Friday, July 24, 2015

President Barack Obama Leave Washington for Kenya on Thursday.



WASHINGTON
President Barack Obama left Washington for Kenya on Thursday in a trip that will also include a stop in the Ethiopian capital and a visit to the home of the African Union.
The landmark trip to Mr Obama's ancestral homeland of Kenya, where his father was born, is his first as president and is also the first time a sitting US president will visit Ethiopia and the AU's headquarters in Addis Ababa.
The first African-American president of the United States is expected to address regional security issues and trade, and also touch on matters relating to democracy, poverty and human rights in the region.
Joining him on the trip is National Security Advisor Susan Rice, foreign policy aide Ben Rhodes and White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
Before heading off on the trip — Mr Obama's fourth time to Africa since taking office — he spoke about the promise, and difficulties, on the continent.
"Despite its many challenges — and we have to be clear-eyed about all the challenges that the continent still faces — Africa is a place of incredible dynamism, some of the fastest-growing markets in the world, extraordinary people, extraordinary resilience," Mr Obama said ahead of the trip.
He said Africa "has the potential to be the next centre of global economic growth," speaking at an event for the African Growth Opportunity Act, US trade legislation which aims to help bolster Africa's prosperity.
Mr Obama has travelled to Africa more than any other sitting US president, and talked about the "deep" ties between Africa and the United States before setting off on the trip.
"There have been times where there have been misunderstandings, and there have been times where there have been suspicions. But when you look at every survey, it turns out that the people of Africa love the United States and what it stands for," he said.
ELECTION
Mr Obama has not yet been to Kenya during his White House tenure, with a previous trip delayed by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta's indictment for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.
Those charges were suspended last year — in part, prosecutors say, because the Kenyan government thwarted the investigation.
His trip has also come under fire by rights groups, and more than 50 African and global human rights organisations have called on him to publicly meet democracy activists on the trip.
They voiced concerns about "grave and worsening" rights challenges in both Kenya and Ethiopia.
The charges against Kenyatta, and the fact Ethiopia's government won 100 per cent of parliamentary seats in a recent disputed election, has raised questions about whether Mr Obama should have made the trip at all.
In Kenya, Mr Obama will attend a Global Entrepreneurship Summit, aimed at promoting businesses that promise to lift many more Africans out of poverty and help insulate societies against radicalisation.
In Addis Ababa, Mr Obama is expected to address leaders of the African Union, remarks that may touch on Africa's democratic deficit.
There are no official visits scheduled for the US President to see his relatives while in Kenya, officials said.
Mr Obama has said he had "never truly known" his father, was born in Kenya's far west, in a village near the equator and the shores of Lake Victoria.
A pipe-smoking economist, he walked out when Mr Obama was just two and died in a car crash in Nairobi in 1982, aged 46.
Mr Obama has previously made personal visits to Kogelo, the home of many of his Kenyan relatives, most recently in 2006.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Filling KRA Itax Returns - You Now Have Up To Sunday


 Models line up in a mock queue on Mombasa Road to demonstrate the frustration of filing tax returns manually during the launch of KRA’s online platform called iTax. You have until Sunday to file your tax returns to be spared penalties.

You now have until midnight Sunday to file your tax returns if you want to avoid penalties.
The Kenya Revenue Authority, in a statement to the media Thursday evening, extended the deadline for filling tax returns until July 5.
Commissioner-General John Njiraini had on Wednesday told Citizen TV that the deadline had been extended to Friday, but the taxman again decided to further extend the deadline to rope in as many Kenyans as possible.
WELCOME RELIEF
The extension comes as a welcome relief to many Kenyans who failed to meet the June 30 deadline.
Mr Njiraini said his agency would complete all the pending tax refunds by the first quarter of this financial year (October).
Many people had blamed their failure to file their returns on time on problems with the iTax system, an issue Mr Njiraini acknowledged, citing challenges with Kenya's Internet connections.
"It is true there are issues to do with speed, which are related to the stare of Internet connectivity in Kenya, and the government is already investing in broadband services across the country. We made the system much more user-friendly compared with last year.
The system failed to generate passwords for many taxpayers who had either forgotten their passwords or were registering anew.
The iTax system has been lauded for simplifying tax returns as the taxman, whose revenue target is set at Sh1.358 trillion, passed the trillion mark by the close of the 2014/2015 financial year.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Central Bank Boss Dr. Patrick Ngugi Njoroge Says No To Lavish Life.

