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IKO NINI BWANA SEED

Kenya, Tanzania agree on plans for gas pipeline

Uhuru and Suluhu address joint press conference

Kenya and Tanzania on Tuesday signed a deal to start working on a gas pipeline from Dar es Salaam to Mombasa, in what their leaders said was part of a long-term project to share energy resources. At a joint press conference in Nairobi, Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu and Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta generally said they had agreed to build more interconnecting infrastructure, starting with the gas pipeline and roads.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in Natural Gas Transportation means the countries’ ministers of energy can start negotiating the design, cost and other logistical needs for the pipeline to be erected. A joint communique said it will enhance “energy sufficiency” with Kenya keen on importing gas from Tanzania’s nascent plant.

Work begins

No timelines were given but President Suluhu said respective technocrats have been directed to start working on it immediately. “That is a long-term project … we are thankful that today we have signed an agreement … what remains is implementation,” she said.

“We have agreed on the need to ease the transportation of key energy resources and have reached one such understanding on the transportation of gas. What we need to do now is start implementing the project.”

The development means both sides are scoring early wins as Tanzania starts a new life under President Suluhu. In Nairobi, her host said the two countries must build their close cultural and historic ties to ensure the people benefit from interactions.

“We are connected by a common culture: we have a common language and heritage. We do not take Tanzania just as a neighbourly country. We consider it a brotherly country. We have agreed to work on the main highway between Malindi through Lungalunga to Bagamoyo,” President Kenyatta said.

“We also agree that we will work on resumption of transportation services on Lake Victoria, which were useful in the movement of people and goods from Jinja to Kisumu, and to Mwanza and Bukoba.” – nation.co.ke

Woman who gives birth halfway through flight

Lavinia Mounga holds her tiny baby on board the plane (Picture: GoFundMe)

A woman who had no idea she was pregnant unexpectedly gave birth prematurely at 29 weeks in the middle of a flight. Lavinia Mounga was travelling with her family from Utah to Hawaii on Wednesday when she began having contractions. Thankfully for her, a doctor and a team of nurses happened to be on board and sprang into action. ‘About halfway through the flight, there was an emergency call,’ Dr Dale Glenn said. ‘I’ve experienced this before and usually they’re pretty clear asking if there is a doctor on board.

‘This call was not like this – it was fairly urgent.’ Dr Glenn was joined by Lani Bamfield, Amanda Beeding and Mimi Ho, three neonatal intensive care nurses who were also in the right place at the right time. With no special equipment, the group had to get creative, using shoelaces to cut and tie the umbilical cord and a smartwatch to measure the baby’s heart rate. Dr Glenn said: ‘We’re all trying to work in a very small, confined space in an airplane, which is pretty challenging. But the teamwork was great.’

 

The unexpected delivery also became viral on TikTok after fellow passenger Julia Hansen filmed the drama on the plane, which landed three hours later. Ms Hansen told The Washington Post the situation initially caused a commotion, but other passengers were pretty ‘casual’ about it by the end of the flight. ‘Everyone just kind of got up, got their carry-on and left,’ Ms Hansen said. Medical crews were waiting for Lavinia and her newborn son Raymond at the airport in Honolulu to help them get to hospital. The three nurses visited the new mother on Friday and said it was an emotional reunion.

‘We all just teared up. She called us family and said we’re all his aunties, and it was so great to see them,’ Ms Ho said. Lavinia has since been discharged, but baby Raymond will remain in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) until he is ready to go home. ‘It has been very overwhelming,’ the mum said. ‘I’m just so lucky that there were three NICU nurses and a doctor on the plane to help me, and help stabilise him and make sure he was okay for the duration of the flight.’ – metro.co.uk

Bill Gates and Melinda Gates will be end their marriage after 27 years

Bill Gates and Melinda to divorce: ‘We no longer believe we can grow together’

Bill and Melinda Gates announced on Twitter on Monday afternoon that they are getting divorced after 27 years together. ‘After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,’ reads a joint statement tweeted by both Bill and Melinda. The Microsoft co-founder and his wife wrote that they ‘raised three incredible children’ and ‘built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives’, referring to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. ‘We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation,’ the billionaire philanthropists stated, ‘But we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.’

