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President Uhuru Mourns Death of Singer John DeMathew

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President Kenyatta has mourned the death of renowned Kikuyu benga singer John Ng’ang’a, popularly known as John DeMathew.

In a message of condolence to the family and friends, Kenyatta eulogized DeMathew as a gifted musician, who used his talent to entertain, educate and mentor upcoming artistes.

“As a nation, we were privileged to have had such a brilliant artiste who played a big role in promoting our African cultural heritage through his music,” said Kenyatta.

“Indeed, we have lost an icon in the music industry. DeMathew championed and played a big role in preserving our cultural heritage.”

On his part, Deputy President William Ruto said: “DeMathew was a great composer of Kikuyu lyrics, which carried undertones of societal ills, including alcoholism and promoting peace and cohesion in society.”

He added: “He used his talent to teach us life lessons and convey socio-economic and cultural messages, especially to the youth.” 

DeMathew died on Sunday night after his car was involved in a grisly road accident near Blue Post Hotel in Thika.

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The singer was coming from a Harambee in support of fellow musician Peter Kigia at Metro Bar in Thika, Gatanga MP Nduati Ngugi said while confirming his death.

He said DeMathew, who was alone in the vehicle, rammed into a lorry and was pronounced dead on arrival at Thika Nursing Home. His body was moved to Kenyatta University Referral Hospital mortuary.

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Top researchers caught in toxic scandals over money and sex : The Standard

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The Regional Centre for Mapping of Resource For Development along Kasarani Road. [Jenipher Wachie, Standard]
A half a billion-shilling complex, claims of sexual harassment and corruption allegations are at the heart of a bitter war threatening to tear apart one of Africa’s mapping centres of excellence.

So intense is the infighting at the Kasarani based Regional Centre For Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) that four whistle blowers, among them a technical director, have been sacked.
The working environment at the 44-year old institute is so toxic that members of staff are now fearing it will compromise operations.
Investigations by Saturday Standard indicate that bad blood between some top managers has forced the board of governors drawn from 20 countries in East and South Africa to intervene. 
RCMRD’s Director General Emannuel Nkurunzinza insists he is a victim of a plot to sabotage his work, dismissing claims of harassment against him.
In October last year, some staff complained to the council chairperson Bonolo Elizabeth Khumotaka about Nkuruzinza’s governance style.
Some — John Kiema (director of technical services), Joseph Masatu (staff assistant head), Byron Anangwe (business development) and Ann Kingori (executive secretary) — have now been pushed out. 
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All the four had testified against the director general when a raft of allegations were presented to the council last October. “I had worked for RCMRD for 20 years. My contract was to expire in December last year and I expected it to be renewed. However, after I testified, my letter of termination was dropped at home, shortly before Christmas. What they did was not right but I have accepted this and moved on,” Mr Anangwe said.
He said he had complained about bad governance as there was too much interference by his director, whom he claimed was antagonising partners and shooting down other ideas, in the process killing creativity among staff.
Anangwe said he was concerned after all the reserves the centre had been saving for two decades were committed to the construction of a four-storey complex that will cost $5 million (about Sh500 million).
But Nkrunzinza said Anangwe’s contract and those of his two colleagues had been terminated by the governing council which had also directed they should not be renewed. 
Nkrunzinza, a Rwandan, has also been accused of unilaterally awarding two contracts for training in use of drones in mapping in Zambia and Rwanda a compatriot, Rhona Nyakuluma, instead of letting the centre do the work and earn some money.
The director however defended himself, saying the centre had been contracted by the World Bank to engage the consultant who they had already identified and that it was only supposed to be paid an administration fee of 17 per cent. 
Subscription fees
Each member country is supposed to pay an annual subscription fee based on its Gross Domestic Product. There was controversy surrounding how some arrears owed to the centre by Uganda in form of subscription fees had been settled.
Nkurunzinza dismissed as untrue allegations that he had waved off the debt after he secured a contract for the recovery of data from a destroyed disk for a Kampala based firm irregularly. “Uganda has cleared all its arrears. Those making those allegations do not know what they are talking about. The centre’s accounts are scrutinised by external auditors and no queries about our finances have been raised,” he said.
A complaint letter to the chair seen by Saturday Standard detail the frosty working environment at the centre. It reads in part: “2019 has been a very difficult year for TSD (technical service department)  and indeed essentially because of unwarranted interference in the management of TSD) and lack of support from the Director General.” 
According to this petition, staff had raised their grievances to the management, issues they said were never discussed.
The staff had complained of sexual harassment of students and interns during a meeting held on April 5, 2019, but the director general conclusively dealt with the matter through a memo on May 20, saying the claims had no basis.
The staff had further claimed there had been a doubtful payment of about $37,945 (Sh3,832,445) in 2017 to a Ugandan firm after it repaired a computer disc that had vital data.
According to documents seen by Saturday Standard, the payment was suspected to be fishy because another firm in South Africa had unsuccessfully tried to repair the disc.
While requesting for payment, Banuli Kasanga of Dream Soft Uganda Limited had confirmed that his firm had repaired the faulty device which had been tested at at the DG’s office and found to be working.
Nkurunzinza had on July 5, 2017 written to Dream Soft: “This is to acknowledge that Mr Babuli Kasango has today delivered data recovered from Dell Power Vault MD32000 and on a sample basis  demonstrated that the data is in good condition,” he wrote.
This raised questions among the technical staff who wondered why the repaired disc was never returned to the centre and why the DG had gone to Uganda not long after the payment had been made.
Received data
But the director general maintained that he had indeed received the data which he had handed over to a client who had been patiently waiting for it.
When these issues were presented to the governing council, which conducted  its sittings in Nairobi between November 28 and 30 last year, things turned nasty for the whistle blowers.
In a case of the hunter becoming the hunted, Prof Kiema received a letter from the governing council dated January 24 informing him of the turn of events.
“Reference is made to your letter of November 28, 2019 addressed to me in which you raised a complaint against the Director General. The governing Council undertook investigations in Nairobi. From the investigations, undertaken no evidence has been established supporting your allegations.”
The chairperson of the board said their investigations had unearthed incontrovertible evidence of insubordination towards the director general and the whistle blower was given five days to show why severe disciplinary action could not be taken against him.
Ultimately, the axe fell on Kiema on February 3 when Khumotaka fired back:  “I wish to inform you that I have received your explanation on the offences you were accused of. However, I do not find the explanation satisfactory”.
She added: “In the interest of  smooth running the centre, your contract is terminated with immediate effect by paying you three months salary in lieu of notice in accordance with your contract of employment”.
When asked why the witnesses had been sacked barely a month after testifying against him, Nkurunzinza said although the complainants had poisoned the working environment with baseless allegations, this was not the basis of their loss of jobs.
“Their contracts ended in December and the governing council opted not to renew them. They were not victimised for reporting me,” the DG said.
On sexual harassment allegations, Nkurunzinza said when the investigators came, nobody came forward or presented evidence to back the claims.

