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Murkomen sheds light on anti-graft war, Jubilee fate

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By SUNDAY NATION REPORTER
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This week Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen answers your questions.

1. Sir, you appear as one leader who is currently riled by the happenings in the country, ranging from the handshake dynamics, corruption investigations and the clamour for a constitutional review. Is it not possible for Jubilee to use its internal structures to handle some of these issues? Komen Moris, Eldoret

Thanks you for your question. Indeed there is a lot going on in the country. I am happy that the Jubilee Party, under the stewardship of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President (DP) William Ruto, is on course in delivering its promises to Kenyans.

The party has a sound manifesto – a political promise that secured its re-election to government.

The party also has structures for consultations, participation and for consensus-building. As an elected leader under the party, I have a role to play for the success of the party and government.

I champion the government’s agenda in the Senate as well as representation of interest of counties, representation of the people, exercising oversight, among other functions.

2. Given the direct attacks on President Uhuru Kenyatta by political leaders allied to Deputy President William Ruto, is that arising out of anger that the President or people around him are blatantly betraying the 2013 pre-election pact with the deputy president? Komen Moris, Eldoret

I have not heard any political leader ‘allied’ to the DP ‘attacking’ the President. Divergence of opinion and candid public discourse is not attack.

There have been heated discussions on the 2022 presidential succession, with divergent views shared on the matter by politicians.

Freedom of expression is protected under the Constitution, and I believe the various sentiments shared are healthy and will greatly help Jubilee Party when the time comes.

For now, both the President and Dr Ruto have publicly stated that they are focused on delivering the Big Four agenda – and will cross the succession bridge when the time comes.

3. You and other political leaders allied to Dr Ruto have openly accused the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) of allegedly targeting one community in the war on corruption. These attacks, coming in the wake of the dams’ scandal, have gained momentum even before investigations are concluded. Why don’t you wait and allow these independent bodies to carry out investigations regarding the alleged cases of corruption before attacking the institutions? Okulo Andrew Guya, Nairobi

I support the war against corruption, I have voiced constructive criticism on the style and manner in which the war against corruption is being waged by investigative and prosecutorial authorities.

I have three concerns. First, I have advised for the need to respect rights of accused persons, and respect the presumption of innocence.

Second, I am suggesting that the office of DCI be established in law as an independent office with an oversight board.

I strongly believe that DCI, which is led by Mr George Kinoti, lacks the institutional capacity to investigate complex economic crimes, yet he (Mr Kinoti) has overwhelmed his office with corruption matters.

We need to know the criteria for allocating investigations between DCI and EACC. Third, the office of DPP must retain and guard its constitutional independence.

Finally, I have also cautioned against political interference and against weaponised fight against corruption.

Selective and targeted investigations that are meant to feed a political narrative is the greatest threat to the fight against corruption.

My critique is intended to ensure this war is won devoid of political malice or ethnic profiling.

4. What is your view on the flagrant disobedience of the high court order by the President that required the gazetting of the re-election of Justice Mohammed Warsame as a representative of the Court of Appeal on the Judicial Service Commission (JSC)? Don’t you feel the Attorney-General misled the President on this critical issue? Andrew Maranga Ratemo, Malindi

I believe the President has qualified, competent and professional advisers who provide counsel on such issues.

The office of the President would thus be in a better position to comment and provide a justification for the actions of the President in this particular issue.

However, I must note that such executive decisions are oversighted by the Judiciary whose decision is final and must be respected as in the case of Justice Warsame.

5. Sir, the other day you characterised the ‘handshake’ as the biggest political fraud. Don’t you think the province you command will believe in this negative description and in the process give a big dent to the gains made by the handshake? David M. Kigo, Nairobi

When the handshake was announced a year ago, President Kenyatta explained to us that it was meant to bring all Kenyans together and end the politics of division.

Unfortunately, the reality of the last one year has shown that our ODM partners are in it for political gain through evil machinations.

The ODM has announced, through Hassan Ali Joho, their Deputy Party Leader, that they have been instructed to attack Dr Ruto.

Second, Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa has been expelled from ODM, her crime being her association with Dr Ruto.

Third, ODM members are on record pursuing a division of Jubilee Party with a desire to have the President separate from his deputy.

In my honest opinion, ODM are a fraud. To them the handshake is for the personal benefit of their party leader.

6. Senator Murkomen, if you feel that the government agendas – especially the fight against graft and building bridges initiative – are skewed, why can’t you resign as Leader of Majority in the Senate instead of rocking the boat from within? Rono Arnold, Eldoret

Problems are there to be confronted and solved not to be evaded. The first way to solve a problem is to acknowledge it.

I am satisfied that in my position of responsibility I am able to point out and resolve the problems we confront as a republic.

