Archive for October 2009

Just who will Save Kenya From these Napoleons of Corruption

T S Elliot, a 1948 Nobel Prize winner in Literature wrote a poem titled “Macavity –The Mystery cat.” Macavity was described as having a hidden paw, having the movement of a snake and a criminal who used his intellect to defy the law. He was bafflement to Scotland Yard and caused constant despair to the Flying Squad; for when they reached the scene of the crime, Macavity was simply not there. This was suavity and deceitfulness par excellence. He always had an alibi and spared one or two more alibis just in case they came in handy. He was outwardly respectable in spite of being a Napoleon of corruption, the crème de la crème. It was therefore not surprising that his footsteps could not be found in any file of the Scotland Yard.

Today, the fictitious Macavity has acquired life. He is alive and kicking in Kenya. He is not one. There are many. The edacious Macavity are more emboldened in the perpetuation of noxious graft as they are equipped with impunity. They are often surrounded with the exquisite Harvard legalese. They are not in the same league with the pusillanimous. They are true master minds of crime, the fat cats who supervise the pillaging of public coffers on grand scales.

You have heard the ravenous Macavity spin legal webs in defense of the well executed schemes that led to loss of billions of shillings in the Golden Berg, Anglo leasing, Grand Regency and the porous Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC). You recently heard of him in the ministry of Youth Affairs, Ministry of water, you have seen him in the Ministry of basic Education (remember the 109 million in a mysterious account?) And now he has surfaced in the Ministry of finance; in the infamous Passat deal. And the list goes on ad infinitum.

It is rumored that all the voracious cats whose wicked deeds are widely known are nothing more than agents of these Napoleons of crime. Are we not almost certain that when the pilferage has taken place blame for the scandal is always heaped on junior officers? When the subordinates are nabbed, which isn't often, there is no evidence linking the crimes to the masters. The master mind of crime is the mysterious "Macavity” who plans the crimes that lesser criminals execute.

With alacrity unmatched, these master minds in cahoots with senior officers have methodically sealed all the possible avenues for the unraveling of the scandals. Their rendition always almost made us believe that there was no iota of evidence to warrant prosecutions. Of course you and I were so sure that the Ministerial statements read in parliament in the wake of the scandals were as clear as mud.

Just who will save Kenya from the litany of grand scams; from the avaricious clutches of these Napoleons of corruption?

Tome Francis,

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Exam Cheating: Kenya is an Exam Crazy Country

Kenya is an “exam crazy country” to be precise. Everything seems to revolve around exams. At a summative level, these exams are highly competitive as they are highly relied upon to measure learners’ achievement. They provide a final judgment of who goes where and gets what educationally, occupationally and promotion wise. This has made excelling in summative school exams a fierce survival of the fittest battle. Students and teachers go to extraordinary strengths trying to make sure they excel in these exams. They have no choice.

Performance, apart from being largely dependent on the amount of knowledge a student brings to the exam, is also greatly influenced by how the student is able to manage and confront its challenges. Difficult exam items, memory let downs, fluctuations in motivational and attention levels, mental fatigue and lack of understanding of specific test items may impede performance.

It is against this backdrop that many school administrators resort to uncanny methods that will see them be regarded as the crème de la crème. Cheating comes in handy.

That is why irrefutable reports by some sections of the Kenyan media of rampant cheating in this year`s KCSE do not come as a surprise. This is in spite of the constant assurances by the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) that the genie of examination cheating had finally been put back in the bottle. Because of the fear of reprisals from their schools, TSC and KNEC honest classroom teachers will opt to remain silent even though they are fully aware of the prevalence of such malpractices in their schools. Indeed, many schools have accessed the national examination papers at least two hours before candidates sit for that exam.

Most of the papers affected are those done in the afternoon. Unlike previously where officers manning the strong rooms in the police stations were compromised, it is now the supervisors in the examination centers colluding with school administrators to open these exams between two to eight hours before the scheduled time and allow their most trusted teachers and students’ humble time to reproduce answers. Schools` administrators collude with corrupt KNEC officials to obtain substitute polythene envelopes in which the exam papers are packed in. They thus in cahoots with dishonest supervisors open the envelopes, take an exam paper, destroy the original envelope and re-pack the remaining papers in the substitute envelope and then reseal it. This is just but one of the many loopholes that have seriously dented KNEC`s credibility.

I have previously argued that cheating stretches all the way to the time that the setting of the examination takes place. This is because KNEC relies heavily on teachers from select schools to provide it with examination data bank for various examinable disciplines.

Coincidentally, schools privileged to have examination setters in particular subjects perform quite well in the same subjects. Much as one may argue that the excellent performance is a reflection of the competencies of such examination setters, it is also probable that such unscrupulous setters may collude to expose their students to replicas of prospective national exams.

There are also insinuations that unethical senior officers from KNEC establish call centres to mint money from desperate school administrators.

In lieu of the above concerns, it is doubtable whether KNEC`s policy not administer examinations beyond 2pm will significantly minimize cheating. The way forward is for the Ministry and KNEC to device water tight measures both in examination setting and administration. Most importantly is for the ministry to review the policy of using a single examination in a four year period to measure performance.

Tome Francis,


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Wycliffe Muga: Why MPS are no longer respected - The Star

Over the past few years, I have found it very difficult to convince most Kenyans I talk to that Parliament is not populated solely by ogres and snakes as they seem to imagine.

And my suggestion that most MPs I have met are actually very agreeable men and women, who have a serious intention of serving their country, has invariably been met with sneers.

For it would seem the average Kenyan regards the average MP as a self-serving monster, who is not worthy of the high office they hold. And if you tell them that all these people, by and large, were validly elected by the voters in their constituencies, they will say the electors made a mistake.

Now when a clear majority of citizens hold such opinions of the MPs and have such deep-seated contempt for people whom they have never met or spoken to, it is worth asking how this came to be.

For it has not always been so. Back in the Moi era, many MPs, and in particular those who had the courage to speak out against the government, were widely regarded as heroes. These included veterans such as Martin Shikuku and Waruru Kanja and firebrands such as Koigi Wamwere, James Orengo and the late George Anyona.

These were men who would be promptly surrounded by ecstatic crowds if they but showed up in any public place.

Now you find most Kenyans will describe their local MP as hopeless or useless and are also no less dismissive of MPs for constituencies they have never even visited.

How did it come to this?

Well, it seems to me that this drastic collapse of Kenyans' confidence in MPs is to a large extent linked to two developments which took place over the past decade or so.

The first is the increase in MPs salaries by an astronomical percentage, as well as the coming of the Constituency Development Fund just about the time when the Moi era came to an end in 2002.

The second is the revolution in personal as well as communal communication, through the rapid spread in the use of personal mobile phones, simultaneous with the spread of FM radio stations both in national and vernacular services.

Basically, what happened is that with those huge salaries and the CDF, for the first time, no MP could plead that he had been denied development by the government of the day, because he had spoken truth to power.

And thanks to the effect of FM stations and their ubiquitous talk shows, and the mobile phones, ordinary Kenyans are now very well informed of what their MPs are up to.

They know very well how much money the MP has at his disposal, and also have a pretty exaggerated idea of what their share of it should be. And whereas the Moi-era MPs who earned about Sh150,000 could persuasively argue that they had no surplus funds for fundraisers, nobody is willing to accept that argument now that they earn about Sh800,000.

In short, where previously an MP was seen as someone who had to go out and struggle to get some small slice of development for his people, the voters suddenly began to consider the MP as someone who had already been given all the development available for their corner of the country.

So they not only feel entitled to such material progress as can be delivered through the CDF and the Bursary Fund, but they even consider the MPs' huge salary as, essentially, their money.

With expectations running rampant, it is impossible to listen to any of the regional vernacular FM radio stations and hear anything other than a bitter contempt directed at any elected leader.

The only exceptions seem to be those high-profile Cabinet ministers with supposed presidential ambitions, who have carved for themselves a role as regional flag bearers.

But even these have as many enemies as they have friends.

And with hindsight, all this was inevitable really the kind of informed assessments which in the past were only available to the elite within the media are now the daily fare in millions of modest homes across the country.

This makes it difficult to sustain the old image of MPs as remote godlike figures. And as most of their voters do not get to socialise with their MPs to see that they are really very likeable, the image of the MP as a greedy and unprincipled rogue easily takes root.

Wycliffe Muga comments on topical issues.