The man in charge of Kenya’s money has turned down the offer to live in an expansive home in Nairobi’s Muthaiga and ride in a motorcade.
Dr Patrick Ngugi Njoroge, who took over as Central Bank of Kenya governor last week, will instead be housed in communal accommodation in Nairobi’s Loresho estate with his fellow members of Opus Dei (Latin for "work of God"), an institution of the Catholic church.
The institution teaches that everyone is called to holiness and that ordinary life is a path to sanctity. Most of its members are lay people, with secular priests under a bishop.
Dr Njoroge, who is turning out to be a man of exemplary modesty, has also turned down an office-issued, high-end smartphone, a bevy of security guards and three cars.
Central Bank governors have at their disposal a Range Rover, a Mercedes-Benz and a Volkswagen Passat.
When he was being vetted by MPs before his appointment by President Uhuru Kenyatta, Dr Njoroge was asked why he does not own property in Kenya and is still single at 54 yet his monthly salary at the International Monetary Fund was Sh3 million a month.
A MATTER OF CHOICE
“Yes I don’t have a single asset here in Kenya and this is where I am at this point and it doesn’t mean that this how it will be forever. I subscribe to being very deliberate about that. This is my economic model and may be years after retirement, I would want to invest in other things. That should not mean I have any financial inabilities. It comes with the profession,” the country’s ninth Central Bank governor said.
He told the MPs that his lifestyle was a matter of choice and there was nothing unusual about it.
MPs approved his nomination, paving the way for his appointment, but not before making inappropriate offers to get him a wife.
In a country where appointment to public office is associated with opulence, demand for higher pay and motorcades, Dr Njoroge’s decision to pass up a chance to live in a house on two acres located in the city’s most exclusive suburb is a rare one.
Had he taken up the offer, some of his neighbours would have been former President Mwai Kibaki, the US ambassador, British high commissioner and former Attorney General Charles Njonjo.
The home has lawns and beautiful mature gardens, ideal for parties and official receptions and functions.
INDEPENDENT MIND
Former governor Philip Ndegwa lived there. But subsequent governors Eric Kotut, Nahason Nyaga and Andrew Mullei did not move in. Still, the premises were fully maintained by the Central Bank, even though the only people living there were domestic staff and gardeners.
The position of governor also comes with other trappings of power. The previous governor, Prof Njoroge Ndung’u, had at his disposal a Mercedes-Benz, a Range Rover, a Volkswagen Passat, a chase car, two armed guards and a driver.
But self-effacement comes as naturally to the new governor as ostentation comes to the typical public official in Kenya.
“Totally devoid of ego and instinctively averse to self-advertisement” is how a senior Treasury official and long-serving central banker described him.
His style brings to public service a rare quality of humility and an aversion to the trappings of power and opulence. In Kenya, the practice is that when you are appointed to high office, you demand big fuel-guzzling cars and expensive Turkish carpets.
But it is not just on matters of cars and homes that the governor has shown he has a mind of his own.
'EXCESSIVE' EXTERNAL BORROWING
During vetting Dr Njoroge demonstrated an independent mind, taking a different position to what MPs were pushing and also going against the government position on some issues.
He was, for example, forthright that he considers Kenya’s external borrowing excessive, saying the country must be careful in considering more debt and where the money was going.
This contradicted the National Treasury position, which is that the country’s borrowing is healthy and within the limits.
He also dismissed proposals by MPs to form a government bank to provide cheaper loans and bring interest rates down or simply introduce legislation to control bank lending rates.
“I think it would be a big mistake to even think that we can control interest rates through legislation. It will not work. That is why we moved from price control. Commercial banks just need to get confident to move ahead with market-based solutions that are sensitive for their businesses like control on inflation. This is something we have done in other countries by assuring the banks that the economy is under control, we will come up with a plan that is acceptable to all,” said Dr Njoroge.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Joy as nun is declared Blessed Irene Stefani

