By Jerry Okungu
I’m all fired up like the rest of Kenyans. I want a piece of the action when the big pie goes up for grabs this week. Like most anxious Kenyans, I have been waiting to own a part of the most profitable company in East and Central Africa. After all, I have been a faithful customer to Michael Joseph for the past nine years and lately, especially during the elections, I had been spending close to Ks 30, 000 a month on airtime alone.
However, there is something fishy with this big apple. The stinking thing has been around for a long time every time there is talk from the Treasury that the Kenya Government was about to offload 25% of its shares to raise the badly needed Ks 50 billion to bridge the budget deficit.
Last year, despite unfavourable political climate, with elections around the corner, Amos Kimunya, Kenya’s Finance Minister was hell bent on selling off the 25% of the government’s 60% equity. And he was very arrogant about it. Had it not been for the Vodafone shareholders who opposed the IPO going into the market at the time, the arrogance of our rulers would have won the day.
Now we are told the sale must go on this week despite voices of dissent coming from the civil society watchdogs as well as the ODM- the principle coalition partner in the Kibaki administration.
Two issues have arisen that make men and women of honour question the integrity of Safaricom as a company. First there is the mysterious Mobitelea ownership that just won’t go away. A rundown of how this faceless company came to own 10% then 5% of a public company in Kenya, now worth Ks 10 billion has remained a mystery. More perplexing is the fact that the same company is foreign and never paid a dime to have shares in Safaricom!
With all due respect, Michael Joseph, the first CEO to be hired by Vodafone PLC has led the company for nine years even though his initial contract was never to go beyond three years. Earlier plans to have a Kenyan understudy him were scuttled by political interest groups; probably connected with Mobitelea.
His appearance last year at the Parliamentary Investment Committee to explain the ownership of Mobitelea was as baffling as it was obstructive. For Michael Joseph to have said that he did not know the owners of Mobitelea amounted to a CEO saying he has never met shareholders of the company he runs.
Safaricom is basically a Kenyan company that has thrived on the good will of ordinary Kenyans and the Government of Kenya. It has continued to make huge profits year in year out with a customer base now in the region of 10 million. The billions of shillings that have been reported yearly have not come from Vodafone PLC or the Kenya Government; the two principle share holders. Least of all, have they come from Mobitelea. The profits have come from mama mboga, a Masai herdsman, a matatu tout, a village farmer and a little clerk in a government office.
It is therefore disheartening to learn that the company’s CEO has been paying huge dividends to a shareholder he doesn’t even know! What cheek is this? Is Michael Joseph playing with the minds of Kenyans? Does he respect the intelligence of 10 million Kenyans who are his loyal customers?
Now that Safaricom is finally on sale, there is another bombshell hurled at Kenyans. Yes, Kenyans, the real owners through GOK have no first right of refusal. They have to compete with the rest of East Africans while a whopping 35% of the government’s 25% shares on offer have been reserved for the same foreign masters!
When the GOK offered to offload 25% of its shares in Safaricom, we were made to believe that these shares would make Kenyans own the company! What happened along the way? Have Kenyans become East Africans and Britons? Have ordinary Kenyans suddenly become big multinational companies owning everything in this country? Why do we allow ourselves to be duped by a public fraud that has the backing of shameless corporate captains and their accomplices at the stock exchange? Why isn’t Kenya Anti Corruption Commission interested in this naked foreign theft of our national wealth? How come the very individuals who fraudulently sold off our national wealth to unknown faceless foreigners are not being pursued by law enforcement forces or anti- graft authorities?
But again; how could they possibly pursue these criminals that are in fact their business partners if not cousins or accomplices? This is the tragedy that must allow Kenyans to be robbed blind in broad day light without their elected government raising a finger!
Do we have MPs of conscience in this present parliament? Now is the time to raise your voices or forever be damned.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
By Jerry Okungu
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
By Jerry Okungu
I am an East African citizen living in Kenya but, the other week I was ashamed to have visited the Rwanda genocide trial premises based at the Arusha International Conference Centre for the first time, yet, this great institution has been with us for nearly a decade.
The ICTR is Africa’s equivalent of a similar court based in The Hague. Whereas The Hague equivalent tries all cases connected with crimes against humanity, the Arusha Court was set up specifically to try suspects believed to have been the masterminds of the genocide that lasted one hundred days and left nearly a million people dead in Rwanda over a decade ago.
Despite the fact that these Rwanda trials are far from over; in fact hardly half way through, the UN, the very body that set it up in the first place is bent on closing the complex down in the next nine months!
A walk around the premises that included a conducted tour around the courtrooms and the library revealed that the UN invested heavily in building the infrastructure from scratch. Like all UN facilities in New York, The Hague and Nairobi, this is an international institution that has the potential to support the fight against impunity when it comes to crimes against humanity.
In today’s world, such violations of human rights are more prevalent in Africa than ever before. One only needs to remember the twenty one year old conflict in Northern Uganda, Southern Sudan and the never ending inter clan conflicts in Somalia and the raging genocide in Darfur to appreciate the magnitude of the problem.
Even though Charles Taylor is facing a similar trial in The Hague, the fact is that even in Liberia; Taylor is not the only culprit. There are many more perpetrators of crimes against humanity yet to be apprehended in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Darfur and Southern Sudan.
The significance of the Arusha International Court is obvious to Africa and the world. It can serve as a perfect deterrence for regional warlords in Africa. Its proximity to societies that are notorious for human rights violations makes it cheaper and cost effective to institute investigations, make arrests and transport suspects to the centre with speed. Another thing; the fact that it is located in Africa makes it have that credibility that suspects are tried on familiar grounds where even witnesses do not feel intimidated by unfamiliar environments.
A case in point is the Charles Taylor trial in The Hague. Under the circumstances, witnesses have to be transported from Liberia and Sierra Leone to go and testify thousands of miles away at some one’s cost. When they get there, the courtroom is a totally alien environment with mostly white or brown faces to contend with. Language becomes an issue as some of the witnesses may not understand any of the European languages used in the trials. Under the circumstances, the chances of a suspect like Taylor feeling like being lynched by a predominantly white jury are very high.
Equally important is the fact that UN institutions like the International Court of Justice should be permanently decentralized. There is need for such a UN facility in every continent with unique facilities to deal with unique regional violations.
As it is, the facility in Arusha employed close to two thousand people at its peak. Plans to close it down have scaled this number to a thousand employees with nearly fifty thousand direct dependants. The UN annual budget on this establishment has had significant impact on the economy of Arusha, Tanzania in general and even neighbouring countries like Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda itself. In the process, the standards of living and poverty levels have gone down drastically.
More importantly, regional despots are beginning to wake up to the reality that they can easily find their way into Arusha or The Hague cells if they continue with their wayward ways.
As the UN plans to close down this critical facility, what do the African Heads of State at the AU and the EAC level think? Will they just sit there and fold their arms as if nothing is happening? Can they rise up and raise the issue with the relevant authorities at the UN to rethink their decisions?
Presidents Jakaya Kikwete and Yoweri Museveni; you are the current chairs of the AU and the EAC respectively. Can you rise up to the challenge and save the Arusha institution? I am sure your voices are loud and strong enough to be heard across the globe. Over to you, Your Excellencies.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
The Nation (Nairobi)
February 8, 2008
By Cabral Pinto
One of Kenya's heroes is politician Bildad Kaggia. Breaking ranks with Kanu and President Jomo Kenyatta over the party's land policies, Mr Kaggia teamed up with Jaramogi Oginga Odinga to form the Kenya People's Union, the most radical party in Kenya's political history.
Mr Kaggia was not only jailed on trumped-up charges, but, he was subjected to death threats and almost assassinated in Thika because of this heroic move.
In the eyes of Mzee Kenyatta and ethnic chauvinists around him, Mr Kaggia was a traitor to the Kikuyu cause. But he never relented or gave up, and today he remains a role model for subverting negative ethnicity. He taught us never to ethnicise injustice, theft, half-truths and falsehoods, evil, ideology, politics, corruption or poverty. In his opinion, this ethnicisation is precisely what Mzee Kenyatta expected of him.
