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Archive for August 15th, 2008

G/Bissau PM, foreign minister make unexpected visit to Gambian capital

Posted by African Press International on August 15, 2008

The new Prime Minister of Guinea Bissau, Carlos Correia and the Foreign minister Maria de Conceiao Nobre Cabral arrived Thursday in Banjul, the Gambian capital, official sources have confirmed.

While there is no official reasons given for their visit, but it comes on the heels of the announcement by the Gambian authorities Tuesday that they have arrested the leader of an alleged coup attempt in Guinea Bissau, Rear Admiral Jose Americo Bubu Na Tchuto, who was said to have been apprehended in The Gambia on Monday.

Upon their arrival in Banjul, the two officials were said to have held meetings with the Vice President, Isatou Njie-Saidy and were scheduled to meet with President Yahya Jammeh in his home village of Kanilai in the afternoon.

There has not been any official statement released either about the visit or the topic of discussions.

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Raila, the performer, has impressed friend and foe

Posted by African Press International on August 15, 2008

ByMacharia Gaitho

WITH INTERVENTIONS on the Mau Forest crisis, the Grand Regency Hotel sale; and now the Port of Mombasa, Prime Minister Raila Odinga is displaying a rare kind of leadership as he defines the functions of his new office.

The power-sharing agreement he signed with President Kibaki gave him a position that was hardly defined. Whoever got such a post could either assume vital executive power or be no more than a glorified messenger.

Indeed, many of Mr Odingas allies were apprehensive that he had been short-changed, particularly because he did not get direct responsibility for any of the key dockets like Internal Security, Provincial Administration, or Finance.

On the other side, many of President Kibakis people were quite satisfied with a deal that granted them a respite from the post-election violence, while giving Mr Odinga what looked like a premiership with very little power.

Many of the PNU nabobs were wont to smirk that as long as Mr Odinga got a long motorcade and appropriate security detail, he would be quite happy, and it would be back to business as usual.

The fact is that it is no longer kazi iendelee. Mr Odinga has grabbed an ill-defined office and shaped it powerfully in his own inimitable way.

There is now no longer a question of what power-sharing meant. The early efforts to use Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka to cut Mr Odinga down to size have been abandoned, and it is now quite clear that the Prime Minister stands right next to the President in terms of the pecking order.

Constitutionally, the President still wields almost untrammelled executive power, but the nebulous responsibilities given the Prime Minister might, in fact, have been a blessing in disguise.

General co-ordination and supervision actually came without limits, and that is being seen by the way in which Mr Odinga has the freedom and latitude to exercise his influence over virtually all functions of Government.

He is helped partly by President Kibakis laid-back style and distaste for micro-management, so that what used to be seen as a gap in the running of Government has now been more than adequately filled.

With the President in his usual repose, it is Mr Odinga who has moved in to crack the whip across all functions of Government.

President Kibaki has always talked about accountable and efficient Government, but it his former arch-foe, Mr Odinga, who is out in the field whipping everybody into line.

Most refreshingly, Mr Odinga has shown that he is not afraid to step on a few toes. The Mau Forest and Kenya Ports Authority interventions could for him be very tricky politically.

LEADING THE DRIVE TO CLEAR THE Mau of illegal settlements and removing the ports boss has brought him into direct conflict with some of the key constituencies for ODM, but the Prime Minister has faced down MPs from Rift Valley and Coast provinces, respectively, who have taken him to task over the initiatives.

In the process, he has displayed that getting work done for the betterment of Kenya is for him more important that transient political considerations.

He has made a powerful case for saving the Mau, and the MPs from the region who had been complaining have been forced to tone down their demands lest they be seen as supporting the destruction of such an important national resource.

At the Port of Mombasa on Monday, Mr Odinga minced no words in restating his conviction that the vital facility cannot be left to the mercy of incompetent management.

Even more important might have been the strong style in which he dismissed claims by local MPs that the removal of the Ports Authority boss amounted to removal of a Coastal.

Mr Odinga restated the principle that KPA is a vital national facility for which management must only be entrusted to the most qualified and deserving person rather than merely going for a local.

The emphasis on qualifications and expertise over ethnicity, discrimination and even affirmative action amounts to an important policy pronouncement that might irk many of Mr Odingas allies schooled in the politics of the ethnic card.

Mr Odinga has been extremely busy since he assumed office, becoming the face of Kenya on the international forum, and energetically pushing the countrys case in the global economic community.

Those who had earlier dismissed him as a socialist or communist might be dumbfounded by the way in which he has courted Western investors.

But it is clear that he is far more than just an effective salesman. He seems to be driven by a missionary zeal to see Kenya succeed as a showcase of development, but for that drive to succeed, political stability is vital and that is where things can become a bit complicated.

While his performance so far might have pleasantly surprised former foes around President Kibaki who thought he was the devil incarnate, there are many in Mr Odingas own camp who now think he is now supping with the devil.

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Kenya civil servants celebrate having been granted a pay rise

Posted by African Press International on August 15, 2008

Pay raise for civil servants

Minister for Public Service Dalmas Otieno (right) with his Permanent Secretary Titus Ndambuki at a press conference at his Harambee House office. Photo/ STEPHEN MUDIARI

ByKENNETH OGOSIA

In Summary

  • Government increases the salaries unionisable civil servants in job groups A to L.
  • Deal backdated to to July 1, 2008.
  • Lowest paid to earn basic salary of Sh7, 829 and highest paid Sh 30,472.

The Government has increased the salaries of unionisable civil servants in job groups A to L.

