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Thursday, December 31, 2009

FINANCIAL MAKEOVER

It is the eve of a new year and the norm with many is to usher it in by doing things in a new way. To spend less, to save more, to start a business on the side, to invest and to look for a better paying job are some of the common resolutions that are made about money.

Ironically, the pledges such as to ‘spend less and save more’ will be made over drinks that will still keep coming after the resolutions have devoutly been made and the dawn of the new year that inspired them will be started with a physical hangover that will most likely translate to a financial one.

Financial experts agree that one keep making resolutions year in, year out but meaningful change and progress will only ever come about by making and sticking to them. This is what separates those who make financial breakthroughs and those who keep making half-hearted resolutions.

“It takes working out specific amounts and expenses to make meaningful changes and if one is serious about spending less, for example, they wouldn’t be resolving to do so while continuing to keep the drinks coming,” says Diana Gachukia, a financial advisor with Zenith Capital Advisors.

“And therein,” she says, “lies the difference between a resolution and a decision. New Year resolutions are for most people a tradition, much like counting down the last seconds to a new year and thus the resolve to keep them lasts almost as briefly as the flash of the fireworks that are lit to usher in the new year,” she adds.

Manyara Kirago, managing director of First Independent Advisors, a personal finance advisor, concurs. “After determining one’s financial circumstances, setting specific goals, putting in place effective money management plans including an investment plan and risk management measures, the last step is to put in place an implementation and review programme,” he says.

No day like tomorrow

Most plans fail because they are made for some unspecified time, he adds, such as “when I finish paying my loan or when my salary increase comes through, or when I get that new job; when I get employer housing then I will start saving for a house.”

What happens, he says, is that when the anticipated event comes to pass, the resolution is long forgotten or is again tied to another future event. Reviewing personal financial plans at least yearly is recommended, he advises, but there should be progress to review and assess.

There should be an amount accumulated in a home ownership scheme to meet that goal of owning a home, there should be interest earned from investments that should be re-invested in the same or other investments, there should be a reduction in any debt that was owed, there should be an emergency fund in place, personal risk management in the way of health insurance and no new, unplanned credit such as credit card debt.

Even if these goals haven’t been met yet but there has been consistency, such as putting money into these goals monthly, then that’s a person who has gone past making resolutions and is showing their resolve to put their financial house in order with actions, he notes.

Financial goals and values

Financial goals come from personal goals, which are driven by one’s values. To be attainable goals should be ‘SMART’,” Mr Kirago says. To explain the acronym, goals must be specific, mutual or agreed on by partners such as spouses, attainable, recorded and relevant and there must be trade-offs or prioritisation.

Keeping this in mind, rather than make passing resolutions inspired by the start of a new year, review the following expenses which take up the bulk of income and review how SMART your goals are as relates to them. These will help give you the perfect makeover you’ve been yearning for.


Everybody has to live somewhere, be it rented accommodation or one’s own home. While paying for a roof over the head leaves one with nothing to show for it, one’s own home continuously increases in value. “Even if one has to take a loan or mortgage, when the debt is cleared, one will own an asset whose value will eventually surpass its cost, including any interest paid on the debt incurred to acquire the house,” Mr Kirago says.

Letting go of a prestigious up market address would certainly change most people into home owners sooner rather than later. *Judy, a banker, lives in a one-bedroom apartment with her six-year-old chid on State House Road , which costs her Sh17,000 a month. Her son attends kindergarten nearby at a Montessori-method school that costs her Sh21,000 a term.

A house that costs her even half that amount and a good private school for her son that costs her about the same amount plus a cut in other exorbitant habits like expensive clothes would put Judy on the path to home ownership.

She would have the added advantage of easily being able to secure a loan from her employer, a bank, and perhaps at a more favourable rate, and be on her way to owning a home, one of the most important assets one could own. “Generally speaking, rent should not take up more than 15 per cent of one’s gross income,” Mr Kirago says.

Debt

“Credit is expensive,” Mr Kirago says simply. As much as possible, he urges, stay on the positive side of the capital fence, that is, receiving interest and dividends on investments rather than paying interest and penalties on loans. Limiting your debts so that you never pay more than 36 per cent of gross income towards debt is the general rule about credit, he says. When used wisely, he concedes, it can be a valuable tool for achieving financial goals.

“The basic principle is to use credit as far as you can to purchase only appreciating assets, to finance education that will increase your earning power and to finance viable businesses,” he says. Going for holiday or buying clothes on credit is not good use.”

Credit card debt, which is a form of debt most people incur especially during the festive season, is one that can quickly compound to unbelievable amounts. *Joe, a sales executive with a car sales firm was devastated to lose his job last year when the global financial crisis hit home. New car sales fell drastically and he was one of the ones the downsizing axe fell on in a bid to cut operation costs.

As he tried to find another job and his savings run out, he used his credit cards to get his essentials, hopeful of some leads he had got from friends and former colleagues of getting a job. As he accumulated credit month after month, the amount continued to rise from Sh12,000 in one month to Sh52,000 in four months and continued to rise.

Referring to it as the modern day “Alladin’s lamp” that yields instant cash, Mr Kirago notes that many use the card when they can avoid the expense of interest payable on it and when they can comfortably live within their means, because having a credit card is seen as symbol of success.

Health care

Health is wealth, it is said and that is true. Unexpected serious or chronic illness can leave a serious dent if one is unprepared. It is well worth it to be prepared to face unexpected medical bills through health insurance for yourself and dependents.

Apart from medical policies offered by private companies, there is the national health insurance scheme and the recently introduced national hospital insurance scheme. “Without these, one serious illness or accident can incur such a huge hospital bill that could wipe out savings and investments,” he warns. Do make provisions for such schemes.

Health plan costs vary according to what you are taking cover against. Some offer cover for inpatient services only, some offer cover for both in and outpatient services and others offer comprehensive cover that includes accident scene evacuation, ambulance services, surgery and any medical expenses one would incur.

Basic cover costs from Sh1,000 and is payable monthly such as that offered by AAR medical company and it can also cost up to Sh40,000 per year for comprehensive cover for self and dependents of up to Sh200,000. It also costs less to cover family cover than individual cover .


Education

For those with children, ensuring that you are not paying exorbitant school fees that makes it impossible to save for higher education is one important check to make, he says. “Borrowing to pay primary and secondary school education is a symptom of poor financial planning and one that will impair your ability to pay for their most important tuition fees which is college fees,” he says.

Borrowing Sh60,000 for school fees payable over 12 months at the rate of Sh5,850.50 will come to Sh70,225, which is even less affordable than the Sh60,000 that was initially needed, he says as way of an example. For university or higher education, putting money aside from as early on as possible is the most prudent thing to do, he advises.

Insurance company education policies are one way to go but keep in mind that the interest they earn over the years could be taken over by inflation and costs are likely to have risen from when predetermined the sum to invest towards. Unit trusts and the money market would earn more interest and are reviewed to keep up with current inflation rates.

Transport

A car is the dream of many and in some situations, it can make more financial sense than relying on public transport. In the case of a family for example, where both parents are working and school going children who need to be picked and dropped from school everyday, the total cost of transport for each may come to more than it would cost than fuel needed daily to get everyone where they need to be.

The key is to go for a car that is within your means and not to impress others. “A car is a popular status symbol,” Mr Kirago says, adding that many sacrifice other goals for the status of owning a car. Like all other expenses, try to get the best possible at the best terms possible.

Savings

For many people, saving remains an intention they intend to fulfill when certain things fall into place like a better paying job, a loan is paid or a child is through with school. Spending all that is coming in means not putting any money into acquiring assets and that is through them that financial security is realised.

“When one invests over the long term and re-invests the earnings, invested money grows at a higher rate because even the earnings begin to earn,” he says. “Sh3,000 invested every month for example for 20 years at a rate of 12 per cent return will accumulate to Sh2,997,443.”

Emergency fund

If you don’t have one already, embark on setting up an emergency fund with at least three to six months of living expenses to take care of unexpected expenses without disrupting your life, he says. “A part of this money should be kept in a separate savings account where it is available when needed but where it earns higher than bank interest rates such as the money market,” he says.

After an adequate emergency fund is in place, set aside the same amount or more if you can and investing it in a portfolio that mixes high and low risk investments. From there, aim to acquire assets that can work for you such as real estate, which would cut out the never-ending expense of rent, as well as appreciate in value over time and could bring you income such as real estate.

Investments

“Investing is an important pillar of an individual’s financial plan,” Mr Kirago says. Even if you save but don’t invest, inflation will eat away at your money’s purchasing power, making it difficult to achieve your goals. “Investing is not a preserve for the rich nor is it optional,” he says. “It is for anyone with some resources and some goals to achieve.”