What ethnic cause has Ms Njeri Kabeberi, Ms Muthoni Wanyeki, Ms Gladwell Otieno, Mr Maina Kiai, Mr David Ndii, Mr Nahashon Gacheke, Mr Ndung'u Wainaina and Mr James Maina betrayed? Is it the same ethnic cause that Mr John Githongo is supposed to have betrayed? Is calling for peace with truth and justice a betrayal of this ethnic cause? Have the interests of the Kikuyu elite become the interests of the Kikuyu community?
As far as it is known, the Kikuyu elite have not shared their economic largesse among the poor Kikuyu. The Kikuyu daughters and sons mentioned above and others are better leaders and representatives of the Kikuyu community than the Kikuyu elite. They have witnessed the community's collective interests in co-existence with other communities without ethnic jingoism, arrogance and chauvinism. They have followed the beaten path that Mr Kaggia boldly followed.
Another of Kenya's heroes is Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. The Kenyatta and Moi regimes kept Jaramogi in a cruel political wilderness. Yet he never organised the harassment of Mr William Odongo Omamo, Mr Okiki Amayo, Mr Dalmas Otieno and other Kanu followers in Nyanza who, along with the two presidents, were part of Jaramogi's persecution.
What ethnic causes have Mr David Habil Odongo and Ms Grace Wangui betrayed by getting married and investing in Classic Guest House of Dunga in Kisumu?
WHAT ETHNIC CAUSE DID THE PNU councillors in Migori breach and betray? Why are they on the run for fear for their lives? Who decided that Luos support only Mr Odinga or face the community's wrath? Should the Luo elite decide whom members of the community should marry? Who in Luoland is speaking out against this type of negative ethnicity?
When are we going to hear Mr Dan Okello, Mr Oduor Ong'wen, Mr Edward Oyugi and Prof Anyang' Nyong'o speak out against the negative dictates of the Luo elite in the garb of collective ethnic good? Thankfully, we have heard Mr Onyango Oloo's voice.
In Rift Valley Province, we need to hear the voices of Mr Tirop arap Kitur, Mr Donald Kipkorir, Mr David Koros, Bishop Korir and others against the Kalenjin elite's ethnic jingoism.
President Moi set the ball rolling when he condoned the illegal eviction of non-Kalenjins from the region in 1990, 1991 and 1998. Now the Kalenjin elite are telling the poor Kalenjins that they will get their land back once the non-Kalenjins living in the Rift Valley are ethnically cleansed.
But the Kalenjin elite are saying nothing about the huge tracts of land they and other multiracial and multi-ethnic elite own. The Kalenjin elite are saying nothing about the land in Rift Valley owned by foreign companies and individuals. While land grievances in Kenya, Rift Valley in particular, must be addressed, surely, it is no lasting solution to the matter and no reason for the Kalenjin elite to pit the poor residents against the poor from the other communities by engineering ethnic cleansing.
It is no reason for the Kikuyu elite to sponsor reprisal attacks by poor Kikuyus on poor non-Kikuyus in Rift Valley and other areas.
Kenya needs also to hear more voices of the racial and ethnic minorities in the country. Prof Ali Mazrui has been patriotic in his interventions on this political crisis. Mr Abdulahi Ahmednasir has made useful contributions in press articles. Ms Zarina Patel and Mr Zayid Rajan have taken a patriotic political stand on the crisis. Mr Harun Ndubi has joined other Kenyans in seeking a solution to the turmoil.
It is to the credit of the Kenyan South Asians, the Swahili, the Abagusii and the Somali that all the great Kenyans mentioned above have not been called traitors to the causes of their communities, and their lives have not been threatened. The Kenyan Europeans have their leaders in Mr John Sutton, Mr Robert Shaw, Dr David Western and Dr Richard Leakey, among others. They, too, must speak out as they continue to do great work in various fields among European and African communities.
If we want to save Kenya, we must stop believing that it is only President Kibaki and Mr Odinga who will or must save the count ry. It is about time Kenyans told the leaders what they want before the strong foreign interests in the country decide what is good for our motherland
By Jerry Okungu
Monday afternoon this week came as a shock to many Kenyans. Francis Muthaura, the head of the Civil Service had a new government structure that he thought Kenyans should know about. Instead of calling a press conference in his Harambee House, he thought it necessary to use the Government Spokesman’s office at Kenyatta International Conference Centre.
The theme of his rare press briefing had to do with the recently signed accord between President Kibaki and Hon Raila Odinga on behalf of PNU and ODM respectively.
In his brief, Muthaura took it upon himself to interpret to Kenyans the meaning and spirit of the accord even though the entire document had been published in its entirety in the leading newspapers and had been the subject of intensive expert debates in the local media.
In so doing, Muthaura found it necessary to tell Kenyans that in the accord, the President would still be the Head of State and Government just like before. He would still appoint his Vice President who would be senior in ranking to the Prime Minister. The Vice President would still remain the Head of Government Business in Parliament and that the Prime Minister and two deputies would all be appointed by the President and each one of them would be answerable to the President directly.
But the real killer was when Muthaura categorically stated that the accord did not include the Civil Service, diplomatic missions and heads of parastals. They would not be affected by the accord!
Excerpts from the agreement duly signed by President Kibaki, Hon Raila Odinga, HE Kofi Annan and HE Jakaya Kikwete in paragraph three of the preamble state that, “With this agreement, we are stepping forward together, as political leaders, to overcome the current crisis and to set the country on a new path. As partners in a coalition government, we commit ourselves to work together in good faith as true partners, through constant consultation and willingness to compromise.”
This commitment to work together in good faith was the spirit that led Kibaki to append his signature to the now all important document. They stepped forward together as political leaders to overcome Kenya’s political crisis! Where did Muthaura, a civil servant get the authority to meddle in a purely political undertaking whose process had not even been concluded? Why did he find it urgent to release the new government structure on the eve of the first debate in Parliament that was to ratify the accord?
Paragraph four of the preamble continues, “This agreement is designed to create an environment conducive to such a partnership and to build mutual trust and confidence. It seeks to enable Kenyan political leaders to look beyond partisan considerations.”
The fury with which the ODM members responded to Muthaura was telling. Muthaura’s action had thrown the political class a step back to the pre-accord period just ten days ago.
Muthaura thinks and truly believes that the accord did not include the civil service, paratatal chiefs and Kenya’s ambassadors.
Yet bullet point five of the key points of the agreement states that, “The composition of the coalition government will at all times take into account the principle of portfolio balance and will reflect their relative parliamentary strength”.
If this is what is in the accord, where did the Ambassador get his authority to exclude the public service from the power sharing accord?
What was apparent in this unfortunate statement was the impact it could have on the entire Kenyan population that still suffered from the post election wounds. What if some communities understood Muthaura’s utterances to mean that the government was beginning to backtrack on the accord then start another round of violence? What if some members of Parliament could interpret Muthaura’s statement as an affront to Parliament by preempting published bills due for debate?
However, the biggest worry for many Kenyans was that Muthaura was not acting alone. Some thought he was fronting for some hardliners in PNU who felt that their current positions were threatened by the accord. If one read what Martha Karua said in Central Province over the weekend about the current ministers, one got the feeling that PNU would rather not share genuine power according to the accord but leave ODM with lackluster ministries while they continued to control strategic and critical portfolios of government.
The question to ask is; will the ODM brigade accept it? I don’t think so. Somebody had better tell PNU hardliners the same. Kenya has changed forever!
Thursday, March 6, 2008
New Vision, Uganda
They also added this comment:
"This is one of the editorials that I wrote and was published January 3, 2008"
Fuel crisis could have been averted
UGANDA is experiencing one of its worst fuel crises in recent history. The crisis, sparked off by post-election violence in Kenya, Uganda’s gateway to the sea, has not only exposed our vulnerability to any turmoil in Kenya, but also showed lack of pro-active planning by the concerned authorities.
Uganda early last year experienced a similar fuel shortage, though to a lesser extent, simply because no precaution was taken when Kenya announced a change in their tax regimae.
It was obvious that the new measures would destabilise supplies for sometimes.
It is also obvious that any election in a third world country creates tension that usually leads to hoarding of supplies.
The break up of the NARC alliance and the decision by Raila Odinga to stand against Mwai Kibaki were all pointers that the Kenyan election would be chaotic.
The responsible department should have therefore, taken the necessary precaution to mitigate any disruption in fuel supplies.
Even under the liberalisation policy, Uganda should have a national oil reserve to stabilise fuel prices in times of crisis like now.