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The Star Corridors of Power Political Gossip

The heat generated by the upcoming Ford-Kenya elections has reportedly raised concerns over Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa's safety. We are told that in the last few days the first-time MP has been taking measures to protect himself after he received threatening calls from unknown people warning him of "dire consequences."

We are told that the gates to Mombasa State House have been reinforced with heavy steel and concrete to stop uninvited guests from forcing their way through. Apart from the steel reinforced bars at the gate, the concrete wall surrounding the building has also been raised.

Njenga Maina, the self-styled leader of the Mungiki who suddenly has become popular with the media, reportedly played host to some high-ranking government officials at his Kitengela home. Whoever they are remains unknown, for now.

From Nyanza, voters of a certain constituency seem to have lost faith in their globe-trotting legislator. They accuse the MP of spending too much time abroad on personal and parliamentary duties at their expense. They are now planning to install a "shadow MP" to act when the elected legislator is out of the country.

Oburu Oginga, the elder brother of the Prime Minister, may have thought that by declaring Musa Sirma "tosha" recently during a ceremony to admit Sirma as a Tugen elder, he was doing his younger brother a big favour. But MPs from Nyanza are unhappy with his action and have accused him of giving the PM bad advice. We are yet to establish what "bad advise" Oburu gave.

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Allan Earnshaw: NEMA Terribly Fails our Environment

We are all aware of the environmental disaster that is the Mau Forest, where not only the forest is threatened but also rivers, lakes and even wildlife reserves, including the world-famous Maasai Mara.

What is odd is that in environmental legislation, Kenya led the way in 1999 when it created the ground-breaking Environment Management and Coordination Act.

When it became law, I for one, breathed a big sigh of relief. At the time I was part of a vigorous effort by the Kenya Association of Tour Operators to get a moratorium declared on the increasing number of random and unplanned tourist camps and lodges in the Maasai Mara.

Prior to EMCA, if you wanted to put up a camp in the Mara you simply made a deal with the local Maasai community leaders, had a quick chat with the county council, and away you went. With the coming of EMCA in came the cornerstone of the whole environmental process, the Environmental Impact Assessment.

So why, despite EMCA, was there a new wave of development of camps and lodges not only in the Mara but around the country?

In the Mara alone, more than 60 new properties have been put up since 2004. And isn't this the time when the greatest acceleration of destruction took place in the Mau too?"

So it seems that rather than saving our environment, as I had hoped, EMCA and the EIA process look as if they are accelerating its decline. How can this be happening?

I chaired an environmental meeting two weeks ago at which I asked my fellow participants why it was that so many EIA licences seemed to be granted to outfits which hadn't even applied yet for a business licence or a PIN from the Kenya Revenue Authority?

In the earnest discussion that followed it emerged that many businessmen felt that applying for an EIA should be the first tick in the box, because if one failed to get it, why waste more money getting any other licences?

Secondly, what do you think of a process whereby the developer pays the "expert" who does the EIA proposals for him?

He or she doesn't pay the National Environment Management Authority, whose job it is to administer the act and approve an EIA proposal.

It stands to reason that if you're allowed to pay the piper he'll play any tune you want.

So why doesn't Nema have a list of approved and certified environmental "experts" that get paid to go out and do EIAs? That way the applicant doesn't get to choose which "expert" goes out into the field to do the EIA, and he doesn't get to influence the process by paying the "expert" directly.

Sounds simple? It is. But it's not what's happening. Nema is being inundated by EIAs written up by "experts", none of whom has a bad word to say about their proposed projects.

And, finally, why have a tribunal, which can issue stop orders against contested development projects only for the developer to appeal to the high court and nullify the order?

Yes, there should be the facility to appeal, but why is the stop order set aside? Hotels, camps, shops and malls are being completed whilst EIAs are contested in the high court.

Surely if we are all entitled to a "clean and healthy environment" under the act, stop orders by the tribunal should be maintained until final rulings are made, either by the high court or the tribunal.

Nema has a tremendous mandate to do good. However, if its fails us then they have the capacity to do us more harm than good.

Earnshaw is the chairman of the board ofKer & Downey Safaris.

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Mungiki might get a new sect leader, says Maina Njenga - The Star

Maina Njenga yesterday warned that he may not be in full control of the sect as a new leader might emerge to replace him.

Njenga said his five-year incarceration may have weakened his authority and there was no guarantee that his members would follow his lead by renouncing violence.

Njenga's warning came as several leaders of mainstream churches urged caution in admitting sect members into their congregations.

The leaders said some of the sect members were likely to join various churches with ulterior motives.

The former Mungiki leader was set free last week and was immediately driven to Bishop
Margaret Wanjiru's Jesus Is Alive Ministries church where he announced he had changed his ways, was ready to get saved and renounced his violent past.

"You know when you leave your children without a father, the children can go to the neighbour, they can go to a friend and they will start getting other skills. They will be taught some other behavior. I do not want to mention the fathers they got because it is not important at this particular time," said Njenga in reference to the impact his long sojourn in jail has had on his followers whom he estimates to be five million.

Church leaders said it was too early to celebrate Njenga and his followers decamping to the church and read ulterior motives in the sect leader's change of heart.

Catholic Bishop Martin Kivuva Diocese of Machakos said only time will tell if Njenga and his followers have truly reformed or they were using the churches as a means of legitimizing themselves and making them more acceptable to the public.

"It is only by their fruits that we shall know whether they are genuine, whether they are being used and whether they are lining up for 2012," said Bishop Kivuva.

He however said the group should be given a chance to prove that it has truly reformed.

"I will definitely not say hallelujah they have all changed," he said and called on politicians not to take advantage of the developments.

Another Catholic Bishop, who did not want to be named as he was no longer authorised to speak on behalf of the church said it was important for Njenga and other sect members seeking salvation to commit themselves to God.

"The fear we have is that these people may use churches as a recruitment ground," said the respected Bishop.

He said Njenga and his followers should be taken through catechism and taught Christian values before they get baptized.

"I think the Catholic Church should stick to its tradition and teachings before baptising any of the Mungiki members," he added.

Former head of the Anglican Church, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi said the church should pray for Njenga and his followers to ensure they are truly reformed.

"The church would pray that the Holy Spirit will work upon these people that whatever they say they will mean it. But if what they are saying is not the truth, it will be revealed," said Nzimbi.

The Anglican church through former Bishop Peter Njenga had a few months ago been caught up in a tussle with Bishop Wanjiru over who would conduct Njenga's baptism.

King'ong'o prison authorities had to cancel two 'baptismal ceremonies' due to the confusion.

Njenga who is yet to renounce his membership of the Mungiki said he wanted to take catechism classes ahead of his planned baptism but his followers had asked him to wait so they could all do it together.

Njenga has pledged to use his influence to urge the Mungiki to renounce violence.

The sect is alleged to be behind some of the worst protection and extortion rackets in Nairobi and Central Province enforced through brutal murders of opponents characterised by beheadings and mutilations.

Yesterday, Njenga maintained he did not want to be associated with the sect any more as he was a "changed man."

"For those who believe I am a leader, I have said from today, I want that movement to die and to die forever. I don't want it to resurrect," he said.

He told his sect members to join other churches in their neighbourhoods and even seek leadership positions in those churches.

Njenga said his followers will make a unique church once they start marrying the many young women who are members of Bishop Wanjiru's congregation.

"Just as I will go and lower my wife to the grave, I will also have a second coffin that will symbolize the death of Mungiki," he said during an interview with the Star yesterday.

Njenga's newfound faith and assurance that he has reformed does not seem to have convinced the public or his members.

Several people who had been jointly charged with murdering 29 people in Mathira last April have gone into hiding since they were released at the same time as Njenga.

Vigilante groups last Monday killed two of the sect members suspected to have been involved in the massacre.

In Kirinyaga, suspected sect members who had gone underground resurfaced yesterday and distrib uted leaflets in the town warning the residents they were back in business and would start exerting their revenge on the vigilantes who had driven them out of town.

By Francis Mureithi and Kamore Maina

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Dormans boss kicked out of Coffee Board - The Star

Coffee Shop MD Jeremy Block has been fired from the Coffee Board of Kenya.

Agriculture minister William Ruto yesterday said he sacked Block because his membership represents a conflict of interest.

Ruto said Block has an interest in coffee milling.

However, the change is likely to have been influenced by complaints from coffee farmers, especially in Central Province. The minister's announcement came in the wake of a spirited fight by farmers affiliated to Mathira Coffee Millers to have Block sacked.

