Six days after the widely publicised lunch date between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto at Harambee House Annex, details of the talks are starting to emerge.
Interviews with those familiar with the deliberations revealed that, while choreographed as a sign of an end to the strained relationship and set a new sense of camaraderie, Mr Kenyatta was on a mission last Tuesday to psychologically prepare his deputy over impending “drastic actions” he intends to take in the ongoing war on corruption.
Those who were present in Mr Ruto’s office block at the time of the meeting say April could be the turning point for Mr Kenyatta’s legacy as the chief state prosecutor Noordin Haji institutes charges against three Cabinet Secretaries.
The prosecution of the three CSs at a go would trigger a Cabinet reshuffle with far-reaching political ramifications.
Before meeting Mr Ruto, the President had met Opposition leader Raila Odinga at State House. The Sunday Nation was, however, unable to immediately establish what the two discussed before the ODM leader later left the country for Morocco.
We gathered that Mr Kenyatta will use Thursday’s State of the Nation address in Parliament during a joint sitting of the Senate and the National Assembly to make the strongest declaration yet that he had made the fight on corruption his singular goal to achieve his legacy projects.
Action is then expected to follow. During the meeting, the Head of State is said to have delivered a firm message to Dr Ruto: Support me in the fight against corruption.
“The Head of State asked the DP to join hands with him to slay the dragon of corruption. He told him should he see any high profile arrests, he should not take it personally,” a source said.
According to a senior official at the Presidency, Mr Kenyatta had brushed aside accusations from Rift Valley politicians like Oscar Sudi that Directorate of Criminal Investigation boss George Kinoti was being used to fight political wars in the name of the anti-graft campaign until the DP picked up the matter himself.
He is said have taken the matter up during the Tuesday meeting. The sentiments are corroborated by another politician who was present.
National Assembly Majority Whip Ben Washiali who attended the meeting said it was not official but an opportunity for the leaders present to have lunch together.
Observers however say that, like celebrated Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe’s analogy and as unusual as the trip to Annex looked, a toad does not run in the daytime for nothing.
Initial claims had suggested that the President had summoned the Jubilee Party parliamentary leadership to discuss plans for the State of the Nation address.
“It had nothing to do with the address. The President visited and it was purely a lunch date,” Mr Washiali said of the meeting that caught the country by surprise owing to the strained relationship between the two leaders. State House was reluctant to discuss details of a private meeting their boss had with the DP.
The DP’s office also assumed the same approach to a subject considered sensitive in the government circles with Director of Communications Emmanuel Talam saying: “I can’t know what they discussed because they were alone. No one else knows the details of the discussion.”
Mr Kenyatta first had a private meeting with his deputy before they invited other leaders like Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and Mr Washiali to join in. The information we have obtained is courtesy of what they shared out with their close allies or aides.
Earlier in the week, Dr Ruto’s press Secretary David Mugonyi said: “The workings between the Deputy President and his boss, the President of the Republic of Kenya are not available to me. All I can say is that when the President visited they went into a working lunch.”
As a sign that they may be privy to what is in the offing, Jubilee MPs allied to the DP have become bolder by the day, even directly charging at the President, something hitherto unheard of.
President Kenyatta on Friday declared that he will not allow politics to derail his government’s anti-corruption drive. He maintained that investigative agencies should be left to do their work unhindered.
“It is not me…corruption has been identified as a stumbling block towards achieving prosperity and equality. Again there is no politics there…let us allow the agencies to do their work. Let us not turn this to community fights, to individual fights,” the Head of State said.
Aware of the old habit of politicians playing the tribal card when authorities narrow down either on them or individuals from their regions, Mr Kenyatta cautioned that the country would not develop if the habit was to be tolerated.
“You will hear that so and so is being targeted but we must deal with corruption. The fact is that whether we want to accept it or not, it exists and it is an impediment and a stumbling block. Let us not politicise it, or tribalise it. Let us find the formula to fight it,” he said.
If any of the DP-leaning ministers is touched, a pandemonium not seen when Sports CS Rashid Echesa was fired at the beginning of the month will likely be witnessed with reverberations in his expansive political base, the Rift Valley and other areas he has tentacles. The net effect would be escalation of hostilities.
Close associates of the DP like the Senate Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen have already vowed that “enough is enough”.
“We are aware that there are dirty tricks up the sleeves, targeted corruption investigations are part of them and we will not sit and watch as wrongs are done,” Mr Murkomen said.
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich is among high ranking government officials who have been questioned by the DCI and remains within their radar.
While some analysts had intimated that DP could storm out of government before the next elections to properly take on his enemies, he ruled that option out on Friday. While attending a fundraiser in Vihiga on Friday, Dr Ruto said he would keep his seat until 2022 when he plans to run for president.
By coming out to reassure supporters that he was staying put, the second in command was indirectly acknowledging the fact that things were getting hotter by the day.
It would see more members of the Jubilee Party beginning to talk at the president. Those who are “forward-looking” and working on the assumption that Mr Kenyatta will soon be a lame-duck President have chosen to cast their lot with the DP.
Mr Sudi, the lawmaker from Kapseret has challenged the President to begin his plans for lifestyle audit for public servants by looking at how his own father, Jomo Kenyatta-the founding president, acquired his wealth to be taken seriously.
Unlike Mr Kenyatta who is doing his final term, working for Dr Ruto comes with a promise for the future for most of the MPs. This, together with the fact that he takes care of their welfare has guaranteed him most MPs from the ruling party since the cold war with the President began after the handshake.
But the lawmakers could also be mistaken since President Kenyatta is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
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.