Saturday, June 25, 2011

House helps pay hike

A gazette notice by the Ministry of Labor stipulates new regulations of minimum wages for house helps and has been backdated from 1st May 2011. In the major cities of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu the minimum wage will be Kshs7586 and Kshs7000 for other counties.

Benefits include
House allowance of 15% of salary
2 days rest every week
Annual leave with full salary
Pension on retirement

Penalty for those who do not comply
6 months imprisonment or a Kshs50,000 fine.

I find this ridiculous and unaffordable to majority Kenyans. Many Kenyans earn very low salaries and can only afford to pay house helps from Kshs2000. Imagine that Kshs7000 is nett salary of some people employed even in offices and are just struggling to pay that person they leave with their children. Many especially in the slums who cannot afford to pay a house help leave their children in day-cares that are now on the rise due to high cost of living. Many Kenyans would wish to pay as much as they can to the house helps who they leave in charge of their kids but cannot afford to do so.

May question is how will they implement this, will they send officers to every household to enforce the law? This also contradicts the fact that Kenya is a free market economy, where willing buyer willing seller principal applies. Under this rule the buyer and seller agree on terms, so for that reason employer (buyer) and employee (seller) can agree on affordable salary. They can also have a written contract just like other jobs.

What are the consequences?

In the event the government manages to enforce this law on Kenyans (which I doubt). We will resort to live like people in America and Europe, we will take our children to Day Care centers and do our work ourselves or get help from relatives. As a result unemployment and crime will rise. The gainers will be Nursery schools and day cares and in fact it may be cheaper to pay a day care something like Kshs10,000/term than to pay house helps this Kshs7000 per month which is like Kshs21,000 for three months. Some are even cheaper depending on where someone lives, people who live in the slums pay 50/pay. So some other middle class estates can charge minimum 100/day which is much cheaper than paying a house help under the new salary scale.

To implement the ministry of labor will need to hire more officers to move from house to house and arrest those who don’t comply. We all know what that will lead to, more corruption. They will threaten people and ask for bribes. Majority of Kenyans are faced with numerous financial difficulties due to luck of jobs, low salaries, high cost of living and it is a fact we are still in the 3rd World, so unless the Government will force all employers to increase salaries (if they will afford), this law is absurd in Kenya.

Friday, June 24, 2011

WHAT A DILEMMA

MPs to pay taxes

The taxman (Kenya Revenue Authority) has cracked his whip on the “un-touchable”, according to the new constitution all remuneration should be taxed. KRA commissioner John Njiraini will start with our MPs whose benefits were not taxed and threatened to attach their assets if their employer does not remit the taxes, the tax will be backdated from September 2010. If there is anything that can unite all our MPs including the house speaker, it is any move towards their salaries. They are now crying they had planned for their salaries for the five year contract which ends 2012. That is just an excuse, lucky they are to have good paying jobs they could count on for five years, make big plans like buying fuel guzzlers, get mortgages for buying homes and enjoy a good life. This move was blocked before and termed unconstitutional by our MPs when Kenyans demanded they pay taxes. Now KRA has the new constitution to support them to recover millions of shillings uncollected.

Many Kenyans have come out to support KRA, polls by local media have shown that majority of Kenyans support this move because many Kenyans (who elected these MPS) even the lowest paid pay taxes, many cannot afford mortgage, cannot afford cars and luxury like our MPs. So now it is time for our MPs to start paying taxes like other Kenyans, Kenyans did not send you to parliament to get richer. When in Tanzania some years back, a Tanzanian commented it is shocking that Kenyan MPs are amongst the richest which is not the same case in Tanzania were their MPs are just like common citizens. If they cannot afford the taxes they should sell part of the assets they acquired from the Government salaries and pay KRA before KRA auctions them. How do they expect the 1.55 Trillion budget to be achieved, it is time for wananchi to benefit from public resources. There are very few MPs who pay taxes and some have accepted they will pay congratulations, we wait to see more patriotic MPs come out to say they will pay taxes.

