Kenyans Sleep Hungry and are Less Confident with Uhuru Kenyatta’s Presidency
Mr. Okoth Osewe’s recent article at the Kenya Stockholm Blog calling for Kenyan civil servants to down their tools if forced to have a salary cut was timely, given the current push by President Uhuru Kenyatta to reduce the public wage bill. Interestingly, he and Deputy President William Ruto have decided to take a 20% salary cut each and have ordered Cabinet secretaries and parastatal heads to follow suit. But the big question is: Will the move improve the overall wellbeing of Kenyans? Definitely not, because Kenyan politicians and senior State officers are so greedy and corrupt they will always find ways of filling in the gaps created by the so-called salary cut, which is a gimmick to lure Kenyans away from the non-performance record of the Jubilee government. Why should Kenyatta take a monthly salary given his inherited and illegally-acquired vast wealth? He should instead surrender his pay to poor Kenyans so that he can morally pay for his parents’ corrupt ways of acquiring the Kenyatta family’s wealth.
Last month, the Presidency (State House) requested for an additional Ksh1.5 billion to manage its affairs until the end of this financial year on 30th June. Last year, Kenyatta’s office was allocated Ksh3.1 billion for the 2013/14 budget, yet the year is not yet over and he wants more money. If he cannot lead by example, then he should step down. He needs to seal all leakages and wastage (read corruption) at State House first, then it will not matter if he wants a salary of Ksh10 million per month. Uhuru so far, just like former President Kibaki, is not showing political will in the fight against corruption. Therefore, pay cuts in the public sector will not change anything. Kenyatta’s foreign trips since last year, and all the unnecessary expenditures incurred to charm AU states to back him in his personal challenge (read the ICC case), were not budgeted for and thus the current deficit.
Ironically, Jubilee sycophant and motormouth Aden Duale, who is the Majority Leader of the National Assembly, is willing to have his salary reduced. But last year when Uhuru raised the red flag on the wage bill, he did not convince MPs not to accept unlimited allowances. By reducing their basic salaries but maintaining huge allowances, they will not be making a difference. The recent Jubilee retreat to discuss the ridiculous salary reduction was held at the Mt. Kenya Safari Club, which is one of the most expensive hospitality facilities in the country. It does not make economic sense to spend around Ksh100 million as reported in a cross-section of the local media, to discuss a 20% salary cut.
Although Uhuru’s election pledge for free maternity service to all Kenyan women is being implemented, shockingly, the results of a new study titled ‘A Price Too High to Bear,’ indicate that in every two hours, a woman dies during pregnancy or child-birth due to complications. (See http://www.who.int/pmnch/media/news/2014/press_release.pdf).
Almost a year since the policy’s initiation, maternity hospitals and healthcare centers remain in bad shape and many pregnant women especially the urban and rural poor ones, still depend on traditional midwives to assist them at childbirth. Those who die within this category are likely not to be reported: meaning that the mortality rates are higher countrywide.
Kenyans sleep hungry
The much-hyped laptop project which was one of Uhuru’s key election pledges, has failed to take off after the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board revoked the contract awarded to a mediocre Indian company (Olive Telecommunications Company), which has no capacity to meet the demand. If the government’s budget can only sustain a bid for Ksh20 billion, who authorized the Olive Telecommunications award amounting to Ksh24.6 billion? Moreover, it has been realized that the company has no annual turnover of Ksh8 billion which is the minimum required for awarding the laptop tender. According to Capital FM: “In the year 2010, 2011 and 2012, the company’s annual audited results were Sh6.9million, Sh14.2 million and Sh767million respectively which was way below the requirement for the Lot 1 of the laptop project.” Talk about an Analogue government which campaigned to give Kenyans a “Digital government.”
During the one year of Jubilee rule, poor Kenyans have only experienced hunger, joblessness and hopelessness. The latest Ipsos Kenya perception poll findings released on March 14, 2014 and published in the Nation newspaper indicated that: “Jubilee supporters’ confidence in the President dropped from 53 to 41 per cent and for his deputy from 48 to 38 per cent. This drop also encompasses officers in the executive arm of the government.”
“50% of the respondents felt the cost of living was a serious issue while 19 per cent pointed out lack of employment. Nine per cent said corruption was a major cause of worry while seven per cent said crime and insecurity were issues to worry about.”
“Poor leadership, famine and tribalism polled at five, three, and two per cent respectively while surprisingly, only one per cent of Kenyans said they were concerned about the leadership wrangles due to ICC cases facing President Kenyatta, his Deputy William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang.”
“26 per cent of Kenyans were still sleeping hungry with a majority, 37 per cent from Nyanza and 12 per cent from Central.”
Kenya is ripe for a revolution to give direction on political leadership. Jubilee is similar to the past governments of Kibaki, Moi and Jomo Kenyatta, which tolerated grand corruption and failed to provide necessary services to the taxpayers. Uhuru is filthy rich and will not fight for the poor or redistribute land which is important for economic growth, since he owns thousands of acres acquired illegally.
Lastly, Kenyans wait with bated breath to see how the funds raised by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta’s ‘Beyond Zero’ campaign to improve maternal and child care will be managed. She did well at the half-marathon on 9th March which has raised over Ksh200 million. The irony is that over the years, women and children have been dying due to lack of access to basic healthcare. Where have these rich people been?
I thought Jubilee supporters would be sleeping with full-stomachs since they voted for Uhuru. It seems hunger does not recognize political loyalty.
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Every day is party time in government offices
By PAUL MWANGI
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For slightly over 12 months since January 2012, I served as the Legal Advisor to the Prime Minister. It was a position that placed me at the highest levels of the Civil Service, with a pay grade of Job Group “U”, otherwise known as “PS level”.
What I learnt and observed about government in that short period of time makes me conclude that the President’s attempt at bringing down the wage bill by taking a 20 per cent pay cut, and enforcing the same across the board, is incredibly naive. (READ: Backlash meets Uhuru’s move to take salary cut)
The problem with the exorbitant public wage bill is not the salaries. In fact, I think it is a good thing that the government is now able to attract competent staff and Kenyans will benefit from good public service, less corruption and thus a more productive private sector.