Perhaps it time to rethink whether strategic resources like fuel, should be entirely left in private hands.
Oil has a ripple effect on the entire economy. In less than three days of the shortage, pump prices have more than quadrupled, sending transport fares sky-rocketing.
Food prices will soon soar and the manufacturing sector will soon feel the brunt as continued fuel shortage will affect thermal power generation, further pushing up the already high power tariffs.
All fuel companies are supposed to have reserves to last 10 days, but apparently this condition is not being enforced.
The responsible ministry should immediately seek the possibility of speeding up the exploitation of Uganda’s oil reserves sooner than the planned exploitation period of June 2009.
The Kenyan experience should be an eye opener that we need an alterative route to the sea.
The Government should ensure that Uganda has a national fuel reserve to absorb short-term shocks.
It is a shame that a one-week disruption in fuel supply can result into a crisis of this magnitude.
By John Eremu
PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni said in his State of the Nation address a day before the reading of the 2005/06 budget that government is to provide Members of Parliament with a Constituency Development Fund (CDF) to facilitate development projects in their areas.
The proposal is a brilliant idea in a country constituents expect a lot of financial support from their elected representatives. No wonder some MPs fear visiting their constituencies unless they are financially prepared enough.
My only concern is how such a fund will be managed and apportioned among the varied constituencies. Ugandan parliament has six categories of MPs. The directly elected members, whose constituencies are much smaller. Then we have those who represent interest groups with much bigger constituencies.
The women MPs represent districts. MPs for the youth and persons with disabilities have whole regions as their constituencies. Then we have the workers and the army representatives whose constituents are nationwide. It would certainly be unfair if the amount given per constituency is uniform.
It will also be a tall order holding MPs accountable in case they misappropriate the money. The grounds under which an MP could be recalled are clear under Article 84 of the 1995 Constitution and mismanagement of public funds is not one of them. Moreover an enabling law for the recall of legislators is yet to be passed, 10 years after the promulgation of the Constitution.
The creation of a parallel development fund outside the established structures also smacks of a vote of no confidence in the local governments and other Constitutional organs charged with executing development programmes.
MPs already get a monthly constituency allowance of sh150,000, they should first account for how they have utilized the funds before being entrusted with more.
If CDF motive is genuine development, the funds should be channelled through Non-Governmental Organisations or local governments, the Constitutional administrative units charged with executing development programmes at the grassroots.
Local Governments under Article 190 of the Constitution are charged with preparation of comprehensive and integrated development plans incorporating plans of lower level councils for submission to the National Planning Authority.
The MPs with development plans specific to their constituencies, should only ensure such plans are integrated into the local government plans. The CDF is then sent as part of the Central Government conditional grants to the districts and not through the MPs.
The legislature, as an independent arm of Government should concentrate on its Constitutional role of making good laws for peace, order and development and not engage in micromanagement of programmes.
It was against the spirit of separation of powers that the Constitution made MPs watchdogs over public expenditure and monitors to ensure efficient implementation of public programmes by the responsible organs.
It is the commercialisation of our politics that makes constituents expect monetary rewards for their votes. The constituents find it difficult for someone who showered them with a lot of money during elections to all of a sudden say he or she does not have money when elected. It is the high time the masses are clearly sensitised about the roles of the various government organs including that of the legislature, which is simply to make laws and act as a check on the executive and not engage in developmental programmes.
While the intention of the fund is good because it will be given to all MPs irrespective of ideological beliefs, CDF is likely to be misunderstood as we near the 2006 general elections. Adam Wood, the out-going British High Commissioner to Uganda has already observed that the fund appears to favour the incumbent MPs. The best option is to channel the money through the sub-counties.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
By Karen Allen
BBC News, Nairobi
Some 1,500 people died in the two-month unrest.
The BBC has learnt of allegations of state-sanctioned violence in Kenya during the recent post-poll crisis.
Sources allege that meetings were hosted at the official residence of the President between the banned Mungiki militia and senior government figures. The aim was to hire them as a defence force in the Rift Valley to protect the president's Kikuyu community.
The government has declined to respond to the allegations which are likely to be investigated by a new commission.
"We were ordered not to stop the vehicles to allow them to go", said Rift Valley policeman.
The allegations come as Parliament is due to open on Thursday preparing the way for a new coalition government.
Although parliament's focus will be on healing ethnic divisions and creating a coalition government - allegations of state involvement with a banned Kikuyu militia, known as Mungiki, will not go ignored.
Not least because of growing suspicion that some of the violence that led to 1,500 people being killed and hundreds of thousands displaced was orchestrated by both sides of the political divide.
"Gangs with machetes", alleged the BBC source, who is a member of the Kikuyu tribe and who is now in hiding after receiving death threats, "Three members of the gang met at State House... and after the elections and the violence the militias were called again and they were given a duty to defend the Kikuyu in Rift Valley and we know they were there in numbers."
Non-Kikuyu homes in Naivasha were ransacked and set alight. On the weekend of 25 January, the Rift Valley towns of Nakuru and then Naivasha were the focus of the some of the worst post-election violence.
Eyewitnesses spoke of non-Kikuyu homes being marked, then gangs with machetes - who they claim were Mungiki - attacked people who were from other ethnic groups.
Sources inside the Mungiki have told the BBC that it was a renegade branch of the outfit that was responsible for violence, not them.
A policeman who was on duty at the time, who has spoken to the BBC on condition of anonymity, has also pointed to clear signs of state complicity. He alleges that in the hours before the violence in Nakuru, police officers had orders not to stop a convoy of minibus taxis, called "matatus", packed with men when they arrived at police checkpoints. "When we were there... I saw about 12 of them [matatus] packed with men," he said. "There were no females... I could see they were armed.
Banned in 2002
Thought to be ethnic Kikuyu militants
Mungiki means multitude in Kikuyu
Inspired by the Mau Mau rebellion of the 1950s
Claim to have more than 1m followers
Promote female circumcision and oath-taking
Believed to be linked to high-profile politicians
Control public transport routes, demanding levies
Blamed for revenge murders in the Central region
The current and previous minister for internal security have both been invited to respond to the allegations. So far they have declined to do so.
The allegations come at a time of growing concern that there was pre-planned violence on both sides of the political fence, in the aftermath of Kenya's disputed election result.
The international crisis group has already raised such concerns and Human Rights Watch is expected to publish its report making similar claims shortly.
There are plans to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the coming weeks to examine claims of election violence.
The allegations are likely to be among the themes investigated by a commission created to address the issue of post-election skirmishes.
Parliament meets on Thursday, with its first business being to enact into law a power-sharing deal between the government and opposition.
Source: BBC Online
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
By Jerry Okungu
March 3, 2008
Monday morning was the first day Kenyans woke up with the realization that the Annan Peace team had left the country. It had accomplished its primary mission; to bring peace and stability to Kenya even if that peace was temporary. After forty-one days of hard negotiations, the team had finally brokered a signed deal that would eventually return Kenya to the path of tangible democratic process. The deal had literally devolved the imperial powers of the president.
As much as we would love to credit the negotiators from both PNU and ODM for their roles in reaching the agreement, it was however not lost on observers that forty eight hours to the deal, the talks had virtually fallen apart. The situation was so bad that Kofi Annan had to indefinitely suspend the talks and actually tell off the negotiators to their faces that they were incapable of sorting out the mess. The desperation on Annan’s face was not lost on observers and under normal circumstances Annan would have disbanded his team and headed for the airport.
However, being a seasoned diplomat that had gone through so many similar situations in the past, Annan decided that the last resort was to negotiate with Kibaki and Raila directly because the two principals held the key to the success or failure of the talks.
As the 24 hour shuttle diplomacy between Kibaki and Raila was heading to the rocks, with Kibaki digging in in the pretext that any inclusion of ODM into the government would have to be done within the current flawed constitution, it became apparent that what Martha Karua and Moses Wetangula were now proposing afresh were the actual position of their principal.
However, Annan’s team wasn’t going to give up just yet. It still had one more card up its sleeve. He remembered that they were in Kenya to accomplish an international community mission; to find a solution to Kenya’s crisis that ordinary Kenyans desperately wanted. Leaving Kenya at that time would have been like a doctor leaving his patient to die on the operating table and as sure as hell Kenya would have erupted in smoke once more.
