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Archive for August 12th, 2008

Nigeria: The Olympics – records in futility (Opinion)

Posted by African Press International on August 12, 2008

Lagos (Nigeria) – Watching the spectacular opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics last Friday, I could not help but wonder whether Mankind knows what it is doing, organising these costly games with the goal of setting new records.

For many years leading up to last Fridays start of the 29th Olympiad, tens of thousands of young men and women in all corners of the globe trained intensely, day and night, then ferociously competed in qualifying trials for a chance to make it to Beijing, there to win medals and break records. Well, I say to all of them that they are labouring in vain, because no human being is going to break any record already set by our cousins in the rest of the Animal Kingdom, and that is in every sport that you can think of.

The Olympiads Chinese hosts staged an elaborate show last Friday, summoning all the riches, tricks and wisdom of their 5,000-year-old civilisation. Sparkling explosions, a sea of drummers, acrobats, rockets and elaborate fireworks all heralded the Games start in which the host country aimed to set a record of its own with the costliest and most spectacular Olympics opening ceremony since the old Greeks invented it in 700 BC. But never mind.

During the march past the Birds Nest stadium by thousands of athletes from 205 countries and territories last Friday, one could see some very hefty men and women in the competing teams. Most probably, these were the wrestlers, boxers and discus throwers. Some of them appear to tip the scales at 150kg in body weight. That is still nothing compared to the body size of an African bush elephant Loxodonta africana. One specimen bull captured in Kenya was 13 feet tall and weighed 12 tonnes. Standing side by side with this bull, even the great sumo wrestlers Koinishiki and Akebono will look like toys. And thats not even the record for animal body size, which is held by the Great Blue Whale Balaenoptera musculus. One specimen captured in 1947 weighed 187 tonnes; its tongue alone weighed 4 tonnes, and it had 15 tonnes of body fat, more than a Nigerian ten-tonne truck can carry!

Also on parade in Beijing on Friday were some exceptionally tall men. They were most probably basketballers. Well, they are not tall at all compared to the giraffe Giraffa Camelopardalis. One Masai bull captured in Kenya in 1957 was 19 feet tall, at least a third of that being the neck. Among the proudest athletes now in Beijing are the sprinters, some of whom are able to do the 100-metre dash in slightly under 10 seconds. That is not a record at all, to be frank. If some of our animal cousins are in the race, Jamaicas Usain Bolt will not get even an aluminium medal. He cannot outrace a lion, which can run at 80 kph over short distances. Mr Bolt stands no chance against a cheetah Acinonyx jubatus, which can run the 100 metre race in under 5 seconds. This is not to mention the spine-tailed swift of India, which clocked 3.2 kilometres in 33 seconds. That means it can do the 100 meter race in 1.03 seconds! And thats not even the animal record, because the peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus, while stooping from great heights often attains a speed of 220 kilometres per hour.

Athletes from Kenya, Ethiopia and Morocco stand to make Africa proud in Beijing with record-breaking middle and long distance runs. Unfortunately, they are not going to break any real records. No human 200 or 400-meters runner can beat the Arabian dog saluki in such a race, or for that matter the Afghan hound. Our great runners from Morocco know better than to compete against the North African ostrich Struthio camelus, which despite its bulk, easily clocks 72 kph over a middle distance. In fact, while a very fast human runner has run a miles race in under 4 minutes, a racing horse, with a rider on top, has done it in under 1.5 minutes. A horse has been known to run 160 kilometres in 8 hours 58 minutes, something no human runner can do. In fact, even the great Kenyan long-distance runner Kipchoge Keino cannot beat a Dromedarys camel, Camelus dromedarius, in a real long distance race, because a camel was recorded to have covered 184 kilometres in 12 hours. The legendary Ethiopian marathon runner Abebe Bikila will not win even a wrought iron medal in a race against the Arctic tern Sterna hirundo; one such bird was tagged in Finland in June 1996 and 7 months later, it was caught in Australia, a journey of some 10,000 kilometres.

Many of the great human athletes now assembled at Beijing are going to claim gold medals for the long jump and high jump, all of them in vain. If the Great Gray Kangaroo Macropus giganteus of Australia were to compete at the Olympics, it will carry away all the medals, because it can run at 25 kph and leap more than 20 feet at a go. The man who will walk away with a gold medal for high jump in Beijing will have jumped only a few meters off the ground. You call that high jump? Look, in November 1973, a Ruppells vulture, Gyps ruppelli, collided with an aeroplane at 37,000 feet above the Ivorian city of Abidjan. Which medal do you want to give to this vulture? I also saw many long-legged men and women at the Beijing parade, probably there to compete in the hurdles. With the greatest respect to the late Ugandan policeman John Akii-bua, who did Africa real proud when he captured the 110-meter hurdles gold medal at the 1972 Munich Olympics, he wouldnt have won an aluminium-alloy medal if a pronghorn antelope Antilocapra Americana were in the race. This antelope can run at 50 kph non-stop for 7 kilometres and leap for several meters every minute, a real hurdles racer.

Some of the largest haul of medals at Beijing will be collected by the swimmers from various countries, especially the swimming powerhouses such as USA, Russia, China and Germany. The truth, however is, whether in freestyle, backstroke, butterfly, medley or any other swimming race, no human swimmer stands any chance against the cosmopolitan sailfish Istiophorus plecopterus, which was once timed in a pond to have clocked 300 feet in 3 seconds. Alongside the swimmers, there are also men and women at the Olympics who claim to be expert divers. For where? If the emperor penguin Aptenodytes forsteri were to compete in this race, which one of them will win even a wooden medal? One such penguin was seen in 1990 to have dived 1,585 feet in the Antarctic Sea.

