Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko has said that he has nothing to do with the skirmishes that have rocked in some parts of Narok and Nakuru counties even as a section of MPs from the Rift Valley accused him of involvement.
The claims have been expressed on various occasions in the recent past and climaxed Thursday with a media briefing at Parliament buildings attended by several MPs led by Cherangany MP Joshua Kuttuny.
“We are dismayed by the events taking place in Mau. Police officers are arresting young men from one side of the protagonists while allowing the local leaders to continue spreading hatred at will,” Mr Kuttuny said.
Other than Mr Tobiko, the Rift Valley legislators have also accused Narok Senator Ledema ole Kina, Narok North MP Moitalel ole Kenta and former Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Alex ole Magelo of inciting the people in the Mau, saying they should be arrested.
They did not also hide their disdain for Narok County Commissioner George Natembeya and called for his immediate transfer as well as a total overhaul of security team in the area, claiming they are complicit in the conflict.
But Mr Tobiko Thursday said that he has nothing to do with tribal or community politics and that he will not be intimidated or derailed in having illegal encroachers kicked out of Mau Forest.
“The statements by the MPs are unfortunate. I cannot help but read them as an orchestrated effort to try and intimidate me and other government officers from performing our duties,” Mr Tobiko said.
Nonetheless, the CS urged the police to investigate the matter and bring to book those responsible for the clashes as punishment for crime and as a deterrent.
The Rift Valley MPs have blamed Mr Tobiko of targeting innocent and genuine land owners from the Mau complex but the CS has maintained that those who have encroached on the forest must prepare to make an exit from the “fragile water tower to allow for its ecological conservation”.
“I find it rather too convenient that the skirmishes have erupted when the government is about to start the second phase of the Mau evictions. I cannot help but think that these clashes have been engineered and or orchestrated by those who believe that they will derail, delay, and frustrate the evictions.”
According to Mr Tobiko, Mau as an ecological ecosystem is bigger than parochial, tribal or short-term community interests.
“For the record and for the umpteenth time, I wish to reiterate that the evictions will proceed as scheduled. I call upon all communities to uphold peace and continue co-operating with the government in this all important exercise to restore the ecological sanctity of the Mau ecosystem,” the CS said.
After the press conference, the legislators walked to the nearby Parliament Police Station where they formally reported Mr Kina and Mr Kenta over incitement.
But a defiant Mr Ole Kina, in a response posted on his twitter account, declared that Mau Forest must be preserved.
“Everyone must get out of Mau Forest! That is my stand, no one can intimidate me. You can try and change the narrative but facts are stubborn,” Mr Ole Kina wrote.
Mr Kenta called for the arrest of a section of MPs from the Rift Valley, saying that they have been sponsoring youths who have been causing mayhem in the area including cattle rustling.
“They are drunk with power and they are targeting any leader who is not on their side. They are free to report any criminal activity they think we are involved in; after all, that is their constitutional right. But we are fully supporting the government on the Mau evictions and we will not be silenced,” Mr Kenta said.
The MPs also accused the National Commission and Integration and Cohesion (NCIC) of failing to discharge its mandate.
But NCIC CEO Hassan Mohammed said the commission has been drawn to potentially inciting remarks by politicians in the raging Mau evictions, saying action will be taken.
“We have observed [that] the leaders are making inflammatory statements, some bordering ethnic contempt under the guise of protecting the Mau. We condemn the actions from both groups and we ask them to stop their activities forthwith,” Mr Mohammed said.
The MPs who accompanied Mr Kuttuny included Hillary Kosgei (Kipkelion West), Nelson Koech (Belgut), Dominic Koskei (Sotik), Brighton Yegon (Konoin) and Sammy Seronei (nominated).
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The 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.
“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.
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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.
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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
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.
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