“Develop a personal investment plan, know your tolerance risk and invest accordingly with your goals in sight. Goal-oriented investing means putting money for each goal in an investment appropriate to it,” he says. Money meant for paying for university education in eight years for example, may need to be invested in a different kind of investment vehicle from money meant for a house deposit in two years.

Other expenses

The above are the expenses that take up the bulk of one’s income but there are others such as food, clothing, entertainment and others that need to be taken care of with what is left over. ”The first step in creating a good budget,” says Mr. Kirago “is determining how you are currently spending money.” Do that by noting every single expense everyday for a month and might be surprised to see that you spend a lot without forethought, he says.

The second step to compare actual spending with one’s goals and priorities and the next is to make necessary adjustments to align the two. Cut down on weekends nights out, leave the car home sometimes to save on fuel and parking costs. Don’t buy clothes and shoes on impulse, that flat screen TV or any expenditure that would interfere with the budget. Sacrifice now for the sake of owning that home in future or getting that higher qualification.

The last step is “tracking ongoing spending to ensure that it remains within the limits you have set for yourself,” he says. Do this by recording expenses and comparing these with budgeted amounts, adjusting as you go along, he urges and you will find that once the habit is established, it will become a normal part of your life.

New Year, new financial path

As the year dawns, usher it in with decisive reviews rather than passing resolutions that fade with a return to the old ways of overspending and incurring debt until another year comes to find you in the same or worse financial position. Make this year one that counts, shilling for shilling, in terms of positive personal financial growth.

FREE LAND

The government fulfilled its pledge to more than 40,000 internal refugees by allocating them alternative land following last year’s post-election violence. The displaced would live in new settlements known as Eco-villages where each family would get two acres for agriculture and a quarter-acre residential plot.

The ministries of Special Programmes, Land, Internal Security, which are coordinating the resettlement programme of the 6, 802 families still in 19 camps — 16 of which are in Rift Valley — expressed their commitment to relocate the displaced from the camps.

Speaking during a balloting process for 502 families settled at Giwa Farm in Rongai District where the government bought 1,171 acres of land, Special Programme minister Naomi Shaaban appealed for patience among the displaced people.

Dr Shaaban was accompanied by the permanent secretary, Mr Ali Mohammed, and the Internal Security counterpart, Mr Francis Kimemia. She said the two-week presidential directive issued last September was extended because of conflicts surrounding the process.

The minister noted that some of the land parcels identified to be bought by the government were later abandoned because of ownership wrangles. The beneficiaries are part of about 1,000 families relocated from the country’s largest camp at Mawingu in Central Province.

Dr Shaaban said the government has so far bought a total of 3,422 out of the required 17,000 acres. She added that the Chinese government had donated iron sheets worth Sh200 million to support the resettlement programme. She also said that the government will spend Sh1.4 billion to buy land and another Sh432 million to compensate integrated IDPs s in Nyanza, Western and Central provinces.

However, Rongai MP Luka Kigen and his predecessor, Mrs Alicen Chelaite, differed on the manner in which the resettlement programme was carried out in the area, with the former calling for the government to give priority to all the victims and the latter calling for more refugees to be settled in the area.

The beneficiaries thanked the government for honouring its pledge to give them land. They also urged the government to investigate the alleged irregular sale of land that had been bought for IDPs. Dr Shaaban denied the allegations that were reported in a regional newspaper early this week. Molo MP Joseph Kiuna and his Subukia counterpart Nelson Gaichuhie as well as Rift Valley provincial commissioner Osman Warfa attended the function.

NO MONEY FOR PNU

The High Court in Nairobi Thursday stopped the Party of National Unity (PNU) from distributing over 200 million shillings to its affiliate parties.

This is after Narc Kenya moved to court claiming that the money was being distributed in contravention of the Political Parties Act.

Justice Roslyn Wendo said that Narc Kenya has a strong case and that the PNU agreement that was arrived at on the 9th of November this year could not override the clear provisions of the law.

A section of the parties making the PNU conglomerate agreed on a formula on how to share out the party's allocation but NARC Kenya headed by Martha Karua moved to court claiming that the parties and the registrar of political parties had contravened the law in the agreement.

Narc Kenya further claimed 60% of the allocation arguing that it contributed the highest number of votes in parliament.

Justice Wendo ruled that Narc Kenya's lawyer Cecil Miller had presented a strong case and that the court has to determine whether PNU can be allowed to disregard Act.

She said the court needs to rule on whether the administration of the funds is with the political parties or the registrar of political parties.

She directed that the matter be fast tracked saying that if this is not done it is likely to paralyze the operations of PNU.

TRIBAL CLASHES

Tension remains high along Rongo-Transmara border following the death of three people in fresh clashes pitting two communities.

A high powered delegation led by Public Service Minister Dalmas Otieno, Nyanza PC Erastus Ekidor and his deputy Naftali Mung'adhia held a crisis meeting in the affected area in a bid to resolve the issue.

Security along the border has been beefed up following the fresh fighting between two neighboring communities who have been locked in long-standing land dispute.

Several families have began fleeing their homes in fear of revenge attacks.

Over 400 people from one of the communities have been displaced and over 36 houses touched in the past three days.

Residents of Olontare from Transmara district took to the street to demand the release of their Chief who was arrested 2 days ago for alleged incitement.

Police said the chief was suspected to have been behind the fresh attacks.

The tribal clashes come barely two months after another fight erupted between the two communities over the burial of a man in Trans Mara leaving two people dead.

The problem was only resolved after the body of the man, a resident of Rongo District was exhumed and buried elsewhere.

NEW YEAR

Mwai Kibaki is scheduled to lead the nation in ushering in the New Year 2010 at State House Mombasa.

The Head of State is expected to highlight plans for the coming year; mainly reforms and the realisation of a new constitution.

"The New Year celebrations are scheduled to commence at 11.00 p.m. The climax of the celebrations will be an address to the nation by His Excellency President Mwai Kibaki." a brief statement from the Presidential Press Service said.

MARENDE'S QUEST

A section of Members of Parliament from the Party of National Unity (PNU) have taken on the Speaker of National Assembly Kenneth Marende for declaring his intention to vie for presidency in 2012.

The MPs, George Nyamweya (nominated), Jeremiah Kioni (Ndaragwa) and Nderitu Murithi (Laikipia West), said holders of positions in Government such as the Speaker of National Assembly, the Chief Justice, Chief of General Staff and the Police Commissioner would lose public trust and confidence should they declare their interest in the presidency while still serving their present positions.

Addressing journalists at parliament buildings on Wednesday they said that they were concerned following reports in one of the local dailies indicating Marende, at a public forum in his home area had allegedly declared his interest for the country's top position.

The three said though the constitution does not prohibit the speaker from seeking the highest office in the land, such a move will jeopardize his ability to rule in the chambers and might heighten tension in the house.

But the Speaker has denied ever making such an announcement saying that if he was interested he would do so publicly.

Earth Tremor

Scores of people were on Wednesday evacuated from buildings in Eldoret after an earth tremor rocked the town.

Witnesses said people were forced to scamper for safety after buildings were plunged into darkness.

No damage was reported.

The effects were also felt in Kitale, Matunda, Lugari, Kakamega and other parts of North Rift.

The tremor was felt in high-rise buildings in the town and residential houses.

There were reports of a stampede at the Kerio Valley Development Authority plaza as people scrambled to leave the building fearing aftershocks. No injuries were reported.

Occupants of the building eventually returned to work after several hours.

The 14-floor KVDA building is one of the tallest and busiest buildings in the town.

It was estimated that the tremor could have reached between five and six on the Richter scale.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

KCPE-TOP 10

TOP 10 POSITIONS (MALE AND FEMALE) NATIONALLY

INDEX NO. NAME SEX TOTAL RANK

207124001 NJOROGE PETER KAMENJU M 438 1
536217001 OONGE RABIN ISAAC M 435 2
538401005 KIRUI RISPER CHEMTAI F 434 3
603023011 IMALI JOY ASENA F 434 3
603023021 NGOYA SOLOMON OUMA M 434 3
617212002 OKOTH F ONYANGO M 434 3
401274007 OKUMU DENNIS OBAT M 433 7
515240001 KUNTAI SHANICE CHEBET F 433 7
203429002 NJAGI STEPHEN KARANJA M 432 9
208247001 GATHOGO DANIEL GITAU M 432 9
304236001 KIAIRA MOSES MBAABU M 432 9
304268001 MUTHOMI EUGENE M 432 9
401312001 ODERA JUNE HELLEN F 432 9
401312002 NYODERO ADEDE HAWI F 432 9
401380001 OTIENO VALERY ATIENO F 432 9
401630001 SAAT COLLINS KIPCHUMBA M 432 9
512106001 KOECH IRVINE KIPLANGAT M 432 9
604339001 OKWARO DOUGLAS JOB M 432 9

KCPE - Njoroge and Chemtai top

After a poor show in the last two years, Nairobi and Central provinces made a strong comeback to produce top candidates in this year’s KCPE examinations.

