Posts tagged as: university

A Dream Come True for a Banker-Turned Dairy Farmer

Photo: The East African

Margaret Lugut Kibogy, the head of the Kenya Dairy Board, says she always feels at home working on the farm.

By Njiraini Muchira

The dairy sector was a natural choice for Margaret Lugut Kibogy, having been born and raised in a region of Kenya where dairy farming is a mainstay of the economy.

But she was not always in the dairy sector. Ms Kobogy started her career in the banking sector, where she worked for 15 years rising through the ranks to the position of head of retail banking in one of Kenya’s commercial banks. But her attachment to the dairy farming was always strong.

“One of my treasured dairy cows was a gift from my mother because she could see I loved dairy farming,” says Kibogy, who holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Nairobi.

When she was appointed to head the Kenya Dairy Board (KDB) in May last year, she got a sense of déjà vu. The opportunity to oversee the regulation and policies of a sector she loved was a dream come true.

As the head of KDB, Kibogy who is also a director at Eldoret Water Services Board, is responsible for regulating, promoting and developing the dairy industry in Kenya which contributes four per cent to the gross domestic product and which is a source of livelihood for about 1.5 million small-scale dairy farmers.

“Kenya has a vibrant dairy sector but we need to grow the sub-sector further. I am glad to be leading its growth,” she said.

She adds that the growth of the industry has been phenomenal, with milk production increasing to an estimated 5.2 billion litres currently from 3.2 billion litres in 2002.

Processed milk has also grown to hit a high of 615 million litres currently.

My off duty passion is farming and I spend most of my weekends at my farm in Eldoret. I like eating food freshly harvested from the farm, and that is why every weekend I have to be there to supervise farm work to ensure everything is running smoothly.

I also recently took up golfing and I train at the Kiambu Club although I am a member of the Karen Golf Club. My other passion is spending time with my peers. We have an investment group through which we support each other financially and socially.

What would you have been if you were not doing what you are doing today?

I would actually have been a full time farmer. I would love to expand my dairy farming venture and do value addition. I like the farm environment, which is really relaxing with the natural sounds of birds chirping.

What signifies your personal style?

I am an open person. I encourage people who work under my supervision to express themselves freely and come up with ideas. That way, they feel motivated. I really encourage teamwork because the success of every institution is through teamwork.

While in East Africa, where are you most likely to spend your Saturday afternoon?

That would definitely be in Eldoret at the farm. But I also enjoy travelling and I was among the lucky Kenyans chosen to be on the inaugural Madaraka Express [on the standard gauge railway] from Mombasa to Nairobi. I enjoy visiting new places and meeting new people.

Describe your best destination yet in East Africa?

I love Kenya but I don’t have a specific special place, and neither am I the type that visits the same place twice. When I travel for leisure in East Africa or anywhere in the world I like experiencing something new all the time.

What is East Africa’s greatest strength?

The people are very industrious and enterprising. In the dairy sector for instance, people are very enterprising and that is why the sector is vibrant.

What is your best collection?

Music. I love both Christian and secular music. In my bedroom I only listen to Christian music but I have a variety of collections in my car.

What’s the most thoughtful gift you have received?

First of all I believe a gift is about the thought behind it and I appreciate when someone gives me something. I love people who give me chocolate but the best gift is my children, they are very special and the best gift from God.

What’s the best gift you have given?

Love. You must give love unconditionally people around you and your children.

Which is the best book you have read recently?

I am currently reading Swahili for the Broken Hearted by Peter Moore, with my daughter. She reads more than me because she’s a student and has more time. We share books with her.

Which film has impacted you the most?

The Titanic. I have watched it many times and it remains fascinating but nowadays I don’t watch scary things because I don’t want to have a disturbed night.

Which is your favourite website?

I visit many websites depending on the situation. But the main one that I must visit every day is our website because it is work. I have to check it for any feedback and also engage with stakeholders. For me it’s situational.

What does not miss in your fridge?

Mursik (traditional fermented sour milk), traditional vegetables and chocolate.

Jubilee’s 290 Lawyers to Guard Uhuru Kenyatta’s Votes

By Patrick Lang’at

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party will hire 290 lawyers and deploy them to constituency tallying centres in an elaborate plan they say will right the wrongs identified by the Supreme Court.

The lawyers will be required to follow through the results transmission process in the October 26 repeat presidential election, after the August 8 poll was annulled by the apex court on what it said were irregularities and illegalities.

NO MISTAKES

“We are putting our systems right to ensure that the mistakes the Supreme Court said happened do not recur, and having lawyers at the constituencies will help us arrest the problem before it occurs,” Jubilee Party Executive Director Winnie Guchu told the Nation in an interview.

The lawyers will report to an elected Jubilee Party MP or one who was a candidate and lost the August 8 polls and who will act as President Kenyatta’s chief agent at the constituencies.

The chief agent will also be in charge of an information technology expert and an elections expert.

“We are not taking anything to chance,” said Ms Guchu, who is also President Kenyatta’s deputy chief agent.

ABOVE BOARD

The IT professional, Ms Guchu said, will work with the lawyer in ensuring that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) transmission of results is above board.