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Experts: Planned dam may kill Lake Naivasha : The Standard

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The construction of a dam on River Malewa in Nakuru County could kill Lake Naivasha, conservationists have warned.
River Malewa is one of the two main tributaries of the lake and the government plans to build on it a dam that will supply 100,000 cubic metres of water per day.
“Eighty per cent of Lake Naivasha’s recharge comes from River Malewa. The lake is the heartbeat of Naivasha town and defines its tourism while also supporting agricultural and fishing activities. Damming its main tributary means suffocating the goose that lays the golden egg,” says Silas Wanjala, the General Manager of Lake Naivasha Riparian Association.
The proposed dam was marked as a Vision 2030 flagship project and targeted for implementation in the Second Medium Term Plan (2013-2017). It is planned to supply water to Naivasha, Gilgil and Ol Kalou towns.
But conservationists say the dam is spoiling for an environmental crisis in lake basin.
“The lake is home to numerous industries, is an important bird area and home to hundreds of migrant birds and aquatic species that should be considered even when discussions are ongoing,” says Mr Wanjala.
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Researcher Samuel Mungai says Lake Naivasha’s health is dwindling and measures are needed to salvage the situation.
Pollution
He says the lake has borne pressures of land use, with hotels coming up in the riparian areas coupled up with massive challenges of pollution from both solid and liquid waste.
“Lake Naivasha, sadly, has no life. It faces severe challenges of over-abstraction, encroachment of its riparian areas, pollution, invasive weeds, siltation and many more,” Mr Mungai says.
He says the destruction of the upper catchment of the lake has resulted in storm water often washed in to the lake with large volumes of soil. Waste from flower farms also finds its way into the lake.
Naivasha serves as an important economic centre and is internationally renowned for horticulture and flower farming. The town also hosts vibrant hotels, marking it one of most preferred travel destinations.
According to records from the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, the current target population for water supply in Naivasha is 143,430 and about 85 per cent (123,950 people) of this population is urban.
The supply of water from Malewa dam is expected to solve the estimated demand of 7,800 cubic metres per day against the current supply of 6,600 cubic metres.
It is also projected that Malewa dam will supply 3,850 cubic metres of water against the current supply of 2,500 cubic metres in Ol Kalou town.
In Gilgil, the proposed project seeks to supply the demand of 17,088 cubic metres of water against the current supply of 4, 500 cubic metres per day.
Agricultural activities
Environmentalists warn that the damming of River Malewa will also negatively impact on lakes Elementaita and Magadi.
Wanjala says the present abstraction of water from the river to support agricultural activities is already overwhelming.
Although an environmental impact assessment and feasibility study has been conducted, environmentalists warn that such a mega project should also be subjected to strategic environmental assessment.
“Failure to conduct a strategic environmental assessment might spell doom to operations of the industrial park. The assessment gives a proper plan and takes into consideration how much water will be required while weighing the options available,” says Wanjala.

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Kenya’s BBI a model for Africa, Obasanjo and Hailemariam say

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ABIUD OCHIENG

By ABIUD OCHIENG
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Kenya’s Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) should be emulated by other African countries, Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn have said.

The two have thrown their weight behind the initiative, praising the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga as a model for African countries needing the unity necessary to prosper.

They spoke in the country on Thursday, when they met leaders including Garissa Senator Mohamed Haji, chairperson of the BBI Steering Committee, who handed the report to them.

They in turn presented measures Kenya can take to rapidly provide jobs for the youth.

The two also launched their book, “The Asian Aspiration: Why and How Africa Should Emulate Asia”, which they co-authored with Greg Mills and Emily van der Merwe.

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Several local stakeholders have presented reports on what the BBI report should cover, following its launch by the President on November 27, 2019.

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However, it remains unclear whether the final report will be adopted and a referendum to embrace it held this year as suggested by majority of politicians.

Earlier on Friday, Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua rubbished the manner in which BBI rallies have been organised, saying they have become exclusive and are being used to spread hate.

She described the idea by ODM, Mr Odinga’s party, for one to be held by June, as a pipe dream.

The Narc Kenya leader also warned that Kenya is at a dangerous place, with the government is making “blunder after blunder”.

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