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With his back against the wall, Ruto now needs a new game plan

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KWENDO OPANGA

By KWENDO OPANGA
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The sacking of senators Kipchumba Murkomen and Susan Kihika from House seats and the removal of Deputy Speaker Kindiki Kithure, all important point men of Deputy President William Ruto, sends an ominous message to a hamstrung DP.

You are isolated. Are you waiting for us to come for you? And that prompts the question, is this the end of the beginning of Dr Ruto’s first run for Kenya’s ultimate political diadem? Or is it just a pause? It is highly unlikely it is the latter.

However, my position remains clear: Dr Ruto must fight until he is the last man standing. Even as I confidently wrote that, I also warned about, and listed, the awesome and fearsome assets of political warfare assembled and arrayed against the DP. Among them was President Uhuru Kenyatta himself.

And I pointed out that there was a deliberate and determined scorched-earth war of attrition against the DP whose objective was to reduce him to a shell, eunuch and skunk before poll date 2022. I have called this killing the DP slowly politically and publicly.

How do you beat the President, especially when he has in his corner Kenya’s most impactful politician, Raila Odinga, and organised labour boss Francis Atwoli, and all wielding the big stick of constitutional and governance change chiefly to check your presidential ambition?

Ultimate survivor, the late Paul Ngei, the lion of Ukambani, would have advised: stay low like a reed in a storm; keep a watchful eye; keep your counsel, and keep friend and foe off balance with guile, guise and charm. Then re-emerge, plan in mind and hand, at an appropriate time.

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But what was Dr Ruto’s strategy for ascending to the top job? One, start campaigning early and, using government machinery, stay well ahead of the competition.

Two, whatever happens, keep the Kikuyu and their Mt Kenya cousins in your orbit, and rear view mirror, any time and all the time. At the same time, keep the Coast and Luhya heartlands in your column.

Three, in these places ensure that the elected representatives, especially the MPs and governors, eat from the palm of your hand. They are the shock troops and point men.

They, like the boss, must be battle-ready early in order to be battle-hardened as poll date 2022 beckons.

Four, keep the faiths and faithful, and especially the shepherds, close with generous donations of money and materials to their causes. The way to the hearts of the faithful and congregations is through their shepherds and shrines.

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Five, in places of high political consequence, and that means the twin Houses of Parliament, ensure that the shock troops win the decibel count as well as the physical count.

Politics is about numbers and voices. In the decibel count, spare no one for everyone who takes us on, the President included, is fair game.

This is our maxim: if you hit us, we will hit you, and hit you again at rallies, online and news conferences.

Last, we shall maintain a high profile, visibility and intensity tour schedule and use the President’s legacy-bound Big Four agenda as camouflage to campaign. Our MP and governor allies will maintain this frenetic schedule.

So much for the claim Dr Ruto learned his politics at President Moi’s feet. Often despised when he was founding President Kenyatta’s Vice-President, Moi never showed his hand.

For a decade, he was regarded as inconsequential and bereft of ambition until old Jomo appeared to be on his last legs.

Dr Ruto has, in under two years, recklessly shown his hand. In many respects he has come across as driven by ambition as to defy his boss, and to be obsessed with presidential ambition as to attack without thinking about his vulnerabilities.

A politician attacks a rival’s weakness, never his strength. Dr Ruto’s Achilles heel was his strong acquisitive drive, especially for land, sharp wheeler-dealer practices, and tendency to bend the rules.

A phony but weaponised war on corruption has taken the DP’s reputation from the pinnacle of actualisation at the presidency to the filth of the sewers of Ruai.

But why his recklessness? Running for the presidency and running Kenya are serious businesses. Given the motley crew of allies the DP has kept, he may not have had serious advice, which is a serious indictment of the man.

Will he stand by his three dethroned allies or will he politically distance from them? Whichever way he chooses, the die is cast.

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NDINDA: Dream about baby symbolises opportunities

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By DIANA NDINDA

I’m jolted awake at 11.45pm by a strange dream. In the dream, a baby is sleeping beside me, his small arm draped over my neck. I can feel his rhythmic breathing on my neck.

I try to move his arm, but for some reason, I cannot. After struggling to the point of breathlessness, I manage to move and turn so that I can see the baby better.

