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Archive for April 2nd, 2008

Kenya: Alcohol and mnazi is killing the Taita people

Posted by African Press International on April 2, 2008

Published by Korir, api

Wedded to the devil in the drink L

By Renson Mnyamwezi

Love for illicit brews is a common attribute among the Taita of Coast Province. Many of the men are known to have a strong inclination towards excessive and uncontrolled drinking often with tragic consequences.A retired civil servant recently attempted to commit suicide after losing Sh20,000, his pension arrears, while on a drinking spree in Wundanyi town.

In another incident an assistant chief was retired in the public interest owing to drunkenness. The officer had soiled himself with urine and diarrhoea in public after consuming a popular brew made from millet.

Those who drunk the brew had their trousers tied below the knees with strings to prevent any mess from leaking out just in case an attack of diarrhoea overwhelmed them.

Even teachers, who are expected to be role models in the society, are not spared from this vice. Some are known to carry with them illicit brews that they reportedly sip in between lessons at school.

“Our men are notorious drunkards such that you will find that they are the majority in mnazi drinking dens in Mombasa,” says Silviah Mlegwah, a local.

She says some Taita men working in Mombasa have abandoned their families back home after being enslaved by mnazi.

“Some of the local men are lazy slobs who prefer spending the whole day idling around brew dens instead of working,” says Mlegwah.

The district is rife with tales of men who have come to ruin owing to alcoholism.

In 2006, eight members of the one family perished after drinking what was suspected to be a poisoned local brew in Sagala, Voi division.

And in another incident two brothers died while several other people were taken seriously ill after imbibing a contaminated brew in Mwatate divisions Bura location.

This year, two middle-aged men died as a result of excessive drinking in Mwatate and Wundanyi divisions.

Some of the illicit brews are mixed with all manner of ingredients to accelerate the fermentation process and increase their potency. They include chloroquine, bicarbonate powder and formalin, which is usually used in the preservation of dead bodies in mortuaries.

Others use non-conventional means to increase the drinks potency and attract clients. In a shocking incident, police recently recovered a pair of a womans underwear from a can of illicit brew seized from a local brewer. It is believed that such additions have magical powers to lure more customers.

Other items used as charms include used sanitary pads and bras that are also put in the brews which consumers drink oblivious of its unhygienic preparation.

This soft spot for alcohol affects all levels of the society and not just the poor. It is alleged that the majority of local post-independence leaders spent most of their time drinking at the expense of advancing the interests of their community.

A story is told that whenever prominent local leaders went to State House to present their communitys problems during Jomo Kenyattas presidency, they would get so drunk on free tipple they would forget the mission that took them there.

Kenyatta is said to have had a great liking for the good-natured Taitas, who are reported to have sheltered him during the freedom struggle.

Though history has it that the Taitas were among the first converts to Christianity in Kenya, their weakness for alcohol never escaped the notice of even the early settlers.

Unable to understand the rate at which the Taita consumed liquor, one of the white settlers is reported to have described the community in the following words:

“Taitas are a very obedient people; but their only fault is their excessive love for alcohol.”

Many are those whose lives have been ruined by alcohol. They have become so dependant on it to the extent that they have become enslaved by the stuff.

High Court Judge Justice Msagha Mbogholi, a Taita, concurs with the white settlers assertion saying it captures the real character of the local community, especially men.

“The majority of Taita men are addicted to alcohol and cannot effectively participate in any meaningful development pursuits as theyve been rendered unproductive by excessive drinking,” says Mbogholi.

This excessive drinking has left a trail of misery, broken homes and frustrations in many families because men spend most of their earnings on alcohol.

Many children are out of school for lack of fees and scores of them are loitering in urban centres either as destitute or engage in child labour for lack of parental care.

And if there is a place that urgently needs the services of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), it is Taita where this vice has become the curse of the local population.

Alcohol abuse prevalence is very high in the area, much to the detriment of local development.

Some leaders in the area blame this excessive drinking on erosion of cultural and religious values.

It was taboo in the past for teenagers to even dream of leave alone touch alcohol unlike today when some of them are engaging in what was strictly an adult affair.

In the past people were allowed to take alcohol only after reaching puberty and even then only under the strict supervision by adults to avoid abuse.

But today caution has been thrown to the wind and over-indulgence has become the order of the day in the area.

Persistent police raids in the dens where alcoholics flock for their tipple have not helped much as the vice continues to get worse by the day.

Today it has become the passion for many and they start early in the morning.

The current hard economic times have seen many go for the cheap traditional brew known as mbangara, including locally distilled spirits, instead of beer.

The drink is widely seen as a home breaker with many women complaining that the men are no longer men.

They claimed their men could not rise to the occasion while others sleep on the cold floor when they are too drunk to climb on the bed.

Many are the men who wobble back home in the wee hours of the night expecting their wives to treat them like Prince Charming.

“We are left alone to fend for our families as our husbands, brothers, fathers and sons disappear into “mbangara” dens all day long,” a woman complained to Crazy Monday.

No wonder, some local women have been protesting to the local provincial administration officials during barazas about their men becoming economically lazy and sexually inactive.

At one time over 300 women in Tausa division confronted a senior administrator demanding to know why the government was allowing rampant sale and consumption of illicit drinks in the area.

The angry women complained to the official that their husbands had become sexually weak and were denying them their conjugal rights.

