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Archive for January 9th, 2012

Key political risks to watch in Kenya

Posted by Administrator on January 9, 2012

The International Criminal Court (ICC) will this month rule on whether six political figures suspected of masterminding the deadly violence that followed a disputed presidential election in December 2007 will be put on trial.
The decision could affect the outcome of general elections due later this year in the east African country, which is mired in a potentially protracted war against al Qaeda-linked militants in neighbouring Somalia.

Here are some of the risk factors ahead:

ICC DECISION

There are two cases at the ICC, each involving three Kenyans, and are split mainly between ethnic Kikuyu and Kalenjin camps. They were the groups behind much of the violence that killed about 1,300 people following the election, Reuters reports.

The ICC is expected to rule around January 20 on whether it will try the politicians. It said it will announce its decision on the two cases on the same day, to avoid any potential ethnic tensions between the two groups.

The stakes are high.

Two of the suspects, former cabinet minister William Ruto and Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Kenya’s founding father Jomo Kenyatta, plan to run for the presidency in next year’s election. Analysts say their chances would be seriously damaged by a trial.

What to watch:

— If the cases are thrown out, the potential presidential candidates could get a boost.

— If both Ruto and Kenyatta are indicted, would the ICC issue arrest warrants requiring Kenya hand them over to The Hague, and if so, would the country comply?

— Despite Kenya being an ICC signatory, it has been very critical of the court and supportive of Sudanese President avoiding an ICC arrest warrant.

— If they are indicted, and do not have to be in the custody of the ICC, would they be allowed to retain their public positions? More importantly, could they run for the presidency under Kenya’s new constitution that bars tainted officials from running for public office?

— Failure to cooperate with the ICC would concern foreign investors and Western governments who want Kenya to combat impunity ahead of elections this year.

— If one case continues and the other is rejected, there may be anger and a feeling of being singled out by one ethnic group, heightening tribal animosities between the groups.

SOMALIA

Kenya sent troops into Somalia last October to crush al Shabaab, accusing the militant network of attacks on its security forces and tourists inside Kenya.

Al Shabaab, fighting to impose a harsh interpretation of sharia law, has denied being behind the kidnappings and said it will take revenge against Kenya, the latest foreign power to try to stabilise Somalia.

Analysts say Kenya could be sucked into a wider regional conflict now Ethiopia has also sent military trucks and armoured vehicles into central Somalia.

Kenya’s advance on key rebel strongholds still appears stalled, with occasional airstrikes by Kenyan jets, some skirmishes in southern Somalia and low-level attacks on convoys in areas close to its porous frontier with Somalia.

Kenya wants its forces in Somalia to be integrated into the African Union AMISOM force that has about 9,400 peacekeepers deployed in Mogadishu. Kenya is pushing for a more robust “peace enforcement” mandate for its troops in southern Somalia than the peacekeeping mandate of the troops operating in Mogadishu.

What to watch:

— Kenya says the mission is open-ended and it will stay until al Shabaab’s network is dismantled. But this could take time and may require additional budget support.

— Major Somali civilian casualties could rally support for the rebels.

— Military incursions by the U.S. and Ethiopia failed to pacify Somalia. Significant Kenyan casualties could weaken current widespread support for the mission.

— Two grenade attacks in the capital Nairobi have scared residents and led to beefed up security in public places. More attacks may erode backing for the incursion and deter tourists.

— There is a large Somali and Kenyan-Somali population in Kenya that could be antagonised.

— Becoming a part of AMISOM may be delayed for months as issues of funding, command and control need to be resolved.

ELECTION DATE

Kenya’s parliament has scrambled to meet a one-year deadline for the passing of dozens of crucial bills to give the new constitution adopted in August 2010 legs to stand on. But a key outstanding issue is when the next election will be held.

The constitution stipulates the election should be held on Aug. 14 2012, but Kenya’s cabinet is pushing for a mid-December 2012 date, citing logistical hurdles.

The vote would be to elect the president and parliament, as well as senators, county governors and civic officials.

A bill with amendments to enshrine the December date is with parliament, and is due to be voted on in February. Parliament has the mandate to change the constitution.

The proposal has been divisive among legislators, and has been dismissed by the commission for implementation of the constitution.

However, the authority tasked with overseeing the elections backs the December date saying it would not have enough time to prepare the new constituencies and implement other changes to ensure a fair electoral process if polls are held in August.

The High Court is expected to make a ruling on the election date in January.

What to watch:

— The court may uphold the August election date, then a month later parliament could vote for the change to December, causing a political rift and tension before the elections.

— One of the cases in court challenges parliament’s authority to change the election date on its own and argues only a national referendum can do so. Will the court back calls for a referendum? If so, it would pit the public against parliament and increase political uncertainty.

Source: REUTERS

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Jobs galore for Kenyan teachers as Rwanda seeks tutors

Posted by Administrator on January 9, 2012

Rwanda is planning to hire at least 4,000 teachers from the East African Community this month, opening an employment window for thousands of unemployed teachers in the region.

The move is part of plans to scale up the use of English as the language of instruction in schools as well as increase its use in the largely French-speaking economy, as it seeks opportunities in the integrated EAC where English is the formal language of communication.

Kenya’s education permanent secretary Prof James ole Kiyiapi, said the ministry had received Rwanda’s request and forwarded it to the Teachers Service Commission.

“Rwanda proposed certain contractual terms and the TSC has basic minimum conditions for its members, especially when you consider that the teachers will be working away from their home country. But Rwanda is yet to get back to us to finalise the terms.”

