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Leader of Opposition Mathias Mpuuga speaks to journalists at Parliament on August 3, 2022. PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWA

  • The Opposition have asked President Museveni to address issues that actually affect Ugandans.

The Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Mr Mathias Mpuuga, has expressed disappointment in the State of the Nation Address, saying it fell short of the expectations of the citizens.  

The Opposition on Wednesday also made a number of proposals to address governance issues, food crisis and offered alternative policies on issues government has fallen short on. 

Mr Mpuuga was critical of the Soroti City East by-elections, in which the ruling NRM party emerged triumphant amid allegations of bribery, ballot stuffing and a number of other irregularities, including violence against Opposition by security forces.

He said while boundary alterations affected both Soroti East and West, government only targeted Soroti East Division because it was represented by the Opposition Forum for Democratic Change member.

“As the Opposition, we are saddened by the way our member, Hon Attan Moses Okia, lost his Soroti City East Parliamentary seat. This was compounded by the brutal force of the State in the by-election of Soroti City East Municipality,” Mr Mpuuga said. 

He called for the amendment of the Electoral Commission Act to redefine the role of police and other armed personnel during elections. 

“Electoral Commission (EC) should be solely in charge of and in direct command of the co-opted police and other internal security personnel deployed in electoral processes. Not the other way round,” he said.

Mr Mpuuga said while the Constitution mandates the President to present the State of the Nation address, the last statement presented in June fell short of the expectations of the citizens in accounting for the performance of government. 

“Instead, the address was loaded with liberation war hangover, historical reflections, economic fascinations and imperialism undertones. It was at crossroads with the realities of the citizens. We are convinced that the State of the Nation Address should report on progress made in realising the national objectives and directive principles of State Policy,” he said.  

The Leader of Opposition criticised the style of governance, which he said  is characterised by “threats”.

“This has been exhibited in the conduct of elections, handling of grievances of public servants and rebutting of political dissent, among others. As a result, citizens are unable to fully participate in the determination of their leaders and influence matters that affect them,” Mr Mpuuga said.

He added: “The citizens’ recourse in Courts of Law as a means of checking the excessive powers of government has also been held captive by the State. As a result, the judicial system is increasingly becoming opaque, less trustable, and distant from the people from whom it derives its judicial power and closer to the ruler.”

The Opposition also tasked government ministries and agencies to consider regional balance in access to state resources and allocation of employment opportunities. 

“For instance, it has once been established that 59 percent of the heads of parastatals originate from western region followed by central and eastern region each at 8 percent while northern region came last with 2 percent...,” he said.

Mr Mpuuga said while the state objectives and principles emphasise national unity, the mantra of the NRM regime “tubonga naawe” [we associate with you] is individualistic and is targeted at praising and servising the ego of the ruler. 

“This denotes a political environment in which citizens and institutions are subject to the whims of the ruler. No wonder there is massive institutional breakdown and proliferation of presidential directives that are illegally executed by timid civil and public servants,” he said. 

Mr Mpuuga said the President has left Ugandans on their own when it comes to issues of their welfare and rising commodity prices.

“This is utter insensitivity. The Opposition will seek space on the Order Paper to present a statement on the current state of the economy. It will articulate possible interventions that will support citizens in their current economic crisis and avert their imminent risk to national stability,” he said.

The debate of both the state of nation address and Opposition response started yesterday. By Franklin Draku, Daily Monitor

  • A collage image of Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga touring the ONQ offices on August 4, 2022. FACEBOOK COUNTY GOVERNMENT OF NYERI 
  • US medical billing firm, ONQ has hired 200 youth to operate its calling center based in Nyeri County that will offer services to Americans.

    During the unveiling of the centre in Nyeri town on Thursday, August 4, ONQ Kenyan Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sean Hammerle, stated that the youth had been trained in the US medical sector and would provide support to patients using the platform.