“We are protesting to you because our husbands have abdicated their marital roles and can no longer father children leave alone satisfying us due to alcoholism,” they told the official.

The women said some men were even unable to identify their own children, as they had become virtually strangers in their own homes since they spent most of their time drinking.

As a result many women are caught between a rock and a hard place.

“Although were sexually starved and tempted to engage in adultery we cant do so owing to the risk of contracting the HIV/Aids,” the women said.

The Wundanyi OCS, Chief Inspector Paul Odede, says women have been flocking to his office to seek assistance in fishing their husbands out of drinking dens.

In some cases men squander their entire salaries and pensions on drinks. Sometimes desperate wives are forced to accompany them to the banks so that they can get some of the money for domestic use before it is re-directed to the drinking dens. And the dens are scattered all over from Masumbesunyi in Wundanyi town to Kariobangi and Soko Ya Zamani in Mwatate town and Mwakingali in Voi town.

While in the past drinking parties were regarded as occasions to socialise or celebrating a special event like a marriage, today they have been turned into occasions for wickedness.

In one incident a teenager died after he slipped and fell on a rock while fleeing from the police who had raided a notorious local brew den known as Riverside.

Last year several police officers were injured when an irate mob attacked them during a crackdown on illicit brews in the area.

Mwatate DO, Wilfred Sigei, who last week seized more than 500 litres of illicit brews called on members of the public to assist in the campaign by volunteering information to the authorities in the spirit of community policing.

The DO, who has given the public his office mobile phone number asked them to either call or send alerts through SMS regarding illicit brews so that dealers can be arrested and prosecuted.

“Excessive drinking has rendered the majority of residents unproductive and the vice must be stamped out,” said the administrator.

He at the same time cautioned bar owners in the area against selling alcohol that does not bear the Kenya Bureau of Standards stamp warning that their licences would be withdrawn.

Mwatate MP Calist Mwatela blames widespread poverty in the district on the fact that most local men loath work and choose to drink instead.

Unauthorised brews have been thriving in the district because law enforcement officer are given a protection fee to allow the business.


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Minister Saitoti talks to Raila. Kibaki did not find time to waste on talks

Posted by African Press International on April 2, 2008

Published by Korir, api

Story by Standard Team

Kibaki sends Saitoti to meet Raila

Pressure continues to mount on President Kibaki and Prime Minister-designate Raila Odinga, to name the Cabinet even as both parties took a bold stand on the look of the new Government. A spanner was thrown into the works by Transparency International-Kenya Chairman, Dr Richard Leakey, who said the vacuum in governance due to the standoff on the formation of a Cabinet was likely to fuel corruption.

And at Uhuru Parks Freedom Corner, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Prof Wangari Maathai, led a group of activists to protest over the impasse, while the British High Commissioner, Mr Adam Wood, said economic recovery depended on genuine power-sharing.

Under the weight of the new pressure, President Kibaki stoked fresh impetus by sending a key emissary to try to break the logjam between him and Raila.

The President met his Internal Security minister, Prof George Saitoti, and the Head of Civil Service, Mr Francis Muthaura, before dispatching Saitoti to meet Raila.

Raila and Saitoti met for about an hour over lunch at an exclusive restaurant in Kilimani, Nairobi, where the minister is understood to have conveyed Kibakis message of willingness to thrash out contentious issues and form a new Government.

Earlier in the day, it had been expected that Kibaki and Raila would meet at the Office of the President, but Kibaki ended up in morning meetings with Saitoti, Muthaura and the Defence minister, Mr Yusuf Haji.

Now Kibaki and Raila are said to have agreed on a meeting this Friday, which could be the session to melt the remaining ice on the Cabinet stalemate.

The change of tack by Kibaki came as pressure piled on him and Raila to end the stalemate that has kept the country waiting since the two signed a peace accord on February 28.

Maathai was tear-gassed by police at Uhuru Parks Freedom Corner, just a few metres from Harambee House, as she led activists calling for a lean Cabinet of 24.Both ODM and PNU maintained that they were ready for a shared Cabinet, but that the key to unlocking the stalemate was with the two principals.

Kibaki and Raila hit a deadlock last week over Cabinet portfolio balance and the size of the Cabinet. ODM has insisted on 50-50 power-sharing basis and portfolio balance. The party is also insisting on a 34-member Cabinet instead of the 44 proposed by PNU.

However, sources said the meeting between Saitoti and Raila dwelt on the steps the two sides would take to unlock the impasse.

Saitoti is said to have conveyed to Raila President Kibakis willingness to strike a middle ground and reach a quick political settlement.

PNU must retain financeIn the new deal, ODM would be asked to cede more ground on the demand for key ministerial positions and lean Cabinet, while PNU would also give in some ground.ODM has demanded the ministries of Finance, Local Government, Roads and Public Works and Planning.

Saitoti is understood to have told Raila that PNU had no problem giving up the dockets apart from Finance, which they urged ODM to drop and take any other.

The only ministries that ODM has agreed it would not push for are Internal Security, Defence and Foreign Affairs, because they are pivotal for the President, the Commander-in-Chief.

It is understood that PNU is ready to drop 44-member Cabinet proposal to less than 40, and would like ODM to adjust his from 34 upwards.

Raila is said to have been non-committal and instead asked for more time to consult his team.

When the Kibaki and Raila meet on Friday, it could be the last meeting before a new Cabinet is formed, depending on how they resolve the contentious issues.