The pay deal for the more than 120,000 employees is backdated to July 1, 2008.

In effecting the pay raise Public Service minister Dalmas Otieno said the salary adjustments took into account a number of considerations.

The distribution of this salary adjustment takes into account the disparities within job groups and the need to motivate staff in the lower and middle cadres.

The increase also takes into account the governments ability to pay within the current budgetary constraints.

He said that the Government had provided Sh3.5 billion this Financial Year to be distributed to civil servants in these cadres.

Mr Otieno said the new pay raise was the last installment from the harmonisation package first paid out in July 1, 2005.

Any other awards will be freshly negotiated.

In the new deal the lowest paid civil servant in Job group A will now earn a basic salary of Sh 7,829 from Sh 3,310. Additional house and medical allowances will push thepackage to Sh 11,204.

The highest unionisable civil servant in job group L will now earn Sh 30,472 up from Sh 11,690. House and medical allowances will see the workers take home Sh 51,972.

Mr Otieno, who was flanked by Union of Kenya Civil Servants officials Secretary General Mr Tom Odege and Assistant National Treasurer Ms Rehema A Ibrahim said the salary scales have been shortened in order to enhance the annual increments to make it more meaningful and to provide horizontal equity within respective job groups.

Job group A attracts a house allowance of Sh 3,000 and a medical allowance of Sh 375 while job group L employees are paid Sh20, 000 as house allowance and a further Sh 1,500 as medical allowance.

He urged the civil servants to be committed to their work, embrace work ethics and spear head the process of transforming Kenya to a globallycompetitive and prosperous nation.

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Posted by African Press International on August 15, 2008

ByCHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO cobbo@nation.co.ke

In Summary

  • It is puzzling that Africa doesnt dominate archery yet no other continent uses bows and arrows for primary purposes as much.
  • Zimbabwe, which is Africas best performer at this point at the Olympics, owes its silvers mostly to its white citizens.
  • Inflation in Zimbabwe is expected to rise to 50,000,000 per cent this month.

It is still early days in the Olympics and how shall we put it? Africas performance in the Games is still young.

When I last checked, no African country had won a gold yet. The highest placed country from the continent was Zimbabwe, with three silvers.

Algeria had one bronze. And Togo one. Nothing surprising there, as we are still going through the sports where Africa has no pedigree gymnastics, rowing, cycling, weight-lifting, archery, fencing, equestrian events, and so forth.

When it comes to track events, the story will change.

Kenya, Ethiopia and Morocco will clean out most of the middle- and long-distance running events, and climb into the top half of the medals tally.

The middle classes in Africa dont produce great sportsmen and women, so most people from working and peasant backgrounds who cannot afford to participate in any sports where you need to join a club dominate sports.

So we excel in football, which young Africans master by kicking home-made fibre balls in the village square.

Excellence in running says something about our politics.

We are always running running away from the anti-riot police; running away from thieves; women constantly running away from rapists; fleeing armed conflict or persecution and ending up as refugees in neighbouring countries and exiles in faraway lands.

And daily, people flee the poverty of the rural areas for the deceptive lights of the cities.

You would have thought we would be good at weight-lifting. Wrong. Too many people are going hungry in Africa, so, rightly, it would not have been proper to squander food on a few fellows so they can go lift weights in Beijing.

What puzzles me most is that Africa doesnt dominate archery. Definitely, no other continent uses bows and arrows for primary purposes as much as Africa.

In many African cities, you meet hundreds of security guards armed with bows and arrows going to protect the homes of the well-off members of society.

And bows and arrows are still used as weapons in conflicts, the way they were used in other parts of the world in ancient times.

Take the post-election violence in Kenya early this year.

In the Rift Valley, arrows were deployed to deadly effect. It is a mystery that from all these security guards and arrow warriors, this continent cant find a single man or woman to go to the Olympics and claim gold.

Zimbabwe, which is Africas best performer at this point, owes its silvers mostly to its white citizens, ironically special targets of Robert Mugabes repression.

Meanwhile, following Zimbabwes recent farcical elections in which Mugabe made it impossible for his main rival, Morgan Tsivangrai, to run against him in the second round, the long-suffering country has gone to hell and even Comrade Bob has been forced to negotiate a power-sharing deal.

I read in the papers that by the end of this month, inflation in Zimbabwe will be the highest it has ever been since economists started measuring it anywhere in the world 50,000,000 per cent!

Those who saw photos of Mugabe at the talks this week, will have realised that he has kept to form. It would seem one of the first things he did was to order a stylist to give him a youthful look.

When Zimbabwe was lurching toward the election, the opposition threatened Mugabe with a Kenya option (violent election protests) if, as he eventually did, he rigged the polls.

The protests didnt happen, but Zimbabwe is still into the second aspect of the Kenya option negotiating a power-sharing deal. But the outcome is unlikely to be anywhere near Kenyas Grand Coalition.

In Kenya, President Kibaki is a last-term president, so agreeing to a power-sharing deal was easier because he wasnt going to stand again at the next election, and the opposition was willing to bid their time.

Zimbabwe has no presidential term limits, and there is no clear exit strategy from power for Mugabe.

Secondly, Zanu-PF came to power as a liberation movement.

Africa has no single example where a leader and a party that came to power through an armed struggle have voluntarily relinquished power after an election defeat, or shared it. The only imperfect example was Nelson Mandelas ANC in South Africa.

Former liberation movements come to power with an overweening sense of entitlement and righteousness that makes it nearly impossible for them to come to terms with the fact that they have outlived their relevance.

