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Archive for September 13th, 2008

The sacking of Mwatela may distabilise the government

Posted by African Press International on September 13, 2008

Mwatela: Im not going anywhere

By Standard on Saturday Team

Ordered to vacate the second-most powerful office at the Central Bank by Civil Service chief on Friday, Mrs Jacinta Mwatela defiantly said she was going nowhere.

She then dropped a revelation that could dwarf the Grand Regency Hotels controversial sale and stoke the cold embers of Goldberg Scandal, which played out at CBK, back to life.

It could be a journey gone full circle as CBK gets back on the headlines but for all the wrong reasons.

Mrs Jacinta Mwatela

She pointed out her contract is due to in May next year, which means for now she has two public offices. She then spilled the beans on why she thinks she was being sent away: She refused to authorise an “illegal” tender for the printing of new currency notes, last month.

As the chairman of the CBK tender committee, Mrs Mwatela said she declined to follow instructions to order printing of 415 million new currency notes from De La Rue, arguing it was against the procurement laws.

She revealed the bloated tender would cost the country an extra Sh2 billion alone. She insists the tender was a breach of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act.

A special board meeting on August 15 instructed the tender committee to buy the notes, but she would not approve an illegality.

“I told the board the Central Bank was side-stepping a contract we signed with De la Rue in 2005 to print new generation currency notes at a cost that that would saved us over Sh2 billion and for which we made a down payment of $25 million for no reason, she said.

She said there was no valid reason to buy 415 million old generation currency notes that were more expensive and of poorer quality than the new generation notes De la rue should be supplying.

She said single-sourcing procurement like one being requested for the 415 million currency notes was against the Public Procurement and Disposal Act that only allowed it in extreme and emergency situations.

“I told them there was no emergency as we have a contract we have signed and paid for. It is very strange that this is what I got when I am trying to protect public resources and insisting we follow the law,” she added.

Her reply to Mr Francis Muthauras letter set off another circus at CBK because as Deputy Governor, she enjoys security of tenure.

Like the CBK governor, barring ill health and death, her removal from official can only be effected if recommended by a tribunal.

The unfolding events could put to test the security of tenure for selected public offices, especially if the Government can sidestep the proviso as legislated by Parliament, by luring the targeted civil servant, ostensibly with a better job.

She quickly replied to the letter from Muthaura formally informing him she had been appointed Permanent Secretary by asking how she was expected to perform two government jobs.

“In order to help me understand this appointment kindly clarify to me how I am supposed to perform two high responsibilities since I am currently the Deputy Governor as duly appointed by His Excellency the President.”

She added: “This appointment was done under Section 11(2) of the Central Bank of Kenya Act and is valid for four years.

She added her contract for the job, in an institution she joined in the 1970s, took effect on May 12, 2005. She attached a copy of the relevant gazette notice to her letter, to push home the point her contract ends on May 12 next year.

Sought clarification

The section states: “the Governor and the Deputy Governor shall be the chairman and deputy chairman of the board respectively, and shall be appointed by the President for terms of four years each and shall be eligible for reappointment Provided that in the case of a person who is not a citizen of Kenya the appointment shall be at the pleasure of the President”.

The last line of the letter that could signal the unfolding events could end up as a form of censure Motion against the Government, as threatened by some MPs, ran: “I will appreciate your clarification as soon as possible.

The last censure Motion, which forced a minister to step aside, was just the other day, and the victim was another Treasury mandarin.

It was another dramatic day at the Central Bank, as the Goldenberg whistle-blower, who is perceived to have been sent to the newly created Ministry of Northern Kenya and Other Arid Lands because she is not professionally pliable, stayed put.

Her stand drew attention to the fact that if her removal were a promotion, then why would her replacement be a former PS at the Ministry of Health, Dr Hezron Nyangito?

Pundits argue one PS cannot be promoted and replaced with another in the name of elevation of both.

Ever the hotbed where several careers have tumbled and dreams shattered, CBK is now on the national radar, especially the possible fate of the Governor Njuguna Ndungu.

He is the subject of discussions by the Cockar Commission probing the controversial sale of CBKs Grand Regency Hotel.

The sale, which has raised as much heat as it did the Goldenberg scandal at CBK, which cut short the tenure of Mr Eric Kotut as governor and almost brought Prof George Saitotis tenure in the Cabinet, to a ruinous end.

The Muthaura letter dated September 8, and copied to the PS Directorate of Personnel Management (DPM) Titus Ndambuki and Public Service Commission Secretary Ms Bernadette Nzioki was delivered to the desk of the Deputy Governor on Friday afternoon.

She replied shortly after reading.

She described Muthauras letter as one that “implied” she had been appointed PS.

She later said as far as she was aware, the gazette notice that, one time saw her act as governor, following the court tribulations of her former boss Dr Andrew Mullei, had been revoked.

