Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana answered questions from Kenyans in a Q & A session with the Daily Nation on Sunday, December 8.
Real unity of the region’s people and that of Kenya will materialise around the necessary socio-cultural and economic measures needed for the people’s transformation.
I believe the emergence of the South Eastern Kenya Economic Bloc (Sekeb) currently led by Archbishop Timothy Ndambuki will be the indomitable vehicle that will bring the three counties together with their diaspora for development.
Many development partners have rated your county highly on the milestones achieved in the health sector. Has the Medical Equipment Scheme contributed to the success? Komen Moris, Eldoret
The controversies around the leased medical equipment scheme are mainly about planning, procurement, cost and utilisation.
The equipment by themselves are actually a good thing for counties and the country.
Before their acquisition, the government ought to have ensured that there is requisite space to house the equipment and staff to operate them.
The procurement ought to have guaranteed value for money. Where the equipment are in use, like in Makueni County, citizens are able to get dialysis services, among others, that were not previously available, hence the equipment are in a sense transformative.
What is the endgame regarding your falling-out with Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and the emerging unity involving governors Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Charity Ngilu (Kitui) and yourself? What broke the camel’s back in so far as your political relationship with Kalonzo Musyoka is concerned? Duncan Mulinge, Makindu
We agreed with Kalonzo Musyoka each one of us would do politics their way.
My entry into Wiper was negotiated between the people of Makueni, Kalonzo and Wiper.
When I felt the association was no longer productive and tenable, I reported to the people of Makueni.
The unity of the three governors of Ukambani, the county assemblies, the leadership of the religious sector and the cultural elders is driving Sekeb.
We are now focusing on economic transformation. I have moved on and I believe Kalonzo Musyoka has moved on too.
It is up to the region’s people to eventually decide the brand of politics and leadership they want.
There is concern that the Council of Governors is not adding value to devolution and hardly can Kenyans associate it with any landmark achievements for our counties since 2013. Moreover, even though it is not an employer, it wants to have a say on collective bargaining agreement (CBA), for example, for health workers. What is your take on this? Dan Murugu, Nakuru
I believe, particularly between 2013 and 2017, the Council of Governors (CoG) bravely stood its ground to safeguard devolution.
We were ably aided by the Judiciary. We insisted on the prompt transfer of devolved functions to counties.
We resisted and challenged passage of laws that undermined devolution.
We put in place 47 brand-new governments and the corresponding initial structure, processes, procedures and employed staff.
Devolution’s teething problems are to be expected. The health function is by and large, a county function.
It is counties that employ health personnel and who sign the CBA with them. The CoG is a statutory body which acts on behalf of the 47 governors.
Where there is conflict, both the health personnel and the governors should expeditiously dialogue to restore uninterrupted services to our people.
Makueni County has been termed a case study in successful devolution in Kenya. How differently do you handle governance and what policy issues can other governors emulate? Dan Murugu, Nakuru
I brought into the governorship my study of law and theology, civil society activism, my stint as member of Parliament for Makueni, assistant minister in both the office of the president and office of the vice president, and Cabinet minister in Lands, and Environment and Natural Resources (for 17 months I served as minister in two ministries) and adviser to the president.
In the county, we decided to involve our citizens in their government. We organise from the village level.
The citizens decide on their annual development budget. About 100,000 people from roughly 1,000,000 citizens usually participate in budget-making.
Each project has a project management committee elected from its beneficiaries.
A contractor cannot be paid without these citizens’ approval alongside concurrence by the technical people and county administration. We shun corruption and we punish those caught.
We try to find out what citizens are doing for their economic transformation and then we help upscale it.
Currently, we are working to ensure each county function is covered by policy and law.
Our employees know that they have delegated power and brain room for innovation.
Do you think the model of the Kenyan economy is able to guarantee shared prosperity to all Kenyans? Ann Njoki Njunge, Limuru
If there is one enduring lesson from the Building Bridges Initiative report, it is the stark admission that the Kenyan economy is currently not providing enough stability and prospects for young people and other Kenyans.
Citizens told the BBI task force that our country’s political, social and economic systems must be overhauled.
Unlike other societies where citizens take matters into their hands, Kenyans are looking forward to an honest national conversation on the economy and the Kenya we want.
Corruption is strangling the economy. We must decisively deal with this scourge.