Un-authorized buildings to be marked and demolished


After two multi storey buildings under construction collapsed, one of them killing and injuring people, the local Government under Dept. Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Town Clerk Philip Kisia have vowed to mark and demolish such un-authorized buildings. This move off-course cannot be accepted by landlords of up-coming multi storey buildings in the affected areas like Mwiki, Kayole, Umoja, Tassia, Embakasi etc…According to the council multi storey buildings with over five floors should have lifts, most don’t. The MP for Embakasi, whose area is most affected Ferdinand Waititu and the landlords, formed a human barrier to block move by City Council to mark buildings in Kayole. Waitutu is warning the Council of dire consequences if they step in his constituency. This is one MP who is known to support Mungiki (outlawed militia) and so one can imagine the kind of action he implies by his threats. The council has also complained of their efforts to block un-approved building like the recent one that killed people in Embakasi being blocked by such militia. Kayole estate has many such multi storey buildings which house many people. The population there is I believe the biggest in Nairobi and this is why Ferdinand Waititu cannot accept this. It is also a fact that Embakasi constituency is the biggest in Nairobi may be he gets more CDF funds. It is a big dilemma for the landlords are said not to have titles for the plots. However it is a fact that many innocent lives of Kenyans have been lost because of un-approved buildings and greedy landlords, so something has got to be done to stop this. Waititu should not support the few landlords some do not even live in those houses, and think of the many tenants whose lives are at risk.

The Government should come out strongly on this issue and reach a compromise with the landlords of the buildings because both sides are to blame for the collapsing buildings. Then the Government should stop all up coming buildings until they get approval from the local authority, use whatever force they can to save lives. MPs should stop politics on these efforts.

Sam Ongeri clings to his office


Even after facing major scandals in his Minister since 2009 and numerous calls by Civil Society, public, heads of schools and even his fellow MPs to step aside for investigations. The civil society even camped and locked his office yesterday. The minister seems unmoved by these calls and actions. This is very typical of most ministers in Kenya faced with sandals, is it the money or ego, when will this attitude stop. It is a shame for a minister to cling to his public office like it is a personal property. The civil society protesters were attacked by a group who smeared them with human waste off course one can tell who sent them, what a shame!! It is also a shock to Kenyans that the President and the Prime Minister are mum on this issue, why can’t they just send him packing?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Congratulations to Nancy Baraza and Willy Mutunga

Finally, after going through a grueling, publicized and embarrassing vetting that they took with great humility, the country’s first and female Asst. Chief Justice Nancy Baraza and Chief Justice Dr. Willy Mutunga have been sworn in today by the President. Many Kenyans are happy today, they got a lot of support from the public. Also sworn for another term as the Deputy Public Prosecutor is Keriako Tobiko whose nominations was not much welcome by the public as that of Baraza and Mutunga. He has been given a chance to prove that he can work better in this time of reforms.

The three now have an enormous task to clean the rot in the judiciary that involves piles of cases in our courts, corruption, biased verdicts for the "big fish" and "small fish" just to name a few.

Kenyans have waited for years for this change in the judiciary, please do not disappoint us.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ministry of Education scam



“Releasing the Forensic audit is Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Education Minister Prof. Sam Ongeri, Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua, and CID Director Mr. Francis Ndegwa Muhoro” Read more from Kenya weekly post.

This afternoon the Prime Minister Raila Odinga issued a statement on this misappropriation of a colossal sum of 4.2 Billion shillings. Many members on point of order wanted to know what action the Government has taken on this issue. This is not the first time the ministry is being accused of embezzling funds, in 2009 the sum was much higher 8.2 billion. The Prime Minister suspended Prof. Sam Ongeri; he was later reinstated by the Member of Parliament for Othaya (as MP. Sonko pointed in Parliament). As usual in Kenya the Tribal Nonsense came up in 2009 the Minister’s tribesmen Kisii came out to defend their man as being innocent.

Kenyans have been informed top officials will be arraigned in court to face charge.
The Prime Minister also assured Members of Parliament that it will not only be the small fish to face charges. I support MP Martha Karua, she said the properties of those accused be freezed. Donors also have lost confidence in this crucial ministry and have withdrawn funding. This is a very serious issue because it means some individuals in the ministry decided to get rich at the expense of education of Kenyan Children. It is known that many public servants have acquired a lot of property and cars for themselves and their girlfriends through corruption. To confuse others or those who may be investigating them some live in rented houses that their salary can afford and rent out the houses/flats they built. May be the government should make the names of those accused public, you never know they could get more information from people who know them.

This time round the Minister of Education should do the honor of stepping aside to pave way for investigations, and please let us not get “cries” from his tribesmen that the Government is against the Kisii. It is about public funds and the rights of the Kenyan Child and if they care they should ask him to step aside.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: Another storey building collapse killing people

A six storey building under construction in Embakasi collapses killing workers and injuring many. It is unbelievable that this could happen again in Kenya today, there was no earth quake in Kenya to trigger this, it is as a result of dubious contractors and Nairobi City Council is to blame. It is shocking that this department of Nairobi City Council slept on their job once again after the past incidents that robbed Kenyans of their loved ones.

