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Uhuru, Raila tighten grip on House with key committee positions

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By DAVID MWERE

President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga have tightened their grip on Parliament as their trusted allies got elected unopposed to lead key National Assembly committees.

The election on Thursday and Friday saw at least nine legislators from the National Super Alliance (Nasa), where ODM is a member, elected to committee leadership positions ahead of tabling of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report.

The election at Parliament buildings followed the de-whipping of Deputy President William Ruto’s perceived allies from committees leadership for opposing the BBI that seeks to amend the Constitution to, among others, expand the Executive by creating the post of Prime Minister and two deputies.

President Kenyatta and the ODM leader have openly vouched for a constitutional change through the BBI report.

The initiative seeks to change the system of government from a purely presidential one to a hybrid of the pure presidential and parliamentary systems as well as have Cabinet Secretaries appointed from among MPs.

It also wants the runners up in the presidential election to be the leader of the official opposition.

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WINNERS

Busia Woman Representative Florence Mutua and her Homa Bay colleague Gladys Wanga were among the ODM MPs who bagged powerful committee leadership positions.

Ms Mutua will chair the Education and Research committee while Ms Wanga will head the Finance and National Planning committee.

The two influential committees are critical to the government’s agenda and have always been the preserve of the party that forms the government.

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For instance, the Finance committee which oversees the National Treasury and state agencies like the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), is critical in the enactment of the government’s fiscal and monetary policies.

Their election is on top of the leadership of the watchdog committees – Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Public Investments Committee (PIC) and Committee on Implementation (CoI), which, according to the House Standing Order 172 (2), shall be a preserve of the minority party.

Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi (ODM) chairs the PAC, Abdulswamad Sharif (ODM) of Mvita chairs the PIC while Narok North MP Moitalel Ole Kenta (ODM) chairs the COI.

During the election, Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo (ODM) became vice chairperson of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) with his Homabay Town colleague Peter Kaluma (ODM) as vice chairperson of the Constitutional Implementation and Oversight Committee (CIOC).

The two committees, previously a preserve of the party that forms the government, are crucial to the implementation of the BBI report.

NO OPPOSITION

The election of chairperson and vice chairperson of the 21 committees turned  out as scripted by the President and ODM leader.

But unlike the opposition MPs who lost the 2017 committee elections with a fight, MPs allied to DP Ruto did not stage any opposition as the handshake MPs sailed through unopposed.

Kangema MP Muturi Kigano (Jubilee) was elected to take over leadership of the influential JLAC from Baringo North MP William Cheptumo (Jubilee). 

Mr Cheptumo, a staunch ally of the DP, was hurdled to the Delegated Legislation committee where he will serve as a member.

Mr Kigano will be assisted by Mr Amollo, replacing Kandara MP Alice Wahome (Jubilee), another Ruto ally. The two were elected unopposed.

JLAC has a serious mandate of midwifing the processing of the BBI report once it is introduced in the National Assembly.

Attempts by Nasa MP Oku Kaunya to vie for vice chairmanship of the powerful Administration and National Security Committee failed as both President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga had agreed that Wajir Woman Representative Fatuma Gedi deputises Paul Koinange (Kiambaa).

The other committee that is crucial to taking the BBI agenda forward is the Committee on Delegated Legislation that will now be chaired by Tiaty MP Kassait Kamket (KANU), an ally of Baringo Senator Gideon Moi.

Mbeere North MP Charles Njagagua (Jubilee) was elected vice-chairperson.

The committee has the mandate of considering subsidiary legislation otherwise known as regulations to implement existing laws.

As such, ite will be in charge of considering the regulations developed by sector government agencies to, among others, implement BBI related laws.

OTHER COMMITTEES

The Agriculture and Livestock committee is crucial in driving President Kenyatta’s food security agenda, which is one of the four pillars for cementing his legacy ahead of his expected retirement in 2022.

The committee will be led by Moiben MP Silas Tiren. He reclaimed the committee after his election in 2017 was overturned by the Jubilee leadership because he went against the preferred candidate.

Mr Tiren replaces Mandera South MP Adan Haji (Jubilee), who was removed from the committee and will now chair the Trade, Industry and Cooperatives committee and will be assisted by Kigumo MP Ruth Mwaniki.

Laikipia Woman Representative Catherine Waruguru (Jubilee), who was a die hard DP Ruto supporter before crossing over to the President’s camp, was elected vice-chairperson.

The Busia roman representative takes over the Education and Research committee from Tinderet MP Julius Melly (Jubilee).

She will be assisted by her Nyeri Town colleague Wambugu Ngunjiri (Jubilee), replacing Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya, who was recently appointed majority leader.