The arrival of Jakaya Kikwete for a one day visit that was extended to the next day was a shot in the arm that the Annan team badly needed to achieve a breakthrough. Jakaya Kikwete came to Kenya for the first time since the disputed elections. More interestingly he had never said a word about the disputed results. He came as Kenya’s neighbor and as the new Chairman of the African Union under whose auspices, the Annan team was operating. When he arrived, the talks took a new turn. It was now one on one between the principals in the presence of Annan. By Thursday February 28, 2008, the deal was brokered.
We will never know what really transpired at the Harambee House where the final deal was sealed; but this much we know; the comprehensive power sharing agreement between ODM and PNU was signed in public before the international press on the steps of Harambee House on February 28, 2008.
To give it the weight it needed to be binding to both sides, Kofi Annan and Jakaya Kikwete countersigned it on behalf of the United Nations and the AU respectively.
As Kofi Annan, Jakaya Kikwete and Benjamin Mkapa made their parting statements; ordinary Kenyans were deeply touched and moved. Children sang their songs in praise of the efforts of these truly eminent African personalities. After forty one days of sleepless nights, toiling to find peace for Kenya, it was in order that ordinary folks in this country showed their appreciation in their humble way, through song and tears of happiness.
Let us face it; the three negotiators are not new to Kenya. They have been to this country in the past on specific missions. Kofi was here during the Sudan and Somalia peace agreements. He again visited Kenya soon after retiring from the UN among other occasions. Benjamin Mkapa always came to Kenya on duty during eight years of his presidency. The most memorable one was in December 2001 when he came to Kisumu by road from Dares salaam to join Moi and Museveni in celebrating Kisumu’s a hundred years anniversary. That was when he had the honor to declare Kisumu a city. Graca Machel on the other hand spent three weeks in Kenya in 2005, two of them with her husband Nelson Mandela when she was in charge of Kenya’s APRM process.
These four eminent Africans have done Kenya proud. They have indeed been true friends of our country. The least we can do for them is to make them honorary citizens of Kenya. Is this too much to ask?
Over to you President Emilio Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister designate, Raila Amolo Odinga.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
By Jerry Okungu
March 2, 2008
Kenya’s most famous newspaper cartoonist bumped into me the other day in a shopping mall. He asked if I could write an article that would really analyze the media’s role in Kenya’s pre and post election fiasco. Being a leading cartoonist for a leading newspaper, he was convinced that the media in Kenya, like political parties and the church stood accused.
The same evening; as I sat in my living room watching Salim Amin of Camerpix and Jeff Koinange on K24 news channel, I thought Amin made a lot of sense when he told Koinange to his face that the local press failed Kenyans in their hour of need. Amin was worried that the local media treated Kenya’s tragedy the same way any distant Western press had done. He had the presence of mind to remind Koinange that immediately clashes subsided, the international press vanished. They were no longer interested in Annan’s peace efforts!
I have been watching Jeff Koinange’s K24, All Kenyan All the time! And I have been wondering aloud how Kenyan the station has been since its inception especially in the heady days of Eldoret, Nakuru and Naivasha massacres! At one point I felt like that big K should have meant something else but Kenya!
In K24, Koinange brought with him the baggage of his CNN days that Salim was trying to refer to when he said that Western media would always zero in on Africa’s tragedy forgetting that many positive things were happening on the continent. As predicted, Koinange retorted with that overused line that good news was no news at all!
This article is not about Jeff Koinange; rather it is about the media in Kenya. If K24 recycled Eldoret footages for weeks on end without bothering to tell us that those were last month’s clashes, we cannot condemn him because every media house did exactly the same thing. Koinange’s intention was to let us weep over and over again for the victims of his viewers. And they were carefully selected in terms of footages, guest interviewees and especially children who had lost both parents.
Earlier interviews and footages had a strong bias for a particular community. Looking at K24 then, one would have thought that only once community was massacred and displaced in Eldoret, Nakuru and Naivasha. Yet, this was K24, All Kenyan All the time at its best!
Right now there is mail doing the rounds on the internet naming which media house and journalist supported or campaigned against which party during the elections. In this mail, almost every journalist who matters in Kenya has been named complete with cash rewards and other material benefits they received from which politician or political party.
While I will dismiss this mail as a fabrication which it is; we cannot deny that the media took sides in the election contests of 2007. Knowingly or unknowingly media houses aligned themselves to political parties along ethnic lines. This happened among Media CEOs, editors and cascaded down to news editors and reporters. In the end we had pro ODMK, ODM and PNU operatives in the newsrooms.
As the fight gained momentum, some Media CEOs and former CEOs seconded themselves to their respective party offices of choice to help in shaping the spins. It was a do or die dog-fight among media houses.
In the end, the media turned ODM, ODMK and PNU into bull fighters where respective media houses had their prize fighters to cheer on to the battle field. The motivation here was two fold; increased sales for newspapers, increased audiences for electronic media and of course to keep the election funds flowing in to their respective bank accounts.
Had the media remained true to its code of conduct, had it remained faithful to its code of ethics, perhaps the tragedy that befell Kenya would have not occurred! Had the media become more cautious, inquisitive an investigative, perhaps we would have known that Rift Valley would explode if results were stolen! But they didn’t because they were busy salivating for the final prize that their respective bulls would win!
Which brings me to my last point: how come when politicians are campaigning for office, instead of the media helping the electorate to unmask their characters the way the American press goes about it, our journalists become mere messengers of falsehood to the electorate? How come as soon as these politicians get into their positions of power, the first victim becomes the same media that helped in their campaigns?
Didn’t we see the new Minister for Information try to muzzle the press in the first week in office? Didn’t we see the press denied live coverage soon after the elections under the pretext that they would aggravate the post election conflict? One wishes the media would learn and tread more carefully when dealing with the political class. Yet, this is easier said than done!
By Jerry Okungu
March 2, 2008
Kenya is truly at the crossroads. Multiparty politics are under test. Our grand coalition is going to stretch our imaginations to their limits.
Political dreams and ambitions have been shattered for some and blossomed for others. Yes, Kalonzo Musyoka’s famous pre-election miracles have partly been realized. He never made it to the State House but got a handsome consolation prize at least. While ODM and PNU were sitting it out at Serena Hotel arguing about who won and who lost the elections, Mr. Musyoka was sitting pretty as Vice President in some dilapidated Jogoo House in the Central Business District of Nairobi.
Now that the PNU and ODM have struck a deal that clearly does not include other fringe parties like ODMK and KANU, what happens to Kalonzo’s miracle? What happens to those ministers that had hurriedly accepted their lucrative positions soon after Kibaki was declared President?
The accord signed recently between Kibaki and Raila is binding. It was witnessed and co-signed by Kofi Annan on behalf of the international community and Jakaya Kikwete on behalf of the AU. This made it fundamentally different from the 2002 MoU that Kibaki trashed soon after NARC was declared the winner.
In this ODM-PNU accord, it is very clear that real power will be shared between the two parties on a 50-50 basis. Half the cabinet, permanent secretaries, public corporations, ambassadors and other constitutional offices such as the Governor of the Central Bank, Auditor General, Attorney General and top posts of the armed forces will go to either of the two partners.
More importantly, it will not be just numbers. Strategic ministries like Finance, Defense, Internal Security, Health, Agriculture, Education, Roads, Transport and Communications will have to be shared fairly between the two principals. Equally telling, the President has lost the power to decide who becomes a member of the Cabinet. He also lost the power to fire any cabinet minister without proper consultations with the Prime Minister. But even more painful to the President is that he has no power over who become the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers. The party with the majority will decide for the two slots.
Germany, a country that has perfected the art of coalition governments has a very interesting lesson for Kenya. In that democracy, coalition partners don’t just rush to grab cabinet posts. They study their pre-election manifestos to see which ministries would make them realize their pre-election pledges to the electorate. If a party has a strong manifesto on foreign policy, it will opt for that ministry. If it is strong on homeland security, food production or industrial development, it will go for that ministry that adds value to its long term political survival.
A case in point where a coalition member can make blunders in the government was the recent fiasco in the Ministry of Information and Communication when the minister in that ministry threatened to audit the activities of the media in the aftermath of the elections without bothering to read the act that established the Media Council of Kenya.