Muthauras letter to Mrs Mwatela, as reported by those privy to the contents, is said to have informed the Deputy Governor: “I am pleased to inform you that in the exercise of the powers conferred on him His Excellency the President, you have been appointed as the Permanent Secretary with effect from September 8, 2008”

Her sacking has elicited furious reaction from across section of leaders. On Thursday the powerful public watchdog body, Public Accounts Committee (PAC) vowed to move a vote-of-no confidence against the Government unless the Deputy Governor was reinstated.

The PAC described as “unconstitutional and irregular” President Kibakis decision to remove her from the Central Bank.

Chairman Bonny Khalwale wondered why Mrs Mwatela was being edged out, while the inquiry into the controversial sale of the Grand Regency was continuing, and while and investigation by the committee into the multi-million shillings new currency tender by De La Rue was pending.

Mrs Mwatela joined CBK in 1977.

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API/Source.standard.ke

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Raila getting tough on disgruntled ODM MPs, asks his supporters to give him time to do the job required of him as the country’s PM

Posted by African Press International on September 13, 2008

You wont distract me, Raila tells disgruntled MPs

By Beauttah Omanga

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has said he will not be held back by dissenters over failure to accommodate them in Government.

Raila said he is focused on his duties and no distractions will deter him from achieving his goal.

“Many people supported me in last years elections. All Kenyans know what led to us getting half a loaf. It is not fair for some people to keep on demanding for rewards in Government and pulling us back from carrying out our mandate of building Kenya,” said the PM.

He called for patience among his supporters for the sake of the country.

He was speaking at a Nairobi Hotel during a funds drive in aid of Rosemary Wanjiru Bichage, wife to ODM member Chris Bichage, on Thursday evening. Wanjiru is in hospital in the US following injuries she sustained during the 1998 Nairobi bomb blast.

The PM helped raise Sh1.4 million and gave personal donation of Sh200, 000.

“We have talked enough. It is time to focus on taking this country forward. We can not continue talking about positions all the time,” he said.

Raila said persistent lamentations were dragging the country back.

Tough decisions

“We make two steps forward and a step backwards but at the end of the day we are moving ahead even though not at the speed we intended,” he said.

He was accompanied by Lands Minister James Orengo, Public Works Minister Chris Obure and Public Health Assistant Minister James Gesami.

Obure said those complaining were insincere and out to distract the PM from his development agenda.

“You have a big responsibility as PM. Kenyans expect you to deliver and guide them to prosperity. Move forward and never look back,” said Obure. He said Raila had proved his critics wrong by accommodating all, including those who doubted his leadership qualities.

“Many, including me, for many years doubted your leadership qualities but for the eight months you have been in office as the countrys PM, I am happy you are a worthy leader for this country,” said Obure.

Orengo said it was impossible to satisfy everyone and urged Raila to concentrate on his duties.

The Lands minister said it was normal for some to disagree with the PM on decisions he has taken.

“At some point, it calls for tough decisions to move the country forward. Some decision calls for a lot of sacrifice and will automatically make some people uncomfortable,” said Orengo.

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API/Source.standard.ke

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Kenya: Anti-fakes bill threatens access to medicine

Posted by African Press International on September 13, 2008

Nairobi (Kenya) – Kenyan health activists last week slammed the country’s proposed anti-counterfeiting law, saying that provisions had been slipped into it to prevent the importation of cheap generic medicines.

According to the activists, the Kenya Anti-Counterfeit Bill 2008 does not distinguish between medicines, which they say are essential, life-saving products, and such items as pens, DVDs and batteries, and also contravenes the provisions of the 2001 Industrial Property Act (IPA), which paved the way for the widespread use of generic ARVs to manage HIV/Aids.

“The Bill contains various ambiguities, which if misinterpreted or abused would be detrimental to the government’s ongoing efforts to ensure access to essential medicines for all Kenyans,” James Kamau of the Kenya Access Treatment Movement (Ketam) told The EastAfrican last week. “The ambiguities of the proposed legislation should be addressed in order to ensure that interested parties, including the multinational pharmaceutical industry, do not misuse the Bill as a front to discriminate against more affordable generic competition.”

Ketam and Health Action International (HAI) are championing a redrafting of the proposed legislation to remove the contentious provisions.

The anti-counterfeit Bill was first published last year, but lapsed when parliament was dissolved to pave way for general elections. The Bill was republished this year on July 1 as the Anti-Counterfeit Bill, 2008. The law is supposed to protect Kenyans against counterfeits, which are defined as imitations that are made with the intent to deceptively represent content or origins. Analysts say that counterfeits, mainly from Asian countries and China, cost the Kenyan economy millions of dollars each year.

According to Ketam and HAI, while the draft Bill has some important strategies to combat the availability of counterfeit goods in Kenya, some of its provisions, if misinterpreted or abused, would be detrimental to the government’s ongoing effort to ensure access to medicines for poor citizens.

A key weakness of the draft law, the two say, is that it does not distinguish intellectual property rights (IPRs) mechanical details such as trademarks, copyright, patents and data protection from quality control issues related to medicines, which basically revolve around formulation.

