Raila is Evil, Says Minister

By the Nairobi Star Daily, 26 November 2008. Posted to AllAfrica.com on 25 November 2008

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Transport minister Chirau Makwere has accused Prime Minister Raila Odinga of being evil and stealing the credit for his achievements, the Nairobi Star has exclusively learnt.

Their thorny relationship was exposed last week when Mwakwere appeared before the Public Investment Committee (PIC). Mwakwere was answering questions about the abrupt cancellation of the tender for a second bulk grain handler at Mombasa port.

Makwere told the PIC that Raila has claimed all the credit for everything he has done in his ministry.

Makwere accused Raila of continuing to interfere in the affairs of his ministry and plotting to block his election in December 2007 by supporting his ODM rival for the Matuga constituency, Hassan Mwanyoha, who he said was funded by Mombasa businessman Mohammed Jaffer.

“Him and the Prime Minister have been evil to me,” Mwakwere told the PIC members. “They have been so evil to me that I am the only Member of Parliament in whose constituency the Prime Minister came with the Pentagon with the sole agenda to ensure the people did not elect me.

Mwakwere also complained to the PIC how Raila had jumped on the open skies deal he had struck with the US government.

“Another time we were in America, for two years I was negotiating with them to bring their aircrafts here- direct flights to Nairobi, either from Miami, Atlanta or wherever,” Mwakwere told the committee.

He noted that the deal was tedious and took two years to negotiate.

Suddenly, Makwere told members, Raila visited the United States in May and claimed he had signed the deal for Kenya.

Read more of this story on AllAfrica.com >>

Monday’s gold raises Kenya’s Olympic hopes

Just moments after the Nairobi Chronicle highlighted the mess in Kenya’s Olympic delegation, our athletes managed to bag several gold medals.

There was ecstatic pride across the country in celebration of Kenya’s victory in the races, as Pamela Jelimo and Brimin Kipruto won Kenya’s first gold medals at the Beijing Olympics.

Kenya is today, the highest placed African nation in 18th place with two gold, three silver and two bronze medals. Ethiopia lies 24th with two gold and one silver while Zimbabwe are 30th on the log with one gold and three silver medals. All of Zimbabwe’s medals were won by swimmer Kirsty Coventry.

More on Kenya’s Olympic victories In the Daily Nation website. >>

Kenya’s athletes have done the country proud but a lot needs to change as far as sports administration is concerned. If anything, the sterling performance is in spite of rather than because of our administrators. Kenya’s athletes are hard working professionals spurred to victory by the desire for national and international fame.

Unless something is done about the National Olympic Committee (NOCK), Athletics Kenya and other bodies, we are likely to witness more of the same mistakes in future.

Kenya’s poor show at Olympic games

Kenyans are awakening to the painful reality that our country’s performance at the Beijing Olympics is far below previous trends.

By today, Kenya only had a few medals, all from the longer races. Instead of scoring victories, Kenya’s delegation is plagued by infighting because of bad decisions. The professional conduct of Kenyan Olympic officials is so blatantly incompetent that it borders on sabotage of our sporting aspirations.

The irony is that Zimbabwe, with all its problems, is fairing much better than Kenya.

In a typical example of the woes afflicting the Kenyan team, last minute changes to the women’s 10,000 metres race resulted in a fiasco. Grace Momanyi was replaced by Peninah Arusei, who went on to grab 18th position in the race. Linet Masai, who was defeated by Momanyi during national trials, was allowed into the race and came out 4th place.

Masai claims that she didn’t know that white people could run so fast. She could have won a bronze medal but was overtaken at the last minute by Shalane Flanagan, an American. Arusei attributed her failure to, “a stitch which caused a sharp pain in my stomach.” With excuses like these, Kenyan sports has a very bleak future indeed.

The decision to replace Momanyi caused an uproar within the Kenyan contingent as officials engaged in damage control. Momanyi was so heartbroken that she cried in public and demanded the next flight back to Kenya. Momanyi could not understand how people she had defeated at the trials could be allowed to represent the country at her expense.

Problems for Kenya’s contingent were evident long before this. Infact, as the Olympic flame was lit at Beijing, dozens of Kenyan athletes were stranded in Nairobi for lack of tickets. Meanwhile, officials of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) were in Beijing a full week before the games. Even the team’s physiotherapist almost missed a ticket!