Some of the heftiest men and women in Beijing right now are there to compete in weight lifting. Now, whether it is snatch or clean and jerk, no human weightlifter can compete against an Indian elephant Elephas maximus, which does neat clean and jerks with heavy logs of trees. In fact, in proper physiological terms, the best measure of raw power is how much load you can carry in relation to your own body weight. If such a measure were adopted at the Olympics, no human being will win so much as a straw medal against the Rhinoceros beetle, which can lift a roll of dung 850 times its own body weight!

I was listening to a television commentator saying last Friday that athletes, sports officials, journalists and sports lovers have swarmed China for the Olympic Games. Does he know what a swarm is? The biggest human gathering ever was at the Hindu Maha Kumbh Mela festival when 30 million people bathed in the Ganges River in one day on January 23, 2001. Look, animals hold the record for a real swarm. One day in 1988, a locust swarm of Schistocerca gregaria was seen crossing the Red Sea from Yemen to Eritrea. It was 17 kilometres long, 12 kilometres wide and 4 kilometres deep, estimated to contain 100 billion individual locusts. How many people are there in all of China, populous though humans think it is?

I overheard some people saying at the weekend that US President George W. Bush should be awarded a gold medal for ingratitude. When he attended the Olympics opening ceremony last Friday, he took a swipe at the Chinese government for detaining human rights activists, suppressing rebellious Buddhist monks in Tibet and supporting the Sudanese government in Khartoum despite a Western uproar over events in Darfur. Even at that, Mr Bush cannot win an ingratitude medal in a competition against the black widow spider Latrodectus mactans. In this species, the female spider is four times bigger than the male. Immediately after sexual intercourse, the female grabs the male and eats it..

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Published by African Press International – API /Source: Daily Trust (Nigeria), by Mahmud Jega

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GHANA GETS 15 MILLIONS US DOLLARS FINANCIAL BOOSTER FROM EBID TO REINFORCE ITS FIRE SERVICE DEPARTMENT CAPACITY

Posted by African Press International on August 12, 2008

The wild bush fires have been the worrisome phenomenon of all the sahelien countries during the dry season but to help control this incident the Ghana government has just received a big financial booster from the Ecowas Bank for Investment and Development , EBID at a signing ceremony held at the Bank Headquarters in Lome on Friday 8th of august 2008.
The glimmer of hope was raised here following the signing of a loan agreement of 15 million US Dollars between the EBID President Christian Adovelande and the Ghanaian Deputy Finance and Economic Planning Minister George Baffour Gyan .
Mr Adovelande declared the acquisition of modern equipments by this loan agreement as well as the training of the firemen will allow the Ghana government to prevent and manage efficiently the sinister and by then will be a kind of confidence building for the population and the investors as part of the good will of the Ghanaian authority to preserve security in the country.
According to the Bank President this loan agreement is going to cover 94,34 per cent of the estimates .
Mr Adovelande said that the modernization of equipment for the Ghana Fire Service was a priority for the security needs of the country because the fire sinister can become a source for the insecurity to the detriment of social peace.
During his speech the Professor George Baffour Gyan said with this EBID loan we are going to buy extra lines Fire tenders machinery to enable the Fire Service Department to genuinely handle the wild fire bushed in the northern part of Ghana.
The Ghanaian Deputy Finance Minister also stressed the need for the Fire Service Department to acquire in the future sophisticated logistics like helicopters to spray gas over the areas of the sinister because the grasses are more flammable during harmattan period.
The most happiest person present at the ceremony was Ghanas Deputy Fire Officer William J. Mensah.
Mr Mensah emphasizes that the focus will be on the Tema District because it is a very important community in terms of economy for the country because of the Tema Port.
He also explains that most of the wild bush fires are the resultant of the traditional hunting while the hunters sometime set fire to the bush just to encircle the animals but unfortunately, those fires get out of hands and ravage entire region.

Send in to API by Ekoue Blame , Lome

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African Press International – API

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ECOWAS COMMISSION AND ECOWAS BANK FOR INVESTMENT AND DEVELOPMENT DONATE TO FLOODS VICTIMS IN TOGO

Posted by African Press International on August 12, 2008

Story / Ekoue Blame , Lome

The Ecowas Commission and Ecowas Bank for Investment and Development , EBID, have respectively donated 50 and 5 million CFA francs to the Togo government to bring relief to the floods victims in Togo.
Madam Adrienne Diop who led the Ecowas Commission delegation and Mr Christian Adovelande , President of EBID presented the two cheques to the Togolese Minister for Security and Civilian Protection Colonel Atcha Titikpina in Lome over the weekend.
Madam Adrienne Diop said on behalf of the Commission President Dr. Ibn Chambas that this donation is a gesture of solidarity from the sub regional institution to the President , the people of Togo and the floods victims.
In this moment of calamity which ravaged the country, the Ecowas could not stay aside, she added.
She also said that apart from the donation by EBID, the financial institution will take part in the rehabilitation of the destroyed roads and bridges infrastructures.
On his side, the Togolese Minister for Security and Civilian Protection expressed satisfaction and declared that this gesture is a signal or a symbol of solidarity and relief for the Togolese people.
This gesture of humanitarian compassion goes to our heart and proves that Ecowas is making progress he said.
He also promised to use efficiently the humanitarian assistance to rescue the floods victims.
It will be recalled that last month floods have killed at least 10 people and rendered 10842 homeless in the central and maritime regions of Togo.

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Posted by African Press International on August 12, 2008

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Do not despair on Mau Forest

Posted by African Press International on August 12, 2008

My brothers, let me first briefly tell those of you who may not be aware, the truth about the Mau Forest. The recent alarming statements coming from several politicians, and fuelled by our enemies in PNU and also ODM are distortions of fact.

Our people have been in Mau Forest for decades. We do not cut and sell the trees , we only farm on small tracts of land. Why have the Kalenjin suddenly been identified as the cause if all the problems of drought in Kenya? In fact, the propaganda is that we are affecting Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan and even far away Egypt!

