As politicians eyeing the presidency in 2022 continue touring various parts of the country to cement their prospects, at least seven Mt Kenya politicians are jostling for the running mate position.
The move, however, has left the region exposed for lack of an automatic successor unlike it has been the case in previous leadership successions.
Of concern is the fact that President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is the region’s political kingpin and de-facto leader, is constitutionally expected to vacate the State House at the end of 2022.
The position currently held by the President in the Agikuyu community has also attracted great attention, as there is fear of a vacuum upon his exit.
So far, among the more than 100 elected leaders in the region, only Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria has declared he would gun for the Presidency.
Mr Kuria has in the recent past reduced his participation in Deputy President William Ruto’s political camp forums – popularly known as Tangatanga.
To position himself as the next possible de-facto leader in the central region, Mr Kuria has been attending major music concerts organised by both gospel and secular artists in the region to support their talents, he has become the patron of Mt Kenya Football Club and is said to have established his own vernacular television station, apparently to advance his agenda.
Commonly referred as Jamba ya Ruriri (Community hero), the slim towering former accountant who rose to fame due to negative ethnic remarks, is also fighting for reforms in coffee sub-sector.
Coffee farming is one of the main economic activities in Mt Kenya.
On the other hand, among those said to be eyeing running mates position, mostly to deputise Mr Ruto, is Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria.
He is serving his second and last term in office. The two have severally hosted each other in Nairobi and Murang’a.
Since his re-election as the Deputy President, Mr Ruto has visited the Mt Kenya region for more than 40 times, besides holding boardroom meetings with the regional leaders at his Karen office and in hotels.
Others touted to be jostling for the seat are Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and Cabinet secretaries Mwangi Kiunjuri (Agriculture) and Peter Munya (Trade).
Former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo and former assistant Minister Peter Kenneth, though they have kept a low political profile after losing in last year’s General Election, are also among those positioning themselves to be the community’s leaders.
However, as President Kenyatta’s succession hots up, Governor Wa Iria appears to be already preparing his political path.
His close allies led by a family member named James Mwangi have already registered a new political party known as Civic Renewal Party. The party’ symbol is maize.
“Kenya’s political parties’ history is replete with dictatorial tendencies and special purpose vehicle tactics where parties are formed to win the next election but not to recalibrate for the future generations. As such, political parties have only served their owners,” the party said in a statement on its Facebook page yesterday.
Ms Waiguru, a former Devolution minister, recently got a backing from a section of clerics and traders from Maragua, Murang’a County, who urged Mr Ruto to pick her as his running mate.
Led by Pastors Titus Ngugi of Gatanga AIPCA church, Simon Waweru, Ibrahim Chege and businessman James Gichuki, the group endorsed Ms Waiguru saying she is the only leader in the region who can fit in President Kenyatta’s shoes.
The group hailed Governor Waiguru as a firm person, citing an instance when she raised alarm over theft at the National Youth Service.
The fear of a vacuum is real, as it has made Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata propose that the President should not retire from politics.
Mr Kang’ata, who is also Senate deputy majority whip, clashed with Mr Kuria on a live television broadcast on October 30 when they sharply differed on whether President Kenyatta should leave active politics after the 2022 elections.
Mr Kuria said of concern should be the region’s development, not the President’s fate.
“We have a president in power. We can benefit from him. Why are we thinking about 2022 now? Let us ask how we can benefit from the president now,” Mr Kuria said.
But Mr Kang’ata was of the view that President Kenyatta should remain as the Agikuyu community kingpin and also a position should be created for him in the leadership of East African Community.
President Kenyatta swam into the unending debate during his tour in Nyeri when he told the public that he is ‘going nowhere’ and his pick for his successor will shock many people.
During a public rally in Nyeri Town, the President expressed anger that an MP, who he failed to name, had asked about the succession.
“Hari umwe hau ukujiraga ati riu we tondu riu mucinga waku niwathira rithathi, ndamera rithathi iria njikirite mondo ni iria muutoi na nongamukora nacio. (There is one who was telling me my gun has no bullets. I told them I have more bullets in my pocket which are out of their knowledge and I will find them (leader) with those bullets),” said the President.
He also disclosed that he had instructed the leaders to concentrate on development and serving the people.
He told off leaders who think he will have no say in succession politics, stating that he will have to state his position.
“No kuri amwe mareciria ati tondu uyu ndararugama ringi ati ndari kiugo, ndiramera gukira gwakwa niundu ndaugire ngucoka wiraini. No hakinya haria ona nii nongakorwo na koigo. Na koigo kau gakaringana na uria tuteithanitie wiraini wa muingi (There are those who think because I am retiring I have no word to say. I am telling them my reason to remain silent is because I decided to work. But when the time comes I will have a word to say. My statement will be determined on who has worked for the public),” he said.
Though in the 2013 campaigns President Kenyatta said he would rally Mt Kenya voters behind his deputy in 2022, his pronouncements in Nyeri cast doubt.
Also casting the doubts on Mr Ruto’s support from the region is the March 9 handshake between the President and ODM leader Raila Odinga. The ‘handshake’ is crowded by questions and predictions.
A group of former MPs has been meeting Opposition politicians led by Mr Odinga, his deputy Wycliffe Oparanya and ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi. Mr Mudavadi also has presidential ambitions.
Led by former Senators Mutahi Kagwe (Nyeri), Kembi Gitura (Murang’a) and Muriuki Karue (Nyandarua), the politicians said the meetings are to support the political deal between Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.
“These are communities (Agikuyu and Luos) that are very well-entrenched in terms of academic and political and economic life of this country. It is important for all communities to feel wanted and part of the country. It is not unusual for the Lake and Central coming together,” Mr Kagwe said recently.
Former Mukurweini MP Kabando wa Kabando stated that the former legislators’ caucus was ridiculed for meeting Mr Odinga to endorse the handshake and the Building Bridges Initiative.
“When we called for Uhuru and Raila dialogue in October 2017, some attacked us. When we supported the President’s call on lifestyle audits for state officers they dismissed us. When we visited Raila to endorse handshake, we were ridiculed,” he said.
He said the former lawmakers are reaching out to extend ‘handshakes’ to political kingpins of other regions.
“They will insult us. But let’s tell them that we are veterans in this game (of politics). Our exit from elected positions did not mean exit of our wisdom.”
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.