 

They asked for ‘space and privacy’ as they begin to navigate the next chapters of their lives. Bill earned his riches after founding Microsoft, the world’s largest software company, in 1975, about two decades before he married Melinda. He is the fourth wealthiest individual in the globe, with an estimated net worth of $124billion, according to Forbes. He and Melinda met at a trade show in New York and began dating in 1987. Their wedding was on New Year’s Day in 1994 in Hawaii. Melinda had a brief stint in Microsoft’s marketing department before being promoted to General Manager of Information Products in the early 1990s. She departed Microsoft in 1996 as she and Bill started a family. The couple started the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 and it was reported to be the biggest private foundation in the world in 2019. The foundation has donated about $50billion to charity organizations around the world. Bill and Melinda’s separation shocked the philanthropy, business and public health sectors. Breaking story, check back for updates…

Barnier admits UK vaccine success shows it is easier to act alone than under EU

Head of the Task Force for Relations with the UK, Michel Barnier speaks in European Parliament on April 27, 2021 – Reuters

Michel Barnier has conceded that Britain’s vaccine success proves that individual states can act faster than the unwieldy European Union, which displayed an “ideological mistrust of public-private partnerships” and has “not yet learned to take risks”.

The former Brexit negotiator, 70, who is bringing out a book on more than four years in the job called La Grande Illusion (The Grand Illusion) this week, also refused to describe Boris Johnson as a “statesman”, saying it was too early to use such a term for Britain’s “head of government”. In an interview ahead of the book’s launch with France Inter, he was asked whether Britain’s vaccine success was an “extraordinary advert” for Brexit.

The UK is streets ahead of the rest of the bloc in terms of vaccination but the continent is now slowly catching up after a sluggish start.More than half of the UK’s total population of 66.8 million has received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine. NHS data up to May 2 shows that of the 49,834,997 jabs given in the UK so far, 34,505, 380 were first doses.

 

While Mr Barnier said he refused to engage in “one-upmanship” and that it was “too early to draw conclusions” on who had coped best with the Covid crisis around the world, he said: “It’s true that there were faults (on the EU side) at the start.”

“Why? Because we wanted to decide for 27 and not alone. It’s easier to decide alone than 27 above all when you’re not under an EU competency. This is perhaps one of the lessons we should drawn from this crisis,” he told France Inter.

He added: “Perhaps there are issues regarding Europe where we should give back competencies to countries, to regions, to do ‘subsidiarity’ (where national governments decide), and in other areas consolidate competencies.” He said that the EU clearly had an issue with red tape.

“I recognise that there were administrative problems, bureaucracy. There was an almost ideological mistrust of public-private partnerships. We don’t know how to take risks. The British took risks by financing the private sector. The Americans took risks. We don’t know how to do that yet.”

But asked whether it would have been better to allow individual countries more leeway to negotiate vaccine contracts, he said: “Vaccine patriotism makes no sense (for France) as we were unable in the public or private sector to make a French vaccine so were dependent others.

“True, we could have decided alone like the British but it’s not in my view the philosophy of the EU and we would have left by the wayside smaller countries that would have been incapable of negotiating.”

 

Mr Barnier was then asked to say what he thought of Boris Johnson and whether he saw him as a, “statesman”. The Frenchman studiously avoided the term, preferring to call the Prime Minister a “man of government”.

“He clearly has intelligence, he is quite cordial, warm, very pragmatic. I think he needs a bit more time to demonstrate his qualities as a statesman but he clearly has intelligence as a government man, even if I found some of his comments as foreign minister curious and baroque,” he said. Mr Barnier was asked how he kept calm during years of fraught negotiations.

As a keen mountaineer from the Alps, he said he kept “looking up” with three main things in mind: preserving the interests of the EU, peace in Northern Ireland and “the cooperation we must keep with…the UK (which) is a great country, an ally, a friend and partner”.

