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The Media Council of Kenya has condemned attacks on journalists in Machakos. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) has condemned the attacks on journalists who were covering a security operation at an illegal alcohol brewing den in Matungulu, Machakos County on Monday.

The journalists, Mike Ndunda from Kamba TV, Richard Muasya from Athiani FM and Boniface Mutisya from Mutongoi TV, had been invited by the local chief Francis Mulinge to cover the raid in Katine area.However, they were attacked by a group of individuals as they recorded the operation.

The MCK said that the attacks violated the journalists’ basic human rights and undermined the principles of free speech and open discourse that are vital for a democratic society. 

“Freedom of the press is a fundamental pillar of a democratic society, and journalists play a crucial role in keeping the public informed by highlighting societal evils. It is essential that journalists can carry out their work without fear of violence or intimidation,” MCK CEO David Omwoyo said in a press statement on Tuesday, September 19.

Omwoyo urged the law enforcement authorities to take swift and decisive action to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the attacks, which it said were crimes against the journalists’ rights and privileges protected by law under the Constitution and the Media Council Act, 2013.

“Protecting the safety and freedom of journalists is a shared responsibility, and we must all work together to ensure that they can continue to do their vital work without fear of violence or reprisal,” said Omwoyo. 

He encouraged anyone aggrieved by the media to report any complaints to the Complaints Commission, which is legally mandated to mediate on the same, instead of taking the law into their own hands. By David Njaaga, The Standard

During this year’s Nane Nane event in Mbeya, the United States government and the United Republic of Tanzania announced USAID’s new food security activity Tuhifadhi Chakula (“Let’s Save Food”), a five-year, $24 million initiative to be implemented by the Tanzania Horticulture Association in partnership with the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) Center.

By targeting and reducing food loss and waste, the USAID Tuhifadhi Chakula project will increase food security, improve livelihoods, increase employment, and generate export opportunities for Tanzania – especially among women and youth.

In Tanzania, 40-50 percent of crops are lost between the field and the end market. USAID’s Tuhifadhi Chakula project will work with farmers, traders, processors, and other actors in the value chain to cut food loss and waste in half.  The project was designed in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and aligns with its National Post-Harvest Management Strategy.  The project will initially operate in the Arusha, Mbeya, Morogoro, Njombe, Pwani, Tanga, and Zanzibar regions of Tanzania.

“Today, we celebrate Tanzania’s significant strides in the agriculture, livestock, and fisheries sectors,” said USAID/Tanzania Mission Director Craig Hart speaking during the Nane Nane event in Mbeya.“Kilimo ni uti wa mgongo and together with determination and perseverance, we can navigate the pathway to a more promising and sustainable future.”

While in Mbeya, Mission Director Hart visited the sites of several on-going USAID Feed the Future Projects, including Kilimo Tija (“Productive Agriculture”), the Private Sector Strengthening Activity, and Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa activities. Together, these activities are focusing on agriculture-led growth by strengthening the private sector; promoting improved technologies, practices, and inputs; bolstering horticulture, and facilitating value addition.

Recently, Tanzania received a renewed designation as a Feed the Future focus country. During her June visit to the country, USAID Administrator Samantha Power reaffirmed the robust partnership between the United States and Tanzania concerning food security and nutrition, poverty reduction, and agricultural growth. Craig Hart, the newly-appointed USAID/Tanzania Mission Director, also expressed his appreciation for the long-standing and fruitful relationship between USAID and Tanzania during a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture, Hussein Bashe and at the Nane Nane event in Mbeya. By Bob Koigi, African Business Community 

L-R: Former NSSF managing director Richard Byarugaba, Minister of Finance in-charge of General Duties Henry Musasazi and Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development Betty Amongi during the 10th NSSF Annual Members Meeting in Kampala, Uganda on September 28, 2022. PHOTO | FILE

Ghana's parliament

Democracy derives from two Greek words: “demos (people) and kratos (rule)”, which when put together become demokratos (democracy) — meaning people’s rule, or rule by the people.  