    He revealed that the 200 youth would be tasked with responding to billing and insurance queries raised by the callers.

    ONQ Kenya CEO Sean Hammerle together Nyeri Governor Mutahi at their call center on August 4, 2022.
    ONQ Kenya CEO Sean Hammerle together Nyeri Governor Mutahi at their call center on August 4, 2022.
    DAILY NATION
     

    "Our agents are knowledgeable in the processes of US medical billing and automation. Furthermore, ONQ employees gain exposure to working in a global company.

    “With a source of livelihood and stable income, the Nyeri ONQ agents can reach their professional and personal goals. ONQ has become a safety net for educated youth to secure long-term career opportunities for personal growth," he stated.  

    Hammerle explained that the company decided to set shop in Nyeri because a majority of the youth in the area were educated hence easy to understand what the work entailed.

    The CEO added the call center would help expose solve employment in the country. He estimated that 300 more youth would be employed before the year ends as they expand the call center.

    “In establishing the ONQ office in any place in the world, one of the company’s greatest considerations is the impact it will make on the youth in that particular area. This explains why the company avoids setting shop in major cities but instead chooses rural towns where the impact of youth employment and skills transfer will be felt most.”

    “We did not have the idea of expanding our base beyond the US and India until the global pandemic hit. We got the idea of diversifying our workforce so as to protect our clients globally. I realised that working in Nyeri was easier because there are a majority of highly educated youths,” Hammerle stated. 

    On his part, Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga stated that the investment of the US firm would help in opening the county to other investment opportunities.

    The company also has other offices in the US, India and Panama with similar services offered in the three countries. 

    "By partnering with ONQ, physicians, billing companies, hospitals and payors can capitalize on billing expertise, take control of their revenue cycle, maximize reimbursements, and enjoy complete transparency of their business operations," ONG states on their website.

    An image of a call operator at the ONQ offices in Nyeri.
    An image of a call operator at the ONQ offices in Nyeri. FACEBOOK COUNTY GOVERNMENT OF NYERI BY Washington Mito, Kenyans.co.ke
     
 
 
File photo 
 
Traders use web of corruption to smuggle endangered tree logs out of Tanzania. Chinese traders are expediting deforestation in Tanzania through illegal rosewood trade to feed a lucrative furniture market in Asia.

Rosewood is a rare raw material known for its medicinal role and luxury upholstery. While its bark cures ailments, the tree’s real value lies in its wood, whose value rises when crafted into furniture.

Despite efforts to curb deforestation, illegal logging of rosewood is going on unabated, background interviews suggest.

A rising demand for rosewood in China has apparently fostered a web of corruption across the forestry sector, drawing millions of dollars out of the country’s economy, local researchers said.

Although Tanzania’s authorities prevent deforestation, illegal traffickers often bribe local officials to smuggle the logs outside the country.

Gaudence Tarimo, forest officer in Rufiji district where the illegal timber business is rife, said the government is determined to dismantle the illegal network

“We are trying our very best to dismantle this vicious network of loggers who not only deplete our forests but also cause revenue loss,” Tarimo said.

- 'Simply not true'

Xin Li, a Chinese timber dealer whose company exports logs, dismissed the allegations saying they are not targeting specific tree species when exporting logs.

“We are authorized to transport logs, we have all the permits. Our business is legal,” she said.

Over 1.2 million logs of the endangered tree species worth $257 million were reportedly smuggled out of Tanzania in 2019, according to Journalist Environmental Team (JET), a local non- profit tracking forest degradation.

According to JET, foreign traffickers discreetly enter into Tanzania and illegally harvest logs of rosewood, which are then smuggled out to Asia.

“The traffickers know every trick to dodge the authorities, such as using fake permits to get the contraband out of the country,” said Johnson Mwambo, a local researcher working for JET

JET reports that this illicit practice is responsible for huge destruction of endangered forests and the loss of government’s revenue.