By the end of today, 1,160 trainers of trainers will have been trained at the Multimedia University.

The 1,160 will tutor 3,000 trainers who will in turn train the party’s 40,883 agents for each of Kenya’s polling stations.

At the polling station, Jubilee Party has set up a checklist for the agents to tick as the statutory results declaration Form 34A is being filled by the presiding officer.

PRECAUTION

“We want to have our agents know that they have the power to question and query: That the process depends on them not letting any irregularity or illegality happen as they watch,” said Ms Guchu.

“We are teaching our agents to know what a Form 34A looks like, what it should have, where it should be stamped, what security features should be there and who should sign it.”

The party has also asked all its agents to ensure they get a legible carbon copy of the form before it leaves the polling station.

President Kenyatta has insisted that he was robbed of victory “on the basis of process, rather than the will of the people – the ballot” and has said that the apex court should have ordered a recount of the ballot papers.

Kenya

Police Killed Over 33 During Demo – Report

Kenya police killed at least 33 people in Nairobi during demos sparked off by August 8 presidential poll results,… Read more »

Mr President, You Are Right On Bobi Wine

Photo: The Independent

President Yoweri Museveni

By Dr Jimmy Spire Ssentongo

Your Excellency, once again I thank you for the humility and democratic spirit that allows you to respond to people like Bobi Wine (Robert Kyagulanyi) that you would ignore without losing anything.

I hope he does not misconstrue your gesture to think that he is close to being a threat to you. You see, as you observed in your response to him, you are dealing with a generation of indisciplined young people.

Like snakes, they find it okay for the young and old to eat while lying down. It is clearly said that youths are the leaders of tomorrow, but I wonder what makes them behave like they don’t know that it is not yet tomorrow!

Bobi Wine is behaving like the proverbial calf that entered a kraal and peed in the drinking basin while at the same time jumping about and provocatively raising dung dust.

Being the bull in the kraal, you calmly reminded him that he is only a calf. I like the measured and civil language you used to engage with his true lies.

You see, as Nigerians say, it requires a lot of carefulness to kill a fly that perches on the scrotum. Otherwise, it might fly away laughing.

I also attended the said launch of the Nelson Mandela Lecture series at Makerere University where Bobi Wine made a fool of himself telling you nonsense that Mandela sacrificed a lot for South Africa but never developed a sense of exaggerated entitlement when he came to power, only serving one term.

As you observed in your article, such statements were a mark of indiscipline, ignorance and arrogance.

That’s why I liked it when, at the lecture, you responded by patiently taking us through the history of the world – about Egypt before Christ, Marco Polo, Vasco Da Gama, Mau Mau, Bachwezi – before hitting the nail in the waist that staying in power for a short time isn’t a good thing.

More on This

Ugandan President Explains Why He Needs More Time


Museveni – Why I Need More TimeMuseveni’s Long March to Power

Uganda’s Age Limit Bill Goes Through First Reading

Age Limit Bill Goes Through First Reading, Sent to CommitteeSuspected Grenades Detonated at MPs’ Homes

Age Limit Debate Shuts Down Parliament – Again

Chaos in Parliament As Minister, 25 MPs SuspendedAge Limit Debate Shuts Down Parliament – Again

Such wisdom eludes the likes of Bobi Wine who only bleat that they need 21st century solutions to 21st century problems.Obviously, as you observed in your response, Bobi is such a blatant liar that he should be too ashamed of himself to offer you advice.In the 1980s, Bobi told us that the biggest problem of Africa are leaders who overstay in power; in 2001, he told us he was contesting for the last time; a few years back, he said that after 75, he wouldn’t stand again because one is not really fit at that age.We have since proven that all these were lies by this bitter Wine. Yet, he still has the audacity to lecture you about integrity, Your Excellency! Let him first learn the virtue of keeping one’s word before he comes to tell you about sijui honesty.The more he talks, the more he exposes himself. He self-defeatingly brings to life the old African Abirigaic adage that ‘no matter how far you urinate, the last drop always falls at your feet’.I smiled in deep admiration of your wisdom when you reminded him, saying, “There is nothing we cannot answer because there is nothing we cannot address. Even when we underperform, it’s not for lack of knowledge, but for lack of means or lack of devotion by our cadres”.Of course it’s not you, sir; it’s those damn corrupt and incompetent cadres who are kept in government by the likes of Bobi Wine. Again, it’s those cadres without devotion that want to sodomise the Constitution in broad daylight with the gagging support of the police and the military.We know it can’t be you, considering what we know about your commitment to democracy, tolerance, and sober leadership.In your response to this provocative boy, you brilliantly stated: “The age limit debate is starting. I will give my views at the right time. What is not acceptable, however, is intimidation and violence. Those are fascist methods. Let everybody speak his mind freely and without threats”.Yes, you had never given your views about age limit until recently. Instead of waiting until you did, they were busy quoting out of context the things you said in the far past!What you said was that “I don’t think someone (without a revolutionary background) can have the energy to lead after 75 years”. They deliberately leave out the crucial words in brackets! These are the ideologically malnourished saboteurs of progress.They have been acting so violent and intolerant in this debate. You saw how violent they were the other day? Up to now, our NRM MPs are nursing injuries sustained from attacks by those brutes in parliament.Some MPs are still hospitalized! Haven’t you seen the speaker visiting them? Did you see any opposition MP among the injured?We have left them to freely demonstrate in expression of their opposition against removing age limits, but those undemocratic intolerant opposition fellows disperse all our processions in support of amending article 102b! And they expect you, a freedom fighter, to tolerate that fascism?Thanks for assuring him how “We shall confront and defeat anybody who intimidates or threatens our peace”.Nobody – I repeat – nobody can stop us from doing what we choose to do. The Constitution should be changed peacefully without any noise.Whether the public likes it or not, they shouldn’t think they will stop up us from amending it, even if they throw grenades at our homes.If they think they can stop us by chasing us away from their functions, they are mistaken. We shall arrange our own, and they will pay for them.Bobi should stop treating politics like music where every now and again one has to release a song (audio). The president is too busy avoiding the debate yet you keep distracting him. Indiscipline!The author heads the Center for African Studies at Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi.