Central produced the top performer Peter Kamenju Njoroge from Lily Academy in Githurai, who scored 438 of 500 marks, a drop from last year’s best of 460 by Monica Wairumu Mutinda from Mombasa’s Hill Gate Academy.

Reminiscent of the initial years of KCPE Nairobi dominated the top 100 nationally with 35 candidates.

The top girl Kirui Risper Chemtai from St Mary’s Girls in Molo scored 434 of 500 marks.

After girls dominated the top five in last year Standard Eight examinations there was celebration that gender parity was being achieved in terms of access and performance. But the results this year proved that the celebrations may have been premature. The were only 26 girls in the top 100 compared to 74 boys

MUNGIKI

Security personnel in Naivasha are on high alert following reports that members of the outlawed Mungiki sect were planning to hold a meeting in the town.

Naivasha Officer Commanding Police Division (OCPD) Joseck Nasio said police had received information indicating that members of the sect had been searching for a venue for the meeting.

The meeting is allegedly meant to chart way forward after the Mungiki leader Maina Njenga deserted the sect and converted to Christianity.

"It's alleged the Mungiki members want to meet to elect new officials, but we are not going to allow it," Mr. Nasio said.

Mr. Nasio warned that anybody trying to disrupt peace in the town will be dealt with without mercy.

Police in the past have arrested hundreds of suspected Mungiki members in Naivasha and recovered paraphernalia believed to be used in oathing ceremonies.

TAKE CHARGE

President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have been challenged to take a central role in facilitating acceleration of consensus on the constitution before the referendum.

The International Center for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) said on Monday that although it may appear prudent for the principals to allow free debate, letting their lieutenants lead the process through divided opinions is likely to worsen the situation.

“I think they are running away from responsibility by keeping quiet on this matter. The two of them (President and Premier) have a prime responsibility and centrality of bringing together the interest groups on a round table and help bring consensus,” said ICPC Executive Director Ndung’u Wainaina.

Mr Wainaina said if Kenya was to meet the ambitious timetable for completion of the crucial aspects of the reform programme set down by the Reform Roadmap before December 2010, it will be necessary for ministers, MPs, political parties and other interest groups to set aside partisan politics and opinions.

He said although every Kenyan citizen had a stake in the success of the reform agenda, and thus vital that the process remained participatory and takes place through proper democratic channels, there was still need for leadership.

“We all must find a common ground of basic things we can afford to move on in and mobilise the country around that,” Mr Wainaina added.

The Committee of Experts is currently working on the draft law and a referendum is expected mid next year but politicians are already engaged in rallies to popularise their stands.

Coalition partners ODM and PNU earlier in the month failed to reach a common position on the subject of executive authority despite convening a series of meetings.

There are fears that the haggling of top politicians may compromise the two-decade quest for a new Constitution.

“Right now we have the political elite pushing and pulling differently and similarly the country is doing the same. We have to find a convergence,” Mr Wainaina said.

ICPC said the President and the Prime Minister should not only keep up their promise of creating the road map for reforms but also produce a time line that is reasonable and within the year.

The center regretted that there was seriously limited progress on the part of the government on corruption and impunity; respect for and guaranteeing civil liberties and freedoms; addressing the Internally Displaced Persons concerns; and improving on the social material conditions of Kenyans particularly on food security, clean water, healthcare and security.

Monday, December 28, 2009

MARENDE FOR PRESIDENT - 2017

National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende has said he would run for the country’s presidency.

Mr Marende was put to task to join the race for the top seat during a public rally attended by MPs Cyrus Jirongo (Lugari), Eugene Wamalwa (Saboti) and Wilber Otichillo in Emuhaya constituency.

Mr Jirongo declared he would gun for presidency in the 2012 General Election.

"The Luhya community will not agree to settle for vice-presidency again," said the Kaddu chairman.

Mr Wamalwa said if Marende, Jirongo or Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi did not vie for presidency in 2012, he would go for it.

"Marende, Mudavadi and Jirongo have reached their peak in politics," Wamalwa told football fans during a friendly match between AFC Leopards and Emuhaya combined, at Emuhaya District, yesterday.

Marende said it was his desire to run for presidency.

"I have brought this small flag (Speaker’s post), am I not capable of bringing the bigger one (presidency)?" Marende asked.

He said that if MPs would support him, he would run for a second term as Speaker before joining the race for presidency. He acknowledged the support he received from legislators to reform the Tenth Parliament.

RAILA PHOBIA AND PHILIA




Raila Odinga goes down in history as the politician most talked and written about this decade in Kenya and who inspired and influenced most political activities that defined the destiny of many.

From taking his first stab at the presidency in 1997 to leading the giant ODM to the polls ten years later only to be declared loser in highly controversial circumstances, Raila has commanded the political calendar over the last decade.

It is through his prism that politics have been viewed and shaped, if not cracked.

Similarly political careers of many have been built, rediscovered, rejuvenated and destroyed — all in the name of working with or fighting Raila.

Political oblivion

Former Vice-President Moody Awori, ex-Cabinet ministers Oloo Aringo, Odongo Omamo, Simeon Nyachae, Mukhisa Kituyi, Raphael Tuju, Newton Kulundu, and Musikari Kombo are among the names condemned to political oblivion for standing in his way.

Yet others like Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi, and ministers George Saitoti (Internal Security), William Ruto (Agriculture), William Ntimama (National Heritage), Fred Gumo (Regional Development) and Najib Balala (Tourism) have Raila to thank for reinventing themselves.

The ministers and scores of others, including former Mathioya MP Joseph Kamotho, were loyalists and hawks of the one-party Kanu regime.

They were plucked from the party by Raila following his party NDP’s short-lived marriage with Kanu and subsequent fallout. While the rest left with the PM to LDP and then Narc, Ruto joined him five years later in ODM.

Others like James Orengo, Anyang’ Nyong’o and Dalmas Otieno, who had initially parted ways with Raila, are ‘back in the fold’.

Former Vice-President Mudavadi, who lost his Saboti parliamentary seat in 2002 while in Kanu, has found his feet after reuniting with the PM.

The Lang’ata MP is also said to attract mania (extreme enthusiasm and admiration) and phobia (intense fear) in equal measure, at least according to former Vice-President the late Michael Kijana Wamalwa.

That the Raila factor still influences political events is demonstrated by the latest regrouping of Kalonzo, Uhuru, Ruto and Balala, who regard the PM as the common enemy.

Over the years, Raila’s political journey has been complex, but emphatic.

Kibaki tosha

Most significantly, his famous "Kibaki Tosha" declaration at Uhuru Park on October 14, 2002, marked the beginning of Kibaki’s journey to win the country’s presidency, ending Kanu’s 40-year rule.

Raila spearheaded the campaigns as Kibaki was indisposed and condemned to a wheelchair following a road accident. But once in office, the rift between the President and Raila widened. This eventually led to a falling out and Raila’s decision to challenge Kibaki in the 2007 presidential poll. The disputed poll results turned bloody before the mediation talks that led to the formation of the Grand Coalition Government with Kibaki.

Done well

Now in a shared government as PM, Raila has done well, at times risking his future political career, especially on an issue such as the recovery of the Mau complex.

The Mau recovery has been the cause of his political differences with his Deputy Party Leader and Agriculture Minister William Ruto.

Depending on how he handles the Mau issue to its logical end and other thorny issues within the fragile coalition, the PM may make or break his career ahead of the 2012 elections.

Raila is married to Ida Odinga. They have four children, two sons Fidel, Raila Jr, and two daughters, Rosemary and Winnie.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Shadow boxing

In ODM, Boxing Day came with more shadow boxing about the future of the party. Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi told those dissatisfied with the party’s leadership to resign instead of rocking it from within. In an apparent reference to agriculture minister William Ruto and his tourism counterpart Najib Balala, The local government minister said individuals banking on their ethnic support have the slimmest chances of taking over the country’s leadership. Mudavadi was speaking during the Vihiga annual traditional festivals.

KARUA ON MAU

Gichugu MP Martha Karua has joined those opposed to the payment of the big shots who own land in the controversial Mau forest.
She said the exercise was being turned into a cash cow by politicians, who want to 'steal from the public.’

“The bid to resettle the genuine squatters of Mau and IDPs has been turned into a gold mine. That is why everyone wants to control the process and mint money,” said the former Justice minister.

She went on: “It is being used as an opportunity to steal from public coffers... Let Kenyans not be deceived that Parliament authorised compensation.”

Ms Karua said although parliament passed the Mau report, with amendments obliging the government to pay the land owners, the decision was not binding.

She explained that the contentious clause only stipulated that the government only follows the law in implementing the report.