He wakes up and starts to whimper. He looks scared, so I pick him up and sit him on my lap. I touch his forehead and he has a burning fever. Concerned, I say, “Let me get you something for your fever,” but he puts his small arms around my neck — he doesn’t want me to leave.
I ask, “Who is your  mummy?”

“Mr Pee Pee is not my mummy,” he replies in a tiny voice. Were this conversation taking place in real life, I would have probably laughed out loud at this answer, but since this is a dream, I don’t get to appreciate the sense of humour.

INTERESTING DREAMS
Like happens in all interesting dreams, I wake up suddenly, and voilà! There’s no baby, it’s just me in my bed in the hotel, still stranded in Nigeria where I’ve been since March 21, and sorely looking forward to going back home. With nothing better to do, and aware that I will not go back to sleep until morning,  I spend quite a bit of time mulling over what that dream means.

After all, this is not the first time I’ve had it. I had dreamt about this baby a day ago and the day before that. I go through one theory after another, striking each out until I settle on the one I decide is the most probable.
I believe the baby is symbolic of new opportunities I hadn’t envisioned knocking on my door in the near future.

The dream seems urgent and is unrelenting, trying to find space in my life no matter how resistant I am. I figure out that I only need to accept  it, and allow it to take me where it wants to. However, no matter how much I try decipher what “Mr Pee Pee is not my mummy” means, I don’t succeed, so I let it go.

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WISHFUL THINKING
True, my conclusion may be wishful thinking, but I’m determined to look on the bright side of things, to remember that in the midst of gloomy situations, good things do happen.

Satisfied and at peace, I go online to catch up with  the news in Nigeria, Kenya and the rest of the world, as well as what’s trending on Twitter. Twitter can be quite interesting sometimes.
When morning comes, I call my first-born son.

It’s his birthday today, and it saddens me that I’ll not be able to wish him a happy birthday in person and spend some time with him.

Had I been at home, I would have probably bought  him cake, and together with close relatives, we would have shared a meal together.
I refuse to despair though, I tell myself that there is always tomorrow, that come next year, I will not be stranded far away from my family, and will therefore get to celebrate this important day with him.                       
                            
Ms Ndinda is Research Manager, Transform Research Africa Ltd. She is stuck in Nigeria, where she has been since March 21.                                             

TOMORROW: The number of Kenyans looking forward to returning home keeps growing. I know I should be patient. After all, I have been here for weeks, so what’s another week? But  I can’t help getting anxious as we inch towards to D-Day.

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CHESOLI & MAJE: Why post-Covid-19 mitigation must have disaster prevention at its core

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By KENNEDY CHESOLI

By HAFIZ MAJE

The fallout from Covid-19 pandemic could rise to the levels of the World Wars, the Great Depression and the Spanish influenza of last century. Governments are scrambling to mitigate and control its spread even as the response against other threats — such as climate change, terrorism, cyber-insecurity and economic sabotage — has to be preserved and upgraded.

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INFECTION CONTROL
Though laudable, some of the current infection control or prevention and treatment measures will not work for an epidemic caused and transmitted by a different infectious agent.

Social distancing, hand hygiene and face masks will not protect us against an infectious disease transmitted by, say, mosquitoes.
Ventilators would not be useful if the next epidemic, which, instead of causing respiratory failure, affects the kidneys — in which case we will need dialysis machines.
So as not to be blindsided by an infectious disease again, we would need adequate stockpiles of antimicrobial agents and vaccines directed against threats.

These include the potential use of infectious disease agents, such as anthrax and plague, by hostile nations and terrorists.

The challenge, however, is to have rapidly scalable domestic production and supply chain capabilities to meet emergency needs — sometimes for items whose need cannot be anticipated or predicted ahead of the actual epidemic.

PERIODIC UPGRADES
Here, public-private partnerships could be a game-changer. Existing stockpiles would need constant replenishment since drugs expire and machines need periodic upgrades.

Interventions such as social distancing, lockdown and curfews come at a cost, which we must check if they are commensurate with the threats.

After all, engineers grapple with how much resilience to incorporate into the design of a structure by weighing the cost against the risk and consequences of any threat.
Since prevention is always better than cure, communities must decide how much to invest in disaster prevention.