Earlier at Harambee House, Kibaki had arrived shortly before 10.15am followed closely by Saitoti and former Energy Assistant minister, Mr Mwangi Kiunjuri. Defence minister, Mr Yusuf Haji, also arrived at the venue, but left barely 40 minutes later.

Saitoti emerged from Kibakis office at 11.35am, but declined to enter his car when his aide opened the door for him. He instead lingered at the car park for a few minutes, talking on his cell-phone. He then proceeded for the lunch with Raila.

Kibaki did not leave the office until 1.40pm when he emerged, accompanied by Muthaura and Head of the Presidential Press Service, Mr Isaiah Kabira.

As the Presidents meetings were going on, the British High Commissioner was speaking at KICC during the opening of the African Banking Conference. He said Kenyans wanted a “lean and clean Cabinet”.

“Kenyans want to see a Cabinet set to work in restoring the country to the path of growth, while addressing the issues that underlay the troubles,” he said, adding: “This will help in restoring the confidence of businesses and investors and show that Kenya is open for business.”

He said Britain was ready to help the economy attract new investment and restore tourist interest.

On his part, Leakey said: “The war on corruption cannot be won unless a clean, lean and efficient government is in place.”

Leakey blamed the impasse on an effort to accommodate disparate political interests, “with some proposing a hugely bloated Cabinet”.

ODM MP for Mvita, Mr Najib Balala, said if Kibaki and Raila failed to agree soon, a fresh General Election would be the answer.

“Nothing is happening. They have not called a meeting. To them (PNU), it is business as usual and they care less,” said Balala.

Budalangi MP, Mr Ababu Namwamba, said insincerity was affecting the talks between Kibaki and Raila.

“The PNU side feels that we have been pushing them too much. They should agree to implement the deal in full or things fall apart,” said Namwamba.

Clean cabinetBut five MPs from the Mt Kenya region said the eagerly awaited Cabinet should have people of integrity.They said only “clean” legislators should find their way into the new Government. Mr Lenny Kivuti (Siakago), Mr Mithika Linturi (Igembe South), Mr Ntothia Mmithiaru (Igembe North), Mr Peter Munya (Tigania East) and Mr Emilio Kathuri (Manyatta) said the new Cabinet should be beyond reproach.

Reports by Patrick Wachira, Ayub Savula, David Ohito, Alex Ndegwa, Machuka Maseme, Morton Saulo, Renson Mnyamwezi and Munene Kamau


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Two Kenya MPs already murdered. Now the third one says she might be killed by councillors

Posted by African Press International on April 2, 2008

Published by Korir, api

If the MP is murdered, at least she knows her would be killers and has made the announcement. It is the duty of the police to see to it that her life is safe. But as we all know, it is impossible to guard somebody around the clock. There is opportunity if her detractors want to eliminate her. She travels to parliament in Nairobi alone and the trip takes her through lonely roads and hils. It is a matter of blocking the road and getting to her.


MP claims her life in danger after threats

Marakwet East MP Linah Kilimo Tuesday recorded a statement with police claiming her life was in danger.Mrs Kilimo took issue with 15 councillors from her constituency led by the Marakwet County Council Vice-chairman Mr Stephen Kapchila over a dispute in constituting her Constituency Development Fund committee.

Mr Kapchila had issued a statement to media asking the MP to constitute a new CDF committee or face unspecified action. Recording the statement at Kapsowar police station, Mrs Kilimo claimed the councillors sentiments were threats and should anything happen to her life, Mr Kapchila should be held accountable.

I cant take the threats lightly and especially my constituency where killing someone is not a big issue, she said.

She asked the police to summon Mr Kapchila to substantiate what he termed as unspecified action.

The MP wondered why the councillors were raising eyebrows yet they had done a commendable job that saw her constituency rated the fourth countrywide for proper management of the kitty.

I found my way back to Parliament by handling the kitty well, she added.

She said the councillors sentiments were regrettable and baseless and should be treated with the contempt. But speaking to Nation on phone, Mr Kapchila said he was ready to record a statement with the police and substantiate the claim and asked the MP to form a new CDF committee.

The district CDF manager, Mr Kariuki Mugwe, said the CDF Act, allows an MP who retains his seat after a general election would continue with the last committee or constitute a new one.


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Kivuitu to be prosecuted and send to jail for messing the elections

Posted by African Press International on April 2, 2008

Published by Korir, api

Kivuitu will be send to jail becaause of the mess he put the country in December when he speedily chose Kibaki as the winner despite having received not results from all the centres.

Sending him to jail will serve as a warning for those who may be imagining to do the same in the future.


ECK declines to react to serious mistakes report

The Electoral Commission of Kenya Tuesday declined to react to a report saying that it had admitted making serious mistakes in the way it conducted last years elections.

ECK chairman Samuel Kivuitu

We are not aware of such a report and we are only reading this in the papers today (Tuesday), an ECK official said.

The report, said to have been compiled by ECK commissioners during a recent workshop in Kilifi, pointed out several irregularities in the election process.

It says that there was no communication between presiding and returning officers during the elections, whose disputed results sparked countrywide violence.

The ECK official, who did not want to be identified, said chairman Samuel Kivuitu was shocked to read the story Tuesday.

The chairman will not react because he does not know the source of the report, the official said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Mr Kivuitu chaired a meeting of the ECK staff at his office.

