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Uhuru, Ruto clash in fight against graft : The Standard




President Uhuru Kenyatta inspects a guard of at State House, Windhoek, Namibia. [PSCU]

A presidential salvo fired in a far away land, and State House’s pulling down of his social media accounts over claims of infiltration yesterday exposed the muted fallout within President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government over the fight against corruption.

Barely a day after Deputy President William Ruto expressly described the ongoing purge as selective, lacking integrity, fought on convenient half-truths and with political outcomes in mind, the President endorsed the purge, saying nobody — not even his “closest political ally” — would stand in the way of the anti-graft fight.
In a no-holds barred offensive delivered in Windhoek Country Club to Kenyans living in Namibia after he attended that country’s Independence Day celebrations, the President said every corrupt person regardless of their rank or stature will face his big stick.
“Whether they like it or not, whether friend or foe, brother or sister, if you are hellbent on corrupt ways, we will fight you,” the President said before adding, for emphasis: “You can be my brother, you can be my sister, you can be my closest political ally, you can be… whatever you are, but you are an enemy of the Republic of Kenya and we will fight you.”

SEE ALSO :Uhuru moves to stem clash of egos in anti-graft agencies

“I won’t be clouded by ethnicity or status in my quest to leave behind a united nation and I will continue championing Kenya’s unity,” Uhuru said in one of the messages pulled down.
The President’s tough talk was captured both on print, online and audio. However, in a confounding move that caught everyone’s attention, the President’s social media pages containing the message were abruptly pulled down in what State House Chief of Staff Nzioka Waita described as a result of a breach of access.
He, nevertheless, maintained that the President’s pronouncements on corruption as reflected in the pulled down statements still stood.
“On account of unauthorised access to the official social media handles of H.E. the President of the Republic of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, all official social media handles for the President have been temporarily suspended to allow for the necessary remedial measures to be undertaken,” reads Nzioka’s statement, which was also posted on Twitter.
“The President has not distanced himself from the comments on corruption and his comments still stand,” Nzioka added.

SEE ALSO :Uhuru urges border communities to embrace unity and shun politicking

A team divided
The ping pong on the social media pages, coming only months after a similar suspension and reorganisation of the pages, exposed the underlying fights among the men and women handling the President’s communication.
It is an open secret that there has been a fight between two factions within the State House communications team, with one pledging allegiance to the Office of the Deputy President and the other to the President.
As Kenyans absorbed the turn of events, Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi was in Mombasa delivering his strongest jab yet against top government officials for paying lip service to the fight against corruption. He accused the government of shielding “pirates and sundry masters of corruption”.
“It is instructive that when you say the country is being looted, someone whose name nobody has even mentioned is the first person to say, ‘I am not a thief.’ He says, ‘The amount you are saying has been stolen is not right, what has been lost is less than that.’ He tells you the stolen money has been insured,” Mudavadi said.


SEE ALSO :Uhuru furious with Cabinet members fingered over graft

Ruto has in the immediate past dismissed the probe into the multi-billion-shilling Arror and Kimwarer dam projects, saying the country did not lose any money as it was insured. He also claimed that what was in question was about Sh7 billion and not the Sh21 billion claimed.
The DP has also said that those investigating the loss — the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) — were being used in a long drawn political witch-hunt, as his allies claimed that the Directorate of Criminal Investigations did not have the legal mandate to fight graft. “There has also been an attempt to hijack the war on corruption and turn it into a war against specific individuals. In the attempt to wage this convoluted version of the war on corruption, many government programmes and projects, as well as many innocent public servants, have become casualties,” Ruto said on Wednesday while opening the same workshop Mudavadi was closingyesterday.
But Ruto also rooted for the fight against corruption, asking professionals to lend a hand to the fight and pleading with them to re-xamine their place in the corruption chain.
While closing the workshop, Mudavadi criticised the government for botching the war from within, in the process watering down investor confidence and impoverishing Kenyans. He put on notice civil servants colluding with political leaders to perpetrate large-scale graft.
“Let me warn you that senior figures lurking in the shadows to force you to sign a form to release money will be questioned when the DCI starts to ask questions”.

