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Uhuru failed Kenyans in 2018: Mudavadi

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By BAYA SAMUEL
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Runaway corruption and huge debts were the top Jubilee Party failures in 2018, politician Musalia Mudavadi has said, in his criticism of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration.

Mr Mudavadi, leader of Amani National Congress (ANC) party, said this on Monday while tearing into Jubilee for failing to address the plight of Kenyans in 2018.

In a statement read at Mikaye Restaurant in Nyali, Mombasa County, Mr Mudavadi said corruption and debts are sending the country to its economic deathbed.

The statement titled ‘Rededicating ourselves to a renewed patriotic agenda for Kenya in 2019’ outlined several gaps that ANC feels need to be addressed urgently to make Kenya governable.

“We have steadfastly addressed issues facing our nation, being conscious of our role as a responsible political party in the opposition and as a partner in the National Super Alliance (Nasa) coalition,” he said.

“The government responded in some measure to some of our concerns and although the war against corruption is picking up, some matters that we raised in the year remain unattended to and stubborn thorns in the national flesh.”

Mr Mudavadi went on to say, “We are hurting. All indicators show that unless we make a deliberate about-turn, we shall continue hurting. The ratio of debt to our GDP will be unmanageable,” he said, citing the big number of listed companies that have issued profit warnings.

“The rate of employment has not improved, businesses are downsizing and SMEs are folding up. Worst of all, the country is in an unsustainable deep debt hole. We have recorded the highest debt in Kenya’s history yet the government continues its unbridled borrowing, without clear focus on the purpose of borrowing or proper accountability on such borrowed funds.”

Mr Mudavadi noted that the Constitution says the burdens and benefits of public borrowing shall be shared “equitably between present and future generations”, but said it is unfortunate that Kenya has borrowed to feed the greed and unduly burden future generations.

“It is that bad yet the government has not been sincere on the nature of external loans when it is clear that the dominance of commercial loans is hurting Kenyans. The country is borrowing one loan to repay another; it is basically loan kitting, which is not sustainable,” he said.

He cited the report from the office of the auditor-general, which revealed that the Kenya Ports Authority was offered as collateral for the Sh227 million standard gauge railway loan from China. The Chinese government has refuted the claim.

The ANC boss said, however, that it is sad that Kenya waived its sovereign immunity in arranging for the loan by exposing a strategic national and regional resource.

“What was done in darkness is now coming to light and if this trend continues, Kenya could be auctioned in the long run. We demand full disclosure on the loan status, all agreements and guarantees by the national government and the government’s plan to manage the debt,” he said.

Mr Mudavadi pointed out that many countries have faced challenges worse than Kenya’s but have re-emerged.

“But this has only been possible with focused leadership and political goodwill, both of which are lacking in the Jubilee administration,” he said.

He called for an overhaul of the legal and administrative structures of the Public Debt Management Office.

“The office should be autonomous from the National Treasury and its decisions binding upon approval by parliament. In light of the public finance principle of openness, it shall also carry out public participation,” he said.

Mr Mudavadi went on to say that his party welcomed President Kenyatta’s public declaration to fight corruption but asked him to walk the talk and intensify the crackdown through the lifestyle audits he pledged.

“Recently unravelled scandals and corruption are daunting. Are we running a government or a pirates’ paradise? Why would managers of a public utility conspire to paralyse it for self-enrichment?

“Is it that the moral fibre of our society is irrevocably broken or that public duty has been corrupted to the extent that public theft is a reward for being in government?”

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The politician said the efforts of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions should not go to waste for fear of the loss of political friends as “it is better to lose such friends and regain the country”.

He said all agencies and institutions must join the war against corruption to ensure it is adequately equipped and funded.

“It is self-defeating, for example, to call on the Judiciary to expeditiously play its role while also starving it of funds, equipment and personnel,” he said.

“We have noted with keen concern attempts by both the Executive and the Legislature to arm-twist the Judiciary through thinly veiled verbal innuendo as well as starvation of funds in budgetary allocations. This must stop. We will fastidiously keep watch against these practices in 2019.”

The Nasa principal promised that his party will keep the government on its toes to ensure the DCI, the ODPP, the Judiciary and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission have all the support they need.

“We call upon these institutions to double their efforts and not roll back the gains this far,” he said, adding graft lords cannot go scot-free so after conviction and sentencing, so agencies should recover assets and money and give them back to the people.

Mr Mudavadi further said his party will lead the campaign to separate theft from tribes, arguing tribalism is one of the deadliest vices in the country.

“We refuse to allow those stealing from the public to insulate themselves using tribes and by the same token fan inter-ethnic animosities. The hydra of corruption and tribalism must be defeated completely. We will make that one of our major agenda as ANC,” he said.

Mr Mudavadi also said his party will help and protect public whistleblowers by launching a public portal for that purpose.

“Members of the public will anonymously report the corrupt and their proceeds to the court of public opinion through this portal. The agencies can pick the leads from there,” he said.

The Nasa principal also spoke on the 2019 census and illegal payments by the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) to questionable maize importers, a circumstance he warned will “kill” the local farmer.

He reiterated the call for the president to appoint a commission of inquiry under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, Chapter 102.

“Corruption is an installed and insulated sector. The commission shall enable the public and stakeholders to participate in truth finding and an audit of the systemic sabotage that led to the institutionalised corruption in the National Youth Service (NYS), fertilizer market, Kenya Bureau of Standards and the National Treasury,” he said.

Regarding the census, he said a transparent process will ensure just and fair economic planning and development while malpractices will lead to economic and political injustices.

“This country has had issues with the manner in which the census is conducted and the results thereof. The 2009 census is a good example of a flawed and inconsistent process that left the county hanging from the cliff-top of uncertainty,” he said.

The Department of Planning nullified census results in eight districts on account of inconsistencies, Mr Mudavadi narrated, adding they were in excess of about one million people.

“The residents of the districts went to court. The court questioned the process. We therefore have been living and using a faulty population estimate,” he claimed.

He wants the department to announce steps taken in preparation for the next census, including the procurement of necessary technology and the involvement of key stakeholders.

The ANC leader called for an end to extra judicial killings, saying 2018 saw a rapid increase in cases largely resulting from police use of excessive force.

Mr Mudavadi asked security forces to respect the sanctity of life.

“We cannot boast of one of the best bills of rights in the world then condone clandestine killings. We must insist on protection, not fortification of illegalities,” he said.

The politician addressed the press flanked by party chairman Kelvin Lunani, deputy leader and Matuga MP Kassim Tandaza and Secretary-General Barrack Muluka.



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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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