In Kenya, some ridiculous politician has realised that Wanjiku has been able to drag herself out of poverty through the cooperative movement, and has proposed, through the SACCO Society Amendment Bill (2018), to allow parties who have no savings in the SACCOs to be able to access member’s savings.
The amendment proposes to allow ”Social Impact Members” to access SACCOS through their investment committees. It is also proposed that they cannot be answerable to members during an Annual General Meeting, where all major decisions regarding SACCOS are made.
What then, prevents such members from operating with impunity and what is this alleged social impact they will have if they cannot be answerable to the Kenyans who have slaved to save shilling after shilling to create the kitty that is suddenly attracting such suggestions?
The cooperatives movement is essentially a mammoth self-help group. As such, there is no cooperative movement that exists to maximise on profits, but rather they are for the purpose of fulfilling the needs of members by offering services to them, be it in the areas of marketing of produce, Housing or Saving and Credit Cooperative Organisations (SACCOs), as they are popularly known.
SACCOs were started by workers in the early 1800’s when they realised that governments had become entities of capitalism. Capitalism in its basic definition is the private ownership of the factors of production, distribution and exchange in a free market. In this system, development, in its economic definition, occurs through the accumulation of profits that is consequently reinvested.
The majority of citizens around that time when SACCOs were started – labourers, farmers, weaver and employed workers – realised that at the end of each pay cheque or the toils of their labours, they had nothing to invest. They were strained to meet the barest minimum, catering for survival, food, clean water, cloths and shelter.
The ordinary people also realised that they would be marginalised to the outskirts of economic development and social inclusion. Their only advantage was in their numbers, as they constituted a majority of the population. Does this yet sound like Kenya today?
Since the only way to make investments is to consistently spend less than what one earns to enable saving, they use the power of numbers to accumulate group savings that would be subsequently invested or lent to members.
By their numbers, ordinary Kenyans have also accumulated substantial amounts in SACCOS. It was also a realisation of the power in numbers; the movement in Kenya has close over 3.5 million members. So even if each members saves two thousand shillings a month (some save much more), these savings amount to billions of shillings.
Co-operators have utilised the little resources available to them to improve their own livelihoods. As the founder of cooperatives, Robert Owen stated, co-operators have found a way to ”drag themselves out of poverty”.
The amendment also proposes that members of the movement are not informed when any default on their part is reported to the credit Reference Bureau. The suggestion sounds reasonable, but it creates the possibility of ghost debtors, whose ”unpaid” loans can amount to billions of shilling. At the moment, a SACCO notifies defaulting member of their unhonoured loan payments and also informs their guarantors. The level of debt created amongst members is therefore common knowledge among themselves.
Kenya Union of Savings & Credit Co-operatives Ltd (KUSCCO) has raised the alarm on these amendments. But ultimately it is members who will need to take action, should politicians, in their typical stunt, ignore these concerns and go ahead and pass the bill into law.
Mammoth giant cooperatives in Kenya, meant to market pyrethrum, coffee, tea, maize, and milk have all been brought to their knees. It seems like they can no longer serve as cash cows, to ”unknown cartels”. So some ”brilliant” politician wants to make available ordinary Kenyans savings to what are being referred to ”Social Impact Members”.
Since the SACCO movement is free entry and free exit, Kenyans will certainly not wait to feel the impact of these nameless, faceless members. Maybe it is time to move our savings further away from politicians into our ”chamas” until they create a law to access our money kept there too.
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.
Get breaking news on your Mobile as-it-happens. SMS ‘NEWS’ to 20153
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.