Still on last weekend’s drama, the Standard newspaper reports that not all of Kenya’s athletes are staying at the Olympic village. They had to get lodgings in other parts of Beijing with little access to training facilities. The affected athletes have complained of being sidelined.

By now, you must be thinking that our people couldn’t possibly do any worse. Brace yourself.

The International Olympic Committee reprimanded NOCK officials for mistreating the media.  According to the Daily Nation, the granting of day passes to Kenyan journalists was, “as hard to come by as Olympic medals for the Maldives.” Following criticism by the world body, Kenya’s chief of mission, Mr David Okeyo, apologized to the press and promised to facilitate access to the Kenyan team by the media.

In the months leading to the Olympics, there were disagreements over training venues and the use of substitutes. Kenyan athletes based overseas were reluctant to train at home. Maybe it is the conduct of NOCK and Athletics Kenya that discouraged them.

Kenya’s Olympic aspirations join the long list of sporting activities that have been ruined by maladministration, greed and political interference. Kenyan soccer is a basket case. Cricket is mired in controversies driven by racial differences. Volleyball suffered the same fate afflicting athletics, as replacements were made abruptly and with no recourse by aggrieved players. Hockey, handball and rallying are in a shambles. However, rugby seems to be doing quite well with impressive scores in recent months.

Kenya still has some hopes in Jason Dunford, who set a new world record in swimming, albeit for seven minutes. The fact that he is a white Kenyan attracted lots of attention from the international press.

Damning report on Kenya’s prisons

80% of Kenya’s prison guards have no homes, even as the Prisons Department failed to use millions of shillings it was given to build better housing and sanitation facilities, reveals a government report.

A prisons officer (right) guards inmates at a Kenyan jail. Picture by KBC.

A prisons officer (right) guards inmates at a Kenyan jail. Picture by KBC.

The report on Kenya’s prisons further recommends the dismissal and prosecution of top prisons officers for corruption, dereliction of duty and sexual harassment. Prisons officers routinely pay bribes in order to get promoted, while female officers cited demands for sex in exchange for promotions.

Lack of adequate housing for prison officers has caused a proliferation of shanties and slums within prison compounds. Current houses were intended for just 3,660 staff as compared to present staffing levels of over 17,000. Prison warders, forced to share a single room, use polythene sheets and cardboard to partition their houses. The lack of privacy has resulted in prostitution, drug abuse, alcoholism, family quarrels, social breakdown, theft and cross-interference in each others’ domestic affairs, says the report. In several correctional facilities, the committee found prison warders using bucket latrines.

Apart from the pathetic state of prison warders, the committee discovered massive irregularities in prison operations. Prison warders outside the capital complained of an absence of supervision by commanders. In the town of Machakos, private flats have been built within prison land, meaning that tenants are inadvertently getting state security. In other parts of the country, livestock belonging to senior officers mingle with those of the prisons, hence benefiting from government veterinary services.

The report was compiled by a probe committee appointed to look into Kenya’s jails following a prison warders mutiny several months ago. The committee, headed by former legislator Marsden Madoka, completed its work this week. The Madoka report has called for the prosecution of masterminds behind the warders’ strike, describing it as a threat to national security.

Prison warders went on strike in April protesting over poor pay and a hostile work environment. Many of the warders say they receive little supplies from their employer, forcing them to buy uniforms from the army and the police services. Warders have criticized the Kenyan government for neglecting them while placing too much emphasis on improving the welfare of prisoners. Since 2003, prisoners in Kenya have been supplied with new uniforms and gotten better accommodation in addition to comfortable buses. There are also opportunities for inmates who dropped out of school to get high school and other vocational certificates while in jail.

Kenya’s private sector has also faced criticism for making donations to inmates and organizing beauty pageants while doing little for prison warders.

Just last week, a mobile phone racket involving death-row inmates was uncovered in the country’s major prisons. Inmates used smuggled mobile phones to run an extortion and fraud racket targeting East, Central and Southern Africa. It is believed that demoralized warders turned a blind eye as inmates made millions of shillings from the scam.

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