That is a big, big lie. Our people’s farming in Mau cannot affect even ONE percent of the water in Kenya. Ask yourself, if we have been here for so many years, why is it suddenly urgent to evict our people?

The answer is that this has nothing to do with water. Two weeks ago, PNU sent a group of Maasai elders led by Kaparo and Konchellah to see Ntimama. We have intelligence agents within his security detail who told us everything. Apparently, the expansion and increase of Kalenjins is worrying both PNU Kikuyu and the Maasai leaders. You saw what nearly happened in Kilgoris where they had to resort to violence, assisted by the Government, in order to win that seat. They are afraid that with the spread and numerical increment of Kalenjin farmers, the number of Kalenjin MP’s will rise dramatically, therefore we must be forced back to squeeze together in our traditional areas. In this way, we shall eventually be restricted to concentration camps.
Again I ask, if water catchment is the problem, why are Kikuyu farmers inside Mount Kenya staying there freely and even increasing? After all, this is Kenya’s biggest forest and should be protected first!

Sadly, our own Arap Mibey continues to stab us in back with PNU. A friend suggested to me that we should now change his name to Arap Madoadoa. He has been turned around and told that it is easier for him to woo Maasai votes from Ntimama, and he should therefore support the eviction of our people. Does anyone think that we are children to be cheated by a handpicked committee from someone whose views we already know, that will be rubberstamped by the committee?

SOLUTION.
When we are faced with problems, we must find the solution within us. Fortunately, we have the capacity to deal with our problems. Ntimama is talking of forceful removal and bloodshed. Yet you all know how many times, since the days of the Kaplelach age group, we have sent the Maasai back to their views as broken men after battle.

It is time for Kimnyigei age group to dust their bows and swords. They must once again, fight to save their people in accordance with the circumcision oath. You elders must talk to them as usual and prepare them psychologically to do their duty. If we do not act now, this problem will persist and we shall be squeezed back into tiny parcels of land to starve to death. We did not settle in Mau out of choice, it was for survival and we shall not move for the sake of some political considerations. Necessary resources will be channeled to our fighters in the normal way. If need arises, additional men will be conscripted from other areas for the sake of this common course.
This time, the Maasai must face the wrath of the Kapnetet. When the news of the massacres breaks, it shall be the duty of us politicians to present the problem as a land problem and suspend evictions while talks are instituted. Thereafter, the talks shall continue for another three years while the status quo remains. At this time, elections will be approaching and no politician will be talking of evictions.

Which brings me to an important point: We must ensure our nane nane (August Eighth) agenda works as planned and by so doing send a firm signal to those out to undermine us that that we are no push-overs!

If anyone does not believe this strategy can work, ask Arap Madoadoa why he is the PM today if it was not for our people.

http://kenya.rcbowen.com/talk/viewtopic.php?id=85073

Send in by Peter Kyalo

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API

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Posted by African Press International on August 12, 2008

(Lopez Lomong carries the flag of the UnitedStates)

http://www.tampabay.com/sports/olympics/article763485.ece

EXCERPT

Lomong returned to Sudan to be reunited with his parents. After he was taken, they had searched for him without success. Eventually, they held a funeral for him and buried some of his possessions.

The family went to the grave site and dug up what they had placed there. Im alive again, he says.

There are others who are not. You cannot help but look at Lomong and think of others who vanished, others who had their lives altered and their dreams ripped from them, others who died.

As Lomong, who competes in the 1,500-meter run, marched forward on a magical night, he represented them all.

The rest of us, too.

http://lopezlomong.org/

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Source: Rosettasister’s weblog

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Published by Chief Editor Korir, African Press International – API

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The sorry state of the Kenyan worker

Posted by African Press International on August 12, 2008

Folks,
Withouta Tale Tale or going by riddles, the majority poor in Kenya are languishing in serious poverty from lack of food, housing, clothing a result of joblessness situation.
Even the educated have scrambled. There is undercover reports of many dying from lack of food. Food prices have gone high while the urban poor have no means let alone access to food. The Government of Kenya does not have Welfare Program to cutter for such critical urgent needs. Many have resorted to Molasses local brew and other uncultured form in order to survive.
We are dumbfounded to see that Legislatures closed Parliament for recess in a hurry, turned their faces the other way to avoid public demands,and wentfor break togo away to enjoy themselveswith bigfat earnings from publictaxes which makes them comfortable with enough to eat and live comfortably without care to address serious hunger situation faced by many Kenyans. This was the most urgent concern followed by the Constitution Policy Agenda. They ouldhaveconsideredstaying a littlelonger takinginto consideration the many lives going to be lost because of lack of food, and
work-out means to tackle the situation. This is the kind of Leadership Kenyans have, a sorry state of affair one can tell how considerate these Legislatures are to the people they represent and as policy makers.
Evaluation Contract for Ministries should have relevance to Poverty Eradication and rated according to needs met and employment creation to the jobless members of public. This being the ecommendation for funds requests and the Millenium Development Goals Strategic Plan. Any development realized should be seen to trickle down to ordinary Mwanainchi. The School leavers should have some form of employment in the Ministries after completion of Internships etc., Nothing of the sort was noted, except employmentand Government Contracts has previously been done according to who know who, and how one is related to the ruling government.
It is pathetic and not logical to see President Kibaki busy spending public money and energy in financing Campaign Rally’s for his succession candidate for 2012, while the Prime Minister is busy making schedules for overseas business trips companiedbygroups of unscrupulous corruptpeople who have corrupted the country in the past government leadership and whose activities are not for the good of Kenyans,spend huge somes of money in the financing of such trips instead of pulling these resource funds to subsidize for the poor situation inCountry and alsoto provide incentive programs for the same. What we are seing is a dilly dallying hide and seek, avoiding to tackle situations
as they stand.
Overseas Trip
Aug. 4th – Travels To Thailand On A State Visit
Aug. 6th.- Travels To Singapore On An Official Visit
Aug. 8th.- Leads Kenyan Delagation To The Olympics
Aug. 10th. Will Attend A Business Forum In Malaysia
Aug. 13th. State Visit To South Korea
He Returns To Kenya On August 15th.