The problem with Kenya’s wage bill is wastage and abuse. All the way from State House to the tea room at the ministries, tax payers’ money is lost through wasteful use of resources and abuse of authority.
The first encounter I had with waste was when a requisition was made for furniture to my office. As a senior government officer, I was entitled to my own colour printer, computer, laptop, ipad, television, document shredder and water dispenser.
I have never seen such wasteful use of resources in the private sector in Kenya. In the commercial sector, printers are shared by many offices, as are water dispensers, shredders and televisions. And laptops are only issued to persons engaged in field work.
At the end of the month, I received my airtime allowance in the form of cards from various service providers. The total amount was Sh27,000.
If there is one thing my relatives, friends and subordinates miss from my service in government it is free airtime. Because try as I did, I couldn’t spend more than Sh7,000 of the allocation. And I got new cards every month.
And though I took only about three to five cups of tea in the office, I learnt that my secretary was entitled to pick Sh20,000 to Sh40,000 to make my tea every month.
I was entitled to tea, coffee or hot chocolate as I desired and to a choice of sugar or honey for my sweetener.
There were no less than ten senior offices to whom this allocation was made and many of us never got to know how much was picked or spent on our office accounts.
The fault, I came to learn, was not with the senior officers. The rules of service set these entitlements and they accrue as a matter of course.
This account is just a tip of the iceberg.
I was also entitled to an official car, armed driver, armed bodyguard and two Police guards at the house.
Personally I did not think anyone was looking out to harm me so I only took an official car and an armed driver which I used during working hours. But I have observed that since the NARC government of 2003, the use of police security has become increasingly abused.
It is surprising that in the Moi government, with all its excesses, one never witnessed the almost comical spectacle we are being treated to everyday on our street where every minister, senator and governor is running around with several chase cars blaring sirens and a security detail at the expense of the taxpayer.
Without doubt our Cabinet Secretary in charge of internal security and his Permanent Secretary need to be accorded some serious security but who wants to harm the cabinet secretaries in charge of such mundane responsibilities like fisheries, sports or economic planning?
Sometimes in the process of work, it requires ad hoc committees to be formed by members of the same department or ministry, or sometimes members from various ministries, to see through a process or discuss an issue.
When this happens, tea must be served at 10a.m. and at 4p.m. together with snacks. The snacks will be a samosa, a sausage and a ndazi per person. And lunch too. Standard lunch order in most of the meetings I attended was Chinese.
I think it is sad that for the level of service the civil service gives Kenyans, it would be having Chinese lunches at the tax payers’ expense.
And when the work is done, the committee members would be paid an allowance for serving in that committee. This goes anywhere from Sh10,000 to Sh50,000 per person. If it is a gazetted task force, the sum would be a few hundred thousand shillings. Never mind that these allowances are being paid for work that everyone was employed to do in the first place, and will be paid for with a salary at the end of the month.
But to make this bad situation worse, there are kingpins in the accounts offices of almost every government department that control all payments with absolute discretion to pay or deny.
These big wigs’ names must be put in every payment list for money to be approved. So for every committee or task force requisitions, these kingpins earn sitting allowances as a matter of course.
Their names must also appear in every list of per diem payments for people travelling out of station.
I heard of accountants who make at least Sh500,000 in a dry month through these illegal payments.
But it is not just the lower cadre bigwigs who exercise these abuses. I learnt that all senior government Ministers have confidential accounts that run into millions of shillings from which they are authorised to spend money without the scrutiny of the Auditor General, or the Controller of Budget, or Parliament.
These monies are allocated directly from the Treasury and are replenished as they are spent at the direction of the Minister of Finance.
The worst abuser of this confidential spending was the Office of the Head of the Civil Service and the Presidency at State House.
I don’t know but I have heard that the President’s confidential account often runs into billions of shillings and in the last regime was the cause of the short and tumultuous tenures of many a Comptroller of State House under whose office the account is operated.
In this day and age, it is unbelievable that any office in the public service can spend millions of shillings at its discretion without any budgetary approvals and with immunity from any form of scrutiny, even from Parliament.
This picture of abandon, waste and abuse would not be complete without mentioning two other practices.
One is foreign travel. We have too many Cabinet secretaries, permanent secretaries and other senior government officers are flying out to attend meetings that are not critically necessary to the tax payer or that can be attended by diplomatic mission representatives.
In many instances, the President, Deputy President and Cabinet Secretaries are accompanied by staff and other people )whose presence and services are totally irrelevant to the taxpayer who pays for their travel.
There is no guideline in government regarding what is essential travel or who are essential personnel. In many instances, the work being done during these travels can be completed by foreign missions and the knowledge being sought can be learnt from the internet.
A similar wasteful practice is the going for retreats to do work that can be easily done at the office. In these retreats, all manner of staff members jump into the bus for the free tours. They collect allowances for these attendances while others, who never left the office, are also on the allowances list. But let’s not go there.
The second practice that I must mention in closing is training at the East and Southern Africa Management Institute at Arusha, Tanzania. Popularly known as ESAMI, this institute is a regional training centre owned by ten member governments to train senior government officers in critical areas of management.
However, this Institute has become the place where some Permanent Secretaries sent their sycophants at the ministry and their girlfriends to while away their time and earn allowances. Many senior officers who qualify and deserve to go don’t get a chance.
Some people are known to have attended many times over while others wait for a single chance. And when they attend, they are not only paid full salary but are paid allowances that run into hundreds of thousands of shillings for being out of station.
These are just some of the wasteful practices that are a culture in Kenya’s civil service which the President should be addressing. I want to believe that he is not being briefed on the full picture but I remember that he has served for more than a decade as a Cabinet Minister and five years as a deputy Prime Minister.
President Uhuru Kenyatta flouts ban on venue for State meets
Updated Tuesday, March 4th 2014 at 23:47 GMT +3
By ALPHONCE SHIUNDU
Kenya: President Uhuru Kenyatta has flouted his governmentâ€™s own ban on posh retreats in luxury hotels after he hauled all his Cabinet secretaries and their principal secretaries to the exclusive Mount Kenya Safari Club for a three-day retreat.
