As the launch of the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS), dubbed Huduma Namba, got under way on Tuesday, the question was not which leaders were playing a leading role, but which one was not.
The schedule of leaders overseeing the activity — which included the main opposition chiefs — had been released at the weekend.
President Uhuru Kenyatta would be in Machakos, while Deputy President William Ruto was scheduled to oversee the launch in Kakamega.
But Mr Ruto did not show up in Kakamega. Instead, he hosted a delegation from Cuba in Nairobi.
Key opposition figures, including ODM leader Raila Odinga, former vice president Kalonzo Musyoka, Amani National Congress chief Musalia Mudavadi and Ford-K leader Moses Wetang’ula gave the Sh6 billion project a boost by unveiling it in Mombasa, Murang’a and Kajiado counties.
President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga, who termed the launch a milestone for the country, said the unity between the government officials and the opposition signalled an end of tribalism in the country.
“Today, Raila Odinga is in Mombasa, Musalia Mudavadi in Kajiado, and Kalonzo Musyoka in Murang’a leading the NIIMS registration. Today marks the end of tribalism in Kenya. Let us celebrate our nationhood as a people,” Mr Kenyatta said at the Masii public grounds.
President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga have been facing a backlash from Mr Ruto’s allies for working together and on Tuesday roped in other opposition leaders, including Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetang’ula, who have been fashioning themselves as the true opposition.
Thanks to the launch, Kenya joins other nations such as the US, the United Arabs Emirates, India and Australia, which have successfully used integrated data systems to manage their citizens’ information.
The launch came ahead of Thursday’s State of the Nation address by the President.
The address has been preceded by a war of words between supporters of President Kenyatta and those of Mr Ruto over the ongoing war on graft and the Head of State’s handshake with Mr Odinga that has threatened to split the Jubilee Party.
In Kakamega, a last-minute communication of Mr Ruto’s absence to the public who had turned up for the exercise dampened the mood at the high-profile function at Kambi ya Mwanza in Malava Constituency.
Conspicuously, however, the statement from the President’s Strategic Communications Unit (PSCU) indicated that “Deputy President William Ruto simultaneously kicked off the exercise in Kakamega County”.
The PSCU further noted that it was a “historic demonstration of national unity and common purpose”.
The statement was later edited to remove information about the deputy president.
Mr Ruto had been expected to arrive at Kambi ya Mwanza market at 9am.
Instead, he was represented by Sports and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed, who was accompanied by her counterparts Eugene Wamalwa (Devolution) and Mwangi Kiunjuri (Agriculture).
A last-minute change in the programme sparked confusion at the event. Kakamega County Commissioner Abdirizak Jaldesa had earlier confirmed that Mr Ruto would officially launch the exercise.
“The DP would have been here to launch the Huduma Namba registration but because of exigencies of duty he could not make it. He is meeting the Cuban deputy president who is in the country on an official visit,” Ms Mohamed said.
Also present at the event was the host, Mr Wycliffe Oparanya, the governor for Kakamega.
The Cuban vice president flew into the country on Sunday for a series of events.
Malava MP Malulu Injendi, a close ally of the DP, and his Ikolomani counterpart Bernard Shinali were at the function, signalling the possibility of Mr Ruto attending.
In Mombasa, Mr Odinga, who launched the identification system in Likoni, said Mr Ruto was to spearhead the exercise in Kakamega, but President Kenyatta did not mention the DP in Machakos when he acknowledged Mr Musyoka’s attendance in Murang’a and Mr Mudavadi’s in Kajiado.
Political analysts believe Mr Ruto could have been irked by the involvement of his Opposition rivals in the launch of a government project, a thing that could put him on a political collision path with his boss, President Kenyatta.
Reported by Lucas Barasa, Kennedy Kimanthi, Kitavi Mutua, Mohamed Ahmed, Benson Amadala Stanley Ngotho and Ndungu Gachane
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
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.
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.
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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.
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.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
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
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
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.
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.
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.