August 28 Attends The Democratic Party Convention In Denver
Aug. 31 Will Lead A High Powered Trade Delagation To Washington Dc.
Sept 3 Jets Out On An Official Visit To Germany
Sept. 6 Will Open A Busines Forum In Switzerland
Sept. 9 Will Have A State Visit To Austria
September 11 Will Be In Norway For Two Days.

He Heads Back To Kenya On September 13.

All donor funds Kenya and other thirds world receive are tax payers money from the International Community for Foreign program undertaking which is part of their policy and the Citizenry have the right to DEMAND to know if their money isutilized in a responsible manner.
If physical killings of innocent Citizens by gun bullets and otherforms of thuggeryis regarded as treason, what about denyingsame Citizens basic fundamental needs like food to survive? Can we not equate this as an act of Economic Crime to the innocent Kenyans when funds are seen to be diverted for other none urgent and luxury use to the few. Is itright to treat Human Beings like animals without due regards of how and what they will eat? Leaders are therefore accountable and charged to be answerable for being Cruel and inhuman to their electorate.
Money is already trickling down to Kenya from Donor Agencies and other European Countries as well as from America while the purpose of these funds are not expressly addressed. Would it be not proper for the International Community to start calling for a halt of funds directed to Kenyan Government until things are put into perspectives and lives are saved? Government Ministries have money for other things but they dont care if lives are lost for having no food or accommodation or employment.
Is it a debatable subject that which is shelved for months and years, to be revisited when tides are good, or else to be forgotten wholesome when days and months and years have passed just to be visited at election time with a boost of handouts?
Many people now suspect and believe the Prime Minister Raila is helping the Gema Mafia and other corrupt Business Tycoons to swindle the country by design, so they can hole up the money they stole from Kenya and supervise their businesses while in company of the Prime Minister as their goodwill when in overseas trips together.
If this poverty case is anything to go by, Parliament must resume immediately to find solution for this pathetic miserable situation.
Thanks,
Judy Miriga
USA
Check this one!
The sorry state of the Kenyan worker
Published on May 25, 2008, 12:00 am

By Lillian Aluanga

Despite being touted as one of the countryʼs worst years, 2008 has brought unexpected glad tidings for Francis Ojwang. While many Kenyans would want to forget the unprecedented wave of violence that hit the country after a disputed election, Ojwang will remember this as the year he earned the highest amount of money as a construction worker.
For the past two weeks, Ojwang, has earned Sh500 per day as a mason at a construction site near Wilson airport in Nairobi.

Loaders at work at the Mombasa port. Picture by Maarufu Mohamed

He says he still cannot believe his luck.

But things have not always been this way. Ojwangʼs first job at Nyayo Highrise in 1996 earned him Sh80 per day as a handyman.
“Working in the construction industry is not easy because you are always exposed to risks. I love what I do but our working conditions are not good,” he says.
Ojwang leaves his single-roomed house in Kibera at about 6.30am and takes one hour to reach the construction site.
Depending on his financial situation, Ojwang may take a cup of tea and mandazi for breakfast. But when there is no money, he simply leaves for work on an empty stomach.
“I have two orphans to take care of and siblings to help back at home. Sometimes when my budget is spread thin, I skip breakfast and eat a plate of githeri for lunch. Sometimes, I can only afford one meal in a day,” he says.
Ojwangʼs story is replicated among thousands of Kenyan workers in lower income brackets, struggling under poor working conditions with little pay to show for their labour.
The story is the same in several parts of the country, stretching from Naivashaʼs flower farms to the vast sisal estates in Taita and Taveta districts, tea plantations in Nandi, coffee estates in central Kenya, the port of Mombasa and sugarcane farms in Western Province.

Struggle for survival

With families to feed and few alternatives in the job market, this cadre of workers continues to suffer in silence. They can only hope for a better day, when their wages and conditions will improve.
Generations of families have been born on these large farms, all getting into a cycle of poverty whose grip appears to be doing anything but loosening its hold on their future.
“What can we do? We must survive and so we take on any job that is available,” Ojwang says.
Over the years, Ojwang has worked on various construction sites in Kileleshwa, Runda, and Upperhill, earning between Sh150 and Sh350 per day.
As he speaks, Ojwangs adjusts the nylon bags tied to his feet before squeezing them into a pair of worn-out sneakers.
“We donʼt get any boots so we have to improvise to protect our feet from cement,” he says.
Then there are the rickety ladders on site.
“I saw a man fall once from the second storey of a building on Argwings Khodek road, breaking a rib and a leg,” he adds.
These are just some of the challenges Ojwang says construction workers have to contend with. Those who paint for many years, he says, also get complications in later stages.
“These paints have chemicals and no face masks are provided for the painters. It is recommended that painters drink at least a packet of milk everyday but that never happens,” he says.