Thirdly, unlike Kenya, there is almost nothing to share in Zimbabwe except incredible problems.

For ODM and Raila Odinga as prime minister, there was a functioning economy to supervise. They didnt have to deal with 50 million per cent inflation.

In Kenya, one could see the case for Kibaki remaining president. In Zimbabwe, all one sees is a case for why Mugabe should leave.

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Kenya: ODM threats ignored and rubbished by PNU

Posted by African Press International on August 15, 2008

PNU reacts to ODMs threat to end coalition

By Lucianne LimoThe Party of National Unity (PNU) has reacted sharply to threats by Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) to pull out of the coalition following the announcement of the Kamukunji parliamentary election results.

PNU termed as “unfortunate” remarks made by Medical Services Minister Anyang Nyongo that ODM would part ways with PNU for stealing the Kamukunji elections.

“The threat by a section of ODM to pull out of the Grand Coalition is unfortunate because the coalition is based on the Unity Accord enacted by Parliament,” Public Health Minister Beth Mugo said.

Mugo, who was addressing journalists at PNU headquarters on Wednesday, also rubbished threats by ODM that it would call for mass action.

flimsy excuses

“No coalition can be based on lies and those calling for mass action should be sincere and stop giving flimsy excuses as grounds for pulling out of the coalition. Mass action by misguided political leaders is what is misleading secondary children into violence,” she said.

The newly elected Kamukunji MP Simon Mbugua, Embakasi MP Ferdinand Waititu, and former Siakago MP Justine Muturi accompanied Mugo.

“It is high time that ODM learn to accept facts and figures when they face defeat instead of peddling lies and issuing threats,” Mugo said on behalf of PNU.

PNU and ODM have been embroiled in bitter rivalry following the announcement of the results in which PNUs Mbugua was declared the winner ahead of ODMs Ibrahim Mohammed.

The announcement of the election results on Monday by the Electoral Commission of Kenya elicited a war of words with ODM accusing PNU of stealing the votes while PNU maintained it won fairly.

Nyongo, who is the party secretary general, warned that the future of the coalition was at risk following the Kamukunji events and threatened that the party might pull out.

Yesterday, PNU told off ODM and said they cannot keep threatening to pull out of the coalition every time they lost.

committed to unity

“PNU is committed to unity and no amount of threats and false propaganda will derail it from the course of unity, as it is the best for this country and we call upon our partners to respect the outcome of the will of people,” added Mugo.

Muturi clarified that the court ordered for the tallying of the votes and not a recount, as claimed by ODM.

“It is unfair for people to result to jungle law by threatening mass action. If they feel aggrieved, they can move to court and file an election petition,” said Muturi.

Mbugua maintained that he won and ODM should stop whining over their loss. Waititu said Nairobi was a PNU zone and soon they would reclaim the Starehe seat where former MP Maina Kamanda has challenged the election of Housing Assistant Minister Margaret Wanjiru.

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Kenya to reduce staff serving in foreign missions – some will become jobless

Posted by African Press International on August 15, 2008

Ministry to recall 100 foreign missions employees

By Ayub Savula

The Government will recall more than 100 employees in a shake up affecting all the 50 missions abroad, The Standard has established.

The move will affect junior, middle-level and some senior staff in reforms that Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula and Permanent Secretary Thuita Mwangi say are aimed at cost cutting.

At the senior level, those affected are accountants and Government executive officers posted to all foreign missions. On Wednesday, the PS told The Standard that the Government would save Sh15 million a year from each of the junior staff recalled home and Sh20 million for the middle level officers. “This cost includes housing, utility bills, medical cover and school fees for their children, among other things,” said Mwangi.

Also to be recalled are education attachs, who control foreign scholarships in the missions.

Mwangi said many of the staff would be redeployed to other ministries and those who had reached retirement age would retire.

The move comes two months after Nominated MP Mohammed Affey of ODM-Kenya asked the Foreign Affairs minister in Parliament why salaries of ambassadors and High Commissioners were not increased when the Government rewarded PSs.

However, Mr Wetangula said his ministry declined to increase diplomats salaries and allowances because pay raise proposals were skewed.

Lean staff

Wetangula said embassies would have lean staff to cut down on foreign missions budget.

The PS said all accountants would be recalled and the ministry plans to carry out the function from Nairobi.

The junior staff affected includes drivers, cooks and security warders.

“There is no need of drivers from Kenya serving in embassies because it is an expensive exercise,” added Mwangi.

He said in some cases, some diplomats had moved their relatives to foreign missions and employed them as cooks or drivers.

Mwangi said this was costly to the Government.

He said major reforms had been carried out in the ministry in the past two years to boost efficiency and cut down the cost of expenditure in foreign missions.

The changes are also part of Government plans to restructure the missions.

“We want staff in the missions who can perform multi-functions which include economic, foreign policy and political affairs,” he added.

Mwangi also said a new yardstick had been designed in the ministry to ensure quality performance in foreign missions.

The new Foreign Service Institute will also help shape up the ministry staff to enhance effective co-ordination of foreign policy.

Mwangi said the Government had also stopped paying school fees for children of middle level staff in the missions.

“Some missions used to misuse money on leisure activities, which include horse riding, and even paid money to study piloting,” said Mwangi.

But in the reforms, the ministry has also opened new embassies in Africa and other countries and acquired some assets.

“We now have a beautiful chancery in Dar-es-Salaam. We have also achieved much in Brazil and Islamabad,” said the PS

“How can we have one senior or two senior staff in one mission having an accountant posted from Kenya. This is wastage of resources ” he said.

