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Friday, October 30, 2009

Banned Official - Wako?

Four days after imposing the latest travel ban on a Kenya government official, the US government says it will not name the individual.

Addressing at a meeting with Kenyan lawyer's on Friday, US ambassador Michael Ranneberger said they had delays in delivering the letter to the undisclosed official due to a holdup in drafting by the State Department Office in Nairobi.

He said the concerned individual had also not been informed of the ban.

"Here is the problem. We have taken that decision but we can't release the name publicly until that person has been informed. The State Department lawyers are still working on how to write him the letter and all that so it will be unfair to talk publicly."

"But at some point we will be talking publicly about the names and things," said the American envoy.

At the same time, US ambassador said the Obama administration would not relent on increasing pressure on Kenya to follow through on political reforms agreed to after last year's post-election violence, in which some 1,300 people were killed.

"Our President, a son of Kenya wants to see a stable and prosperous democratic future for this nation. No true friend of Kenya; no true Kenyan patriot can want anything less.

"Failure to grasp the historic opportunity Kenya now has in its hands would be unconscionable," he added.

He urged Kenya to strengthen its institutions and eradicate corruption to avoid more violence after the next election in 2012.

The US has said it wants Kenya to make greater efforts to stamp out corruption, overhaul the police force and judiciary, create a permanent electoral commission, and bring to justice the organisers of last year's electoral violence.

Mr Ranneberger said the reforms yet to be implemented were key to avoid a repeat of the skirmishes that rocked the country following the disputed general elections.

He said: "Kenya is at a crossroads. The window is fast closing… there is no more time for commissions, rhetoric, obfuscation and half steps. Kenya's leadership must listen to the voices of its people and undertake the key reforms, with much greater sense of urgency."

He said reforms would not be realised in the absence of concerted efforts from the Kenyans and other concerned parties.

The US ambassador has been involved in various outreach activities with MPs, youths and women grassroots organisations aimed at promoting implementation of reforms.

The American Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson announced the travel ban on Monday saying the senior official had obstructed the reform process, failed to end the cycle of impunity and had been an obstacle in the fight against corruption".

The US said it was considering bans on three other officials - but declined to release any names.

Last month Mr Carson sent letters to 15 prominent Kenyans threatening them with travel bans for blocking political reforms agreed after last year's post-election violence.

No Passats

Majority of Cabinet Ministers, their Assistants and Permanent Secretaries on Friday still clung to their fuel guzzlers and refused to pick VW Passat replacements.

Only 17 Cabinet Ministers and 19 Assistant Ministers had returned the high capacity vehicles by the deadline. The Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura is among 11 Permanent Secretaries and accounting officers who beat the deadline and returned their vehicles. Kenya has 41 Cabinet Ministers and 52 Assistant Ministers.

Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta issued the directive to buy less expensive vehicles as austerity measures to cut down on government expenses in his June Budget.

Internal Security Minister George Saitoti John Michuki, Gender Minister Esther Murugi and Housing Minister Soita Shitanda, were among those who had returned their vehicles.

On Thursday the Ministries of Northern Kenya Development, Transport, Labour, Cooperative, Finance and Justice and Constitutional Affairs, were said to have returned their high-end vehicles.

Only a few Ministers allied to Orange Democratic Movement complied with Mr Kenyatta’s directive. Others, including Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang questioned the rationale behind the purchase of the smaller engine cars and read a sinister motive in it.

“It is not because we are saving money, it is because somebody is making money, not the government I serve. If they want to seize them, let them come and seize them, I will not resist. I will let them bring their Passat, but I am not surrendering it (Mercedes), because the reason for surrendering is a false reason,” he said.

In total, only 65 heavy engine vehicles were surrendered by the Friday deadline.

Following the deal between Cooper Motor Corporation (the company supplying the new vehicles) and the government, the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee on Thursday said it would establish if the tendering process was above board.

The Finance Minister defended the move to purchase the new vehicles from CMC, arguing the government needed to get an immediate cut off point and any other system would have taken time to implement.

"The government has a clear policy on how it purchases its vehicles and I am confident all rules were adhered to," he said and invited all those with queries to check up with Treasury about how the procurement process was conducted.

The directive to surrender all cars exceeding 1800cc applies to all government officials. Only the President, Prime Minister and Vice President are exempt from the directive.

Some ministers and their assistants however argued it was not possible for them to work in rural areas without the 3000cc engine capacity cars.

The government has yet to decided what action will take against those clinging to the expensive cars.

One hundred and twenty Volkswagen Passat cars have been imported to be used by top government officials in a bid to save taxpayers about Sh2 billion being spent on fuelling and maintenance of expensive models.

Each Ministry has been allocated at least three Passats.

Kalonzo on HIV

Stopping the spread of HIV/Aids, eradicating malaria and combating water borne diseases are the challenges which Africa must over come in order to achieve sustainable health promotion, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka has said.

Mr. Musyoka said there is need for concerted efforts amongst African countries on health issues if the Millennium Development Goals on the sector is to be achieved.

The VP observed that basic elements of good health such as nutrition, water, a clean environment and access to healthcare in the continent, were below the required standards.

He said the situation demands proper re-prioritization and multi-lateral investment in promotion of strategies aimed at improvement of the health sector in Africa.

"For nations to progress, individuals and communities must make health a priority in all development choice they make. Increased health literacy and empowerment of communities depends on support from health programmes and on the environment created by healthy public policies", VP noted.

The VP was speaking at KICC where he officially closed the one-week Global Conference on Health promotion.

The conference brought together stakeholders in health promotion to deliberate on the challenges that affect them globally, particularly in the middle and low income countries.

It also discussed, identified and adopted the ‘Nairobi Call-to-Action' a strategy aimed at closing the implementation gaps in health promotion.

The Conference addressed five critical issues that included empowerment of individual, strengthening of community actions, re-orientation of health services advancement of partnership and inter-sectorial collaboration among other issues.

Mr. Musyoka at the same time said there is urgent need for African states to formulate and implement sustainable National Health Insurance Programmes that incorporate health promotion as key component.

He noted that the Nairobi Call-to-Action requires that governments, organizations, communities and individuals join hands in ensuring implementation of the strategies identified during the conference.

To this end, the Vice President called on governments, civil society, development partners and health service providers to demonstrate their commitment to health for all by addressing health challenges that continue to impact negatively on health development in the continent.

Mr. Musyoka who is also the minister for Home Affairs said Kenya will play its part in collaboration with development partners and stakeholders in health sector in coming up with proper programmes and strategies with a view to integrating national health promotion.

"We shall review our current policies and programmes with a view to integrating health promotion. I also look forward to the development of national health promotion strategy by our Ministry of Public Health", VP said.

Public Health and Sanitation minister Beth Mugo said the benefits derived from the conference should go a long way in alleviating the suffering of communities from causes of ill health especially the preventable ones.

Earlier the Vice President received the out-going Turkish ambassador Salim Levent Sahinkaya who assured the VP of Turkey support to the government's effort to implement necessary governance reforms.

The Vice President commended the out-going envoy for helping strengthen relations between the two countries, noting that during Mr. Sahinkaya's tour of duty, Turkish President Abdullah Gul visited Kenya.

"It was during your tenure too that Turkey hosted the highly successful 1st Turkey-African Summit" Mr. Musyoka noted.

Bolt's here

The World's fastest man Usain Bolt is in the country.

Bolt who holds the fastest time in the 100 and 200 meters arrived in the country Friday morning to endorse the Long run project by the Zeitz Foundation whose objective is a sustainable environment.

The foundation is focusing on encouraging 4 C's namely Conversation, Culture, Community and Commerce in regions the effects of global climate and environmental degradation are largely felt.

The Jamaican athlete says he is keen to see issues of environment and promotion of nature given priority.

The world record holder is also scheduled to adopt a cheetah and meet both the PM and president Kibaki before winding up his four day visit to the country.

The Zeitz foundation launched by Jochen Zeitz, the billionaire chief executive of sportswear firm, Puma, has branches in seven other countries.

In Kenya, the foundation is based on a 150 hectare land in Laikipia, and the locals are expected to largely benefit from its initiatives that will see tourist sites opened from next year.

Bolt will be the chief guest at this weekend's official launch of the Zeitz Foundation's programmes in Kenya.

Envoy dies

Kenya's ambassador to Brazil Pius Namachanja has collapsed and died in the South American nation.

Witnesses say the envoy might have suffered a heart attack.

Namachanja was posted to Brazil in June 2006, after serving at the National Museums of Kenya.

He helped establish the embassy in South America, becoming the first to represent Kenya in the region.

Details in the Brazilian media said Namachanja died in Uberaba in Minas Gerais state, in the southeast region of Brazil.

He was in this city with 26 other ambassadors to know more about the potential of the zebu cow to produce milk.

"He felt unwell by the end of the afternoon, during a visit to a farm and was taken by ambulance to Hospital das Clínicas da Universidade Federal do Triângulo Mineiro," the reports said.

It was reported that he had four cardio respiratory arrests. The first one at the farm and three others on the way to the hospital while he was in the ambulance.

The doctor at the ambulance made a cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and used an oxygen tube.

He got to the hospital at 5pm and died around 5.30pm Brazilian time.

This was the second time he was visiting Uberaba.