The current Covid-19 toolbox may be ineffective against future pandemics but a range of general measures could avert or mitigate their impact.
An adequately funded fit-for-purpose public health infrastructure with a sound grassroot footprint will be critical.

It would be designed to collaborate with the relevant regional and international health organisations and ensure public health measures that come out of centuries of knowledge and experience pertaining to food and water safety and sanitary living conditions are enforced.

FEAR
A constant source of angst in infectious disease practice is the fear of missing the first case, which then goes on to become an outbreak.

Vigilant public health institutions would be on the forefront performing disease surveillance, identifying incipient outbreaks and rapidly instituting control measures.

Detecting disease patterns in real time, bearing in mind that some infectious agents may be novel, could prevent sporadic cases from becoming outbreaks.

Ordinarily, knowledge of a disease, such as transmission patterns and cell and tissue-level damage inform the choice of control measures, treatment and vaccine. However, the explosive nature of Covid-19 has necessitated reliance on “make-shift” science instead of well-performed research.

There is no assurance that future work may not prove the current control and mitigation efforts to be ineffective or even counterproductiv — thus the need to rapidly scale up research and development capacities, harnessing the power of artificial intelligence.

COVID-19

Covid-19 has affected the private sector and corporations have played a vital role in its prevention and mitigation.

In the post-pandemic world, they should invest in infection control infrastructure and processes, analogous to their investments in physical, cybersecurity and other risks, including in a strong layer of infection control personnel to advise on production and customer care processes.
It is imperative to institutionalise these as well as optimise our overall healthcare infrastructure. Reduction of poverty and income disparities will, obviously, be critical to achieving these goals.

Dr Maje is an infectious disease-trained physician, [email protected]; Mr Chesoli is a developmental economist, [email protected]

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MUTAVA: Guards unsung heroes of war on Covid-19

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By COSMAS MUTAVA

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A 700,000-strong workforce of guards in the private security providers continue to fill extra-routine roles since the outbreak of Covid-19 in the country.Though not gazetted essential service providers, guards play volunteer roles in crowd control to safeguard people — from ensuring the safety of residents and workers at homes, offices and factories and shoppers at malls to patrolling premises and taking the temperature of visitors or managing logistics for patients in quarantine centres and critical care units.Besides, the men and women in uniform play an outstanding role as frontline workers, complementing the medical emergency response, as guardrooms have been turned into triages to support the new safety policies and guidelines.GOVERNMENT DIRECTIVESPrivate security firms have stepped up to the challenge of implementing government directives through provision of personal protective equipment (PPEs) to their guards.In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, private security firms have trained guards in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.They also update the National Emergency Response Committee on Coronavirus through monitoring and screening of weapons and tracking of persons with an abnormally high temperature.In partnership with entities such as the Private Security Congress, National Counter-Terrorism and OptiWatch, PSIA is developing a Covid-19 Command and Communication Centre for Private Security to keep guards safe through adoption of cloud technology on cellular networks to convey information and instructions.The President recently announced a Sh53.7 billion stimulus package to revive the economy, which has been slowed down by the pandemic, by supporting micro and small businesses and vulnerable Kenyans.As most businesses reopen, that will rekindle their partnership with private security firms for the safety and security of their homes and businesses, as well as back-to-business Covid disinfection and testing. HIGH RISK OFFICERS During these unprecedented times, the government should pivot on private security firms doubling as safety providers from Covid-19 alongside their traditional role of enhancing safety and loss prevention, which is no longer a sole focus.While guards often receive a supply of sanitisers, facemasks and other PPEs, they are high-risk protection officers.They require extra protection as they work in public and patrol deserted streets, especially during the overnight curfew, as most other people rest at home.Distinctively, guards work behind the scenes to support critical infrastructure against the rapidly spreading virus.They deserve to be regarded as frontline heroes who deserve recognition by the government.The government should set aside Covid-19 allowances for them, not only to improve their livelihood but also heighten the care package from contracting coronavirus infections.Yet, at the end of their respective shift, guards go back to their families, putting their loved ones at risk.A report by the United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) cites men working as security guards as having among the highest Covid-19 infection rates, with 45.7 deaths per 100,000.Let us safeguard those who guard us.Mr Mutava is the chairman, Protective Security Industry Association (PSIA). [email protected]

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