Sunday, August 4, 2013

‘Young Turks’ push for ODM polls

‘Young Turks’ push for ODM polls


PHOTO | FILE Orange Young Democrats League members during a past press conference in Nairobi when they called for the election of a youthful ODM executive director.
PHOTO | FILE Orange Young Democrats League members during a past press conference in Nairobi when they called for the election of a youthful ODM executive director. NATION MEDIA GROUP
Posted Saturday, August 3 2013 at 23:30
In Summary
  • Some MPs want fresh and youthful politicians to take the reigns of the party leadership
Youthful MPs in ODM are agitating for party elections in which they hope to remove officials they regard as the old guard and whom they blame for the party’s poor showing in the March 4 General Election.

The group is agitating for elections in order to inject “youthful energy which will improve the party’s performance in politics”.

The MPs, who want Kisumu Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o replaced as secretary-general, are also targeting other bigwigs who they say have served the party for a long time and should pave the way for fresh blood.

Ugenya MP David Ochieng told the Sunday Nation that judging from the 2007 and 2013 election outcomes, ODM should put up new structures to ensure it is successful in future political contests.

“The problem is that when such situations arise, they are attributed to infighting within a party. We only want to initiate reforms in the party and this should not be seen as a fight between the young and the old,” said Mr Ochieng.

The legislator said the law has institutionalised political parties to make them responsive to the needs of members.

“The drive to restructure ODM party is meant to introduce vibrancy and youthful energy, but we will consider retaining some elderly officials because they are experienced,” said Mr Ochieng.

Mbita MP Millie Odhiambo said the priority of ODM should be to get a reform-minded secretary-general who will introduce new ideas to sustain party growth and development.

She said there was nothing unusual about the timing of the elections because the law requires that elections be held every five years.

“We held the last elections in 2008. Five years have elapsed and these positions must be contested in a free and fair manner,” Ms Odhiambo said.

“Raila will remain the party leader. We don’t want to stifle this debate of young people coming up to take up the management of the party on grounds that the leadership is old; all we want is a chance for vibrancy which is needed at this point in time in order to deliver results,” she said.

But not everyone is buying the idea of a leadership change. Another group of ODM MPs are questioning the timing and the strategy, saying they are not right.

Ugunja MP James Wandayi and his Nyando counterpart Fred Outa said it was too early for the MPs to start the drive.

“The focus of ODM at the moment is to put the Jubilee Government in check in and outside Parliament. Initiating party politics now will weaken our role of keeping the government in check,” said Mr Wandayi.

The legislator said the approach adopted by the young MPs is wrong because it is using age as a factor in leadership, a strategy, he added, that would impact negatively on the image of the party.

“We don’t want youth to stand out as the only claim to leadership; current party leadership is about ideological orientation, whether presented by young or old people from all regions in Kenya,” he said.

Prof Olang Sana, a political science lecturer at Maseno University, believes it is time the old guard in ODM made way for youthful officials.

“Young people are more flexible compared to the old ones who have already lost popularity at the grassroots. The old leaders would want to maintain the status quo that has always delivered poor results for the party and therefore need to be replaced,” said Prof Olang.
The don compared ODM to parties in other regions in Kenya where leadership includes young people.

“From the nomination exercise that saw young leaders win elections after decamping from ODM, the timing for the ODM party elections is right,” the don said.

