Kenyans Facing Starvation

Failed rains have added to Kenya’s food security problems

The Global Hunger Report has ranked Kenya among 40 countries with a serious risk of hunger facing a section of its population.

Kenya ranks 84 out of a total 107 countries and has a score of 23.7, which according to The Global Hunger Index is quite “serious”.

The Global Hunger Index incorporates four component indicators: undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting, and child mortality.

According to the GHI report,  23 percent of the population is undernourished. The figure has reduced from 3.4 in the past two decades and the child mortality rate, although decreasing, now stands at 4.1 percent.

The report has attributed the situation to the COVID-19 pandemic, the locusts invasion and climate change.

“The outlook was bad even before Covid-19 but now we have a triple threat in Kenya, including the locust outbreak, the increasing frequency of crisis due to climate change,” said Kelvin Shingles, the Country Director of Welthungerhilfe (WHH), the organisation that produces the Global Hunger Index.

Kitui and West Pokot counties have been reported to have the highest number of children who are stunted.

Food Security

WHH recommends governments to increase support for smallholder farmers to become more sustainable, improving access to agricultural inputs and extension services, strengthening local and regional markets as some of the measures to boost food security.

The Global Hunger Index is a tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at the global, regional, and national levels. The GHI is designed to raise awareness and understanding of the struggle against hunger, provide a means to compare the levels of hunger between countries and regions and call attention to the areas of the world in greatest need of additional resources to eliminate hunger.

 

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Kenya’s 2022 Elections Should Expand Participation of Women in Politics

Increased participation for women in Politics

By Winnie Kabintie

The global participation of women in politics continues to be dismal despite the milestones made in empowering women in the economic, social and political Spheres.

Women in the Executive

According to data by UN Women, Gender parity in the highest decisions of power will not be reached for another 130 years going by the current pace.

Globally, only 21 countries have women serving as Heads of State or Government, and 119 countries have never had a woman leader. Additionally, only 10 countries have a woman Head of State, and 13 countries have a woman Head of Government.

The data further reveals that gender parity in ministerial positions will not be achieved before 2077, despite an annual increase of 0.52 percentage points when it comes to women representation in Ministerial positions.

Currently, only 21 percent of government ministers were women, with only 14 countries having achieved 50 percent or more women in cabinets.

Women In Parliament

Only four countries have 50 percent or more women in both houses of parliament namely;  Rwanda (61 percent), Cuba (53 percent), Bolivia (53 percent), and the United Arab Emirates with 50 percent.

The number of women in parliament in Kenya accounts for just 23 percent of the National Assembly and Senate — a figure that includes seats reserved exclusively for women representatives.

KENYA’S ELUSIVE TWO-THIRDS (2/3RD) THRESHOLD FOR GENDER PARITY

Women Deliver for a Good Kenya

Kenya’s 2010 Constitution provides for a two-thirds gender rule, in an effort to increase women participation in politics with Article 81 (b) stating that “not more than two-thirds of the members of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender”.

The Constitution recognizes women, youth, persons with disabilities and ethnic minorities as special groups deserving of constitutional protection and Article 27 goes further to obligate the government to “develop and pass policies and laws, including affirmative action programs and policies to address the past discrimination that women have faced”.

Despite such progressive legislation to close the Gender gap, Kenya is still trailing her partners in the East African Community in empowering women in politics according to the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, which ranked Kenya at position 85 out of a total 152 counties, behind Rwanda (4), Burundi (43), Uganda(35) and Tanzania (50)

The Global Gender Gap Index serves as a compass to track progress on relative gaps between women and men in health, education, economy and politics.

The 2017 elections saw more women in Kenya elected to office more than at any other time in history and we hope the upcoming 2022 elections will take the milestone a notch higher. According to a report by NDI and the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA Kenya), 29 percent more women ran for office in the 2017 elections than in the previous election.

Women leaders in politics currently hold 172 of the 1,883 elected seats in Kenya, up from 145 after the 2013 elections.

Three women namely; Charity Ngilu (Kitui County), Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga County) and the late Joyce Laboso (Bomet County) were elected governors, making them the first women to ascend into that political space since the introduction of the devolved system of governance following the promulgation of the 2010 constitution.

In 2018, during the commemoration of International Women’s Day, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru said female leaders were aiming to have 13 women elected governors in the 2022 general elections.

“We are deliberate about getting 13 female governors in 2022 and we are already putting up practical strategies at the senate, at the county assemblies and in every other forum,” said Waiguru, who is also the deputy chairperson Council of Governors (COG).

Three other women were also elected as senators for the first time in the 2017 general elections; Susan Kihika (Nakuru County) Margaret Kamar (Uasin Gishu) and Fatuma Dullo  (Isiolo) while the number of female MPs elected also rose to 22 up from 16 in the 11th parliament.

Barriers facing women in politics

In a country that is still largely patriarchal, women who step out to vie for elective politics face many barriers including inadequate support from political parties (particularly in the primaries), a lack of financial resources, gender stereotyping and violence.

Female leadership has proven to be quite essential for development and democracy and we need more of it in Kenya.

