Monday, September 10, 2018 – Friday, September 14, 2018
On September 13, Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta announced police reforms that would include the merging of the Kenya Police Service with the country’s Administration Police, with an aim of giving a new service. The changes affect several areas including the command structure, uniform, housing and training of several arms of the policing service. These reforms are aimed at making the police a service that is respected rather than a force that is feared, explained Kenyatta, who was officially opening the first National Security Conference in Nairobi. Kenyans on social media on Thursday reacted negatively to the new blue police uniforms design and color. Majority expressed their dislike and criticized the new uniforms describing them as horrible and ugly. The reactions, using the trending hashtag #PoliceReforms included hilarious posts, which associated the new police uniforms features like big pockets that could be used to stash bribery money among others uses.
On September 14, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia Health ministers launched a point polio vaccination campaign for the Horn of Africa in Garissa town. They were hosted by Kenya’s Health CS Sicily Kariuki and the county government of Garissa. In a press statement on September 13, the CS said the Global Polio Eradication Initiative recommended two rounds of synchronized polio vaccination campaigns to be conducted in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia.
On September 10, Elachi had resumed office amid tight security but the MCAs who vowed not to work with her demanded that she exits the building. Led by Majority leader Abdi Guyo, they stated that they will not work with Elachi whom they accuse of high handedness. The leaders besieged Elachi in her office and stated that no business will go on until Elachi vacates office. Elachi is accused of interfering with procurement processes, undermining the authority of the County Assembly Service Board and failing on leadership claims that she denies.
President Uhuru returns home amid fuel tax talks. On September 10, Kenyans eagerly waited for the President in the hope that he will trigger the suspension of the tax that led to a country-wide fuel crisis. President Uhuru Kenyatta was expected to arrive on September 9 as the debate on the fuel tax raged on. President Kenyatta travelled to Beijing last week for the China-Africa summit that ended on September 4. However, sources said the Executive was adamant about retaining the VAT on petroleum products as well as other tax measures MPs rejected in the Finance Bill, 2018. Free maternal health care and free primary and subsidized secondary education are some of the services the government could reconsider should Parliament refuse to rescind its decision.
On September 10, Interior CS Fred Matiang’i mentioned in preparation for the national identification integration management system, the government will double its efforts in registering people. He single out Siaya County where he state that over 50 per cent of children born are not registered.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry described the death of the immediate former Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Professor George Godia as a big blow to the diplomatic circles. Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma said Prof Godia “raised the profile of Kenya within UNESCO providing leadership in a number of its programmes.” Prior to his appointment to UNESCO, Prof Godia served at various positions in government, and was once an Education Secretary at the Ministry of Education in 2004 before he rose to the Principal Secretary’s post. He has previously served as a director and board member of the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).
On September 14, Ugandan security forces brought all fishing activities on Migingo Island to a standstill, after receiving reports that their Kenyan counterparts were planning to hoist their flag on the disputed, rocky island. On September 13, they patrolled the island in combat gear and shot in the air, forcing Kenyan traders and fishermen to remain indoors. The Special Forces emptied their armory by arming themselves with their guns and strapping belts of ammunition around their necks and chests, turning the island into a war zone as folks there remained indoors. This was just hours after they pulled down a Kenyan flag that was hoisted on September 12 and removed the flag post. Although the island is jointly manned by Kenyan and Ugandan security forces, only the Ugandan flag is allowed to fly. The decision to jointly police the island was reached between Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and Yoweri Museveni as part of efforts to reach a legal solution to the island’s ownership. In the latest conflict, Kenyan security forces backed down after the Ugandan officers warned against hoisting a Kenyan flag again.
On September 12, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi accused President Uhuru Kenyatta of deliberately plunging the country into a financial crisis through unbridled external borrowing. Mudavadi said the government’s “insatiable appetite” for capital projects funded through international loans is not good for the economy. Kenya is facing a serious financial crunch which could get worse if the value of the shilling in the internal market dips. President Uhuru’s government has been under pressure to reduce its external debts and embark on austerity measures to raise enough revenue locally to fund the budget, whose deficit stands at over Sh500 billion.
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the highest decision-making organ of the Washington DC-based global lender, has been in talks to make a decision to be announced on September 13 in regards to the 16 per cent value-added tax. Should the Bretton Woods institution pull the plug on the Standby Arrangement (SBA), it will set off the country to unthinkable economic destruction. Kenyans might have to reconsider their opposition to the 16 per cent value-added tax (VAT) on petroleum products as the alternative might be a financial crisis whose effects will be more painful than those of the punitive tax measure being pushed by the IMF.
On September 13, the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport was officially presented with an authorization letter as the last point of departure for US flights. The letter, presented by US Ambassador Robert Godec, affirms that Kenya meets all the required Transport Security Administration security standards. Godec, flanked by Transport CS James Macharia, said the United States will give the Kenya Airports Authority Ksh150 million to aid in the provision of additional security, equipment, and training.
The letter was presented after JKIA last month achieved ‘Last Point of Departure’ status to allow the airport facilitate direct flights between Kenya and the US. The development came in the wake of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his US counterpart Donald Trump’s bilateral talks at the White House. The first flight is scheduled to depart on October 28, 2018. Kenya Airways will now fly directly to the US, presenting new opportunities for Kenyans in travel, trade, and commerce as well as strengthen diplomatic ties with the United States of America.
On September 13, the schedule lapsed as Kenya’s Treasury allowed a $1.5-billion International Monetary Fund standby loan to expire. The funding that’s been in place since March 2016 has been available to protect Kenya’s economy from exogenous shocks, and served as an assurance to investors in the country’s financial assets. The program was scheduled to expire in March, but was extended by six months to allow for program reviews delayed by last year’s protracted elections.
The new tax imposed on petroleum products will hit Kenyans working in urban centers hardest. Official data shows that workers spend a huge chunk of their income on petrol, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), transport and food. The 16 per cent tax on gas, electricity and transport will be reflected on the food bill they now have to foot under the new tax regime. The same working Kenyans will have to put up with an indirect cost of the fuel tax, which will creep into their electricity bill as Kenya Power is set to transfer the inflated fuel adjustment cost to its consumers.
Kenyans spend a third of their income on food. The new VAT now takes the number of taxes and levies to Sh57.57 on super petrol, Sh46.18 on diesel and Sh25.38 on kerosene. ERC issued a guideline that has seen maximum pump prices of a liter of super petrol in Nairobi shoot to Sh127.80 and Sh141.61 in Mandera.