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Kenya's Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau speaking during a diplomatic briefing in the capital Nairobi on November 29, 2021. 

NAIROBI, Kenya Nov30-Kenya has slammed measures taken by various nations against countries that have detected the new COVID-19 Omicron strain, mainly in Southern Africa.

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said shutting borders can not be a solution to the war against the virus, and urged better policies, including capacity building.

“We believe that we don’t support each other as a global community by locking up each other. What the world needs now is the building of capacity to deal with the realities of COVID-19. Knee jerk reactions targeting specific Nations is not the answer to a disease that will mutate with time,” Macharia said Monday.

Various European nations have closed borders, in measures targetting Southern African countries and others from the continent where the new strain has been detected.

Kamau said that the time is ripe for the global community to adjust to the new normal of a mutating virus and that locking out certain countries will not support the fight against the pandemic.

“For Covid-19 to end, it will take time and therefore, as a country, we believe we have to adjust to the new normal,” Macharia stated.

Kenya’s Health Ministry has said there are no immediate plans to close borders or resort to extreme containment measures following the discovery of the new virus elsewhere.

“Whether the mutation will work to weaken or strengthen the virus only time will tell. Kenya is ready and willing to work with her partners to find innovative ways of dealing with this new reality,” Kamau said during the diplomatic briefing on the upcoming major conferences which Kenya will play a major role including UNEA5.2, UNEP@50, Africities, Stockholm+50 and 2nd UN Oceans Conference to be held early 2022.

 

The Omicron COVID-19 variant which was detected last week in South Africa has been identified in Europe – two in the UK, two in Germany, one in Belgium and another one in Italy, while a suspected case was found in the Czech Republic.

The United Kingdom and Israel have already banned flights from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe over the fast-spreading variant.

Despite the scenario, Kenya has recommended that UNEA 5.2 which is scheduled for February 8, 2022 to March 2, 2022 and UNEP@50 which will be held on 3rd  to 4th March will be physical.

“Our current realities in this era of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extra care and vigilance to ensure that delegates are safe, and receive the necessary care in the event of any exposures. To this end I wish to reaffirm that the Government of Kenya has the requisite capacity to support the hosting of the two meetings,” he assured.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry also assured the diplomatic community that a government task force will be formed involving the MOH, Ministry of Interior, Foreign Affairs, and other stakeholders to ensure coordination so as to make the event a success.

“Kenya’s has an acclaimed track record in the successful hosting of international conferences and UNEA 5.2 and UNEP@50 will be no different. It is our aspiration that UNEA 5.2 and UNEP@50 will both be held in person, with representation at the level of Head of State. The proposed configuration for the meetings is 1+4,” Kamau said.

Apart from the Africities event the country is set to hold, the rest require a budget of $5 million dollars to ensure efficiency and a successful event. Kenya is currently is facing a shortfall of approximately $4 million.

“I urge all Member States to be receptive and answer to the call for voluntary contributions in cash and in-kind to supplement any identified gaps in the budget,” said Kamau.  By Irene Mwangi, Capital News

Chairman of IEBC Wafula Chebukati.  Image: FILE

Political leaders allied to Opposition Chief Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto have sharply differed following IEBC's withdrawal from a crucial election preparedness committee.

While ODM stalwarts accused IEBC of planning to bungle the 2022 polls, pro-Ruto brigade hailed IEBC boss Wafula Chebukati, saying the Office of the President wants to take over the management of the elections.

Suna East MP Junet Mohammed claimed Chebukati is preparing the agency for 2017 type of elections that saw the courts nullify presidential polls and ordered repeat elections. 

“As ODM we want free, fair, verifiable elections. We want to tell Chebukati we are watching you. We know what is happening,” Junet said.

“We have not forgotten how you bungled 2017 elections. We don’t care which party writes letter to where. All we want as ODM is transparent, free and fair election.”

ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna said IEBC is running away from key players that it will need to deliver credible elections. 

“IEBC will need security agencies, ICT and Judiciary in the conduct of the coming elections. They (IEBC) should not be intimidated by a party with only one elected MP,” Sifuna said. 

In a letter to Interior PS Karanja Kibicho dated November 22, Chebukati said it had made the decision to withdraw from the National Multi-Sectoral Consultative Forum on Election Preparedness and Technical Working Committee after consultations

According to the IEBC boss, the committee was interfering with its independence.

But speaking to the Star, Soy MP Caleb Kositany said Chebukati raised weighty matters in his letter.

Kositany said there is every reason for Kenyans to worry over the manner in which the OP wants to play a leading role in preparing the August 2022 election.

"It is the same Executive that has denied IEBC external  funding at the same time starving the agency. Why want to lead the process? We already know that OP technocrats including the President have taken a political stand and they have no role sitting in such a forum," he told the Star.

He called on the Chief Justice Martha Koome to emulate Chebukati by recusing herself from the committee. 

Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria termed the move by Chebukati on Monday evening “the biggest risk to a peaceful Kenya”.