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7. Thanks a lot for always standing firm in the defence of the Jubilee Party. Why are ODM bigwigs, right from the top, bent on rocking the Jubilee especially after the much hyped ‘handshake’? Erick ole Saikko, Malaba

Thanks Erick for the compliment. Indeed the Jubilee Party was entrusted by the people of Kenya to steer the development agenda of this country.

I can confidently say that the party has been well-coordinated, a fact that perturbs our political competitors. Our unity and focus as a party will overcome plots by our political competitors.

8. If it gets to a point that Kenyans have to hold a referendum, one of the questions that should be put to the electorate is whether or not we should do away with the Senate. My premise is that it is unnecessary, expensive and its roles are not clear. What are your thoughts on this? Joseph Kimani Wanjeri, Nairobi

This is an important question, Joseph. The Senate is an important institution in Kenya which should not under any circumstance be done away with.

Rather, this is an institution that should be strengthened to effectively deliver on its mandate. As you are aware, Kenya is now devolved.

Senate exists to protect devolution, and without the Senate devolution will be as good as dead. Remember what happened at independence?

We cannot roll back the gains we have made. In any case, if cost is the driving factor then Senate is the cheaper House to run with 67 members representing the whole country.

9. The matter of the subsidised fertiliser is still a pending matter even as farmers eagerly wait for it. What are you doing to have the fertiliser reach farmers? Peter Mwai, Isiolo

Agriculture is an important economic activity for our country. As a leader and a farmer, I have been in the forefront fighting for the rights of farmers.

It is regrettable that the so-called fight against corruption has been used to fight maize farmers and deny, for the first time, our farmers subsidised fertilizer.

I will continue to advocate for the protection of farmers’ interests, both at the legislative and policy levels.

Our strategic interventions, including through Senate inquiry, will soon reverse the deteriorating situation.

10. The running theme in media platforms is that Jubilee is disintegrating. Have you and Deputy President considered registering a different political outfit, just in case, for whatever reason, the deputy president is not able to run on a Jubilee ticket in 2022? Osman H. Abdi, Eastleigh

Contrary to media reports, the Jubilee Party leadership is firmly in charge. The DP and the President are fully in control.

There is absolutely no reason to even contemplate the disintegration of Jubilee. I only see it growing from one glory to another.

11. Why do you seem to spend a lot of you time defending people who should otherwise be able to do so before the law and not in political rallies through proxies like yourself. Even in their defence, you have mostly come out to speak when the suspects are from your community. Why don’t you defend people from other communities like former PS Lillian Omollo or Richard Ndubai, who too have been caught up in a corruption dragnet? Francis Njuguna, Kibichoi

Dear Francis, as an elected representative of the people, I speak on matters affecting my constituents, and Kenyans at large.

As a lawyer, I have spoken for the rights of accused persons regardless of their ethnicity, social or political affiliations. It is important to note that accused persons have rights under our Constitution.

12. By virtue of your position as Senate Majority Leader, it can correctly be said that you have a role to play in the planning of the annual devolution conferences. My concern relates to the yearly hosting of the annual meet. Would it not be a good idea to convene the same after every three years to save on costs and also to ensure that counties have tangible achievements to showcase? Dan Murugu, Nakuru

Dan, thank you for raising this issue. This year, the 6th Annual Devolution Conference was planned and convened by the Council of Governors, the Ministry of Devolution and ASALs, the County Assemblies Forum, the Senate and other stakeholders.

The conference continues to be an important platform for devolution. This is where successes, challenges, best practices, and recommendations are shared.

Tracking of progress, failures and lessons is important to improve and deliver the promise of devolution.

Considering that the life-cycle of elected leaders is five years it is only practical to have the conference annually.

13. You have recently been quoted in the local media alleging that DCI George Kinoti is playing politics with the investigation of Kimwarer and Arror dams. Don’t you think such pointed allegations could be interpreted as interference with the ongoing investigations? Edward B. Wekesa, Kisumu

Indeed, I am on record stating that the Arror and Kimwarer dam projects are of utmost importance to not only the people of Elgeyo Marakwet, but the entire country.

It is for the above reasons that as the Senator of Elgeyo Marakwet, I have spoken against any scheme to undermine or terminate the projects.

I have cautioned against investigations that might be discriminative in nature, where every details, half-truths, and non-factual information is shared with the media.

This appears to be aimed at painting the projects in bad light. My statements have thus called for professionalism and fairness.

14. You are very much aware that corruption has reached alarming proportions in our country. However, all you have lately been doing is to castigate the institutions mandated to investigate those who mismanage, embezzle and steal public funds. Why don’t you let the law take its course rather than claim that the fight targets an individual or a community? Bonny Mutai, Londiani

I support the war against corruption. It negatively impacts the development of our nation. I have voiced constructive criticism on the style and manner in which the campaign against the vice is being carried out.



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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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