Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Chief Justice's Statement on Judges' Security and Elections

Fellow Kenyans,

I have called this press conference to inform the country of two separate but significant events that have occurred in the past one week. I have considered the possible implications of this public statement, but concluded that given the history of this country, such a public disclosure is warranted, necessary, and proper. This statement does not seek to cause alarm but to strengthen the resolve of each and every Kenyan to protect our Constitution, secure our transition, and affirm our future.

On Monday, February 18, 2013, as I was sitting in the Judicial Service Commission interviews for the recruitment of the Deputy Chief Justice, my office received a poison-pen letter from the Mungiki Veterans Group/Kenya Sovereignty Defence Squad. The letter, which was dated Wednesday, February 13, 2013, makes all manner of threats against the Judges, ambassadors and my person. It warns against an adversarial ruling on the Presidential and Deputy Presidential candidacy of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. The letter extols the violent ‘exploits’ of the Mungiki movement and threatens dire consequences.

This letter was posted only a day before my departure to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where I had been invited by the Tanzanian Constitution Review Commission to a one-day event to share my thoughts and experiences on Kenya's constitutional experience. I was stopped at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) by an Immigration Officer, who insisted that I could not travel because I had not been cleared by Mr. Francis Kimemia, the Permanent Secretary, Head of the Public Service, and Secretary to the Cabinet. I told the official that there is no constitutional, statutory, or policy basis or requirement that provided for the Chief Justice of the Republic to seek clearance to travel from the Head of Civil Service or anybody.

Further, the said Circular that he was invoking to make this illegal demand and decision did not -- rightly so -- even have the Chief Justice listed among the Public Officials on it. It requires quite some courage, ignorance, or political patronage or a combination of all three for an Immigration officer, on his own motion, to summon the confidence to stop a Chief Justice from traveling, particularly in the face of a nonexistent circular! After much haggling, I did eventually travel. The Immigration Shift Supervisor kept insisting that they were awaiting instructions. However, I still find the insistence on permission from Mr Kimemia bizarre to say the least. Even more baffling was that the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary received a purported ‘Clearance to travel”letter by Mr. Kimemia dated February 14, stating ‘ has been noted the Chief Justice is travelling to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’.

Upon landing in Dar es Salaam, I received a telephone call from the Director General of the National Intelligence Service, Major-General Michael Gichangi, apologizing for the 'small hiccup' at the airport. I told the DG that a Chief Justice being gratuitously stopped by anybody from traveling cannot fit the definition of a small hiccup, however generous one may want to be. It has never happened on any of my numerous previous trips. I have, therefore, concluded that this is deliberate harassment; and whereas I was keen to have this resolved bureaucratically, I am convinced it is political, and public accountability requires that I make it public.

These two incidents evidence a pattern of emerging harassment against my person, the Office of the Chief Justice, and the Judiciary -- especially since no fewer than five (5) Judges have been attacked in the recent past, with some involving gun incidence – as we head into the elections.

I, therefore, wish to state as follows:

1. Kenyans have invested heavily in this country's democratization, and this investment has resulted in a new Constitution. This Constitution must be protected and guarded jealously. Threats and intimidation of this nature against the Chief Justice, judges, or any other Kenyan or individual must be resisted actively, and rejected resolutely. I have given most of my life to a better Kenya and if taking it is what will be required to consolidate and secure our democratic gains in this election, or even thereafter, that is a price I am not afraid to pay.

2. I have invested heavily in the past one and a half years in creating a new Judiciary. I have repeatedly given my pledge to the country that the Judiciary will not flinch in interpreting the Constitution as is required, a task we have executed very well. For the 2013 General Election, we have done sufficient ground work to handle both pre- and post-election matters in accordance with the law. On February 28, 2013, we shall hold a special session with all judges of the High Court to give Kenyans a final statement on our preparedness. Therefore, candidates or their supporters -- real or claimed -- should not panic. We shall decide all cases independently, and with scrupulous fidelity to the Constitution and the law. Let no individual, group, candidate, or supporter imagine that cowardly and darkly acts such as these will cower us. We have seen and overcome worse, and we will all soldier on for this country. None will be held hostage by a cabal of retrogrades.