The hiring of teachers — to act as school based mentors — will help to eliminate the heavy imbalances in the market that has left countries like Kenya and Uganda with a surplus while its neighbours experience acute shortages.
For example, Tanzania suffers an acute shortage of secondary school teachers as a result of the successful implementation of a five-year Secondary Education Development Programme that began in 2004, under which 1,050 new secondary schools were built countrywide.

Last year, Tanzania also went shopping in Kenya and Uganda for high school teachers for science and mathematics subjects though definite figures of how many were recruited are yet to be established.

But in 2010, the Tanzanian government had initially planned to hire additional 49,000 teachers.

Rwanda’s recruitment process should begin this month with about 2,000 mentors expected from Kenya.
A recent survey by the World Bank and Kenya’s Export Promotion Council found that the demand for professional services such as banking, insurance, legal, accounting, architectural, ICT and engineering has been rising with the progression of the integration process, offering Kenya and other countries an advanced human resource base — a chance to boost their service exports.

Emerging investment opportunities in East Africa have been marked by a growing interest in international affiliations by local firms aiming to improve their brand equity, a trend that is pushing up demand for professional services.

But movement of labour across countries in EAC was still facing challenges.

“We are still being held up by perceptions that there is conflict between national laws and those of the EAC regarding the movement of labour,” said Kenya’s EAC Permanent Secretary David Nalo.

“We are seeing higher demand for key professional services such as architecture, law, engineering and hospitality across the region” he added.

Of the 4,112 mentors that will be recruited, 2,543 mentors will be posted to primary schools; 1,471 to secondary schools and 98 to vocational training colleges.

“They will mentor our teachers so they can know how to teach English and help to improve the reading culture.

The partnership will continue until all our teachers perfect their English language skills,” Dr Mathias Harebamungu, the Rwanda State Minister-in-charge of primary and secondary education told The EastAfrican last week.

While English was introduced as the language of instruction in schools in 2008, and a complete switch from French took place in 2009, several teachers are still struggling to comply, with many having to learn the language from scratch.

According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Education in 2009, 85 per cent of primary school teachers and 66 per cent of secondary school only had beginner, elementary or pre-intermediate levels of English.

The switch came after Rwanda became a member of the East African Community, and member states embarked on the process of harmonising their education curricula, with English being the shared language of instruction.

It was also a precursor to Rwanda joining the British Commonwealth, in November 2009.

Source: http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/Jobs+galore+for+Kenyan+teachers+as+Rwanda+seeks+tutors+/-/2558/1301920/-/bfneii/-/

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Kenyans get 21 days to examine boundaries report

Posted by Administrator on January 9, 2012

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 9 – Kenyans have the next 21 days to submit their views on a preliminary report proposing the review of electoral boundaries that was launched on Monday by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

The commission said it would conduct public hearings in all the 47 counties to get Kenyans’ views on the boundaries for constituencies and wards.

IEBC Chairman Issack Hassan said his team would also accept emails and written submissions hand delivered to the Constituency Election Coordination Office.

The schedules for the public hearings will be released on Tuesday.

“We are going to have eight teams going round the country to collect views from the public on what they think. The teams will go round the country for 21 days to hear out Kenyans,” he said.

However concerns have already started mounting over the report, which is almost a replica of the report prepared by the now defunct Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission (IIBRC), led by Andrew Ligale.

Hassan explained that the IEBC had to use the IIBRC report as their primary reference point as required by the Constitution and didn’t have much choice. The IEBC also used the parliamentary report on the Ligale document as its second reference point.

He further asked Kenyans to exercise decorum and remain objective as they familiarised themselves with the contents of the report so as to ensure that the country attained the gains of devolution.

“Allow me to make a humble plea to all Kenyans, particularly to politicians; let us exercise restraint. The commission recognises the sensitivity of some of the issues at hand and we reiterate our devotion to diligently uphold the law,” he assured.

After the 21-day period for public participation, the commission will take 14 days to look into any concerns raised before considering them in the final report. The report will then be forwarded to the parliamentary committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, which will again take another 14 days to scrutinise it before presenting it in Parliament.

Members of Parliament will then have seven days to debate the report and adopt it with or without amendments after which it will be returned to the IEBC for an extra 14 days before it is gazetted and published.

“Kenyans will then get 30 days to raise their objections at the High Court which will take 30 days to resolve. Only then can the IEBC proceed to map out the new electoral units for purposes of voter registration and other electoral processes,” he explained.

Although the IEBC Act states that the High Court should determine any such issues within 30 days, the Constitution states that such an application shall be heard and determined within three months from the date it was filed.

Meanwhile Cabinet Ministers Musalia Mudavadi and Mutula Kilonzo have challenged Kenyans to rise above petty politics to avoid derailing the touchy process. Mudavadi further urged Kenyans to remain calm as the IEBC teams go round collecting their views on the boundaries.

“Let us not have the fellows who specialise in hopping from one County to the other purporting deliver a certain message when the commissioners start this work. Let us confine ourselves to our Counties so that issues are dealt with in the context of the Counties,” argued Mudavadi.

Several politicians were up in arms when the Ligale team published its report arguing that the concerns raised by their constituents were not addressed. The politicians accused the Ligale team of overlooking population quotas, laid out by the Constitution.

Cabinet Minister Beth Mugo (Dagoretti MP) particularly felt that it was wrong for the IIBRC to ignore calls to split her constituency while at the same time splitting other constituencies, which have equally large or smaller populations.

Source: http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2012/01/kenyans-get-21-days-to-examine-boundaries-report/

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Video: Bungee jumper plunges into crocodile-infested Zambezi river after cord snaps

Posted by Administrator on January 9, 2012

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