The farmers accused the Dorman's MD of influencing a decision by the Coffee Board to transfer a milling licence issued to them to two of his own companies.

The farmers, through their chairman Michael Gathitu, had appealed to Ruto to intervene and help them get back their licence from Block.

Gathitu had moved to court on behalf of the farmers seeking orders to stop a company associated with Block — Central Kenya Coffee Mills — from taking over the running of Mathira Coffee Mills.

They have also written to the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission requesting that Coffee Board managing director Louise Njeru and Block be probed for allegedly transferring the licence issued to the farmers.

In a letter dated October 21, the farmers said Block influenced the Coffee Board MD to give his (Block's) private company the licence to run Mathira Coffee Mills Factory.

"Having been appointed a director of CBK by the Minister for Agriculture, Block swiftly took advantage and influenced the managing director to change and alter a coffee milling licence owned by farmers from Mathira," said farmers' letter.

The letter signed by vice chairman Kahuho Mathai claimed the Central Kenya Coffee Mills, which was issued with the new licence, is nonexistent.

The letter addressed to the director of KACC and received on October 26 says Block's action is tantamount to misuse of public office.

The farmers have also accused the MD Njeru of misleading the Minister for Agriculture to gazette the contentious licence issued to Block.

They further accuse the MD of allowing herself, despite her standing as a public servant, to be used for personal gain.

Meanwhile, coffee farmers in Mathira want two directors of the Coffee Board to be investigated for corruption and abuse of office.

While announcing the re-placement of Block on Monday, Ruto said his ministry is drafting a bill to streamline operations in the coffee sector.

Ruto was inaugurating the board of directors of Coffee Development Fund and Coffee Research Foundation.

He said the coffee sector needs more reforms to reflect the changing market environment for farmers to maximise profits.

"We intend to reform this sector and one of the reforms is to ensure that a person who is a miller is not at the same time a board member of CBK," Ruto said.

By Geoffrey Mosoku

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Tome Francis: Frivolous Litigations and Rights Talks Impeding Conservation Efforts

Seemingly “litigations” and “rights talk” have permeated the creases and wrinkles of our society so much so that even land grabbers and illegal settlers have the temerity to rush to the court of law to contest an eviction order issued by the Government. It matters less that the said eviction is informed by the cabinet`s decision to rehabilitate a water tower that has over the years been desecrated.

Neither do the illegal settlers give a hoot that eviction talks have been with us for over a year now. Instead, the illegal settlers, acting with impunity continued unabated with their agricultural activities besides the wanton destruction of the Mau Complex. They now have the impertinence to order the Government to give them time ad infinitum to ostensibly harvest their crops.

It becomes even more worrisome if one was to go by the intimations that behind the move to mobilize and incite councilors and the illegal settlers to seek an injunction are a cabal in Government. At this rate, it will become increasingly difficult to put the genie of impunity and grubbiness back in the bottle.

As for the courts of law, one wonders why they appear to have set aside their qualms and waded in the murky waters of politics. Time and again we have witnessed the courts entertain suits aimed at challenging decisions of the executive and parliament. For instance, this year alone, the court entertained a suit filed by the then commissioners in the defunct electoral body challenging the legality of the decision of the executive and parliament to send the entire electoral body packing. Similarly, when parliament invalidated the president`s unilateral decision to reappoint top officials of KACC, the court regaled itself with litigations from some quarters.

The willingness of the courts to entertain such suits serves as a pathway for judicial scrutiny of every single Government decision. This is an act that totally ignores the principle of separation of powers and is in the least, an abhorrent act to every right-minded citizen. Is it perhaps that the current constitution does not delineate the role of the judiciary properly? There is every reason that we should take up the task of setting equilibrium between the value of accountability through the court of law and the value of limiting judicial incursions on the autonomy of the Government to effectively discharge its sworn duties.

In the meantime I urge all and sundry to take cognizance of the overriding interests of the larger public. The overriding public and professional opinion is that conservation of the country`s water towers is sacrosanct. It would be a vile presumption for anyone to attempt to think even for once that Kenyans will entertain politically motivated subterfuge on the rehabilitation of our water towers.

Tome Francis,


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Isaac Ongiri: Kenya pays British Pensioners Sh1 Billion - The Star

House committee probes 1963 agreement

Kenyan taxpayers pay retired British civil servants Sh79 million every month, the Star has learnt.

And now the Public Accounts Committtee will be travelling to London to establish the number of pensioners, the amount each is getting and the authenticity of their claim to the pension.

The PAC team led by chairman Dr Bonnie Khalwale were surprised when they were informed by Treasury's Finance Secretary Dr Mutua Kilaka that the government had since independence been paying the pensions for retired civil servants through the Crown Agency.

Kilaka confirmed the payment and said the agreement included details as to who and how the payment was to be made.

"There is an agreement between the government and the British pensioners that has continued to influence the changes in payment rates to the pensioners," Kilaka said.

Established at the time of the British empire, the Crown Agencies became the financial institutions, supplying capital, routes for investment, and pensions to all public works and government in British dependent colonies excluding Canada or Australia.

Crown Agency was incorporated as a government mandated corporation tied to the Minister of Overseas Development, called the Crown Agents for Overseas Governments and Administration.

In 1997, the Crown Agency was privatised. As a private limited company, the CAOGA has a number of contracts to provide governmental or para-governmental services throughout the world, such as providing the Customs Services of the Government of Angola.

The Crown Agency is an organization working with the UK government and the Department for International Development, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, revenue and customs department.

Yesterday, Kilaka said the money was being paid following an agreement which was signed between Kenya and British government at independence in 1963 when the new government committed to pay the pension of colonial era British civil servants who continued working after this date.

Kilaka could not immediately confirm the number of British nationals who were still on the government's payroll.

"We are concerned about this payment, how it's calculated and how the final value is arrived at and who is being paid,"Anyanga said.

He asked but Kilaka was unable to provide proof to show how many of the British ex-civil servants were still receiving a pension.

During this year's budget, Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta allocated Sh12 billion as pension for retired Kenyan civil servants up from Sh11 billion spent last financial year.

The annual spending bill on pensions by Government stood at Sh26 billion last year.

This was equivalent to 3.4 per cent of the budgeted spending of Sh760 billion for the financial year 2007/2008, way above the World Bank's recommended threshold of 2.5 per cent of the budget.

This translates to an average of Sh9,500 per month for each of the estimated 230,000 retired civil servants and teachers.

The Sh79 million being paid to the ex-British civil servants is enough to cater for 8,300 Kenyan civil service pensioners at the same rate.

Three years ago, there was a proposal in Parliament,to pay all Kenyan senior citizens regardless of whether they ever worked as public servants a monthly fee for upkeep. The proposal also suggested that taxpayers meet the medical costs of senior citizens.

However, the programme which was to be administered through the provincial administration was not enacted into law.

Yesterday Khalwale, who was accompanied by among others Nyatike MP Omondi Anyanga, said the PAC would send three of its members to London to establish the number of pensioners being paid as well as more details of the agency.

"We have a lot of questions for them, because we think someone is playing games here, we are surprised about this agreement and the amounts involved," Khalwale said.

Khalwale said it was surprising that the government continued to pay the amount and it never reduced even though many of the recipients would have died by now.

"If for example they left Kenya at 55, surely, would they still be earning a pension now?
They must have died? And why is the amount still the same? "Khalwale said.

Bonchari MP Charles Onyancha also wanted Kilaka to explain what exchange rate was used to calculate the pension. The exchange rate at the time the agreement was signed was Sh4 to the Sterling pound.

"Its amazing that an agreement reached when the value of the pound against the shilling was only four shillings can now attract millions of shillings. There is need for this contract to be made public," Onyancha said.

Kilaka explained that the amount has been increased due to fluctuations in the exchange rate. The current exchange rate is Sh124 to one Sterling Pound.

Onyancha said that the committee will demand that evidence of the existence of the beneficiaries be tabled before any further payments are made to the agency.

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The Star Corridors of Power Political Gossip

Henry Kosgey may be the ODM chairman but over the weekend he may have realised he had been played by his Rift Valley colleagues when he was given and took up the first chance to address a gathering of elders at Eldoret. Traditionally, the protocol observed in meetings is to have the least important people speak first and the last word is left to the person deemed the most important. Nobody else is supposed to speak after this person. Whatever the case, Kosgey spoke first and Agriculture minister William Ruto spoke last in what his henchmen tell us was a not so subtle reminder to all and sundry that the Eldoret North MP's status as the king of Rift Valley is unchallenged.