Tanzania loses approximately 430,000 hectares (1,062,553 acres) of forest every year to deforestation, according the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

- Loophole for graft

Mbwambo said loopholes within existing laws coupled with corrupt officials and local community leaders in Rufiji have fostered China’s quest for endangered forests.

JET learned from a rosewood trader that it takes little effort to pacify a web of corruption and get the logs out of the country.

“Local officials get enough money which they share among one another to offset the risk,” Mbwambo said.

According to a 2018 report published by Forest Trends -- a Washington-based non-profit organization with a mission to conserve forests and other ecosystems, rosewood imports to China increased substantially in the past two decades and were worth approximately $2.6 billion between 2013 and 2014.

The illicit rosewood is transported to China where its hard red interior is used in making luxurious furniture, including beds.

A 40-year-old wood cutter, Daudi Kiziga told Anadolu Agency that he was approached by a Tanzanian wood businessman who offered him 23,000 Tanzanian shillings ($10) for every 2-meter piece of rosewood he could bring.

“I couldn't resist the temptation of getting easy money, I delivered the work and got paid about 345,000 Tanzanian shillings ($150),” he said.

- Widespread phenomenon

For the past decade, a legion of young people from the impoverished region have been hiding in the dense forests to work as loggers, a job that pays well by local standards, residents said.

The illegal logging of rosewood has become widespread in southern Tanzania regions with visible effects such as loss of vegetation cover, large scale forest degradation, increase in temperature, loss of biodiversity and low crop yields.

“They cut big trees to make logs, they use rafts made from other trees to slide the big log into nearby water ways ready to be transported,” said Mariam Osward, a resident of Rufiji. Source: Yeni Safak

By PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday inaugurated the National Defence University-Kenya, reaffirming his administration’s commitment to empowering the country’s defence, security and governance professionals through the provision of quality training.

Speaking during the inauguration ceremony at Lanet in Nakuru County, President Kenyatta emphasized that without high-quality human capital, the pursuit of sustained socio-economic development will remain a mere dream.

“…in the past, focus has been on non-security related education with narrow-mind thinking that higher education was not particularly relevant for the security sector.

“As part of our broad reforms in the education sector, my administration has had to rethink this view; because we equally need strategic thinkers even in the security sector,” President Kenyatta said.

The National Defence University-Kenya (NDU-K) is the first public university to be established under Section 24 of the Universities Act 2012 as an entity of national strategic importance.

The Head of State, who is also the chancellor of the NDU-K expressed satisfaction that the institution of higher learning has joined the ranks of a few international universities mandated to offer high-quality security-related training and education programmes.

He added that the establishment of the National Defence University-Kenya aligns well with the overall Government strategy of crystalizing the reforms in the education sector to drive Kenya’s socio-economic transformation agenda.

President Kenyatta awarded a charter creating the National Defence University-Kenya that will confer specialized degrees and offer courses in the fields of defence, security and strategy on May 27 last year.

“I am glad to note that within the 12-month transition period, the university has made commendable progress against the benchmarks set out in the governing instruments, especially the charter. We now have fully functioning management and governance frameworks to facilitate seamless service delivery to stakeholders,” he said. 

The President pointed out that the university will contribute to strengthening Kenya’s position as an education hub as well as enhance the country’s capacity to align with the evolving regional and global security environment.

Partnering with relevant stakeholders in developing capacities at various levels of national defence and security architecture, President Kenyatta said the university is set to enrich the country’s multi-agency and whole-of-government approach to service delivery.

“Fundamentally, the National Defence University-Kenya as a national think-tank, shall play an active role in transforming our peace and security frameworks for posterity,” President Kenyatta said.

He urged the university council and management to optimize the institution’s capabilities and align its programmes with best practices through mentorship and benchmarking to ensure continuous improvement of human capital and infrastructure.

