Three days after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s confidant David Murathe declared that Jubilee Party has no candidate for State House race in 2022, Deputy President William Ruto’s allies are planning a counter-move in the new year that he hopes will turn the tide in his favour going forward.
On Friday, Dr Ruto reached out to members of county assemblies (MCAs) as he sought to solidify his national support across the country ahead of 2022.
Dr Ruto met MCAs from Kakamega, Baringo and Elgeyo-Marakwet counties at his Sugoi home in Uasin Gishu County.
Though the agenda of the meeting was “empowering MCAs to strengthen devolution”, sources said that 2022 succession politics cropped up, with the MCAs assuring Dr Ruto of their unwavering support.
This week, conversations with a number of Dr Ruto’s allies suggested that they are not sitting pretty, even after the President moved to allay fears on Friday that he never engaged in 2022 politics with ODM leader Raila Odinga in their March 9 “handshake” that has dramatically changed the political scene.
During an interview in Mombasa on Friday, the President dwelt at length on the Building Bridges Initiative, saying it would be part of his administration’s priority focus area in 2019.
Dr Ruto’s lieutenants, who double up as members of “the war council” charged with delivering the presidency, are working on a multi-pronged blueprint they hope will neutralise the effects of the political truce (handshake) Mr Kenyatta had with Mr Odinga on March 9.
The truce has increasingly blunted his succession plan and emboldened those against his State House bid, some even in the ruling party.
Part of the plan is to go public on their displeasure and, at some point, play the victim card.
This, we gathered, will be intended to make the President and his allies look dishonest in the court of public opinion. The hope is that this could boost Dr Ruto’s popularity ratings.
“We were together as Jubilee Party under the slogan “Tuko Pamoja” (we are together). But are we really together?” Majority Whip Ben Washiali, who sits in the council, told the Sunday Nation.
He went on: “We were together and we are now out. You can’t keep telling us that we are together when you have other people at the eating table. Let’s see what the new year holds.”
He hinted that a major announcement on a way forward could be coming.
“If he (Dr Ruto) has an MoU with Mr Kenyatta, then that was an agreement between two individuals,” Mr Murathe said on Wednesday in Vihiga, sentiments that have now sparked a political storm.
While opinion is divided inside the DP’s camp on whether such a move would be prudent, going for an all-out war more than three years to the next elections, there is near consensus after Mr Murathe’s remarks that the deep State is keen to back somebody else to take over from Mr Kenyatta.
Equally, the deep State is keen to drop its support for the presidential system of government in favour of a parliamentary one, an abrupt U-turn from an earlier position.
Dr Ruto has maintained that he would like to assume the mantle of power without any alterations to the current structure.
“He (Dr Ruto) is going around opposing the referendum. Jubilee is yet to take a position. What is he opposing yet there is no question? Uhuru said in Kisumu we must change the Constitution to accommodate all to ensure inclusion. Raila has a following that must be accommodated in government,” Mr Murathe said.
The change of heart, a high-ranking member of the council confided, is to avoid isolation as the referendum campaign gathers steam.
Mr Kenyatta’s remarks in Kisumu a fortnight ago, calling for a change in law to correct the winner-take-it-all arrangement, is said to have informed the new position.
They argue that taking on the President head-on could boomerang.
They have interpreted the Kisumu trip, the first since Mr Kenyatta took the oath of office for his second term, as a formal launch of the referendum push that would see changes introduced into the Constitution before the next General Election.
The war council, made up of majority leaders in Parliament Kipchumba Murkomen and Aden Duale, Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter, Deputy Senate Speaker Kithure Kindiki, former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale and Mr Washiali, among others, believes that chances of their man becoming the next President are thinning by the day.
This is especially so since President Kenyatta appears reluctant to publicly endorse him, as they had expected when the two sides joined hands in 2013.
Other sources pointed out that the feeling in the group is captured in the recent pronouncements by Mr Duale on the floor of the House.
Those around the Deputy President have identified the presidential results transmission system as the greatest impediment to his dream of ascending to the presidency in 2022, and a referendum would present an opportunity to correct this.
They also complained that President Kenyatta had abandoned the people who supported him in 2017 and is busy dining with those who opposed him.
They say the current votes transmission regime is prone to manipulation that could lead to subjugation of the popular will, something that is bound to raise questions about the integrity of past elections.
In the last three presidential elections, the transmission of results has been the source of furious disputes, with the Supreme Court being requested to determine whether the final tally matched what was transmitted from the constituencies in the last two polls.
While those close to Dr Ruto say he strongly prefers the presidential system, the option to support a parliamentary one is borne out of the fact that it has fewer risks when it comes to transmitting results.
In any case, in a parliamentary system, the prime minister (PM) is almost always elected by Parliament, where the leader of the party or coalition that wins the largest number of seats automatically becomes PM.
There are indications that the political class is keen to reintroduce the premier position.
“The presidential system is enticed and entangled with corruption, because the contestants want to take money. There is corruption at IEBC, there is corruption in the transmission of results,” Mr Duale said, expressing the fears that haunt the DP and his team.
“Let’s adopt the parliamentary system of government so that the constituency becomes the theatre of electoral battle,” Mr Duale said last week when he revealed the camp’s change of plan on the floor of the House.
The Ruto camp has been unnerved by the President’s recent tour of Kisumu, where he was hosted by Mr Odinga.
During the tour, protocol was angled in favour of Mr Odinga, to the disadvantage of Dr Ruto.
This raised fears of a possible political deal between the Kikuyu and Luo communities, the top two groups that have defined Kenya’s post-independence politics.
“If you want everybody to win, then the country must adopt a federal system of government where each county will have its own president. I also want to be the president of the Garissa federal state,” Mr Duale told the House while calling for introduction of a majimbo system of government.
Under the system, the Garissa Township MP said, all functions would be devolved while 80 percent of the national revenue would be devolved to the federal states.
“This is a conversation that we must have starting January. I will only support the push to amend the Constitution if federalism is the way to go.”
Aware that some powerful brokers would not support the majimbo idea, the DP’s camp knows it is muddying the waters.
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.
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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.