Uhuruâ€™s decision to go to the secluded venue for a meeting with top government officers flies in the face of public calls made by his appointee at the National Treasury, Henry Rotich, that Government departments have to hold retreats in State-owned institutions with catering facilities.
Mr Rotichâ€™s circular on the ban on luxury hotels was issued late last year, as the Government grappled with a ballooning wage bill, the costs associated with devolution and numerous strikes from teachers, nurses, and doctors.
In an ironic twist, the President, his deputy William Ruto, the entire Cabinet and the principal secretaries will be holed up at the affluent hotel to work on the Budget and determine how to cut down the huge public wage bill.
The retreat comes at a time when the House Committee on Budget and Appropriations has rallied Parliament to adopt severe budget cuts to crucial dockets, in an effort to get money to keep the massive bureaucracy at the national government working.
See also: Uhuru convenes 4-day Cabinet retreat to review govt progress
â€œThe retreat offers an opportunity for the Executive to complete its fiscal planning, with careful deliberation on the public wage bill,â€ said President Kenyattaâ€™s spokesperson Manoah Esipisu in a series of tweets late Monday.
Cutting wage bill
â€œâ€¦the Cabinet will focus attention on priorities and analyse how best to match its personnel, resources and institutions,â€ said Mr Esipisu.
Approval of the supplementary budget is pending in the House, and MPs have made it clear that there is no money for extravagant spending within the Executive.
It also scuttled plans by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to host a conference on the wage bill.
The MPs have agreed to reduce the allocations to SRC by Sh50 million; they have denied the Judiciary Sh500 million for building offices and courts; they also denied the National Gender and Equality Commission Sh40 million to refurbish buildings.
The lawmakers also thwarted allocations of Sh293 million to the Ministry of Devolution and Planning for the civil service reform secretariat.
â€œAlthough recruitment is required in some key areas such as security, this House must demand a stay on any increase in the wage bill until a concrete policy position on the comprehensive way forward,â€ said the Chairman of the House Committee Mutava Musyimi (Mbeere South) when he moved the report.
The closest Esipisu came to agreeing with the MPs is when he said that the ban on hiring staff in State corporations will stay.
â€œThe ban will last as long as it takes to clean up the civil service register so that we know who works for us, we know what talent we require and which people to bring in, and which people need to leave and then we can start hiring afresh,â€ said Esipisu in an interview early Tuesday with a local FM radio station.
The numbers retired president, Mwai Kibaki, takes to retirement
Updated Friday, March 14th 2014 at 19:40 GMT +3
BY Hussein Mohamed and NJIRAINI MUCHIRA
Kenya: A popular maxim avers that numbers donâ€™t lie. There is no better moment in history to put this idiom to test than a time when President Kibaki, arguably consummate economist, is gearing to retire.
Ten years ago, the President ascended to the pinnacle of the countryâ€™s leadership on the promise of economic renaissance declaring in his famous December 30, 2002, speech; â€œYou have asked me to lead this nation out of the present wilderness and malaise onto the Promised Land. And I shall.â€
As the curtains comes down on a long political career spanning five decades, analysts view the last ten as more significant in defining President Kibakiâ€™s economic legacy.
â€œUnder President Kibaki, the economic indicators have been impressive and the country has achieved major milestones in the development trajectory,â€ said Patrick Obath, chairman of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa).Â
Whereas this is largely undisputable, herein lays the importance of numbers. When he took over in 2003, gross domestic product (GDP) stood at $13.1 billion according to the World Bank, making Kenya among the worst performing economies in the world. A decade later, GDP has tripled to $33.6 billion, a substantial expansion.
When measuring in terms of GDP per capita, growth has been recorded from $402.1 to $476.8, while GDP growth averaged 4.7 per cent during his first term before plunging following the disputed elections of 2007. The resilience recorded then has been instrumental in the rebound being witnessed currently.Â
In GDP parameters, analysts contend President Kibaki has lived up to his promise of making the underperforming economy his priority.
â€œPresident Kibaki is a capitalist and that is why he has put in place mechanisms for wealth creation,â€ observed Job Kihumba, executive director at Standard Investment Bank.Â
This, however, does not give him the right to pop the champagne. This is because other indicators of the economy have been nothing but volatile over the past decade, illustratively raising questions on the long-term competitiveness of Kenyans economy.
Areas that have projected instability include unemployment rate, inflation, exchange rate, and interest rates among others. For instance, unemployment rate averaged 22.4 per cent between 1999 and 2011, but while it hit a record low in of 12.7 per cent in 2006, last year it stood at 40 per cent.
Inflation, on its part, averaged 12.5 per cent between 2005 and 2012 but while by last month it had declined to a record low of 4.1 per cent, last year in November it had skyrocketed to a high of 19.7 per cent.
In terms of the exchange rate, the shilling has averages Sh78.80 to the dollar between 2002 and 2012. In between, it has demonstrated extreme volatility hitting a historic low of 107 mark in October of 2011.
The Nairobi Securities Exchange 20 share index, which is true measure of the underlying economy, has been in a constant state of fluctuation. In 2002, the index was around 1,000 points before it shot up to over 6,000 points in 2006. The index then crushed to about 3,000 points early this year and is only now picking up closing at slightly over 4,100 points last week.
While analysts contend that under Kibaki, the economy has performed exceptionally well, the fact that growth ran parallel with deeply rooted corruption blackens an otherwise remarkable achievements.
During his watch, the country has lost billions of shillings to mega scandals that include Anglo Leasing scam in which the country is estimated to have lost a staggering Sh50 billion in phantom projects, the Triton scandal that cost the exchequer Sh7.8 billion and the Grand Regency Hotel fiasco in which the country lost Sh2.9 billion.
Other scandals that have clouded his economic exploits, which made Kenya to continue being ranked as most corrupt country in the Transparency International Corruption Index, besides being tagged as â€˜a swamp of flourishing corruptionâ€™ by Wikileaks, include the donor funded Free Primary Education,Â City Council cemetery, Ministry ofÂ Water scams, Kazi Kwa Vijana and the Maize scandals.
Against this mixed performance, it would be interesting to know what does the volatility of the economic indicators project about the countryâ€™s economy in general and President Kibakiâ€™s economic model in particular?