Latest reports say the body is still in Uberaba and is due to be moved to Brasilia later in the day.

The Kenyan embassy in Brasilia has already contacted the envoy's family and an official from the chancery has already travelled to Uberaba to collect the body.

It is not clear when the body will be flown back to Kenya.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mungiki Disbanded

The top leadership of the dreaded Mungiki criminal outfit now claims the organisation has been disbanded.

Spokesman Njuguna Gitau said: "We want the general public and the government and particularly the police to know that Mungiki no longer exists, he said.

He said the outfit had now been transformed into a political party and appealed all its nearly five million members to publicly denounce the sect that has been previously accused of bizarre killings characterised by beheadings and lately, kidnappings.

"We are now members of the Kenya National Youth Alliance (KENYA). This is a political party like any other, Mr Gitau stated.

He urged Kenyans to stop living in fear and assured the public that its members had been urged to embrace Christianity.

"People should stop living under the threat of a ghost known as Mungiki. Mungiki no longer exists. Let the police, and other security forces and Provincial Administration take charge of the country's security and ensure there is peace throughout the nation, he said.

"Even the people of Kirinyaga and Mathira should stop living in fear of reports that Mungiki is planning retaliation over the killing of two Mungiki suspects. There is nothing called Mungiki now. It is a ghost and it does not exist," he vowed.

He urged religious leaders throughout the country to help former members of Mungiki to embrace Christianity.

"Even our chairman Maina Njenga has been converted to Christianity, ours is now a political party and we are ready to accommodate all the people in our party," he said but did not reveal if they planned to sponsor candidates for the 2012 General Elections.

"Young people especially from Nairobi and Central and the Rift Valley should no longer be labelled as Mungiki. Mungiki does not exist," he said on telephone.

Last week, Mungiki leader Maina Njenga was released from prison after the State dropped murder charges he faced over the killing of 29 people who were massacred in Mathira in April.

He was acquitted alongside 21 of his co-accused following instructions from Attorney General Amos Wako who terminated the case before a Nyeri court.

Mr Njenga has since announced he is saved and plans to be baptised soon.

Mr Njenga and his spokesman appealed to the police to produce six suspected members of the Mungiki who were arrested on Tuesday and have since gone missing.

They said the men were arrested in Nairobi's Dandora and Kayole estates on suspicion of involvement of criminal activities.

"The six young men were arrested and have not been found, we are calling on the Police Commissioner to intervene and reign in these rogue police officers who are still arresting people for nothing," he said.

He added: "We don't want a situation like we had before where young men were arrested, disappeared and were later found murdered," he said.

Over the past five years, up to 2,000 young men believed to be Mungiki members have disappeared mysteriously while others have been found murdered and their bodies dumped in forests and mortuaries in Nairobi, Central and Eastern Provinces, according to statistics by human rights organisations.

Constitution ready in 10 days

The draft constitution will be out in ten days, Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo has said.

The Justice Minister is however calling on politicians to stop derailing the constitution making process by making irresponsible outbursts.

And as the debate on boundary review rages, the minister called for sobriety saying the issue was a threat to the review process.

MP's from Central Kenya have been pushing for the creation of more constituencies in their region through the "one-man, one-vote" formula.

The legislators have declared that they want population to be the main consideration as the Interim Independent Boundary Review Commission, a proposal that has been opposed by their counterparts from Coast and North-Eastern.

Mutula was speaking Thursday at the Strathmore University during a leadership and ethics summit where he urged the business leaders to take on the government where necessary.

The Committee of Experts have retreated to Kilaguni lodge to fine tune the harmonized draft Constitution.

Evangelical churches have threatened to rally Christians to reject the new Constitution at a referendum if the contentious Kadhi courts are included in the draft .

Mutula at the same time maintained key institutional reform were on track downplaying a US ban on a senior government official. He says only Kenya holds the key to ending impunity.

Fuel Guzzlers 2

The exercise by government officials to return their fuel guzzling cars gathered pace Thursday with more of the top range vehicles being surrendered to the Chief Government Engineer.

A section of ministers hailed the move saying it was high time the leadership of this nation led by example for the wellbeing of the public.

Several ministers including the Minister for Finance, Justice, Youth Affairs, Tourism, Lands, Heritage and Higher Education together with their PS's surrendered their guzzlers, bringing to 39 the number of cars handed in so far.

Drivers were also taken through a brief training on the operation of these new 1800cc engine capacity complaint Volkswagen Passats.

Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta who proposed the directive in his budget speech expressed optimism that all government officials would comply ahead of Friday's deadline.

Uhuru however said there could be a delay in the process owing to a number of Ministers and Permanent Secretaries currently out of the country on official duty.

The move is meant to cut down government expenditure on fuel by Sh2B shillings annually.

Uhuru was however quick to defend the government on the decision to award CMC motors the tender to supply the cars.

"The government has a clear policy on how it purchases its vehicles and I am confident all rules were adhered to," he said

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wetangula on ban-will hit back mundu khu mundu

Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula has said Kenya is not threatened by the continued US travel bans and announced that the government was planning to reciprocate.

While terming the continued travel bans as ‘meaningless’ the Minister said the sanctions imposed by America will not affect government affairs because officials “in the notorious list can still travel to America to attend UN meetings.”

He said Kenya was one of the four countries in the world under the UN charter which carry an extra obligation just like America, Switzerland and Austria.

“Under article 8 and 105 of the UN charter, none of these countries can deny a national of any member state entry onto their territory to transact matters to do with the UN on behalf of their country so this story about withdrawing and banning and so on is meaningless,” he said in response to Monday’s visit by US Assistant Secretary in charge of African Affairs Johnny Carson who announced the visa ban of yet another top government official.

Mr Wetangula told a media conference that “the continued travel bans were meaningless” and accused America of breaching diplomacy.

“It is with regret that an Assistant Minister of a friendly country walks into our country uninvited, makes fairly unacceptable and reckless statements and then leaves. It is not right,” he said.

And he did not spare the super power nation, choosing to use harsh words to drive his point home.

“I have commented on this before. I have told you that diplomacy expects some certain minimum acceptable standards of behaviour from the mighty and the meek, from the weak and the strong, from the poor and the rich. At the altar of diplomacy we are the same like at the altar of the church and the statements made by Mr Carson is totally out of order and is not in keeping with the expected norms of good diplomatic behaviour,” he said.

He maintained that Kenya was at will to send its officials to America, regardless of the fact that their visas have been revoked “as long as they are out on a UN mission.”

“So I want to urge our friends that we absolutely respect their right to grant or reject visas to Kenyans going to Washington or any other American city, but when we want to go to the UN, we will go to transact international business under international law,” he said defiantly.

“If the Kenya government wants to send a delegation to the UN that includes the three Ministers, and 12 other Kenyans who are on the notorious list, those countries that I have mentioned have a duty under the UN charter to let in nationals of any member state to transact business,” he said and denied the continued visa bans had affected Kenya/US relations.

“Our relationship with the US is not based on visas-granting and non granting-they have a lot of strategic interests in this region and we have trade relations with them, and then there are the security challenges and we are fighting piracy together; there are many many issues at hand. The visa issue is a drop in the ocean.”

The Minister revealed the US Embassy in Nairobi had communicated to him and given him details of the government official joining the long list of unwanted persons in America but declined to name the person.

“The ambassador has given me the name of the person whose visa has been revoked, but I don’t think he has done anything to warrant that kind of action,” he said.

Journalists curious to know the name even asked him to confirm if it was Attorney General Amos Wako as earlier speculated but the Minister instead challenged America to be “brave enough and disclose the names.”

“We are over 40 million Kenyans here, why does America want to make us look like we are all suspects in this by failing to disclose the name publicly?” he asked and cited diplomacy as the reason why he would not release the name of the individual Mr Carson was referring to when he jetted in on Monday.

Although he said the government was in the process of reciprocating in line with the available diplomatic channels, he did not disclose what specific measures would be taken to counter Washington’s move.

“The process of reciprocation is on. I cannot complain about their roof top diplomacy and do the same.”

“Kenya like any other independent and sovereign state has options and in diplomacy we have got the doctrine of reciprocity and we shall appropriately reciprocate on all issues that undermine our dignity as a nation,” he stated.

Asked if President Barack Obama had replied to President Mwai Kibaki’s protest letter on the visa bans, he said: “I am not aware of any reply; Mr Carson did not see the President, the Prime Minister or the Vice President. He wanted to see me but I was busy attending a parliamentary committee meeting.”

Ministers summoned

Parliamentary committee on defense and foreign relations has summoned Foreign Affairs Minister, Defense Minister and labour minister John Munyes who is being accused of espionage by the government of Southern Sudan.

The committee says the allegations leveled against cabinet minister John Munyes are serious and touch on the sovereignty of this country.

The committee also regretted the harassment of businessmen operating in southern Sudan.

The committee will visit North Eastern province next month to look into claims that youths in the province were being recruited by Somali rebels.

The committee however maintains that the Kenya government at all times should impartially support peace initiatives through non-military engagement.

Meanwhile, Southern Sudan government on Tuesday denied allegations made by the minister John Munyes that he had been accused by southern Sudan officials of working for Khartoum government.