Kuria partly agreed with Chebukati’s decision but put him on the spot for allegedly frustrating political parties.

In a statement, Kuria claimed Chebukati has not been accountable to political parties who are the main stakeholders in elections, saying that by so doing, he posed a threat to “a peaceful Kenya”.

“I support Chebukati in refusing to report to government agencies but he has refused to be accountable even to political parties who are the stakeholders in elections.

He is the biggest risk to a peaceful Kenya,” he said.Elgeyo Marakwet Senator, Kipchumba Murkomen said Chief Justice Martha Koome should follow suit and pull out of the committee.

"Out of my personal admiration and respect for CJ Martha Koome, I won’t criticize her for defending her place in the forum. Let her do soul searching and bring honor and dignity to her high office," stated Murkomen.

Embakasi East MP Babu Owino said the decision was ill-informed and could amount to sabotaging of elections.

Owino said 'they' are watching his every move by the electoral body.In a letter to Interior PS Karanja Kibicho, Chebukati said it had made the decision after consultations, adding that the panel would interfere with its independence.

Chebukati cited the need for independence as the main reason the commission opted out.

IEBC’s withdrawal comes hot on the heels of a letter by Deputy President William Ruto's UDA asking  Koome to keep off management of elections.

The committee brings  together IEBC, Attorney General Paul Kihara Kariuki, CJ (Judiciary), Cabinet Secretaries Ukur Yatani (National Treasury) CS Joe Mucheru (ICT), Maj. Gen. (Rtd) Philip Kameru - Director General National Intelligence Service (NIS), Inspector General Hillary Mutyambai (National Police Service).

Others are Anne Amadi (Chief Registrar of the Judiciary), Director of Public Prosecutions, Noordin Haji, Solicitor General Kennedy Ogeto, Martin Wambora (Chairman Council of Governors), Ezra Chiloba (Director General, Communications Authority) and Ann Nderitu (Registrar of Political Parties).  By GIDEON KETER AND ALLAN KISIA, The Star

 

The animals were transported in a chartered Boeing 747 and were placed in two grassy enclosures - each the size of a football stadium - after arriving in the park. Photo Simon Wohlfahrt/AFP

 

Thirty endangered white rhinos have arrived in Rwanda after a long journey from South Africa in a Boeing 747 with conservationists hailing it as the largest single transfer of the species ever undertaken.

The majestic animals, which can weigh up to two tonnes, travelled some 3,400km (2,100 miles) from South Africa’s Phinda Private Game Reserve as part of a programme to replenish the species’ population, decimated by poaching since the 1970s.

Once plentiful across sub-Saharan Africa, white rhino suffered first from hunting by European settlers, and later a poaching epidemic that largely wiped them out.

The rhinos began their 40-hour journey to the new home in Akagera National Park in eastern Rwanda following months of preparation, said African Parks, a charity headed by the United Kingdom’s Prince Harry which is involved in the exercise.

“We had to tranquillise them to reduce their stress, which is itself risky, and monitor them,” said African Parks’ CEO Peter Fearnhead.

The animals were transported in a chartered Boeing 747 and were placed in two grassy enclosures – each the size of a football stadium – after arriving in the park.

Later, they will be allowed to roam the expansive park, authorities said.

“This will provide an opportunity for them to grow in a safe environment from South Africa where three are killed per day by poachers,” said the park’s regional manager Jes Gruner.

Wildlife transfers are not without risks. In 2018, four out of six relocated black rhinos died a few months after arriving in Chad.

The southern white rhino, one of two subspecies of white rhino, is now considered endangered with about 20,000 individuals remaining, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

It is classified as near-threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The northern white rhino has all but vanished, with only two females left alive.

Scientists are attempting to save the species from extinction by harvesting eggs from the younger of the two animals, Fatu, and using sperm from two deceased males to create embryos in an unprecedented breeding programme, which is their last chance at survival. - AFP/Al Jazeera

The events of the past eighteen months have cast a spotlight on the ability of states to support vulnerable citizens during times of crisis. 
 
In Kenya, the official state agency responsible for social security chose SAP to support its growth, enable the expansion of its services to a greater share of the population, maintain the highest standards of quality controls across its operations and enable new customer-centric innovation.
 
According to the National Social Security Fund of Kenya CEO Dr. Anthony Omerikwa, the lack of integration due to disparate systems across its 61 physical locations created internal challenges. "Initially, each of our 61 branches had their own system, with no integration between departments. We chose to implement an ERP system to bring consistency across all our operations and support our growth as we expand access to our services to a greater share of the population. In light of the challenges created by the pandemic, we also introduced new mobile money payment options to reduce customer travel to banks."
 
The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) is a Kenyan government agency that is responsible for the collection, safekeeping, responsible investment and payment of retirement benefits members/employees in both the formal and informal sectors of the Kenyan economy. The NSSF guarantees its members basic compensation in the case of permanent disability, basic assistance to needy dependants in case of death, and a monthly life pension upon retirement.
 