It is not clear what was discussed but sources said the chairman expressed concern at the report, which he believes was leaked to the Press by some commissioners or members of staff.

The chairman has said that whoever gave you that report should react to it, the official said.

According to the report, the black books used to assist voters whose names were missing from the official registers and those who were registered more than once could not be used because they had not been updated.

The report was given to the press by lobby group Peace with the Truth and Justice (KPTJ) on Monday.

Mr Kivuitu declined to answer calls from the Nation.

The commissioners said the issue was so sensitive only the chairman could react.

ECK in spotlight

The report has put the ECK in the spotlight since it says that returning officers gave certificates to losers in some constituencies while others changed the names of persons to whom certificates had been given.

There were several irregularities in the whole election process, as the report reveals, and this prompted some lobby groups, including KPTJ to react.

KPTJ said it would join those seeking to start private prosecutions against ECK staff and commissioners.

The lobby groups which have vowed to prosecute the commission over the fiasco said on Monday they will use the admission made in the report as evidence.

However, attorney-general Amos Wako has said that private prosecutions against the ECK should be put on hold until the independent review commission set up under the power-sharing deal wraps up its work.


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Nyanza residents are facing massive flush flood and cholera

Posted by African Press International on April 2, 2008

Published by Korir, api

api-correspondent-odera-omolo.jpg<Story by Leo Odera Omolo<By Leo Odera Omol
Reports reaching Kisumu city from the low laying rural locations in four administrative districts are sending out distress signals of the looming danger of massive floods in the region. As heavy rains continue pounding upstreams in the rift Valley.
The much awaited long rains season arrived the previous week but it is already threatening to displace thousands of residents of Budalangi in Busia district,lower part of Nyakch Division and Kano plains in Nyando districts and Kochia area of Homa-Bay district.
Residents of the lower parts of North and South Kadem in Macalder Division of Nyatike constituency in Migori district are also living in fear thst River Kuja could burst its banks on both sides flooding a large area ,which is densely populated. And laying close to the shorelines of lake Victoria.
Hundred of the residents were seen moving with their household belongings and diomesticated animals to the higher ground as some of their houses had already sumerged in the water. Affected area include aneko, Ndiwa and Wath-Onger.
Specifically about 8,000 people are now living in fear of being swept away by swelling rivers following incessant heavy downpour in upstream parts of the riparian rivers.
Budalandi is located in Busia district in Western Province and it is the worst flood spot in the region.The perennial flooding of Budalangi is always covering the wider area on land as river Nzoia burst its banks sending residents fleeing their homes for safety grounds.s.
Concerted efforts by the government by way of building dykes along River Nzoia to prevent further flooding of the villages located on the lower parts of the area especially those near the Lake Victoria shorelines have always not been successful..
The long rain season which began around March 18 in earnest is likely to cause more havoc with the lives of people living close to River.Kuja in Migori ,Oluch in Kochia and Kanyipir parts of both Rachuonyo and Homa-Bay districts
The weathermen from the metereilogical departments have already sounded the warning of more possible deaths from more flush of floods waters at the Coast Province,Nyanza and Western.
A bulletin released by weather experts from the department says the flush floods could extend into areas hitherto considered safe in Eastern and Central Provinces of Kenya.It and that the rains might lead to transport problems.
The current heavy rainfall pounding parts of the country has already swamped the roads, villages and residential areas in Nairobi and other urban centres.
A spokesman for the KMD Mr.Stanslaus Gacheru was quoted as warning members of the public ,especially motorists and other road users that slippery roads may also pose dangers to motorists and pedestrians.
Mr.Gacheru also cautions flight aircrafts to take utmost care in the Western routes and avoid flying through clouds, especially in the afternoon hours. Such clouds. he said ,are associated with severe turbulence and cross wind and lightning strikes.
The KMD official called on farmers to take advantage of the onset of long rains and plant saying there could be normal rainfall in most parts of the country.
The weatherman has forecast that the March to May 2008 is out of Lanifia Contition which are prevailing in the pacific ocean. The warm condition over southern Indian Ocean may also continue triggering the formation of tropical depression/cyclones.
The long rains season came as assign of relief to the residents of Nyanza Province a region which Cholera toll has claimed the lives of 39 people in the past two weeks following the long spell of dry period.
Other reports says more than 20 houses have been submerged, crops destroyed and businesses in some centres closed down as floods continue to wreak havoc in Rachuonyo and Nyatike districts in the larger southern Nyanza regions.
Reports further stated that a man displaced in the post-election violence in Naivasha Mr.Orinda Ndege who still lives in a makeshift cottage built of paperbags in east Karachuonyo was among residents of Kobala area now counting their losses following torrential rains..
Orindas two wives and eight children perished ina house inferno when their Naivasha home for many years was torched down by a band of marauding gang of youth suspected to be members of the dreaded mungiki squad.
More houses were by last night submerged in the flood which are at Kawadagaone,Nyongo and Wagwe,Kdhoch in West Karachunoy and also central and east Karachuonyo locations
Top officials of then Red cross were reported to be in the areas affected by the flush flood making some kind of the on the spot assessment about the damage inflicted to the villagers and possible emergency food distribution. The Red Cross were reportedly distributing blankets, drugs and foodstuff.
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The second EAC/East African business council and media meeting summit in Tanzania next week