However, the PS noted that some of the staff to be recalled had decided to remain in foreign countries but hired on local terms. He said this is cheaper because they dont have to be housed.

Mwangi said recalled employees would be absorbed locally or retired voluntary.

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Kenya: Lobbying and jostling for the top job in Chemelil Sugar Company – The company has corrupt leaders

Posted by African Press International on August 15, 2008

By Leo Odera Omolo


Lobbying and jostling for the coveted post of the managing director of the Chemelil Sugar Company Limited, a wholly government owned Sugar processing factory located in Nyando district has intensified.

The CEO position fell vacant when the farmers MD. Prof Julius Omondi Nyabundi was recently shown the exit door following his dismal performance, which has left the company in dust and almost insolvent. The government could not renew his contract after the expiry of the three years.

Prof Nyabundi took over from the long serving MD Mr. Aarroun Tuikong who left the firm in a very stable and healthy state. But whose removal is believed to have been associated with the KANU defeat in the general election of the year 2002.

There are several peers in the race seeking to be elevated to the position of the MD. They are among ten or six names reportedly short-listed for further interviews. The Interviews and selection is being conducted by a Nairobi consultancy firm, Osano and Associates.

Among the peers whose names are said to have survived include Mr.Richard Koech, former field services manager, Joseph Otieno Mireri, the deputy financial controller and Charles Owelle, the acting MD.

It is rumoured that close to 50 applicants had applied for the lucrative position of MD and following the first interview the numbers were trimmed down and narrowed to ten and thereafter reduced to six.

Rumours and allegations making the round within Chemelil and its environs is that nearly all the three peers who have applied for the job from within Chemelil Sugar Company are individuals who are currently under investigation by the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission for various offences which include the alleged abuse of offices and corruption.

The Minister for Agriculture William Ruto is the appointing authority and the man with the final word. But the Minister has maintained total silence, though he is reported to be under heavy political pressure, reportedly from his cabinet colleagues and other stakeholders.

The popular opinion is that the stakeholders and members of the farming fraternity would like to see an outsider appointed. They would like someone who is well equipped with experience in financial management and managerial skills and not a political surrogate of anybody.

The era of recruitment of political protg and appointing incompetent and people with tainted record are long gone. Such appointments will not be accepted and farmers will go into peaceful demonstration. Minister Ruto is therefore having an uphill task to shop for a better man, remarked a prominent sugar cane farmer in Chemelil who preferred to hide her identity for fear of reprisal..

Other repots says, the issue of selecting the next Chemelil CEO has become so tribal, hence too much jostling between the Luo, Nandi and the Kipsigis. But the level minded stakeholders have indicated that they will settle on anybody who is qualified for the job, provided such a person has an attractive track record of high class management skills.

Rutos position and the role of picking up the right candidate is so complicated due to political pressure mounted by his cabinet colleagues. It is also complicated because of the rampant theft, corruption at the Sugar firm which is almost insolvent due to poor and inefficient management in the recent past.

Impeccable sources have informed us that Minister Ruto, apparently aware of all the problems, recently skipped and ignored the Chemelil Sugar Company stand at the just concluded Kisumu ASK Agricultural show where top Managers with the entire board members who are all suspected to have run down the company had lined up waiting to receive him. But the Minister by-passed Chemelil stand and went straight to the next stand of Muhoroni Sugar Company.

Currently under investigation at the Chemelil Sugar Company is the alleged mysterious disappearance from the Company warehouse (stores) of 7,000 bags of 50kgs of made sugar worth Kshs 18 million

The large quantity of Sugar is alleged to have disappeared under suspicious circumstances while under care of the store manager Mr. Moses Adanga and perhaps with the full knowledge of the former MD.

After the disappearance of the sugar from the stores, the store manager is said to have become a multimillionaire overnight, opening several busines outlets in Kisumu and at Kopere market. He is alleged to have established a new petrol fuel station in Kisumu city and sugar sales depot at Kopere market on the main Chemelil-Nandi Hills road.

Insiders says that the alleged theft of Sugar is suspected to be a case of collaboration between the top company security manager Mr. Willis Wandei and the store manager, all of whom are said to be relatives of the former MD.

A private security company, Bedrock, which is owned by the former MD, the MP for Muhoroni Prof Ayiecho Olueny and the former MP for Nyakach Peter Ochieng Odoyo in providing the company with external security is also being implicated as having aborted the operation.

A source told us that bags of Sugar were ferried out of the store while covered with baggage-sugar cane waste apparently with the full knowledge of the relevant authorities and security personnel.

Another massive theft at Chemelil Sugar Company is said to be connected with new cane harvesting from the companys nucleus estates. Here, the government company is said to have incurred a big loss of revenue, which can run into millions of shillings. The unpatriotic senior manager is said to be working in collaboration with some transporters in fleecing the company of millions..

After the cane is harvested in the Chemelil field cane farm, several unscrupulous companies of transporters ferried the canes to the factory using fake tags and names of proxies farmers. And the money goes to proxies instead of getting into the company coffers. This kind of alleged theft has fleeced Chemelil Sugar Company almost to the ground. Some transporters, mainly Asians with fleet of tractors are reported to have enriched themselves at the expense of the company.

Also said to have been stolen is a mill baring whose price is estimated at Kshs 24million. The baring, though a heavy iron was ferried out on a trailer.