According to analysts, Kibaki has largely been less concerned with short-term upheavals and has mainly concentrated on long-term interventions with far reaching impacts.
â€œPresident Kibakiâ€™s approach has been to consciously create fundamental structures with far reaching impacts,â€ notes Kihumba.
In deed this explains why under him, the Government has developed policies that anchor strategies over a period of time and has given lip service to stop gap measures like the infamous kazi kwa vijana projects.
Soon after taking over power, the Government drafted the Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth and Employment Creation 2003â€“2007. When the strategyâ€™s elapsed, it was replaced by the even more long-term growth blueprint, the Vision 2030 master Plan.Â
Through the policies are premised on the philosophy that the Government need to be pro-active in the revival of the economy and driving growth, they have brought out President Kibakiâ€™s belief in the mixture of both government involvement in the economy (Keynesian economic model) and free markets (Adam Smith model).
For the long-term approach to the economy to bear results, President Kibaki has known that getting the macroeconomic factors right, investing in infrastructure, unleashing the potential of the private sector, securing agriculture, diversifying the economy by exploiting areas like the mining sector and building the human capital through sound education and health facilities are critical. In terms of macroeconomics, President Kibakiâ€™s leadership has largely been characterized by single digit inflation, stable exchange rate and interest rates, which have however been disrupted by drought, effects of the 2007-08 post-election violence and the 2009 global economic crisis.
â€œEconomic fundamentals are not just good, they are exceptional and they have enabled growth to take off,â€ stated Yvonne Mhango, an economist at Renaissance Group.Â
The Government has also invested heavily in the revival of erstwhile dead entities like the Kenya Meat Commission, New KCC among others.
More importantly, extensive reforms coupled by the empowering of regulatory bodies like the Central Bank of Kenya, the Capital Markets Authority, the Insurance Regulatory Authority among others has given rise to a vibrant private sector.
In the process enterprises that were largely muzzled like the financial sector, ICTs, retail and services, light manufacturing have sprung up at unprecedented rate.
â€œUnder President Kibaki Kenya has become attractive for investments both local and foreign,â€ said Obath. But security concerns have been a major impediment that has slowed growth in the various sectors. The results are phenomenal. In 2002, over 70 per cent of bank deposits in the country was in the hands of foreign banks but a decade later this wealth in now in local banks.
While the impacts of invisibles, like for instance ease of access to credits or reduction of bureaucracies when registering a business, over the past decade has not highly celebrated. But massive investments in infrastructures including roads, railways, airports, ports, energy, fibre optic have been spectacular.
Recently, the President has presided the commissioning of some of the key projects like the Thika Superhighway and the Syokimau Railway Station. In the coming days, he is expected to oversee the ground-breaking for others like the Konza Technology City and construction of a second container terminal at the Port of Mombasa.
Economists contend that investments in infrastructure are critical catalyst to growth. According to the World Bank, infrastructure contributed 0.5 percentage points to annual per capita growth in the past decade.Â It is, however, instructive to note that these projects are being finance through debt, particularly from China, something that has pushed Kenyaâ€™s foreign debt to unprecedented levels.
Statistics by the Central Bank show the countryâ€™s external debt has skyrocketed from Sh361.7 billion in 2003 to Sh732 billion last year.
The ballooning external debt, coupled by rising domestic borrowing, has translated to a widening fiscal deficit that stood at 7.8 per cent to the GDP last year.Â â€œThe borrowing should not worry Kenyans because the money has been used in investments and not consumption,â€ reckoned Kihumba.
As he retires, Kenyans have already made it clear how they intend to remember Kibaki. A survey by Infotrack last week showed that 26.6 per cent of Kenyans will remember him due to infrastructure development, 25 per cent for free primary education and 22 per cent for the new constitution. Whatever the scorecard, only time will tell whether or not Kibaki met the expectation of Kenyans.
Did a British PR firm propagate the anti-Western rhetoric surrounding the ICC
Saturday, March 15, 2014 – 00:00 — BY JOSEPH
Voter Wanjiku recalls flicking through the Kenyan TV channels during the run-up to the 2013 general elections in disbelief.
“I was stunned when I realized the burning issue of land ownership was just discarded and now we are just focusing on the ICC and how it is supposedly made to deny one party the opportunity to compete for power,” she says.
Like many other Kenyans, Wanjiku – a pseudonym for a victim of the 2007-2008 post-election violence that rendered her homeless and left thousands dead, maimed or displaced – did not know that a large part of the latest campaign was driven by a multinational public relations company.
In the March 2013 elections, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ruling TNA party ran a well-crafted, slick campaign in which a cohesion between the two most populous ethnic groups ensured victory. The president and his deputy, William Ruto, relied on a powerful anti-Western platform linked with the ICC process as a tool to sway public opinion.
The platform was not new – African leaders across the continent have used it for popular support. But few have relied on a British firm to instigate it. BTP Advisers, which describes itself on its website as a “UK-based communications consultancy with a network of partners across Europe, Africa and emerging markets”, gets the credit for selling Kenya the winning strategy: the strategy that brought the International Criminal Court to the forefront of the campaign.
BTP came up with the UhuRuto branding of the president and his deputy, according to news reports. And the related election campaign was a polished, social media-savvy effort visible on all three mainstream TV networks as well mainstream radio and print outlets. Using a dove symbol and the slogan “I Believe” and assisted by BTP with an elaborate, plush launch last May, the TNA had a far more visible and focused campaign than that of competitors.
“Of course it’s hard to gauge their [BTP] overall impact on the election results,” says University of Nairobi journalism lecturer George Nyabuga, “but in terms of developing messages, slogans and framing the pitch, they were hugely involved.”
Under the direction of BTP managing partner Mark Pursey, the group brought a formidable team of expatriates to help drive the campaign strategy.
“I am happy to say I have provided media and skills training to The National Alliance Party in Kenya during this year,” Ed Staite, a former advisor to the British Chancellor of the Exchequer and part of the BTP team, was quoted saying in The Independent.