Up to 100,000 people from across the world on Saturday witnessed as Sister Irene Stefani, “Nyaatha’’ was officially declared 'blessed' during her beatification ceremony in Nyeri county.
The Catholic faithful came from as far as South America, North America and Europe — where her 100-year-old order, Consolata Missionaries, has a presence — for the ceremony, which put Sr Irene just a step away from being named a saint.
Millions more watched the historic event at Kimathi University College live on television.
Sister Irene is now known as Blessed Irene.
The title Blessed in the Catholic Church is a recognition that a person entered heaven on the day of his or her death.
In Sr Irene’s case, her entry into heaven (known as her Feast Day) will be October 31 — the day in 1930 when she succumbed to plague.
As Blessed, Nyaatha, as she was fondly called by the Kikuyu of Gikondi in Nyeri, who benefited from her mercy, can now be invoked by Catholics in prayer to intercede to God on their behalf.
A miracle is required before one is declared Blessed, and it has to be subjected to scientific proof. However, the evidence is usually private, raising scepticism among doubting Thomases.
Fr Daniel Bertea, the priest in charge of the Consolata Shrine in Westlands, Nairobi, said on Thursday that Sr Irene’s first miracle was in Mozambique, a country she never set foot on, although she had a stint as a missionary in neighbouring Tanzania.
MOZAMBIQUE CIVIL WAR
It took place in the parish of Nipepe, in the Diocese of Lichinga in 1989. A group of about 270 people in danger of death, offered their prayers through the intercession of Sr Irene, and the little water in the baptismal font, measuring between four and six litres, was multiplied to enable them to drink and wash for four days, before help arrived from outside.
It was at the height of Mozambique’s civil war between Frelimo government forces and the rebel Renamo movement. Many had been killed and wounded in the surrounding areas as they were caught in the crossfire of the two forces.
The Church was surrounded. Nobody would go out or come in, and the only available water to drink was what was contained in the small baptismal font.
Ordinarily, people would not drink the water in the font, but due to the danger that was surrounding them, they requested the catechist to grant them permission to drink the water. There were children and pregnant women, all of whom were sweating due to the congestion.
One expectant mother even gave birth in the midst of the confusion, delivering a baby girl, who was appropriately named Irene. They used the same water to wash the new-born baby. And for four days, the water continued to multiply to provide for all their needs.
REPORTED MIRACLE
They reported the miracle to the Parish priest, Fr Giuseppe Frizzi, who, incidentally, had been reading and re-reading the story of Sr Irene. It is after this miracle that more and more people came forward to report the extraordinary and supernatural events that had been happening in their lives in the time of civil war.
One catechist, Sebastiao Aranha, even says how he saw in a dream a white lady, dressed like the Consolata Sisters, holding a book in her hands and telling him to read a prayer. But Sebastiao told the visitor that he did not know how to read, and so the lady called a small child, who translated the prayer to the catechist.
In another reported miracle, a couple was led through a path full of land mines to safety.
According to Sr Serafina Sergi, the Regional Superior of the Consolata Sisters in Kenya, even today, Sr Irene “continues her missionary journey of compassion and love by obtaining many favours”.
And now that she has been beatified, many more people will continue to seek her intercession. Officially, she will become a channel of hope and intermediary, and her name will be invoked by the Universal Church throughout history.
Beatification precedes sainthood, which can be as swift as that of Pope John Paul II, who died on April 2, 2005 and was declared Blessed by his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, on May 1, 2011.
Although a minimum of five years has been the rule between beatification and canonisation, it was waived in John Paul II’s case. He was canonised (declared a saint) alongside Pope John XXIII on April 27, 2014.
MULTIPLE FIRST
It is noteworthy that although John XXIII died on June 3, 1963, he was only beatified on September 3, 2000, before his joint canonisation with John Paul II. While John XXIII waited for nearly 51 years to be canonised, the case of John Paul II, whom mourners demanded to be declared saint at his funeral, was a record.
Saturday’s beatification of Sr Irene is a multiple first not just for Kenya, but for the Universal Church. It is the first time that such a ceremony has taken place on the African continent.
When renowned sports evangelist and Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) Elder Solomon Gacece squeezes his way into the packed Dedan Kimathi University of Technology grounds for the ceremony, he will be reaffirming what Nyaatha (‘Merciful Mother’) stood for — oneness of humanity.
The preacher, who is the chairman of the International Ecumenical Movement Kenya Chapter, will be leading his motley band of ecumenists, whose raison d’ĂȘtre is giving resonance to John 17:22: “That all may be one”.
The current issue of The Seed magazine, a Consolata Missionaries publication edited by Fr Daniel Mkado, has rich insights on Sr Irene. It states that Irene was born Aurelia Giocomina Mercede to Giovanni Stefani and Annunziata Massari on August 22, 1891 in Anfo Italy.
CHARITY BEGINS AT GOME
Charity begins at home, and in Mercede’s case, she had to give up school at an early age to nurse her ailing mother. Monsignor John Luciano writes, in his book Blessed Irene, that caring for her mother taught her “how to look after the sick, seeing their needs, and serving them with gentleness and dedication”.
Described as strong-willed and “enthusiastic in doing good to everyone”, her decision to join the religious life at the tender age of 20 was, therefore, no surprise. She left for Turin, Italy, on June 19, 1911, and on January 12, 1912, she became Sr Irene Stefani.
After completing her novitiate on January 29, 1914, she became a full Consolata missionary. With three other young sisters, she left for Kenya on December 28, 1914, arriving in January, during the First World War. She soon joined other missionaries as a Red Cross volunteer in Voi.
She later worked in a similar capacity in the then Tanganyika at Kilwa, Lindi and Dar es Salaam. Monsignor Luciano says she gave herself to all and was not afraid of catching diseases from ill and wounded soldiers.
Inevitably, she succumbed to the plague at only 39. It’s her service in the Red Cross that will see her remains carried to her final resting place by British soldiers today.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Kabete MP George Muchai, two bodyguards and a driver shot dead in Nairobi