The Gichugu MP said from the look of things, it appeared as if the government 'wanted to twist the law’ for their own benefits.

“Parliament, through the motion, cannot amend the law. It did not amend any law. If the law is followed, very few people will be compensated,” she said.

New Michuki law rattles

The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) kicked off an anti-noise operation in Nairobi on Sunday and netted at least nine vehicles.

The operation carried out on the South B route, Buru Buru and Kariobangi mainly targeted public service vehicles, according to NEMA officials.

“We have officially kicked off the operation and we are targeting public service vehicles which exceed the required noise parameters,” NEMA’s Acting Director General Dr Ayub Macharia told Capital News.

He said NEMA had “acquired noise meters which will be used to gauge the required noise levels in the interior of the vehicles.”

“We are detaining any vehicle with noise exceeding 45 decibels that is the set limit. So far we have detained nine matatus and the operation is still going on,” Dr Macharia said.

The noise pollution law was introduced recently by Environment Minister John Michuki, but some groups of people have moved to court to challenge it.

Some religious leaders and preachers have argued the controversial law will adversely affect their activities because it bars them from using loud speakers to preach to their followers.

Some of the preachers are among people who have moved to court to challenge it.

Others had argued that NEMA has no capacity to measure the noise levels as set out in the law. But Dr Macharia told Capital News the authority is now able to implement the law, with the introduction of the noise meters.

“We now have the capacity and will implement the law to the latter, the operation will continue in various parts of the city,” he said

Kibaki working

Mwai Kibaki has called on Kenya’s sports fraternity to start training early to enable the country send a strong medal-winning team to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India.

President Kibaki made the remarks in Mombasa on Saturday when he joined the Sports fraternity in receiving the Queen’s Baton which acts as a curtain raiser for the Commonwealth Games.

During the colourful occasion the President gave an assurance that the Government will set aside sufficient resources to enable the country’s team to prepare adequately for the championships to be held in October 2010.

“In the forthcoming Games my Government will set aside adequate resources for our team to train and participate in the competition. I, therefore, urge our sportsmen and women, coaches and other officials to start preparing early for us to send a strong medal winning team.”

The President further underscored the importance of sports in promoting unity and harmony among Kenyan communities.
He affirmed that sports assembled people from different cultural backgrounds who are endowed with varied talents to compete in a friendly atmosphere surrounded with goodwill.

President Kibaki further challenged leaders countrywide to prioritize matters concerning wananchi and to always lead from the front in efforts to resolve them.

The 19th Edition of the 2010 Commonwealth Games will be held in Delhi and the Queens Baton will be received in 71 Commonwealth member states in observance with one of the greatest traditions of the games, said the President.

He noted, “In addition, the Queen’s Baton Relays have been the curtain raiser since the Cardiff games in 1958. This has, indeed kept the commonwealth spirit alive.”

The Relay will take the baton to the homes of over one third of the world’s population and Kenya prides to be the first country in East Africa to receive it.

The President affirmed that the Queen’s Baton symbolizes the shared ideals of Commonwealth Nations and as well provides a unique opportunity for the country to share in the excitement of the international sports and cultural festivals held every four years.

The Head of State observed, “I note with appreciation that the Queen’s Baton Relay is one of the great traditions of the Commonwealth Games. It symbolizes the gathering of people from across the Commonwealth Nations ahead of the sports and cultural festival held every four years.

The President said, “In the last edition of the Melbourne, Australia, Commonwealth Games, our country scooped a total of 18 medals of which 6 were Gold, 5 Silver and 7 Bronze, finishing 9th overall. This was indeed a great achievement.”

Speaking during the same occasion the Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Prof Helen Sambili confirmed that the government targets to send a strong team of about 200 sportsmen and women as well as officials to enable the country have representation in all disciplines.

Friday, December 25, 2009



Mwai Kibaki has today urged Coastal leaders and area residents to forge unity in stamping out the drug menace in the region.

President Kibaki noted that eradication of drug abuse in the region called for concerted efforts and determination between leaders and wananchi in order to secure the potential and future of the area's children.

President Kibaki made the remarks today at State House, Mombasa after hosting several local choirs and troupes of dancers who presented lively Christmas carols. Also present was the First Lady Mama Lucy Kibaki and other family members.

He affirmed that drug abuse was responsible for poor levels of education in the region and would eventually, hinder government's targeted rate of development in the area.

The President said, "The local community has the power to stamp out the menace by exploring locally applicable solutions."

During the occasion, the Head of State expressed his desire and commitment to ensure that all Kenyan communities co-exist and live harmonioulsy.

President Kibaki noted that the foundation of any country's development is love and unity and urged Kenyans to safeguard the peace the country has enjoyed since independence.

"During the new year Kenyans must focus on laying a firm foundation for the nation based on love and dedication to improving their living standards."

He urged Kenyans to avoid animosity and unnecessary divisions that hinder accelerated development and government's efforts to push the country to higher levels of prosperity as well as to accord wananchi decent livelihoods.

The President noted that while the government remained committed to equitable development in all parts of the country, Kenyans must, however, take advantage of the enlarged East African Commuity market with an estimated population of about 120 million people.

During the colourful Christmas Carols, several choirs and troupes of dancers drawn from the entire Coast Province belted Christians hymns in harmonized tones in the accompaniment of instrumentals that entertained the First family, cabinet ministers, assistant ministers, legislators and senior government officials among other invited guests.

Christmas is an annual holiday that, for Christians, commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ and it is celebrated on December 25.

A Christmas carol (song or hymn) whose lyrics are on the theme of Christmas are traditionally sung in the period before Christmas.

Among choirs that presented inspiring and soul nourishing musical items during the thrilling event included Ecumenical Choir with thrilling items such as "O come Emmanuel" and "Leo Yatimizwa."

Other presentations by the group and affiliated partners included "O holy Night" and "Natufurahi siku ya leo".


A presentation by the SOS Children Choir with their song "Christian Medly" won acclamations from the gathering while another performance by a group called 'The Villagers' with a song called "Go tell the mountains" was applauded by the guests.

Other lively items were performed by St Marks Rabai dancers who entertained the First Family and other guests with a Rabai Folk Song while the Kenya Ports Autority Choir presented a song titled "Kuzaliwa kwa Bwana Wetu."

In attendance were several cabinet ministers, assistant ministers, legislators, senior government officials among other invited guests.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

WEAPONS AMNESTY EXTENDED

The Minister of State for Provincial Administration and Internal Security Prof.George Saitoti has extended the deadline on the General amnesty issued by the Government to surrender illegal firearms to January 20 2010.

In a statement to the press, the Minister said his action was prompted by the good response by members of the pastoralist communities on the earlier amnesty that was issued by the Government.

Professor Saitoti said that he expected that the extension will allow those still in possession of illegal firearms to surrender them before the Government moves in to mop up all illegal firearms, immediately after the expiry of the amnesty period.

He thanked all those who have responded positively and assured those in areas prone to cattle rustling that the Government will provide them with adequate security.

RUTO ESCAPES FROM THE HEAT

Agriculture Minister William Ruto caused a stir at Malaba border when drove his family en-route to Uganda minus his security detail.

The minister, who was casually dressed, checked at the border town at 5pm in the company of his wife and children on Wednesday evening.

Security officers including Malaba Police Base Commander Fatuma Nasphai and Deputy OCS Salim Abdalla made an impromptu arrangement to welcome him at the Immigration offices. Clearing agents jostled to clear the Eldoret North MP’s Range Rover as he addressed them outside the Kenya Revenue Authority Customs yard.

The minister said he had opted to keep politics aside and concentrate on his family, who wanted him to drive them outside the country for the Christmas holiday.

Teso residents complained to the minister that this year’s maize yields were the poorest after Kenya Seed Company allegedly supplied them with fake seeds from Malawi.

Ruto said changes had been effected at the company that saw the exit of managing director.

MBUTA-CAN'T PAY, WON'T PAY

Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta has maintained that there is no money to compensate the so-called Mau big fish.

Mr Kenyatta said on Thursday that Treasury was not in a position to pay out such monies, citing other priority projects like provision of relief food and water to those affected by drought.

The Deputy PM also downplayed the Mau taskforce report that was amended in Parliament to authorise compensation for all Mau title deed holders.

“The point is this- that is a report and there is a process through which budgetary allocations are made. There are Bills that are presented before the House (then) given assent by the President. So a report in itself is not necessarily a commitment to pay,” he said.

At a press conference in his Treasury office, Mr Kenyatta however said the government was processing the Sh1 billion that President Mwai Kibaki directed to be given to Mau evictees last week.

“As to when this will be given out will be determined by the availability of resources which will hopefully be sometime after the New Year,” Mr Kenyatta said.

The Deputy Prime Minister has been engaged in a war of words with Prime Minister Raila Odinga over the compensation issue with Mr Kenyatta denying knowledge of a Sh2 billion compensation plan for Mau land owners.