The strange habit by an ODM MP to never let his bodyguards and drivers know his home in the city has been adopted by another MP, this one from the PNU side. Like his ODM counterpart, the flamboyant PNU MP has issued strict instructions to his driver and security to drop him off every evening at a city hotel and pick him up there the next morning. The strange thing is, neither of the two are booked in as long-term guests of the hotels they have made their "homes."

Something seems to be going on as far as the settlement of IDPs is concerned. We hear that the initial sum agreed as compensation was Sh10,000 which was gazetted by President Kibaki. However, following complaints that the amount was inadequate for the IDPs to start life afresh, some Cabinet ministers and senior civil servants are reported to have argued for the amount to be raised to Sh35,000. Whether this has been gazetted or not is not the issue, it is the growing complaints that some of the money is yet to be accounted for.

A senior official at Maseno University is being accused of "grabbing" a car bought by the University. Those in the know tell us that the official has become very hostile to anyone who dares question his "personalisation" of the campus vehicle. He has even threatened to fire anyone who asks questions about the car, a brand-new Pajero, whose green registration number plate — denoting it belongs to a public institution — has been replaced with the normal yellow one indicating the car is private. All this, we hear, was done on instructions of the official.

Our moles tell us that several district commissioners who expected to be promoted to deputy provincial commissioners were "cheated" out of the promotions by some senior civil servants. According to some of those affected, the list of DCs to be promoted was ready for action but when Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura fell sick, the list was doctored and some of the DCs were dropped and their names substituted.

Maina Njenga's vehement denials that he is not interested in political office may just be hot air and have not convinced anyone, least of all his close associates. The talk among the Kenya National Youth Alliance is that Njenga might take on Ferdinand Waititu in Embakasi or even George Saitoti in Kajiado North. They say the man has many supporters in the two constituencies and would make a formidable rival to anyone he decides to run against.

Officials of some sporting associations are quietly getting signatures in a petition they want to present to President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga requesting that they sack Sports minister Hellen Sambili. The associations accuse the minister of interfering in the management of sports and failing to consult them. But the big question is, isn't it her responsibility to keep the associations on the straight and narrow?

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Pheroze Nowrojee: Representation is not just about numbers - The Star

Some MPs from Central Province are demanding that the new boundaries for constituencies should be redrawn on the principle only of numbers of voters.

If implemented as the only applicable principle, huge areas would be disenfranchised politically. In Parliament, it would further disempower many smaller and diverse groups.

The issue is not numbers. It is adequate representation.

In most intended constituencies, numbers will work to give adequate representation.

This reflects the important electoral principle that the vote of all voters must carry the same electoral weight. But pastoralists do not stay in one place. Nor does all land have the same ecology or support the same population density.

Therefore there is another and more important principle; adequate representation. Too many numbers destroy that adequacy. To restore the balance, we reduce the size of the constituency by dividing the old one into two or more constituencies. Embakasi in Nairobi is an example of this necessity.

Too few numbers also destroy the adequacy when they result in a constituency that is physically too large. We must again restore the balance to have constituencies which are physically manageable but have a lesser than average number of voters.

But there is a more dangerous concern raised by these single-issue calls in a complex matter. These calls by only these MPs signal significant negative attitudes.

Firstly, these calls signal that they are determined to obtain domination over other Kenyans by structural provisions and not by persuasion. They want to recapture power not by persuading other Kenyans to vote for them, but by pushing provisions into the intended constitutional changes through which they would be ensured control.

There is a difference between legitimate demands for more constituencies whether in Nairobi, Central Province or anywhere else, and demands that only population determine constituencies.

That is clearly a political manoeuvre to exclude others from control. It is a patent move to control the choice of Prime Minister by obtaining more seats and reducing the seats of others. They seek to make the choice of PM fall within the control of only one community.

Such MPs will then want their numerically defined constituencies to be drawn to contain majorities from one group and its allies. This gerrymandering will be another variation in their attempts to manufacture a single-ethnic 'majority' over other Kenyan groups.

They have shown by their actions over the decades that they do not mind coming to or holding on to power.

This is what brought about 2007, our huge polarisation and the removal of national trust in a government led by such a Central Province elite. Now with their shrill arguments they are again signalling that they do not care about other fellow Kenyans.

Secondly, they do all this with the rhetoric of democratic principles. Yet it is to achieve their undemocratic power-plays. That is why we only hear them talking about equality when others get more.

But when they themselves get more, as they have for years during Kenyatta and Kibaki 2003-2007, they do not speak up for equality for others.

Thirdly, such members are again signalling that they are always ready to turn a national debate into one about their own interests only. There is nothing wrong in demanding for one's own interests. It is when national interests are continually placed last that we can see no sincerity in their 'democratic' language.

Democracy is about more people than one group. We have yet to see the national interest being advanced by this group. We do not see them looking after the welfare of other groups. This shows they do not qualify for national leadership.

Fourthly, these crude calls signal that they still think other Kenyans cannot see through their insincere rhetoric. The corollary is that other Kenyans are not up to their own intellectual (and other) superiority. All the massive failures of 2003 to 2008 by this elite show how hollow this claim of superiority is. This hubris is a historical factor common to such elites. We cannot expect reform or democratic practices from them.

They are not capable either of solving Kenya's current national problems, or of leading it into a reformed future. Our national hopes for national leadership lie elsewhere.

Pheroze Nowrojee is a lawyer based in Nairobi.

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Macharia Gaitho: Do MPs live in a time warp? Kibaki will not rule for life! - The Nation

Hearing the noises coming out of our MPs now, it is apparent that they all live in a time warp.

Representatives from Central Kenya seem to be deluded that President Kibaki will either rule for life, or ensure his successor is from their region. Hence the obsession with retention of an all-powerful presidency and centralised rule.

Conversely, MPs from other regions are imbued with a Central-phobia, and they see the antidote as a neutered presidency, coupled with transferring executive power to a Prime Minister; as if the new constitution will provide that the job is reserved for Mr Raila Odinga or whoever else comes to head ODM.

Welcome back to the 2005 referendum politics of Oranges and Bananas. The new rift on constituency boundaries that has erupted and threatens the reform agenda is not merely about delineation of constituencies, but advance skirmishing on formation of the next government — the assumption being that a new constitution will transfer executive power to a premier elected by Parliament.

Under any measure, it should be a no-brainer that one-man, one-vote should represent the highest ideal of a democratic system. But then this is Kenya, the land of Byzantine ethnic intrigues.

A little background is in order. MPs from Central Kenya have launched a public campaign for the one-man, one-vote principal in the redrawing of parliamentary constituency boundaries.

The MPs took the cue from President Kibaki’s Kenyatta Day address, as summarised here: “…the need to apply the principle of one person, one vote led to the establishment of the Interim Independent Boundaries Commission in accordance with the Kriegler Report.

At the end of its work, the Boundaries Commission will hopefully give the country … approximately equal size constituencies demographically. This will give the country the fair representation our forefathers fought for.”

The Independent Review Commission (Irec) into the botched 2007 elections chaired by South African Judge Johann Kriegler had expressed amazement that Kenya had departed so substantiality from a universal tenet of democracy — equality of the vote.

That principle is recognised even by the Constitution of Kenya, which states that “All constituencies shall contain as nearly equal numbers of inhabitants as …reasonably practicable.”

Kriegler conceded that there would always be variations to take into account densely populated urban areas and thinly populated rural areas; means of communication; geographical features; community of interest; and administrative boundaries.

“THE PROBLEM IN KENYA IS THAT the maximum permitted departure is not fixed and has been seen to allow extreme differences in size: Embakasi is 351 per cent greater than the average while Lamu East is only 18 percent of the average. As a consequence, the weight of the vote cast by a Lamu East voter is nineteen times greater than that of one in Embakasi. In no other country in the world is there difference of such magnitude,” Kriegler wrote.

Kriegler, therefore, recommended that “the basic principle for the delimitation of constituencies should be the equality of the vote, and the maximum departure from that principle should be clearly defined in the law.”

There was no immediate reaction when the President spoke; but once the Central Kenya MPs took the proposal to the political soapbox, the s**t hit the fan.