Nigeria:’Monkeypox’ Not for Political Point-Scoring

opinion

The spread of a new disease called monkeypox is disturbing and government must avoid its politicisation, writes Olawale Olaleye

The Monkeypox outbreak was first recorded in Bayelsa State. And since then, suspected cases of it have been reported in more than six other states, including the federal capital territory, Abuja, bringing the total number of suspected cases so far to about 33. The states currently with reported cases of the virus are Bayelsa, Rivers, Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Ogun and Cross River, for now.

The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said samples had been collected from each of the suspected cases for laboratory confirmation and results were still being awaited.

NCDC’s executive officer, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, who gave an update on the development, said no deaths had been recorded so far as a result of the virus, adding that it remained unlikely that many of the suspected cases were actually monkey pox.

“All the suspected cases are currently receiving appropriate medical care and the patients are all improving clinically in their various states. The Federal Ministry of Health, through the NCDC, is supporting the affected states to ensure the outbreak is brought under control and to limit further spread.

“NCDC has activated an Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) to coordinate the outbreak’s investigation and response across the affected states. The EOC is currently supporting state ministries of health in their response to the outbreak through active case finding, epidemiological investigation and contact tracing.

“Measures have been put in place to ensure effective sample collection and testing to enable laboratory confirmation. Risk communication activities have been heightened to advise the public on preventive measures. All 36 states and the FCT have been notified for preparedness,” he said.

Apart from Ekiti State with two new suspected cases, the case in Enugu State is somewhat different as tension reportedly gripped residents following an unconfirmed case of the disease at the State University Teaching Hospital, Parklane, Enugu.

A female patient at the hospital was said to have shown signs of the disease as some strange pox were seen all over her face.

The discovery made other patients to panic as they feared the disease might have finally got to the state. But the state government had swiftly denied any such thing.

In the same spirit, the Senate has urged the Federal Ministry of Health, state governments, local governments and community-based organisations to be proactive in containing the spread of the diseases. It also called for sustained enlightenment and education of citizens on efforts to take to reduce exposure to the virus.

The Senate resolution, however, followed a motion sponsored by Senator Ali Wakili (Bauchi South), who expressed worry that the unavailability of vaccines or specific treatment for the virus had caused panic amongst the Nigerian people.

It is therefore safe to say that both at the states and federal levels, efforts are still being made to halt the spread of the disease. Whilst government must not relent on these efforts as well as explore other options to keep the nation safe, the possibility of a descent to politics must be avoided otherwise the concerted initiative at arresting the situation would be jeopardised.

For instance, the allegations that the disease was introduced by the federal government through vaccination were a bit beneath logic and off all possibilities of what may have happened. Those who propounded this story and are selling it are not patriotic in their position, because the degeneration to political irrelevance is not in anyone’s interest.

Although the federal government had described as fake and sinister, the report that the disease resulted from a free medical care exercise it allegedly administered in some parts of the Niger Delta, the need to come together as a people to support each other at a time like this is very instructive in the interest of all.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had said in a statement that Nigerians should disregard the report, adding that “The federal government has not conducted any free medical service or care in either Bayelsa or Rivers State, as alleged in the fake report being circulated. So, that could not have been the cause of the outbreak of Monkeypox in both states.

“Monkeypox is a virus found only in monkeys and it is rare in human beings. It belongs to the same family as Chickenpox and Smallpox. It is suspected that someone may have contacted it by eating monkey meat, thus triggering the current outbreak,” Mohammed said, explaining the side of the government.

As it is, the likelihood of a spread is worrisome and so, engaging in needless distraction through unfounded allegations is the last thing government wants to do. The need for a well-coordinated sensitisation, education and enlightenment of the people on this disease is also not debatable. Government must put its resources together and make this very health challenge go away once and for all.

Liberia:Test Vaccines Produce Year-Long Immune Response in Most Study Participants

Results from PREVAIL I-a large Ebola vaccine study that enrolled more than a thousand Liberians at Redemption Hospital in Monrovia during the first few months of 2015- have been published in the October 12th issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

The results show that the two test vaccines, cAd3-EBOZ and rVSV-ZEBOV, pose no major safety concerns and can produce immune responses within one month after vaccination that last for at least one year.