SEE ALSO :How Uhuru trip exposed bitter political divisions in Gusii

President Uhuru KenyattaWilliam RutoCorruptionEACC



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Kenya: COVID-19 Pandemic Could Widen Existing Inequalities for Kenya’s Women in Business




Nairobi — Pauline Akwacha’s popular chain of eateries, famously known as Kakwacha Hangover Hotels and situated at the heart of Kisumu City’s lakeside in Kenya, is facing its most daunting challenge yet. Akwacha and other women in business across this East African nation are bracing themselves for the post-COVID-19 economy.

Strategically located at the heart of Kisumu’s bustling central business district, business at Kakwacha had always been very good. One could hardly find a seat at the eateries.

“We are known for our fresh, traditional foods, including meat and especially fish. This is the lakeside and fish is a big part of our lives. The meals are very affordable and the portions filling,” she tells IPS.

The first COVID-19 case in this East African nation was confirmed on Mar. 13. Within days the Kakwacha chain, other restaurants and the hospital industry closed as the government issued strict social distancing protocols to curb the spread of the virus.

“Now my doors are closed and am losing a lot of money because I still have to pay rent and do whatever is necessary to cushion my staff,” Akwacha says.

To reopen, Kakwacha will have to follow the strict guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health. Restaurant owners are required to pay from $20 to $40 for each staff member to undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing before reopening.

Still, without cash flow, Akwacha will find it difficult to re-open.

Across the street, Irene Omari, the sole proprietor of one of the biggest branding companies in Kisumu City and its surroundings, has similar concerns about the market post-lockdown. As a woman, she struggled to access loans to start her business.

“It is very difficult to run a business as a woman. In the beginning I could not even access credit because financial institutions did not take me seriously. I had to learn to spend 15 percent of every coin I made, and save 85 percent to plough back into the business. Women do not access loans easily because of strict collateral requirements,” Omari tells IPS.

Omari says that the most pressing problems women in business face, include a lack of credit, patriarchal stereotypes and naysayers who tell women that they cannot succeed — because they are not men.

But she succeeded despite this. Up until the lockdown, her printing and branding business occupied two large floors in a building in the lakeside city. There, she pays $1,500 in rent per month, a considerable sum that shows just how big and strategically-located her business is.

“I brand for hotels, schools, companies, non-governmental organisations and walk-in individual clients. We have something for everyone. Our printing department caters mostly to schools. I have invested heavily in mass production by purchasing machines worth millions [of Kenyan shillings],” Omari tells IPS.

But COVID-19 has also hit the very heart of her business. With schools, hotels and restaurants closed, and as companies face a most uncertain future, business is at an all-time low.

Omari has diverse business interests and also invested in a trucking business to transport construction materials across the larger Western region. But this industry has also been impacted by the lockdown.

Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP) is projected to decelerate significantly due to COVID-19. The most recent World Bank Kenya Economic Update predicts economic growth of 1.5 to 1.0 percent in 2020. Growth focus for 2020 was estimated at 5.9 percent pre-COVID.

While COVID-19 may be the latest addition in a long list of challenges that women in business have had to endure, there are concerns that the pandemic will only widen existing economic gender inequalities.

In 2018, only a paltry 76,804 or 2.8 percent of the country’s formal sector employees earned a monthly salary in excess of 1,000 dollars. Of these employees, 36.5 percent were women, accounting for only one percent of the total formal sector employees, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.


There are no real-time statistics available yet on the impact COVID-19 has had on women in business.

But dated statistics paint a picture of the difficulties women had have to overcome.

Overall, Kenya has significantly expanded financial access and reduced financial exclusion. The number of people without access to any financial services and products reduced from 17.4 percent in 2016 to 11 percent in 2019. But while financial access gaps between men and women are narrowing, women are still lagging behind, according to the Central Bank of Kenya financial access survey of 2019.

For instance, in 2016, 80.9 percent of women-to-women business partnerships were denied loans by micro-finance institutions, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

As such, more women in business are turning to the informal sector such as table banking or merry-go-round savings and lending groups.

“This is why investing in women and providing much-needed affirmative action support remains necessary and urgent,” Fridah Githuku, the executive director of GROOTS Kenya, tells IPS. GROOTS is a national grassroots movement led by women, which invests in women-led groups for sustainable community transformation.

So far, this Deliver For Good local partner has invested in nearly 3,500 women-led groups. Deliver For Good is a global campaign that applies a gender lens to the Sustainable Development Goals and is powered by global advocacy organisation Women Deliver.