"We in the Government of South Sudan have not accused the Kenyan Minister of Labor or anybody in Kenya about anything. The people of Kenya and South Sudanese are brothers and sisters, and we in the Government of South Sudan have high regards for and to the people and the government of Kenya," said GOSS minister of regional cooperation, Gen. Oyay Deng Ajak.

Ajak was speaking to the pres following a meeting between President Mwai Kibaki and Sudan First Vice President and GOSS President Salva Kiir Maydrit on Tuesday in Nairobi.

Labor Minister John Munyes, who is also a Member of Parliament for Turkana North Constituency, threatened to quit cabinet if allegations leveled against him by southern Sudan officials are not cleared.

Citing a meeting between Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetang'ula and the officials, Munyes claimed the delegation, led by the Sudanese ambassador to Kenya Majok Guandong Thiep, accused him of being used by northern Sudan to fan conflict in Southern Sudan.

He said a southern Sudanese official had accused him of being bankrolled by Khartoum to buy weapons and spy to destabilize them.

He said the problem started when the government deployed military personnel at Nandapal near Lokichoggio to ensure peace between the Toposa and Turkana herders.

Kibaki to Abuja

Mwai Kibaki has traveled to Abuja, Nigeria to attend the African Union Peace and Security Council meeting.

Kenya, as Sudan's neighbour, has been invited to attend tomorrow's opening session of the AU Peace and Security Council meeting which is set to discuss and consider a report by the AU High-Level Panel on Darfur.

The AU High-Level Panel on Darfur (AUPD), chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, was mandated to examine the situation in Darfur and submit recommendations on how best issues of accountability, ensuring peace, healing and reconciliation could effectively be addressed.

The Council, which Kenya is a founding member, is a standing decision-making organ for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. It also serves as a collective and early warning arrangement to facilitate timely and efficient response to conflict and crisis situations in Africa.

Kenya is also expected to push for Africa's attention on the Southern Sudan comprehensive peace process in the belief that a successful conclusion to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement would help bolster chances of a new peace deal and development pact for the Darfur region.

The Peace and Security Council (PSC) has undertaken several peace initiatives in the continent including deployment of AU Peace Keeping Missions in Darfur, Burundi, Western Sahara, Comoros, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo and the proposed IGAD/AU Mission in Somalia among others.

The PSC is composed of 15 members elected on the basis of equitable regional representation and rotation where 10 members are elected for a two-year term while the remaining five members on a three-year term to ensure continuity.

Kenya has submitted her candidature to the council for elections to be held in January 2010.

The plane carrying the President Kibaki and his entourage departed Jomo Kenyatta International Airport shortly after 12.00 noon.

The President was seen off at the airport by Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, Chief of General Staff Gen. Jeremiah Kianga, Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Amb. Francis Muthaura and Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere among other senior Government officials.

Climate Change

The Ministry of Environment is working towards a developing a comprehensive climate change policy in Kenya and a fully-budgeted National Climate Change Response Investment framework to address the challenges of climate change.

According to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources Lawrence Lenayapa the main challenge the country is facing while dealing with climate change is the segmentation of policies, laws and regulations that address climate in different sectors.

Speaking in Nairobi during a climate change consultative workshop, Lenayapa said a fully budgeted investment framework also needs to be put in place.

Currently, there is no climate change policy in Kenya, and efforts by many different groups in fighting the phenomenon could bear much more fruit.

"One of the main challenges we have as a country, is that policies, laws and regulations that address climate change are segmented in various sectoral laws, and are not well co-ordinate," Lenayapa told participants.

The two day forum is organized by the United Nations Development Programme, and for the first time, participants included women, and youth groups that have previously been ignored in climate change discussions.

The groups will create awareness of the various challenges affecting them, after which the information gathered will be presented to the Kenyan government delegation going to Copenhagen Denmark for the climate change talks.

"We will ensure that all information from all groups is articulated," said George Krhoda, a professor of Environment and Geography in the University of Nairobi.

The effects of climate change are affecting the developing countries more than the contributors who are mainly from the developed world.

African parliamentarians met in Nairobi early this month and agreed to represent the continent with a one voice.

They agreed that the Western countries must contribute more money to help Africa cope with the vagaries of climate change.

The Copenhagen meeting in December hopes to seal a deal which will replace the Kyoto protocol which expires in 2012.

On forest cover, he said that to increase it from the current 1.7 percent to the 10 percent required internationally, the Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources in conjunction with the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife have a programme that will guide this type of investment on tree planting and growing.

He said that under this programme an additional 4.1 million hectares will be brought under forest cover through rehabilitation of degraded areas, creation of new forests, tree planting in farmlands and the dry lands, urban and roadside tree planting at a cost of Ksh.80 billion for the next 20 years.

"We must take the issue of Climate Change very seriously because Kenya is extremely vulnerable since our economy relies heavily on Climate-vulnerable sectors such agriculture, water, energy, transport and tourism hence the need to develop partnerships and strategies to address complex impacts of global warming," he said.

Fuel Guzzlers

Ministers and other senior government officials have until the end of Wednesday to surrender their fuel guzzlers together with their logbooks and tools to the Chief Mechanical and Transport Engineer and replace them with Volkswagen Passats as directed by treasury.

In a circular issued on Monday, finance Permanent Secretary Joseph Kinyua said the directive was in compliance with a government policy announced by Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta during this year's Budget speech.

The government officials are at the same time supposed to collect new official vehicles from CMC Motors.

But CMC CEO had earlier indicated that the first fleet of 130 Volkswagen passat cars would arrive between November and December this year.

Several ministers and government officials however are yet to comply with the government directive aimed at reducing fuel expenditure with only 24 ministries having complied so far.

But the directive that limits usage of government vehicles to 1800cc capacity exempts the President, the Prime minister and the Vice President.

The government is set to spend some 500m shillings to purchase new standardized Volkswagen cars of 1800cc and save up to two billion shillings annually on fuel and maintenance costs of the fuel guzzlers.

The Government had initially set a deadline of September 30th, but this was not affected as a task force appointed by the Finance Minister was putting final touches on the austerity measures.

The deadline is subject to wait and see owing to the fact that some ministers are opposed to the move and that Uhuru's predecessor Amos Kimunya failed to make the same directive a reality.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mungatana on ban

A group of parliamentarians led by Garsen MP Danson Mungatana on Tuesday downplayed the travel ban by the US to a top government official saying Kenya had more important things to focus on.

Speaking during a breakfast meeting where the parliamentarians engaged the United States Business Community, Mr Mungatana said Kenyans should focus their attention on getting constitutional reforms and not on governance issues between different states.

“Our Constitution and our reforms are totally different from government actions with the US, Tanzania, Uganda or whatever. Kenyans want reforms and we will focus and succeed in giving them the reforms,” he stated.

Mr Mungatana took issue with parliamentarians who had a habit of issuing threats and ultimatums that barred constitutional progress terming them as a ‘stumbling block’.

“Instead of ruffling feathers with the US or other governments we will ruffle feathers with those anti-reformists, those anti constitutional people. We are determined to make sure that this time the reforms do not fail. The Constitution will succeed,” he strongly stated.

He declared that parliamentarians who had been issuing such conditions would be required to tone down their speech.

“We have cautioned every Member of Parliament who has been issuing statements that seem to put some form of doubt in the way of receiving a new constitution and we hope we will see less of that,” he held.

He also called for dialogue in matters where different views on constitutional reforms came up saying that the famous Orange and Banana antics would not be used.

“One of the reasons that derailed the last Constitution was the campaign by Parliament. This time the campaign will be different to make sure it succeeds. So where there are difficulties, we will talk with each other until we reach a consensus out of reason,” he explained.

Mr Mungatana also asked Kenyans to remain calm and patient until the delivery of a new Constitution.

“Every time a baby is born there is usually some instability but at the end of the day you get a good product. So let us not worry too much about these talks by some parliamentarians. We believe we will get a good constitution,” he assured.

President Mwai Kibaki recently reassured Kenyans that constitutional reforms were underway with hopes that it would be ready by next year. However various groups of people have raised concerns over the constitution with some calling for minimum reforms with others fearing that this could distract the comprehensive review.

Kiraitu on ban

Kiraitu Murungi has said that the U.S has its share of problems and has no business directing other countries on what to do.

Kiraitu said that Kenya has a well structured system of governance that should be the guiding principle of all government procedures.

While announcing the ban on Monday, US assistant secretary of state for African Affairs Johnnie Carson said the US is closely monitoring the pace of implementation of reforms and will not hesitate to take stern action against Kenyan government officials it deems are frustrating the process.

Mr Carson also announced that the US was considering similar action against three other senior officials in government whose names he did not reveal.


He explained that his continued visit to Kenya was a clear indication of the importance President Barack Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton attached to developments in the east African nation.

"Specifically, I want to emphasise that the President feels strongly about the need for the current coalition government to implement fully the reform agenda on an urgent basis," he said.

Doing so, he said, was absolutely essential to ensure the future democracy and stability of Kenya.

"President Obama's position is clear. We will maintain and steadily increase pressure for implementation and we will not do business as usual with those who do not support reform or who support violence," he said and pledged America's support and recognition of implementation of reforms when they are undertaken.

Kibaki and Kiir

Mwai Kibaki Tuesday at his Harambee House office held a consultative meeting with the 1st Vice President of Sudan and President of Southern Sudan Salva Kiir.