The study was the first to be conducted by the Partnership for Research on Ebola Virus in Liberia, or PREVAIL. PREVAIL operates under the umbrella of a Joint Liberia-U.S. Clinical Research Partnership established in 2014 to assist Liberia develop vaccines and therapeutics to tackle Ebola.

From February 2 through April 30, 2015, PREVAIL enrolled 1,500 men and women ages 18 and older in the study. Enrollees had no reported history of Ebola virus disease. The participants were divided at random into three groups of 500 each.

One group received one test vaccine, the second group the other test vaccine, and the third group received a placebo (saltwater injection). It was important to include the placebo so that the research team could compare how well the test vaccines worked.

Participants gave blood samples before vaccination and again at one week, one month, six months, and one year post-vaccination. The study team tested each of these samples for infection-fighting antibodies against the Ebola virus.

After one week, only modest levels of antibodies were seen with both vaccines. However, by one month, 71 percent of cAd3-EBOZ recipients and 84 percent of rVSV-ZEBOV recipients developed an antibody response compared with three percent of placebo recipients.

At one year, the antibody responses were largely maintained in both groups: 64 percent of cAd3-EBOZ recipients and 80 percent of rVSV-ZEBOV recipients had antibody response compared with seven percent of placebo recipients.

Some participants who received the test vaccines had temporary mild to moderate side effects, including headaches, muscle pain, fever and fatigue. Overall, no major safety concerns related to the vaccines were identified.

“We were extremely thankful to have enrolled more than a thousand Liberian volunteers into the trial so quickly and to have more than 98 percent of those who enrolled return for their follow-up visits during the year,” says Dr. Stephen B. Kennedy, senior research scientist at the UL-PIRE Africa Center, an infectious disease research center based at the University of Liberia, and Co-Principal Investigator of the study.

“The study was a true collaboration with the people of Liberia who participated and made it a success. To each and every one of them, we extend our deep gratitude.”

PREVAIL conducts collaborative biomedical research in accordance with best practices, to advance science, strengthen health policy and practice, and improve the health of Liberians and people worldwide.

“We cannot succeed in the fight against Ebola unless we identify primary prevention tools. Through PREVAIL, we are developing vaccines and therapeutics in our region that can help Liberians and the rest of the world,” said Tolbert Nyenswah, Director General of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) and Chairman of the Executive Committee of PREVAIL.

The PREVAIL I study will continue to follow for several years those who had enrolled into the study to determine the long term benefits of the vaccines. The co-leaders of the study are Dr. Kennedy; Fatorma Bolay, PhD, Director, Division of Biomedical and Public Health Research at NPHIL; and Dr. H. Clifford Lane, Deputy Director for Clinical Research and Special Projects at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), which sponsored the study in collaboration with the Liberian Ministry of Health (MoH).

“By developing research capacity and infrastructure to answer questions about Ebola and other infectious disease that are threats to global health, PREVAIL has become a successful model for the implementation of clinical trials during health outbreaks in resource-constrained environments,” noted Dr. Kennedy.

The cAd3-EBOZ vaccine candidate was co-developed by NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), while rVSV-ZEBOV, initially engineered by scientists from the Public Health Agency of Canada, is now licensed to Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., (Merck). GSK and Merck provided the test vaccines for the study.

South Africa:South Africa Needs to Revamp Its New Public Transport System

Photo: Masixole Feni/GroundUp

(file photo).

analysisBy Christo Venter, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and Gary Hayes, University of Pretoria

Over the past eight years the South African government has spent more than 130 billion rand on public transport projects in the country’s main cities. The projects included the refurbishment of rail services and the establishment of a new rapid rail and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems.

This is a lot of money by any standards. As a percentage of gross geographic product, South African cities devote about twice as much money to transport as other developing countries, and as much as four times more than some regions of the world.

The country should by now be celebrating the success of this investment. But sustaining the systems, especially the BRT systems, is proving to be difficult.

Even high ranking government officials have expressed doubts about the way things are going. The MEC for transport in Gauteng province, Ismail Vadi, recently asked whether government was getting value for money from the BRT systems. His concerns have been echoed by Joe Maswanganyi, the national minister of transport.

Maswanganyi suggested that it was time to rethink and redesign the systems to “stop draining money from the fiscus”. The BRT has been called a “mammoth flop” and “a white elephant” in some media.

Those are exaggerations. But there are serious problems with the BRT.

Fixing them must focus on reducing costs and growing income. Running costs should automatically decline as the system matures. But to raise revenue levels, BRT must become better integrated with housing and other transport services so that more people use them and help pay for them. In particular, the BRT should work with minibus-taxis to help widen the net of BRT usage. The country needs better planning and funding to make this happen.

Benefits and costs of BRT

BRT systems represent a significant improvement compared to traditional metro transport systems. They use dedicated lanes and stations, modern buses, and smartcard payment systems to speed up public transport and give passengers a better quality service.

This comes at a price. BRT ticket prices are typically higher than Metrorail but are set to be competitive with the minibus-taxi offering.