 Gunmen sprayed Kabete MP George Muchai's car with bullets February 7, 2014 morning at the Kenyatta Avenue roundabout in Nairobi. The MP, his two bodyguards and a driver died in the incident.


Kabete MP George Muchai was shot dead early Saturday morning at Kenyatta Avenue-Uhuru Highway roundabout in Nairobi.
Two of the MP's bodyguards and a driver also died in the incident, Nairobi Central Police OCPD Paul Wanjama confirmed.
The incident, according to Mr Wanjama, happened between 3am and 4.30 am. 
The four were in the same car as another one with family members, including the wife and a daughter of the MP, followed from behind. 
Occupants of the second vehicle said the MP stopped at the roundabout when four people with big guns approached his car and started shooting. 
"They just started spraying it with bullets. When we saw that, our driver sped past the other car and when we came back to the scene a few minutes later, all the occupants of the vehicle were dead," the relative told detectives at the scene.
A newspaper vendor who witnessed the shooting told the police that one of the gunmen who led the shooting had a facemask.  
The bodies of the four had bullet wounds in the head and chest. 
They were taken to the Lee Funeral home at 6.30am.

THOROUGH INVESTIGATION
Legislators who arrived at the Lee Funeral Home asked the government to do a thorough investigation into the killing, saying it would be easy to get the murderers as the scene of the crime is under the surveillance of CCTV cameras.
Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi said Mr Muchai had been threatened several times and had reported the threats to the police. 
"The CCTV clips should be handed to the detectives as soon as possible.  There is no way the perpetrators will not be known" he said.
Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko, who also arrived at the crime scene, asked the government to take the safety of legislators in the country seriously.  
Other legislators at the Lee Funeral Home include Gatundu North MP Kigwa Njenga, Kipipiri MP Samuel Gichingi, Ruiru MP Esther Gathogo, Juve Njomo, MP for Kiambu and Kiambu Women Representative Anne Gathechu.
They all alleged that Mr Muchai's death was a clear assassination whose execution was planned.