Deadly alert as criminals buy viruses from mortuaries

Updated Sunday, August 4th 2013 at 08:46 GMT +3

Police officers guard a body at the Chiromo Mortuary. [PHOTOS: FILE/STANDARD]
By Paul Wafula
Kenya: Criminals are now buying deadly viruses from mortuaries in what brings a new dimension to the underground body parts business thriving inside Kenya’s funeral homes.
Highly infectious human tissue, body fluids and used bath water are eclipsing human organs as the hottest selling products.
Morgue staff drawn from Nairobi’s three largest mortuaries interviewed for this story reveal how lack of regulation and weak enforcement has seen players in the sector break ethics of last respects to make an extra coin.
Attendants are earning between Sh5,000 to Sh100,000 to smuggle out pieces of the dead, wrapped in specimen bags, briefcases and envelopes.
They also swap specimen to tilt police investigations from those seeking to change evidence of a case.
“The common ones are blood samples for people who die in road accidents under the influence of alcohol and their lawyers or relatives don’t want this to affect their insurance claim,” an attendant said.
“We just swap blood samples with someone else who did not die while drunk. We can get the blood from the heart and label it, then hand it to the police,” he added.
Swap samples
Multiple sources within Nairobi’s biggest public morgues told how a combination of poor pay and laxity in monitoring has pushed the morgue attendants to go to deadly lengths to earn illegal cash.
Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), City Mortuary and Mbagathi District Hospital have mortuaries located within a 300 metres radius that arguably host Kenya’s largest concentration of unburied bodies.
The practice they say is fueled by poor pay on one hand and a growing underground market drawn mainly from witchdoctors and their followers. “Most of my clients are just ordinary men and women on the street. But I have also sold some items to members of the military and police,” an attendant at KNH, who previously worked at City Mortuary told in confidence. But what is likely to worry policy makers is the revelation that some of their clients are specifically asking for specimen from victims of highly infectious diseases including Hepatitis B and Tuberculosis.

We need a policy to address our ethnic diversity in public sectors

Updated Saturday, August 3rd 2013 at 19:02 GMT +3

By Anyang Nyongo
On Thursday August 1st, a debate erupted in the Senate regarding ethnic representation in the government. Making a contribution to a Motion I had moved on reforms in the police service and proposals to amend the Police Service Commission Act as well as the Police Service Act, Senator Bony Khalwale alleged that three ethnic groups received more than their fair share in the composition of the current government in the Cabinet and at the level of Principal Secretaries. He further went on to say that the same is true with the Police Service. Asked to substantiate he produced a report from the National Cohesion and Integration Commission showing that two communities dominate the police service.
Without going into the details regarding the discussions that ensued in the Senate, their merits and demerits, it was the proposal advanced by Senator Kiraitu Murungi that recognised the gravity of the issue at hand and offered a practical and concrete solution that can help Kenya get out of the dangers of the politics of ethnic domination that has been our bane since independence. Kiraitu, subsequently supported by Senators Chris Obure and Moses Wetang’ula, gave the example of Singapore-- and Malaysia--where ethnic diversity has been creatively used to enhance national integration and nationhood.
Malaysia became independent in 1965. It had more or less the same level of development as Kenya. In a society that comprised diverse ethnic communities: Malays being 60 per cent of the population, Chinese 25 per cent, Indians 10 per cent and the rest 5 per cent, the Malaysian elites decided to strike what they called “the bargain” in constituting their government and initiating national development. The idea behind “the bargain” was that each community would get their fair share of the “national cake” in proportion to their numbers so as to promote national integration and nationhood.