The threat to dissolve the Media Council was a clear indication that the ODMK holder of that portfolio had no clear policy on media once ODMK won the elections. Had Kalonzo won the presidency, the media today would be in dogs!
Prior the elections, ODM had a very strong document on devolution, infrastructure, development agenda for Northern Kenya, national security and inequality. One will be excused to believe that when it comes to choosing which ministry to go to which principal, political party manifestoes will play a big role in giving ministries according to the beliefs of the political parties; in other words distributing ministries according to the passions of those political parties sharing power rather than their mundane desire to hog in the fat ones. On this premise, the ministry of local government should naturally go to ODM that passionately believes that devolution of political power and resources are the way to save Kenya from self-destruction.
After the signing of the ODM-PNU according, there is thick anxiety in the air. There are those in the civil service that served Moi for three decades and have served Kibaki well. They are known as the system’s survivors. They change allegiance as soon as they realize which side is winning. But again, these are the same clique that will ensure that no meaningful changes take place because they survive better in a stable status quo.
If there is going to be meaningful change that drove Kenyans to vote to a man and woman, the face of the public service much be overhauled irrespective of how good some of these people may want Kenyans to believe. Anybody who has been in one position for twenty years musty give way to fresh air and fresh thinking. The status quo experts must be sacrificed this time round. If we don’t do this on day one; Kenyans will have been shortchanged on change again!
By David Gusongoirye
ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT –
Yesterday Monday 26, former Mozambican President Joachim Alberto Chissano was awarded the inaugural Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership at a grand ceremony held at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt.
In his speech while handing him the prize, Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the UN, and now Chairman of the Mo Ibrahim Prize Committee, said that good leadership is vital if we are to overcome the challenges that face our world. “Our continent has immense problems but also extraordinary potential. Without honest and sound leadership, the danger is this potential will remain unfilled,” he said.
The Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership that Chissano won is the largest individual award in the world, and it comprises $5 million for over ten years and $200,000 annually for life thereafter, and a further $200,000 a year for ten years towards the winner’s public activities.
It was set up by Dr Mo Ibrahim, the board chairman of The Mo Ibrahim Foundation to provide African leaders with the platform and means to continue contributing in public life after leaving their high offices.
Speaking at the function, Mo Ibrahim stressed that the prize was to recognize good leadership in Africa and to thank and encourage those who had shown by example. “Look at Rwanda and its dynamics. It moved up 18 places in the Ibrahim Index of African Governance which ranks sub-Sahara African countries’ governance performance. There is a lot of good that should be recognized from Africa and the world should not only look at the bad boys,” Mo said.
He gave another example of Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, whose contribution to positive governance is recognized the world over as to have prompted UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s comment that Mandela was the greatest leader of the 20th Century.
The first Ibrahim Laureate, Joachim Chissano, thanked the Mo Ibrahim Foundation for initiating the good governance prize and for recognizing his efforts to unite and develop Mozambique.
“This prize will help me to further my work in fostering peace and unity among our African people,” he said.
The ceremony attracted hundreds of people from all over the world who converged on the Mediterranean city of Alexandria to witness history. Amongst the many notables were Maarti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland and former United Nations Special Representative for Namibia; Aicha Bah Diallo, Special Advisor to the Director General of UNESCO for Africa; Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela, former Nigerian minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs; Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; and Salim Ahmed Salim, former Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
At the same function, Nelson Mandela was awarded an Honorary Laureate in recognition of his positive leadership style that has become an inspiration to leaders throughout the world and is synonymous with democracy and best governance practices. “We are proud to be the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s Honorary Laureate. The generous grant that accompanies this award will be shared by the three charities established in our name – the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Mandela Rhodes Foundation, to make sure that we continue traveling in the direction that Mo and his Foundation seek to encourage,” said Mandela in a televised speech broadcast to the attentive audience in the Bibliotheca.
Former United States President Bill Clinton also thanked Mo Ibrahim for his initiative in supporting good leadership in Africa and the world in general. In a televised speech, Clinton said that he recognizes that Africa faces many challenges, but it is good to applaud and uphold the good that shows, as an encouragement to others to follow suit.
After the award ceremony, guests were treated to live performances by celebrated African musicians Youssou N’Dour, Angelique Kidjo, Salif Keita and Mohamed Mounir, accompanied by the Cairo Orchestra directed by Fathy Salama.
In a related development, UN-Habitat’s Executive Director, Anna Tibaijuka, also congratulated Joachim Chissano on being awarded the prestigious Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. “This is a victory not only for Chissano but also for the people of Mozambique who have worked so hard to rally behind a good leader to promote development, peace and stability in their country after a long and difficult period,” Tibaijuka said on behalf of her agency.
Chissano features high in UN-Habitat’s books because, like the Mo Ibrahim prize, he was the first African leader to be awarded the UN-Habitat’s prestigious Habitat Scroll of Honour in 2004, in which he was cited for “his tireless efforts to uplift the lot of the poorest of the poor in Africa.” Later in 2006 Chissano was appointed the agency’s Youth Ambassador to continue championing the concerns of the youth on the international scene.
12 February 2008
Following government advice that circumcision lessened chances of contracting HIV/Aids, many young men formed very long lines outside health centres to have their foreskins chopped off.
State minister in charge of HIV/Aids and other Infectious Diseases Innocent Nyaruhirira had just given the nod to circumcision when he acknowledged that men who are circumcised are 60% more likely to be protected against HIV during sexual intercourse.
The response to the circumcision programme was so vigorous, so spontaneous, that it got me worried, instead of exciting me. It gnawed at my heart, not quite knowing how to express what it was that worried me specifically, until I happened upon a freshly circumcised fellow. I found him lolling upon a mat, dressed in a loose garment tied toga-style - regular clothing was out of the question at this time of healing - and we fell to conversing about his new condition.
"Mister, these Aids people have spoken for long about fighting the disease, but they had never come up with a practical solution as good as this one. Don't have sex, don't do this, don't do that. Eh, man, how can a young man such as I forfeit sex, eh? And the condoms - where is the sense in putting on a condom when you are having sex? Sex is about feeling, and so no young person likes them!"
I came from that young man's side a very humbled person, and doubly afraid for the future as far as the hydra known as HIV is concerned, and its potential to wreak more havoc against a young population that loves and values fun more than security of life.
I should also state that this assertive young man had got the benefit of a good education and therefore far above being called an ignoramus. There it was in black and white: whatever sensitisation that had been done about ways of protecting oneself against HIV infection were going to be thrown to the wind, because circumcision would now provide full coverage!
It is appalling, to say the least. That explained the long circumcision lines in front of the health centres - young men and women were now going to indulge in all the sex they wanted without any inhibitions, any fears about HIV infection.
Anything that will give a person a chance to escape HIV infection is gladly welcome. This fight is not any different from any other physical conventional wars - you don't win any by using only direct frontal attack; you have to employ various stratagems in order to make headway.
I strongly urge the government, the entire public and in our own homes to step up the campaign against HIV/Aids, but by taking counselling to another level. Who knows that the World Health Organisation and UNAids' statistics might not have taken every single factor into consideration?
It is counselling that will help those young men who are rushing to get circumcised in order to 'enjoy' their sex unhindered, to get informed that there are many things to consider before they place their unprotected peckers in the mouth of infected vessels, placing all their faith in their circumcision armour.
It is not the place of this column to criticize circumcision, lest I am read wrongly. The column is actually endorsing it, and advising that as in previous campaigns, it is also not infection-proof. Therefore, it should be used as a mere fall-back position, not as the entire and only shield.
As in tectonic forces, HIV also follows the line of least resistance. Fighting HIV needs discipline, and so an undisciplined person will not manage to walk within the strictures of Abstinence, Faithfulness, Condoms, and Circumcision - all of which give high chances, but only when one sticks to them religiously.
And look now; there is another group that has grown into maturity and is infected, but without ever having had sexual contact with any member of the opposite sex - or of the same sex. There are many unfortunate children who were just born with the HIV virus. The level of resistance of these people and many others is quite different from yours and mine, just as it is different in a general sense. So, it is always a danger to indulge in the kind of sex that the young men want - wild and unprotected - when it is your resistance that is weak and therefore your life is put in uncalled for danger.
Let us all campaign for a high sense of discipline in our daily undertakings, be it in our health, financial, or political affairs.