The company’s strategy – and possibly the 2013 election clincher – was to rely on anti-Western, colonial rhetoric, framing the ICC cases as a foreign intervention in Kenya’s sovereignty. BPT spun the ICC charges to appear as a conspiracy by British and other Western powers to stymie competition for hard-won political elections in Kenya.
According to several Kenyan news reports, the firm used local and international networks to present the ICC process as a Western machination and turned the accused from suspected perpetrators into victims. BTP’s influence was seen in messaging whereby Kenyatta’s campaign team consistently asked foreign nations, notably the UK and the US, not to interfere with the elections and the running of the country’s affairs.
Pursey and his team’s success has since landed BTP a lucrative contract through the Kenyan government with the energy exploration company Delonex Energy.
In reporting for this article, BTP was contacted for a comment, but declined to give one.
Perceived Western meddling
News reports also said that at the height of the campaigns, the Jubilee Alliance accused Christian Turner, Britain’s High Commissioner in Nairobi, of dirty tricks to ensure Keyatta’s downfall. The alliance also demanded that the envoy explain what the TNA called “abnormal” numbers of British soldiers arriving in Kenya before the polls. Turner flatly denied the allegations.
Thinly veiled warnings by Western powers showing their concerns over an ICC-indicted presidential victory backfired. Not going down well with the public was a response to the Kenyan press from former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson that “choices have consequences”. Nor were Turner’s remarks that Britain would avoid all but essential contact with indictees well received.
A local journalist, preferring anonymity for this article, who monitored public opinion through social media sites during the elections, reported a spike in online commentary condemning perceived Western meddling in Kenya’s elections.
What is more, it is believed that BTP used local journalists and bloggers to fuel the outrage through comments on social media, blogs and editorials to the point where Carson’s response to reporters appeared a direct attack on Kenyan sovereignty. During the campaign trail, Carson and Turner were portrayed as insidious, even violent usurpers, despite a lack of evidence.
When speaking to a crowd in February 2013 in Nandi County, Ruto said: “There is no difference between what Johnnie Carson and the British ambassador are doing, intimidating our supporters using threats and blackmail, and those who use violence to intimidate voters to get their way.”
According to news reports, some BTP-orchestrated articles, published in the leading dailies were written with the assistance of Stephen Kay, Kenyatta’s lead counsel at the ICC, and published in the press.
“They were dealing with political communicators schooled in ‘how a journalist thinks’, and trained to manipulate journalism to media relations – a sobriquet of political propaganda,” wrote political commentator Seth Odongo. “From the [Kenyan] media, Uganda seems to be a [more] important Kenyan bilateral partner than Great Britain and the USA combined … and Al Bashir is a symbol of African statesmanship.”
Local journalists reporting on the elections in Bomas, Nairobi, allege that BTP chairman Pursey had backdoor-access to the IEBC computer servers. One source claims the IEBC webpage displaying voter registration was quickly removed after the journalist discussed registration discrepancies with a BTP official. There were reports purporting that the TNA party manipulated the IEBC website server, evidence that the ODM party raised in its Supreme Court challenge and which Chief Justice Willie Mutunga dismissed due to untimely submission.
IEBC communications manager Tabitha Mutemi, however, said they had “nothing to do with BTP and their presence” and that no one outside their staff had access to their computer systems.
Growing influence of foreign PR firms
One thing is certain: BTP has a reputation for effectiveness, but also ruthlessness. The PR firm defended the government of Rwanda over accusations it had been involved in the genocide, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalists, despite Pursey admitting: “it’s very uncertain what their [Rwandan government’s] role was in the deaths that occurred around the time of the genocide.” Undercover reporters from the bureau also posed as agents for the government of Uzbekistan requesting BTP to better their image over the use of child labour in the cotton industry. While BTP considered offering its services, other PR firms rejected the bureau’s Uzbekistan pitch.
Although the BTP contract with the Kenyan government is now over, the company’s strategy of targeting Western governments and institutions appears to have stayed in place. The mainstream Kenyan media continues to demonize the ICC process and conveys the trials as a political contest. Local journalists monitoring the coverage allege a lack of reporting on the ICC prosecutor’s case and the evidence for it.
“The media is being very careful not to be seen as promoting ICC ideals,” said Professor Nyabuga.
The growing influence of foreign PR firms on Kenya’s press, in general, is significant.
“If you look at The Nation tomorrow, you will find more than half those articles came, in one way or another, though activities or events traced to PR firms,” said Lawrence Gikaru, chair of the Association of Public Relations and Communication Management Firms.
Perhaps the greatest irony is that the majority of PR firms operating in Kenya have a link with the UK, Gikaru said. While BTP lambasts Britain’s image in Kenya, UK-related PR firms are thriving in Nairobi.
“The UK is the easiest link in relation to PR firms,” he added. “In terms of business relations, relations with the UK are good.”
The number of established foreign PR firms entering Kenya’s markets could be close to 60, according to Gikaru, and will likely increase both in the economic and political sectors.
Professor Nyabuga believes they will play an escalating role in news management, especially that of bad news. According to him, major multinational PR firms were used to manage information in Kenya’s mysterious airport fire in August 2013. The details the public received were “manipulated information rather than truthful information – crisis communication tempered with public relations”, Nyabuga said.
*Joseph is a pseudonym for a Nairobi-based journalist.
The opinions expressed here are those of their author and are not intended to reflect those of The Hague Trials Kenya.
Jubilee can give all the excuses in the world but Uhuru was Finance Minister under Kibaki and knows how the government operates. He knows corruption is high yet his Cabinet Secretaries are driven in expensive fuel guzzlers having refused to use the old Passat vehicles he had authorized as Finance Minister. Ruto was also a Minister and knows how money is misued so he should stop preaching to Kenyans. Kusema na KU-TENDER. Ruto stole Mutashi’s 100-acre farm and was fined Sh 5 million – how then can Kenyans trust him with running government?
The poor Kenyan taxpayers have paid Sh 500 million for Kibaki’s Mweiga home which he does not use.They have also paid for his new Sh 250 million to use in Nairobi yet he receives a handsome retirement package. All these under the Jubilee government.
Uhuru’s wife gets an undisclosed some of money to run bogus missions yet we have Ministeries doing the same. Similarly, Ruto’s wife is wasting taxpayers money running around the country duplicating work given to government offcials paid by the poor Kenyans.