Kenya’s Score Card In Championing Gender Equality and Women Empowerment

 

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Kenya Headed for a Referendum After BBI Bill Attains the 24-County Constitutional Threshold

Building Bridges Initiative (BBI)

The country will now be headed for a referendum after the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Tuesday reached the 24-county constitutional threshold required to secure a plebiscite to amend the Constitution.

Nandi,  Kakamega, Narok, Mombasa, Murang’a, Makueni, Kitui, Bungoma, Taita Taveta, Nyeri, Machakos, Tharaka Nithi and Lamu counties became the latest to assent to the BBI Bill, following the footsteps of Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Busia, Vihiga, Trans Nzoia, Nairobi, Kisii, West Pokot, Kajiado, Laikipia and Samburu counties.

Even though the Bill still needs to be tabled in both the National Assembly and the Senate, the referendum is imminent since the outcome of the bicameral Parliament does not change the counties’ endorsement.

The BBI, key among other issues, proposes to change Kenya’s current system of governance and Revenue allocation to the counties, reportedly to “resolve the winner takes it all” aspect in the presidential elections, which has often swang the country in viciously contested elections.

Prime Minister

The BBI advocates for the designation of a Prime Minister, who shall be an elected member of the National Assembly. The President shall nominate a Prime Minister, whose appointment must be approved by the National Assembly.

The Prime Minister, according to the BBI report, shall control and supervise the execution of day-to-day functions and affairs of the government. The Prime Minister shall also, be the leader of government business in Parliament and chair of Cabinet Sub-committees.

The Executive

The report recommends a President, with executive authority who will be directly elected by the people, with the loser in the State House contest directly nominated to Parliament and takes over as leader of the official opposition.

The Executive, according to BBI, should include the President, a Deputy President, a Prime Minister, and Cabinet Ministers. The president shall have garnered at least 50% plus one vote in the State House race, and at least 25% of total votes cast in at least 24 counties.

The President, according to the report, shall remain Head of State and Government, and Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces.

Cabinet Ministers – Mixed Cabinet

The BBI also proposes for the rename of Cabinet Secretaries to “Cabinet Ministers” and abolition of the Chief Administrative Secretary slots and further calls for a mixed cabinet, that shall be appointed by the president in consultation with the prime minister. That cabinet shall draw its membership from Parliament and technocrats.

On Devolution, the BBI report recommends retention of the 47 counties and increased allocation to County Governments from at least 15% of last audited accounts to between 35% and 50%, with resources matching the devolved functions.

The report further recommends that Members of County Assembly (MCAs) take charge of bursaries and play a more prominent oversight role to ensure prudent management of devolved resources.

The BBI also calls for an increase in the number of Senators from the current 47 to 94, one male and one female representative.

On Devolution, the BBI report recommends retention of the 47 counties and increased allocation to County Governments from at least 15% of last audited accounts to between 35% and 50%, with resources matching the devolved functions.

The report recommends that Members of County Assembly (MCAs) take charge of bursaries and play a more prominent oversight role to ensure prudent management of devolved resources.

It also calls for the establishment of the Health and Youth Commissions and the introduction of National Ethos.

The Building Bridges Initiative is the peace agreement reached by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga following the disputed 2017 presidential elections.

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Kenya Hires Eight International Lawyers in Maritime Case with Somalia

The maritime dispute between Kenya and Somalia

Kenya has hired a team of 8 seasoned to defend the country in the maritime dispute filed by Somalia.

The eight judges to represent Kenya in the maritime dispute with Somalia are; Prof Sean Murphy of George Washington School of Law, who will be leading the team alongside Justice Tullion Treves, a former judge at the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea. Justice Treves also appeared before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in a similar case pitting Peru versus Chile.

Prof Phoebe Okowa, who is the only Kenyan in the group, is a lecturer of International Law at the Queen Mary University in London. She was a part of a maritime case filed by Gambia against Myanmar. She is an alumnus of the University of Nairobi where she graduated with First Class honours.

Also in the team is the team coordinator, Prof Makane Mbengue, a Senegalese, who teaches international law at the University of Geneva. He too has litigated before the ICJ, including representing the African Union in the advisory on the Legal Consequences on the Separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965.

Then there is Prof Laurence Boisson De Chazournes who is also an international law expert. She holds two nationalities – Swiss and French, Christian Tams, a professor at Glasgow University, and Eran Sthoeger from Israel. He too participated in Peru’s case against Chile.

President of Sovereign Geographic Coalter Lathrop is also on the list of lawyers that will be representing Kenya in the maritime dispute. He will offer cartographic and legal assistance to Kenya’s team inland and maritime boundary delimitation.

The new team replaces lawyers Karim Khan, Payam Akhavan (American), Makena Muchiri (Kenya), Vaughan Lowe QC (British), Alan Boyle (British), Mathias Forteau (French) and Amy Sanders (British).

Karim Khan was last week elected the next chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) to replace Gambian Judge Fatou Bensouda. Mr Khan will be only the third chief prosecutor in the court’s 18-year history.