The Primier accused Mr Kenyatta of political mischief.

At the same time, Kenya received Sh5.2 billion for environmental conservation from the Danish government in a bid to eradicate poverty.

Mr Kenyatta said the funds would be used in the natural resources management programme which aimed to reduce livelihood vulnerability, poverty reduction and addressing the issue of climate change.

“This support is coming at a time when our country is faced by a number of challenges that require us as a country to pay more attention to the issue of how we can achieve sustainable economic development through conservation of our environment,” he said.

Danish ambassador Bo Jensen said the grant would commence in January 2010 but emphasised that it would not be used to resettle Mau squatters or pay out title deed holders.

“The government of Denmark has committed itself to continue supporting Kenya’s efforts towards protection of the environment and adaptation to climate change and we hope this support will contribute to the implementation of the vision 2030,” he said.

CHILL NEW YEAR 2010


KENYA DOING WELL

Kenya has received rare praise from a UN agency over its economic progress and relative stability in a region plagued by conflict, famine and poverty.

The World Food Programme said that as a result, the country serves as an important transit point for food aid to Uganda, Southern Sudan, Somalia and the Congo.

The country’s image took a battering from the post-election violence in 2008 and the recent flooding, devastating drought and other disasters have not helped matters.

Yet WFP observed that the country’s status as a powerhouse in the region and an island of stability remains unchallenged in the east and central African region.

“Kenya is the biggest economy in East Africa and that means it has more infrastructure than other countries, certainly than Somalia, but also eastern Congo, Southern Sudan and to a certain extent Uganda,” said a WFP official in Nairobi, Mr Peter Smerdon.

“The roads are better, the port works efficiently and there are enough transporters to ferry commercial goods,” he said.

The WFP says the key to the food distribution system is the well developed port of Mombasa, which last year handled 670,000 tonnes of food aid.

Mr Smerdon said about 10 million people in the region rely on food aid that comes through Mombasa.

“Fierce fighting, flooding, devastating droughts and other disasters in East and Central Africa translate into millions of hungry and desperate people. But for the fortunate, food aid does get through by way of a sophisticated network of road, sea and air routes connected to Kenya,” he said.

For places like Southern Sudan, where few roads exist and communities are isolated, airdrops are necessary.

And when heavy fighting in Somalia makes it risky to transport food by road, it is shipped from Mombasa to Mogadishu under European Union naval escort.

Mr Smerdon says the WFP buys half its food aid supplies from traders in the region while the rest comes from the US and other foreign donors.

“We have launched a programme aimed at helping marginal farmers by buying their produce,” he said.

RAIN HAVOC



Heavy rains that pounded the city Wednesday evening have left a trail of destruction leaving commuters stranded and spending long hours stuck in the traffic jam.

The rains that were accompanied by thunderstorms ripped roof tops of some buildings and brought down advertising bill boards.



The city council spent the entire night clearing roads while some city commuters arrived home from work well past midnite.



City residents were caught unawares by the rains which are reported to have caused heavy flooding in some estates.


The meteorological department had predicted an El-nino although but downgraded the intensity of the attendant damage.


Two people died and several others injured when a tree fell on a city bus following the heavy downpour.


Wekesa changes tune

The government will compensate big shots who own land in the Mau Forest for the investments on their farms, Cabinet minister Noah Wekesa has said.

In what appeared to be backing down from the previous hard-line position on the payouts, Dr Wekesa, who is the Forestry minister, said the beneficiaries will be required to provide valid documents.
Dr Wekesa also down-played the spat between Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta over the compensation of big landowners in the country’s largest water tower. “Perhaps the PM was not properly briefed on the matter,” the minister told the Nation.

However, Dr Wekesa said, the government will not be paying for the land. “After all, the government cannot buy back its own land … most of these people got the land for free,” he added.

He said the government will have to “negotiate with the encroachers” on a suitable compensation package for the investments on their farms.
Also, the unique cases in which the original allottees of the land sold parcels to other people will see the current owners go home with a substantial token from the government. But, this is not guaranteed, as the government will first have to study the agreements between the original allottee and the buyer to decide if it will pay for the land.

Dr Wekesa also confirmed that Sh1 billion had been earmarked for squatters who did not have legal claim on the land.

But Mr Odinga has an issue with the Sh1 billion package because “even the amendment in Parliament did not cover them (squatters).”
However, Dr Wekesa said that the package was for “very many people” who are languishing in roadside camps.

“All those with proper documents will be paid,” said the Forestry minister. “The amendment in Parliament did direct that the government follows the law in implementing the report’s recommendations.”

He was quick to point out that “nothing had been agreed” with regard to the total compensation kitty.

According to the PM, those with valid documents and with a legal claim to the land will be paid as long as they can prove that money changed hands.

Essentially, the PM, Dr Wekesa and Mr Kenyatta, who is also the deputy Prime Minister, seem to be talking the same language, with the only point of departure between the PM and Mr Kenyatta being the compensation of the squatters.

On Wednesday, one of those who amended the Mau report to favour the squatters right to life, assistant minister Ndiritu Muriithi, accused the PM of insisting that Parliament did endorse the payout for all landowners.

But what the assistant minister did not clarify was whether the amendment by Turkana Central MP Ekwee Ethuro to have the government respect the sanctity of the titles had any impact on the implementation of the report.

The MPs were unanimous that those with genuine title deeds be compensated. They also agreed that those title holders, who may have acquired the land illegally, be kicked out without any compensation.

The Industrialization assistant minister read that politics into the matter, saying that the PM was trying to drive a wedge between Mr Kenyatta and Agriculture minister William Ruto.

Kibaki supports KKK

Let us be mindful about our neighbors during Xmas, President Kibaki urges Kenyans

President Mwai Kibaki has urged Kenyans to uphold fundamental Christian's values of forgiveness and being mindful of the less fortunate members of the society by extending any form of help to them.

In his message to all Kenyans during this festive season of Christmas, the President urged Christians to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ by acknowledging their transgressions and offer prayers of repentance to God.

The President also ordered the police force to provide adequate security in all parts of the country so that Kenyans can celebrate in a secure and peaceful atmosphere.

The Head of State directed the police force to remain extra vigilant during the festive period to ensure that careless drivers and those driving under the influence of alcohol are apprehended and duly punished in accordance to the law.

The President noted that many innocent lives in the country were largely lost through road accidents caused by careless driving.

He said, "I urge motorists to drive carefully and to obey all traffic regulations in order for us to avoid unnecessary loss of lives."

The President further urged businessmen and transporters to desist from exploiting fellow citizens by hiking prices but instead to uphold the spirit of goodwill by charging fair prices in order to give Kenyans equal opportunity to celebrate Christmas.

The Head of State said, "Let us extend a helping hand, no matter how small, for this will bring joy and make Christmas brighter for the disadvantaged members of our society."
President Kibaki reiterated that Christmas is not only a time of joy but also a time of reflection and renewing of personal convictions and commitment to Christian faith.

He appealed to Kenyans to remember that the Christmas season brings with itself the spirit of peace, love and goodwill and asked them to forgive those who have wronged them and move forward in the love of God.

The President affirmed that Christians are the salt of the earth and asked them to uphold their moral duty of serving fellow Kenyans who are suffering various afflictions such as effects of the prolonged drought, sicknesses, disability and other hardships of life.
He said, "I call upon all Kenyans to make this season a period of stocktaking. Let us turn within, acknowledge our transgressions, weaknesses and failings and offer prayers of repentance to God."

President Mwai Kibaki accompanied by first lady mama Lucy Kibaki jetted in the coastal city of Mombasa earlier today for a working holiday.

The plane carrying the president and his entourage touched down at Moi international airport Mombasa shortly before 3pm.

On arrival the president was received by coastal leaders led by transport and communication minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere and tourism minister Najib Balala among other.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

LEAFLETS

A cabinet minister on Wednesday condemned those behind leaflets circulating in Kericho district telling members of the Luo community to leave the area.

Roads minister Franklin Bett said circulation of the leaflets should not be condoned and petitioned the security agents to ensure that the culprits were brought to book as soon as possible so as to restore calm in the district.

Mr Bett said this was a matter that could easily cause unnecessary panic and despondency among the communities living in Kericho and urged local detectives to give the issue the seriousness it deserved.

The leaflets, according to the local police boss, Mr Peterson Maelo, were dropped on Saturday night on the Kericho- Nakuru highway and within the foreign owned multinational tea firms in the larger Kericho district.

The minister made the remarks at Litein secondary school sports ground moments after receiving donations of food, clothing and blankets to be distributed to the squatters who were evicted from the South Western Mau forest and are now living in makeshift camps in Kuresoi and Konoin districts.