MPs from Coast, North Eastern, parts of Eastern and Rift Valley went on the counter–offensive. They were breathing fireworks, seeing an ethnic agenda to increase the number of parliamentary seats in Central Kenya.

Some even threatened to lead their regions into secession if such proposals were carried through. They came up with their own riposte to the one-man one vote mantra — one kilometre, one vote.

And of course they promised to reject the proposed Constitution if it even imagined strengthening the one-man, one-vote principle. That was a threat the central Kenya MPs welcomed with gusto, for they in turn said they would reject the new law if it did not satisfy their demands.

And that might be the crux of the matter. The Central MPs provoked the debate very deliberately knowing the storm it would cause and the resultant threat to conclusion of the constitution review process.

What they are saying can be translated thus: “You can try and take away ‘our president’s’ executive power, but only if we get the strength to influence who becomes the next PM”.

Do we really need these sterile skirmishes at this stage? Can we carry out reforms without forever trying to win selfish gains or to cut others down? Can we debate policy without forever playing cheap ethnic politics?

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Billow Kerrow: Statistics tell a Different Story in Demand for Constituencies - The Nation

Some MPs have called for a review of constituency boundaries, particularly in Central Province, as they believe their region is under represented in the House. They believe that North Eastern Province, for example, is “over-represented”.

Yet it is the possibility that a parliamentary system may be adopted soon, coupled with the exigencies of the CDF funds that has, by and large, informed their enthusiasm.

In a participatory democracy such as ours, inclusiveness is through the electoral process in which political power is apportioned among constituencies to ensure free and fair elections.

According to the current Constitution, the size of population cannot be the sole determinant for creating constituencies.

POPULATION DENSITY, GEOGRAPHICAL features and communication network, among others, count in delimitation. This happens in Australia, Japan, UK and India, resulting in sparsely populated rural areas and towns having more MPs.

Yet, even on the basis of population, Central Kenya does not merit additional constituencies. Population density is to a large extent determined by the level of economic opportunities, which in turn is predicated on socio-economic development.

If, for instance, North Eastern had tarmac roads, electricity, piped water, quality schools, irrigated farms, modern livestock industries, mines and more public funds voted for it, half the Kenyan population would move there.

It is opportunities that attract people, not just the environment. That’s why places such as Dubai and other desert countries attract large investments and settlement. As it is, many residents of northern Kenya migrate to other parts because of poor livelihood.

Mandera Central constituency in North Eastern Province is 11,600 square kilometres, roughly the size of Central Province which is 13,000. It is divided into seven divisions with 32 locations and 46 sub-locations. The population is 147,000 whilst registered voters are 41,000. Poverty index is 70 per cent and communication is Stone Age.

Wajir South has 127,000 people in a vast area of 21,000 square kilometres, nearly twice that of Central Kenya. Compare this to Kipipri with 98,000 people in 544 square kilometres, or Kangema with 81,000 people living on 260 square kilometres.

Most constituencies in Central have similar statistics based on 2005 population projections by the ECK.

Indeed, Central Kenya has relatively lower average population per constituency/MP at 139,000 than all the other provinces except North Eastern. Coast ties with Central. Even the average population per MP in North Eastern is only a little lower at 131,000.

The rest of the regions range between 142,000 and 344,000 people.

When we look at the average geographical size of constituencies, Central’s is only 456 square kilometres, compared to 11,700 for North Eastern, 4,000 for Coast and 3,700 for Rift Valley.

Thus an MP in Central Kenya does only 456 square kilometres to meet 139,000 constituents while his counterpart in Rift Valley covers 3,700 to meet 171,000 constituents.

Indeed, people in North Eastern, Rift Valley, Coast, and Eastern may as well demand a ceiling on the geographical size of their constituencies. The level of political representation has a direct correlation to the allocation of resources, and consequently the level of poverty.

CLEARLY, CENTRAL KENYA DID benefit from the adequate representation it had over the years, compared to other regions. The appalling inequality is testimony enough.

Poverty index in North Eastern averages 70 per cent, Coast 61 and Eastern 58 as compared to Central’s 31 per cent. We cannot marginalise parts of our country and claim they do not deserve representation because they are depopulated.

For arid areas, an MP struggles more to seek development of roads, schools, health centres, water and food, in addition to dealing with mundane issues of impoverished constituents.

When the MP travels home, residents line up with more demands. In Central Kenya, residents do not even bother to meet their MP as they are often busy on their farms and businesses. Central is more represented in Parliament, the pitched voices of its leaders not withstanding.

Mr Kerrow is a former MP for Mandera Central.

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Ann Dismorr: Donors Only Echo Wananchi Distress - The Star

For quite some time to come, the tragic events of 2008 will continue to serve as an important reference point in any discussions on Kenya's future.

Regrettable as the tragedy of it is, that chaotic moment handed the country an opportunity to return to its development compass and obtain fresh bearings.

The readings suggest that the democratic wave that began with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 did not deliver for Kenya the freedoms, rights and accountable government that it promised.

Kenya has had a mixed score-card from its attempts to become a liberal democracy because of tensions between the new dispensation and the old culture.

Although the 'wind of change' offered social movements an opportunity to reform the state, the more important institutional change is yet to become a reality.

Constitutional reform is still pending, electoral reforms are yet to be completed, equitable gender relations are troubled, and there is no sense that justice comes to those who are responsible for crimes such as violence and corruption.

Kenya is still an aspiring liberal democracy, yet it faces huge challenges in effectively guaranteeing civil and political rights.

Despite years of civic education and debate, exclusionary social and political practices appear to have increased in the public and private spheres. Today, unequal power relations, unaccountable leadership and social exclusion characterise the political leadership as the country grapples with an elusive search for a new constitution.

The framework within which development occurs is still not satisfactorily inclusive. At what point will the transition period end?

The agenda of the mediation agreements brokered by Kofi Annan are important minimums for reforming the state and stabilising the society.

It is important to note, however, that as Kenya recovers from its recent tragic past, time is not standing still and the world marches on to a new beat. It is important that Kenya catches up with the rest of the world and takes its rightful place in the community of nations.

Besides the challenges identified by the mediation process around the quest for a new constitutional reform and just political order, the country must confront climate change and environmental conservation as well as other is-sues that might not have received due attention at the time.

The country needs to develop a holistic change programme that draws lessons from past successes and failures. Regrettably, there is little evidence of a shared sense of destiny that would make national consensus necessary in responding to these issues.

There appears to be a dichotomy between the leaders and the citizens in appreciating and defining the various challenges to nationhood — from justice, environmental conservation, institutional reforms or access to national resources.

Although, significant changes have occurred in a number of departments, sectors and ministries, but Kenya is still at a crossroads.

If development partners have been less fulsome in their praise of government efforts to reform, it is often because they echo the disappointment that many citizens of Kenya and their friends abroad feel.

What is it that Kenya and its friends can learn from these transformations? Reflecting on these moments of change, approaches to development, models of citizenship and democracy is necessary if the country is to learn from the key actors in the past two decades who have demonstrated great or exceptional leadership in transforming policies, ministries, parastatals and departments.

The conference that starts in Nairobi today and runs until tomorrow seeks to create space for dialogue among actors engaged in development work. It is also a forum to reflect on and clarify the content of the change sought in Kenya while seeking creative ways of providing support for ongoing policy and political reform processes.

There will also be space for agents of change agents to reflect on their experiences and take stock to help the country to better understand how change happens.

At the end of the conference, it is hoped that the various political leaders, government departments, private sector and civil society organisations as well as individuals agree on a common framework for change and development.

This change framework will enable development partners such as the European Union to use aid more effectively to help Kenya achieve its objectives.

The conference mirrors the annual EU Development Days event, held in Stockholm last week under the theme, 'Citizenship and Development', to discuss global challenges around governance, climate change, international finance, trade, food, energy, the role of the media and human and social rights.

Dismorr is the Swedish Ambassador to Kenya. Sweden currently holds the Presidency of the European Union

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Mungiki Leader, Maina Njenga Interview on K24 Capital Talk by Jeff Koinange

Maina Njenga, the Mungiki leader, was on Jeff Koinange's K24 Capital talk aptly known as "The Bench". Maina Njenga created Mungiki sect 20 years ago when he was 20 and while he was in high school and crafted it along the worship of the god of Kirinyaga - Kikuyu (Mt Kenya). He is now 40 and has turned over a new leaf via the way of the church. He reportedly says that Mungiki has had a membership of 5 million people.

