS was speechless. That the President could unleash such a torrent on Mr Echesa right in the face of Mr Odinga couldn’t be more poignant. Last August, the CS was forced to take on the former PM daring him to engineer his sacking from the Cabinet, in reference to what he said were comments the Opposition leader was making in the context of the March 9 handshake.

“This government is led by President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto and Raila should stop intimidating those of us who have been appointed to serve as CSs. I dare him, if he is the appointing authority, let him sack me,” a furious Mr Echesa said.

Besides Mr Echesa, who feared that he could be edged out in favour of ODM adherents, there are some CSs who are reported to have been extremely concerned about their fate following reports of a Cabinet purge.

Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri was also on the receiving end in October when the President opened the Nairobi International Show over the National Cereals and Produce Board failure to pay genuine farmers.

The President, speaking in mother tongue, told Mr Kiunjuri that he will be in trouble if, once again, money meant for maize farmers is paid out to well-connected individuals.

“Mungiriha nimukuona,” which translates to, “If you pay, you’ll be in hot soup”.

In the maize scandal, which has seen several National Cereals and Produce Board officials charged in court, maize importers were paid millions of shillings for deliveries while genuine farmers were left out.

In April, the President caught Health CS Sicily Kariuki off guard when he directed her to build modern hospitals in a record time of one year. While opening Tenwek Hospital in Bomet, the President seemed oblivious of the bureaucracy in the procurement process in government.

The Tenwek eye and dental clinic, which cost Sh300m and has a capacity to handle 20,000 patients and conduct 5,000 surgeries yearly, impressed the President so much that he wondered why the same can’t be replicated in government hospitals.

The President told Ms Kariuki, who was present, to supervise construction of four similar clinics in Eldoret, Nyeri, Nairobi and Mombasa by next year, or risk losing her job.



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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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