Mr Bett called on the residents of Rift Valley Province to co-exist and cautioned the youth not to allow themselves to be used in activities that could jeopardise the prevailing peace and tranquillity in the country.

The minister urged the local community to volunteer information to the security agents that could lead to the arrest of those they suspect could be behind the distribution of the leaflets so to that the government could deal with them.

Contacted for comment on Wednesday, Mr Maelo said that no arrest had so far been made in connection with the distribution of the leaflets but said investigations were going on.

The police boss assured workers in the multinational tea firms that security had been beefed up in all the areas where the fliers had been dropped and they need not panic.

ONGERI SUMMONED

The parliamentary committee on education has dug into the Free Primary Education funds scam and announced it will commence investigations next week.

The committee will look into allegations of the embezzlement of the education funds, the delays of disbursement of the funds to schools accounts and the inappropriate disbursement of infrastructure cash in favor of some regions.

Top on their agenda is to investigate claims that some schools have gone with no funds for the better part of the year, this blamed on the rising numbers of school drop outs.

Also in the agenda is to look into claims of delays of disbursement of money to schools accounts.

The committee will also be probing why there has been an unfair distribution of infrastructure funds in favor of some regions.

With this and other facts in hand, the committee will then table the report on the floor of the house once parliament resumes.

The committee is calling upon the KACC to move with speed to bring to book those behind the scandal while also appealing to the public to send any information to the committee that will assist them to bring the matter to a close.

Michuki on Mau

Environment minister John Michuki has reiterated that the government will not compensate the political elites who own huge chunks of land at the Mau Forest Complex.

The minister said influential politicians who were demanding compensation should instead pay the government for stealing from the public.

Michuki while addressing the press in his Kangema constituency termed the invasion of Mau forest as misuse of power and outright breaking of the law by the ruling regime that was at the helm of power when the forest was raped.

"You cannot invade your neighbour's property and expect that the same neighbour would have to persuade you to get out of his property by compensating you," said Michuki.

Meanwhile, two Legislators have praised the move by the Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta of denying any form of compensation to owners of huge tracts of land in the Mau forest complex.

Legislators, Johnston Muthama of Kangundo, and his Kibwezi counterpart, Philip Kaloki, said it would have been unfair for the Mau evictees to be compensated while those in Aberdares and Kyulu Hills have never been compensated adding that the encroachers had illegally possessed the land.

Muthama said no evictees should be compensated since those evicted from the Aberdare forests, Mt. Kenya, Cheranganyi Hills, Mt.Elgon forests and also some of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who lost their lands after the post -election skirmishes have never been compensated.

His sentiments were echoed by Kaloki who said that those evicted from the Kyulu Hills so as to conserve the water catchments area were never compensated by the government.

The duo had accompanied their Mathira counterpart, Engineer Ephraim Maina, to his mother- in- law's burial at Kibirigwi in Kirinyaga district on Tuesday.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

MAU - BUNGE

Check it out at
http://www.bunge.go.ke/parliament/downloads/tenth_forth_sess/15%2009%2009P.pdf

FROM PAGE 23

MUTUA STATEMENT

The Government wishes to clarify that arising from a meeting between H.E. President Mwai Kibaki with Hons. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, Minister for Agriculture, Hon. William Ruto and Minister for Lands, Hon. James Orengo, the Government has allocated 1 billion Kenyan shillings for the purchase of land to resettle two groups that have stopped occupying state forests.


The two groups are 2,800 people from Mau forest and 2,900 people from Cherangany Hills forests. This allocation is in keeping with the Government policy of resettling citizens who have had to leave their homes and are living in despicable conditions.


Dr. Alfred N. Mutua, EBS
PUBLIC COMMUNICATIONS SECRETARY/
GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN
22nd December, 2009

Muturi Answers Onyango

On behalf of the Deputy Prime Minister I would like to state as follows:-

Dennis Onyango’s statement on the Mau compensation raises certain issues that need to be addressed as follows:-
1. The Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta has only publicly discussed the issue of the Mau on two key occasions:-

(a) At a fundraising to raise money to settle those displaced by the evictions from the Mau, where he attended in his personal capacity. What he said at the fundraising was that there was no need to add more tents when we are trying to remove others. The purport of his statement was that there was no need to have more displaced persons living in tents as we already were trying to deal with the settlement of the current IDPs. The statement is a matter of public record.

(b) When he was responding to a media story that gave the impression that the government intended to pay out large sums of money as compensation to large landholders. He was categorical that no arrangement had been made nor any discussion entered into for any payment by the government. The government has not made any budgetary allocation for the payment of any compensation for landowners of any kind. He made the statement as the public were concerned and he was reassuring them that no arrangement as alleged had been entered into, and that is the position.

2. The Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta has never attacked any policy of the government on Mau at any time

3. The matter of resettlement of Mau evictees has been discussed by government, on humanitarian grounds, but there has been no discussion on compensation on large landholders, there is no contradiction in this regard.

4. The Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta has never at any time tried to play politics with the issue of Mau, and the allegation is not only baseless and unsustainable, but is in itself playing politics with Mau.




5. The ministry of Finance has not entered into consultations nor discussions with large land owners nor has he received any communication from any government department for any valuation or intent to pay large land owners. Further we have not factored any such payments into the current budget

In conclusion the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Finance would wish to inform Kenyans that it is committed to maintaining macro-economic stability and implementation of sound financial management principles and policies. In this regard, the Ministry has and will remain focused on committed government programmes of which compensation of large land owners is not one of them

The Prime Minister is a principal in the coalition government and if Dennis Onyango has any reason to doubt a government statement issued in consultation with other government departments, he should not have responded through the media but should have done so through laid down government procedures.


Njee Muturi
Principal Liason Officer
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Finance
22nd December, 2009

MAU STATEMENT

The Ministry of Forestry and the Ministry of Finance yesterday denied knowledge of any plan to pay compensation to large landowners evicted from the Mau Forest, as reported in the media.

The two ministries stated that the Mau issue was being handled by a secretariat in the Prime Minister’s office – attempting to give the impression that the PM alone would know of or author such compensation plans.

A section of MPs have also apparently expressed dismay at the idea of large landowners being compensated.

As most Kenyans are aware, there is a political game being played here.

In the interest of truthfulness and accountability and on behalf of the Prime Minister, I wish to state the following:

1. The plan to compensate landowners in the Mau was passed by Parliament, following an amendment to the Bill adopting the Report of the Government’s Task Force on the Conservation of the Mau Forest Complex, laid in the House on Wednesday, 12th August, 2009.

In its original form, the Task Force Report had contained no provision for compensation.

But an amendment introduced by the Hon Ekwe Ethuro, after weeks of lobbying by a section of MPs, made it mandatory that conservation of the Mau Forest be effected in line with the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, Cap 295 of the Laws of Kenya, and the Registered Land Act, Cap 300 of the Laws of Kenya.

That amendment, sponsored by the lobbying MPs and passed in the House, introduced payment for all title-holders, no matter how their titles had been acquired.

Unfortunately, the amendment these MPs introduced and lobbied for was driven not by the national interest but by irresponsible personal and political motives against the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister’s position was, and has always been, that Kenyans cannot pay, and should not pay, for land irregularly acquired.
But he has always felt that the small landowners, with a maximum of 5 hactres, who bought it genuinely believing the land was legally on sale, be paid back their money as long as they can prove ownership and that money actually changed hands in the transaction.

It is therefore shamefully dishonest for certain MPs now to attempt to shift responsibility for this situation to the Prime Minister – when they know full well that it was they themselves who introduced, lobbied for and passed this legislation.

At the time they did so, a parliamentary grouping that saw the Mau issue as a platform for political mileage was taking shape.

Members of that ‘alliance’ had already attempted to kill off the entire Mau report. When that did not work, they single-mindedly voted for blanket compensation for all title-holders, large and small alike, whether the titles were legally or illegally acquired.

And with that vote, those MPs committed Kenyans to looking for money for Mau compensation that our country, devastated by drought and food shortages, cannot afford.

(For ease of reference, I attach the Hansard Report on the debate in Mau, showing how MPs committed Kenyans to this pay plan.)

As debate had raged in the House, the Ministry of Finance failed to rise to the occasion and state categorically that the proposed amendment had immense budgetary implications.

But neither the Finance nor the Forestry ministry can now turn round and claim that they are unaware of this amendment and its financial implications.

2. There are serious contradictions in the Finance Minister’s claims that he is looking for money to compensate and resettle those who have been removed from the Mau – but he has no plans to pay large landowners.

The Prime Minister’s position has always been that those who have left the forest so far were encroachers, with no legal claim to the land they occupied. Even the amendment in Parliament did not cover them. But he wanted some humanitarian assistance for them, so that they can restart and rebuild their lives after leaving the forest.