Posted by African Press International on April 2, 2008

Published by Korir, api

api-correspondent-odera-omolo.jpg<Story by Leo Odera Omolo
The second East African Media summit, organized by the East African Community in collaboration with the East African Business Council, is scheduled to be held in Dar Es Salaam, Mavenpick Hotel from 11th to 12 April 2008.
The summit will be attended by Chief Executives {CEOs} of the Media houses, media executives, editors, correspondents, regional peace and security experts from the East African Community partner states; Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
The Them of this years Media Summit isThe Role of the Media in Addressing the couses of Conflicts and Instability and their Prevention;The East African Dimension.
In a jointy note issue in Arusha this week by the Secretary General of the EAC Ambassador Juma Mwaachu and the Executive Director of the East African Business Council MR Charles Mbogori says in part:We are pleased to invite you to attend the Media summit, which is intended to strengthern rapport between the East African Community and the media fraternity in promoting regional in tegration and development in East Africa.
The joint note reminded the invited participants that the EAC Secretariat would cover the cost of a return airtickets plus two nights hotel accommodation costs in Dar Es Salaam.commencing on 11th and ending on 12th April 2008 for this purpose.;
Introductory and welcoming speeches will be delivered by the EAC Secretary General Ambassador Juma Mwapachu,the chairman of the East African Business Council,thye chairman of the EAC Council of Ministers Hon Eriya Katagay, who is also the Ugandas minister for the EAC Affairs, and Mr. Reginold Mengi, the chairman of the IPP
The media summit will also bne addressed by the Tanzania minister for EAC Affairs Dr. Diodorus Kamola MP.
The keynote address to this years Media Summit will be delivered by Ambassador Bethwell Kiplagat, the executive director of the Nairobi-based African peace forum on perspective on Peace and Security architecture of the EAC Region.
The final highlights of the media summit will be the launching/announcing of EAC media award competition to be followed by the closing address by the Tanzanian Minister for Information and broadcasting.
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Kenya politics, power and who is who.

Posted by African Press International on April 2, 2008

Published by Korir, api source.njoro’sblog

Clarification on structure of the Kenyan government

Nr 1: President Kibaki - Elected! ******

Nr 2: Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka

Nr 3: Raila Odinga (If he becomes Premier)

Nr 4: Deputy PMs

Nr 5: Ministers

From nr 2 down: All appointed by and answerable to the president in all real senses!


There have been various media reports that have created concern as to the roles of the position of the Prime Minister, Government appointments and structure of the Government following the national Accord. In that regard the Government wishes to clarify as follows: The President remains the Head of State and Head of Government. The Vice-President is the Principal Assistant or the President and the Leader of Government Business in Parliament.

The Prime Minister will coordinate and supervise the Government functions under the authority of the President.

The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Ministers will also have ministerial portfolios.

The President will appoint the Vice-President, Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers and all Ministers subject to the terms of the Accord. The Vice-President, Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers and all Ministers are directly responsible to the President. The President will continue to Chair the Cabinet.

The Accord does not include sharing of jobs in the Public Service.

Therefore, it should be clear that appointments in the Public Service are governed by the Constitution or Acts of Parliament.

To this end:
Holders of Constitutional offices, Permanent Secretaries, Ambassadors, Judges of the High Court, Chairpersons of boards and a few chief Executives of Parastatals are appointed by the President.

All other civil servants in Central Government and Local Authorities are appointed by the Public Service Commission or through its delegated authority.

Judicial Officers including Magistrates, etc are appointed by the Judicial Service Commission.

Teachers are appointed by the Teachers Service Commission.

Almost all Members of the Boards of Parastatals, Except the Chairmen, are appointed by their respective Ministers.

Chief Executives of Parastatals are appointed by the ministers on recommendation of the respective Boards.

Other staff or Parastatals are appointed by their respective boards.

I wish to assure public servants that there is nothing to worry about the safety of their jobs or the politicization of the Public Service. I urge public servants to embrace the implementation of the Accord. It is extremely important that professionalism in the Public Service is maintained and free from partisan politics.

10 March 2008


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Posted by African Press International on April 2, 2008

Published by Korir, api

Drunk on the alcohol they had just looted, some sang Awuleth umshini wami and continued into the night. By morning, two Zimbabweans were dead. They were victims of the latest xenophobic attacks.

Hundreds of mainly young men combed Attridgevilles informal settlements such as Jeffsville, Phomolong and Brazzaville, storming foreigners shacks and their spaza shops. Survivors, most of them fleeing with only the clothes on their backs, huddled at a temporary shelter at a primary school near the stadium where Jacob Zuma gave his first major speech after taking the helm of the African National Congress (ANC). A difficult decision awaited those not already taken away by immigration officials: to start afresh, penniless in SA, or to get into the bus provided by the home affairs department, and return to the deprivation they had sought to escape in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi or Zambia.

Unlike several other attacks around the country including one recently at the nearby Itireleng squatter settlement this one seems to have shaken many people, including in the ANC. The ruling party called on state institutions to apply immigration laws in a consistent, even-handed manner with due regard to the countrys constitution and its international commitments. Nine years ago a roll back xenophobia campaign was launched by the South African Human Rights Commission and others. Commission chairman Jody Kollapen says the main lesson learnt is that xenophobia cannot be dealt with simply by appealing to communities to be tolerant without addressing the economic dimension and competition for resources.