Uhuruto’s government is full of mismanagement of public cash and needs to be controlled.
Baringo heavy rains destroy classrooms Monday, March 17, 2014 – 00:00 — BY JOSEPH KANGOGO
MORE than 400 pupils at three primary schools in Baringo county are learning outside their classrooms because of damage caused by heavy rains. Some 110 pupils at Kogorwonin Primary School in Baringo Central are being taught outside after strong winds and rain destroyed their six class- rooms on Friday last week. Head teacher Willy Chepchieng said no one was injured in the 4.30pm incident as the pupils and teachers had already gone home. He blamed the destruction on sloppy terrain and old school buildings. Chepchieng said the timber- walled classrooms were constructed in 1993. At the same time, 174 pupils of Salabani Primary School in Marigat subcounty are also studying outside after they were displaced two years ago by rising level of Lake Baringo. In Tiaty subounty more than 130 pupils of Katuwit Primary School are studying on top of their desks after their classrooms got flooded following the heavy rainfall in the area. The Ministry of Education led by the County Executive Committee’s Emily Kibet, toured the schools on Saturday to access the situation and donated 800 iron sheets for repair of the school structures.
Africa’s youth will protest
March 14, 2014
By Marika Griehsel, journalist, film-maker and lecturer
It is now evident that the African ‘lion economies’ have hardly even begun the economic and democratic transformation that is absolutely necessary for the future of the continent.
The largest movement ever in Africa of people from rural to urban areas is now taking place. Lagos, Nigeria, and Nairobi, Kenya, are among the world’s fastest growing cities.
The frustration that is fuelled among populations that are hungry and feel ignored by their rulers will bring about increasingly strident and potentially violent protest.
Soon, this will change the political climate, not least in urban areas. Utilising the internet and their phones, Africa’s youth and forgotten people will mobilise to remove self-seeking and repressive elites.
This piece was written in Namibia, where I was leading a tour around one of Africa’s more stable nations. There are several signs confirming the World Bank’s reclassification of Namibia as a middle-income country, which in turn means that many aid donors, including Sweden, have ended their bilateral cooperation.
I see newly constructed, subsidised single-family homes accessible for low-income families. I drive on good roads and meet many tourists, although this is off-season. I hear about a growing mining sector, new discoveries of natural gas and oil deposits. I read about irregularities committed by people in power, in a reasonably free press whose editors are not thrown into jail. There is free primary level schooling and almost free health care.
Most people I talk to are optimistic. A better future for a majority of Namibians is being envisaged. This is in all probability the result of the country having a small population ‒ just above 2 million ‒ and a functioning infrastructure despite its large area.
In Namibia, economic growth can hopefully be matched by implementing policies for long-term, sustainable social and economic development that will benefit more than the élite.
But Namibia is an exception. Because it is now evident that the African ‘lion economies’ have hardly even begun the economic and democratic transformation that is absolutely necessary for the future of the continent.
Some examples: authoritarian regimes, as in Ethiopia and Rwanda, are consolidating their positions. In Zambia, Angola and Mozambique, the press, civil society organisations and the opposition are under threat for demanding that the proceeds from raw material exports and billion dollar multinational corporate investments should benefit everyone.
The International Monetary Fund, IMF, predicts continued high growth rates across Africa with an average of over 6 per cent in 2014. That is of course good news for the continent. Perhaps the best, from a macroeconomic viewpoint, since the 1960s, when many of the former colonies became independent. This growth is mainly driven by the raw material needs of China, India and Brazil.
Meanwhile, the largest movement ever in Africa of people from rural to urban areas is now taking place. Lagos, Nigeria, and Nairobi, Kenya, are among the world’s fastest growing cities. But, in contrast with China, where the migrants from the rural areas get employment in the manufacturing industry, the urban migrants in Africa end up in the growing slums of the big cities.
In a few places, notably in Ethiopia, manufacturing is beginning to take off. But the wages in the Chinese-owned factories are even lower than in China, while the corporations pay minimal taxes to the Ethiopian state.
Short-term greed is, once again, depriving the African populations of the right to share in the continent’s immense riches. No-one can predict the future, but what can be said with certainty is that the possibility of a sustainable long-term and fair development that is currently at hand in Africa is being put at risk.
The frustration that is fuelled among populations that are hungry and feel ignored by their rulers will bring about increasingly strident and potentially violent protest. In the near future, this will change the political climate, not least in urban areas. Utilising the internet and their mobile phones, Africa’s youth and forgotten people will mobilise and act together to remove self-seeking and repressive elites.
But the situation is not hopeless, on the contrary. Civil society is growing stronger in many places in Africa. The internet makes it possible for people to access and disseminate information in an unprecedented way. However, I get really disappointed when I hear all the ingenuous talk about the possibilities to invest and make quick profits in the ‘New Africa’.
What is in reality new in the ‘New Africa’?
Today, a worker in a Chinese-owned factory in Ethiopia earns one-tenth of the wage of an employee in China. Unless African governments and investors act more responsibly and ensure long-term sustainable construction for people and the environment ‒ which is currently not the case ‒ we must all ask ourselves if we should not use the consumer power we all possess to exert pressure.
There are no excuses for letting African populations and their environment once again pay for the global demand for its raw materials and cheap consumer goods.
This is a translation from the original Swedish text in the journal OmVärlden, Nr 2 2014.
Uhuru is increasing his wealth by expanding his business empire to Ethiopia, South Sudan, Rwanda and Egypt to sell his Brookside dairy products but has no motivation to improve the living standards of Kenyans that his father and mother robbed to get their wealth from.
Reblogged this on ambulivictor's Blog.
Ambaseda Joseph Sang in Stockholm is also misusing government money pledging more loyalty to Jubilee than working efficiently for Kenyans. No toilet for <kenyans who go to embasi for services at his ofis.
The man who betrayed his people the Masai’s
Our first step was at Fairmont Mt Kenya Safari Club where the President, his deputy, Cabinet members, principal secretaries and their top aides, and retinue of advisors, security and other support staff such as drivers and probably even clerical officers spent four nights.