But the Ministry now wants to compensate these people, who have no legal claim to land they occupied – and yet, despite Parliament’s amendment, it wants to pay nothing to those who do have title deeds.

Again, these contradictions emanating from the Finance Ministry amount to nothing more than political chicanery.

The position taken raises serious questions about the Rule of Law and about the use of public funds for partisan or political gain.

It raises even more serious questions about the way Parliament is being used as a plaything by a certain section of MPs.

Kenyans are tired of being taken for a ride. They are tired of losing out while those in a position to save them play politics for their own personal ends.

Our country will never find solutions to its problems while these irresponsible games are allowed to continue.

Thank you.
DENNIS ONYANGO
DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATION
OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER.
22.12.2009.

MAU WARS

A fresh row is looming in the Cabinet with Prime Minister Raila Odinga accusing his Deputy Uhuru Kenyatta of political mischief, hours after he and Forestry Minister Noah Wekesa denied knowledge of a Sh2 billion compensation plans for Mau landowners.

In a strongly worded statement, the Prime Minister said on Tuesday that the plan to compensate all title holders of the Mau was passed by Parliament following an amendment to the Bill adopting the Report of the Government’s Task Force on the Conservation of the Mau Forest, which was tabled in the House.

The Premier said it was regrettable that Mr Kenyatta and Mr Wekesa were now denying knowledge of the said plans.

He explained that the Task Force Report in its original form had contained no provision for compensation but an amendment introduced by Turkana Central MP Ekwe Ethuro made it mandatory that conservation of the Mau Forest be effected in line with the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act.

“The Ministry of Forestry and the Ministry of Finance yesterday (Monday) denied knowledge of any plan to pay compensation to large landowners evicted from the Mau Forest. The two ministries stated that the Mau issue was being handled by a secretariat in the Prime Minister’s office; attempting to give the impression that the PM alone would know of such compensation plans,” a statement sent from Mr Odinga’s office read in part.

“A section of MPs have also apparently expressed dismay at the idea of large landowners being compensated. As most Kenyans are aware, there is a political game being played here,” he went on.

Mr Odinga said that it was unfortunate that the amendments in the Bill, which had been introduced and lobbied for by a section of parliamentarians, were not driven by national interest but by personal motives against him.

“It is therefore shamefully dishonest for certain MPs now to attempt to shift responsibility for this situation to the Prime Minister when they know fully well that it was they themselves who introduced, lobbied for and passed this legislation. At the time they did so, a parliamentary grouping that saw the Mau issue as a platform for political mileage was taking shape,” read the statement in part.

The PM also alleged that members of the said ‘alliance’ had already attempted to kill off the entire Mau report; “…when that did not work, they single-mindedly voted for blanket compensation for all title-holders, large and small alike, whether the titles were legally or illegally acquired.”

“And with that vote, those MPs committed Kenyans to looking for money for Mau compensation that our country, devastated by drought and food shortages, could not afford,” he said.

The Prime Minister also accused the Finance Ministry of failing to state categorically that the proposed amendment had immense budgetary implications, even as debate over the water tower raged.

He added that there were serious contradictions in the Finance Minister’s claims that he was looking for money to compensate and resettle those who had been removed from the Mau, but that he had no plans to pay large landowners.

“The Ministry now wants to compensate these people, who have no legal claim to land they occupied and yet, despite Parliament’s amendment, it wants to pay nothing to those who do have title deeds. Again, these contradictions emanating from the Finance Ministry amount to nothing more than political chicanery,” he said.

He added that the position taken by the concerned ministries brought out significant questions about the Rule of Law and about the use of public funds for partisan or political gain.

“It raises even more serious questions about the way Parliament is being used as a plaything by a certain section of MPs. Kenyans are tired of being taken for a ride. They are tired of losing out while those in a position to save them play politics for their own personal ends. Our country will never find solutions to its problems while these irresponsible games are allowed to continue,” said the Prime Minister.

The statement also maintained that the Prime Minister’s position was that Kenyans could not and should not pay for land that was irregularly acquired.

“He (Prime Minister) has however always felt that the small landowners, with a maximum of five hectares, who bought it genuinely believing the land was legally on sale, be paid back their money as long as they can prove ownership and that money actually changed hands in the transaction,” the statement read in part.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Train accident in Kibera

At least four people are confirmed dead after a cargo trained derailed in the sprawling Kibera slums and fell on houses.

Several people are believed trapped in the debris.

The train headed for Kampala Uganda was loaded with cooking oil when it came of the rails and crashed onto buildings.

The cause of the derailment was not immediately known.

Officials from the St. John's Ambulance rushed to the scene and began evacuating the injured.

Police however had a hectic time trying to control the surging crowd that had begun looting the cooking oil from the containers.

Meanwhile the Prime Minister Raila Odinga has sent his condolences to families caught in the train accident.

"It is my hope that the authorities will investigate the circumstances of this tragedy, but heart goes out to the families of those who lost loved ones, and I wish a speedy recovery to the injured," the PM said.

The PM at the same time called for thorough investigations into accident and other train derailments that have taken place around Kibera saying they are becoming too common.

"Both the Government and RVR must look at the operations, maintenance and the tracks of this rail system, the PM said.

The PM said there appears to be a glaring safety failure in the whole rail system.

"Whether human error or system malfunction - and it raises serious questions."We must investigate this accident until we determine why this happened and what must be done to ensure it never happens again and I ask the company to fully cooperate," Mr Odinga said

KAREGA MUTAHI WON'T QUIT

Karega Mutahi on Monday said he will not resign over the alleged misappropriation of Sh9 billion meant for the Free Primary Education by some ministry staff.

Addressing a news conference in his office, Prof Mutahi claimed the alleged scandal was a fabrication of the media saying he had written to Ministry of Finance requesting a Fiduciary Risk Audit on May 15.

He wondered why the same audit has generated the recent negative publicity which he says was as a result of suspension of officers.

He said he was being targeted for trying to break the corruption networks in the ministry.

“I am resigning the day when someone says this man stole a cent or when I realise that I can’t deliver to the learning of the children; if I resign because someone says I resign, then what you are saying is that stop fighting corruption, get out and let our own continue eating,”

“I’m I resigning because I touched a sacred cow or because I am a participant?” I can assure you I have never stolen from anyone - even a cent from the street.”

He explained that the alleged funds had not been lost and said the matter was a mix up in funds allocated into accounts of separate sub sector.

The PS also absolved Education Minister Sam Ongeri of blame in the saga saying he doesn’t approve any ministry level expenditure and should not be held responsible.

Prof Mutahi however insisted that 15 out of the 26 officers suspended over the saga will have to account for some of the imprests they failed to account for.

“The truth of the matter is that there is no money lost it is simply that in the accounting report two lots of money were put under two accounts. The auditors said you can’t do this because the Sh9 billion belongs to school operation and the Sh10 billion belong to learning and teaching materials. So please separate them. There is no confusion this is an accounting error,” he said.

He said as trustees it’s the duty of his ministry to ensure that the money allocated to education programme is properly used.

“Don’t make it look like the ministry is full of people who want to steal from children,” he added.

He said the government and development partners are in talks towards designing of the 2nd phase of the Kenya Education Sector Support Programme (KESSP) for 2010-2015 saying some of the critical considerations have been to address weakness experienced in the first phase.

“Some of the key concerns are how to reach the hard to reach children, how to deal with the growing numbers of secondary graduates who need to transit to tertiary level issues of education particularly at the school level; monitoring and evaluation.”

FPE SCANDAL

Fresh auditors questions have emerged over the use of Sh9 billion free education money amid speculation that President Kibaki will announce changes at the ministry on Monday.

In an audit report, the auditors said they were not sure that the money given to primary and secondary schools as grants to buy books and other teaching materials was used for that purpose.

The auditors were also puzzled by an additional Sh2.7 billion given to 600 primary schools to build classrooms, dining halls and dormitories which appear not to have been requested or needed.

The auditors noted that Sh3.2 million was sent to three schools namely Namaanga, Nabichakha and Chenjeni in Bungoma to pay suppliers for work not done, and payments were made in advance.

The procedure is for schools to first do a needs analysis to establish the exact amount that they need. The auditors said no such assessment seems to have been carried out.

Prof Mutahi, in a phone interview, however, disputed the claims. “The allocation is based on a needs assessment and there is no money that is disbursed without it,” he said.

The auditors want Head of Basic Education, Mrs Leah Rotich, to explain why Sh1.8 million was given to seven private primary schools. “These schools are not eligible for funding by the government,” the audit report says, adding that “they were in private business.”

Mrs Rotich played down the scandals at the ministry, claiming no funds had been embezzled as reported.

Speaking on Sunday when she presided at a graduation ceremony at Kabarnet High School in Baringo central, Mrs Rotich said “the missing Sh100 million was only meant for workshops.”