Consequently, democracy is defined as “a system of government in which state power is vested in the people, or the general population of a state”.

On the other side of democracy is oligarchy — which is defined as “a small group of people having control over a country or organisation”. 

Given the situation in which we find ourselves today, the question is: are we practising democracy or oligarchy?  

From all indications, our nascent, straggling democracy is discreetly skidding into oligarchy.

Does the 1992 Constitution emphatically “vest state power in the people?” Is our Parliament sincerely representing the people, or it is representing the interests of its members, the executive and the political parties? Is Parliament’s blatant partisanship worthwhile? 

The opinions of millions of ordinary citizens in the bottom third of the income distribution have no discernible impact on the behaviour and decisions of their elected representatives.

What about our political parties?  Are they truly all-inclusive and people-centered, or they are a club of self-centered individual elites, cocooned in their own way, and using the unsuspecting masses as stepping stones to self-glorification? 

Political influence seems to be limited entirely to the affluent, the middle class and the well connected.

The fact is that, times have never been more difficult for communities to meet the challenges they face. The issues have grown increasingly complex. 

Complicated issues such as poverty and tribalism, joblessness and entrenched corruption, unbridled environmental degradation and spiraling cost of energy, food insecurity, crime and injustice now dominate the national and local space. 

Aggravating the situation and further hampering problem-solving efforts are a host of underlying conditions, including elite capture and the knack for using state authority to amass private wealth and foster familial hegemony. 

Dysfunctional politics

This representative democracy of ours is in disrepair as it is driven by dysfunctional politics. Politics goes beyond which candidate wins an election. 

Politics, as defined by Harold Lasswell, is “who gets what, when, how; the shaping and sharing of power.” Therefore, representative democracy, as ours, should be powered by an all-inclusive, equitable political machinery — not nepotism, greed, cronyism and the winner-takes-all glee that we see today. 

Like other dynamics, dysfunctional politics provide citizens with a number of reasons for not being more involved in their communities. People used to believe that politics, in its inviolable definition, mattered; they used to believe that social change could occur through political activity.

However, for many community members, politics has become a mark of mistrust, a leeway for plunder and economic dishonesty.  

Communities are getting fed up with politicians and the political process as trending presently. Yet, they believe politics is not the problem; that it is not a dirty game as being touted. Rather, the problem is the people practising politics; most of them are “dirty” and greedy if not fraudulent. 

In fact, many people seem to be interested in politics strictly for the purpose of self-aggrandisement, not in matters that will make a difference in the lives of their compatriots. 

Ghana, as it is now, is under a subtle, defacto oligarchy. The destiny of the nation is in the hands of a few elites who have plunged Ghana into its lowest depth. Politicians tend to ignore substantive issues when raised outside the political context. 

Community needs, priorities and choices are not identified through the electoral process in sufficient detail for the purposes of planning and budgeting. Currently, while many communities across the country are disempowered, energy is spent on gaining political points rather than evolving a solution that all interests are willing to support and help implement. 

The nation’s dysfunctional polity has created the need for a different model of democracy and comprehensive development.

Paradigm shift

We need a paradigm shift from the present district development model that places a large part of the responsibility for local public policy and programming on the bureaucrat and the elected official, to the citizen: “citizen-led governance”. 

Citizens take center stage in producing and implementing policy; elected officials coordinate the policy process, and the bureaucrats facilitate citizen discourse, offering the knowledge of public practice needed for successful citizen-driven development.

This citizen-led governance model vests state power in the people rather than a small group of elites who enjoy unholy monopoly over the nation and its resources.

Indeed, Ghana’s current situation reflects the assertion of Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson in their book “Why Nations Fail”. They say: “Poor countries are poor because those who have power make choices that create poverty. They get it wrong not by mistake or ignorance but on purpose”. This assertion cannot be far from the truth regarding Ghana’s quandary.