Last weeks incident even prompted Home Affairs Minister Novisiwe Mapisa-Nqakula to visit the migrants. But her department sought to deflect criticism by declaring that protecting migrants was not their brief. It promptly deported about 60 of the victims. The incident exposed shortcomings of government immigration policy, which has taken flak for criminalising migrants and fuelling xenophobia. Failure to manage policies, especially on asylum and regarding refugees, frustrates local people and discredits all migration in the eyes of ordinary people, says Sandy Johnson of the Centre for Development and Enterprise.

Political ambivalence has a lot to do with it too. Despite a huge backlog of applications for asylum, together with regular deportations, President Thabo Mbeki has said South Africans should live with the increased flow of Zimbabweans. Some have blamed desperate migrants for pushing up crime. But the Attridgeville attacks were indiscriminate, making no distinction between legal and illegal migrants. Even a Zulu man from KwaZulu-Natal fell victim to xenophobia. He paid a terrifying price for renting a shack on land owned by a Zimbabwean. They didnt care, they didnt ask. They just got in and kicked, he says.

To handle the stream of migrants, SA could choose to step up border control or issue temporary permits, but we dont really do either, Johnson says. A report by the auditor-general highlights shortcomings in managing SAs borders. It says, for instance, that there has been no security analysis of the border fences. But managing migration is also about fulfilling the requirements of international conventions that SA has signed.

We take on these obligations under international law, Johnson says. We subscribe to treaties, we wish to be seen as a state that is a good global citizen, but we dont manage them. This is easier said than done, however. Nobody should lack sympathy for the government because every country in the world that is richer than its neighbours face problems of this sort, Johnson says. Tara Polzer of the Forced Migration Studies Programme at the University of the Wit- watersrand says every country in the world pretends it can control its borders, yet this is almost an impossible task.

While it is standard practice internationally for the authorities to monitor and enforce immigration laws, it is important to separate issues. Polzer says that deporting victims while ignoring crime perpetrated against them is wrong. It gives the impression that whatever you do to someone who is illegally in the country is fine, since they should not have been here in the first place, she says. After all, even the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration proclaimed recently that labour rights applied to all workers, including undocumented migrants.

Xenophobia, which appears to be a mounting problem targeting black migrants, has been called the new apartheid, perpetrated by the old victims who are still wallowing in poverty in the new SA. Polzer says interpersonal tensions in SA are often dealt with violently, and entire groups are blamed for the actions of individuals. In addition, she says previous xenophobic attacks point to the existence of a trigger relating to service delivery. There is always a particular one-on-one issue, and there are people who construct what they are doing as self-defence, she says.

In the Attridgeville attack, the trigger was ostensibly the electrocution of a local by an illegal power connection made by a Zimbabwean. A subsequent protest touching on demands for RDP houses, electricity and running water may have provided further impetus. I think its two completely separate issues that get connected, says Polzer. On the one hand is an individual case, and on the other a mobilised community.


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Tanzania: Genital mutilators lay down tools

Posted by African Press International on April 2, 2008

Published by Korir, api

As rain pounded the dark brown soil, former female circumcisers of Monduli District waded into the mud soaked Nanja section of Lepurko village, to surrender their work tools to the Arusha Regional Administrators.

They were 20 of them, all elderly women who had turned up at the open air ceremony to mark the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood an event which was observed at Regional level in Sepeko ward of Monduli District. We have discovered that practicing female genital mutilation not only risked our daughters lives through excessive bleeding, but also exposed them to other infectious diseases such as HIV-Aids because a single razor normally used to operate up to ten girls at a time, said the Maasai ladies who apparently couldnt speak in Swahili, so their speech had to be translated by one Margaret Konga.

Some local residents who braved the rain to turn up at the event were however not quite sure; These ladies charge Tsh. 10,000 to circumcise one girl and usually a single operator handles between 10 and 20 girls at a session, it is too lucrative a trade to be ditched easily, they observed. The Regional Commissioner, Isidori Shirima, who was the guest of honor at the occasion made a comment on that: Maasai are always people of honor who strictly abide to their vows and what these ladies have just taken here are also vows that even Engai (God) has witnessed, he said warning that like all other traditional oaths, going against them could spell disaster.

The retired female circumcisers appealed to local leaders to find them alternative income generating occupations so as not to be tempted again with the barbaric practice! A team of about 15 Maasai youths (Morans) also declared openly never to marry circumcised women. They also promised to abandon polygamous marriages saying, Our fathers used to marry up to 15 wives, but this made them vulnerable to infectious sexually transmitted diseases. We have also learned that Biitia (Aids) is not a disease for just the Waswahili (Non-Maasai people) but can also affect and kill us as well!

The regional ceremony to mark the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, was organized by the Arusha- based, Health Integrated Multi-Sectoral Services. This was the second time for the WRA to be observed in Arusha. Last year the event was launched in the region at the Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium within the Municipality. Speaking at the function, Mackrine Shao-Rumanyika the HIMS director and Regional contact person for the National White Ribbon Alliance explained that Female Genital Mutilation practices, HIV-Aids, Malaria and long distances to health centers in rural areas were major causes of both Mother and Child mortality in Tanzania with poor families being more susceptible.

The Monduli District Medical Officer, Zaitun Kivuyo said while more than 90 percent of expectant mothers in the area report for pre-delivery clinical check-ups, most of them still prefer to give birth at home.
Child births comes suddenly and when that happens, women in remote parts can not endure the long trek to hospital and in Monduli that can be up to 20 kilometers, that is the problem, she explained. The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood is an international coalition of individuals and organizations formed to promote increased public awareness of the need to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for all women and newborns in the developing as well as developed countries.