3. The Judiciary has, in a private correspondence, communicated to Mr. Kimemia as to the legal position on the matter of the 'small hiccup' to ensure it never occurs again.

4. I believe that Kenyan security agencies, unless they willfully neglect or refuse to, have the capacity and resources to investigate the sources and partnerships of this threatening letter. To this end, I have this morning sent the letter to the Inspector General of Police, the Director of the Criminal Investigations Department, Director of the National Intelligence Service, and the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate this matter and give the country a progress report. I am also asking the Inspector General of Police to take the necessary steps to enhance the security of judges and other judicial officers at this time.

5. If anybody, any candidate, any party, any agency, or any other actor thinks that it will bend the ear, mind and resolve of this Chief Justice to do anything that is unconstitutional or illegal, then they are mistaken. On any matter that will come before me or the Supreme Court, I and the Court shall operate strictly within the confines of the Constitution. Intimidation and threats are uninvited guests and will not be hosted in the execution of our mandate.

6. The political class must choose whether, either through direct pronouncements or suggestive behaviour, they want a peaceful, democratic and fair election free from the ring of rigging and intimidation, or whether they want to put the country on a path of violence. Whatever choice the political class and leadership makes, they must remain aware that ultimately, the people of Kenya and the rule of law will triumph. The Judiciary is playing its part in protecting and upholding the Constitution; let Kenyans also do their part.
7. I appeal to Kenyans to hold a peaceful election. It is only by so doing that we shall silence these dark forces of retrogression and also advance our constitutional and democratic promise. My fellow Kenyans, with confidence and tribute to the nation, go and vote for our Constitution. It is the only way to reject those who threaten and proclaim violence as a false choice.

Thank you.

Hon. Dr. Willy Mutunga, D. Jur., SC, EGH
Chief Justice/ President, Supreme Court of Kenya

Sunday, February 17, 2013

How biofortified sweet potatoes are keeping pregnant women, young children healthy in Kenya

Metrine and her husband Matayo feed their baby son sweet potato PHOTO: DFID

It's mid-morning in Minyali village, Bungoma North district, Kenya. Thirty-eight-year-old Metrine Matayo and her husband Matayo Khisa are on their farm harvesting orange fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) to prepare lunch for the family.

Metrine pulls a medium size root of sweet potato from the soil and places it on a heap of sweet potatoes nearby. With her husband she collects the harvested sweet potatoes into a basket and heads back to the house.

Matayo explains where all the sweet potatoes have come from: "My wife attended a church meeting in the village where she received information from one of the members about the Mama SASHA project," he says.

"The project aims to help pregnant women and young children stay healthy. My wife was told that women who visited Ndalu Health Centre for Antenatal Care services could receive vouchers to get vines for planting.

"She was two months pregnant at the time and I advised her to go to the health facility the following day. She came home with a pair of vouchers that enabled us to get 100 cuttings of Vita sweet potato and 100 cuttings of Kabode sweet potato from a neighbour."

Handing 8-month-old baby Emmanuel to her husband, Metrine carries on preparing lunch and continues the story: "I received another pair of vouchers during my second and third visits, when I was in my second and third trimesters," she says.

"I also started propagating from the original cuttings. That is why we have a lot of sweet potatoes on our farm."

The power of biofortified potatoes

Widely eaten in Africa, sweet potatoes are easy to grow, drought and disease tolerant, and provide a great source of energy. Unfortunately, traditional African varieties are usually low in vitamin A.

A lack of vitamin A can contribute to blindness, disease and premature death in young children and pregnant women. But thankfully the sweet potatoes that Metrine and Matayo are growing are special.

With support from UK aid through core funding to The Consultative Group for Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the International Potato Centre and HarvestPlus have harnessed the power of biofortification to create a sweet potato that is high in vitamin A - the orange fleshed sweet potato. Just one of these potatoes can supply the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, which can transform the lives of people like Metrine, Matayo and their children.

In western Kenya, the Mama SASHA project, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is focused on promoting the consumption of this new variety of sweet potato among pregnant women, infants, and very young children.