Elsewhere, the two organisations add, some of the provisions in the draft Bill go beyond the commitments required of Kenya under the World Trade Organisation agreement on trade-related aspects of IPRs (the WTO TRIPS Agreement). Such “TRIPS-plus” measures, the organisations say, are known to hinder access to essential medicines.

“The way the Bill defines what ‘counterfeiting’ is could easily be taken to cover generic medicines,” said Mr Kamau. “This is dangerous, since generics form the backbone of our Aids treatment programmes, and are also widely used in the treatment of such diseases as malaria and tuberculosis.”

According to the Bill, counterfeiting is “the manufacture, production, packaging, re-packaging, labeling or making, whether in Kenya or elsewhere, of any goods whereby those protected goods are imitated in such manner and to such a degree that those other goods are identical or substantially similar copies of the protected goods.” But generics, which are usually copies of branded medicines containing exactly the same active ingredients, are usually not considered counterfeits.

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API/Source.The East African (Kenya), by Dagi Kimani

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Kimunya of Kenya may get his Finance docket back. Orengo admits the then minister did not mislead parliament, but one wanted to settle old scores

Posted by African Press International on September 13, 2008

Orengo concedes Kimunya didnt lie

By Alex Ndegwa

Lands Minister James Orengo was pressed to concede former Finance Minister Amos Kimunya had not legally misled Parliament in April by stating Grand Regency Hotel had not been sold.

Orengo agreed with lawyer Githu Muigai the statement by Kimunya on April 29 that the hotel had not been sold was the “correct position in law”.

The sale agreement, Muigai said, was dated May 5 and the actual transfer of the property was done in June 25. Muigai is representing Kimunya, who was forced to resign over his role in the controversial sale a subject of investigation by the commission chaired by retired Justice Majid Cockar.

The minister admitted the sale was concluded on June 25 and concurred that Kimunyas statement on April 29 reflected the correct position in law.

Orengo, who concluded his evidence on Friday, rejected claims his decision to blow the whistle on the deal, on June 26, was meant to settle political scores.

He insisted Kimunya misled Parliament since he promised in the event of a sale it would be done transparently. He maintained the secret sale of the hotel was a fraudulent transaction.

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API/Source.standard.ke

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Tanzania: Water hyacinths kill important lake

Posted by African Press International on September 13, 2008

Mwanga district (Tanzania) – Residents of this district in the Kilimanjaro region are crying. One of their major sources of income is shrinking away. Lake Jipe faces more demise now than it ever did.

Water hyacinths apparently are the latest addition to the various environmental factors that continue to eat up more parts of Lake Jipe, in Kilimanjaro region reducing both the size and the number of endangered Tilapia fish species.

Lake Jipe, is a freshwater lake located in the boarder between Kenya and Tanzania, and the only home for the entire world population of the native Tilapia fish, known zoologically as, Oreochromis jipe.

Fishermen have packed in their lines and left for other places, the remaining ones are a few locals trying their luck mainly because they have nowhere else to go, Mohammed Juma a resident of Mwanga district revealed last week. Before the fish population declined, fishermen and the surrounding communities earned a living by supplying fish to neighboring villages, Moshi town and when the season was good, fish from Jipe would be exported to Kenya, Uganda and as far as Malawi and Zambia down south.

A recent visit to the lake revealed massive growth of hyacinths adding up to varieties of other water plants that of late have been consuming up the water body at an alarming rate. Water chocking growth is the major problem taking toll on a number of lakes and other still water bodies in the Northern zone at the moment.

The water body straddles the northern borderline between Kenya and Tanzania. Jipe is home to many water birds, including the Lesser Jacana and Purple Gallinule that are quite rare in Africa. The basin also hosts the Madagascar Squacco Herron, Black Herron, African Darter and African Skimmer. Sandwiched between the Pare Mountains range and the massive Kilimanjaro, Lake Jipe is also an eco-system to variety of other wildlife like the Hippopotamus, Otters, crocodiles, waterbucks and elephants. The northern half of the lake lies on the Kenyan side within the Tsavo West National Park famed for its huge elephant population

Recent climatic changes coupled with human activities such as irrigation, deforestation and diversion in the area leading to increased silt at the feeder river mouth, the inflow has been drastically reduced leading to a multiplied effect on both the ecology of the ecosystem and the socio-economy of the area.

Preliminary research findings on the survival of Lake Jipe were to the effect that the lake would totally disappear in less than 10 years from now. Lake Jipe is fed mainly by rivers originating from the high ends of Mt. Kilimanjaro at altitudes of 5895 meters above sea level. The Kilimanjaro experiences surface runoff from its eastern slopes which then feeds into the Lumi River and flows to Lake Jipe.

It is a cross-country affair as the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro are all in Tanzania while the Lumi River runs through the Kenyan territory, through Taveta before it enters the lake.

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API/Source.Arusha Times (Tanzania), by Valentine Marc Nkwame

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