Since it was launched in 1999, the White Ribbon Alliance has been a leader among those holding governments and institutions to account for the tragedy of maternal mortality. WRA has members in 91 countries. In Tanzania the alliance was launched in 2003 by the immediate former First Lady, Mama Anna Mkapa. The white Ribbon Alliance so far has enabled the establishment of auxiliary National Alliances in eleven member countries. Tanzania is the only East African country with such a National Alliance.

Other African countries which so far have established National White Ribbon alliances include, Burkina Faso, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Nepal, Pakistan, South Africa, Yemen and Zambia.


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Posted by African Press International on April 2, 2008

Published by Korir, api

Story By Standard Team

Barely 90 days after losing her parliamentary seat, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Prof Wangari Maathai, was teargassed at Uhuru Parks Freedom Corner, Nairobi. Maathai had accompanied civil society activists protesting against a proposal for a 44-member Cabinet, which they said would drain public coffers by “up to Sh387 billion” annually. But in a case of history of Maathai-police confrontations in the 1990s repeating itself, the officers would not allow her and the group to protest peacefully. As soon as the civil society troops started leaving Freedom Corner for Harambee House, Nairobi police boss in charge of operations, Mr Wilfred Mbithi, directed anti-riot police to disperse them. The police would hear nothing of the activists plea to be allowed into the city streets. Mr Harun Ndubi, an activist, had initially engaged the police in an effort to persuade them to allow a peaceful demonstration.He told the protesters that the demonstration was illegal because the police had not been notified.

A Kenyan paid demonstrator! What does she know about a lean cabinet? She has just been paid to run around or given an open market trading licence and asked to demonstrate against Kibaki’s government.

A protester is overwhelmed by the effect of teargas at Uhuru Park after anti-riot police dispersed them. Civil rights groups were demanding a lean Cabinet that would have more women. Pictures by Stafford Ondego

“I permitted the group to plant a tree, but a demonstration is illegal,” Mbithi said. Among the protestors were Maina Kiai, the chairman of the Kenya National Commission of Human Rights, Ms Gladwell Otieno, the executive director of Africa Centre for Open Governance, and former Assistant minister, Dr Joseph Misoi.In her style of planting a tree before peace missions, Maathai planted one at Freedom Corner before attempting to hold a peaceful demonstration to President Kibakis Harambee House office, where the Head of State was meeting Internal Security minister, Prof George Saitoti.

In their protest letter, which they planned to hand over to Kibaki and the Prime Minister-designate, Mr Raila Odinga, the protestors called for a 24-member Cabinet.

In a protest letter Otieno read, the protestors said it was wrong for PNU politicians to propose a 44-member Cabinet.

“These are irresponsible and expensive suggestions given the economic crisis in the country,” Otieno said.

She said running 44 ministries would cost taxpayers Sh387 billion a year.

The activists said Kenyans wanted a lean and clean Government with committed, qualified and honest members.

For Maathai, yesterdays experience was a case of history repeating itself. Nineteen years ago, the acclaimed environmentalist faced off with the police at the same venue, marking the beginning of her campaign against Government plans to build a 60-storey complex at Uhuru Park to house the then rising Kenya Times Media Trust empire.

Three years later, in 1992, as the country had just returned to multiparty politics and was looking forward to the momentous elections, Maathais was in trouble again at Uhuru Park.

Her knee blocked a flying tear-gas canister fired at her as she prodded the mothers of political prisoners camping at the park to hold their ground and force the Kanu Government to release their sons.

The force of the canister left the fiery activist sprawling on the ground in pain as the outraged mothers stripped bare in an effort to shame the charging police officers.

When she returned to the same grounds wearing the crown of a peacemaker and accompanied by civil society activists yesterday, the police treated her with the same contempt they had of her two decades ago.

Later in the day, Saitoti, as the Presidents emissary, met Raila to discuss when next the two would resume talks on the Cabinet.

Maathai, who made history in 1971 when she became the first woman in Kenya to obtain a PhD degree, has fought many battles at social, political and environmental fronts.

But it is at the environmental and political levels that she is well remembered for. She won international recognition for her determination and resilience in whatever she set her eyes on.

On the Uhuru Park project, Maathai had the last laugh when the international community heeded her call, forcing the financiers to withdraw. She thus saved Uhuru Park.

Before Kenyans forgot the Uhuru Park saga, Maathai was back in the news in 1999. Private goons, who had been hired to block her from Karura Forest, which was being sub-divided and sold to private developers, brutally attacked.

Walking barefoot, and a walking stick in hand, a seriously wounded Maathai left Karura Forest but vowed to return to save the home of the endangered indigenous carvers tree (muhugu).

During her battles with the establishment, Maathai remained focused on her cause even when politicians used the floor of Parliament to malign her over personal issues.

Unable to frustrate her efforts, Maathais detractors pushed for the de-registration of the Green Belt Movement, the NGO she founded in the 1970s and was using in her crusades.

But it is as if the age-old truism prophets are never recognised at home was crafted with Maathai in mind. In 2004, she was recognised as an international peacemaker when she won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Earlier, she got an honorary doctorate degree in law from Williams College in the US in recognition of her dedication to environmental protection.