Workers unions

An acting Deputy Labour Commissioner at the ministry of Labour and Human Resource Development, Mr Stephen Mbae, says the lucrative flower industry accounts for some of the largest number of workers in the agriculture sector. This in in comparison to the sugar, sisal, coffee, pyrethrum and tea sectors.
Mbae, who is in charge of Field Services, says the definition of the term ʽKenyan workerʼ is vast. It ranges from the CEOs of major organisations, middle income earners to the lower income earners, down to the househelps, gardeners and guards, he says.
“When we talk of the Kenyan worker we sometimes forget that even that gardener, maid and herdsman in our homes is a Kenyan worker. The term does not only refer to those hired by companies,” he says.
Mbae says employers have no right to bar workers from joining a union. But he also decries the lack of awareness among workers on the unions that exist to represent them. “Section 80 of our Constitution provides for freedom of association, and therefore no employer should restrict his workers from joining a union of their choice,” he says.
To prevent the practice of too many unions representing every kind of craft, Mbae says it is common for companies to merge and form associations, through which to negotiate with workersʼ unions.
“There are cases where workers are afraid to join unions because of victimisation by their employers, but there are others where workers simply donʼt know that a union exists to represent their interests,” says the official.On this score, Mbae squarely lays blame on unions, which he says, have not been up to scratch in educating workers on their rights.
With regards to better terms of service, Mbae says unions are expected, after every two years, to negotiate for better terms for workers. Mbae cites the Sectoral Order, General Order and Collective Bargaining Agreements as tools used to determine what workers should earn, adding that the ministry always opts for what is most favourable for the employees.
A Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) refers to an agreement on terms and conditions of employment made between a trade union and an employer, group of employers or an employersʼ organisation. The Sectoral Oder refers to terms and conditions set by wages councils which are to applied to some sectors.
A General Order usually applies to all sectors even when there is no Sectoral Order or CBA. Previously, the Government would come up with a General Order revising basic minimum wages every May 1.
“If say, for instance, a General Order provides that workers be paid Sh3,000, a Sectoral Order Sh2,900 and a CBA Sh3,200, then it is the CBA which will be enforced,” Mbae says.
“But if say for example after May I the General Order revises the basic minimum wage to Sh3,300, then this supercedes the CBA and is what the workers should earn,” he says.
Although employersʼ associations entering into a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the trade unions are bound by its regulations, there has been concern over exemptions made for some companies.
Mbae says there are factors that should be considered when settling on basic minimum wage rates, such as areas where workers live and the cost of living in different places.
“It may not be fair to pay a flower worker say in Karen, Nairobi the same amount as one working on a rural farm or in Naivasha town,” he says.
According to the Regulations of Wages and Conditions of Employment Act, 2006, general labourers including cleaners, sweepers,gardeners, childrens ʽayahsʼ, house servants, day watchmen and messengers working in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu should earn a basic minimum monthly wage(exclusive of house allowance) of Sh5,195. Those in the same cadre working in all other municipalities and Mavoko, Ruiru and Limuru town councils should get Sh4,792. Workers in this cadre working in all other areas of the country should, by law, earn a basic minimum monthly wage of Sh2,771.

Labour laws

Mbae however says the categories currently stipulated by law are too few and leave out many workers. But what of inspections and measures taken by the ministry to rein in errant employers?
Mbae says the Labour ministry carries out its inspections on a routine basis and whenever it receives complaints. It is during these inspections that labour officers also take time to educate both the workers and employers on labour laws. While conceding that the ministry has not conducted any studies to compare the state of the Kenyan workers to their counterparts in Africa and the world, Mbae says it would not be fair to do so since there are different parameters by which such comparisons could be made.
Although the newly crafted Employment Act, Labour Institutions Act, Labour Relations Act, Work Injury Benefits Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act are deemed to be ʽemployee friendlyʼ workers may just have to wait a little longer to see things change.
Already, the High Court has temporarily halted the operation of the new laws, after an application by the Law Society of Kenya which took issue with a section of the Work Injury Benefits Act, which deprives employers the freedom to insure employers with a licensed insurer of their choice.
Also causing murmurs of discontent among employers is the proposal to have new fathers granted paternity leave and mothers given up to three months maternity leave with full pay.
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Published by African Press International – API

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Environmentalists Blast Construction License for Amazon Dam

Posted by African Press International on August 12, 2008

International Rivers Friends of the Earth, Amazonia

For Immediate Release
Monday, August 11, 2008

Contact:
Glenn Switkes, Latin America Program Director, International Rivers
+1 510 848 1155, glenn@internationalrivers.org

Gustavo Pimentel, Eco-Finances Manager, Friends of the Earth, Brazilian Amazon (Office) +55 11 3887 9369; (cell) + 55 11 8622 4682, ef@amazonia.org.br

Iremar Ferreira, Executive Director, Living Madeira Institute +55 69 3227 7884; +55 69 3224 5926, iremafe@yahoo.com.br

Environmental organizations have condemned the Brazilian governments approval of a license for construction of Santo Antonio Dam, on the Madeira River in the Brazilian Amazon. The groups say that Brazils environmental protection service, Ibama, has caved in to political interests, ignoring the advice of its own technical staff in licensing the dam, and approving a mitigation plan which will do little to decrease its impacts.

Santo Antonio Dam would be the first of two dams to be built on the Madeira, the Amazons principal tributary. Environmental impact assessments predict serious impacts on the regions biodiversity, and on river bank communities, including indigenous tribes living close to the reservoir area.

Glenn Switkes, of International Rivers, says Environment Minister Carlos Mincs decision to license the dam demonstrates his mandate is to accelerate the implantation of large-scale, high-impact projects in the heart of Amazonia.
The fact that construction will be permitted without a definitive solution in place for fish passage threatens the livelihoods of thousands of river bank dwellers who depend on high-value fish species for their income.

Ibama required the consortium building the dam to submit an impact mitigation plan to demonstrate how they would comply with 33 conditions that the agency placed on the project. But independent analyses show that the mitigation plans include vague promises that are restricted to monitoring and further studies, rather than concrete measures to reduce the projects impacts. Decisions regarding the projects social and environmental viability, which should have been analyzed during the preliminary licensing phase, in July 2007, have been in effect deferred until later, when it will be too late to avoid the projects most serious effects.

Despite the fact that the construction license was issued only today, communities living close to the planned worksite have already been pressured to leave their homes, and accept inadequate compensation terms.

Iremar Ferreira, Executive Director of the Living Madeira Institute in Porto Velho says This is a serious violation of the human rights of the displaced people. The only assistance they are being given is a small payment for their land. As a result, they will have to find a way to survive on abandoned cattle
ranches, miles from the banks of the Madeira where their families have lived for generations.