In 1969, however, there was a terrible outbreak of urban violence in Kuala Lumpur, the national capital that unleashed vicious ethnic conflict among the Malaysian people. For two years Parliament was suspended while the ruling class searched for a long lasting national solution. In the end a policy was adopted to increase more fairness and equity in development, job creation, use of national and ethnic symbols and so on. In other words, the ethnic problem was not pushed under the rug; instead it was exposed for what it was, confronted, a formula found for dealing with it and the formula implemented transparently.
In the 1990s a campaign called “Bangsa Malaysia” was launched: this was to drum up ideological and cultural support for Malaysian national integration and nationhood.
That, of course, is not to say that everything is rosy in Malaysia. Dr Mahathir Mohammed, the legendary Prime Minister that was behind the great Malaysian achievements since independence, had a tinge of authoritarianism in his politics. But it was a brand of authoritarianism that shunned crony ethnic capitalism while creating a national developmental and democratic state. It is no wonder therefore that Malaysia has gone much further than Kenya in terms of socio-economic development since independence.
But it is never too late to learn. In fact were we a people who are prepared to learn positive lessons from our history we should have learnt a thing or two from 2003 and 2008. But unfortunately we did not.
Following the elections of December 2002, Kenya produced a government that was perhaps the most legitimate and most representative since the first government of 1963. Kenyans were immediately rated the happiest people on earth and we embarked on an economic recovery strategy that was widely embraced and accepted by Kenyans, hence its resounding success within a very short time. We did not, however, seize that opportunity to discuss a policy to deal with our ethnic diversity nor did we pay close attention to national integration as part and parcel of dismantling the presidential authoritarian regime.
Soon the fantastic Narc government initiatives started to be drowned in ethnic turf wars as elites sought to use their proximity to the Presidency to enhance politics of exclusion rather than inclusion. It was the primacy given to exclusion politics that messed up the referendum of October 2005, leading to the collapse of the Narc government and the end of “the honeymoon with happiness”. Kenyans immediately became the most ethnically divided nation on earth.
It was under that atmosphere of ethnic tension and the tension between inclusion/exclusion politics that we went to the elections of December 2007. The results and the violence that ensued should have radically changed our perception on how we run our politics but they did not. The Grand Coalition Government provided yet another window of opportunity for us to use that experience for future political engineering but we have not done so notwithstanding the useful framework provided by the present Constitution. Although the Grand Coalition Government was big and unwieldy it provided the widest representation of ethnic diversity in our republic. It was perhaps the most inclusive government without necessarily being more effective than the Narc government of 2003-2005. The lessons we should have learnt from it was how to use that experience to do another Malaysia-like political project in Kenya.
But Kiraitu now seems to have hit the nail on the head and woken us up from our stupid slumber. Rather than wait to have exclusive elections from one year to the other, forming semi-inclusive governments from one year to the other, fighting each other from one election to the other, let us take the bull by the horn and answer this question: how do we create a government, a cabinet, a police service, an army, an education system: in short a nation where ALL Kenyans feel at home? How do we deal with the elephant in the room: our growing ethnic alienation from each other? How do we learn a thing or two from Singapore, Malaysia and perhaps Belgium?