In the book, Mr Barnier recounted a “courteous” conversation with Nigel Farage who he asked how he viewed the relationship with the EU after Brexit after the Leave victory. “He replied: ‘After Brexit, the EU will no longer exist.’”

“I knew that Nigel Farage and his far-Right friends wanted to destroy the EU from the inside and I have confirmation today,” he wrote. “These people are in a network, Mr Farage with Ms Le Pen, Mr Salvini… they want to destroy the EU not just from without but from within.”

“We’re not obliged to concede this point to Mr Farage. I want to change things that need changing in the EU but not to give up on the European project, which is, and I say this seriously, vital for us if we don’t want to be dependent and subcontractors to America or China. I don’t want my children’s future to be decided in Washington or Pekin.”

Mr Barnier reiterated warnings that Brexit was an “alarm call” for France, which could face Frexit, and the rest of the EU, if leaders failed to heed public opinion.

Time to break stranglehold of political elites?

One was born with a silver spoon dangling from his mouth, another does not have the spine to stand on his own and hangs onto the coattails of his contemporaries. One swims in the thick soup of controversy and scandal, another can’t tell the difference between ambition and the pathetic desires of his heart.

What do they all have in common? Each one of this varied bunch of men wants to be Kenya’s next president, and that would be okay were it not for the frightening fact that they have all been at it for so long that they seem to have taken Kenya’s political space hostage.

As the Uhuru succession debate hots up, the line-up being fronted has the usual suspects: Musalia Mudavadi, William Ruto, Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetang’ula, Raila Odinga, or Gideon Moi. Which begs the question: Is this all? Can an outlier third-force candidate wrest the remote control for Kenya’s political home theatre from this group of politicians? If not, what are the consequences of this dominion on the country’s nascent democratic space?

Prof Winnie Mitullah, Director and Associate Research Professor of Development Studies at the Institute for Development Studies at the University of Nairobi, says there is indeed a prevalent concept of circulation of the elite, “to the extent that you first have to work so hard to get into that circle even if you want to be an alternative voice”. This, she adds, is because there are some benefits embedded within that circle. This is what makes one feel that the voices are the same and the same people are the ones claiming to be new.

“Remember the Thirdway Alliance? It fashioned itself as a true alternative voice but you also recall how the elite dealt with it by creating internal strife. They had not penetrated the elite circle. You cannot just wake up and think that you can change stuff, unless you do a popular movement equivalent to the Arab Spring,” says Prof Mitullah.

Anything different from that will still perpetuate the culture of the same elite sharing power “and calling themselves ‘new’, ‘hustlers’ and other names to suit a particular situation”.

Intellectual prowess

This stranglehold on Kenyan politics appears to suggest that a Kibwana, or a Kituyi, or even an Obama, cannot be a Kenyan President, their intellectual prowess notwithstanding. The Makueni governor is well-read, has a grassroots understanding of the Kenyan socio-economic fabric, and ranks high up there in the league of former President Mwai Kibaki. So does Dr Kituyi, who has scaled the heights of global leadership and is regarded as one of Kenya’s best economic and planning minds.

But the two are political minions in the collective Kenyan psyche. Dr Kituyi himself lost an election for MP, while Kibwana is regarded as lacking in political colour and drama. None of this two will make you blush at a political rally. None will redden your cheeks with hyperbole, razzmatazz and the characteristic theatrics of a dyed-in-the-wool Kenyan politician.

That is why, should elections be called today, Mr Jack Momanyi would vote Raila Odinga for president. He does not have any doubts about it and does not even think twice when we ask him. But it is when we ask this caretaker of a city building why he would vote him that the conversation gets interesting. Jack does not know why, but he knows who.

And that’s it. He is not alone. Many Kenyans “just know” whom they’d vote in an election but can scarcely explain why. Their political leanings are not informed by ideologies or philosophies. They do not wake up one day and proclaim: I have read the Ford-Kenya manifesto. I like it.

And so I will vote Mr Wetang’ula. Their support does not stem from the more perceptive depths of their brains, but the more emotional wells of their hearts. It is as if the ethno-social greatness of the political operative matters to them more than his or her ideological conceptions.

