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Raila’s powerful new inner circle

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Opposition chief Raila Odinga’s political game plan continues to confound friends and foe after his truce with President Uhuru Kenyatta, which has seen him land a plum continental job.

While the former Prime Minister has nearly abandoned NASA — his political machine that nearly vanquished Jubilee from power — it’s his new dalliance with Mount Kenya vote bloc has left tongues waging.

Publicly, however, the ODM leader rebuffs claims his eyes are trained on the presidency in 2022.

He has, however, refrained from saying he plans to hang his political boots and has been making significant political moves.

For starters, the ODM leader seems to have acquired a new team of advisers and has left out some of the seasoned and long-term trusted lieutenants such as Senator James Orengo.

For many years, Orengo was the chief legal and political adviser to Raila but the ODM leader left him out when he entered into negotiations within President Kenyatta.

In the last few months, Orengo has preferred to focus on his role as Senate Minority leader, as he he prepares for the Siaya gubernatorial race in 2022.

Raila’s elder brother Oburu Odinga and his wife, Ida, remain closer to him.

Perhaps the most shocking addition to the new team is Raphael Tuju, the Jubilee secretary general, who has been on Raila’s opposite side since 2007, when he lost his Rarieda parliamentary seat.

Raila has been talking and meeting Tuju since he announced his truce with Kenyatta. Tuju’s palatial home is adjacent to Raila’s in Karen.

Suna East MP and Minority Whip Junet Mohamed, Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o, Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and Homa Bay woman representative Gladys Wanga have also assumed new status in Raila’s political life.

Raila has consulted them on a number of issues and continues to keep them very close as he executes his political plan.

The former Prime Minister — according to various sources — is operating purely on the basis of those who have fully accepted the handshake and who can be trusted.

The team of four is said to be behind most of his political decisions and are often consulted on anything around the truce, which cooled off political temperature following the protracted 2017 General Election.

Junet, who owes his political rise to Raila, has emerged as the number one confidant of the ODM leader and is among the very few individuals who have Raila’s ear.

Read: Stop using Raila as scapegoat to leave Jubilee, Junet tells Ruto

Of all Raila’s point men, it is only Junet who accompanied Raila to the March 9 meeting with President Uhuru at Harambee House, which led to the historic signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the two leaders, ending months of political instability.

Other than Junet, the former Prime Minister rarely does anything without consulting Nyong’o. Raila has even allowed the Kisumu governor to lend his vast political expertise to the President on a need-to-need basis. The governor has particularly been involved in the Universal Health Coverage roll out.

Days after the handshake, the Kisumu governor was among the powerful Kenyan delegation accompanying Uhuru to Cuba, where the President went to learn about Universal Health care and also came back with Cuban doctors.

“Homa Bay woman Rep Gladys Wanga is also in the picture because of her unique ability to reach and work with the other side. She drops in with suggestions, updates and information,” the source said.

Paul Mwangi, his long-term legal adviser, has also been retained. Raila consults him often on politics and legal affairs. Mwangi is the joint secretary of the Building bridges Initiative.

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The new approach seen as a complete departure from the old Raila, who will use the party’s structures to ventilate on key national issues before he publicly takes a position.

This, the source said, stemmed up from realisation that majority of the ODM leaders leak sensitive strategy information to the media before even being hatched.

It is for the same reason that most ODM leaders are today kept in the dark on Raila’s 2022 political plans after taking up the top AU job.

“From the time Raila went for the handshake, his mode of operation has changed. He shares information with a very tight circle of confidants,” a source well versed with the happenings told the Star.

The ODM leader has since taken up his job as African Union Special Envoy for Infrastructure Development, an engaging assignment that has diminished his role in local politics.

Read: Raila’s AU job stirs fear over his future

His relationship with Kenyatta has, however, blossomed sending jitters in Deputy President William Ruto’s inner circle

According to Raila’s lieutenants, some of whom have previously controlled his political arsenal, Raila’s moves are strategic.

In an interview with the Star, firebrand NASA CEO Norman Magaya said Raila will be the most potent player in the 2022 politics and will end Ruto’s 10 years career in the Executive.

“He [Raila] will dwarf all the pretenders currently masquerading as potential presidential candidates. He will ultimately deliver the elusive Kenyan dream come 2022,” Magaya said.

Magaya predicts there will be only two extreme political grouping in 2022.

“One led by Raila and the other by Ruto. It will be a contest between reformists and the status quo. Come the Election Day, Raila will be the fifth President of the Republic of Kenya, while Ruto will assume his new position of opposition leader. The 2022 election will yield many political casualties than any other election in our history,” Magaya, an advocate and a university lecturer, said.

Raila’s surprise acceptance to embrace Uhuru at a time when the country was teetering on the brink appears to have changed the country’s political landscape.

His private office at Capital Hill has become a beehive of activity since the March 9 deal.

Delegations from regions, previously seen as “enemy territories”, have been flocking there and climaxed after his appointment as AU envoy.

Read: I have a partner in Raila, Uhuru says in defence of handshake

Interestingly, however, most politicians paying homage to Raila are known adversaries of Ruto.

These include ex-Kiambu Governor William Kabogo, former Senate Deputy Speaker Kembi Gitura, former Mukurweini MP Kabando Wa Kabando and former Nyeri Senator Mutahi Kagwe.

Most of the leaders have claimed that they were victims of Ruto’s machinations during Jubilee party primaries in 2017

As a signal that things were slowly changing, Kagwe pulled a surprise when he declared he wants to see Raila’s name on the presidential ballot come 2022.

He said the 73-year-old veteran of Kenyan politics has lived up to his name as an elder statesman and commended him for exhibiting “presidential mannerism”.

“None in Kenya has exuded presidential qualities surpassing Raila,” Kagwe said.

In August at least 12 former MPs from Meru, Tharaka Nithi and Embu counties paid a courtesy call on Raila and pledged their allegiance for the Building Bridges Initiative.

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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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