Have you renounced Mungiki: I have done it. In my original intention I was not serious. It started like a joke while I was in Jomo Kenyatta High School in Nakuru town. Like a joke I said I am going to pray like my forefathers did by praying to the god of mount Kenya as other students went to the Christian Union and Catholic Action Fellowships. Other people started getting interested and they followed. I am not a trouble maker I am a peace maker.

Are you still driving this bus: Some people believe that once you leave Mungiki you will not live again. That is not true. I do not want any movement in front of me, I am serious.

What do you tell all those young men who believe in you as their leader: I want that movement to die and die forever and i dont want it to resurrect.

Are you going to form another movement through the church: No I am not going to form any movement from the church. When I was in jail, I have realised that I have big enemies. I want to start a new life. I was preacing the god of the mountain as that was my knowledge. In prison I have read the Bible thrice from Genesis to Revelation. I wanted to know what is the secret behind this book. I earlier on believed and preached that this was a foreign book. I had drafted some theories before I started preaching the god of Mt Kenya so that I would convince someone to stop looking at the Bible.

Do you believe the Bible now: When you do something without knowing, God can reveal it to you. After reading the book I have had great revelations. That God is the creator of the universe, He is the God of the invisible and the visible and had a son before the creation of the universe. I started as a small boy in a mud house, without even a bike and I am now living in a big house. I have seen that there is a God who can do great things. There is nothing I want from the movement.

They have killed for you: They have not done anything for me, that is not the message I told them to preach. I told you to come together for the sake of your god and for the sake of your people.

You must be afraid now and fearful for your life: I do not fear for my life. I know I have big enemies. If they killed my wife, they can kill me. But they can not kill my soul forever. We are not of this world, we are visitors here, you leave with nothing. Over 75% of Kenyans belong to this group. You cannnot reach and teach them all. They have acquired some skills from their neighbours. It is like a marrying a wife and leave her with nothing. She will get another. Or you get children and leave them with nothing. They will get other fathers and go looking for food at the neighbours.

I want to live a new life. They say life begins at 40. Why do I want to live the life I lived 20 years ago. You understand that 5M people are a lot to control and reach. I cannot be able to control them. I do not talk to you, where do you get your instructions from? If they believe I was at one time one of them, then let us take a serious decision and follow salvation.

What happens now, politics?: I want to study the Bible more and more. I read the Bible alone while in prison, I need to discuss the Bible with others. I used to teach that Jesus stands for Jews Empire Scripture Union Society. I used to teach that that son is not a son of a holy God and was the son of an ordinary man like any other. The message today I want all to know is that I have recognized that Jesus Christ is the son of God and he came to save and to heal.

That whatever I did during that time, I did some wrongs I understand, I am not angel and is normal for a human being. When you are young you do childish things and many would highlight my foolishness. Let people know about the truth and the truth will set all free. I have been in prison. I have been in a physical prison, but there is a mental prison. Better a prisoner of a physical prison than that of the mind. People have talked about me and 2012. I am not interested in anything. I want to preach the Bible and to do according to the will of God.

I am sorry for what has been there. I want that madness to stop. Whatever we have been experiencing is only a tip of iceberg. If I had, for example, said that each of the 5M buy a panga, where will Kenya be? I want to save this Kenya from a calamity, from a genocide. This thing can bring trouble in the future. Some leaders are blind, they cannot see. These young men do not belong to Maina, they are Kenyans.

What will be your role since you will always be a Kenyan: I will not stop talking. But my message will be different. Preaching a god of a community is different from preaching the God of the universe. This is the time for great harvest. From now any time I can be baptised. I want to be baptised.

Are you angry at those who killed your wife and your family members: Having discovered the love of God, he has given me peace, perseverance and love for my enemies. I want to start afresh. This is to start a new life in Jesus. I used to teach that the Bible stands for British Book of Law and Entertainment, meant for the poor so that they can entertain the rich. I do not want to preach that madness anymore.

Is this still the same message you are communicating to Mathira and Kirinyaga: I am telling them to stop the violence and live together as friends. Life is like a smoke, you can kill me today and you die tomorrow even if I dont kill you. I can preach peace even without being a member of any organisation. Battle is not good. When you hate somebody you lose. I agree I have lost some best friends. I want to forget that madness. If I am a leader of 5M people, I see trouble ahead. I am tellling them to go to the nearest church. I want this work to be taken over by the preachers, they are the ones who have abandoned their work.

We have leaders who do not deserve to be leaders. They are supposed to be hawkers. People especially the media and the police you are the cause of all this. You report the wrong position. For example the police shoot a pickpocket then say 'we have shot one and one Mungiki has run away'. These are not Mungiki, these are thugs. I do not want these groups, I start one, you start one then we fight each other. Eventually there will be no Kenya.

Is it possible to save Kenya at this point: You cannot control all these people who have hungry stomachs. The problem of Mungiki will still be there even if the name will not be there because of empty stomachs. Most of these do not have proper education, they cannot go to any office to seek employment. I appeal to the government not to kill these young men but to talk to them. I am sending them back to their parents. Their fathers should take responsibility. They should not fear them as they will be going to church together now. My work was to organise these crooks and hooligans.... I have sinned against my God and we are seeking forgiveness.

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John Michuki: Equality of Voters Must be Respected - The Star

My attention has been drawn to reports concerning the issue of constituency boundaries, occasioned by the ongoing countrywide exercise by the Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission to collect views from wananchi, related to the same.

I have read some of these views and reports with much concern and disbelief. I now wish to set the record straight.

In 2001, I successfully sued the Attorney-General, the then Electoral Commission of Kenya and the then Constitution of Kenya Review Commission in relation to the creation of new districts and constituencies.

The High Court confirmed there was the constitutional right to create districts under the District and Provinces Act, 1992, but declared section 5 of the same Act null and void, in so far as it purported to amend/ repeal Section 4 of the Constitution as the Constitution cannot be amended by a subsidiary legislation.

On the issue of the constituencies, the same court noted that this lies in the province of the Commission which is a creature of the Constitution. It also noted and cited from the US Supreme Court reports which have enunciated very well the principles of equal representation and the principles of one person one vote.

The High Court likewise concurred with me that as matters stood then, there was and still is, some imbalance in representation, considering there are some constituencies that have more than 100,000 voters and others with less than 10,000 voters — yet in both cases, their representatives have equal voice in Parliament.

According to the report, "it would defeat the principle solemnly embodied in the Great Compromise — equal representation in the House for equal numbers of people — for us to hold that, within the states, legislatures may draw the lines of congressional districts in such a way as to give some voters a greater voice in choosing a congressman than others...

As long as ours is a representative form of government and our legislatures are those instruments of government elected directly by, and directly representative of, the people, the right to elect legislators in a free and unimpaired fashion is a bedrock of our political system......

And if a state should provide that the votes of citizens in one part of the state should be given two times, or five times, or 10 times the weight of votes of citizens in another part of the state, it could hardly be contended that the right to vote of those residing in the disfavoured areas had not been effectively diluted....."

The court found that I had faulted the Electoral Commission sufficiently enough to require it to address the issue raised. In this respect, the Court ordered "..... the creation of constituencies on basis other than of one person one vote contravenes the applicant's right not to be discriminated against".

The issue of representation ought to be handled with sobriety. The principles of equal representation and one person one vote must be the guiding factors.

As President Kibaki reiterated in his speech on Kenyatta Day, "The need to apply the principle of one person one vote led to the establishment of the Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission in accordance with the Kriegler Report.

It is charged with the responsibility of carving out electoral and administrative boundaries. At the end of its work, the Boundaries Commission will hopefully give the country what the people have been looking for, namely providing the electoral body with approximately equal size constituencies demographically."

Again the High Court decreed that the Constitution did not permit the ECK to so depart from the principle of a constituency and equal number of inhabitants in every part of the country as to permit the worth of any constituency to be reduced.

Every Kenyan has a right to cast a vote in either the presidential, parliamentary or local government elections that is numerically equivalent to the vote cast by any other voter.

I hope the inclusion of these principles in our Constitution will be supported by the ambassadors and their governments, who have passionately and persistently championed for the application of democracy in the running of public affairs.

I wish to appeal to Kenyans, particularly my parliamentary colleagues, to exercise a lot of restraint on this matter. Any inflammatory statements can cause disaffection.

John Michuki is the Minister for Environment and Mineral Resources.