Friday, December 19, 2014

CHAOS IN THE KENYAN PARLIAMENT

Parliament was on Thursday cordoned off from the public following reports that there were plans to disrupt the debate over the contentious security laws.
Anti-riot police drawn from the General Service Unit (GSU), regular and Administration Police kept vigil along all the roads leading to Parliament.
The security personnel, ready with tear gas canisters and police dogs, patrolled Harambee Avenue and Parliament Road to keep away protesters.
Some of the officers formed a wall near the President’s and Deputy President’s offices and directed the public to use alternative routes.
Journalists and those authorised to access the premises were thoroughly screened as MPs opposed to the passage of the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill engaged the ruling coalition.
About seven people who attempted to publicly declare their disapproval of the Bill were arrested as the hawk-eyed security personnel questioned everyone who dared move close to Parliament.
Members of the civil society who had planned to stage protests against the Bill had no option but to watch the unfolding events from a distance.

Cord Members of Parliament protest against the passing of the Security (Amendment) Bill 2014 outside Parliament.
At one time, one person suspected to be a police officer in civilian clothes was arrested near the entrance of Parliament after he was allegedly overheard by his seniors discussing the merits and demerits of the Bill.
Some Cord senators monitored the proceedings on television screens next to the entrance of the chamber before opting to move to the Speaker’s gallery.
However, Speaker Justin Muturi ordered that the five senators be ejected from the gallery when chaos ensued.
Senators Moses Wetang’ula (Senate Minority Leader and Bungoma Ford-K representative), James Orengo (Siaya, ODM), Janet Ong’era (nominated, ODM), Boni Khalwale (Kakamega, UDF) and Johnson Muthama (Machakos, Wiper) declined to leave.
They remained seated in the gallery even as the House was adjourned for 30 minutes in an apparent attempt to allow members who had become rowdy to calm down.


Mr Wetang’ula said the Speaker’s directive to have them thrown out of the gallery was misguided and an abuse of power.
“We are MPs and have a right to sit here and follow the proceedings. If the Jubilee Government is watching the proceedings then it should immediately withdraw this Bill. We do not want anybody to impose anything on Kenyans,” he said.
In reference to the contingent of police on guard around Parliament, he said it was unfortunate that the Jubilee administration was already implementing the proposed law before it was passed.
“That is why they have cordoned off Parliament. If anyone is in doubt of how a police state will look like, you can see the dress rehearsal today around Parliament. The recreation of a police state is way underway under the Jubilee regime,” said Mr Wetang’ula.

MISCHIEVOUS LEGISLATION
He, however, said that Kenyans would not be cowed by the presence of security personnel to keep silent when the Constitution is being mutilated in the guise that the government was fighting terrorism, by sneaking mischievous legislation into the Bill.
“We are not going to watch this happen. We have people who are ready to face bullets. We stand here today ready for whatever consequences because we are on the side of history; we are on the side of Kenyans, fairness, justice and truth,” he said.
Mr Muthama said there was no justifiable reason for the government to deploy such a contingent of police to man Parliament.
“There are no terrorists here. This National Assembly is a public place where members of public can come and listen to what their leaders are saying,” said Mr Muthama.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Moses Wetang'ula Causes A Stand Off At The Airport


A Mombasa-bound Kenya Airways flight on Thursday evening was delayed for several hours after a standoff ensued when the crew insisted that Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula must produce his national identity (ID) card.
All the passengers were told to disembark, with some of them worried that there could be a security issue in the plane.
“The plane was supposed to take off at 8.40pm, but we have been made to wait for several hours as arrangements are made for passengers to board a different plane,” said a Daily Nation reporter, Mr Jeremiah Kiplagat, one of the stranded passengers.
Mr Wetang'ula spoke to his fellow passengers, saying he was at fault for the delay because he was not carrying his ID card, with the KQ crew insisting that it was a required procedure that all passengers identify themselves.
Mr Kiplagat said passengers were moved to a different plane for their flight to Mombasa, ready for take-off from Nairobi some minutes after 11.30pm.
Some of the passengers had started posting on social media that their security might be at risk, before it was clarified that it was Mr Wetang'ula who did not have his identification document.