Hargeysa, September 22, 2007 (SL Times) –
Somaliland Times conducted on Friday night a telephone interview with the commander of NATO's Standing Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1), U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Michael K. Mahon, who recently embarked with a force of NATO ships which set sail on 30 July 2007 to make an historic 12,500 nautical mile circumnavigation of the African continent on a two month deployment from August to October this year as part of NATO’s commitment to global security.
The commander of SNMG1, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Michael K. Mahon, talked to SL Times from on board the flag ship of the NATO multinational force, the USS Bainbridge sailing off the coast of Somalia in the Indian Ocean.
The multinational force comprising one cruiser, four frigates and a tanker from six different NATO nations, USA, Canada, Holland, Germany, Denmark and Portugal are on the last leg of their tour of the African continent and will be spending under two weeks deployed around the Horn conducting ‘presence operations’ and the red sea, finally heading to the Suez.
Interview with Rear Admiral Michael K Mahon
Interviewed by SL Times Editor: Rashid Mustafa X Noor
SL Times: Rear Admiral Michael K Mahon, thank you for giving us this opportunity to talk to you.
Admiral Mahon: It’s a pleasure to talk to you.
SL Times: Sir, where are you speaking from at present, and where about is your fleet sailing in the Indian Ocean?
Admiral Mahon: I am talking to you from on deck the flag ship of the ‘Standing NATO Maritime Group 1’ (SNMG1), the USS Bainbridge, and we are somewhere off the Somali coast in international waters, though I cannot explicitly say, but somewhere between the southern portion off the Somali coast in the Indian Ocean.
SL Times: How far will you be from the Somali coast?
Admiral Mahon: I cannot say, but what I can say is that we are in international waters off the Somali coast.
SL Times: How long will you be in this particular area?
Admiral Mahon: We will be present in the Indian Ocean for the next coming 10 days and will set sail for the Gulf of Aden from thereon to maintain a ‘presence operations’ in the Red Sea and then sail through the Suez Canal back into the Mediterranean.
Sl Times: What exactly will you be doing off the Somali coast?
Admiral Mahon: Our naval force will be conducting surveillance and ‘presence operations’ off the Somali coast in international waters. What this basically means is monitoring what is going on in these waters and compiling a picture of the movement of vessels, shipping patterns and activities over this period of time. Also, at this crucial point in time, where there is a humanitarian crisis in Somalia there is a great need to secure the Somali coast of piracy, since there are grave concerns for the safety of shipping carrying aid to Somalia as a result of acts of piracy occurring in these waters on regular basis. And, as you are aware of this, the threat of piracy is real in these waters and life threatening for millions of Somalis dependent on humanitarian aid. The presence of our vessels will deter any criminal maritime activities being carried out and attacks of piracy on ships carrying humanitarian aid, as well as on merchant vessels.
Sl Times: So you are out there, basically, to catch Somali pirates?
Admiral Mahon: No. On the contrary, we are not. As I said, purely, we have a ‘presence operations’ and that is all.
Sl Times: If you happen to come across ‘Somali pirates’ on the verge of hijacking a ship carrying humanitarian aid or commercial goods, what will you do?
Admiral Mahon: We will act according to the international maritime laws and conventions which directs all states and countries the legal obligation to counter piracy and gives any war vessel of any state on government service the right of seizure and arrest of persons and vessels carrying out piracy or criminal activities on the high seas. We are legally obliged to act according to the international laws and conventions relating to pirates and piracy.
Sl Times: Will your vessels be traversing into Somali territorial waters?
Admiral Mahon: No, we have no intention of our vessels sailing or entering into Somali territorial waters. Unless, otherwise, that is we are formally invited by the host government.
Sl Times: If you receive a formal invitation from the current government in Somalia, will you sail into Somali territorial waters?
Admiral Mahon: I take your question as being political in tone; I have to say, no, we will have to wait from Brussels to get the go ahead for this.
Sl Times: Will you make any contact or correspondence with the governments in Somalia and Somaliland while you are sailing off the Somali coast?
Admiral Mahon: No, we cannot have direct contact with any government without Brussels acknowledgement.
Sl Times: I take you will not be calling on the port of Berbera in the Gulf of Aden?
Admiral Mahon: No, Sir.
Sl Times: Will you be calling on Djibouti?
Admiral Mahon: No, we will not be visiting port of Djibouti.
Sl Times: Is this a one-time thing with the NATO task force circumventing the African coastline or are we going to see more of this?
Admiral Mahon: No, this is not a one-time thing by the multinational forces of NATO. NATO has made a commitment to global security and closer collaboration with African countries. Forging closer maritime links with African countries is our top priority at NATO, which will further help to build greater maritime awareness to global security.
Sl Times: Rear Admiral, It’s been a pleasure talking to you, thank you for taking the time to talk to us.
Admiral Mahon: Thank you.
By David Gusongoirye
There are no truer circumstances than now to demonstrate the saying that whereas medical personnel bury their mistakes, journalists publicise theirs.
We might occasionally goof up here and there in our daily business, and a call from an embarrassed citizen, or a chastisement from a senior editor, will bring home the fact that a serious error has been published in the day’s edition. But that is absolutely nothing compared to the mother of all goofs that took place last week, in the name of awarding journalistic excellence in Rwanda, where the organisers nullified the awards as not reflecting a proper reflection of developing journalists.
There are so many embarrassing things to point out. One of them is that President Paul Kagame has just appealed to journalists “to stop shooting ourselves in the foot”, as one headline screamed in this very paper. And hardly a week later, lo and behold …!
Even as we journalists trade blame and throw mud at one another, no one will dispute the fact that the idea of recognising journalistic effort is noble, and the recent hiccup should not deter us, but merely be looked at as a teething process in the growing of the media industry in Rwanda.
I refuse to be drawn in the blame game, even as I agree entirely that this ruckus would not have developed, had the 2006 Golden Pen Awards been organised a little better. And this is how we get capital out of the mess.
Rwanda Journalists Association
There is a lot of goodwill to properly direct matters of journalists in this country. The media has been the subject of a major discussion at the recent Akagera Retreat, where all top government officials met to discuss affairs of state in a more pleasant environment than the usual dreary office and parliamentary chambers.
It took no less than the Head of State to affirm that the media is one of the important arms of government, and so should be accorded all the help it needs to perform its duties effectively.
This was a wake-up call for all journalists and media-related bodies to take notice. And indeed some took notice, but not the kind that should have taken the lead.
I am specifically calling attention to the Rwanda Journalists Association (ARJ).
If it is the duty of ARJ to develop good and ethical journalistic practices in this country, it should be active about it. The Golden Pen Awards offers a great opportunity to this august body to say look, this is how we appreciate good writers or other such contributors to the media, and ye young journalists should take note and emulate such examples of writing or presentation.
The ARJ is the official, and to all intents and purposes the only professional, media organisation that should organise such a function. It is assumed to have a fair representation from all over the country and from all the media houses; it is assumed to have a macro-outlook towards media affairs, this outlook completely untainted with other mundane considerations like financial gain or personal career development.
As it was, the ARJ hid behind the tails of a media relations firm, and because it is a passive organisation, it was totally eclipsed and just accepted to go along for the ride, which turned out to be a disastrous ride for all riders.
2007 Golden Pen Awards
Since we have established that ARJ definitely works for loftier journalism ideals than any other media institution, it should organise the 2007 journalism awards for excellence, and there is no better time than the present to start giving tips.
The call for presentation of articles that will be used as entries into the competition should be made with lots of time to spare to the deadline. A month’s notice is appropriate for entrants to leaf through their portfolios and present their best pieces for competition.
The process of receiving the entries should be highly formal, with a form to fill specifying the titles of submissions, date and time, and the person who has brought them. The officer who has received the entries should acknowledge receipt too. This will serve the purpose of countering claims regarding non-entry, late entry or other such claims regarding malicious intent to disqualify an entrant on such submission grounds.
The jury should be carefully selected. The ideal number would be five or seven. But they should be boosted by very clear guidelines about what the organisers want in a winner. Perhaps this should be the most precise of all forms, specifying what they should look for when picking winning articles, emphasising journalistic principles and writing skills. The guidelines should be so clear as to leave little doubt in the mind of the person using them to award marks.