The bottom line is that, Ghana’s democracy is in need of repair. That is why there must be a conscientious effort to vest state power in the people. 

Citizen-led governance is the development of a culture within public administration that views citizens as subjects of change and development partners in their own right, rather than as mere objects of public expenditure and government handouts.
The writer is a Development Intelligence Practitioner; 
Executive editor, The Advocate/Director, RUMNET, Tamale. By Kassim Perez, Graphic Online

Suspended CA Director-General Ezra Chiloba before the Ad-hoc Committee of Enquiry into the Worldcoin controversy [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

On Monday, September 18 evening, the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) Director-General was suspended by the Board Chair Mary Mungai, over undisclosed reasons.

The Board’s failure to explain the reason for Chiloba’s suspension has raised a lot of questions among Kenyans online, with various speculations coming from every corner. 

However, it has now emerged that the CA boss was shown the door over alleged abuse of office and misuse of funds in the authority’s mortgage scheme.

The Standard has seen a report by CA Board members, following a meeting held on August 9, 2023, after a probe to ascertain the cause of the irregularities in the scheme. 

The meeting had two agendas: Presentation of the Audit Report on the CA Staff Mortgage Scheme and assessment of the presented Audit Report on International Relations.

The probe was conducted by a committee, dubbed Board Audit and Risk Assurance Committee (BARAC).

According to BARAC, Chiloba breached the obligations under his terms of service by applying for and individually approving a mortgage loan in contravention of the required procedure. 

It is alleged that the loan was to facilitate a transaction between him and another party. The committee, tasked with probing the inconsistencies noticed in the mortgage scheme, found that relevant information was omitted and that the loan was approved by a junior staff meaning, there’s no evidence showing law was followed.

“The loan application was approved by a junior staff member and there is no evidence to support that fact that the junior staff member carried out requisite due diligence and advice management including but not limited to the relationship between the seller and the buyer and the size of the property,” a section of the report reads.

Chiloba is also accused of misconduct while in office by purchasing a house and a piece of land exceeding the one-acre limit under the Civil Servants Housing Scheme requirement. 

He is said to have purchased seven acres of land. More questions came up after the probe found that CA had disbursed funds to an account under Chiloba’s Kitale-based company.

“Further interrogation to confirm the identity of the seller vide a query through the Companies Registry revealed the sole director and shareholder of Kitale Hilmost Ltd as Ezra Chiloba Simiyu, who is also the buyer. These actions amount to an offense in accordance with Section 41 and 42 of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act,” the report shows.

From these findings, the committee recommended disciplinary action against the Director General, Directors of Human Resources, Legal Services, and Finance, as well as the internal auditor.

“Mortgage scheme repayment defaulters were mainly Officers who had left the Authority. The officers were cleared without due regard to outstanding obligations to the Authority. Management should hold those responsible to account and recover the liabilities within the next 30 days,”

In an interview with Citizen TV on Monday night, Telecommunications and Broadcasting Principal Secretary (PS) Edward Kisiangani said the Ministry was not aware of the move.

He says the state does not micro-manage the day-to-day activities of the parastatal and vowed to give a comprehensive statement on the same once he had official communication from the CA Board.

“The Ministry of ICT does not micromanage the CA. The ministry only gets a report and does not determine what happens. I am not aware of the differences between Mary Mungai (Board Chair) and Chiloba but once they brief us, I will give a comprehensive statement on why he was suspended. I can reverse the decision if I feel they made the wrong decision,” he said.

In his (Chiloba) place, the Board Chair named Christopher Wambua as the Director General in an acting capacity until further notice.

Prior to the changes, Wambua was the Director of Consumer and Public Affairs at CA since 2016.

Chiloba joined CA in September 2021, replacing Francis Wangusi, whose second and final term ended in 2019.

Before his appointment, Chiloba was a board member of the Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF), a state agency that provides loans and grants to young entrepreneurs.

He was also the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), where he oversaw the controversial 2017 general elections and the repeat presidential election. By Winfrey Owino, The Standard

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