Shinyalu MP Justus Kizito (ODM) bagged the chairmanship of the almost forgotten Parliamentary Broadcasting and Library committee that has not sat for almost three years now.

Mr Kizito will be assisted by Nyamira County Woman Representative  Jerusha Momanyi.

The Lands committee has Ms Rachael Nyamai as the chairperson and Mr Khatib Abdallah Mwashetani as vice chairperson.

The Transport, Public Works and Housing committee will be chaired by Mr David Pkosing with Ms Gathoni Wamuchomba as the vice-chairperson.

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Europe beckons for South African rugby after Kiwi snub

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jul 20World Cup-winning Springbok Schalk Brits believes the future of South African rugby lies in Europe after New Zealand said there was no room for sides from the republic in Super Rugby.

“All of this jet lag and flying across different time zones just does not work,” said the hooker who retired after the triumphant 2019 World Cup campaign.

“We have got so many South Africans playing in Europe and it would be awesome to see them in action here for European clubs.”

With New Zealand favouring a trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition, South Africa Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux will address the media Tuesday about the way forward.

There has been no rugby in South Africa since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, which claimed 5,033 lives by late Sunday, the most in an African country.

Here, AFP Sport looks at the possibilities for the world champions Springboks and Super Rugby teams the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers.

Rugby Championship

There has been speculation that the six-round annual tournament will be cut to four matches with New Zealand and Australia playing in South Africa only every second year.

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That would be a huge blow for SA Rugby coffers as the century-old rivalry with the All Blacks makes them a huge drawcard.

South Africa might consider abandoning the Championship and pursuing a suggestion by former All Blacks Justin Marshall and Jeff Wilson for three-Test tours between the great rivals.

“British and Irish Lions tours are so successful because we look forward to them,” noted another ex-All Black, John Kirwan. The same could be said of an All Blacks-Springboks series.

‘Seven Nations’

Should South African franchises move north, would the Springboks follow suit and apply to join England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales in a ‘Seven Nations’ championship?

Having the world champions on board would surely excite the organisers and costs would be greatly reduced if the Springboks played their three away matches on consecutive weekends.

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England, Ireland, France and Wales, in particular, would bring freshness for rugby followers, who have not rushed to the turnstiles for Championship visits by Australia and Argentina.

Ask the SA Rugby treasurer for his ‘dream’ line-up and he would surely say a multi-Test tour by the All Blacks and participation in the ‘Seven Nations’.

Super Rugby

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Although not official yet, the reality is that New Zealand want to play some Australian sides and the Pacific Islands in a new competition while excluding South Africa and Argentina.

The original version, a Super 10 between 1993 and 1995, was a superb competition, but constant tinkering and expansion has led to waning interest in a difficult-to-follow event.

Even those supporting the Golden Lions of South Africa could not have derived too much satisfaction from a 94-7 thrashing of Japanese visitors the Sunwolves three years ago.

South Africa sides often battled with time differences in Australasia — New Zealand is 11 hours ahead of the republic — and were weary after four-match tours.

‘Pro16’

Pro14 chief executive Martin Anayi says he would welcome Super Rugby ‘rejects’ the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers into an expanded edition.

“The tournament works well but could be even better if we added some South African teams,” he said, referring to a competition that also includes Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh teams.

But there may be no room for the two current South African Pro14 participants, the Cheetahs and Kings, who have experienced very different fortunes.

While the Cheetahs have been competitive, the Kings won just four of 55 matches in three seasons with some of the losing margins embarrassing.

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Currie Cup

The domestic competition has survived constant format changes to remain the vital ‘nursery’ from which Springboks emerge.

First staged in 1892, it was the bedrock of South African rugby until the dawn of professionalism after the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

As Test and Super Rugby fixtures took up an increasing amount of the season, the Currie Cup often battled for calendar space.

But it survived and this year could feature the four Super Rugby sides plus the Cheetahs, Kings, Griquas and Pumas, if play is possible amid the coronavirus.

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya’s coronavirus cases rise to 13,771 after 418 more infections

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By NATION REPORTER

Kenya on Monday reported 418 more Covid-19 infections, raising the country’s tally to 13,771 since the virus was first confirmed on March 13.

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Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rashid Aman also reported four more deaths, raising the toll to 238. He rectified an earlier report about 19 deaths in a single day, which would have been the highest number ever recorded in Kenya.

The 418 new patients were found following the testing of 2,474 samples in the last 24 hours.

Four hundred and eight of them were Kenyans and 10 foreigners while male patients numbered 263 and female patients 155.

Dr Aman also announced that 494 patients had been discharged, raising the country’s total number of recoveries to 5,616.

Of the recovered patients, 465 were under home care and the rest in hospitals.

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