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Peacemaker, gracious host: How leader’s relations with others in region stayed firm

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FRED OLUOCH

By FRED OLUOCH
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Throughout his rule, former president Daniel arap Moi always carried himself as a statesman in East Africa.

He reached out to his counterparts in the region and initiated and pushed various peace processes and especially through Inter-governmental Authority on development (Igad), to incorporate peace building and deal with issues related to drought and desertification in the Horn Africa.

Moi was also instrumental in the revival of the East African Community that had collapsed in 1977, and together with Tanzania’s then president Benjamin Mkapa and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, they signed it back to life.

Mr Moi reached out to then interim leader, Godfrey Binaisa for talks on the revival of the EAC but when Dr Milton Obote returned to power in 1980, Moi kept off, because he blamed Obote for instigating the Kenyan military, led by Maj Gen Joel Ndolo to revolt against Jomo Kenyatta in a coup plot by Ndolo unearthed in June 1971.

Unfortunately for Obote, six months after he was ousted by Idi Amin, he escaped to Kenya by road, but Moi refused to give him asylum, forcing him to take refuge in Zambia. But if Moi found Obote untrustworthy, he was apprehensive when the revolutionary Museveni took power in 1986 by blasting his way into Kampala.

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And Moi had good reason to be apprehensive. As Museveni was leading the rebel war in 1985, Moi convened peace negotiations in Nairobi in 1985 between then Ugandan leader Gen Tito Okello and Museveni.

The latter showed up and signed a peace accord but on the ground his National Resistance Movement was marching on Kampala. The peace deal collapsed and Moi felt betrayed and humiliated.

Tanzania
After the collapse of the EAC in 1977, Tanzanian leaders were wary of Kenya, which they blamed for the collapse.

According to Nicodemus Minde, a Tanzanian political commentator, there was great suspicion and distrust among the original three EAC member states.

Hassan Mwinyi re-established relations with Kenya, but Moi’s relations with Tanzania only improved with the ascendency of Benjamin Mkapa to power in 1995.

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Harold Acemah, a retired First Secretary at the Permanent Mission of Uganda to the UN, said that Moi established and maintained cordial relations with Uganda and Tanzania, despite the suspicions over the break-up of the EAC.

“One of the lessons Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania have learnt is that we are better off with an EAC than without it,” said Mr Acemah.

Moi was a close friend of the late Rwandan president, Juvénal Habyarimana, who was killed when his plane was shot down in 1994.

While Moi worked with President Paul Kagame’s predecessor, Pasteur Bizimungu, during the peace talks on the DR Congo, Kenya and Rwanda did not hit it off diplomatically given that a number of Rwandan Hutus who were suspected to have engineered the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994, had allegedly taken refuge in Kenya.

The most infamous to date is Félicien Kabuga, whose whereabouts remain unknown, but which the Rwanda government believed were in Kenya under the protection of Moi’s government.
Relations between Kenya and Rwanda deteriorated when a former Rwandan Interior Minister, Seth Sendashonga and his driver were killed in May 1998 along Limuru-Forest Road (now Wangari Maathai Way) junction in Parklands, Nairobi.

On July 9, 2011 when South Sudan was attaining independence, a loud cheer broke out at the Dr John Garang Mausoleum grounds when the name of former president Moi, who was present, was mentioned as one of the people who helped the country break from the Arab north.

The Kenyans in attendance, like this writer, realised how the ordinary South Sudanese owed a lot gratitude to Kenya’s role in helping them gain independence.

The best evidence is the South Sudanese flag, which is a replica of Kenya’s except the blue triangle.

South Sudanese have always felt at home in Kenya because the Moi government welcomed them.

Kenya remains a major player in the ongoing South Sudan peace process between President Salva Kiir and rebel leader, Dr Riek Machar.

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From starvation to coronavirus, Zimbabwe’s problems keep piling

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KITSEPILE NYATHI

By KITSEPILE NYATHI
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The Covid-19 outbreak is expected to worsen Zimbabwe’s problems as the southern African country grapples with a tanking economy, the worst food shortages in decades and a collapsing health system, observers warn.

Zimbabwe, which has been battling a long running economic crisis, has recorded three cases of the deadly disease with one fatality so far.

Manufacturing and other sectors have projected a calamitous year ahead since the country is heavily dependent on China for raw materials.

A mini survey by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) revealed that the country’s manufacturing has suffered a 46 per cent disruption in supply chains following the outbreak of the Covid-19 in China at the end of last year.

The disease has since spread to almost all parts of the globe, with South Africa – Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner – now the worst hit on the continent.

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“Local factories will obviously suffer the effects of the pandemic since China is the largest source of raw materials and equipment,” CZI said.

“Zimbabwe will experience major dislocations in exports and imports as the virus spreads and countries adopt restrictive responses that curb manufacturing.”

Last month, the International Monetary Fund revised downwards Zimbabwe’s economic growth forecast for the second time inside three months, slashing its own projection from 2.7 to a mere 0.8 per cent.

IMF citied a devastating drought, a sharp rise in inflation and policy missteps by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government as some of the reasons for the projected slump.

Economists said the country – already facing a staggering HIV/Aids burden, mass starvation and economic stagnation – is too fragile to handle a pandemic.

Eddie Cross, an economist and former opposition lawmaker, said Zimbabwe faces a “perfect storm” because as the country is already in the middle of a multifaceted humanitarian crisis.