MPs’ probe finds shocking details on NHIF scheme


Minister for Medical Services, Prof Anyang Nyongo with PS Mary Ngare before the House Committee probing the NHIF saga on May 15, 2012. Photo/SALATON NJAU
Minister for Medical Services, Prof Anyang Nyongo with PS Mary Ngare before the House Committee probing the NHIF saga on May 15, 2012. Photo/SALATON NJAU
Posted Wednesday, May 16 2012 at 22:30

A parliamentary committee investigating the national health insurer’s medical scheme scandal starts compiling its report on Thursday with indications that senior government officials will be linked to questionable dealings in the Sh4.2 billion controversy.
Details of the one-month Health parliamentary committee hearings appeared to question the roles of Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o, and the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) board and chief executive officer Richard Kerich.
There were massive questions raised over the Clinix Healthcare Ltd, Meridian Medical Group that were allocated a combined Sh318 million compared to the two referral hospitals, Kenyatta and Moi Referral, that were allocated only Sh7 million.
The investigations also revealed that the owner of Clinix Healthcare Ltd, Mr Jayesh Saini, is also the managing director of Gesto Pharmaceuticals Ltd, which has previously been accused of supplying fake drugs to the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency.
Majority shareholder
Prof Nyong’o is on the spot with the committee having grilled him on his association with Mr Saini, the owner of Pharma Investment Holdings, the 99 per cent majority shareholder in Clinix.
Pharma is registered in British Virgin Islands, a leading offshore tax haven where some of the country’s major scandals have been traced.
Clinix which secured Sh202 million in the first three months of the scheme’s roll-out is one of the private health providers picked by NHIF and the committee believes it enjoyed undue favour owing to connections enjoyed by Mr Saini.
It has been a month of interesting, yet rather shocking revelations as the Health Parliamentary Committee delved into the chronology of events that culminated in the implementation of the scheme, pointing to a possible rip-off of taxpayer money.
All who have taken part in the investigation have said that in all ways, the scheme meant to provide a comprehensive medical cover to 216,789 civil servants and the disciplined forces was a noble idea and should not be scrapped.
However, its roll out has turned out to be something close to a mega scandal, with committee members equating it to the Goldenberg, Anglo-Leasing and Mobitelea-type scandals, with some describing Mr Saini as “another Kamlesh Pattni”.
The committee is likely to fault Prof Nyong’o and his Public Service counterpart Dalmas Otieno in their role in the scheme, having concluded on Tuesday that they were both running away from responsibility.
“Why is everybody now running away from any association with a scheme which you were all very keen and excited to roll out?” committee chairman Dr Robert Monda asked at the end of the session with Prof Nyong’o.
Prof Nyong’o was on the spot over his ministry’s role in jump-starting investigation into the matter, having failed to convince the committee that he instructed relevant authorities to move in and take action.
The committee also questioned his links with a city businessman at the centre of the messy NHIF scheme, citing occasions where they had met and interacted before the scheme’s roll-out.
The committee observes that Mr Saini, the owner of Clinix Healthcare Ltd is said to be known to the minister and a frequent visitor at the Medical Services Ministry corridors, although the minister describes him as a businessman like other businessmen who have sought to do business with the ministry.
“They come asking to do business with the ministry and I have referred them to relevant departments, some to procurement and others to Kemsa,” he stated at the Tuesday meeting with the committee.
Apart from Clinix, Mr Saini also runs Nairobi West Hospital and Gesto Pharmaceuticals — as chairman and director in charge of international business in the first and as managing directors in the others.
Prof Nyong’o found himself in a tight position when he was required to explain how Mr Saini managed to land the NHIF deal despite the negative records that Gesto Pharmaceuticals holds at the Pharmacy and Poisons Board.
The firm had been contracted to supply drugs by the Kenya Medical and Supplies Agency.
Before Mr Saini’s appearance, the Registrar of Companies had indicated that her office didn’t have details on the owner of Pharma Investment Holdings.
First to raise eyebrows in the investigations was the unearthing of non-existent facilities that had been accredited by the NHIF for public servants, a majority of them belonging to Clinix.
Clinix, whose vision is to expand and have over 300 facilities countrywide, according to its proprietor, has rapidly expanded during 2012 acquiring 50 licences for new facilities from sub-committee of the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board.
Operating illegally
Shockingly, the board is yet to sit down, scrutinise the facilities and endorse the licences, which in essence means all are operating illegally since the board may, upon inspection, cancel the licences.
It also means the lives of Kenyans have been put at risk by exposing them to facilities and services whose standards are yet to be confirmed by the body charged with the responsibility.
In total, 1,053 licences have been released by the board registrar to various clinics across the sector, without following due procedure.
The procedure is that the facilities should have first been inspected and endorsed before licences are issued.
This has led to a key question of whether the board is more concerned about allowing business in the health sector to thrive or safeguarding quality of healthcare service provision.
A key observation by the committee now winding up the crucial investigation is that most health facilities taking part in the scheme were ill-prepared for the roll-out, with regard to equipment, staff and accessibility.
Of the 50 Clinix facilities that have become operational this year, 21 were licensed in April, 11 in March, 12 in February and 6 in January. Meridian acquired a licence for one facility this year.
President Mwai Kibaki has since sacked the NHIF board following a boardroom drama on the fate of NHIF chief executive officer, Mr Richard Kerich.
The new board inaugurated on Monday has assured NHIF contributors that their money is safe after freezing the NHIF accounts of Clinix and Meridian hospitals.
However, new CEO Adan A. Adan said the institutions will continue to provide services to civil servants until investigations are completed in the next three months and pleaded with contributors for patience.


Prof Nyong’o’s autocracy, intolerance and lack of tact in handling industrial unrest may be his undoing

Added by Vulture Hunteron 2013-03-20
Once hailed as a progressive Young Turk, Nyong’o now embodies such high-handedness that, as a minister, he may be ranked far worse than the semi-literate Nyayo-era Cabinet

Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o
The outgoing Kisumu Rural MP, Prof Peter Anyang Nyong’o, is a man of contradictions. A political scientist with apparent socialist leanings, he was a Young Turk of the 1990s who has aged rather sadly.
Although he is a mouthpiece of the Orange Democratic Movement, a party that is marketed on an agenda of reform and democracy, Nyong’o has confessed that he has no faith in democracy. The man, who has not won an unchallenged party nomination since 1997, was recently picked out for censure by ODM’s Director of Elections for his role in the bungled Cord primaries in Nyanza.
Perhaps voters’ discomfort with Nyong’o’s ideologies explains his disdain for universal suffrage when it comes to party primaries, as he elucidated in his weekly column in The Standard on Sunday on January 27, 2012.
In the article, headlined Let parties pick candidates instead of subjecting voters to two elections, Nyong’o argued: “Why perpetuate the fiction that parties can or should nominate their candidates through universal suffrage?” Political parties, he wrote, are clubs that “are governed by naïve laws and procedures for political competition.” This, he reasoned, is how parties fuel conflict.
He was writing only a few days after being awarded a direct nomination for the senatorial seat in Kisumu.
In 1997, as an official of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), he failed to win a parliamentary seat in Kisumu owing to his perceived antagonism towards National Democratic Party leader, Raila Odinga. Nyong’o was salvaged by Charity Ngilu, then SDP’s presidential flag bearer.
He and the late Apollo Njonjo returned the favour by demanding that, in future, SPD’s presidential candidate would be a university graduate—a move that many saw as aimed at locking out Ngilu who, before last year, did not have a university degree. The animosity marked the beginning of the end of SDP.
On more than one occasion, Nyong’o has made some rather startling pronouncements. It was during the nurses’ and doctors’ strikes last year that Nyong’o came to be viewed by many as a callous leader. Trouble started on September 13, 2012, when doctors went on strike, demanding that privately sponsored doctors (known as “registrars”) at Kenyatta National Hospital and Moi Referral Hospital be paid.
However, the minister would hear none of it. Instead, he announced that he would sack all striking doctors and replace them with 1,000 recruits. As the strike was set in motion and Kenyan hospitals became deathbeds for patients who could not afford treatment in private hospitals and clinics, one journalist sought the minister’s explanation.
Asked about how many Kenyans had lost their lives as a result of the stalemate, the minister cold-heartedly asked the journalist to go to the mortuary and conduct a body count.
Today, the doctors’ strike has fizzled out but the wave of industrial unrest still pervades the ministry. Last December, nurses too downed their tools, demanding, among other things, the registration of their union.
Rather than dialogue with the nurses, Nyong’o called for the arrest of those among them who were agitating for a union, terming the strike illegal. The minister accused leaders of the unregistered Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) and the National Nurses Association of Kenya (NNAK) of engaging in criminal activities, and dismissed the nurses as “zombies” whom he said had no respect for human life.
When his threats went unheeded, the minister declared that he would replace the 3,000 striking nurses with some of the 7,000 unemployed health workers.
His lack of foresight in resolving industrial unrest has earned him the foul reputation of a tactless manager. On his watch, pain and death continue to stalk all corners of the country as provision of health services in government institutions grounds to a halt.
One journalist wrote that despite Nyong’o’s lofty academic credentials, the political science professor had performed worse than the semi-literate Cabinet ministers of President Moi’s time. Never before have so many strikes been witnessed in so short a time in the Health docket.
Nyong’o will also be remembered as the minister who, against pleas from stakeholders, insisted that the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) premiums be increased. Asked about the impact of the move to the average Kenyan, he said he was headed to Serena Hotel for a lunch worth Sh2,500. This amount, he said, was much higher than Sh66—the equivalent daily increment on his NHIF contribution.
The move is reminiscent of French aristocrat, Marie Antoinette, who wondered why the French were protesting in the streets over increased price of bread. He asked: “Why don’t they eat cake instead?”
In May last year, Nyong’o was in the limelight after it emerged that NHIF had awarded some of the Sh4.2 billion health provision tenders to companies that lacked the capacity to offer quality healthcare. Interestingly, some of the outfits were said to exist only in name. One such entity was Clinix which, as investigations revealed, had only 22 outlets countrywide although, curiously, Clinix had been allocated Sh202 million to offer healthcare in 72 clinics across the country.
There was drama when Chairman of the NHIF board, Prof Richard Muga, “sacked” the chief executive officer Richard Kerich for his alleged role in the scandal. A few hours later, Muga too was sacked by an angry Nyong’o.
Fumed the minister: “The Board of NHIF has communicated to me that you unilaterally sacked the chief executive and four other managers. You have no mandate as the chairman. This is a breach of protocol and insubordination to me.”
Nyong’s handling of the ministry has fuelled speculation on social media that he had looted Sh900 million from NHIF and wired it to Jersey Island on March 12, a claim he has vehemently denied.
Although the saga of bogus health facilities was not resolved during the life of the 10th Parliament, Kerich remains in office.
Sadly, taxpayers will now have to pay more to NHIF, after a case filed by the Central Organisation of trade Unions (Cotu) on behalf of workers was dismissed by High Court judge Mohamed Warsame.
The new rates will see Kenyans who earn more than Sh100,000 a month paying a minimum of Sh2,000 per month; those earning Sh5,999 or less will pay Sh150. The self-employed will pay Sh500 per month.
According to NHIF, the increase is in line with the new Constitution, which guarantees every Kenyan a right to quality healthcare.


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