The Standard’s team inquiry began with the notion that the retreat need not have been in such a respected, expensive and World Class destination in moments of hard times. First, it turned out that the President and his team decided to extend the visit in the hotel by two more days, pushing the cost further up.
“It was a rare chance to host the President and his government from Monday to Friday,” said a hotel manager familiar with the pie that comes with such rich bookings.
The Standard exclusively established that the Government had initially booked the hotel for two days from Monday to Wednesday with the rest of the activities slated for transfer to Sagana State Lodge, about 60 kilometres away from the resort. The President checked into the hotel rated among the World’s Top 50 by New York-based Travel + Leisure Magazine on March 4 to join the lynchpins of his administration and signed the visitors book.
Hospitality analysts and publications have also rated the club as one of the most expensive hotels in Africa. President Uhuru spent his nights at the executive Equatorial Suite Number 102 that cost Sh51,050 per night. A source at the club told The Standard his deputy Mr William Ruto also stayed in one of the hotel’s classy rooms at a similar cost.
Their security and aides are believed to have taken adjacent rooms for protocol and security reasons. Sources familiar with the meeting said ‘senior’ Cabinet Secretaries were booked in at Signature Suite at a cost of Sh42,350 and Manor Junior Suite that cost Sh38,500 per night.
Other cabinet secretaries and principal secretaries spent the nights in Garden Suite, Mawingu Suite, Raymond Hook Suite, Deluxe View Room, River Deluxe Suites and Deluxe Room that cost between Sh33,688 and Sh25,025 a night.
The retreat saw the country literary run from a private club nestled in the middle of a forest at the foot of Mt Kenya. Sources familiar with the cost of bookings in the hotel said the creation of an exclusive venue for the Cabinet that also saw some security and drivers of these leaders housed in the hotel ran to about Sh65 million.
The Standard informants narrative how a furious Uhuru called the CEO and told him point blank to come to state house with his team to explain a host of issues the president want to know.
The story about wasteful expenditure was first carried by the Star (for smart people) but Standard finished the task, giving the sad picture of just how Uhuru callously spent public resources on a useless holidaying experience where cabinet secretaries were horse riding and enjoying massage services on public taxes.
REVEALED: The FULL LIST of UHURU /RUTO’s men and women at STATE HOUSE and in RUTO’s KAREN residence with the SALARIES they earn every month (SHOCKER)
Tuesday March 18, 2014 – As the Government continues to grapple with the ballooning wage bill in the country, the Kenyan DAILY POST can now reveal individuals in President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy, William Ruto’s inner sanctum who are earning fat salaries because they are their cronies.
Below is a list Uhuru/ Ruto’s men who earn more than a million shillings in salary and allowances and they have also been offered a car and a driver by the Government. (Estimates)
1. Nancy Gitau – Uhuru’s Adviser (Earns over 1 Million)
2. Joshua Kuttuny – Uhuru’s Adviser (Earns over A Million)
3. Abdikadir Mohammed – Uhuru’s Adviser (Salary 1 Million)
4. Mr Manoah Esipisu – Uhuru’s Spokesman (Salary 900,000)
5. James Kinyua – State House Chief of Staff (Salary 1.5 Million)
6 . Munyoki Mbuku – Public Communications (Salary over Sh 500,000)
7. Dennis Itumbi – Diaspora Communications (Salary and Allowances Sh 500,000)
8. Mr Eric Ng’eno – Speech Writing and Messaging (Salary Sh 700,000)
9. Mr Thomas Kwaka “Big Ted” (Events) – (Earns more than 1 Million a Month.)
10. Ms Connie Gakonyo – Chief Of Staff in the First Lady’s Office – Over 1 Million a Month
11. Maina Kigaga- Head of Communication in First Lady’s Office – Over Sh 800,000
12. Maryanne Keitany – William Ruto’s Chief of Staff – (Salary Over 1 Million).
13. Mr Reuben Maiyo- Ruto’s Private Secretary (Salary over Sh 700,000)
14. Dr Chesang’, – Ruto’s Adviser (Salary Sh 500,000)
15. Nixon Korir – Ruto’s Adviser, (Salary Sh 500,000)
16. Anania Mwaboza – Ruto’s Adviser (Salary Sh 500,000)
17. Dr James Nyoro – Ruto’s Adviser (Salary Sh500, 000)
18. Dr Korir Sing’oei – Ruto Adviser (Sh 700,000)
19. Ms Patita Tingoi – Ruto’s Adviser (Sh 500,000)
20. Jasper Mbiuki – Uhuru’s Adviser (Sh 500,000)
State House sets the record straight on cost of retreat
Updated Friday, March 14th 2014 at 23:32 GMT +3
By Standard reporter
Kenya: State House on Friday said the Government spent only Sh8.4 million on the fourday retreat by the Executive at the exclusive Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club and not Sh100 million as reported in this newspaper yesterday.
At a meeting in State House, Nairobi, with The Standard Group Editorial Director Chaacha Mwita, Managing Editor (Sunday) Enoch Wambua and Commercial Director Irene Kimani yesterday, State House Comptroller Lawrence Lenayapa said the Treasury had granted his office authority to spend Sh9.7 million for the retreat.
At the meeting, Mr Lenayapa was accompanied by State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu.
The Comptroller, who is also the accounting officer at the Presidency, said the figure had been arrived at in close consultation with the hotel management.
At the same time, State House provided a breakdown of the retreat’s costs on Fairmont letterhead confirming that the retreat indeed cost Sh8,469,278.50 out of which Sh6,792,480 has been paid leaving a balance of Sh1,676,798.50. Contacted for comment, Niall Cowan, who is the General Manager at the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, confirmed the breakdown. He said: “I have reviewed the attached invoice and I can confirm that this is the actual invoice from the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club. The amount invoice for Sh8.4m is the complete and actual amount that the retreat cost for the four days on-site with us. There are no additional and have been no additional charges for the retreat; the invoiced amount (Sh8.4m) is correct and final.”
Mr Lenayapa said Deputy President William Ruto travelled together with President Uhuru Kenyatta on the President’s security helicopter while all Cabinet and Principal Secretaries travelled to the venue in buses owned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“No allowances were paid to any of the government officials attending the retreat. In fact, the secretaries were not accompanied by their aides,” said Lenayapa.