It is understood to have been taken to Kisumu for refurbishing only to be re-purchased and resold backto Chemelil Sugar Company as a brand new spare part. This kind of pilferage are said to be so common and rampant at Chemelil and the culprits always used their massive cash to kill investigations and get away scot free. This usually happens when the mill is just about to undergo annual maintenance when the entire stocks of spare parts mysteriously disappears from the company stores . All these are said to happen with full knowledge of the head of purchasing and procuring department.

The workers at the mills blame two engineers who are alleged to have been dismissed from the Awendo based Sony SugarCompany, but were later employed by the former Chemelil MD Prof Nyabundi,and he is suspected to have been involved in the spare parts scam.

The procurement Manager is Mr. Tobias Ocholla who is alleged to be a relative of the former MD Prof Nyabindi.

In the case of theft of Mill baring, someone is said to have tipped the police, though this could not be confirmed by the police.

It is also reported that the workers at SACCO Bank is in the read. The SACCO is called FOSA and the removed MD is said to have borrowed colossal amount of Kshs 27 million when the Chemelil factory was facing difficulties with its cash flow, but the money has yet to be replaced. Subsequently the farmers can no longer get loans and the same is with the workers because the FOSA account is already milked dry.

Former MD is also reported to have borrowed Kshs 15 million from the account of Chemelil Academy. This is said to have put the school head teacher at logger heads with the company.

But other sources told us that the Head master of the academyshould also be investigated to explain how he will recover the money which he had lent to the company. It is also being alleged that the headmaster recently purchased five brand new tractors worth Kshs .5 million under suspicious circumstances.

Ends

leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

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Kenya: Corruption rocks factory

Posted by African Press International on August 15, 2008

By Shem Kosse

The Agrochemical factory in Muhoroni is allegedly loosing millions of shillings in a well orchestrated syndicate involving the top management, the factory audit report reveals.

According to the recent audit report carried by the company auditor Mr. Tum, unearthed that the head of Effluent Treatment Plant(ETP)Mr. Mutuku has been receiving millions of shillings from an organization known as Osienala.

Interestingly the money, report indicates, that is being wired to Mutuku personal account.

Tum, who uncovered the graft, has since been fired by the factory high-level officials who are said to be the chief architects and beneficiaries of the cartel malpractices bedeviling the once vibrant outfit.

Workers union on the other hand also took issue with the ETP head saying that the ETP department is consisting of ghost workers whose services are being engaged to dis-large the ponds which in return the company honours and pays.

And yet they had at one time raised the matter with the management which they say appears to be reluctant to embark on necessary remedial measures to curb.

For how long will all these corruptions of the highest order continue to take its toll with the management presiding over? quipped the disgruntled workers and union officials who sought for anonymity.

Further, the enraged workers wondered why top cream officials are blatantly doing all these to a government investment of such a magnitude. They urged the Prime minister, Raila Odinga to crack the whip.

The relentless efforts to the management to comment on the matter proved futile by the time of going to the press.

The company sleaze exposure is coming barely a month after the PM sent packing the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) managing director, Abdalla Mahru on grounds of incompetence, inefficiency and corruption.

The move has sparked scathing criticism against the PM from a cross section of coast Mps.They say that Raila overstepped his mandate and that the slot is regionally theres, to head. The Langata legislator brushed off the utterances has tribal and people who are still leaving in the past.

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API

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Kipsigis clan elders warned against deploying dictatorial methods in Bomet by-elections

Posted by African Press International on August 15, 2008

By Leo Odera Omolo

THE Forthcoming by elections in Bomet Parliamentary constituency seemed to have attracted a lot of vested interests from the various stakeholders, party politics, clan issues and cultural affairs.

Last weekend a meeting of sub-clan elders was held at Kaparuso home of the late Road Minister Kipkalia Kones in Longisa Division of Bomet district. The elders came exclusively from the Kapbecherek sub-clan, which has a mixture of Kisiis and Kipsigis blood.

The late Kones like the late Prof. Jonathan Ngeno also a former Road Minister during the Moi eras is a member of the Kapbecherek sub-clan. And the weekend meeting was meant to drum up support for Kones’s widow Mama Beatrice Kones as the sole candidate in the impending by election scheduled for September 25th.

The endorsement of Mrs Kones by the clan elders has sparked off scathing criticism with the ODM branches in Kipsigis region, and also by the electorate who dismissed it as Out of date KANU dictatorial tactics of handpickingcandidates without giving the electorate their democratic rights of picking up the right candidate of their own choice.

ODM leaders in Kipsigis region termed it Unwarranted and uncalled for saying it was too early for the clan elders to come out in full support of Kones’s widow Beatrice. They should have waited until after the ODM primaries. Their action tantamount to dictatorial tendencies of the past. Most of the elders involved in the reported delibarations were people who played divide and rule tactics within the Kipsigis community during the KANU days and as such should retire from politics honourably and go to rest.

Two elder members of the Kapbecherek clan who include a former Kericho Mayor Ayub Siele, who lives in Kapsoit in Belgut and former chairman of the County Council of KipsigisStanley Turgut who was once a member of the defunct Rift Valley Regional Assembly representing Kipsigis were quoted by a section of the press as having issued a statement endorsing Mrs Kones candidature.

But the sentiments expressed by the clan elders has been met with vehement opposition from across section of Bomet residents. It has also caused jittery with the youths who felt the elders were out for mischievous politics of imposing a candidate on the Bomet electorate.

.If Mrs Kones is the right candidate, then let her come out in her true colours and campaign herself with the view of convincing and winning the support of the voters. But she must not deploy the services of proxies, particularly the elderly men who are tired and too old to give proper direction to the youth, said Benjamin Kilach, a Bomet ODM operative.