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The Star: Stop this Orgy of Violence in Mathira

A new wave of violence started over the weekend with the murder of two suspected Mungiki sect members by a vigilante group in Mathira.

The lynchings came only two days after the state dropped charges against and released 22 suspected sect members who had been charged with killing 29 people in a massacre at Mathira six months ago.

One of the weekend attack victims was the brother of one of the freed men. The other is said to have taken part in the April killings and had somehow managed to escape arrest only to re-appear in the village last weekend.

Whatever the circumstances., the lynchings are an outward sign of the frustrations, fears and anger that the community has over the government's failure to arrest those responsible for the Mathira massacre.

Then as now, the vigilantes were allowed to carry out their rough form of justice resulting in the massacre last April.

A repeat of these events should not be allowed. The warning signs are clear. The government should not wait for the situation to boil over into yet another orgy of violence.

The families, relatives and villagers want to see justice done.

Arresting those responsible for the massacre will go a long way to defuse the tensions and frustrations that the release of the suspects has caused.

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Hon Dr Bishop Margaret Wanjiru on K24 Jeff Koinange Bench

Bishop Margaret Wanjiru of Jesus is Alive Ministries (JIAM) and MP for Starehe has been in the news headlines of late. This is mainly due to her linkage with the spiritual leader of the dreaded outlawed sect in Kenya - The Mungiki - Archbishop Maina Njenga. Maina Njenga was recently released from prison after charges against him and several Mungiki adherents were dropped. They were charged with planning and executing the Mungiki massacre in Mathira earlier on in the year. Maina Njenga has since gotten born again and in his own words stopped worshipping the god of a community to worshipping the God of the universe.

Bishop Margaret Wanjiru won the battle for Maina Njenga's religious affiliation as there were several church leaders who were dying to have Maina Njenga among their flock. She is rumoured to have presidential ambitions in 2012 and having Maina Njenga as a member of her church gives her a headway for the 2012 presidential race, so it is assumed. Bishop Margaret Wanjiru is also the Assistant Minister for Housing and an OD MP for Starehe.

Maina Njenga was released from King'ong'o Maximum prison on Friday 23rd October 2009.

Bishop Margaret Wanjiru was interviewed by Jeff Koinange on his Capital Talk show in K24 TV station on Monday, 26th October 2009.

On how she learnt of Maina Njenga's release: I was in the office performing duties of an Assistant Minister for housing when I got a call that Maina Njenga has been released from King'ong'o prison and was headed for our Church in Nairobi. When I went there to meet him, he told me he wanted to be sure he has been saved. After talking to him in the office, we realised there were so many young people in the church and we had to talk to them.

Is Maina genuine: Yes I have no doubt. I have been in his shoes where people doubt you. I came from satanism and witchcraft and many doubted me. We must accept what God is doing and receive our young men and women back to the church. God cannot be mocked and Kenyans cannot mock God. I have dealt with militia before - the Taliban - and they are now changed after denouncing their ways. On the skepticism especially in Central province, Wanjiru says that the parents in Central province should realise that they have failed and should take this opportunity to help the young men and women reform.

Why Jiam: Many religions and church leaders had visited Njenga in prison. Wanjiru herself visited Maina Njenga in Prison. She attributes Maina choice of Jiam church to a prophecy God gave them in new years eve celebrations that the church will be used to transform many young people. She also attributes this to her listening and understanding attitude.

Are they going to use JIAM to get into politics: I am full of wisdom and discernment. Do I look like somebody that can be used? Many thought I would not make it in politics and still be a preacher. I am a better preacher than I was before I joined politics. These kids are genuine. The way they scrambled for Bibles shows it all. 200 bibles were bought on Sunday. Maina Njenga bought 100 Bibles and my son 100 Bibles each contributing Kshs 35,000. Government and church should use this opening to change the youth e.g. in the matatu industry where they control. They should give the youth meaningful employement and give them economic empowerment.

Her background: Brought by the mother. Father was a drunkard. Mother a domestic worker in Westlands. Lived a very poor life. Two teenage pregancies led her to a housegirls' job. She later hawked earings then got a job as a toilet cleaner in industrial area. Went to college for a sales course while still in Industrial area. She was later promoted to washing cars. She later cleaned offices and stores. Then went into sales then into management. Wanjiru says she introduced and promoted Marlboro cigarettes. She has been a single parent all along. She got a higher diploma and was promoted to a marketing executive. She disagreed with her marketing manager, resigned and got involved in an NGO management. She then went into business where also got entangled in satanism and witchcraft. When very wealthy she got saved, but had to start from zero. She became a street preacher in Aga Khan walk. After this JIAM was started. Jesus appeared to him in a room and wrote on the wall 'Jesus is Alive Ministries' and drew a cross with his finger. Taken to heaven by Jesus for a vision for nine hours and taught the Bible by Jesus, specifically the books of Nehemiah and Luke.

Does it mean that Maina has renounced Mungiki: The man is born again! We have been sending him messages while in prison. I have talked to him that he should not expect to lead the church straightaway. That he needs to take time and grow in the men ministry of the church with other men and God will show him what next.

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Mungiki Sect in 2009: A Metamophosis, Genuine Change or Camouflage

Maina Njenga is the topmost leader of the Mungiki sect. He is known as the Archbishop of the sect and is its chairman. Mungiki is outlawed by the Kenya Government as a criminal gang and has a trail of criminal acts over the years in Kenya.

Maina Njenga was released from prison on Friday 23rd October 2009 after charges against him were dropped by the government. On his release, Maina Njenga announced that he has "seen the light" and was now saved. Bishop Margaret Wanjiru - also the MP for Starehe - was at hand to oversee the conversion of the Mungiki archbishop to Christianity from traditional religion worship.

Maina Njenga started the Mungiki sect together with his brother and father in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He is said to have had spiritual apparitions and visions while attending a secondary school in Nakuru which inspired him to start the sect.

Maina Njenga has consequently called on Mungiki members to get saved and stop their wayward ways. In his first church service at the Jesus is Alive Ministries Church where Bishop Margaret Wanjiru preaches, hundreds of Mungiki members thronged the service and got saved.

Many questions arise out of this conversion. Political analysts also see several angles to this conversion.

Scenario One: Genuine Change

Genuine change implies that Maina Njenga has truly seen the light and has totally abandoned his Mungiki ways. With this comes the horrendous task of destroying what he started. In one of his many media interviews since he was released he says that one who knows how to build something, also knows how to destroy it. That he is determined to convert his followers into Chritianity. Maina Njenga enjoys a cultic following and appears confident and sure that all his followers will follow suit without a rebellion brewing within.

What if not all followers convert into Christianity? What if a rebellion builds with a splinter group wishing to maintain the mungiki identity? What will he do? Will he revert to some form of coercion to ensure his call is followed to the letter? Is there a chance that the remnants without central spiritual authority will be more vicious and terrible than before?

Already there are reports that on Monday night the vigilantes in Mathira has killed two young men who were accused of being involved in the Mathira massacre. There are still deep wounds among the community who have suffered under the hands of the Mungiki who feel that not only was justice not done, it did not seem to be done. They are on a revenge mission and a church inclined impotent Mungiki will be a walk over for anyone who needs vengeance since the Kenyan justice system has failed to offer retribution. This will be the acid test for the genuine change as Mungiki is known for the philosophy of an eye for both eye sand a tooth for all teeth. If the vigilantes continue with their revenge mission, the ugly head of Mungiki is bound to re-appear.

Many of his followers earn a living from exploitation of legitimate business owners like in the matatu industry or levying of taxes on homes and businesses and illegal means like illegal connection of electricity and water. They have no fallback income streams and conversion to Christianity calls that they abandon such sinful means of making money. Are they willing to sacrifice and subject themselves to poverty for the sake of a clean break from their evil past?

Maina Njenga has been videotaped gardening his 20 acre farmland in Isinya where a palatial home was built by his followers after the police invaded his other palatial home in Kitengela which is built on a large parcel of land. He also has huge tracts of land in Laikipia among other unknown property.

In other words, Maina Njenga is now in the class of the rich 'neo-colonialists' at the expense of the poor masses something akin to what the Kenyatta, Moi and Kibaki families are accused of. He is extremely wealthy and although he has reverted to farming his huge tracts of land as a source of income, questions abound about his initial source of wealth that bought all he has now vis a vis the peasantry following that he enjoys.