“I hate to say it but we are in for a rough time. Our wet season is almost over and we are sitting on about 450 millimetres – half our normal rainfall – here in Harare,” Cross said.

“We have had enough for our trees and grass but the rivers have not run as normal and our dams are about 60 per cent. It means livestock will struggle and our towns and cities are at risk of water shortages.”

He added that the country faces a shortage of water for the next planting seasons.

Cross said Zimbabwe’s economic frailties have left it at the mercy of the deadly virus that has already grounded tourism, the main source of revenue.

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Most companies have scaled down operations.

He said health care is already in a crisis and that the government has no money to turn the situation around.

“We have no defences. Our hospitals are moribund. We have very few ventilators, probably less than 200 intensive care unit beds in the country and our health workers have limited protective clothing,” Cross said.

“The extent of our problem was well illustrated by the death of a young journalist just days after being diagnosed with the virus.”

Zororo Makamba, a 30-year-old popular broadcaster, became Zimbabwe’s first recorded case of Covid-19 death early this week.

His family said the main centre designated to handle coronavirus cases had no oxygen and ventilators.

Zimbabwe has one of the highest HIV/Aids prevalence rates in the world, with an estimated 1.3 million people having the virus in 2017.

Aid agencies say more than eight million people – over half the country’s population – will need food aid this year after poor harvests due to droughts and collapsing agriculture.

Hilal Elver, the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food, late last year said Zimbabwe was on the brink of a man-made starvation.

UN High Commission for Human Rights head Michelle Bachelet said Zimbabwe – alongside other countries facing Western sanctions like Venezuela, Iran and Cuba – need a reprieve to deal with coronavirus.

“These states have frail or weak health systems,” Bachelet said in a statement this week.

“Progress in upholding human rights is essential to improve those systems – but obstacles to the import of vital medical supplies, including over-compliance with sanctions by banks – will create long-lasting harm to vulnerable communities.”

Zimbabwe says its economy has been destroyed due to sanctions imposed on the country by the European Union, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand since 2002.

Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the country welcomes the call by the UN to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe.

“These powerful countries want to strangle Zimbabwe,” the minister said.

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Covid-19 cases in Uganda jump from 18 to 23

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DAILY MONITOR

By DAILY MONITOR
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The number of people who have tested positive for coronavirus (Covid-19) in Uganda has jumped from 18 to 23.

Five people tested positive on Friday, the Health ministry said without giving details.

“Out of the 227 samples tested today (Friday), 222 tested negative for Covid-19 while 5 tested positive,” Health minister, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, tweeted.

She told the public, “Please enhance guidelines and preventive measures. Together we can prevent spread of Covid-19.”

Health workers have reported that 14 patients at Entebbe Grade B, Mulago National Specialised and Adjumani General hospitals are in stable clinical condition and are feeding well.

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The ministry is monitoring 1,184 people, 811 of these being under institutional quarantine and 373 under self-quarantine.

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Early this week, 1,517 high risk travellers completed their 14 days of follow up and were issued with certificates of completion of the mandatory quarantine.

President Yoweri Museveni said that given the new cases, there might be need for more drastic measures to curb [the] spread.

Via Twitter on Saturday, Press Secretary Don Wanyama said the President would announce these measures in due course.

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Martha Karua condemns police brutality during curfew – Nairobi News

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Narc Kenya party leader Martha Karua has condemned police brutality witnessed on the first day of implementation of government’s dusk to dawn curfew.

The former Gichugu legislator criticised the unwarranted brutality meted out on innocent Kenyans by police calling on the Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai to rein in on his charges.

She decried how the police have turned fellow citizens into enemies instead of the coronavirus.

“As leaders, we should not forget that Kenyans are already too brutalised by an economy that is crashing (sic) the hopes and dreams of generations before yesterday’s violence.

“We must all stand in solidarity with one another, supporting each other and treating one another with dignity and respect, in adherence with the law in order to defeat our common enemy,” added Ms Karua.

The lawmaker called on the government, while implementing the curfew, to institute measures to rescue the vulnerable groups from hunger especially those who depend on the unstable daily jobs, the many jobless and those already made jobless by the current situation.

“In implementing the curfew or indeed any other measures to mitigate covid-19, the government must devote time to forward planning of the possible scenarios to avoid adverse effects on the already vulnerable members of the society,” she said.

She called on markets, which provide essential services, to be decongested and reopened even if it entails temporary relocated and provided with infrastructure for hygiene standards necessary.

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Ms Karua urged the government to come up with urgent short term plan to provide water and sanitation to informal settlements and a viable long term plan for housing for the vulnerable.

She pointed out that to be successful in the fight against coronavirus, water for handwashing must be accessible to all and to this end, the national government in conjunction with county governments should ensure that not only water is accessible to the vulnerable populations but also that as many public health facilities as possible have some minimal capacity to respond to the pandemic at their local level.

“We are aware and grateful that some counties have already instituted mitigation measures. We call upon the national government to urgently provide policy guidelines to harmonise such interventions across the country, ” she said.

The former Justice Minister implored the government in the short run to work with county governments to ensure each county is equipped with personnel and infrastructure to combat the coronavirus.

In addition to implementing universal health care and revamping public health facilities countrywide in the long run.

“It is also time to map and call out all health workers as a measure of preparedness,” said Ms Karua.

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