Regarding Ngai Ndeithya degazettement and excision from game reserve for purposes of issuance of title deeds to inhabitants, how far has this process gone? John Munyao, Nairobi
On April 12, 2016, upon repeated requests by the Makueni County government, the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning finally approved the degazettement and excision of the Ngai-Ndethya game reserve in favour of those ordinarily resident in the area.
The county did its part in authorising the degazettement as demanded by the law in consultation with the National Land Commission.
The county undertook the requisite Environmental Impact Assessment, whose report was adopted by Nema.
Excision and survey have been done even for the individual parcels and is awaiting final approval by the national government.
Once this is done, titles will be processed. It is expected that titles will be issued in 2020.
Are there any plans to put up an electric fence along Mtito-Andei River to end the human-wildlife conflicts in the area? John Munyao, Nairobi
It is a fact that human-wildlife conflict is one of the greatest development setbacks in Makueni. Early next year we plan to hold a conference on the same.
Through collaboration between Tsavo Trust and the Makueni County government, we have submitted a proposal to USAID through the Kaunti Kuimarisha Uendelevu – Strengthening County Sustainability Annual Programme Statement.
The concept referred to as ‘Elephant exclusion zone’ encompasses simple and effective fencing to keep elephants away from the community.
Its estimated cost is $400,000 (Sh41 million) for a 20-kilometre stretch.
Your agenda on county development projects seems to have given little attention to road infrastructure, particularly in Mbooni West. The major Kali-Kikima-Kyambalasi road has become impassable, especially during heavy rains. How long will the problem persist? Martin Muia, Kikima-Mbooni
We inherited a total of 6,900 kilometres of county roads infrastructure with 90 per cent in deplorable condition.
We documented the historically problematic spots across the county. The budget required to address the upgrade of our roads to all-weather status is quite significant.
Some of the spots lie along national government roads like Kali-Kikima-Kyambalasi road.
Since the road serves our people, we have gone out of our way to address the spots on this road.
Those who use the road can witness that notorious spots like those immediately before and after Isuuni River were recently fixed.
Notably, this road had a contract and we are following up with the national government to ensure completion of the project.
The current heavy rains have affected 67 of our roads, 11 of them being in Mbooni. We shall repair these as soon as the rains abate.
Over 1,000 employees have worked on contract for four years, receiving Sh15,000 a month as health workers in Makueni County. Some are certificate, diploma and degree holders yet they all earn the same salary. I worked for four years under different one-year renewable contracts and no penny received as gratuity despite money being allocated. As a lawyer, what does the law say on contract? Is there hope that we could eventually be paid what I believe is due to us? Matheka Stephen, health worker
First, I want to clarify that we have 350 employees on contract and not 1,000 as stated.
Also in the current context, the staff earn a consolidated monthly pay of Sh40,000 and not Sh15,000.
Employees who are on contract are entitled to gratuity at the end of the contract period. The county government employee’s gratuity scheme is managed by Laptrust.
Any employee whose contract has ended is supposed to get clearance from the county government to access the gratuity.
If you were to run for president in 2022, how would you fund your campaigns considering you recently said the cost of vying for presidency is very high? Githuku Mungai, Kiambu
In many parts of the country where I go, many people ask me to vie for the presidency in 2022.
I cannot take this genuine call for granted. But in the past, many progressive individuals such as Paul Muite, James Orengo, Wangari Maathai, Martha Karua, James ole Kiyiapi, Peter Kenneth and others, who hastily stepped into the presidential ring, failed to capture Kenya’s imagination.
They did not have adequate campaign money, multi-ethnic networks, support of an entrenched system and the attention of the rural voter.
In the 1990s, Rev Mutava Musyimi, Willy Mutunga and myself were asked to be compromise presidential candidates.
However, we declined. I am ready to participate with any group of dedicated, hardworking and visionary Kenyans who wish to move Kenya to the next level in 2022.
Nobody can make it to the ultimate political leadership of our country on their own. We need a robust movement for change and continuity.
But we should change the laws to make political parties to be based on real ideology and vision and regulate campaign financing so that we don’t just buy physical electoral victory.
I would like, with those we work with, to run a campaign financed by the Kenyan voter like Barrack Obama’s USA campaign.
That way the leaders can dedicate themselves to employing the people’s resources to development because they did not bribe citizens with handouts.
Instead, the people will have literally elected us through their finances.
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.
Get breaking news on your Mobile as-it-happens. SMS ‘NEWS’ to 20153
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.