The jury should be given one week to read and listen through all entries, as they are expected to be many. If a one-week deadline could generate 37 entries, then one can well imagine what a one-month deadline will do!
The Golden article
It is unimaginable for one to be declared best without evidence. So it is incumbent upon the jury to immediately avail the winning entries to the public, so that they can be admired, emulated, and given due praise. We all love a well-written story, and even if the public will not have got the benefit of all the other entries, the gems in the winning entries will shine through, and the winners will not be begrudged their brilliancy. Besides, this is the essence of building professionalism; the young journalists will aspire to write or present just like the winners.
The spats between the journalists who organised the 2006 Golden Pen Awards, those who presided over the awards, and the participants – winners and non-winners alike – would have been avoided had these benchmarks been followed.
Lastly, I would like to turn my attention to the sponsorship of the awards.
If ARJ organised the function, there is no way it could fail to get sponsors. Being a non-profit making organisation, it would maximise the use of the sponsorship offers, something which cannot be said of a firm that has thought out and implemented an idea whose paramount objective is how much profit they can get out of it, and promoting best journalism writing practices a distant second.
In the meantime, it is counter-productive to keep trading accusations in the face of a sniggering public. The sources of our stories keep wondering at our ineptitude, and ask such questions like: If they can mess up their own baby project like that, what will they do to ours, we who are not of their fraternity?
Let this year’s awards remain nullified as we look to the future for better organisation and discipline.
The author is an editor with The New Times publication.
By the International Press
WWW NEWS BLOGS
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Martha Karua barred from travelling to Geneva.
Long after we broke this news, the Standard has confirmed it, we are ahead.
Martha Karua has been denied a visa to travel for a human rights meeting in Geneva Switzerland. The Minister was to attend an international forum dubbed “Session of State Counsel Law” in Geneva that is scheduled to kick off tomorrow. The Minister had applied for the visa on Tuesday. Kenya’s delegation to the forum is headed by her Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Dorothy Angote.
As if that was not enough, her son, a university student in Australia had his re-entry to Australia at the end of his stay in Kenya denied. As if this was not enough, more disaster has been visiting her. Another of her kids was deported from another Western capital.
For Martha Karua, disaster has come following disaster. After being spurned by President Kibaki before he signed the power-sharing arrangement, she is devastated. Ms Karua, one of the hardliners of the Kibaki regime has been ruffling the Eminent African leaders the wrong way. She was missing in action on Friday when the mediators resumed their places at the Annan table. She was reportedly livid, and said as much to Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula because after being detailed to stone-wall the mediation efforts, Kibaki melted the walls that stood in the way of a political settlement, albeit without consulting her.
Switzerland was one of the vociferous foreign powers that was insisting on a settlement. It will be remembered that the wealthy Alpian federal state had threatened to follow the American cue and impose visa bans on anybody who was perceived to be adopting a hardline position on the mediation talks.
This frustration of Karua comes as music to the ears of all patriotic Kenyans. She has no respect for anybody. The other day she was reported to have told off her colleagues from the PNU mediation team; Prof Sam Ongeri and Mutula Kilonzo. Apparently, Mutula let the cat out of the bag when he insinuated that Ongeri was hurt by the exchanges. "You have never seen Ongeri as sad as this", he had said.
Ms Karua was on the BBC's hardtalk immediately after the election to defend the PNU government. In a very articulate and strong-headed manner, she told off the former British High Commissioner to Kenya, Sir Edward Clay. At the interview, she even hinted that Clay was persona non grata in Kenya. Of course at that time Clay had no communication of his banning from Kenya. Later he was to be told by the Kenyan Embassy officials at St James Park that he was indeed banned from entering Kenya. She had goofed.
Hot on the heals of that, Karua adopted an eloquent posture, arguing at every TV talk-show that the ODM was free to go to court. Of course she knew where that theatre was going to end with a pliant court. The hearing was to be open and fair but she was going to write the ruling at SH and have it read. Well, now things are collapsing all around her. With her children barricaded in Kenya and herself tethered in Kirinyaga, she is going to become more rabid.
Meanwhile, reports reaching us indicate that more hardliners are marked and will soon find themselves isolated much like Karua. Ms Karua can hardly travel to Europe and she certainly now remembers that ambassadors are not junior officials in the pecking order after all. They speak with authority and apart from the President, nobody else can address a meeting and say 'my government', except an ambassador. This part of diplomatic etiquette; the former junior magistrate needs to take in her Civics 101.
Source: Gordon Teti, Winnipeg, Canada
By NANCY BENAC, Associated Press Writer
Sat Mar 1, 1:47 PM ET
WASHINGTON - A year ago, Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-Inevitable, was joshing about whether she could appoint her husband secretary of state when she became president, and Barack Obama was urging a throng to be realistic about his own chances. "Let's face it," he said. "The novelty's going to wear off."
But a funny thing happened on the way to the Clinton coronation.
The Democratic presidential race took so many twists that close observers might have needed a chiropractor to follow it. And now Clinton, once the instant favorite in a crowded field of candidates, is struggling to overcome a daunting wave of Obamania.
"There's a problem with inevitability," said Dick Harpootlian, a former South Carolina party chairman who supports Obama. "It rarely proves to be true."
When Clinton joined the race in January 2007 with a cozy Webcast from her living room couch, the notion of a former first lady-turned-senator running to be the first female president was so new, so different, she quickly eclipsed rival candidates such as Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson, all seasoned politicians with solid credentials.
"I'm in to win," Clinton proclaimed. And she had the money to back up her bravado.
"I don't think anyone can stop her," John Catsimatidis, a New York businessman and member of Clinton's finance team, trumpeted in February 2007. "She's unstoppable; she's got such a machine."
Clinton, intent on keeping 2000 nominee Al Gore out of the race, seemed to regard all other rivals as "Lilliputians," says Democratic pollster Peter Hart
Her Democratic opponents didn't buy it, though, and neither did the public.
"I lived through the inevitability of Howard Dean," scoffed John Edwards, recalling the early darling of the 2004 presidential race who quickly faded from the Democratic field.
But it was Obama, not Edwards, who emerged as the anti-Clinton.
Bidding to become the nation's first black president, Obama offered a fresh new face, and a message of hope and change that captured the public's imagination.
His first visit to New Hampshire, back in December 2006, before he'd entered the race, sparked such a frenzy of interest that even Obama dismissed it as hype, as his 15 minutes of fame.
"I think to some degree I've become a shorthand or a symbol or a stand-in for now," he said. "It's a spirit that says we are looking for smething different. We want something new."
Obama joined the race in January 2007, a week before Clinton, and soon proved that his appeal with voters was no passing fancy, that he was more than a cardboard stand-in.
He turned his short resume — just two years of national experience as a senator — into an asset by stressing that it was time for a new generation to step forward.
Obama's surprising ability to raise money — by the boatload — instantly served notice to Clinton that he was not to be discounted.
He matched Clinton almost dollar for dollar in the first three months of 2007, and breezed right past her in the next quarter — raising $33 million to her $27 million. By year's end, both had raised more than $100 million and blown through at least $80 million, muscular figures that no other Democrat could touch.
"That really changed the whole tenor of the race to becoming more of a two-person contest than a coronation," said Anthony Corrado, a campaign finance expert at Colby College in Maine.
Clinton did her best to maintain the illusion of inevitability nonetheless.
In July, she dismissed Obama as "irresponsible and frankly naive" on foreign policy.
In September, she ran the gauntlet of five Sunday talk shows in one day, working in the phrase "When I'm president" at least seven times.
As recently as November, she calmly told an interviewer that despite Obama's surprisingly strong challenge, "it will be me."
Late into the fall, there were plenty of believers in a Clinton juggernaut.
"If this were a wedding, we'd be at the 'speak now or forever hold your peace' part," Steve McMahon, a former Dean adviser, said of Clinton's strength in October.
But soon there were signs of trouble for her.
An internal campaign memo had surfaced the previous May in which aides urged Clinton to bypass the leadoff caucuses in Iowa because it was her "consistently weakest state." Clinton disavowed the idea and worked hard all fall for an Iowa win, but the memo rang true. She was walloped with a third-place showing in Iowa, surpassed by both Obama and Edwards.
"Years from now," Obama promised his Iowa supporters, "you'll look back and you'll say that this was the moment. This was the place where America remembered what it means to hope."