Now that he is saved, is he ready to take the Zachaeus of the Bible test, the tax man who when he met Jesus re-distributed his ill-gotten wealth and repayed those he exploited several times what he took?

In one of his testimonies in JIAM church, he said that even if somebody used to give him his whole salary, that someone should stop forthwith. This alludes to the level of tithing his followers were accustomed to. Is there compensation for such?

Scenario Two: Camouflage

Facing persecutions from the government and police as well as too much negative coverage by the media, Maina Njenga may be sending a coded message to his members to change the face of Mungiki, probably go underground, within the church as they await further instructions or as they prepare for the next phase of Mungiki. It could be a way of hiding the ugly face of the sect while leaving several tentacles out there roaming and doing the bidding of the original Mungiki mandate.

The church is bound to accept converts with open arms and offer some kind of protection from the condemning public. The church is a safe haven for those who are in need and desperate. It could offer a best chance to execute a change of strategy and sanitize the sect. It is a perfect place to get a temporal refuge for the sect as it re-energizes and oils its creaky joints awaiting a re-emergence at an opportune moment.

In such a scenario, Mungiki is expected to continue with its revenue generating enterprises in a clandestine manner while blaming any criminal tendencies which would normally have been the burden of the sect to opportunitic criminals which the government should deal with.

Only that the government will do nothing to stop such named opportunitic gangs manning the matatu stages and insituting governance in the slums because as alluded in many quarters, the sect has representatives and sympathisers everywhere in the social strata, from parliament to the police force to administrative officials, private sector players, the transport industry and now the mainstream religion.

It is also expected that the sect will infiltrate the church leadership and get a voice in the spiritual and religious opinions in the country. It will not be so hard to establish its line of faith and legitimacy from the government as a religious institution. Maina Njenga understands the power of religion as the opium of the poor and he will not hesitate to unleash his potential in this arena.

Nothing offers a better chance to cleanse the past, whip forgiveness and earn unconditional acceptance than the church platform.

Just like other senior government officials who are sunday christians, the mungiki has a cue to follow. These officials manufacture corruption scandals and scam sthat fleece billions of Kenya shillings meant for the hungry, landless and dying masses over the week and grace the church front benches on Sunday.

Scenario Three: Mungiki Metamophosis

Facing critical public scrutiny, police harassment and government blackmail the then general secretary of the Mungiki, Ndura Waruinge, got saved at the Apostle James Ngang'a church in Ngara. Later he was baptised and appointed a pastor. Ndura Waruinge now heads his own church which he started within months of his conversion.

Mungiki members undergo a rigorous oathing ceremony and baptismal rights to the extent that Mungiki deserters are usually beheaded. Nothing happened to Ndura Waruinge. Could it be that the church is supposed to be the next plane of operation for the Mungiki? Could it be that the "seeing the light conversion" is part of the training the Mungiki undergo such that they are trained that at an appropriate time they will infiltrate the church and take their operations to the next level from that platform?

Maina Njenga's call for salvation could be a coded message to the sect members to mutate across the cells, change tact, execute a certain mandate or prepare for a "divine" date with destiny that they have all been waiting and preparing for.

The jubilation and standing ovation that the followers gave their leader as he made his way to the pulpit was not one of bewilderment or confusion like a people whose leader has lost vision, lost his mind or become reckless and careless. Looking keenly at the faces of the sect followers, they donned faces of excitement and an almost hysterical reaction to the call of salvation.

The Mungiki having a tradition and deep cultural-religious culture has had beliefs that are very parallel to the modern christian faith. Their oathing ceremonies includes water baptism that is very symbolic to a deep spiritual conviction of their mode of worship. It has been reported that members in some areas members were not supposed to enter churches.

Having such a background you would expect a call to join modern Christian churches to be met with puzzled looks, confusion and a lot of questioning as to the motive. This has not been so. It is like the following has been waiting for this moment and are overjoyed that its fulfilment has come in their days. If that is the case, Kenya should be very afraid.

For now, we wait and see. For such an underground, amorphous and mysterious movement it is not so easy to tell what is in the offing.

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The Star: Audit Kazi Kwa Vijana (KKV) funds to restore public trust

Controversy over the Kazi kwa Vijana fund has raised the hackles of many, especially the youth who are supposed to be the greatest beneficiaries.

Like the Youth Funds, the KKV initiative is supposed to provide the youth with jobs which will keep them out of trouble. It is obvious from the heated exchanges that have erupted in the public domain that the KKV, while a good idea, is being implemented in a very bad way.

There seems to be no rule or dear structure behind its implementation. If the rules are there, the public is unaware of them and hence the growing complaints that some of those who have been paid are not the people who actually worked.

Unless it is checked and streamlined immediately, the KKV, like the Youth Fund, will become yet another mark that the discontented and discouraged youth will notch up against the government.

Instead of waiting until the situation is blown out of proportion by politicians and their interests, the government must immediately establish a transparent, fully accountable system to manage the cash.

For starters, auditing the money spent so far as recommended by youth groups is not a bad idea.

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David Makali: The Kikuyu Problem we Must Address - The Star

Let us call a spade what it is. This country is facing a serious Kikuyu problem. We must confront it head-on if Kenya is to be a peaceful, stable and democratic country.

Call me what you will but this is the naked truth. We prefer to couch it in so many words to avoid being tagged as tribalists. Someone must be screaming "kikuyu bashing" but this is not about purveying hatred of a community. It is an honest reflection about what is wrong with our country's politics.

And the problem is pure ethnic chauvinism. Here is why. For selfish reasons, politicians want to make our constitution an aggregate of diametrically opposed, competing communal interests. That's a sham because every holder of a national ID knows that you are a Kenyan citizen as an individual, not a community. The rights granted in the constitution are to individuals not regions or communities.

Yet whenever they speak, politicians are flashing out ethnic cards. Some of them are products of the rotten past in which communities and ethnic affiliations were passes for personal advancement, employment in public service, access to privilege or national resources.

We need to disabuse ourselves of the erroneous belief that unless someone from "our" community is in the top echelons of this country's leadership or an organisation then "our" interests are not represented.

While all Kenyan communities are caucusing and planning how to take or retain power, none is as intensely obsessed as the Kikuyu political and economic class. Favoured by historical circumstances and Kenyatta-era privileges, they have elevated their political stakes to some kind of entitlement.

Since Mwai Kibaki was elected President in 2002, there has been a secret determination by the Kikuyu not to let go of power again, which significantly contributed to the 2007 electoral fiasco and the aftermath.

The same cabal is putting the machinery in place for 2012 with patronage from the very top.

The president is not as innocent as we tend to think. Listen to his close allies and read the man's lips. From the haphazard creation of districts and provincial boundaries, there is evidence of a conspiracy afoot.

While the idea of one-man, one-vote system is a legitimate imperative of universal democratic suffrage, the clamour and the timing is extremely suspect.

For a man who never sticks his head out into any controversy subject, Kibaki's October 20 pronouncement that the Boundaries Review Commission be guided by the equality of the vote fits squarely in the succession plot.

It is on the cards that the Kikuyu community, or some of its members, are extremely terrified about losing the Presidency and want to do anything and everything to have a finger in the pie.

The cause of their paranoia is as unclear as the extent of their schemes. The subsequent threat by Central Kenya MPs that there will be no new constitution without first sorting out the constituency and provincial boundaries, which has become their new avenue for retention of power, is truly telling.

The two reviews have different timetables and tying the two together is a sneak attempt to sabotage the constitution review. No community should be allowed to hold others at ransom for its interests, however deserved, which can be arbitrated amicably and independently. Judging from their behaviour, it is clear what their mission is.

The application of the principle of one man, one vote must be tempered with social, geographical and economic realities. If we accept that we are one country, and we are all equal, then we must also agree that every square kilometre in this country counts for the same.

Urban constituencies that are overpopulated and yet cover a very small area must be reconsidered in a special way that also reflects in resource allocation. It is unfair to allocate Marakwet East constituency the same amount of money for roads as Lang'ata, for example even though the later has more people. Or same bursary funds to constituencies with different populations.

But the political advantage that the MPs are seeking through numerical strength in Parliament to bully other areas and communities should not be granted. If political power translates automatically into economic power, it will be a recipe for an undemocratic country.

Meanwhile, the vocal Kikuyu leaders should begin getting accustomed to the idea of Kenya being led by people from other communities to diffuse the ethnic tension and hate that their bigotry elicits.

Makali is a media consultant.

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