The action of the elders is a mockery to the tenets of democratic principles, and they must be told in a clear-cut language that the days of handpicking up parliamentary candidates in Kipsigis are long gone, said another politician who wished his name to remain anonymous.

In Kipsigis tradition and culture, political heritance is alient. Each and every candidate should be treated equally, and there must not be any special treatment to any particular aspirant; one civic leader in Bomet County Council has said.

Meanwhile information emerging from the ground says, the by-election to fill the vacant Bomet seat which was left by the late Kones who perished in an aircraft accident in June is expected to be a bruising battle between the two political families, which have dominated the constituency ever since uit was created in the early 1970s., thus pitting the Salat and Kones families.

But this time around Mr. Sammy Sigei who used to be Kones chief campaigner is likely to createswing votes. Sigei who is married to Mrs Ida Raila Odinga’s sister, according to the various sources could create ripples as his popularity is said to be on upward trend.

However, Nick Salat remained a hot cake. He is the darling of the youth. He is the darling of both youth and women folks due to his well cherished generosity. The former legislator is accessible person who is credited for treating his constituents equally irrespective of their statusin the society.

Equally the majority of the electorate wanted him to return to Parliament so that he could complete some of the unfinished projects, which he had initiated while he was the MP for the area between 2002 and 2007.

Salat, however, is facing an uphill task to find a suitable political party to sponsore his candidature. He is a KANU stalwart and a confidant of both Mzee Moi and his favourite son Gideon Moi. But this time around he should avoid using KANU ticket. Perhaps, if he choose to stand on UDM ticket, he will definitely make it to Parliament.Selling KANU to the electorate in Bomet would not be an easy exercise due to numerous accusation and counter allegation against the party of Mama na Baba.

At the same time Mrs Kones is said to be unselleable commodity in Bomet politics. Sources privy to the family before the late Kones death says he relations with the late husband had strained due to various domestic issues and this could have adverse effect on her

The ODM should be equally advised that it would not be an easy job to convince the votersd to elect Mrs Kones. And as such they should allow all the aspirants to participate in the partys primaries and pick the popular candidate without settling only on one aspirant.

Other aspirants, who are equally said to be popular with the votes, and could sprung a surprise include Dr. Paul Chirchir, Mr Steve Mutai, a Ketepa Manager based in Kericho, Mr Sammy Maina and Prof. Wilson Sitonik.

Also in the race is Ms Lila Siele, a former career diplomat who is said to be very popular with women folks and intellectuals alike.

As far as party politics are concerned in Bomet, the ODM is the party of the day. But the party popularity has been jolted with the recent draconian government directives issued by the Prime Minister Raila Odinga ordering thousands of Kipsigis settlers to vacate Mau Complex by October. The majority of the affected squatters are members of Kipsigis families whose original homes are in Bomet. The issue has had negative effect on the ODM, especially considering the fact that the PM is the de facto leader of the party.

Many Kipsigis believes Raila Odinga has already abandoned their community despite they having voted for him on man-to-man basis during the 2007 general elections and was now favouring the people of the Mt. Kenya region. They cite the recent appointment of Chris M. Obure the Minister for Works as the acting Roads Minister, arguing that there was no point in appointing Obure on an acting capacity as if Kones was suspended, and yet the former Minister is dead and will never return again. Raila and Kibaki should have considered one of the Kipsigis MPs for direct appointment to the cabinet, they argue.

It is also imperative to take a note that Kipsigis and the Kisiis are arch-tribal enemies from the time immemorable, therefore by appoi9nting a Kisii to act on a docket left vacant by a dead Kipsigis is considered as a bad omen and a stigma top the community.

Ends

leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

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API

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South Africa: Too beautiful for fashion ramps

Posted by African Press International on August 15, 2008

Johannesburg (South Africa) – South African female models are too beautiful to make it to the fashion ramps. This is the view of Kgomotso Seboko, boss of the KS Model Agency, one of South Africas top black-owned modelling agencies.

This after a group of disgruntled South African models complained to Sowetan that modelling jobs were given to their sisters from up north.

During big fashion shows such as the Joburg and Sanlam Fashion Week, we are given nonpaying jobs such as ushering and hosting, while non-South Africans are getting the good jobs, said Dipuo Masondo, a budding South African model.

Seboko, whose modelling agency is on Gandhi Square, says it is hard to get good South African models that appeal to the industry.

He says hiring South African models does not make business sense.

South Africans are not cracking it in the modelling industry, Seboko says. The girls are too pretty and too short to be models. They dont have the package that the industry is looking for.

He says that unlike Nigerian, DRC and Namibian girls, who have unusual facial features, they do not have that Y-factor and their faces are too ordinary.

The industry want a face that can easily be associated with a product. They want striking models who will make garments visible.

Seboko says their bodies dont make things any easier for them either.

They have big hips and bums and the clients want the package. Look at Lerato Moloi, shes slowly retiring because shes battling with weight.

Seboko says he will soon be heading for north Africa to scout for models.

I sit on Gandhi Square scouting for South African girls who can model with no luck. Soon I will go to Ethiopia, the Congo and Nigeria to scout.

With guys things are different. We do have tall guys who are model material.

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API/Source. The Sowetan (South Africa), by Zenoyise Madikwa

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Uganda: Police seize 400 “bodaboda” motorcycles

Posted by African Press International on August 15, 2008

Kampala (Uganda) – Over 400 bodaboda (hire motorcycles) were impounded yesterday as the Police pursued errant riders in Kampala. The crackdown kicked off on Wednesday evening when over 100 motorbikes were seized and kept at the Central Police Station.