Friends of the Earth, Brazilian Amazon says the granting of the construction license under these conditions will mean additional challenges to the project in the courts, and predicts further project delays, meaning added risks for investors and financiers of the project.

Gustavo Pimentel of Friends of the Earth says The project violates the Equator Principles (on project finance), and therefore should not be financed by banks such as Bradesco, Banco do Brasil, Ita, and Unibanco that have committed to the principles. Brazilian banks have an opportunity to prove that
they are truly committed to sustainability by refusing to finance the destruction of the Amazon.

-30-

For further information:

Analysis of the Basic Environmental Program, Santo Antonio Dam
http://tinyurl.com/666xrp

Muddy Waters: Consequences of the Damming of the Amazons Principal
Tributary
http://www.internationalrivers.org/en/latin-america/iirsa/muddy-waters-impacts-damming-amazons-principal-tributary

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Published by African Press International – API

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MUSIC WORLD: Ras Nas Music hotting up – Check it out on youtube and watanzania oslo blogspot

Posted by African Press International on August 12, 2008

Posted by Hassan Nganzo
Subject: Vs: Ras Nas aka Nasibu Mwanukuzi awasha moto wa kiutu-uzima!

Mwanaharakati, msanii na mwanamuziki wa ki-Tanzania, Ras Nas au Nasibu Mwanukuzi amewasha moto wa kiutu-uzima kwenye fani ya muziki Norway kwa kuwa msanii mwa-Africa wa kwanza nchini humo kupata nyota tano kwenye marudio ya albamu yake Dar-es-Salaam toka gazeti kubwa la Dagsavisen. Hii inadhibitisha kwamba wabongo nao tupo!

Soma zaidi kwenye blog ya Watanzania Oslo hapa

http://watanzaniaoslo.blogspot.com/

Ukitaka kuangalia shoo live ya Ras Nas unaweza kubonyeza Youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/rasnas55 (hapa kuna video tatu: 1.River Nile 2. Dar-es-Salaam na 3. Guantanamo)

Asanteni,

Kongoi Productions

www.kongoi.com

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Published Korir, Chief Editor,African Press International – API

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Raila and six MPs in row over port boss

Posted by African Press International on August 12, 2008

Prime Minister Raila Odinda join hands with Changamwe MP Ramadhan Seif Kajembe and his wives as they hold a knife to cut a cake during celebrations to mark a home coming ceremony at the Amani Primary School grounds.

ByMWAKERA MWAJEFA

In Summary

  • MPs say the port should be managed by a person from the Coast.
  • Mr Odinga dismissed them, saying they were practising cheap politics
  • KPA has been rocked by a controversy after its managing director was sent on leave ahead of his retirement

Six Coast MPs have told Prime Minister Raila Odinga to keep off the affairs of the Transport Ministry and the Kenya Ports Authority.

The MPs said the port should be managed by a person from the Coast.

However, Mr Odinga Sunday dismissed them, saying they were practising cheap politics. KPA should be run by a qualified person and we should not think of such a post as belonging to a Giriama, Digo or Luo, Mr Odinga said.

According to him, national posts in the government or parastatals should be given to professionals irrespective of their tribal affiliations.

Home-coming party

He spoke at the home-coming party of Changamwe MP Ramadhan Kajembe.

At the weekend, the Coast MPs had claimed that Mr Odinga was meddling in the running of the ports authority and should leave the concerned minister, Mr Chirau Mwakwere, to make decisions affecting both the ministry and the Mombasa port.

KPA has been rocked by a controversy after its managing director was sent on leave ahead of his retirement.

Speaking during a harambee in Kaloleni District, four MPs accused Mr Odinga of undermining Mr Mwakwere and portraying him as a non-performer.

Those who criticised the PM were Mr Danson Mungatana (Garsen, Narc Kenya), Mr Gideon Mungaro (Malindi, ODM), Mr Hassan Joho (Kisauni, ODM) and Mr Samuel Kazungu (Kaloleni, PNU).

Those who supported them during a funds-drive at Kadzonzo Girls Secondary School were assistant minister Gonzi Rai (Ford People), Mr Mwalimu Mwahima (Likoni, ODM).

Said Mr Mungatana, the assistant minister for Health: Let the PM respect ministers from Coast region. He said that on three occasions, Mr Odinga had portrayed Mr Mwakwere as a non-performer.

The minister was overlooked when signing a transport deal in the US recently; when dealing with the Rift Valley Railways debacle and when making changes at KPA, Mr Mungatana said. He said the role Mr Mwakwere played in these matters was not acknowledged.

While accompanying the Prime Minister on a tour of the US earlier in the year, Mr Mwakwere signed an open skies agreement with US officials. Mr Odinga witnessed the deal.

Improve performance

Last week, Mr Odinga convened a meeting of key stakeholders to discuss how to improve the performance of Rift Valley Railways, which has a concession to manage the railway network in Kenya and Uganda. The company was given three months to put its act together.

On Tuesday, Mr Odinga announced changes at the port that saw the exit of Mr Abdalla Mwaruwa as the managing director of KPA. He was replaced by Mr James Mlewa in an acting capacity, a move that led to the protests by the Coast MPs.

At the weekend, Mr Mungaro warned that MPs from the Coast would lead a demonstration to protest if an outsider was picked to run the port of Mombasa. He said: The politics of yesteryears when we accepted managing directors from elsewhere to run KPA are long gone.

His Kaloleni counterpart, Mr Kazungu, also asked Mr Odinga to let Mr Mwakwere do his work in the Transport Ministry. The PM interfering in a ministry led by a Coastal is like he has no respect for Coast legislators, he said.

Mr Kazungu said Mr Mlewa should be confirmed immediately. When it is an MD from Coast Province, he is given two days and then sacked, but when it is somebody from elsewhere they serve for up to 20 years in the same position, he said.

Tour the port

Earlier, Mr Mwakwere and East African Community minister Jeffa Kingi, held talks with the four MPs at the Royal Court Hotel for about one hour before the MPs attended the harambee. It was not immediately clear what they discussed.