Something amiss

Mr Herman Manyora, a political commentator, agrees that something is wrong with Kenya’s political mobilisation. Maybe it is the way political parties are born, run and financed. At the very core, the average Kenyan political party is a basic, one-man operation that revolves around the egos and eccentricities of singular personalities.

The Wiper Democratic Movement, for instance, does not seem able to fathom a future without Mr Musyoka, its head. Neither does the Orange Democratic Movement grasp a post-Raila future, or Ford-Kenya minus Mr Moses Wetang’ula. Party politics, therefore, remains personality-based, with a heavy serving of tribal arithmetic, notes Mr Manyora.

“Systems produce similar people,” he notes. “Occasionally, an odd number may appear, like an Obama or a Trump. An outsider might appear, but the system soon catches up with them and brings them to the way the system operates.”

By “system”, Mr Manyora is referring to a nebulous, vague group of well-connected individuals who are believed to control governments and their succession. There is no proof of its existence and so it remains this mysterious, formless and shapeless creature that somehow dominates Kenyan political contests. Deputy President William Ruto has himself referred to it on numerous occasions as an illicit impediment to his Uhuru succession drive.

If systems produce presidents, then those who rule nations are the metaphorical emblems of all that is right and wrong about a society. In Kenya, that would be a mixture of our colonial heritage, recent post-independence past, quality of education, and even political intelligence. “That system cannot produce anybody that is different,” notes Mr Manyora. “When an ‘outsider’ occurs, the system moves fast to contain him or her. It is a zero-sum game.”

He continues: “The system cannot produce alternative voices because you must have been a person of a certain calibre, perhaps gone to certain schools, worked in certain places and amassed wealth. Perhaps I, Manyora, can run this country better than this crop of leaders, but can the system give me the chance? And if it did, how long before it captures me?”

“Power by accident”

That sober realisation then places a heavy premium on the voting masses. Their decisions will determine the future political trajectories of nations, and whether an outlier third-force candidate stands any chance. In the Kenyan context, therefore, can a Matiang’i, or a Kituyi, or a Kibwana, or a Ngilu, or a Karua, stand any chance against the big boys?

“This group can only get to power by accident,” says Mr Manyora. “And accidents happen. But if we were to stick to what is normal then you wouldn’t expect anything from them. They will remain on the fringes because at the moment you cannot see politics beyond Raila, Uhuru and Ruto.”

Mr Tom Mboya, a political scientist at Maseno University, agrees, and suggests that Kenya’s alternatives at the moment appear quite slim because the country’s politico-dogmatic culture since independence “has been dominated by a political elite that has been setting the agenda”.

“Barely a year to the 2022 General Election, alternatives away from that group are a long shot,” says Mr Mboya. “The only way out is for alternative voices to start their campaigns early and sustain them through the electoral cycle.”

And, even then, they would still face serious challenges from the dominant political elite as the Kenyan voter has been weaned on a top-down approach to political mobilisation, hence those seeking alternative routes to power are the unwelcome exceptions.

“That is the kind of a complicated scenario that makes it impossible for alternative voices to emerge and make an impact,” says Mr Mboya. “Over the years, this alternative can only emerge from and have the blessings of the dominant group.”

Prof Mitullah says the “system” that Mr Manyora and Mr Mboya are referring to has the power to sustain the political elite and contain the alternative voices. It is so good, she adds, that it co-opts these kinds of persons.

 

“Look at what happened in 2003. The civil society then was a strong voice that brought us change, but then the elite were too good and too fast and co-opted them into the Narc administration and they became part of the system. They co-opted them so seamlessly by giving them jobs in government and the civil society forgot about the cause.” So what needs to happen? “We need to expand the political space,” says Prof Mitullah.

“We should not give up even though the citizens sometime appear to have given up and think it is only Raila and Ruto who can contest to make sense, or somebody that Uhuru supports. We are also closing up as citizens to seeing alternative voices. We will need a radical, who must have a pillar upon which he can rally the people.”