During prenatal care visits at local healthcare facilities, pregnant women like Metrine receive nutrition counselling and vouchers that they can redeem for 200 cuttings of orange fleshed sweet potato vines. The idea is to encourage mothers to get the health care they need and increase consumption of the nutrition-filled orange fleshed sweet potato at the same time.

Potato pride
Back in Metrine and Matayo's kitchen the food is ready and Metrine uses it to prepare a meal of orange fleshed sweet potato and avocado for baby Emmanuel.

"I learnt how to feed myself, my baby and how to prepare orange fleshed sweet potato using different recipes from nutrition counselling at the clinic and after attending the farmers' field day that was supported by Mama SASHA project," says Metrine.

"The knowledge I gained helped me eat a balanced diet during pregnancy - I gained weight steadily, never got sick during pregnancy and gave birth to a baby weighing 3.1kgs. I am proud to be part of the sweet potato project."
(All rights reserved read the complete feature on this link)

Business: AfDB boasts East African Development Bank (EADB) with equity funds

The East African Development Bank (EADB) headquaters in Kampala, Uganda. PHOTO: Courtesy
The East African Development Bank (EADB) has benefited from a US$24million direct equity investment from African Development Bank (AfDB).

The amount which was approved by the AfDB Board of Directors will go a long way to strengthen its balance sheet and contribute to improve its international credit rating with US $10 million to be placed directly with the balance in the form of callable capital.

According to an online press release by AfDB the investment will help mobilize significant financial resources in the East African Community (EAC) to stimulate economic development and employment opportunities in the region.

EADB is set to benefit in its support in capital market development, government revenue generation and foreign exchange.

“This project will help EADB consolidate the gains of its successful restructuring program, assist the current business strategy of the bank by strengthening its capital base and will be crucial to mobilize financial resources from capital markets at more affordable terms and meeting the growing demand for investment in the EAC,” the statement said.

The funding is expected to contribute in driving the bank’s credit rating by improving the quality of the callable capital of the bank.

“A technical assistance package, financed by the Fund for African Private Sector Assistance (FAPA), will reinforce institutional capacity at EADB to complement the proposed equity investment,” AfDB said.

The partnering of the two banks will help to exploit synergies stemming from complementary sources of comparative advantage with EADB’s field presence and local knowledge of the EAC market will provide a logical conduit for AfDB to reach out to end-customers, including SMEs, by efficiently leveraging its scale.

The project is aligned with AfDB’s East African Integration Strategy, with its focus on sub-regional development finance institutions, as well as with the key pillars of AfDB’s forthcoming Long-Term Strategy, particularly private sector development and regional integration.

EADBwhich was established in 1967 under the terms of the Treaty for East African Cooperation is a sub-regional multilateral lender based in Kampala, Uganda offering interventions mainly in form of loans, leases and equity participations to Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania.
Manuel Odeny, Copyright: 2013

Friday, February 15, 2013

Business: AfDB to replicate Menengai success in Africa

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is set to replicate the success of Menengai geothermal project across Africa.
The bank in a press statement called the 400 MW project ambitious and said will work on a series of smaller projects across the East African Rift Valley adapted to specific content of each country and geothermal potential.
In Djibouti the bank will development a 50 MW power plant in the Lac Assal region while in Ethiopia and Tanzania the bank is defining a geothermal development roadmap under Climate Investment Funds.
The same project will also be carried out in Comoros for a 20 MW geothermal plant to match the needs of the archipelago.
This was revealed during the 2012 African Rift Geothermal Conference held in Nairobi to help the bank premier its development in geothermal energy sector. The conference was attended by more than 630 delegates and 25 exhibitors.
“An eloquent illustration of this new model is the Menengai geothermal development project in Kenya, which the African Development Bank has recently supported with approximately USD 150 million highly concessional financing from its own resources blended with climate investment funds,” said Thierno Bah, AfDB Senior Power Engineer.
The Menengai Project once completed will increase energy supply to 500,000 Kenyan households, 300,000 small businesses and some 1,000 GWh for other businesses and industries.
The project will also displace around two million tons of carbon dioxide per annum, hence significantly contributing to the fight against climate change.
“Building on Kenyan success AfDB is focusing on developing the geothermal potential in Tanzania which has been identified as the next country having an important geothermal potential,” the bank said.
Tonia Kandiero, AfDB Resident Representative in Tanzania called the project ambitious to untapped the large geothermal resource potential in the Eastern Africa region from the current 217 MW, mostly in Kenya to estimated 10,000 MW which can be found in Kenya.
The project will be financed  for the early stage and high-risk activities mainly related to drilling activities to be undertaken by a special purpose company like the Kenyan Geothermal Development Company (GDC).
© Manuel Odeny, 2013