During the meeting, the two leaders discussed the forthcoming AU summit to be held in Abuja, Nigeria which will be dealing with matters of peace and security in Africa.

Noting that the people of Kenya and Southern Sudan share historical ties of friendship, President Kibaki and the President of the Southern Sudan Government agreed on the need to bolster the existing bilateral ties between the two countries.

The two leaders also agreed on the need to establish a joint security consultative committee to deal with any issues that may arise from the Kenya/Sudan border.

Kenya played a leading role in the Sudan peace process that culminated in the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement and the Government of Sudan.

Meanwhile, President Kibaki will on Wednesday travel to Abuja, Nigeria to attend the special AU meeting on Sudan.

The plane carrying the President and his entourage is expected to depart Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 12.00 noon.

Executive President

The Party of National Unity-PNU-has declared it favors an executive presidency.

This is in contrast with the other major party, ODMs position which has been preference for a parliamentary system with executive authority in the Prime Minister elected by and answerable to Parliament.

But it says it is ready to concede this position by reaching consensus with other major political parties over the executive President sharing powers with the Prime Minister in the new constitution.

They are reaching out to ODM on contentious issues that have previously derailed the Constitution review.

After four hours of deliberations PNU's top organ the supreme Council, agreed to support an executive Presidency, a President elected by the people.

The two positions are not new and were some of the major reasons that saw the rejection of the Wako draft in the referendum.

PNU however acknowledges the need for consensus on the matter and is planning to reach out to ODM to ensure the process is not derailed.

This stand comes in the wake of plans by the committee of experts to retreat to Kilaguni to refine the final draft that is scheduled for release to the public early next month.

There have been calls to merge the two proposed system of governance into one referred to a hybrid system.

It is however not clear which system of government is recommended in the draft, but the Parliamentary select committee on the constitution on Monday expressed satisfaction with the progress made by the Nzamba led team.

Raila to address conference

Raila Odinga will Wednesday officiate the opening ceremony of a two day interactive conference on the change the country yearns for to realize sound policies in governance and development.

The conference at the Nairobi Hilton Hotel has been convened by the European Union and is part of the European Development Days banner which the PM attended in Sweden.

The PM will trace the struggle for change in Kenya and how the country ended up in the election chaos of 2008 after pursuing change for so long, especially in the 1990s.

He will discuss why the country has moved back and forth in pursuit of change and why there always seem to contradictory developments and political outcomes from the struggle for change.

The Theme of the conference "Reflection on Change" takes a critical look on the options available for effective operation of the change agents for better understanding of the circumstances.

The conference also hopes to strengthen the capacity of the multiple stakeholders towards implementation of sound policies and practices through formulation of a common frame work for change and development.

The interactive forum which includes interviews with selected leaders would also give participants an opportunity to directly engage officials of the European Union spell out their development agenda for the country.

Among the key personalities expected to grace the occasion are head of the European commission Eric Van Der Linden, Eu presidency Ambassadopr Ann Dismorr and justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo.

The conference will also go live on television at some stage where presenters Luois Otieno and Belinda Oburu would take host panelists including top government officials to respond to public queries.

The forum comes in the wake of sustained pressure from the west for the coalition government to seriously embark on the reform agenda.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Top Official banned

Another high ranking government official has been banned from stepping on US soil.

US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson said three other officials could also have their visas revoked for opposing reforms in the country.

While announcing the travel ban, Carson said the US government is closely monitoring the pace of implementation of reforms and will not hesitate to take stern action against government officials it deems are frustrating the process.

The visiting US envoy said the US will pile pressure on the government until it implements reforms contained in Agenda four.

"We are considering similar action with three other government officials," said Carson.

"We will not do business as usual with those who do not support reforms ... those who support violence," he said.

Without revealing names, he described the politician as a "senior government official of influence".

He said the individual had "obstructed the reform process, failed to end the cycle of impunity and has been an obstacle in the fight against corruption".

Last month Mr Carson sent a letter to 15 officials warning them they faced travel bans if they failed to support the "reform agenda".

This latest development may well provoke another diplomatic spat between Nairobi and Washington.

Last month Kenya protested to the US over the latter's audacity to author letters to senior government officials urging them to support the reform process or face serious

Carson however commended parliamentarians for the rejection of the reappointment of former KACC director Aaron Ringera as well as the recent reforms in the police department terming it as a head start.

He further advised Kenyans to make their desires clear to the country's leadership and thus can hold them accountable in the fu

Carson's visit comes ahead of ICC'S Luis Moreno-Ocampo's visit next month.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pangas for Bibles

Maina Njenga, the leader of an illegal sect widely revered for its gruesome beheadings, has now beseeched his cult followers to be ambassadors of peace, and change their wayward habits.

Mr Njenga said on Sunday that the sect had been associated with various criminal activities in the country and it was time to change that image.

“Not even one of our followers will remain, we will all get saved,” he said as he promised to ensure they (followers) all got Bibles, a far cry from the pangas they are known to wield.

Speaking at the Jesus is Alive Church Ministries where he accepted Christianity; Njenga said his salvation was not political but a sincere search for God and added that being in prison had saved his soul.

“I am now saved and Jesus is my saviour. There are four people who died in an accident on their way to visit me in Naivasha GK prison and I said that because I am saved, the burial will be conducted by the church,” he said.

“The Bishop (Margaret Wanjiru) will now organise when this will be done,” Mr Njenga added.

He also said he and his followers would be baptised in the church on a later date.

“I will now be a church elder and the Bishop will tell me what activities she wants me to get involved in; even if it is ushering I am ready,” he said.

The Mungiki leader was freed on Friday after the Attorney General entered a Nolle Prosequi on a case where he was accused of allegedly ordering the massacre of 29 people in Karatina, Nyeri District, by members of the outlawed sect.

Mr Njenga had been re-arrested in April this year moments after he was released by the High Court, following a successful appeal against a five year jail term for alleged illegal possession of marijuana and a firearm.

He called on his followers who also got saved at the church to be wary of politicians who give them huge amounts of money during elections to cause chaos.

“I used to teach you to pray facing Mt. Kenya but now I want you to worship Christ. There are some who are saying I have joined a church that is led by a woman but in Christianity there is no male or female, we are all equal,” Mr Njenga said.

During the church service, hundreds of his followers said they had also got saved and surrendered paraphernalia before they were prayed for by Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, who is also the Housing Assistant Minister.

During the service, the Assistant Minister accused some leaders of politicising the multi-billion shilling Kazi Kwa Vijana initiative.

Bishop Wanjiru said that this had left many youth, who were supposed to benefit from the project, jobless.

“The initiative is a good one and should not go down because of political reasons,” she stressed.

Kazi Kwa Vijana is a Sh15 billion programme launched by President Mwai Kibaki in March this year and geared towards creating 300,000 jobs for young Kenyans in six months.

The Assistant Minister meanwhile called on Kenyans to keep peace and shun tribalism, which she said was killing this nation.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

ROBERT ONDERE

Lugoff-Elgin High School (L-EHS) math teacher Robert Ondere just received the surprise of a lifetime.
In a schoolwide assembly on Tuesday afternoon, S.C. Superintendent of Education Jim Rex made the surprise announcement that Ondere was the recipient of the prestigious Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award.

In addition to receiving the award, Ondere was presented with a giant $25,000 check, which can be used any way he chooses.

"Thank you for giving me this opportunity. I don't know what to say," a stunned Ondere said as he accepted his award. "I just want to thank everybody."

Moments before he was recognized as the recipient of the prestigious award, an unsuspecting Ondere sat with L-EHS students in the high school's gymnasium. At the time, Ondere said he had no idea why he was attending the assembly, but didn't give it much thought.

"But when they called my name and said I won the award, it was unbelievable. I never thought this would happen," Ondere said. "It feels good to be recognized."

US on poll suspects

The US government is willing to assist the International Criminal Court (ICC) with crucial information regarding the perpetrators of post election violence in Kenya.

US Ambassador to Kenya Michael Rannaberger says the US will avail recordings of secret phone calls and dealings gathered by its security apparatus if called upon to do so.

He says the ICC has enough capacity to collect forensic data on the subject. " US has lots of information, and if we are asked to co-operate we will certainly do that" said the envoy.

He added" we do feel strongly that those who were involved in the post election violence must be held accountable".

His remarks come ahead of next month's expected visit to the country by ICC Chief Prosecutor Louis Moreno Occampo.

His arrival will mark the beginning of a hard time for those bearing the greatest responsibility and whose names appear in Waki envelope currently with the ICC.


Ranneberger was speaking at Kathande Primary School in Mutito Constituency at the invitation of area MP Kiema Kilonzo.

He said the comprehensive constitution review was the only gateway to fundamental reforms.

Rannaberger reiterated calls for urgent police and judicial reforms, and urged Kenyans to support the Committee of Experts on the Constitution Review to enable it deliver reforms.

"The two principals have said they are committed to total and not piecemeal reforms and I believe the committee of experts can do that" said Rannaberger.

And speaking separately, a section of politicians have criticized those positioning themselves for 2012 posts, saying it is time to deliver reforms.

Water and Irrigation Minister Charity Ngilu and her assistant Mwangi Kiunjuri criticized some of their parliamentary colleagues for allegedly delaying crucial reforms in the country.