In publishing the story, The Standard was motivated by their journalistic duty to contribute to the current national debate, initiated by the President himself, on the sustainability of public expenditure. It was done in the undisputed knowledge that the resort is one of the most expensive in the world and that the whole Executive had relocated there for four days in hard times.
Additionally, unsuccessful efforts were made to get the Government’s side of the story before going to press.
Using the commercial rates that the hotel ordinarily charges, assuming each senior government official had attended the four-day retreat with at least a body guard and driver as is the common practice, further assuming that each of these public servants were drawing allowances for working out of station, factoring in the cost of fuel for each of the state official’s cars or aviation as the case might have been, and considering that non-members of the Club pay a fee for temporary membership, the bill could have been much more.
But State House clarified yesterday that all these assumptions were wrong. They said they had a negotiated special rate from the facility, which included full board lodging and conferencing facilities.
They further clarified that none of the state officials attending the retreat enjoyed the expensive extras that the hotel offers.
In light of this clarification and the provided documentary evidence, we take this early opportunity to apologise to the Government for any inconvenience caused.
.Curious “Standard” CEO Sam Shollei’s profuse apology over President Uhuru Kenyatta’s cabinet heavy spending at the exclusive Mt Kenya Safari Club
In Standard Newspaper issue of Friday 14th March 2014, headlined “Austerity: How Govt spent millions on luxury retreat”, The Standard published the story that the government could have spent more than Sh100 million on a four-day retreat by the President and his cabinet at the exclusive Mt. Kenya Safari Club.
After establishing the truth from State House, we agree the story had errors and inaccuracies. The truth that was published in the Saturday Standard of March 15, 2014 is that the government spent only Sh8.4 million.
This low level of expenditure affirms the President’s and his government’s commitment to cut down on wasteful expenditure.
The board, management and staff of Standard Group offer unreserved apology to the President, his deputy and cabinet for embarrassment and grief that this story caused them.
We at The Standard support the President and his Cabinet’s resolve to cut down on wastage, eliminate corruption and cut down on government expenditure especially the huge wage bill that has the potential to cripple the economic development of our country.
We made a mistake that embarrassed the President and his cabinet and we apologise unreservedly to him and to the people of Kenya.
The story has been withdrawn from all online editions. (Signed – Sam Shollei – Group CEO, Standard Group).
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Insecurity, cost of living top Kenyans’ concerns – survey
By MAZERA NDURYA
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Kenyans have identified high cost of living and insecurity as the most critical issues the country faces.
Although the high cost of living still largely preoccupies Kenyans – with 38 per cent out of the 2,059 respondents identifying it in the latest Ipsos survey – insecurity concerns have risen.
The ranking also show Kenyans have put aside their political differences after the 2013 elections to speak with one voice regarding the Jubilee Government after one year in power.
The new Ipsos opinion poll shows that Kenyans are more concerned about their security, with the recent cases of terror attacks in Mombasa and Nairobi compounding their fears.
In that regard, majority of the respondents think the country was headed in the wrong direction.
While identifying the main problem they think the country faces, more than twice as many respondents mentioned crime/insecurity as they did three months ago, 17 per cent recently and 7 per cent in February.
Regarding the recent effort to improve national security especially with “Operation Usalama Watch”, Kenyans had mixed reactions with more than one third of respondents believing that it will both cause “more terrorist attacks” and “a reduction in crime” standing at 39 per cent and 37 per cent.
Last week, scores of people lost their lives in Mombasa and Nairobi blasts that targeted travellers.
The pollsters believe the situation would have been different in terms of ratings if the survey was conducted after the grenade attacks.
Kenyans were united in insecurity, high cost of living, corruption and public expenditure which were the main thrust of the survey, the second one this year to gauge the performance of the current government .
“However polarised people were in the last general elections, differences among Kenyans have disappeared and have almost similar views on key issues affecting them.
“Insecurity is now pressing down the high cost of living as Kenyans are divided on the issue of whether the Jubilee Government is going in the right direction or not,” said Ipsos Social Political Consultant Dr Tom Wolf.
Dr Wolf said although there was grounds for optimism, there was nothing to celebrate about as most of the respondents believe the government was not going in the right direction.
The survey shows that 60 per cent of Kenyans who were interviewed think that the country is headed in the wrong direction, while 26 per cent have the contrary view; while 13 per cent are either not sure or did not give a response.
The highest proportion of those indicating that the country is headed in the wrong direction is from the Coast and Nyanza regions, both at 86 per cent.
However most positive responses are found in Rift Valley (46pc) and Central regions (29pc) which are Jubilee strongholds.
The poll conducted between April 29 and May 7 showed that 78 per cent of the respondents believe that the Jubilee Government was doing worse than the previous Grand Coalition government, citing a number of critical areas besides insecurity as corruption, public expenditure and unfulfilled election promises.
Kenyans generally painted a grim economic reality where 59 per cent stated their economic conditions have worsened.
This proportion has changed a little over the previous two surveys (six months).
In terms of political alignment, nearly three times as many respondents who identified with Jubilee report an improvement in such conditions as do those who identify with Cord at 28 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.
As the debate on public expenditure continues to take centre stage, Kenyans have suggested ways that would see the government cut down on its recurrent spending, with fight against corruption being given more prominence.
“Most frequently mentioned idea is to reduce corruption, with 49 per cent supporting the move followed by cutting salaries and allowances of some or elected officials at 43 per cent and 40 per cent.
Dr Wolf said Kenyans have concrete ideas on how public expenditure can be cut given that only 6 per cent of the respondents do not seem to know what was going on.
“Both supporters of Jubilee and Cord seem to be reading from the same script as they are pretty much together on reducing public expenditure,” he said at the Ipsos Kenya offices while releasing the report to the media.
The survey highlighted some change in the confidence rating of leading officials and institutions, with a fall in the ratings of confidence for the country’s two top leaders and the media.
According to the poll, ratings for the President and his Deputy have both fallen by 9 per cent and 11per cent, while for the media, it has fallen by 12 per cent.