His Iowa victory propelled him like a slingshot into New Hampshire, where the only question seemed to be how big his victory would be.
Clinton didn't buy it, and neither did the public.
With her candidacy on the ropes, tough-as-nails Clinton let loose her emotions. Choking back tears the day before the primary, Clinton spoke from the heart about the meaning of the presidential race. In the process, she softened her remote image and zinged Obama along the way.
"You know, this is very personal for me," she told voters in a coffee shop. "Some of us are right, and some of us are not. Some of us are ready, and some of us are not."
It was a powerful moment, played over and over on TV.
When the New Hampshire results came in, Clinton was the newest comeback kid, Obama the underdog once again.
"I found my own voice," Clinton declared.
Then she overplayed her hand, or rather, her husband.
Heading into a difficult South Carolina contest, Bill Clinton ramped up the anti-Obama rhetoric he'd first unleashed in New Hampshire.
The ex-president's rancorous words — criticizing Obama's positions on the Iraq war as a "fairy tale" and complaining that the Obama campaign had put out a "hit job" on him — were a distasteful counterpoint to Obama's lofty message.
Obama, for his part, took the criticism as a source of pride. "It means I might win this thing," he said.
Win he did in South Carolina. And the money came pouring in.
Obama collected a stunning $36 million in January, compared with $14 million for Clinton.
That gave him the firepower to challenge Clinton everywhere in the mega-round of primaries on Super Tuesday, the day that Clinton had once predicted would be the "finish line."
Instead they traded states, victory for victory, on Feb. 5, and neither came close to touching the tape.
And from there, it was all Obama, all the time, rolling up 11 straight primary and caucus victories in the past three weeks.
Clinton responded by moving the finish line — and raising her own boatload of cash. She collected $35 million in February but was surpassed yet again by Obama's fundraising.
Now Clinton is pinning her hopes on victories Tuesday in Ohio and Texas, where she once led in polls by a wide margin.
But the race has tightened in both states, and Clinton for the first time has lost the lead that she has held in national polls since Day One.
The news just gets worse for her. Two weeks ago, she was up by 16 points in Pennsylvania, which votes April 22. A poll this week showed the race at Clinton 49, Obama 43.
With every victory, more voters have given Obama a closer look.
"The person who wins homecoming queen always looks a lot better the following week walking around campus," said Hart, the pollster.
"My cautionary note," he added, "is that it ain't over. You always think the surprise you've seen is the last surprise."
"If she wins Texas and Ohio, we'll be talking very differently on Wednesday."
Saturday, March 1, 2008
From Kenyan Local Press:
There is a crisis in this country. The Parties have come together in recognition of this crisis, and agree that a political solution is required. Given the disputed elections and the divisions in Parliament and the country, neither side is able to govern without the other.
There needs to be real power sharing to move the country forward. A coalition must be a partnership with commitment on both sides to govern together and push through reform agenda for the benefit of all Kenyans.
Description of the Act:
An Act of Parliament to provide for the settlement of the disputes arising from the presidential elections of 2007, formation of a Coalition Government and Establishment of the Offices of Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers and Ministers of the Government of Kenya, their functions and various matters connected with and incidental to the foregoing.
1. This Act may be cited as the National Accord and Reconciliation Act 2008.
2. This Act shall come into force upon its publication in the Kenya Gazette which shall not be later than 14 days from the date of Assent.
3. There shall be a Prime Minister of the Government of Kenya and two Deputy Prime Ministers who shall be appointed by the President in accordance with this section.
The person to be appointed as Prime Minister shall be an elected member of the National Assembly who is the parliamentary leader of: (a) the political party that has the largest number of members in the National Assembly; or (b) a coalition of political parties in the event that the leader of the political party that has the largest number of members of the National Assembly does not command the majority in the National Assembly.
Each member of the coalition shall nominate one person from the elected members of the National Assembly to be appointed a Deputy Prime Minister.
4. The Prime Minister: a) Shall have authority to coordinate and supervise the execution of the functions and affairs of the Government of Kenya including those of Ministries; b) May assign any of the coordination responsibilities of his office to the Deputy Prime Ministers, as well as one of them to deputize for him; c) Shall perform such other duties as may be assigned to him by the President or under any written law.
5. In the formation of the coalition government, the persons to be appointed as Ministers and Assistant Ministers from the political parties that are partners in the coalition other than the 2 President’s party, shall be nominated by the parliamentary leader of the party in the coalition. Thereafter there shall be full consultation with the President on the appointment of all Ministers.
6. The composition of the coalition government shall at all times reflect the relative parliamentary strengths of the respective parties and shall at all times take into account the principle of portfolio balance.
7. The office of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister shall become vacant only if: (a) The holder of the office dies, resigns or ceases to be a member of the National Assembly otherwise than by reason of the dissolution of Parliament; or (b) The National Assembly passes a resolution which is supported by a majority of all the members of the National Assembly excluding the ex-officio members and of which not less than seven days notice has been given declaring that the National Assembly has no confidence in the Prime Minister or Deputy Prime Minister, as the case may be; or (c) the coalition is dissolved.
8. The removal of any Minister nominated by a parliamentary party of the coalition shall be made only after prior consultation and concurrence in writing with the leader of that party. 5. The Cabinet shall consist of the President, the Vice-President, the Prime Minister, the two Deputy Prime Ministers and the other Ministers.
9. The coalition shall stand dissolved if: (a) The Tenth Parliament is dissolved; or (b) The coalition parties agree in writing; or (c) One coalition partner withdraws from the coalition by a resolution of the highest decision-making organ of that party in writing.
10. The prime minister and deputy prime ministers shall be entitled to such salaries, allowances, benefits, privileges and emoluments as may be approved by Parliament from time to time.
11. This Act shall cease to apply upon dissolution of the tenth Parliament, if the coalition is dissolved, or a new Constitution is enacted, whichever is earlier. Hon. Raila Odinga HE. Kofi A. Annan Chairman of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities 3 Agreed this date 28 February 2008 HE. President Mwai Kibaki Witnessed By: HE. President Jakaya Kikwete President of the United Republic of Tanzania and Chairman of the African Union
The National Accord and Reconciliation Act 2008 Preamble: There is a crisis in this country. The Parties have come together in recognition of this crisis, and agree that a political solution is required. Given the disputed elections and the divisions in the Parliament and the country, neither side is able to govern without the other.
News From Internet Sources:
The United States has called for justice, and Frazer reinforced that demand Thursday.
"You can't have a thousand people die, innocent people die, and no one be held accountable. But that process, as this political deal, will be an international one," she said
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Kenya's new power-sharing deal is a critical step toward the legitimate government of the country, the U.S. State Department said Thursday, pledging the United States would keep the parties "on the right track."
Political rivals Kibaki and Odinga have agreed to form a coalition government.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga had demanded the creation of a prime minister position, with real power, and got it in the deal announced Thursday in Nairobi.
Odinga had accused the government of President Mwai Kibaki of stealing last year's presidential elections.
The deal will create a "positive spirit" for Kenya's political leaders to tackle tougher issues, like rewriting the constitution and redistributing land, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer told CNN.
The development was a dramatic turnaround from earlier in the week, when negotiating teams for each side left the talks after only half a day Monday. The agreement may be partly the result of mounting pressure both from within the country and from the international community.
Throughout the month-long negotiation process between Kenya's president and opposition leader, the United States has staunchly backed the mediation efforts of former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice traveled to Kenya earlier this month to give him a boost and to insist that Kenyan leaders make a genuine compromise with no excuses for a delay.
Frazer said the U.S. voice was "decisive in helping them to realize that the only solution would have to be a compromise." She acknowledged that hardliners on both sides who may be unhappy with the agreement may try to sabotage it, but said that it would be "difficult" to undermine a legal and constitutional document."Clearly in the process of implementation, we can expect there will be some types of disagreement," she said. "These are two parties, and in fact two men, who have disagreed fundamentally."
Frazer said the United States and the rest of the international community will "keep them moving on the right track."
More than 1,000 people have been killed and up to 600,000 displaced in civil strife that began after the disputed December 27 elections.
The United States has called for justice, and Frazer reinforced that demand Thursday.
"You can't have a thousand people die, innocent people die, and no one be held accountable. But that process, as this political deal, will be an international one," she said
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