South Africa’s BRT systems are currently transporting more than 120,000 passengers (one-way trips) every day. Surveys show that passengers generally prefer the comfort and speed of BRT to other modes like minibus-taxis. So, based on passenger numbers alone, BRT is not a failure.

But the BRT systems in the country’s main cities, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Tshwane, are performing worse financially than was expected.

Between 2005 and 2016, a total of about R35.7 billion was allocated for the planning, design and construction of integrated public transport networks countrywide. Costs are pushed up by national government’s commitment to bring minibus-taxi operators into the system in such a way that they are no worse off than before.

This was partly driven by political pressure from taxi organisations, and partly to help bring an upgraded taxi industry into the formal transport network.

Despite these extra costs, South Africa’s spending on BRT systems is, per kilometre of busway, on par with many systems in Latin America and Asia. This suggests that the country has not overspent on infrastructure.

The problem is that fewer people than forecast are using the systems. Fare revenues are lower than expected.

Take Rea Vaya, the BRT in the main economic hub of Johannesburg, as an example. Demand grew by about 6% a year on average in the five years to 2016.

In 2016 Rea Vaya catered for about 50 000 passenger trips a day. This equates to about 1 100 daily boardings per kilometre of busway, but it’s far less than the average of 8 000 for comparable systems in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The productivity of each bus is low. Travel distances are long because of apartheid spatial planning and low densities. Seat turnover along the route is low and most passengers use the buses at peak times. The result is that Johannesburg and Cape Town have had to subsidise their BRT systems much more than planned.

Subsidy expectations came from using some Latin American cities, which operate with zero subsidy, as a benchmark. Planners expected fare revenues to cover direct operating costs. For Rea Vaya, the direct cost recovery ratio is only about 30% and for Cape Town’s MyCiTi just over 40%.

Subsidies in itself is not the problem. Subsidies for public transport are widely accepted as a way of making cities work better and protecting the environment.

The issue is that South Africa’s BRT subsidies are too high and haven’t produced the desired results. One senses from the minister’s comments that government’s appetite for subsidising what are seen as underperforming systems is waning. Unless the entire public transport system makes a better impact, the programme is likely to stall.

What can be done

Cities have relatively little room for growing revenues by raising fares. Recent research has shown that BRT demand in the Gauteng cities of Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane is very sensitive to fares. Higher fares would also exclude the poorest passengers, which would not help to make the transport system more equitable.

The solution is to improve passenger numbers by bringing BRT closer to where people live, work and play. South African cities have lower population densities than cities in Latin America. The demand for transport in South Africa is lower per square kilometre.

One way to bring people and BRT closer together is to develop housing along transport routes. This is already happening to a limited extent in Johannesburg’s Corridors of Freedom initiative. Mixed land use should also improve the productivity of buses and infrastructure.

Precincts served by BRT should also be made easier for pedestrians to use and more attractive to investors.

Bringing quality public transport within reach of more people requires more than just BRT. Recent studies show that existing and potential BRT users in Johannesburg value frequent, easily accessible transport and low fares more than short travel times. They want short walks to public transport. In other words, they want what minibus-taxis are already providing.

Bringing upgraded minibus-taxis into the formal network could greatly expand the number of people benefiting from investment in public transport.

South Africa should be putting more energy into integrating BRTs better with other public transport systems, including municipal buses, minibus-taxis and e-hail services like Uber. It should be working towards common cashless fare systems and easy transfers. Extending the special BRT corridors could follow at a slower pace.

Lastly, cities will have to find ways to raise additional revenues for public transport. These might include charging for the use and parking of cars in congested areas, or partnering with property developers to help build transport interchanges as commercial ventures. Pulling this off will require a wider conversation around whether South Africa wants the benefits of better public transport, and how it will pay for that.

The expansion and operation of bus rapid transit systems in South African municipalities can’t continue as it is. Government may withdraw its financial support unless cities can do three things: reduce costs, increase revenues and make the system work for more people.

Disclosure statement

Christo Venter receives research funding from the Volvo Research and Education Foundation. He provides policy and technical advice for government and operators on a range of transport issues. He is a member of the South African Institution of Civil Engineers.

Gary Hayes receives funding from the University of Pretoria

Why Rwanda Withdrew From AU Rights Court Declaration

By Eugene Kwibuka

Rwanda has justifiable reasons for the decision to withdraw from the special declaration of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Justice minister Johnston Busingye has said.

Busingye was speaking Wednesday at a high-level meeting to discuss the implications of Rwanda’s withdrawal from the declaration.

The meeting, in Kigali, was organised by the Great Lakes Initiative for Human Rights and Development (GLIHD), a local NGO.

Rwanda was the sixth country (out of a total of eight) to make the declaration.

Rwanda ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights in May 2003 on the establishment of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

It was ten years later in January 2013 that the country went a step further and became the 6th country to make the Declaration under Article 34 (6) of the Protocol accepting the competence of the Court to receive cases from individuals and NGOs.

However, Rwanda last year made a decision to withdraw from the declaration that was enacted to allow individuals and NGOs to directly file cases before the court.

“In making the declaration, Rwanda did believe it was a step toward the promotion and protection of the rights of its people and advancement in the way of human rights protection on the continent,” said Busingye, who also doubles as the attorney general.