“The Sh1,020 for every child has not been interfered with in any way,” she said and welcomed the President’s order to KACC to investigate the ministry.

Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa called for the prosecution of those found to have stolen school money. He was speaking at a funeral in Uasin Gishu.

Public Accounts Committee chairman Bonny Khalwale said his team would get to the bottom of scandals at the ministry.

He claimed more than Sh200 million was given to buy laboratory equipment under what he said were dubious circumstances.

The ministry has admitted Sh100 million was embezzled and officials have leaked selected parts of the audit report, which show widespread misuse of public funds. The picture painted by the full report must be a lot worse.

The President, who flew into the country on Saturday night, was yesterday said to be contemplating action against top education officials.

According to Office of the President officials, who did not wish to be named speculating on what the President might do, Mr Kibaki could sack top officials.

They said the President appeared particularly unhappy that no one was taking responsibility for the poor handling of free school money, and that the officials appeared to be passing the buck.

The auditors do not categorically conclude that the Sh9 billion was embezzled, they nevertheless conclude that “this expenditure is not eligible”.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

YOUNG TUCKS

Kanu has regrouped and this new group of young tucks is likely to form the next government.



Balala, Kalonzo, Uhuru



Balala, Kalonzo, Uhuru, Ruto


Ruto, Balala, Kalonzo



Uhuru, Ruto

Wamalwa, Poghsio, Balala, Ruto



Young Tucks

Dennis Onyango responds to Ruto

In the light of statements made in regard to settlement of those who left the Mau Forest Complex in which the Prime Minister Raila Odinga has been accused by a section of politicians of being insensitive to the plight of victims, I wish to make the following clarification:

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has consulted widely with President Mwai Kibaki on the issue of resettling Internally Displaced Persons in the country, particularly from the Rift Valley, where the bulk of displacements have occurred in the last two decades.

The consensus between the two, in consultation with security and intelligence agencies, is that the issue of landless internally displaced persons runs deeper than the recent relocation from the Mau and poses serious threats to national stability and economic growth unless it is handled with care and utmost professionalism, devoid of grandstanding, quest for political mileage and quick-fix, short term temporary solutions.

Both the President and the Prime Minister are sensitive to the fact that various groups evicted from their homes in the pre and post-election violence of 1991, 1992, 1993, 1997, 2002 and 2007 are still living in some temporary settlements or as squatters in lands they don’t own.
The Principals are sensitive to the fact that victims of 1992 election violence are still camping in Maela where they first took refuge in the compound of the local Catholic Church. Eventually, they began to fend for themselves and are squatting on other people’s lands.

They are sensitive to the fact that those evicted from Olenguruone and Molo are currently scattered allover Nakuru, Naivasha, Laikipia and Nairobi, some in slums, other living off the streets, hoping that the government will one day attend to their plight.

In parts of Kiambu, particularly in the Gatundu section of what constitutes the wider Aberdares forest, thousands of families evicted from Maela, Enoosupukia, Molo and Olenguruone and other parts are squatting, having been dumped at the Kirigiti Stadium in the middle of the night on orders of the government after the 1992 elections. They are hoping for help from the Government.

In Laikipia, Rumuruti and Marmanent areas are filled with squatters who fled or were ferried there after the 1992 election violence.

In Nyahururu Town, Kiamaina slums are filled with evictees from Olenguruone and Molo following past election violence. The problem is felt as far as Borabu in Kericho-Kisii border and Sondu and Muhoroni areas in Nyanza province.

In recognition of the gravity of the problem and the number of victims waiting for justice and resettlement, the President and the Prime Minister agreed that the Ministry of Lands scouts for land that will gradually and in phases, be home to the many people who have found themselves homeless from the 1990s, first due to politically instigated violence and later as a result of efforts to conserve the country’s water towers including the Mau and Kipkurere forests.

Neither the President nor the Prime Minister is acting alone in this. It is not the intention of the President or the Prime Minister that the scouting for land be used to give political mileage to any individual, community or group.

They want it done in a way that does not make one group happy only to create bitterness in the other. They are looking for a package that is fair to all.

The intention is to deal with a matter that they genuinely believe if not handled properly, will compromise Kenya’s stability in the years to come and one that has been ignored for too long.

Insinuations that the Prime Minister is insensitive to the plight of those who left the Mau are therefore out of tune with the spirit in which the government is seeking to resettle IDPs. Those insinuations are founded on the type of politics that created the problem.

The Prime Minister understands the width and depth of the problem. He was there when the problem began systematically in the run up to 1992 elections. Today, as Co-coordinator and Supervisor of government affairs, his eyes are set on a solution that takes care of all; from 1991 to date.

(Dennis Onyango is the Director of Communications at the Office of the Prime Minister)

ODM WAR ON

A section of ODM MPs at a rally in Mvita constituency on Saturday have blamed Prime Minister Raila Odinga for divisions within the party.

Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto claimed that the premier was using a rule and divide policy to run party affairs.

Mr Ruto stated that the rival ODM faction would continue to fight for the people in Mau, until justice is served.

Eldoret North MP William Ruto meanwhile argued that he was not at war with anyone and was keener on uniting Kenyans.

“Days of chest thumbing are gone and leadership should not be based on having mammoth crowds in rallies but if the people we are leading are happy with our leadership” he stated.

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta echoed Mr Ruto's sentiments, at the same time urging Kenyans not to be misled by politicians.

“We have wealth but Kenyans are misled by politicians,” he said, adding that he was not aware of the KKK slogan which he says could destabilise Kenyans.

Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka attended the fund-raiser cum rally at the Mvita Primary School, alongside 41 legislators; with six Cabinet Ministers and eight Assistant Ministers.

The Vice President said that Kenyans should keenly monitor their leaders and those who have not performed should be removed in the 2012 polls.

He expressed confidence that Parliament would unanimously agree on the draft constitution, describing the current batch of leaders as reform minded.

There have been major cracks in the ODM party, which have seen a group of MPs led by Mr Balala and Mr Ruto break-off over what they termed as insincerity and betrayal by the Prime Minister.

The PM’s supporters had called for the duo’s sacking during the Tononoka meeting two weeks ago, but the Premier chose a reconciliatory tone and asked the two to return to the party.

Coast ODM MPs allied to Mr Odinga have joined calls to have the Mvita MP sacked for joining a parallel ODM camp, as a section of them sought through intense lobbying, to replace him at the Tourism ministry.

Mr Balala had earlier maintained that he was firmly in ODM as one of the founder members.

Although the Tourism Minister had reiterated that the rally at Mvita Primary School had been planned long before the Premier’s visit, allies close to the coast MP say a major political announcement is expected to come out of it.

Mr Balala said that the fundraiser was in aid of village elders from his constituency, to help them come up with a project that will earn them some income.

Friday, December 18, 2009

ONGERI ON FIRE

Calls have intensified for the sacking of Education Minister Sam Ongeri and Permanent Secretary Karega Mutahi over the theft of over Sh100 million for the Free Primary Education programme.

At least six Members of Parliament called for stern action against the ‘big fish’ at Jogoo House, the headquarters of the Ministry of Education. MPs Danson Mungatana and Charles Kilonzo said the two top officials had failed in their capacities to safeguard public resources.

“There is no other explanation other than negligence of the highest order. It is very sad that two professors can fail to notice funds being misappropriated under their watchful eye,” Mr Mungatana who is the MP for Garsen said.

“We do not want to see that the small people only are the ones being prosecuted,” Mr Kilonzo, the Yatta MP asserted. “Nobody is going to take this country serious if we don’t take action against the big fish.”

Joining the two at a press conference, Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni threatened that the backbench would petition the Speaker to recall Parliament early to censure Prof Ongeri should he insist to remain in office by mid January.

The lost funds are part of billions of shillings in support of the government’s efforts for free primary education and subsidised secondary education. A report by Britain’s Department for International department (DFID) showed that the monies cannot be accounted for. Despite increasing pressure on the two to step aside to allow investigations, Prof Ongeri on Tuesday dismissed the calls saying he should not be held accountable.

The Kenya Anti Corruption Commission is in the middle of investigations into the scam and has promised to release a report by mid January.

An audit report by the Ministry however accuses officials at the Secondary School section of colluding to siphon the money through forged claims at capacity building workshops. The PS, Prof Karega Mutahi suspended 26 officers over the saga three months ago, but legislators are questioning why he left out officers in the basic education unit under whose docket the funds fall.

Separately legislators Nicholas Gumbo and John Mbadi accused senior officers at Jogoo House of diverting attention from the “real culprits and using innocent people scapegoats in the matter.”

“Even most disturbing and suspicious is that the Director of Basic Education under who the FPE falls is not only in office but a key member of the committee ‘purported’ to be investigating the matter,” Mr Gumbo said.

Mr Mbadi added that the Ministry’s accounting system is weak and provides loopholes for graft.
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