Historical patterns
Despite these compelling arguments for a third force, there are those who still believe that Kenya’s brand of political mobilisation is not unique, and that dynastical associations have always ruled the world.

A 2018 study published in the journal Historical Social Research showed that, on average, one in 10 world leaders comes from households with political ties. Researchers in the US had examined the backgrounds of 1,029 political executives — presidents and prime ministers — in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and Latin America from 2000 to 2017 and found that 119, or 12 per cent, of all world leaders belonged to a political family.

 

The study defined “political family” as having either a blood or marital tie to someone already involved in politics, whether as a judge, party official, bureaucrat, lawmaker, president or activist.

As early as 1978, American governance studies scholar Stephen Hess noted that it was perhaps not very surprising that so many children of politicians go into politics. “After all, it’s daddy’s business. Lots of doctors’ children go to medical school,” he noted. But, even as he studied this dynastical problem, he could not understand why politicians seem to have a stranglehold on voters across social and economic classes.

“If there are explanations why certain families gravitate to political life, it is less clear why the voters choose members of the same families to represent them generation after generation,” he said. “This is one type of voting behaviour that cannot be blamed on television.”

America’s political dynasties go back to the colonial period. There have been some 700 families in which two or more members have served in Congress, and they account for more than 1,700 of the 10,000 men and women who have been elected to the federal legislature since 1774.

Mr Hess argued that voters may be inclined to favour political royalists because often — though not always — they are rich enough so as not to be tempted to steal from the public till. That same argument was used in Kenya during the last political transition, and appears to suggest that having financial muscle makes one incorruptible. But does it? For the Musalias, Rutos, Odingas, Mois and Kenyattas, it appears that “brand name” identification is worth something in politics as it is at the supermarket shelf, as Mr Hess notes. Yet how far can office-seekers go on the basis of a famous name?

The answer to that question is a simple, mono-word phrase: far. Consider this: Voters tend to give political royalists one “free” election. In Kenya, two of the Moi sons are MPs, two of the Oginga sons have been MPs and one a prime minister, one of the Mudavadi sons has been an MP and vice-president, and away from the thick top layer of political families, Kenyan voters still elect the sons, daughters, widows and widowers of politicians “to complete the projects” the incumbents started.

So, can a name take you far? Yes, of course. But it might also stand in the way of the true change makers as dynastic tendencies deny a society the chance to experience — and experiment with — new ideas, the opportunity and live in the energy of the moment.

 

Sir Winston Churchill, the great English ruler, was born to lead the war against Adolf Hitler’s Nazism. Barack Obama was born to show the deeply divided American society that even black people can make great presidents. Who will be Kenya’s Churchill, or Obama? And were he or she to emerge, would he or she get a listening ear? – nation.co.ke

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu to visit Kenya ‘this week’

Tanzania’s new President Samia Suluhu Hassan

Tanzania’s new President Samia Suluhu Hassan addresses the National Assembly as the first female President in the country’s history, at the Parliament in Dodoma, Tanzania, on April 22, 2021. If the visit goes ahead as planned, the Tanzanian leader, who took over from John Pombe Magufuli following his death in March, will be coming to Nairobi nearly five years since her predecessor made a similar visit.

The trip was confirmed by two diplomats familiar with the arrangement. She has the responsibility of correcting the continuous trade tiffs between the two neigbouring countries.

In a speech to Parliament last week, President Suluhu told legislators that her administration will pursue economic diplomacy with partners in the region and across the world, signaling intent to repair relations with the outside world.

 

“If you call it a change, then it will be a renewed effort on economic diplomacy,” she said, referring to better ties with the East African Community, Southern Africa Development Community and the recent Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA).

Collaboration

President Suluhu’s policy, she pledged, will run on a smoother domestic programme to attract investors, while sustaining relations with key partners the country trades with.

She thinks her diplomats must work better at making the country attractive rather than being an island. “Our diplomatic staff have to be competent in striking deals in investment and trade promotion as well as seek strategic partners in tourism”, she said.

