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The people who will shape Kenya in 2019

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President Uhuru Kenyatta

He has the biggest load to carry as the hopes and aspirations of the nation fall squarely on his shoulders. Special focus will be on Uhuru, especially on his determination to secure his legacy. The President had identified the Big Four –– food security, affordable housing, manufacturing and affordable healthcare –– as the priority areas in his second and final term in office.

But he has also helped make national cohesion through the Handshake a central area of focus. The President’s commitment to the peace deal with Opposition leader Raila Odinga and how he will navigate his succession politics will also be riveting.

The war against corruption and impunity is another area of focus. He did virtually nothing in his first term, even said he had done everything possible and criticised the Eurobond probe. But then, he wanted a second term. Will he now sustain the momentum despite the storm ‘his’ war has generated? What happened to those promised polygraph tests and complete transparency in tendering?

Deputy President William Ruto’s allies have openly claimed the anti-graft war is aimed at obstructing the DP’s path to State House.

Deputy President William Ruto

An astute politician, a warhorse, hard worker and unlike many politicians a teetotaler, Ruto will shape his State House race this year. Ruto has the herculean task to conquer new territories, especially with indications that the Mount Kenya vote bloc is having grave second thoughts about his candidature. It will be interesting to to watch how Ruto handles the fallout in Jubilee, with a section of party officials openly opposed to his candidature. Can Ruto kick off a campaign against his boss President Kenyatta ? Can the DP bolt out of government?

Ruto’s eventual stand on the referendum which is increasingly becoming plausible will also be interesting. President Kenyatta has himself hinted that a plebiscite could be in the offing to eliminate “a winner takes it all system of government”. In fact, nearly all opposition leaders back the referendum calls.

Raila Odinga

Tinga, as he is commonly known to his supporters, will be a man to watch, especially in his new role as African Union Special Envoy on Infrastructure Development. Can the ODM leader leave an indelible mark on the continent?

Locally, the former Prime Minister’s moves will be significant. Will the former Prime Minister eventually hang up his boots or will he make a fifth stab at the presidency? His close lieutenants are promising that his name will be on ballot in 2022. In fact, they hope the State machinery that Raila has often accused of rigging the polls will this time round be on his side. The Handshake could help. Raila has, however, remained tight lipped on his game plan, and repeatedly stated he is disinterested in talking about 2022.

Musalia Mudavadi

The ANC leader has given the clearest indications that unlike his Nasa co-principals Raila and Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka, he will not take up any state appointment. He has sustained strong attacks on the Jubilee administration and declared that he will run for President in 2022. Lately, he has been courting Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, a man who supported him in the 2013 polls.

But more significantly, Musalia is hobnobbing with a section of the Kikuyu elite, sending signals that some of the region’s leaders could be looking up to him as a possible successor to President Kenyatta. In 2013 a similar support from allies of ex-President Mwai Kibaki backfired. Musalia came a distant third for President.

Chief Justice David Maraga

The Judiciary under Maraga’s leadership will be one of the institutions to watch. Firstly, the apex court is seized with several pending cases challenging the victory of some governors and MPs. The rulings, some of which will trigger by elections, are due anytime in January.

Secondly, Kenyans are watching how the courts will handle the many graft cases presented before it. Already, both President Kenyatta and the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji have complained that suspects are being let off the hook with ridiculously low bail and bond terms.

Maraga’s Deputy, Philomena Mbete Mwilu has also been charged in court over impropriety and abuse of office. A Queens Counsel from the UK has been called in to prosecute the case. How the court will handle this case is a matter of overwhelming public interest.

Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji

The man has breathed life into the office of the DPP within nine months of taking over. Haji, a former Deputy Director at the National Intelligence Service, has already promised a bigger roller coaster ride in 2019. In his own words, 2018 was “a mere curtain raiser”. Haji has called t the level of financial rot in government is shocking. Kenyans will be watching to see if he will be able to sustain high-octane war on corruption and secure convictions the public has been clamouring for.

Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti

Kinoti took over quietly in January this year when the office was virtually moribund. He immediately swung into action and arrested high- profile suspects, beginning with top NYS top officials. The arrests did not stop there. The purge moved to Kenya Power, Kenya Pipeline, NCPB, NHIF and the Government Advertising Agency among others. Like the DPP, Kinoti has pledged that the crackdown will continue unabated. Will graft lords be having sleepless nights? Surely they must be a bit worried. Or are they certain they will triumph again?

