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Stakeholders welcome Uhuru’s directive – Daily Nation

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By DAVID KWALIMWA
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President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive that all national teams representing Kenya be fully funded by the government has excited sports stakeholders.

Speaking on Sunday at the refurbished Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi during Beyond Zero Half Marathon, President Kenyatta assured athletes that the government would fund all national teams.

“Sports will take centre stage in my government’s agenda this year,” President Kenyatta said. “Our athletes are the shining star of Kenya, so all national teams, be it in netball or rugby, will be funded by my government. We have put in place a fund (Sports Fund) to take care of that and I want to tell the athletes that they will not lack uniforms or training shoes.”

Uhuru’s directive comes at a time when the ministry of sports is still in the process of ensuring all federations adhere to the Sports Act – created in 2013 by Parliament.

It is under this Act that the Sports Fund was formed. The fund is aimed at developing sports and recreation facilities including stadiums, gymnasiums, buildings, and tracks, as well as enhancing support and access to funding for sportspersons and sports organizations to enable their participation in sporting events and competitions.

The directive, which was supported by Deputy President William Ruto in a separate statement, comes at a time a cash-strapped an ill-prepared Kenya Sevens rugby team endured a weekend to forget in the World Ruby Sevens Series in Canada. The team, coached by Paul Murunga, lost 36-12, 35-12 and 36-21 to Fiji, Samoa and hosts Canada in their pool.

“That (directive) is welcome news. A huge relief. Our teams have struggled to produce positive results all season and that’s partly because financially we are running on empty,” Kenya Rugby Union chairman Richard Omwela said.

Football Kenya Federation president Nick Mwendwa welcomed President Kenyatta’s statement, saying that operations at the federation have been hampered by cash flow problems on the side of government. “The President said the same thing in 2017 and our hope now is that it is implemented to the letter,” said Mwendwa.

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“We have consistently faced delays in funding by the government. We have a big (2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification) match against Ghana next weekend and up until now, the government has not responded to our request of facilitating tickets to fly in (Michael) Olunga and (Victor) Wanyama. We also have an issue with delayed allowances for the national women’s team players dating back to last October. The president is serious but now the action has to be taken because we do not wish to be talking about money all the time.”

Kenya Volleyball Federation secretary-general Ben Juma expressed hope the government will avail the Sh55 million budget needed to prepare national teams this year. Women’s volleyball team will compete in the FIVB Women’s World Cup in Japan in September, 2020 Olympic Games qualifiers, and Africa Nations Championship. Kenya will also compete in Africa U-21 beach volleyball games in Algeria next month.

“Our teams are among the best in the continent but we lack resources. If we can get the financial support required, we will dominate internationally,” said Ben Juma.

Kenya Golf Union chairman Lucas Maranga said: “It (the President’s directive) is a good thing but it’s easier said than done. We hope the fund should be managed effectively.”



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Kenya: Odinga Calls for Food Banks Before Total Lockdown

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The Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga has supported calls for a total lockdown in case the Covid-19 cases become adverse, but challenged the government to first plan on how to ensure sustainable food distribution to poor Kenyans.

Mr Odinga said there is need for the creation of food banks to help Kenyans especially the urban poor in case of a lockdown should the coronavirus cases persist.

“We have faith in the government and whatever action it has taken to deal with this pandemic. I however, call on plans to cushion the public against its effects by providing food especially in slum areas in case of a total lockdown as we battle the monster,” Mr Odinga said during a Friday morning interview on Citizen TV.

The former prime minister said Kenya’s sole aim at the moment is how to tackle the pandemic currently ravaging the globe and should not hesitate to make adverse decisions for the sake of Kenyans safety.

He pointed out that the government should pay keen attention on areas such as Kibra, Mukuru Kwa Njenga, Mathare, Kangemi among other slum areas in Nairobi as well as urban counties of Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisumu and Kakamega in terms of food supply.

Mr Odinga also challenged leaders not just to stay at homelike any other ordinary Kenyans but instead come out and offer a helping hand to the poor majority.

“Politicians must not keep quiet and just stay at home. Those fond of attending Church harambees during the weekends must now come out and spend such funds to offer help to Kenyans at this time of the pandemic,”Mr Odinga said.

Mr Odinga added that Kenyans, particularly legislators and politicians, must not shy away from declaring their status on coronavirus and taking necessary steps to avert its spread but warned Kenyans against spread of malicious propaganda of their status.

“To suffer from the virus is not a crime. Let nobody be ashamed of declaring his or her status and isolate. Let us be like those great leaders in Europe who have taken a bold step to declare their status and consequently go for isolation.”

He also condemned the originators of a fake list of legislators purportedly suffering from the virus in the Country.

“It is wrong to speculate on ones health. Let us not use the pandemic to play politics and to tarnish other people’s names,” added Mr Odinga.

He told Kenyans to cooperate and heed to the government’s demands to deal with the virus and cautioned police against extensive use of force to deal with Kenyans during curfew.

“Police must handle Kenyans with gentleness. They must not beat up Kenyans and Kenyans must also be disciplined and uphold the law. You must observe curfew hours and follow the law,” Mr Odinga said.

He also welcomed the government’s plans to import maize in its efforts to avert a food crisis as it battles the spread of Covid-19.

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“I support Peter Munya (Agriculture Cabinet Secretary) on this. The government is at liberty to import maize to address the shortage especially during this time of the Covid-19 spread” he said.

The government has authorised the importation of four million bags of maize to avert a food crisis as it fights the virus.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said the government would import two million bags of white maize for human consumption and another two million bags of yellow maize to be processed as animal feed.

On the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), Mr Odinga regretted that its implementation timelines could be interrupted but was quick to add that process had not been stopped.”

“Reggae (BBI implementation process) has not stopped. Reggae is still on. We are just on half time,” the ODM leader stated.