“However, the declaration progressively degenerated into a platform which all sorts of organisations and individuals, including convicts of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, could use to promote their agenda.”

According to Busingye, soon after Rwanda made the declaration, a consortium of NGOs started mobilising litigation against the country.

“In 2014, we obtained a project document, worth Euro 300,000, which stated clearly that its objective was to obtain at least five judgements each condemning declarant states, including Rwanda, for violation of human rights and pressurising them through any means to enforce the judgments,” he added.

Busingye told legal experts and human rights activists at the meeting that Rwanda withdrew from the declaration because it couldn’t afford to let the court be a platform for Genocide convicts to launder themselves.

“A Category One Genocide convict, who had been sentenced on June 6, 2009, to life in prison, on the basis of Rwanda’s Declaration, was one of the petitioners claiming that Rwanda was violating citizens’ rights by conducting the 2015 referendum,” said Busingye, referring to a petition by former parliamentarian Stanley Safari.

Concerns genuine – legal expert

The minister said that, by allowing individuals to directly lodge cases before the court, Rwanda did not and could not, in any way, envisage or intend to include in this category of individuals, Genocide convicts and fugitives from justice.

At least six cases against Rwanda are pending in the court, including that of Victoire Ingabire who alleges that her current imprisonment for genocide denial was unfair and politically motivated.

But Rwanda has withdrawn from the court on individual petitions and remains cooperative on cases involving a country and another country, Busingye said.

“It is Rwanda’s strong conviction that there was every legitimate necessity to take the action we took in order to reflect this belief; we were not in doubt about our beliefs, about the political imperative to take the action we took and about the legal possibility of doing it,” Busingye said.

With regard to the declaration under Article 34 (6) of the Protocol, Rwanda now belongs with the 46 out of 53 countries that are yet to make it, which means that only seven African countries currently allow their individual citizens and NGOs to directly take cases before the African court.

Legal expert Innocent Musonera, a law don at University of Rwanda, who is currently doing a PhD research on the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights, agrees that Rwanda was extremely challenged on whether to remain supportive of the declaration.

“Rwanda’s concerns are genuine. You have Genocide convicts who have not showed up to serve their sentences and Genocide suspects or other criminal suspects who are fugitives and they are given a platform to bring up new cases that have nothing to do with their criminal charges,” he told The New Times on Wednesday.

Musonera added that although Rwanda had initially subscribed to the declaration, it was politically naïve to let that happen in the first place.

“Initially, it was a good thing. It is a situation where a government commits to the protection of human rights but given these concerns it is problematic,” he said.

But Kigali-based human rights lawyer Christian Garuka said Rwanda’s withdrawal from the declaration shouldn’t stop the Government from responding to the court’s hearings on the already pending cases, and challenge the petitions.

“Although Rwanda has already made the withdrawal from the declaration under Article 34, it should not miss the opportunity to challenge before a court of law the admissibility of these pending cases. Otherwise, the court could rule on merits by default and this could make the allegations made by the plaintiffs against the Government of Rwanda look legitimate,” he said.

Namibia: Salini Downsizes As Dam Completion Nears

By Luqman Cloete

SALINI Impregilo, the Italian company building the Neckartal Dam near Keetmanshoop, has started retrenching some workers ahead of the completion of the project.

The project is anticipated to be completed by 29 December.

According to a letter that Salini, which won the N$2,8 billion tender to construct the Neckartal Dam near Keetmanshoop, wrote to the labour and social welfare ministry’s permanent secretary towards the end of August, they intended to start the phased retrenchments from 1 October until the completion of the final work.

“All employees of the company will be affected in all categories. It is difficult for the company to determine the particular date of retrenchment of the employees and categories that will be affected,” the letter stated.

“An updated list of affected employees and their respective dates of retrenchment will be furnished to your office,” the letter reads.

The Namibian has established that the company has already served some workers with contract termination letters in the first week of October.

The company last week resumed operations which had been suspended for about two weeks over government’s failure to pay Salini about N$600 million.

Recently, agriculture minister John Mutorwa revealed at a meeting he held with the company that government would ask NamWater to borrow money to pay Salini’s unpaid invoices.

At that meeting, it also emerged that government had paid more than N$3 billion to Salini by the end of June, while the cost of the project is expected to escalate to N$5 billion upon completion.

Salini’s spokesperson, Gilles Rene Castonguay, yesterday confirmed that the company had resumed operations at the construction site at the beginning of October after government had made some payments.

However, he declined to reveal the “specifics of government payments”.

Castonguay could also not be drawn into commenting on the planned lay-offs of workers, saying the company is not at liberty to discuss “staff issues”.

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Ethiopia: Sustaining HBV Intervention Success Stories

By Sintayehu Tamirat

Viral hepatitis result in a potentially life-threatening inflammation of the liver, which is characterized by complications of liver disease. Specifically, hepatitis B (HBV) and C (HCV) viruses alone cause chronic viral hepatitis which is a major global health problem responsible for 57_per cent of liver cirrhosis and 75_per cent of primary liver cancer cases, respectively.