“As I prepare to pass the leadership baton to the next administration, I wish to state that it has not just been an honour for me to serve as your Commander-in-Chief but more importantly, I really appreciate the support you have rendered to me in building our nation.

“I will remain forever grateful given the enormous strides we have accomplished together for this great country,” President Kenyatta said.

Chief of the Defence Forces General Robert Kibochi said the National Defence University-Kenya stands out as one of the pillars of training in higher education and research in the entire continent of Africa.

“There aren’t very many of them and this will stand out as a training base in this region,” General Kibochi said.

Present at the ceremony were Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa and military top brass including the university’s Vice-Chancellor Lt. General J. M. Mwangi among other senior Government officials.

  • Deputy President William Ruto at Kasarani Stadium during the launch of the Kenya Kwanza manifesto on Thursday, June 30, 2022
    DP RUTO TWITTER 
  • Deputy President William Ruto has named individuals he accuses of inciting Kenyans ahead of the Tuesday, August 9 elections. Speaking at his Karen office on Thursday, August 4, Ruto claimed that a section of journalists working for Kameme FM and Inooro TV were publicly inciting members of the public even as the country heads to the polls.

    He also accused the Directorate of Criminal Investigations boss, George Kinoti, of propagating a narrative that could see the country descending into chaos.

    UDA presidential candidate William Ruto speaking during a rally in Kesses, Uasin Gishu on Monday, July 25, 2022..jpg
    UDA presidential candidate William Ruto speaking during a rally in Kesses, Uasin Gishu on Monday, July 25, 2022. DPPS
     

    Ruto, who is seeking to succeed his boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta, also named Rift Valley Regional Commissioner, Maalim Mohammed, Trans Nzoia County Commissioner Samson Ojwang, Uasin Gishu's Stephen Kihara and Esustus Mbui of Nakuru, as perpetrators of incitement and hate messages in the country.

    "They are part of this scheme. They are the people holding night meetings to orchestrate and plan conflict among Kenyans and unfortunately, the President of Kenya is aware," Ruto claimed. 

    The Deputy President claimed that the administrators and law enforcement officers were threatened that they would lose their jobs in the event they do not ensure victory for Azimio la Umoja's Raila Odinga.

    He also accused Uhuru of working against him and threatening government officials.

    "We are concerned about meetings which are being done in dark places to orchestrate what is not good for Kenya. The President met people in Nakuru and what is emerging from those meetings is the leaflets you see."

    Upon being accused by the DP, lnooro TV - which was streaming the presser live - cut off the feed immediately.

    The DP also brought to the attention of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) an edited clip circulated by Suna East Member of Parliament, Junet Mohamed, and Mombasa governor, Hassan Ali Joho, allegedly showing his spewing hate speech.

    He complained about the sluggishness nature in which the matter was being dealt with given that neither the Commission nor the investigative agencies looked into the clip that went viral. 

    Ruto further alleged that the government was undermining the freedom of assembly and association of the Kenya Kwanza supporters by denying them access to the Bukhungu Stadium. He also revealed that they were forced to cancel their rally in Mombasa today.

    "Today we are supposed to hold a meeting at Tononoka Grounds and some people are trying to use the police to block us. The excuse they are giving us is that the President is in Mombasa," the DP stated.

    The United Democratic Alliance (UDA) presidential flagbearer further stated that despite the push and pull between his party and Sports Kenya, he would still go ahead and hold his final rally at Nyayo Stadium on August 6.

    Meanwhile, the High Court on Thursday, August 4, suspended orders by Sports Kenya that blocked the use and availability of Nyayo Stadium for Kenya Kwanza’s final campaign rally.

     
    Deputy William Ruto and Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala take a selfie atop a vehicle in Kakamega County on Sunday, July 31, 2022.
    Deputy William Ruto and Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala take a selfie atop a vehicle in Kakamega County on Sunday, July 31, 2022. WILLIAM RUTO,   By PAUL KURGATKenyans.co.ke

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