The Prime Minister is expected to tour the Mombasa port Monday morning. Mr Odinga, who is in Mombasa for a three-day visit, Sunday described the MPs calls as siasa ya pesa nane (petty politics) saying Kenyans should rise above tribal or regional politics. However, he promised to consult with the leaders over the issue and other matters affecting the region before making the final decision.

On Monday, Mr Odinga is scheduled to receive a briefing from KPA officials on the future of the port, according to a statement from the PMs office.

Mr Odinga will then be taken on a brief tour of the container terminal before visiting the Customs Scanning Room. In the afternoon, he will visit the Kenya Pipeline oil terminal and the Grain Bulk Handlers Limited.

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API/source.nation.ke

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Zimbabwe army bosses may have no option but to resign

Posted by African Press International on August 12, 2008

Zimbabwes President Robert Mugabe (right) welcomes his South African counterpart Thabo Mbeki before signing a framework deal committing his party and Morgan Tsvangirais main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party to talks, in Harare. Photo/REUTERS

ByKITSEPILE NYATHI NATION Correspondent HARARE, Sunday
PostedSunday, August 102008at21:07

In Summary

  • Mugabe and Tsvangirai agreed to share power with finer details of the arrangement still having to be thrashed out.
  • Last week, there were reports that President Mugabe was facing stiff opposition from the JOC
  • MDC: More than 100 supporters were killed and senior police and army commanders were fingered in the violence

Zimbabwes pre-independence white supremacist leader, Ian Smith once declared: I dont believe in black majority rule ever, in Rhodesia, not in a thousand years.

Less than 10 years down the line his colonial government was swept away by two liberation war movements led by President Robert Mugabe and the late Dr Joshua Nkomo, ushering Zimbabwes independence on April 18, 1980.

Mr Smith was forced to eat humble pie and even had a short-lived stint in a parliament controlled by the majority blacks for the first time in the countrys tortuous history.

The major lesson the rebel leader learnt was that even a day in politics is too long for you to make permanent enemies.

But decades down the line the architects of the 15-year bush war that cost thousands of lives seem to have learnt nothing from Mr Smiths embarrassing political miscalculations.

In the run-up to Zimbabwes historic March elections, the security chiefs who are veterans of the liberation war declared that veteran opposition leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai will never rule the country because he was a stooge of Western countries.

Even after Zimbabweans voted overwhelmingly for Mr Tsvangirai the generals remained defiant and went on to spearhead a campaign of terror all in an effort to reverse Mr Mugabes embarrassing defeat.

But after the 84 year-old leader posted a pyrrhic victory in the June 27 presidential run-off election where he ran alone, the generals are now being forced to eat their words with their tails firmly tuck between their legs.

After weeks of intense negotiations, Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai have agreed to share power with the finer details of the power-sharing arrangement still having to be thrashed out.

Intelligence services

But what is certain is that the commander of the Zimbabwe national army, General Constantine Chiwengwa, police chief Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, Retired Major General Paradzayi Zimondi and Mr Happyton Bonyongwe the director general of the feared intelligence services would be forced to relinquish their positions.

The generals have no choice but to resign because they took an undertaking that they will not work under Tsvangirai in whatever circumstances, Mr Oswald Ndlovu a political analyst said.

I see them resigning as soon as a new government is installed to save face and if they wait to be pushed out, I foresee a situation where Zimbabweans will demand that they should be prosecuted for human rights violations.

It would be wise for them to make hay while there is still sunshine and negotiate their exit with guarantees that they will not be prosecuted.

Last week, there were reports that President Mugabe was facing stiff opposition from the Joint Operations Command (JOC), a shadowy but powerful cluster of security chiefs over his decision to cede executive powers to the MDC in an all inclusive government.

The national security think tank made up of the army, police, prisons and the Central Intelligence (CIO) chiefs was accused of plotting the violent campaign to secure Mr Mugabes victory in the discredited election.

The service chiefs dont want Tsvangirai to have executive powers, the Zimbabwe Independent weekly newspaper quoted unnamed sources as having said.

They wonder how they will relate to him after they issued statements before the elections that they would not salute him if he won.

The JOC members were last week invited by the talks negotiators so that they could spell out their position on the negotiations and their likely outcome.

The paper said the security chiefs were also concerned about their security amid fears that they would be arrested for alleged human rights abuses during the violent run-off campaign.

They are against the ceding of too much power to Tsvangirai, the paper added. They are also afraid of being punished for human rights abuses.

The JOC was said to have been fiercely opposed to any deal that would demote President Mugabe to a ceremonial role and give executive powers to Mr Tsvangirai.

But with the economy in free-fall and the need for a realistic compromise deal having become imperative, the JOC was forced to relent.They now appear powerless to influence the fast moving political developments.

Mr Mugabes spokesman, Mr George Charamba described the unexpected cooperation between the ruling Zanu PF and the MDC parties that seemed to be like oil and water only a month ago as a milestone.

This is an important milestone that has been registered in the inter-party dialogue, Mr Charamba said.

He was speaking ahead of a visit by the mediator in the talks South African President Thabo Mbeki for a meeting with Mr Mugabe, Mr Tsvangirai and Professor Arthur Mutambara of the smaller faction of the smaller faction of the MDC to wrap up the dialogue.

Last Saturday, a bomb explosion rocked Harares main police station and police officers were said to be the main suspects.

Although the motive of the blast has largely remained a mystery, it was rumoured that some security chiefs opposed to the talks could have been responsible.

There were also reports that the police could be trying to destroy evidence of human rights violations anticipating change.

The MDC says more than 100 of its supporters were killed and thousands left homeless during a wave of state sponsored violence in the run-up to the June poll.

Senior police and army commanders were fingered in the violence and there have been growing calls for them to be tried.