A 2013 WHO report indicates that more than 240 and 150 million populations were affected by chronic liver disease due to HBV and HCV respectively. Africa has been the second largest number of chronic HBV reports next to Asia. A recent report still estimates that about 2.2 billion people globally have evidence of past or present infection with the viruses. And about 500 million of these are chronically infected- a figure more than ten times those affected by HIV and AIDS.

Besides, chronic viral hepatitis takes the lives of around 1.3 million people from chronic liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) per annum. It is then evident that the death toll from viral hepatitis is fairly analogous with the 1.5 million deaths from HIV and AIDS and 1.2 million deaths from either tuberculosis or malaria annually.

WHO also reported that unlike HIV, which primarily occurred in low-income countries, 58 percent of hepatitis deaths occurred in upper-middle-income countries and high-income countries. For example, in absolute numbers, East Asia and south Asia have the greatest number of hepatitis deaths with 52 per cent of the total number of deaths.

Notwithstanding its high prevalence and highly infectious nature as well as significant burdens of disease including huge rate of mortality and morbidity worldwide, viral hepatitis has not been given the attention it deserves by the international community.

In Ethiopia, several investigations on the prevalence and magnitude of HBV indicate that there is an average of 2.3 per cent decline annually. According to data from HealthGrove, the annual mortality rate per 100,000 people from hepatitis B in Ethiopia has decreased by 52.8% since 1990. This is due to successful interventions against hepatitis B virus (HBV).

According to Consultant internist and gastroenterologist hepathologist, assistant Prof. of Medicine, Addis Ababa University and Director of Endoscopy Center at Black Lion Hospital Dr. Amir Sultan told The Ethiopian Herald that Ethiopia has been adopting and employing a WHO recommended Global intervention approach to prevent transmission.

The expansion of the healthcare system particularly in rural areas for delivery, antenatal care and pregnancy services has had a huge impact on the prevention effort.

In addition, Ministry of Health organized a national task force and developed strategic documents and treatment guidelines following the global move and determinations. Although there is an important number of infection among the total population, the intervention through promoting the universal precaution resulted in success.

Dr. Amir explains that the enduring viral hepatitis in Ethiopia are caused by virus hepatitis B and C, with estimated prevalence of about eight and one percent of the entire population respectively. The nature of the virus significantly contributed to the prevalence. The high infection rate is due to the fact that Hepatitis B virus is almost hundred times more infectious and stronger than HIV.

The overall mode of transmission mirrors that of HIV. Nevertheless, a number of studies by different universities including those from Addis Ababa University traced that the commonest mode of transmission in Ethiopia is through early horizontal transmission (among children aged 1 to 5 years as they engage in household activities), followed by sexual transmission. This pattern of transmission is different from that in most parts of the world. In Asia, the commonest way is from mother to child during birth, where as in the west it is intravenous drug use and sexual intercourse.

Realizing the commonest ways of infection, the government focused on minimizing the acquisition of the virus in addition to offering available treatments to those patients who developed the complication. This basically targets children who are vulnerable to the infection. The new generation therefore is not going to be infected for there is already a vaccine for hepatitis B. There is also a vaccine available for certain selected group of the society, particularly those who are highly risked in handling sharp materials. The professor hence is very hopeful about the future of HBV. “I’m therefore quite confident in that the impact is going to be massive in the near future. Because the practice is in congruent with the global Expanded Program of Immunization .”

Those nations that employed the same intervention have attained success. An outstanding illustration can be Taiwan. It received international recognition in significantly reducing HBV infection and liver cancer complications over 20 years. Ethiopia in the same way started the trend before five years, so it would not see more HBV infection. Because children who were born in health care system accessible areas of Ethiopia over the past 5 to 7 years already received the vaccine for hepatitis B infection. There is also a better access to the vaccine for healthcare workers.

Government has also placed emphasis on preventing HCV. The Ministry of Health together with the Ethiopian Gastroenterology Association has been working harder to make the drug available in Ethiopia at 99 per cent discount. And the manufacturing company, Gilead Sciences now provides Ethiopia the drug at 1 percent cost of the original price which is about 84,000 US dollar per personal dose.

The overall attainment so far can be deemed rewarding. However, it would be prudent to sustain the efforts for lasting resolutions. Therefore, being on post HIV era and taking into consideration the magnitude and seriousness of the problem, prevention and control of viral hepatitis need a high degree of attention similar to HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

What Odinga’s Election Pullout Means for Kenya’s Turbulent Democracy

analysisBy Dominic Burbidge, University of Oxford

The leader of Kenya’s opposition coalition, Raila Odinga, has withdrawn from the repeat presidential election ordered by the country’s Supreme Court. Only two candidates were scheduled to compete in the upcoming poll, the other being the incumbent president, Uhuru Kenyatta.

A day after Odinga’s withdrawal, the Kenyan High Court ruled in favour of including another presidential candidate in the ballot, meaning that the election is now likely to go ahead. The new candidate, Ekuru Aukot, was an interested party in the Supreme Court case that invalidated the August 8th election.

Odinga’s pullout came in protest at the perceived inability of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to carry out a free and fair election.

In the recent petition to the Supreme Court, his National Super Alliance (NASA) accused the electoral commission of having failed in its duties to conduct an election, and demonstrated clear evidence of irregularities such as missing and forged electoral forms.

