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Secrets of Uhuru, Ruto crunch talks

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By JUSTUS WANGA
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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.”

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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. 



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No decision yet on when schools will open, says Magoha

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By FAITH NYAMAI

Learning institutions will not reopen on June 4 as was earlier scheduled, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has said.

Speaking after he received an interim report from the 10-member Education Response Committee on Covid-19 at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development yesterday, Prof Magoha said schools will remain closed until the Covid-19 situation is contained.

“Parents should prepare to stay with their children longer until the health situation in the country stabilises. As at now, I cannot say when schools will resume. For me timelines and national exams are not a priority, they can even stay until January,” Prof Magoha said.

The Ministry of Health projected that the rates of Covid-19 infections are likely to hit a peak in August-September.

“The ministry takes these projections seriously, especially in view of the fact that more than 359 of our schools are currently designated as quarantine and isolation centres.”

The CS asked parents to be prepared to face the reality of an extended closure of schools.

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He said the government cannot sacrifice the health of children for the sake of an education that can wait to be offered later, when the safety and health of children can be guaranteed.

“The ministry will desist from focusing on schools’ reopening dates and instead give priority to putting in place solid mitigation measures.”

Prof Magoha downplayed some of the recommendations of the task force and said the report is too preliminary to be acted on.

The ministry, he said, will review the report before advising the country on the steps to be taken regarding the academic calendar and the level of preparedness that will be required of all stakeholders involved in the running of schools.

“There are several committees set up by President Uhuru Kenyatta on the response to the pandemic. I will look into the report and we will have to remove some of the recommendations made by the Education task force and retain others.”

The ministry of Education, he said, will table some of the proposals before the National Emergency Response Committee this weekend for further consultations to inform the decision on reopening schools

“These consultations will also take into consideration the fact that the current government restrictions announced by President Kenyatta will expire on June 6,” he said.

Details in the committee’s report revealed that the team is proposing that this year’s national examinations be pushed to a date not earlier than February next year.

Credible sources on the committee also revealed they have advised that schools be reopened in September.

The report prepared by the Dr Sarah Ruto-chaired committee recommends that the Ministry of Education change the academic calendar to start in September and provide all resources required to keep schools running.

Other recommendations are that school funds that were meant for first term, second and third term should be released in whole in September once classes resume.

Prof Magoha, who seemed to have disagreed with some of the details of the report, said the decision to reopen schools should not be hastened.

He said even though Covid-19 may linger, the ministry has started putting in place measures to ensure children are safeguarded and high levels of hygiene are maintained in schools.

“We will start putting water in our schools and put all the other measures in place for both learners and teachers,” he said.

On private schools, the CS said all learning institutions are closed and those enrolling learners for second term are going against the ministry’s regulations.

He, however, said parents who choose to pay for their children to attend online classes should do it voluntarily.

“Private schools depend on parents and those that have their children studying online should pay,” he said.

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 Nation, DTB help needy families

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By JOSEPH OPENDA

Hannah Muthoni, 39, has not smiled for months. The hard economic times occasioned by Covid-19 pandemic has made life unbearable for her and her family.

When the disease was first reported in the country, she was among the first people to feel its pinch. She was among the casual labourers who were laid off when the flower firm she was working for grounded operations after the government announced containment measures to stem its spread.

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Since then, the mother of seven has been depending on her relatives for help to provide for her family.

But she smiled yesterday, thanks to the initiative by the Nation Media Group (NMG) Board chairman Wilfred Kiboro and Diamond Trust Bank (DTB) to provide relief food for the vulnerable community members.

Ms Muthoni was among the 4,000 residents of Subukia who benefited from the relief food worth over Sh1 million, which was distributed across the three wards in the constituency.

She could not hide her joy after receiving her relief package.

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“It has been a very difficult period for me since my husband and I were sent home from work due to the pandemic. Getting food on the table has been a matter of luck. But, with this package, I’m assured of a meal for two weeks,” said Ms Muthoni.

Dr Kiboro said he took the initiative to look for donors to assist the families who have been negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.He said DTB came in handy and agreed to support the initiative.

“Subukia is my rural home and I realised that most families are suffering in silence. I therefore took it upon myself to use the connections that I have to mobilise support. I thank DTB for supporting the initiative,” said Dr Kiboro.

He called on individuals and corporate organisations that can help to join in the donations to help the vulnerable members of the society.

“This is just a matter of standing up to be counted. I believe everyone can give something to help a neighbour who is in need. I urge everyone to support these families,” said Dr Kiboro.

DTB Nakuru branch manager Lucy Rotich said the bank is committed to supporting poor families in the times of need.

“As DTB, we want to stand in solidarity with our clients in all times since we understand that most people are affected by this pandemic,” said Ms Rotich.

Magdalena Nthenya who was among the beneficiaries, thanked the bank for the donations, saying that it was timely.

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Raphael Lekolool appointed Postbank Managing Director

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Postbank Board of Directors’ Chairman, Mr. Ntoros Baari Ole Senteu, Friday announced the appointment of Raphael Lekolool as the new Postbank Managing Director effective June 1, 2020.

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This follows the retirement of Ms. Anne Karanja from the Postbank after serving in the position of Managing Director for the last six years.

Prior to this appointment, Anne had served in different senior management positions in the same Bank.

In his role as the Managing Director, Mr.Lekolool will be riding on a strong foundation of the existing customer base and digital platforms in pursuit of growing the Bank’s market share while executing the Bank’s strategic Plan.

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The financial world is going digital and one of Postbanks’s priority areas is to exploit technology to ensure customers can handle most of their financial transactions online.

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With his vastexperience in banking, micro finance and insurance sectors, Lekolool is well placed to drive the Bank’s business to the next level while offering customer driven products.

“I have full confidence that my successor, Mr. Lekolool will steer Postbank to greater heights. I take this opportunity to wish him a successful tenure.” said Ms. Karanja.

“We appreciate the stewardship of Ms. Anne Karanja which kept Postbank focused on inculcating a savings culture among Kenyans.” reflected Mr. Baari Ole Senteu, the Board Chairman. “We wish her well in her endeavors as she continues serving the nation in different capacity”added Mr. Senteu.

Prior to this appointment, Mr. Lekolool was the Enterprise Risk Manager at UAP, Old Mutual and Head of Internal Audit at Faulu Microfinance.

He is an MBA graduate of Cardiff Business School and holds a BSc. Degree in Banking from University of Manchester.

 

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