However, the draft agreement between the MDC and Zanu PF reportedly provides for amnesty for those who were involved in political violence.

They can still retire

Although there are strong feelings within Zimbabwe that the security chiefs must face international justice at one point, they can still retire in the comfort that it would not happen soon.

Zimbabwe has not ratified the Rome Statute, which launched the International Criminal Court (ICC) where they can be tried for crimes against humanity.

Only the Security Council of the United Nations or Mr Mugabes government can launch prosecutions for war crimes committed during the run-up to the elections and the massacres in Matabeleland in the 1980s.

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API/Source.nation.ke

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President announces measures to speed up cargo movement.

Posted by African Press International on August 12, 2008

Written By:PPS


President Mwai Kibaki has Monday directed the implementation of a 24hrs 7 day week service delivery at the port of Mombasa and border entry points at Lunga Lunga, Taveta, Namanga, Isabenia and Malaba. All the relevant government organs have one week to fully implement the directive.

The President has further directed that unnecessary police road blocks that delay the free movement of goods be done away with while trucks with four axle loads will not be allowed on Kenyan roads.

The President made the announcement after meeting ministers and permanent secretaries in the various ministries of trade, finance, security, immigration, transport and roads at his Harambee House office.

The meeting reviewed the steps that must be urgently taken to speed up movement of goods along the vital Northern Corridor transport system and other entry points around the country. The government has further directed that,

There will be speeding up of the process at weighing bridges. Vehicles will be weighed only at source but only in regard to enclosed cargo, which must have seals for easy recognition, by officials from the ministry of roads and the police.

-To protect the country’s roads, there will be a ban on trucks having the four axle-load and modalities of implementing this direction will be announced.

-Police check-points must be reduced to a minimum for security reasons and should be done on an ad-hoc basis.

-The clearance of cargo at the port of Mombasa should be reduced from 48 hours to a maximum of 24 ours.

-The Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya Revenue Authority should immediately harmonize their laws and regulations in regard to cargo clearance.

-KPA should be responsible for collection of demurrage on cargo delayed at the port until the cargo is out of the port.

-That on cargo which is removed out of the port without payment for demurrage, KRA should collect the demurrage charges on behalf of KPA.

Monday’smeeting was attended by the Deputy Prime Minister and Trade Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Internal Security and Provincial Administration Minister Professor George Saitoti, Immigration Minister Oteino Kajwang, Transport Minister Chirau Ali Mwakere, acting Finance Minister John Michuki, Roads assistant Minister Dr. Wilfred Machage, the Permanent secretaries in the relevant ministries and officials from the Kenya Revenue Authority and the Police Commissioner Major General Ali.

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API/Source.kbc.ke

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Lower expenditure on social security

Posted by African Press International on August 12, 2008

Local authorities in Norway are have saved more than NOK 1 billion, (USD 200 million) on social welfare payments. A buoyant labour market is thought to be the main cause.

Three out of four local authorities have had to pay out less on public financial assistance since 2004. This is a NOK 1.1 billion reduction for the period between 2004 and 2008, writes daily newspaper Bergens Tidende (BT).

Easier access to jobs is one of the reasons why payments are lower.

“In addition, qualifying for more long-term social security payments must have become easier,” says Tor G. Tury at the Hordaland County Governors Office to BT.

This has the effect of pushing costs from the local authorities, who have to pay for short term relief, onto the central authorities, which finance longer-term programs.

Bergen has saved more than any other city. Payments are NOK 100 million (USD 20 million), down compared to four years ago. There are fewer complaints as well. Oslo has seen a reduction of NOK 80 million.

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API/Source.aftenposteneng

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Tough week for bears

Posted by African Press International on August 12, 2008

A Russian scientist shot a polar bear on Svalbard and hunters shot a brown bear on the mainland this week, despite the fact that bears in Norway are protected.

A polar bear attacked a Russian scientist on Svalbard on Saturday.

PHOTO: HKON MOSVOLD LARSEN / SCANPIX

The Russian, who was doing research on north-eastern Svalbard, shot a young male weighing 140 kilos at a range of 60 metres, when it attacked his tent on Saturday. After firing five warning shots, and five flares, he had four bullets left for the bear, writes news bureau NTB. The incident will automatically be investigated by Governors Office on the island dependency.

On the mainland, another bear was shot at Lten, 120 kilometres north of Oslo. This is the fifth bear to be shot in Hedmark County so far this summer. The Directorate for Nature Management (DN), has issued licences for the culling of one more bear. “The hunt continues,” says hunt organizer Norvald Aas Solberg to Norwegian Broadcasting.

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Children safer than ever

Posted by African Press International on August 12, 2008

The chances of a boy dying of an accident today, is one tenth of what it was 50 years ago.

Youngsters still play outdoors, but far fewer die in accidents than 50 years ago.

PHOTO: MARTE CHRISTENSEN

Related stories:

At the beginning of the 1950’s, more than 55 boys in 100.000, between the ages of one and three, died in accidents. The figure has now come down to six per 100.000 for the same age group. The trend is the same for girls and also applies to toddlers and bigger children, according to Statistics Norway (SSB).

“Even though these results are very good, they may also show that children today live lives where critics may say that they are overprotected,” says SSB sociologist Dag Ellingsen.

Ellingsen notes that life as a child was most dangerous during the 1950’s and 1960’s, when mothers were often at home with their children. He thinks the reason for this was that they would send their children out to play on their own and that the accident figures indicate how children spend their time.

Today, most children under ten, spend most of their time under adult supervision and a lot of play takes place in front of computer screens.

The differences between accident rates for boys and girls are disappearing. Only when children grow into teenagers do differences become visible again.

The causes of death have also changed. In the 1950’s most died by drowning. Towards the end of the 1960’s more died in traffic accidents, whereas the 19 deaths, effecting ten year-olds and younger, in 2005, were evenly divided between drowning, asphyxiation and transport-related accidents.

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