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Wangari Maathai and Kiai lead demontrations in Kenya using Norwegian money

Posted by African Press International on April 2, 2008

Published by Korir, API

Written By:Collins Anampiu

Consultations on new cabinet still on

The wait is still on for a new grand coalition cabinet as the two principals continue to consult.

On Tuesday there was little activity at the president’s office at Harambee house with the expected meeting between the President and Prime minister designate Raila Odinga failing to take place.

Following Monday’s cabinet meeting chaired by president Kibaki, expectations were high that the president would Tuesday meet the prime Minster designate to iron out issues in anticipation of naming the new coalition cabinet.

However the meeting did not take place, with sources indicating that the ODM leader was consulting with his party members at Pentagon House.

Apart from stemming the rising anxiety on the naming of the new cabinet, the two principals are also running out of time as parliament reopens on April 15 with most of the business pending as questions have been deferred in the house due to lack of ministers in various dockets.

The issue of portfolio balance as stipulated in the National Accord and Reconciliation Act as well as the size of the cabinet have so far been the outstanding issues that the two principals are yet to agree on.

Meanwhile a section of section of civil societies Tuesday took to the streets to demonstrate against the delay in naming of the new cabinet.

Led by the Kenya National Human Rights Commission chairman Maina Kiai and Nobel Laureate professor Wangari Mathai, the group called on both President Mwai Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga to settle for a lean cabinet of at least 24 members.

Efforts by the group to serve the two principals with their petition were thwarted by security officers who dispersed them terming the procession illegal.


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Was Maina Kiai bribed in Norway with millions of kroner? Wangari Maathai joins him in a demonstrations that may ruin Kenya

Posted by African Press International on April 2, 2008


kiai-and-maathai.jpgKiai and Maathai.

Kenya National Human Rights Commission chairman Maina Kiai was recently in Oslo, Norway where he dined and enjoyed the Norwegian winter.

In his company were Norwegians who want to see Kenya change towards the direction that they can manipulate easily.

While in Norway, Kiai received millions to organise a human rights workshop. He proposed and got 20 million for what he said was a human rights workshop to be held in Kenya to educate Kenyans on how to guard their rights. Let us hope that the money will reach those who need it and not to be wasted in hotels, demonstrations and parties with cronies.

Another frequent visitor to Norway is the lady who was given the Nobel Peace Prize by the Norwegians just to strengthen her international status because she is a friend to some Norwegians who want to see Kenya their own way.

Nobel Laureate professor Wangari Mathai was assistant minister in Kibaki’s government before she got the prize. After getting the prize and when re-appointed during a reshuffle, she refused to take up the job of assistant minister. She still enjoys a security detail. Why should tax payers money be wasted to pay for her security? When you win Nobel Peace Prize you get money. Can’t she not pay her own security if she fills threatened?

Many in Norway at the time had told her that she was now too big for an assistant minister position and that she should be given a full ministerial status with a flag, a thing she did not get. Now she has joined demonstrations.

Her own Tetu constituents did not elect her this time to parliament. That should say something to the international community. You may be popular to foreigners but less popular at home.

Kiai was in Norway recently. Wangari is often in Norway. Now they want to be professional demonstrators? The money that Mr Kiai got from Norway the other day hopefully is not being used to pay people to demonstrate.


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Demonstrators in Kenya are agitators of bad governance: They should be arrested before they cause madness in the land

Posted by African Press International on April 2, 2008

Published by Korir, api

Every time things do not go their way, they demonstrate. This calls for the days of former president Moi who did not entertain nonsense.

President Kibaki is lenient and now is the time to deal with agitators. Why should a laurate in the name of Wangari Mathai be part of leading a demonstration to demand a lean cabinet? Human rights Commmission Mr Kiai was part of it, a man who was given millions in Norway recently to confuse Kenya. Kenyans wake up.

She demonstrated during Moi’s rule a great deal. Now she demonstrates also during Kibaki’s time?

The other day it was reported that she was in a farmers meeting with Raila Odinga. What is she up to?

Kibaki appointed her assistant minister in the last cabinet but she declined because she believes the Nobel Peace Prize has made her so big. May be Raila has promosed her something or she is merely marking herself for international media since there is quiet surrounding blanketing her now.

Sometimes one does not need to shout alot to be heard.

Now is the time when Kibaki should use powers and educate disgruntled elements properly. Time of being lenient is over.

Why are Kenyans demosntrating all the time ODM is unhappy?


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Ban Ki-Moon sues for transparency during vote count in Zimbabwe

Posted by African Press International on April 2, 2008

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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for utmost transparency as counting and tabulation of votes continue in Zimbabwes presidential and parliamentary elections.

In a statement issued late Tuesday by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said he had been closely following the situation in the Southern African nation, where the results are still emerging after voters went to the polls on Saturday.

As the counting and tabulation of votes continues, he calls for continued calm and transparency so that the people of Zimbabwe can have full confidence in the process, the statement said.

In the presidential poll, the incumbent Robert Mugabe is facing Morgan Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni. If a winning candidate does not receive more than 50 per cent of the total vote, then a run-off race is required.

Meanwhile, U.S. State Department officials have intimated that Zimbabwes opposition movement was holding talks with President Robert Mugabes ruling party over a possible step down by the ageing leader as initial poll results have put the opposition in the lead.

But an opposition leader had described the speculation as mere rumours.


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