The Supreme Court found in favour of the opposition coalition, and so fresh elections were scheduled within 60 days.

While there is consistency to Odinga’s distrust of the electoral commission, his position holds no legal consistency. The opposition made a petition to the Supreme Court and should therefore abide by its ruling.

The court found that the electoral commission failed to conduct the election appropriately, but that there were no grounds for saying Kenyatta’s coalition, the Jubilee Alliance, had been the ones to rig it.

Odinga’s opposition coalition petitioned the courts and got the result they wanted. They should therefore have stood by the ruling and continued to follow constitutional channels. By withdrawing Odinga is terminating the country’s democratic processes. If the need for IEBC reform was enough reason to delay the election further, a case could have been brought to the Supreme Court on this basis.

The IEBC is a commission created by the Constitution, meaning its duty to conduct free and fair elections is a democratic fundamental. As such, political opposition to its operations has a clear legal remedy. Instead, Odinga’s abandonment of the process has handed legal credibility to his rivals.

Kenya is in uncharted territory. The group that sought free and fair elections through lawful means – the opposition coalition – has now abandoned trust in the constitutional commission set up to bring about the poll.

In making the decision Odinga has also signed a death sentence on his political career stretching back 40 years.

A history of hard fought battles

Odinga has had a lot of practice over very many years in navigating the difficult path between acting according to the rules of the system and opposing manipulation of those rules.

In 2002 he joined a broader inter-ethnic coalition to force leadership away from the Kenya African National Union (KANU). In power since independence in 1963, KANU had consistently thwarted the emergence of free and fair elections in Kenya in the 1990s under President Daniel arap Moi.

But those who initially spearheaded the inter-ethnic alliance also seemed to abuse the system to their advantage in the 2007 elections. Odinga led popular protests against the swearing-in of President Mwai Kibaki in complaint of this. The standoff plunged the country into one of its worst periods of political violence, with over 1,000 dead and hundreds of thousands internally displaced.

In 2013 Odinga took the disputed election results to the courts. But the Supreme Court allowed Kenyatta’s election to stand.

Many therefore felt that Odinga had finally got the democracy he’d fought for when the Supreme Court invalidated the 2017 results and ordered fresh elections. But that conclusion appears to have been premature. Odinga’s exit from the democratic process means opposition supporters’ faith in the system is at the point of collapse.

Odinga has been consistent in his criticisms of the electoral commission. And he has acted in a principled way. He should be praised for both.

Indeed, the failure of the electoral commission dates back as far as the constitutional referendum in 2010. A British court found that electoral commissioners accepted bribes from a UK firm to win the contract for printing ballot papers. In the 2017 elections, the accusation was that the local tallies did not match the central tallies being received electronically in Nairobi. The physical forms that would have reconciled the differences were then said to have been lost.

Despite the catastrophic failure to conduct this year’s election appropriately, the electoral commission chairperson refused to stand down, reducing public credibility in the institution to nil.

Complete new election?

The NASA coalition has tried to substantiate its position. Technically-speaking, they say, their withdrawal means no election can take place, and so a complete new election should be organised. So rather than Kenyatta being handed victory on a plate, a longer time for fresh elections would be given, with all allowed to compete as if it were a very first round. That would provide a breather of at least 90 days, with additional time for parties to nominate new leaders.

But such a legal argument is fanciful. It is based on a misreading of article 138 (8) (b) of Kenya’s Constitution which says that a complete new election must be organised if one of the candidates dies during the campaign period. The NASA coalition are arguing that their withdrawal from the elections is an abandonment that is forced by the failure of the electoral commission, and therefore tantamount to the death of a leader during the campaign period.

If they believe this is a solid legal argument, they can again petition the courts to invalidate the preparations for the fresh elections. But the legal argument is weak, and I doubt they will try this route.

The twist that NASA did not expect was the High Court ruling that a minor candidate is allowed to take the place of Odinga. That will mean an election that gives greater validity to Kenyatta’s inevitable victory – an enormous blow to Odinga’s strategy.

The High Court decision to include Ekuru Aukot is based on the fact that he was part of the original case that disputed the 2017 election results. But the court has made a grave error of legal judgment: Aukot was an ‘interested party’ to that case, not one of the ‘petitioners’. This is, in legal terms, a big difference. If he was a successful petitioner in the Supreme Court case, and therefore a valid candidate now, the fresh elections should have involved him from the start and been contested by three candidates.

One cannot simply add candidates as one goes to make the election look competitive.

In any case, the inclusion of Aukot will be of no consequence to the result. In the disputed 8 August polls he received a mere 0.18% of the vote, making him the 5th placed candidate. That compares against a supposed 54.17% for Kenyatta.

The electoral commission will, however turbulently, take forward the court judgments and hold an election between Kenyatta and Aukot. The polls will certainly mean Kenyatta is declared President of Kenya for his second term in a row.

This is the fault of Odinga who has taken the decision to exit lawful processes prematurely. The road to competitive free and fair elections in Kenya extends ever longer into the horizon.

Disclosure statement

Dominic Burbidge does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

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