The itinerary of the planned Kenyan trip had not been made public by Saturday with officials indicating there were still final touches to be made. But the Sunday Nation understands she intends to meet with business lobbies in Nairobi, after holding talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta to discuss bilateral issues.

Renewed trust

This would be her first State visit since taking power, although she has already made an official trip to Uganda where the two countries signed a multi-billion-dollar oil pipeline deal with French oil giant Total and China’s CNOOC.

Frequent non-tariff wars with Kenya have slowed down trade to an average of Sh40 million a year, down from Sh64 billion during Jakaya Kikwete’s era.

Nairobi has indicated renewed trust in the organs of the East African Community whose secretariat is now headed by Kenyan, Dr Peter Mathuki. “We intend to sort out the issues through the established organs of the EAC,” said Johnson Weru, PS for Trade when asked on Kenya’s plan to eliminate the trade wars. – nation.co.ke

Uhuru lifts travel restrictions into and out of 5 counties, revises curfew

President Uhuru Kenyatta during his address to the public on Saturday, May 1, 2021. [Standard]

Cessation of movement into and out of five zoned counties namely Nairobi, Kiambu, Nakuru, Kajiado and Machakos counties has been lifted.

Announcing the new directive on Saturday, May 1, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the government reached the decision after Covid-19 infections reduced significantly.

Between March and April, the infection rate in Nairobi went down by 74 per cent. In the other four counties, it reduced by an average of 72 per cent, said Kenyatta.

The Head of State also reviewed the curfew hours in the zoned counties. Beginning midnight, curfew hours in the five regions will start at 10pm and end at 4am, unlike previously when it was set at 8pm to 4am.

Kenyatta also revised worship arrangements, allowing resumption of in-person gathering, though directing that the capacity be limited to one-third. The President said bars nationwide are now allowed to operate up to 7pm, with restaurants’ take-away-only directive lifted.

“I encourage restaurant operators to utilise outdoor spaces [in order to maximise social-distancing],” he said. Sporting activities are also set to resume, with the President ordering ministries of Health and Sports to roll out safety guidelines.

 

Ban on political conventions will continue indefinitely, Kenyatta stated. The new orders will take effect beginning Sunday, May 2. The President made the remarks during Labour Day celebrations, which he presided over at State House, Nairobi.

According to Kenyatta, the tough restrictions he introduced in March, yielded desired outcomes, with the average infection rate in other parts of Kenya reducing by 89 per cent. Curfew hours in the rest of the country remain unchanged.

Due to the declining number of daily Covid-19 cases, the Head of State directed that learning in universities and colleges resumes in line with the education calendar. The President further directed health facility administrators to limit hospital visitations to one person per patient daily. – standardmedia.co.ke

President Kenyatta signs Division of Revenue Bill into law

President Uhuru Kenyatta signs the Division of Revenue Bill, 2021 into law at State House, Nairobi, on April 30, 2021.

President Uhuru Kenyatta assented to the Division of Revenue Bill, 2021, on Friday, paving way for the submission of the financial estimates for the 2021/22 financial year. The law shares out Sh1.7 trillion in revenue raised nationally between the two levels of government as provided for in the constitution.

The national government will take home Sh1.39 trillion while counties equitable shareable revenue is pegged at Sh370 billion, the highest disbursement since the advent of devolution eight years ago.

 

However, the share due to counties is minus Sh40 billion in conditional grants, which was removed from the bill in line with a High Court order. The Council of Governors on Friday noted that counties would not lose the Sh40 billion in the financial year that begins July after MPs amended the revenue bill before passage.

CoG chairman and Embu Governor Martin Wambora said counties would not lose any funds, but rather, the conditional grants would be channelled to the devolved units through a different framework. “The council wishes to set the record straight that county governments are not losing any funds,” he said in a statement.

Mr Wambora explained that the transfer of conditional grants amounting to Sh39.9 billion (Sh7.5 billion from the national government and Sh32.3 billion conditional allocation from loans and grant from development partners) to the County Revenue Fund shall be facilitated through a different legal framework in line with Article 190. “A technical committee chaired by National Treasury is working on the new law,” he said. – nation.co.ke