Yesterday, the traffic Police mounted snap checks on various roads and arrested riders who did not have helmets, licenses or ignored traffic lights on Jinja Road, Clock Tower, Wandegeya, Old Kampala and Kawempe suburb. Other offences were over loading, riding on pavements and lack of third party insurance.

Some cyclists in a bid to escape arrest, made U-turns in the presence of the Police and took off. Chaos erupted when Malik Okinda, who had no helmet, undressed at the station. This, however, did not save him but landed him in the cells.

Another man, Kagere, got into trouble when he tried to rough up the Police in Nakawa suburb. He was handcuffed and led to Jinja Road Police Station. He faces assault charges.

According to the traffic and road safety commissioner, Steven Kasiima, the 40,000 riders who operate in Kampala had become a nuisance and were responsible for about 50% of the road accidents.

From today, we are putting our foot down until sanity returns among them, he said before the operation started.
Kampala Road, Kasiima announced, would soon be closed to bodaboda cyclists, whom he said were causing congestion with ungazetted loading points. Many of them have created work stations at roundabouts and intersections. This is risky, he said.

He added that the riders would not be allowed to operate near banks, fuel stations and cash vending machines.

Addressing managers of the loading points, Kasiima said: Many of you go against the law. Passengers throughout Uganda are fed up. You take drugs.
The habit of snatching of womens bags is back. You must improve because we have opened a war against you.

He assured them that the Police were not opposed to their services but would not allow them to flout traffic laws.
Some cyclists, however accused the Police of double standards. The Indians who do not have helmets have not been arrested, a rider said on Jinja Road.

Several motorcycles had forged registration numbers and risked a sh80,000 fine, said regional traffic chief Lawrence Niwabine.

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API/source. The New Vision (Uganda), by Herbert Ssempogo

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Cameroon: Wildlife law breakers in trouble

Posted by African Press International on August 15, 2008

Lukong (Cameroon) – The past weeks have witnessed a general build up to put an end to the wanton exploitation of forest and wildlife resources in Cameroon.

The staff of the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, magistrates, judicial police officers and representatives of Non Governmental Organisations have been receiving lessons on how best to identify and track down law breakers in the whole process of natural resource exploitation.

After Bertoua, Ebolowa, Limbe, Douala, Yaounde, Garoua and Bafoussam; representing all the ecological zones of Cameroon, the actors met at the Yaounde Mont Febe hotel yesterday to draw the balance sheet and final recommendations prior to their entering into action. The series of workshops organised by the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife in collaboration with the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) set out to correct certain abnormalities observed in forest exploitation which are basically at the origin of the present threat on the countrys biological diversity.

In effect, forestry and wildlife resources are extracted in total disrespect of the law. WWF authorities attribute this attitude to legal, institutional, socio-economic and cultural gains. Some overzealous exploiters go as far as extracting wood and hunting wildlife in protected areas. Many go completely free after the act because of either the poor application of the law or simply because of neglect on the part of the authorities in charge of reinforcing the law.

Four reasons have been given to explain why the administration has been so soft on the culprits: poor knowledge of the law, weak application of the law, diverse interpretation of the law and poor dissemination of information.

The series of workshops have helped to promote exchange of ideas and experiences among actors on the application of the law. As underscored by the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Elvis Ngolle Ngolle in his speech yesterday, the workshops will enable participants to broaden their knowledge on illegal exploitation, improve communication with partners, identify problems related with tracking culprits, clarify the rules of different actors and define the expectations of forest administration.

Once this is achieved, it will add to some of the actions supported by WWF. These, according to the organisations regional representative for Central Africa, Laurent Some, include: the putting in place of a multi-actors task force at the sub-regional level, promotion of forest certification, adoption of code of conduct and valorising forestry products among others.

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API/Source. Cameroon Tribune (Cameroon), by Pius Nyulime

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Botswana: 15 years’ term wanted for Khama

Posted by African Press International on August 15, 2008

Gaborone (Botswana) – Costly maintenance of Presidents Festus Mogae and Ketumile Masire’s retirement homes has prompted Assistant Minister of Local Government, Olifant Mfa, to plead for a 15 year presidential term for Ian Khama.

Mfa, believing that ‘Botswana is a small country with a small budget’, recommended in an interview yesterday that the constitution be amended to permit Khama to remain president until 2023, rather than 2018 to save another five years of taxpayers’ money.

He said he was not campaigning for Khama in particular, saying the provision would affect every other president in the future.

“Even President Khama will be leaving in a very short time. We will be having three former presidents to maintain,”he said.

The assistant minister said he is consulting with other people about whether to table a motion or bill in Parliament to register his opinion in law.
He says if people are not happy with the sitting president, ‘they can simply vote him out’.

Mfa said that even the ruling party Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has a system through which they can choose a new leader.
“Every elections’year we hold a special congress to vote the party leadership where members are given a chance to vote for their leader,” he said.

Former presidents enjoy a number of benefits sponsored by the taxpayer, among them a retirement house, security and office personnel, travel allowances and vehicles.

The house of the recently retired president cost government P20 million in Phakalane whilst Masire_s house was built earlier at an estimated P7 million.
Other benefits include entertainment allowances and cover for other bills such as telephone and power in the president’s office and official residence.
Mfa appears to have turned from critic to ally of the current president in a short space of time.

During Mogae’s reign, Mfa openly expressed his scepticism about the coming of Khama whom, he believed, entertained authoritarian inclinations.