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Poem: Please Smile by Manuel Odeny

Please smile
For it costs nothing but creates much
Your smile is rest when i'm weary
The daylight when discouraged
Sweet sunshine when sad
Please give me the nature’s best antidote for trouble

Hey girl please smile
When i'm so tired, angry and frowning
May I ask you to leave a soothing smile
For thou smile is sweet
To whoever has none to offer

Just part your rosy lips
Just give me the invaluable smile
So that I can see your dimple
On a beautiful face without a pimple
Truly thy smile can’t be bought, begged, borrowed or stolen
For a sweet smile is void of earthly good
Till it is given away

Face the world with a big smile
The big mirror reflects on what you do
It will truly smile back;
Create happiness in the home
Foster good will in the business
Countersign friendship and love

Hi my girl
Though in a flash you may smile
The sweet memoirs are forever etched in me heart
Thus smile but not from a mile
So if you want people to like you: SMILE

Sunday, February 3, 2013

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) condemns recent elephant killing

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has condemned the recent slaughter of 11 jumbos for their ivory at Tsavo National Park.

WWF has termed the attack as the worst to have ever been recorded in the country and called on Kenya wildlife Service and international community ton step up and save elephants threatened by poaching.

“This horrific crime demonstrates the lengths that poachers will go to get ivory – even killing a two-month old calf.  It highlights the need for the international community to work together to address the global increase in poaching and wildlife crime,” Drew McVey, WWF African elephant and rhino specialist said.

Drew said that to help curtail the poaching menace African states as source of elephant populations should work closely with destination countries in Asia where consumers drive demand for ivory as well as transit territories through which illegal ivory and other animal parts are being smuggled.

The fund said that with the increase of wealthy consumers in Asia countries like China and Thailand for ivory jewellery and ornaments elephants poaching and ivory smuggling has increased across Africa and is set to undermine Kenya’s 1989 ban of ivory trade which was in line with the international CITES control.

“The epidemic of elephant killings that has ravaged populations in Central Africa is now spreading to Kenya – and that’s troubling because Kenya in recent years has largely had a solid track record of elephant management and protection,” Matthew Lewis, WWF’s African species expert said.

Lewis said in an online statement that to ensure that the trend doesn’t continue and poachers are brought to justice the county’s weak and antiquated wildlife laws are modernized as swiftly as possible to ensure that poachers receive appropriately stiff penalties for their heinous crimes.

“WWF is committed to helping the Kenya Wildlife Service adopt the latest systems of law enforcement monitoring, and also helping Kenya work more closely with its neighbors to counter regional poaching syndicates,” Lewis said.

In a statement to KWS Prime Minister Raila Odinga said that last year the country lost the highest recorded number of elephants in the recent years at least 360 jumbos which was 71 m0re than 2011.

“Our wildlife is a major source of income as a nation  and almost the sole source of our earnings from Tourism which has come under serious assault from poachers in recent days,” Odinga said.

The PM called on a quick response from security agencies and treasury to kelp KWS to address the menace by aiding in equipment, personnel and logistical needed to ensure secure parks and protect our wildlife.

“We need a well coordinated, well-financed and properly designed crackdown on poachers. This must involve the police, the relevant ministries and Interpol,” he said.

He also called on the international community to help strengthen the national and international policing to deal with wildlife trafficking as a serious threat to conservation, rule of law, governance and economic development.

© Manuel Odeny, 2013