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Uhuru succession to dominate 2019

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A cut-throat confrontation looms as Kenyans usher in the New Year fraught with succession battles, agitation for a referendum and the push for internal Jubilee Party polls.

The country will be engulfed in heightened political temperatures as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is set to review boundaries, while the National Census will also be held in 2019. Both will have a bearing on constituencies and votes.

Analysts and politicians say these issues are likely to overshadow President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda – the projects he wants to roll out to secure his legacy before he steps down in 2022. They are universal healthcare, affordable housing, revival of manufacturing and food security.

Yesterday National Assembly Majority leader Aden Duale sought to play down fears the Jubilee succession game plan and the polls would impede the Big Four.

The Garissa Township MP told the Star the Jubilee leadership would do whatever it takes next year to deliver on its massive pledges to Kenyans and buttress national unity.

“As Jubilee leaders led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, we have a social contract with the People of Kenya and will use all the energy, time and resources in fulfilling our manifesto and the Big Four agenda to better lives,” Duale said.

President Uhuru wants to ride on what may turn out to be short-lived political tranquility inspired by a truce with his foe-turned-friend Raila Odinga and the Building Bridges Initiative. He hopes this will neutralise the succession race and reinforce his legacy.

The handshake team has been crisscrossing the country, collecting views on how Kenyans want a couple of key issues roiling the country tackled. The panel’s proposals are likely to trigger a constitutional change.

Read: Uhuru distances himself from Murathe on Ruto retirement remark

Political analyst Martin Andati yesterday said a referendum is inevitable and will most likely crystallise this year, with far-reaching ramifications for 2022 political formations.

“The country is likely to have a referendum in 2019 or 2020. It will be Raila and Uhuru against Ruto and the rest who are opposed to the referendum, and then the 2022 alignments will emerge,” he told the Star.

Political analyst Mark Bichachi said this will be a decisive year for Ruto and his presidential ambitions.

“How Ruto will play his ball in the middle of the referendum will be a big issue, given that the handshake requires that he doesn’t attack people. Whether he will be the preferred choice for Jubilee will definitely dominate 2019,” he said.

Ahead of the anticipated referendum, tension remains palpable among political figures holding divergent views on the clamour for constitutional change.

Proposed changes include expansion and restructuring of the Executive structure, a parliamentary-type system and a dramatic reduction in the number of MPs and MCAs to reduce the debilitating wage bill and a strengthening of devolution.

Ruto is seen as the face of the anti-referendum push but his allies are strategising how to turn tables against Uhuru and Raila in case of a plebiscite.

Raila wants a parliamentary system entrenched as opposed to the current winner-take-all presidential system accused of perpetuating ethnic exclusion and animosity.

The referendum push and presidential ambitions are likely to widen the Raila-Ruto wedge in the New Year. The former Prime Minister is expected to declare whether or not he will run for President.

“Raila is and will be the most potent player in 2019 and going forward to 2022. He will dwarf all the political pretenders currently masquerading as potential presidential candidates. He will definitely deliver the elusive Kenyan dream come 2022,” Nasa secretariat CEO Norman Magaya told the Star.

He predicted two political groupings going forward, pitting Raila against Ruto and that Raila will win the contest.

“The coming general election will produce many more political casualties than any other poll in our history,” he added.

The Jubilee boat is already unstable due to competing succession interests pitting a faction pushing for Ruto as the heir apparent against his adversaries who are exploring alternatives.

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Ruto, a smart and tenacious politician is campaigning frenetically to shore up his countrywide support. He has made it crystal clear that he will be on the ballot to succeed Uhuru.

However, roadblocks are being thrown in his way and there are mixed signal’s from Uhuru’s Kikuyu community, hence, the DP is likely to scale-up his offensive next year to penetrate opponents’ strongholds.

Ruto’s allies have already signaled that next year will be a decisive period, steadying his 2022 presidential bid as he pushes for grassroots and national party elections.

The Star has established that calling for party elections is part of the DP’s scheme to remove interim officials critical of his earlier presumption to succeed President Uhuru.

Read: Waiguru wants fresh Jubilee party polls to elect leaders with ‘legitimate mandate’

Lifting the lid on manoeuvers by Ruto allies to position the DP as the heir apparent in the Jubilee family, National Assembly Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali told the Star that 2019 is the year the party must hold internal elections.

“Next year must be the year when Jubilee will have to go back to its original agenda of uniting this country. Grassroots and national elections are long overdue and some of the leaders who sacrificed their parties to form Jubilee are being overlooked,” said Washiali, a close Ruto ally.

Setting the elections agenda, Washiali warned that it will not be business as usual in Jubilee if interim party officials continue to undermine elected leaders and ridicule politicians inherited from the defunct 13 parties that folded to form Jubilee.

“The earlier we do the elections the better. Otherwise, the Jubilee Party stares at disintegrating if some rogue interim officials are not tamed,” he added. The current situation portends a bleak future for Jubilee, he predicted.

Washiali has asked President Kenyatta and DP Ruto to urgently call for national party polls to instal the people he termed “legitimate officials”.

The push for grassroots polls was triggered by Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru who said on Saturday that elections will give the party “a leadership that has a legitimate mandate and the people’s support”.

Seen as a Ruto point person in Kikuyuland, Waiguru said the internal polls would help forestal internal divisions and ensure that public statements are made by “elected party officials.”

“This is to ensure that they [statements] in fact represent the views of the Jubilee Party as a whole,” she said.

The call for elections could be targeting Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe who has openly told Ruto there is no MoU compelling the Kikuyu community to support him in 2022.

Tellingly, Murathe a close ally of President Uhuru, has dismissed the agitation for fresh party polls, saying the term of the interim officials will expire in 2020.

“Please acquaint yourself with the party Constitution Article 33 (5) on the transition clause. [Secretary general Rafael] Tuju retires in 2020. The operative word is “shall,” Murathe tweeted.

“Unless you want to amend the party Constitution. Mine, you can have on a silver platter even tomorrow. Join the rabid attack dogs,” he added.

But Article 33 [5] states that all interim party officials shall serve for a term not exceeding three years from the date of appointment unless he/she is elected as provided for under the Jubilee constitution.

Yesterday, Murathe told the Star those calling for elections must also be open to have polls for the party leader and his deputy.

“Are those calling for elections only targeting my position, or they also want elections for party leader and deputy party leader ,which are held by Uhuru and Ruto?” Murathe asked.

Read: You can have my job – Murathe tells Waiguru on fresh party elections call

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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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