They accused the leaders of political bickering in preparation for the 2012 general election instead of delivering services to the electorate.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Raila on Climate change

Raila Odinga has called for the establishment of a climate adjustment fund to help poor countries adapt to climate change.

He said developing countries are indefensibly being affected by climate change - a crisis that is not of their making and for which they are ill prepared to deal with.

"We are prepared to forego the dirty way," he said, referring to development based on fossil fuels. "But to do that we need assistance."

Mr Odinga made his comments at a high level seminar, under the banner “Understanding the Costs of Adaptation” at the 4th edition of the European Development Days. He was part of the panel that marked the launch of a major World Bank study on the costs of climate change adaptation.

The European Days event opened on Thursday and will run through to Saturday, October 24.

That study estimates that for 2010-2050 the cost for developing countries to adapt to a 2-degree Celsius increase in temperature would cost between US$75-100 billion a year.

"It is not enough to say what will happen if there is a two-degree celsius increase in 2050. We need US$2 billion, which year now to adapt, and other African countries have similar needs," Mr Odinga said.

Also at the same forum, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Rajendra Pachauri pointed out the need to look at adaptation to climate change from the bottom up. The 2007 Nobel Peace Laureate 2007 said different regions have diverse impacts thus modeling at the local level is essential.

Mr Pachauri added: "This should be the first and most important part of the agenda - to define what needs to be done at the local level. Then you can aggregate."

European Development Days (EDD) is an annual forum organised by the European Commission and the country holding the Presidency of the EU, currently Sweden. In Stockholm, EDD has brought together some 4,000 people and 1,500 organisations from the development community.

Delegates from 125 countries are represented, including Heads of State and leading world figures, Nobel Prize winners among them. This 4th edition focuses on climate change, the global economic downturn and democracy and development.

Mungiki Leader Freed

Mungiki leader Maina Njenga who had been charged with the murder of 29 people in May this year was set free early on Friday.

His lawyer Paul Muite said: “Njenga was set free by a Nyeri court after the Attorney General entered a nolle prosequi in the case. Which means the prosecution was not willing to proceed with the case.”

“As we speak now, my client is a free man and he is on the way to Nairobi. He was set free alongside 21 other co-accused in the case,” Mr Muite said when reached on telephone.

Mungiki Spokesman Njuguna Gitau said: “We are very happy because the chairman has been released; he is finally free after suffering for a long time.”

“He was innocent, he did not commit the charges they preferred against him,” he added.
Mr Njenga was re-arrested on April 27 moments after he was released by the High Court in Nairobi following a successful appeal against a five-year jail term for alleged illegal possession of a firearm and marijuana.

When police re-arrested him, they accused him of “personally ordering the massacre of 29 people in Karatina, Nyeri district by members of the proscribed sect in reprisal attacks on members of vigilante groups.”

Mr Njenga had earlier objected to the murder charges and even refused to plead to charges before the Nyeri High Court. Justice Joseph Sergon recorded a plea of not guilty for Njenga after his co-accused denied the charges. Mr Njenga through his lawyer Robert Asembo said the murder charges were a fabrication since he was in Mombasa prison when the alleged offence was committed.

He also informed the court that he filed a constitutional reference before the High Court in Nairobi and urged the court to suspend the case until the reference in Nairobi is finalised.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Raila off to Sweden

The violence that gripped Kenya in 2008 was a learning experience and eye opener from which the country emerged, hopefully, sadder but wiser.

That is how Prime Minister Raila Odinga put the country's case before various audiences as he wound up his tour of France which began last Sunday.

The Prime Minister told a dinner hosted by French foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner that the country is back on track, and is putting in place measures to ensure the past does not happen again.

Mr Kouchner showered the PM with praise, terming the power sharing deal in Kenya as a manifestation of his selflessness and a determination to see Kenya succeed.

At a meeting with members of French National Assembly, the PM said the reform agenda is on track in Kenya, saying the country would get a new constitution before the next election.

However, Mr Odinga asked the international community not to promote Kenya's power sharing arrangement as a model across Africa.

Instead, he called for support for open and democratic elections and a tradition of losers accepting defeat while winners treat losers with respect.

Odinga told a joint press conference with Mr Kouchner that the violence of 2008 taught Kenyans that the peace they had taken for granted for years could be shattered and expressed hope that the country's politics would change for the better.

"I look forward to a new era of issue based politics; an era where leaders approach politics and the electorate as Kenyans, not as representatives of tribes or regions. We have to change or we perish. I will be surprised if the leaders and the voters have not learnt this lesson," the PM said.

The PM called closer co-operation and exchanges between French MPs and their Kenyan counterparts.

Mr Odinga said the changes that will safeguard the country go beyond governance and have to include giving opportunities for citizens to better their lives.

He said the government is doing this by opening up the countryside through heavy investment in infrastructure and electricity in rural areas.

"In the end, we have to help our people put food on the table. As we address past injustices, the constitution and other matters in Agenda Four, we must also build roads and provide electricity," the PM said.

In France where the PM was on a mission to seek support for Kenya's efforts to seek green energy, the PM met virtually all sectors of society, including Cabinet Ministers, business leaders and students.

The PM told a business leaders meeting that the country was open to business, and European firms are welcome to compete for contracts, particularly in infrastructure.

He said that despite the 2008 violence, Kenya remains the most open and democratic country that Europe can count on to help ensure stability in the Eastern part of Africa.

He said the perception that Kenya is going for Chinese firms at the expense of firms from Europe is incorrect.

He asked for support for the Somali government, saying instability in Somalia threatened Kenya.

The PM heads to Sweden Thursday where his mission is largely to rally support of European nations for Africa's position in the ongoing climate change discussions.

In Stockholm, the PM will address a conference on European Development Days on the economic costs of climate change to Kenya and what the government is doing to reverse the effects.

The PM will also hold bilateral meetings with Swedish counterpart and officials of the World Bank.

Mr Odinga is seeking support of Europe in pushing for a special fund to be created to help African countries cope with consequences of climate change while the continent struggles to adapt to the changes.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

GDC GETS 7 200 000 000

The French government has agreed to give 7.2 billion shillings (97 million U.S. dollars) to Kenya's Geothermal Development Company (GDC) for the purchase of 2 rigs and capacity building for the new company.

A statement from the prime minister's office said on Wednesday that the French government has also agreed to increase funding for the Ol-Karia Geothermal Power project by 5.5 billion shillings (74million dollars) while pledging to help Kenya shift from reliance on fossil fuels to green energy.

The pledge for more funding for Ol Karia and support for green energy projects came after discussions between Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Director General of the French Agency for Development (AFD) Michel Severino in Paris late Tuesday.

The pledge was made pending approval by AFD board. Odinga, who is in France with other government officials, is pushing for French involvement in Kenya's drive to expand its energy generation by tapping into alternative sources of power.

At a meeting at the French agencies headquarters in Paris, the premier asked France to support Kenya's attempt to shift from reliance on hydrocarbons and fossil fuels.

"Odinga asked for more French support for Kenya's efforts to develop solar, wind and geothermal power. He asked France also to support the country's migration from rain fed agriculture to irrigated farming," the statement said.

Support for greater agricultural production, the prime minister said, also called for support of the country's environmental conservation efforts.

Responding to Odinga's requests, Severino praised Kenya's efforts to shift to green energy, saying recent research have indicated that the energy gap reduces the GDP of developing countries by about one per cent every year.

He said nations relying solely on fossil fuels are taking a great risk, predicting that the cost of fossil energy will rise tremendously in the next two decades.

"We will work with you on green energy issues," Severino said. "People relying on fossil energy will find life very difficult in the coming years in terms of balance of payments and cost of energy. Green energy is the best investment a nation can make in the coming years. You can count on us on this," he added.

The AFD director general said his organization is "open" on matters of conservation in Kenya adding that France has watched Kenya's struggle to conserve its water towers with a lot of interest.

"My understanding is that the issue of conservation is a social and political one that is about the future sustainability of Kenya. We are open on this kind of program," he said.

The official asked the prime minister to take up the issue of cooperation for development of nuclear power with the French government directly.

The prime minister is in France largely to seek support for the initiatives to increase power generation in Kenya and environmental conservation.

He told the French officials that Kenya is suffering from severe energy deficiency and it is paralyzing the country's capacity to move forward.

He is scheduled to hold discussions later Wednesday with senior officials of the French government including Prime Minister Francois Fillon and Minister for Foreign and European Affairs Bernard Kouchner. energy with the two senior officials.

Allowances

Kenya’s civil servants will earn up to an extra Sh10,000 as hardship allowance beginning next year. Public Service Minister Dalmas Otieno announced on Wednesday that the government would harmonise the hardship allowances to cut across all job groups, with the only difference being the severity of hardship conditions.

He explained that those working in moderate hardship areas would earn an allowance of Sh5,000.

“Junior officers who are getting 30 percent of their pay will all move up to Sh5,000 if they are in a moderate area; or Sh10,000 if they are in an extreme hardship area irregardless of their job group,” said the Minister.

The move, he said, would see the government spend Sh500 million more in allowance payouts. The new structure that is expected to come into effect in July will see the budget for the payment of allowances increase from Sh5.2 billion to Sh5.7 billion.