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New Ethics and Anti-Corruption CEO Twalib Mbarak

For many years, the EACC has been seen as the weakest link in the war against corruption. In fact, the DCI who has a wide mandate over other general crimes is seen as the de facto crime buster in Kenya. However, Kenyans are watching if Mbarak, a former military intelligence officer who was unanimously approved by Parliament, would re-engineer the agency. Mbarak is said to be a man of integrity. But will he spearhead internal reforms that could reposition EACC as an effective anti-graft watchdog?

Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji

He chairs the Building Bridges Initiative Task Force. His team is conducting public hearings on nine key issues that Uhuru and Raila identified after their historic handshake. The hearings will continue in the new year and Kenyans are expected to continue pouring their hearts out, especially on the system of government they would prefer. The Haji team is likely to determine whether Kenyans will have a referendum before before the 2022 elections.

Fred Matiang’i

The Interior and Coordination of National Government Cabinet Secretary will be on everyone’s radar. The CS has laid down an ambitious plan to reform the security sector, including introducing the new uniform for officers. The no-nonsense, many call him brash, CS will also be keenly watched as he seeks to ruthlessly implement the Michuki rules to restore order on the roads.

This year Matiang’i plans to roll out and implement radical reforms for the boda boda sector. It will be interesting to see how he intends to achieve this to rein in on lawlessness on our roads. He has also declared that he will take back thousands of guns fraudulently issued to well-connected individuals. Some gun holders are already fighting back. Matiang’i is also planning to ‘sweep clean’ the issuance of passports, including cancelling diplomatic passports fraudulently issued to hundreds of influential persons, including some politicians.

James Macharia

This Cabinet Secretary is among those entrusted with delivering the the Big Four agenda for President Kenyatta. The Transport, Housing and Infrastructure docket is such a big portfolio that domiciles most of the components of the Bit Four. The CS will be closely watched, especially how he drives the affordable housing component. President Uhuru Kenyatta promised to deliver affordable homes countrywide but it is not clear how the plan will take off after the Court slammed brakes on employee contributions of 1.5 per cent of salary to the scheme. Is he ingenious enough to deliver?

Sicily Kariuki

Affordable healthcare is a big part of the Big Four. The Health docket under CS Kariuki will be key in driving universal healthcare. Piloting the programme is ongoing in select counties and the President launched the project in Kisumu this month. Delivery will be in Kariuki’s hands. The CS will work with governors to turn around healthcare. She will be part of the President’s integral team driving the Jubilee agenda, especially to ensure healthcare projects are corruption free. Governors have complained that most of the national government projects in the health sector are delivered at exaggerated costs, including the high-end equipment to Level 5 facilities across the country.

Mwangi Kiunjuri

The Agriculture CS has been under intense pressure to resign throughout the 2018. He has been on the receiving end with the President’s tongue-lashing over corruption allegations at his ministry, especially involving the National Cereals and Produce Board. However, the CS remains instrumental in delivering the President’s food security agenda. With farmers up in arms against the government’s lower maize price order, Kiunjuri will have to navigate the tense and unsettled sector and deliver sufficient food to avert famine. A section of farmers from the Rift Valley has openly protested that the sector has been infiltrated by cartels selling maize to the NCPB at abnormal prices at their expense.

Homeboyz flyhalf Johnstone Olindi

A rising star. Olindi announced himself at the World Sevens rugby series events in Dubai and Cape Town early this month, scoring 43 points which included seven tries and four conversions.

Coach Paul Murunga rates him highly and says he’s a player who is keen to improve his craft despite a stellar year.

Mathare United’s Cliff Nyakeya

He has been inspirational for Mathare United last season, scoring 14 goals and providing 10 assists, an achievement handsomely feted when he was crowned midfielder of the year.

Two years after launching his professional career at Mathare, the winger who has two goals against his name in the new season, has come of age. His services have been on demand locally and beyond. He has however chose to stick with the slum boys. making him a player to watch this season.

Read: From resistance movement leader to AU envoy, Raila remains mysterious

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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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