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Ruto ally wants Senate, women reps, nominated MCAs scrapped

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A Jubilee MP allied to Deputy President William Ruto has proposed that the Senate be abolished and the positions of Nominated MP and MCA scrapped.

If adopted, Caleb Kositany’s radical proposal would occasion a constitutional amendment through a referendum ahead of the 2022 polls.

In a later to National Assembly Speaker dated September 17, Kositany says the positions cost the public over Sh3 billion annually, “which constitutes a heavy burden to the taxpayer.”

He does not mention the 349-strong National Assembly, where he is a member.

Kositany has asked Muturi to direct the legal service directorate to assist him in formulating the bill.

“We have to think in the long-term and I would want anyone else to challenge me. What does the Senate do that is so special that cannot be done by the National Assembly? I don’t see any reason why we should have the Senate overburden taxpayers,” he said.

Read: Reduce counties and number of MPs to curb rising wage bill, says religious group

The MP whose Soy constituency borders Ruto’s Turbo in Uasin Gishu however told the Star that his proposal has nothing to do with the 2022 politics and was purely motivated by a desire to trim the huge wage bill.

“I have not even spoken to the Deputy President about it. I have only spoken to the people of Soy. The Deputy President has nothing to do with my bill at all,” he told the Star yesterday.

Kositany is one of Ruto’s close associates who often conducts political missions on his behalf.

However, last evening, the Ruto’s communications director David Mugonyi said the DP speaks for himself and should not be dragged into the initiatives of other individuals.

“Kositany is an MP and he speaks for himself. As you are aware, the DP has said he speaks for himself. We have to stop this notion that whenever an MP from Rift Valley speaks, he is an ally or speaks for the DP,” Mugonyi said.

“Above all, interrogate his proposal — Is it feasible or just hot air? That calls for change of the constitution. What is the DP’s stand on the same? His view on the referendum is clear,” he added.

More: Aukot wants woman rep post abolished, MPs reduced to 194

OPPOSED

Ruto’s supporters vehemently opposed a proposal for a referendum by Nasa’s Raila Odinga, with the DP derisively dismissing its advocates as “lazy and incompetent” politicians.

While addressing the devolution conference in April, Raila had proposed a parliamentary system of government with a three a three-tier devolved structure comprising 14 administrative regions.

In May, Ruto shot back: “Lazy and incompetent people who don’t want to work hard, and incompetent people who can’t formulate programmes, and those who lose elections want to use the Constitution as their bogeyman.”

The DP’s allies then went on the warpath discrediting calls for a referendum as a ploy by some politicians (read Raila) to get to power through other means after failing to win elections.

Since March 9 truce between Raila and President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ruto’s supporters have remained suspicious of the handshake christened the Building Bridges Initiative.

The 14-member steering committee formed thereafter is expected to recommend broad changes to the structure of governance and the law ahead of the 2022 presidential elections.

Yesterday, Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka said Kositany’s proposal should await the recommendations from the handshake taskforce.

“The Senate subject is quite a big issue and I am quite sure it is a constitutional issue. I urge Kositany to wait for the building bridges initiative so that it is brought on board,” said Kalonzo.

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Read also: MPs want House size cut to reduce wage bill

HEAVY BURDEN

In his notification to the speaker that came smack in the middle of the raging taxation debate, Kositany says the object of the Bill is to “reduce the cost of representation to the public, reduce the public wage bill and promote prudent use of public funds.”

He also wants to axe the 47 women representatives whom he said should be encouraged to compete with men for elective office.

“The other issue is nominated MCA’s. They are so many. Like in my Uasin Gishu county, we have 30 elected and 17 nominated. The quorum for the county to sit is 15. This means that 15 unelected people can sit and pass something that would be binding to the electorate who did not vote for them.”

Kenya has about 770 nominated MCA’s and 1450 elected ones across the country. Each MCA has a personal assistant. Each MP also has constituency manager besides their PA.But Kositany’s proposal triggered instant resistance from a section of nominated legislators and experts who rubbished it as a publicity stunt.

Former Transitional Authority chairman Kinuthia Wa Mwangi said those pushing for the abolition of the Senate have little or no understanding of devolved systems of governance.

“The framers of the Constitution were not wrong when they created Senate as a protector of the devolved system of government. You shudder when you hear of plans or plans to scrap the counties’ first line of defence. Its just like removing a life support for the units,” he said.

Ford Kenya nominated MP Nasir Ibrahim said the proposal would be retrogressive and a clawback on the strides Kenya has made in democracy.“It is unfortunate that in this era someone can talk about doing away with nominated seats and the senate as provide for in the Constitution. I don’t see the scrapping of these positions drastically reducing the wage bill,” Ibrahim said.

Laikipia Senator John Kinyua said Kenya was indeed over-represented but dismissed the idea of scrapping the Senate as wishful thinking because the house has played its cardinal role as the defender of counties.

According to Kinyua, Kenya should scrap some constituencies and reduce the counties from 47 to just 14.

“Let us be realistic and improve on what the Constitution provides. We need to significantly adjust the system of governance to ensure we bring down the wage bill,” said Kinyua.

To deal with the country’s financial crisis, the lawmaker challenged the executive to deal firmly with corruption and plough the resources recovered to the economy.

STRENGTH

Currently the National Assembly has 290 elected members, 47 women elected from each of the 47 counties and12 members nominated to represent women, youth and the marginalised.

These add up to 349 members

The Senate is comprised of 67 members — 47 elected senators from each county, 16 women nominated for gender balance and four representatives of the youth and people with disabilities.

It is not the first time a petition to amend the constitution and change the structure of governance or representation has been moved. In February, Tiaty (Kanu) MP Kassait Kamket proposed amendments to the Constitution to introduce the positions of prime minister, two deputies and retain a ceremonial president as Head of State.

The proposal is pending before the budget committee for costing to determine the impact of the changes.

See also: How many MPs do you need to make law?

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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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