Mr Otieno said: “The basis is the hardship to the officer which has nothing to do with his job group”

Currently, some 30, 400 civil servants are being paid a hardship allowances at the rate of 30 percent of basic salary subject to a maximum of Sh1,200 per month for married officers and Sh600 per month for single officers. Other public service organisations pay between Sh600 and Sh2, 500 per month.

The teaching service pays 30 percent of the teacher’s basic salary irrespective of marital status. Some 94,000 teachers are therefore being paid hardship allowance ranging from Sh3,055 to Sh13, 497.

The Public Service Minister said the management of hardship areas and payment of allowance has become a major source of discontentment, due to the differences in total salary package.

“Due to the disparities, public servants earning higher allowances view the allowance as a salary supplement and partial compensation for deployment in the hardship areas”.

He said this has contributed to resistance to positing to these areas with consequent negative impact on service delivery and staff retention. The adjustment is bound to draw protests especially for the Kenya National Teachers Union (KNUT), which has been opposed to the move.

But Mr Otieno said the matter is being addressed through negotiations between the KNUT and the Education Ministry.

“Compensation for teachers requires a negotiated process. I am a party to those negotiations.” Meanwhile, the government has revised the list of hardship areas to 87 division replacing 25 divisions which will be the degazzetted. Flood prone Budalangi is among the areas classified as a hardship area.

Among the criteria used for the re-examination of hardship areas include the availability and accessibility of food, potable water and high poverty index. Harsh climatic conditions, insecurity and high possibility of security threat were the other factors that were taken into account.

Tax

Kibaki Wednesday assured Kenyans that the Government will continue to prudently allocate and utilize collected revenues to fund projects in prioritized development sectors of the economy.

The President made the remarks Wednesday during the 2009 Kenya Revenue Authority's Taxpayers Award Ceremony at Bomas of Kenya.

During the occasion President Kibaki affirmed that the Government had prioritized key sectors of the economy among them infrastructure, agriculture, education and health which have a considerable impact on poverty reduction.

The President acknowledged, "As a Government, our responsibility is to achieve our national development goals of creating jobs for our people, eliminating poverty and conquering hunger. Indeed we recognize it is only through better application of tax money for the benefit of all Kenyans that we can enhance the country's partnership with taxpayers.

The Head of State noted that the unrelenting development of infrastructural facilities in the country was intended to support and ensure the private sector played a bigger role in accelerated economic development of the country.

The President said, "Thus, this year alone, we have allocated 140 billion shillings or about 16% of the total budget to development of infrastructure, mainly in roads construction and power generation."

He reiterated that the Government was keen on partnering with the private-sector with regard to the attainment of the country's development goals which benefit enormously from its innovativeness to make sufficient profits and generate taxes.

President Kibaki stated, "Indeed, we expect the private sector to play a more prominent role in achieving the objectives of higher growth and faster development as outlined in VISION TWENTY THIRTY. To ensure the private sector grows and continues to play even a bigger role, the government is committed to upscale development of infrastructural facilities - roads, railways, sea and air ports, power generation and distribution, and water supply.

In this regard the President noted that such measures would translate into reduced cost of doing business as well as improved profits among businessmen who would thus be able to honour their tax obligations.

He noted that the occasion to honour tax payers was a clear indication of the importance the Government attaches to revenue administration and the subsequent ability to finance the country's development agenda.

The President said, "Indeed, it is only through such a partnership that we can improve tax compliance to enhance Government revenue collection for financing our development agenda."

The Head of State also assured Kenyans that the Government was committed to simplifying the tax regime in order to encourage higher compliance with tax payers.

He further directed the minister for finance to fast-track the process of clearing all outstanding V.A.T arrears and to also institute long-term measures of averting such backlog in future.

President Kibaki assured tax payers that the Government was devoted to also maintaining a stable macroeconomic environment necessary for long term investment and to ensure that Kenyans accessed quality financial products.

The President said, "In addition, efforts are under way to fast-track reforms in the capital markets with a view to improving corporate governance and strengthen regulatory capacity of our financial regulator. The Government expects these measures, together with other on-going reforms in the public sector, to significantly reduce the cost of doing business in Kenya and promote Kenya 's competitiveness in the regional and global markets.

Urging Kenyans to uphold the culture of hard work, selflessness and dedication to the service of their motherland, President Kibaki expressed optimism that the country was on the path of economic recovery.

"Looking forward, it is pleasing to note that consistent with what is happening globally, our country is now on a path to economic recovery. I am hopeful that the current rains will continue, as they will significantly boost our food production," remarked the President.

During the occasion the President called on Kenyans to remain steadfast and committed to upholding unity of purpose in order to accomplish the mission of building a cohesive and prosperous nation for all.

The Head of State reiterated, "Above all, let us cherish the fruits of our labour and embrace the spirit of hard work, as this is the only sure way to liberate ourselves from the bondage of poverty and dependency."

President Kibaki noted that in line with the vision of the country's independent heroes political independence must be translated into economic independence in order to for citizens to enjoy the benefits of freedom.

He observed, "Just like our hard won independence, the challenges of development remind us that nothing comes easy. It takes hard work, commitment and dedication. Above all, it takes a sense of responsibility for each one of us to make an honest contribution to the achievement of our development objectives."

The Head of State commended all tax payers for their compliance and sense of duty to the nation as well as the management and staff of the Kenya Revenue Authority for organizing the pleasant event to recognize and reward the tax payers.

President Kibaki expressed pleasure with the level of tax payment in the country and called on KRA to apply all means at its disposal to further improve the collections.

Tax refunds

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Uhuru Kenyatta assured that the government has worked out the necessary modalities to clear all the pending refunds to the affected tax payers.

The Minister noted that taxation was a sustainable source of revenue to finance priority government programmes and appealed to Kenyans to expose tax evaders for the necessary legal action.

Legislators Johnstone Muthama (Kangundo) and Peter Kenneth (Gatanga) were applauded for being the only MPs in the tenth parliament to support the budget proposals by allowing taxation of their allowances despite resistance by majority of their colleagues.

The two MPs were among distinguished tax payers who received awards from President Kibaki for exemplary compliance to tax payment. Others were Safaricom, Kenya Breweries Limited and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

FELLOW KENYANS

FELLOW KENYANS,

I am pleased to join you as we observe this year's Kenyatta Day. This occasion reminds us of the great personal and collective sacrifices our independence heroes made, so that Kenya would be an independent and sovereign nation.

Our heroes left us with a legacy of the courage, commitment, dedication and sacrifice they showed in the fight for independence. They had the courage to fight against the overwhelming power of the British Empire.

They displayed unwavering dedication to the cause of Kenya's freedom, and were willing to sacrifice everything including their own lives and property, to ensure that Kenya attained its independence.

Forty six years into our independence, we, as a people, are at the crucial moment of nation building. We are called upon, once again to show the same level of commitment our founding fathers displayed, in making Kenya a cohesive, peaceful and prosperous country.

As a nation, we find ourselves at a unique moment in history. Despite the challenges we face, we see within our grasp the opportunity to transform Kenya into a new country, with strong democratic and economic institutions for the good of our people.

We must, therefore, not lose sight of this vision. Nor should we lose sight of the progress we have made so far.

Indeed, the Grand Coalition Government has, in the last one year, embarked on implementing some of the most far reaching reforms in our country's history.

Fellow Kenyans,

The first step towards the birth of a new Kenya involves the search for a new Constitution. A year ago, we re-affirmed our commitment to constitution review, and immediately created the legal framework for establishment of the necessary institutions to spearhead the task.

That is why today we have the Committee of Experts, to spearhead the effort to give our country a new Constitution.

Similarly, we now have in place the Interim Independent Constitutional Dispute Resolution Court that has exclusive and original jurisdiction over disputes related to the constitutional review process. I am confident that we are on the path to having a new Constitution next year.

However, those charged with the responsibility of drafting a new Constitution must know that Kenyans desire a Constitution that satisfies and reflects a broad national consensus.

That is, a Constitution that represents the aspirations of the majority of Kenyans and one that can withstand the test of time.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At this time last year, Kenyans were still debating the kind of electoral system the country required. The outcome was the establishment of the Interim Independent Electoral Commission. This Commission has gone through the first test in the just concluded by-elections.

The Commission is now in the process of preparing a new voters roll ahead of the referendum on the new Constitution Meanwhile, I am hopeful that the new constitution will provide for the establishment of a new electoral body that will have the competence and integrity required to win public confidence for generations to come.

The question of a fair electoral process is related to the issue of putting in place a mechanism to ensure fair and equal representation in parliament and civic authorities.

The need to apply the principle of one person one vote led to the establishment of the Interim Independent Boundaries Commission in accordance with the Kriegler Report. It is charged with the responsibility of curving out electoral and administrative boundaries.

At the end of its work, the Boundaries Commission will hopefully give the country what the people have been looking for, namely providing the electoral body with approximately equal size constituencies demographically.

This will give the country the fair representation our forefathers fought for, it will give Kenya the political and social stability she requires for fair management of public affairs.

Fellow Kenyans,

The new Kenya we envisage can only be born of a people who consciously made decision to create a strong, united national identity, where they view themselves first and foremost as Kenyan, while other identities are increasingly relegated to secondary importance.

To create such a country requires great courage and commitment, persistence and to consistently desire to be Kenyan above all other forms of identity.