 Kenya/ Somalia Maritime Dispute

The  Kenya-Somalia maritime dispute is rooted in a disagreement over which direction the border between the two countries extends into the Indian Ocean. Somalia argues that the maritime boundary should continue on in the same direction as the land border’s south-easterly path. Kenya, meanwhile, insists that the border should take a roughly 45-degree turn at the shoreline and run in a latitudinal line, giving the country access to a larger chunk of the sea.

Kenya has been making efforts effort to find an amicable and sustainable solution to the maritime boundary dispute with Somalia.

“We remain that the Federal Government of Somalia will be amenable and committed to the search for a mutually acceptable and sustainable solution to this dispute,” Uhuru said in 2019 while speaking at the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.

Somalia brought its case to the International Court of Justice at The Hague in 2014, but the hearing has been delayed. It is now scheduled for June this year.

 

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Uproar After Mwende Mwinzi Assumes South Korea Ambassador Role in Disregard of Parliament Direction

Image Courtesy

Kenyans have taken to social media to protest the decision by President Uhuru Kenyatta to affirm Mwende Mwizi’s appointment as Ambassador to South Korea, without parliamentary approval.

Mwinzi presented her credentials to South Korea President Moon Jae-In during a ceremony at the presidential office in Seoul on Wednesday, marking the beginning of her tenure as Kenya’s representative in the Asian country. South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong also graced the ceremony.

She was appointed as Ambassador to South Korea by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2019 but Parliament had reservations on approving her appointment over her dual citizenship status and asked that she renounces her American citizenship if she was to take up the job.

Mwinzi on her part argued that her US citizenship was by birth and as such cannot be renounced.

“My US citizenship was acquired by birth and as such, my citizenship or the process of opting in was a consequence of circumstances out of my control. I did not participate in the decision to be born in the US and I cannot “opt-out” of that decision. Article 78(3) (b) would only be applicable to people who opted in by applying for citizenship and renunciation would be the process ofopting out’,” she argued referring to the law that exempts people who cannot opt-out of dual nationality”.

Section 31(1) of the Leadership and Integrity Act bars persons with dual citizenship from holding State offices unless they renounce one. It’s this legislation that informed the MP’s position on Mwende Mwinzi’s appointment.

Mwende, who is born of a Kenyan father and an American mother, moved to the Constitutional and Human Rights Division of the High Court to stop Members of Parliament from forcing her to renounce her US citizenship before she takes the job, with the court later ruling that Ms Mwende cannot be forced to renounce her US citizenship to take up the post.

In a ruling dated November 14, 2019, Justice James Makau noted that an ambassador is not a State officer, but a public officer and hence is not required by law to renounce one citizenship.

Justice Makau also ruled that even if the petitioner was appointed to a state office, she is protected under Article 78 of the Constitution.

“No one chooses [his or her] place of birth or parents,” said the judge, adding that being an American citizen by birth, she cannot opt-out.

The judge however also averred that Parliament was legally right to question her commitment to defending the country’s security interests, given the ambassador is the representative of the President abroad. Justice James Makau ruled that the court could not force the government to deploy her as her vetting process involved parliamentary approval.

“It is in the public interest that the process should be allowed to be completed,” the judge ruled then.

MPs had earlier vowed to appeal the High Court decision, arguing the ruling had been vague.

Contempt of Parliament

Following the recent turn of events, Parliament has threatened to block the budget for Kenya’s Embassy in South Korea following claims that Mwende Mwinzi has taken over as ambassador despite the outstanding issue surrounding her citizenship.

Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo said it will amount to contempt of Parliament if indeed Ms Mwinzi had been appointed and assumed office as ambassador.

“The public has been made to believe that the High Court overturned the House decision rejecting her appointment. If the House rejects a nomination for appointment as per the Constitution, no other legal avenue can get one to be appointed.”

A section of other Kenyans on Twitter (KOT) were happy for Mwende Mwinzi and congratulated her for the role but some criticized the executive for disregarding the legislature.

Boniface MwangiMwende Mwinzi is officially Kenya’s ambassador to South Korea. We told her story@SemaUkweliKenya. Proud of her.

Donald B KipkorirDearest Mwende Mwinzi, I am so proud that today, you officially became our Ambassador to the Great Republic of Korea … One thing my friend @makaumutua & I see eye-to-eye with Chief Justice @WMutunga is our pure love for you … I wish you all the Best in your Tour of Duty.

#THETACKLEMwende Mwinzi proceeds on her Presidential appointment as Kenya’s ambassador to South Korea without Parliamentary approval. Parliament refused to approve her appointment for varied reasons. Amicus systemae?
Stephen MutoroMy friend Mwende Mwinzi shouldn’t have accepted an appointment without the seal of

. Art 1(3) CoK places a heavy responsibility on Parliament. Hansard is clear: her vetting failed on dual citizenship. Soon she will be up against many Court Orders asking for her recall.

Nahashon Kimemia: Why is Mwende Mwinzi so special that she has to be the Ambassador of Kenya to South Korea? What is so unique about this US citizen that the State can embarrass and disregard the National Assembly and the constitution? Doesn’t Kenya have other daughters? Why must she gain the post?

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Who Killed Dr Robert Ouko and Why?

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