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API/Source. Mmegi Botswana), by Bame Piet

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Rwanda: Dissolving parliament

Posted by African Press International on August 15, 2008

Kigali (Rwanda) – Parliament is set to be dissolved today after a five-year mandate. President Paul Kagame is expected to officiate at the ceremony.

The Chamber of Deputies that will be dissolved today was instituted in October 2003 after a 9 year transitional period following the Genocide of Tutsis in 1994. The 80-man House will step aside to pave way for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Some of the current serving MPs have expressed interest in coming back in the second parliament. According to the Deputy Speaker in charge of political affairs Denis Polisi, Parliamentary performance has exceeded expectations.

The Parliament has performed higher than we expected compared to the estimations we had at the beginning of our mandate, Polisi said in an interview.

He estimated Parliamentary performance to be at about 120 percent in the last five years, and that it worked on about 290 bills. Polisi emphasized that no Parliament in the world has worked on such a large number of bills.

Out of the 290 bills, 210 have been published in the official gazette as laws while about 15 laws, are expected to be published in the next official gazette that is yet to be released. According to Polisi, 44 per cent of the published articles are financial and property related laws, 21 percent are social welfare laws, 18 percent concerns good governance while 17 percent are justice related.

The five-year mandate of the Parliament sometimes made legislators spend sleepless nights working on important laws. Some of the laws include the land law that was passed after lengthy deliberations. The law came into being following several controversies related to land distribution and allocation. Since the publication of the land law, the majority of the controversies related to land have been resolved.

The scrapping of the death penalty in the Rwandan constitution was also one of the big achievements made by Parliament. After prolonged debates, lawmakers endorsed the bill repealing the death penalty from Rwandas legal books. The move to abolish capital punishment was commended globally and welcomed by the international community.

Other very important bills that Parliament passed include the domestic violence bill, the environment bill, the bill establishing Mutuelle de sante (health insurance scheme), leaders conduct and discipline bill, and female inheritance among other bills.

During their five-year mandate, legislators managed to make a follow up on embezzlement and mismanagement of government funds highlighted in the Auditor Generals report. According to Polisi, most of the cases mentioned in the AGs reports have been followed up and those implicated have been prosecuted while others are still being investigated.

During its mandate, the Parliament also summoned and quizzed 27 cabinet ministers on several issues for clarification. The Rwanda Parliament also shone internationally when it was selected to host the mega Africa Caribbean and Pacific and European Union Members of Parliament meeting in 2007.

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API/Source: New Times (Rwanda), by Edwin Musoni

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Liberia: Kromah blames founders for country’s woes

Posted by African Press International on August 15, 2008

Monrovia (Liberia) – Alhaji G. V. Kromah says the escape from racial subjugation in the United States of America (USA) and the subsequent constitutional caveat that helped to prevent white people from ruling Liberia was an achievement of those Liberians who had come from overseas.

Speaking at the ongoing public hearing of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) at the Centennial Pavilion in Monrovia, Mr. Kromah, who is erstwhile leader of the United Liberation Movement for Democracy in Liberia (ULIMO), an armed group, also regretted that the early victory did not translate into the preservation of African values in Liberia.

Such victory, he continued, did not also see the unrestricted application of the tenets of democracy that we should have experienced in the United States of America.

Mr. Kromah, who currently teaches mass communication at the University of Liberia, told the hearings attended by thousands of citizens and foreign residents that the freed Black people who organized Liberia, the first African Republic, in the midst of the European scramble for Africa, ironically elected to pursue an attitude of skin color, cultural and religious discrimination.

We should have followed the vision of reconciliation and population integration propounded by founding fathers like King Sao Boso, Chief Zangar, erroneously called Chief Bob Gray, Edward Wilmot Blyden and Benjamin J.K. Anderson, he declared.

Giving a classic example, the witness posited that Firestone in Liberia could have been a robust base for transforming the country’s vast indigenous manpower into skilled participants of manufacturing, only if we had followed the patriotic stance of men like Edwin Barclay and Louis Arthur Grimes, who legally questioned the leasing of one million acres of Liberian land for the exploitation of cheap raw materials and labor without a caveat for production of rubber products.

When the settler government attempted to focus on the usefulness of the interior population, it had already taken some 80 years since independence in 1847, and yet that recognition had nothing to do with citizenship or democracy, he further told the hearing.

Commenting on the role of his erstwhile armed faction, ULIMO, in the decade-long Liberian conflict, Professor Kromah said it was a resistance movement committed to fighting Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), a rebel group, which overran the country and weakened the then constitutional and legitimate Government of President Samuel Kanyon Doe, leading to the assassination of the President.

The witness contended that ULIMO sought to bring much needed relief and hope to thousands of Liberians who were forced into exile in the West African sub-region and beyond by Taylor’s NPFL war and to prevent total rebel takeover of the country.

He indicated that ULIMO’s struggle was also aimed at paving the way for the multitude of Liberian refugees in foreign parts at the time to return home.

Giving another reason for ULIMO’s formation, Kromah said the killing of Mandingo and Muslim people were a source of bewilderment for him. In less than two months, hundreds of Mandingoes were killed in Nimba County, he pointed out as he broke down in tears at the hearings while wiping his tears with a white handkerchief.

Mr. Kromah asserted that Mandingoes and Muslims who could not run from the NPFL onslaught were killed like chickens. He said the formation of his group was to engage Mr. Taylor in order for him to have given account of our people or be made to face justice.

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API/Source: Daily Observer (Liberia)

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