This is why, with last year's event, we must give priority to the agenda of national healing and reconciliation, as well as to the need to put an end to the culture of impunity. To undertake this responsibility, the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission has been put in place.

The Commission will help our nation and people to deal decisively with past injustices, so that we can move forward as a united and cohesive Kenya. I appeal to all Kenyans to give this Commission all possible co-operation for the sake of our nation.

We know that old habits of ethnic, racial, sexual, and religious stereotypes take a long time to wither.

We have therefore established a new body, this year, to ensure that we put in place laws and rules that will criminalize hate speech, profiling, discrimination and all other negative practices that perpetuate ethnic tendencies and other divisive social behaviour.

The noble goals proposed under the above reforms will be achieved more rapidly if we safeguard the right of all Kenyans to live, work, and settle anywhere they choose. The Government has finalized all issues pertaining to internally displaced persons born out of post election violence last year.

All the remaining IDPs are expected to go back to their farms shortly. The Government has assisted many to re-start their lives.

In this regard, I ask you, my fellow countrymen and women, to ensure that all those coming to settle near your homes are reassured of their safety and security. Help them settle, and support them to feel free to recreate their homes, farms, and businesses.

As all IDPs are finally settled, let us commit ourselves, individually and collectively, to ensure that never again in our nation's history will anyone be forced to be an internally displaced person.

Fellow Kenyans,

You are all aware of the terrible drought and subsequent food insecurity, water shortage and energy crisis we have faced this year. This is in addition to the battering our economy took from last year's post-election violence.

You may recall that in 2008, the economy grew at a rate of 1.7 per cent, down from 7.1 per cent in 2007, it is expected to grow at between 2 and 3 per cent this year.

Faced by these enormous challenges, the Government has acted decisively in dealing with the challenges by allocating nearly 24 billion shillings of its own resources to alleviate the suffering of the vulnerable members of our society.

We have also set aside more funds to procure strategic grain reserves from our local farmers. And to ensure that food remains affordable, the Government has lifted import duty on maize imports until June next year.

To provide vulnerable groups with a source of income, the Government introduced the countrywide Kazi kwa Vijana programme, and the cash transfer programme to the urban poor and elderly persons.

In the meantime, the Government has mobilized the Army, Administration Police and National Youth Service to provide logistical support in the provision of food to hardest hit parts of the country.

In addition, the Government has also intervened and bought animals from pastoralists under the Emergency Livestock Off-take programme, just to alleviate their problems.

More has been done in the areas of water supply, with key efforts being directed at drilling of boreholes, excavating dams and pans, providing water tanks to communities and schools, and availing water through water bowsers to various urban and rural communities.

Despite these short term programs, we have not lost sight of the long term measures we need to undertake to make Kenya a food secure nation.

With regard to expanding food production during the current short-rains season, the Government will distribute subsidized fertilizer and relief seeds.

The Government has enhanced food production by putting 40,000 acres under irrigation by the end of last month. The target is to have an extra ONE million additional acres of land under irrigation.

Equally important is the Government effort to import enough supplies of fertilizer that is currently being sold at affordable prices of about 2,000 shillings per 50 kilogram bag.

With the onset of short rains, we are confident that there will be enough food for all at affordable prices next year. We will continue in our efforts to ensure that we do not undergo such food crisis again in the future.

Hence, the new programmes of subsidized fertilizer and seed prices, together with the expanded irrigated food production, should ensure that Kenya becomes self-sufficient in food within the next two years.

Fellow Kenyans,

We are further aware of the possibility of heavy rains during this current short rains season and the potential impacts the floods could have on our country.

In anticipation of possible negative outcomes, various Government departments are pre-positioning food, drugs, water treatment chemicals, vaccines and other relief supplies in flood prone areas to ensure continuity in relief efforts.

Additionally, the Government is desilting a number of dams, rebuilding dykes on flood prone rivers of Nyanza and Western provinces. Plans are also underway to construct a number of mega dams in several parts of the country.

To add efforts to conserve water, the Government is encouraging wananchi to establish as much water storage capacity as possible so that we do not waste the opportunity for water harvesting granted by the heavy rains.

Efforts are equally underway to establish a public information and communications system to deal with emergencies and keep wananchi sensitized of any impending danger if any.

However, much of these efforts may go to waste unless they are supported by clear determination to restore and conserve our water towers. The Prime Minister and others charged with this responsibility will do good to forge ahead and see to the full restoration of the Mau Forest, as well as other forests at the Aberdares, Mount Kenya, Mount Elgon and Cherangany Hills.

Fellow Kenyans,

I wish to reiterate the Government's commitment to reviving the economy, creating employment and providing the best environment for every Kenyan to be gainfully employed.

This will enable each of our citizens have a place to call home, and have the opportunity to provide education and healthcare to their families.

However, I am fully aware that we cannot achieve these goals, or the objectives set out in VISION TWENTY THIRTY, unless we prudently direct our national resources and consolidate the fight against corruption.

I am happy to note that today there are fewer incidents of grand corruption reported by the National Audit Office. This is due to the tougher procurement laws, the oversight role of Parliamentary committees, and scrutiny by the civil society and the media.

The positive development can also be attributed to greater observance of financial regulations by public officers and state institutions.

Nevertheless, one must acknowledge that the war against corruption and waste is far from won. The Government wants more effective investigations and prosecutions involving corruption.

This will help regain and retain public confidence in public institutions.
In this regard, I direct accounting officers to institute sanctions, including prosecution and sacking of any officers serving under them who commit acts of corruption.

I am also asking the public to fearlessly expose all officers who solicit bribes from them, so that we can tame and eventually eradicate corruption. The private sector must also play its part and stop inducing public servants with bribes in order to win favours.

The Grand Coalition insists on fighting corruption and the culture of impunity because we know that integrity in the management of public institutions is critical to the attainment of the VISION TWENTY THIRTY goals.

As Kenyans know, a sound judicial system is a key pillar for our social and economic growth. In this connection, the Grand Coalition Government is determined to carry out the required reforms in the judiciary for justice to be done timely and effectively.

Fellow Kenyans,

Ladies and Gentlemen, I now wish to comment on issues of human induced climate change and international security.

As we reflect on the realization of a new Kenya in the emerging environment of unpredictable climate change and the changing face of insecurity and terrorism, we must have the courage to make some fundamental changes in the way we live, and the way we conduct ourselves.

At the international level, Kenya will join other African countries in seeking compensation for bearing the greatest burden of climate change.
At the local level, it is important that we seize this opportunity posed by climate change to adapt our livelihoods as well as the economy and society to the new reality. This is where 80 per cent of our country is expected to become drier, and 20 per cent wetter, due to erratic weather patterns.

For the better part of our history, Kenya has been a rural-based economy, with a few cities and towns. These lifestyles and livelihoods cannot sustain us much longer under the double pressure arising from relentless rapid population growth and the changing climate.

This reality will make it very difficult for the bulk of our people to draw their sustenance from farming or livestock keeping.

We have no choice but to plan for rapid urbanization and rural eco-cluster settlements. We must plan for several large metropolitan areas in various parts of the country which will serve to hold the bulk of the population. We must also plan for a highly effective rural cluster eco-programme for both agricultural and pastoral communities.

In addition, we have to accelerate plans for an economy based on services and industry through special economic zones and the creation of a second transport corridor.

This is why the Government has given a green light for construction of the new Lamu Port and the development of a railway line from Lamu to Southern Sudan and Ethiopia. This will open up the whole of Northern Kenya as a new economic frontier for the overall development of the country.

Kenyans are therefore advised to prepare and take advantage of the new economic opportunities that the new railway and port will offer.

On the issue of security, I urge Kenyans throughout the country to rethink the way they live and conduct themselves. It must be remembered that Government security forces can only succeed in keeping us safe and secure if we observe and uphold the rule of law wherever we live.

Thus, citizens cannot arm themselves, raid their neighbours, kill and maim others, and then accuse the Government of not providing security. Nor can citizens harbour known criminals and criminal gangs, protect them as community members, and then complain of extortion, murder and other serious crimes.

It is time for all to own up their mistakes. I, therefore, urge all Kenyans to co-operate with security forces to end crime. I invite every Kenyans to support Government's plan for disarmament.

Let us all discourage arms buying in families and our villages, and let us report any arms merchants and dealers to the security forces.

Let all Kenyans identify and report all criminals in their midst to the police, and refrain individually or collectively from protecting or condoning organized crimes and criminal gangs in their midst.
These are the hard standards and basic features of a society that truly seeks to be and remain secure. Let all play their part; the Government will play its full part always.


As I conclude, I urge us all to have the courage and commitment to build a new Kenya, a country blessed with a hardworking and youthful population. Let us direct our energies to the creation of the wealth for Kenyans as a basis for expanding employment and higher living standards for all our citizens.

To do this, we must recast our national discourse and focus not on the things that divide us, but on the many issues and similarities that unite us.

It is no accident that we were born Kenyans. God meant us to be one peaceful, prosperous, working, united and caring nation.

This is the true meaning of the words of our national anthem; when we say,
May we dwell in unity,
Peace and liberty
Plenty be found within our borders.


Finally, Fellow Kenyans, I wish to convey my best wishes to all students who will be sitting for their exams this year. My prayers are with you and may success come your way.


THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Raila to address Kenyatta day celebrations

Raila Odinga has arrived in Paris, France for a three-day official visit that will see him hold meetings with senior French Government officials and Kenyans living in the country.

Among the officials he is scheduled to meet is the PM of the Republic of France Mr Francois Fillon and Mr Bernard Kouchner, the Minister for Foreign and European Affairs.

The PM will on Tuesday hold discussions with Mr Jean-Michel Severino, the director general of the French Agency for Development.

He will also hold talks with Prince Karim Aga Khan IV.

Mr Odinga, who arrived in Paris on Sunday evening from China will meet the Kenyan community and address them on Kenyatta Day where he is expected to update the citizens on developments in Kenya, particularly the reform agenda.

Raila holds that the country is on track with the reform agenda.

He will use the Kenyatta Day meeting with Kenyans to lay out some of the achievements the Grand Coalition government has achieved under difficult circumstances.

While here, the PM will also address a conference on renewable energy and climate change in Africa

Mau Committee

The Mau Forest Interim Coordinating Secretariat will soon embark on evicting settlers in the complex who do not own title deeds.

Secretariat chairman Noor Hassan Noor says they were only waiting the eviction notice from the ministry of forestry.

Noor however maintained that the eviction would be done in a humane manner.

Speaking during an editors guild breakfast meeting, Noor said his team aims at implementing the task force report which was approved by parliament mid last month besides developing a framework for long term measures to restore Mau.

He added that the major exercise of recovering the 2001 excisions which entails 61 hectares piece of land will kick off early next year.

Recent efforts to curb the destruction of Mau complex, the interim coordinating secretariat team has seen the recovery of 30,000 logs of timber and 598 suspects arrested.

The secretariat has also met with several MPS and permanent secretaries who have stake on the complex to discuss on the way forward to save the complex from degradation.

KCSE

A total of 336,633 form four candidates are currently rehearsing for the examinations which begin on Wednesday.

This year's exam has been designed to have the exams end at 2pm in a bid to curb cheating.

It is the first time the time- table will be in use.

Students will now enjoy only a 30 minute break as opposed to the previous years which saw candidates take long breaks before the next paper.

Current rains pounding across the country have sent fear that some areas may exipirience delay in delovery of papers owing to impassible roads.

IDP candidates who were recently relocated from camps where they had registered have also expressed doubts that will manage to sit the exams.

Meanwhile, Bureti District Education Officer (DEO) William Okomu said 41 centers expected to host the KCSE candidates in Bureti District have been established.

The Education official also said that examination materials had already been received in the district and that the rehearsal programme was currently on going.

He however warned students against cheating in the exams adding that those caught engaging in the act will be dealt with accordingly.

The exams which are expected to officially start on the 21st of this month have seen students banned from entering the exam rooms with mobile phones.

Elsewhere, around 5337 standard eight candidates are set to sit for this year's national examinations in the district.

Preparations for this year's Kenya certificate of secondary examination (KCSE) in the expansive rift valley province are complete.

The Rift valley provincial director of education Mrs. Beatrice Adu in her nakuru office Monday said that all arrangement in terms of logistics, transport of examination papers and officials to their respective centres in the province are complete.

She said all officers had assured her that everything so far was in order.

The PDE however, expressed fear that if the current heavy rains continue some areas might be inaccessible and alternative arrangement will have to be made to ensure that no candidate was disadvantaged.

Mrs. Adu said so far no part of the province had been adversely affected by the current rains associated with El-nino phenomena.

She cited some of the districts likely to be affected if the current rains continue or increase in quantity as Turkana, West pokot, Trans Nzoia, Bomet and Kajiado.

Others are Loitoktok, Baringo and Samburu.

She however, assured parents and candidates that nothing had been left to chance just in case the rains cause any problem.

She said enough vehicles and personnel are in place in every district to ensure that examination papers reach their destination on time and that no cheating takes place

WFP

A strategic pre-positioning of relief food supplies in areas likely to be cut off by the anticipated El-Nino rains by the World Food Programme could run into problems following heavy rains that pounded parts of North Eastern province paralyzing transportation.

The relief consignment that include maize, pulses (beans), vegetable oil and breaded food started arriving at the Garissa National Cereals and Produce Board depot from the port of Mombasa last week for the exercise.

The trailers hired by WFP are off-loading the consignment in Garissa for onward transportation to hot spot areas but the all exercise could be futile following the heavy down pour.

Buses plying Garissa-Wajir-Dadaab-Mandera and Masalani have already suspended their services.


According to WFP deputy head of field office, Simon Guama, Wajir district, with about 300,000 residents in need of relief supplies, will receive 720,000 metric tonnes of maize.

Other items include 1600 tonnes of pulses, 800 tonnes of vegetable oil and 2,000 tonnes of breaded food.

Garissa, with 150,000 residents under relief feeding programme, it will receive half of Wajir district's allocation while Mandera will get 5,000 tonnes of maize, 1,200 tonnes of pulses, 400 tonnes of vegetable oil and 1,000 tonnes of breaded food.

Guama said that WFP has enough food stocks for public institutions in the province under the school feeding programme to the last this term.

The field officer added that the UN body was also undertaking a supplementary feeding programme for mulnourished children in collaboration with the ministry of Health.

Meanwhile, area Provincial Commissioner, James Ole Seriani, has urged residents in flood prone areas to start moving to higher grounds as indications could mean the start of the El-Nino rains following a three consecutive days of heavy rains in the province.

Ole Seriani said that the District Disaster Committees had been heightened to deal with the effects of the El-Nino rains.

The PC was speaking after a tour of the Cereals Board depot in Garissa town to oversee the pre-positioning of the relief consignments by WFP.

He said that the government, through the Special Programme ministry, would oversee the relief distribution to cushion area residents against the effects of the El-Nino rains that wrecked havoc in the country in 1997.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Jaramogi's role on China

Raila Odinga wound up his tour of China Sunday, with a strong appeal to Chinese business people and government to support Kenya's efforts to improve its infrastructure.

The PM also managed to squeeze a deal that will enable the two countries to collaborate in the conservation of Kenya endangered wildlife species.

Addressing officials of the Provincial Government of Sichuan where research on the preservation of the Chinese Panda is centred, Mr Odinga said Kenya's rich biodiversity is under threats from a variety of sources and without concerted efforts for research and focused conservation actions, Kenya is likely to loose unique species some of which are endemic to the country.

In particular, Mr Odinga asked for collaboration with China in the conservation of the black and white rhino, Grevy's Zebra; the roan antelope, the Hirola; Eastern red colobus; Tana crested mangabey and the Sable antelope, which he said are threatened.

The Chinese officials promised greater collaboration in trade, infrastructure and conservation.

Endangered animal species

Mr Liu Qibao, the chairman of the Sichuan Provincial Committee of the Chinese Communist Party said the government is keen to help Kenya preserve the endangered animal species as China has done with the Panda.

Mr Qibao also promised more collaboration between his state and Kenya in the field of agriculture.

He presented the PM with 30 tractors and 10 farm trucks to be donated to projects of the PM's choice as a manifestation of the readiness to co-operate in agriculture.

Chinese provinces run semi-autonomous systems from the central government and the provinces compete fiercely among themselves.

Sichuan is one of the key provinces targetted by the central government to promote China's growth and most of the Chinese firms with operations abroad, particularly in Kenya, are based here.

Power supply

Mr Odinga who landed in China last Thursday to attend an annual trade and economy fair in the Province of Sichuan, dug deep into the history of Kenya's ties with China, which he aid dates back to years when China was untouchable by many.

Addressing the Tenth Trade Fair in the city of Chengdu on Friday, the PM reminded the Chinese leaders that Kenya's first Vice President, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was among the first African leaders to ask the UN to recognise the People's Republic of China.

The PM said the then Vice President, who had gone to New York as leader of Kenya's first delegation to the UN after independence, contributed significantly to gradual admission of China to the Security Council, after breaking away from the stand of the West and other African nations that opposed the recognition of the PRC.

The PM asked Chinese firms, some of which he visited, to invest in manufacturing of power saving electrical products and generation of energy, lamenting that inaquate power supply is hindering Kenya's economic growth.

At the Dong Fang Electric Power plant in the city of Chengdu, Mr Odinga said Kenya cannot compete when that firm alone produces products that use 26 times the installed capacity of the entire Kenya's electricity generation.

'Skills'

The PM extolled the capacity of the construction industry to create jobs and turn ordinary people into "experts" in various fields after the completion of a major infrastructure project in an area.

"Whenever we undertake a major construction project in an area, young people who were employed in it acquire skills in various areas in which they got trained for that specific project. When the project ends, these former employees remain behind with the skills. They use those skills to support themselves and the rural economy. That is why we are putting a lot of emphasis on infrastructure development as a way to spur our economy," the PM said at the Dong Fang headquarters.

Raila told Chinese government and business leaders that even in the best of times, the Kenya government has never invested in infrastructure as it is doing now and asked for China's support.

The PM promised that at the end of the five years, each part of the country will be having at least one major road that can be credited to the grand coalition government.

The cost of land, which had scared away investors because of speculators, is also being addressed, the PM told Chinese business leaders, asking them to take interest in developing cheap housing in Kenya.
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