Following an external review conducted by KPMG and commissioned by the NSSF board, a number of gaps were revealed in the organisation's audit controls. "As a vital part of Kenya’s social security for both the formal and informal sectors, we needed to improve our governance, risk and compliance controls across our growing membership base and expanding national footprint. We opted for an SAP deployment as it would be an extension of our existing system.”
 
The NSSF currently serves five million members and receives KES15-billion in annual collections. The organisation had implemented an SAP enterprise resource planning solution between 2012 and 2013, which included SAP financial modules, supply chain modules, human capital management and payroll modules as well as integration to the broader state social security system. 
 
Following the latest ERP implementation, the NSSF has gained real-time reporting capabilities across the organisation, with improved risk controls and greater alignment with its broader enterprise risk strategy. "We have also improved our ability to detect and prevent anomalies to reduce risk and prevent losses. Our overall financial performance has improved and our board audit committee has real-time access to the total performance of the organisation across all our operations." 
 
In 2020, the organisation partnered with Safaricom and Kenya Commercial Bank to enable customers on the NSSF Tenant Purchase Scheme (TPS) to make rent and service charge payments through M-PESA. "With this cashless payment solution, members no longer have to travel or queue at banks to make payments, reducing their health risks and delivering greater convenience to our customers."
 
According to Dr. Omerikwa, the NSSF Strategic Plan required greater alignment with business operations to ensure ease of doing business with all stakeholders. "The new TPS payment process has reduced traffic into banking halls and NSSF offices, increased service efficiency and customer convenience, reduced turnaround time on service delivery and lowered our operational costs. In addition to payments, the service integration also provides NSSF with the functionality to reconcile tenant accounts and generate reports and statements. Overall it has been a hugely successful project that has enabled us to better serve our customers and meet our important mandate."
 
Pedro Guerreiro, Managing Director for Central Africa at SAP, says the NSSF’s use of technology to improve the delivery of services to citizens bodes well for the organisation’s growth ambitions. “By putting technology at the core of its operations and leveraging the latest solutions to improve quality controls, the NSSF is well on its way to building intelligent enterprise capabilities that will support the delivery of essential services to Kenya’s formal and informal sector for the benefit of all its citizens.” AMA

IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati (L) and Interior PS Dr Karanja Kibicho (R). Photo Standard

 

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has written to Interior PS Karanja Kibicho announcing its withdrawal from the 2022 election preparedness team.

In a statement dated Monday, November 29, IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati cited the need for independence as the main reason the commission has opted to leave the National Multi-Sectoral Consultative Forum (NMSCF) on Election Preparedness and the Technical Working Committee (TWC) on Election Preparedness.

“After consultations and in-depth critical appraisal of the Terms of Reference of NMSCF on Election Preparedness and TWC, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission would wish to withdraw from further engagements in the activities of the NMSCF and TWC,” said the statement by Chebukati.

The chairperson said a number of the terms of reference of the NMSCF and TWC have a net effect of violating the Constitution by purporting to direct the Commission on how to discharge its mandate, contrary to provisions of the Constitution.

The IEBC boss also expressed fear that NMSCF, as currently constituted, has pushed IEBC to the periphery while giving the centre stage to other institutions which, he said, was "a clear violation of the Constitution".

 The NMSCF on Election Preparedness brings together top officials from the Interior Ministry led by CS Fred Matiang’i, ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru, and Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki; Judiciary led by Chief Justice Martha Koome and other government agencies.

He added that heavy involvement of the institutions will, probably, erode public confidence in the electoral board, which has the mandate to conduct credible polls.

He said as it is; the NMSCF has not only infringed on the independence of the commission but also assumed the role of other institutions, notably the Parliamentary Departmental Committees, especially National Assembly's Justice and Legal Affairs Committee.

The statement comes after a protest letter by the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) to IEBC over the inclusion of Cabinet Secretaries Fred Matiang'i (Interior) and Joe Mucheru (ICT) to the multi-agency team planning the 2022 polls.

UDA wanted Matiang’i and Mucheru removed from the team since they have "openly campaigned for ODM leader Raila Odinga's presidential candidature".

Through its Secretary-General Veronica Maina, UDA also wants the electoral body to stop the CSs from meddling in the election preparations, and instead take charge of the exercise as per the law.

Maina said it was wrong and dangerous for IEBC to allow CS Matiang'i to dictate to it how to prepare for the election, whereas it's their constitutional mandate to carry out elections.

UDA is also on record writing to CJ Koome over her involvement in the activities of the Technical Working Committee of the NMSCF on Election Preparedness.

The Chief Justice, however, said contrary to UDA’s claims, it is the Judiciary Committee on Election (JCE) that is involved in the Technical Working Committee’s activities, and not herself.

“The Chief Justice does not sit in the Technical Working Committee as implied in your letter. She leads the Multi-Sectoral Consultative Forum on Election Preparedness by didn’t of seniority,” she said in her response to UDA. - Mireri Junior, The Standard

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