The current town clerk Mr. Philip Kisia has been busy working hard trying to overhaul and change the image of NCC famously known as Kanjo they are hated and loathed by many business people and Citizens for harassing and using uncouth ways of enforcing law and order. At least I can congratulate Mr. Kisia for working hard to change this perception. He also unearthed the corruption in License department that cost NCC’s losses worth millions of shillings. The council is also trying to recover unpaid money from land rates and demolish illegal buildings; they are so serious they even demolished NENO Evangelisms Church in the City center and the house of an MP Mr. Bufwoli Wakoli.

With all these happening at least we no longer hear of “ghost workers” or council workers demonstrating because of unpaid salary arrears. On the other hand it seems someone is sleeping on the job or was amongst the council officials under investigation for corruption. This is a serious matter that Philip Kisia should deal with as a matter of urgency. How can they allow more storey buildings to come up without proper inspection, this means their officers are still taking bribes from owners of the buildings like they normally do. They move around with small council vehicles as if going to inspect a building, within a few minutes of meeting the owner they disappear and comeback after some days or months to take more. More and more storey buildings are going up and the cycle continues. Something serious needs to be done.

Stop this tribal nonsense

It is very shocking and annoying to see the Maasai and their leaders like Hon. Ole Ntimama claim that those against reappointment of Mr. Keriako Tobiko as Deputy Public Prosecutor are against the Maasai community. For heavens sake it is not about the Maasai community, it is about getting the right person for this important public office. There is evidence he was corrupt as the former DPP, the vetting was public and the witnesses were not ashamed or afraid of giving their facts. When other Kenyans are calling for an end to corruption, Kenyans want reforms then why are the Maasai community leaders taking us back?

There is also this group of members of parliament affiliated to PNU; just because ODM is against the appointment then they have to support the person,is it because of Maasai votes? This is Nonsense and tells Kenyans which leaders support reforms and those who don’t. We are moving ahead as a country, please don’t take us back. Kenyans lets shun leaders (even if he/she comes from your tribe) who are against reforms.

Ban on use of vernacular in public offices

I applaud this bill sponsored by MP Elias Mbau of Maragua and approved in parliament last week; Read more it has been a big problem. It is known in Kenya that the population of a tribe in any ministry will depend on which part of the country the Minister of that Ministry comes from. As a visitor in a public office in Nairobi one would get confused and think they are in Nyeri, Kisumu, Kakamega etc depending on which Ministry visited. This is because of the language majority of the staff use to communicate because they feel so much at home. It is so demeaning for people from other tribes who would be the minority in the institution.

Apart from public offices, it is also a problem in some private institutions as well. I remember a private company I worked for some years back. Two colleagues of a certain community were busy chatting and gossiping in an office they shared with another colleague of a different community, one thing they didn’t know was the colleague they were busy gossiping understood their language well. The next episode was terrible she could not take it anymore and decided to fight them, because it was unbearable and it was not the first time they were doing this.

This is one of those interesting bills passed by this parliament.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

THE 1.155 TRILLION BUDGET

This is the highest in Kenya so far, a very ambitious budget that leaves many Kenyans wondering how it will be achieved. I like the casual way it was presented in Parliament, no ceremony with parades, no red carpet for executives, it was carried in a folder and not the usual briefcase at least something simple and straight. The budget statement was presented this way because the Finance Minister did not presenting it to Parliament earlier as required by the new constitution. He decided on this day because as a tradition East African countries read their budgets on the same day.

Currently the budget is being debated in parliament before implementation. True the Finance Minister may have erred may be he had a lot with the Hague cases. The country needs to move on and as they debate they should bear in mind the need to pass parts of the budgets that affect wananchi ASAP. The areas they should give priority are:-

HEALTH: Many Government health institutions need adequate health facilities and supplies especially in regards to ARVs, many people are sick and in these harsh economic times many rely on Government hospitals and health centers.

EDUCATION: Many Government schools are in need of more money now because the previous budgets they prepared cannot sustain the schools. Boarding schools are most affected because prices of food have doubled/tripled. If this is not done urgently there will be unrest in schools like the case of a school in Turkana where students went on strike because of food. Parents will also suffer more if schools resort to increasing school fees.

SECURITY: There is a lot of insecurity in Kenya, the latest attacks near border of Kenya and Ethiopia, the blast on Kirinyaga road. Then cases of insecurity in Kenyan homes is on the rise.

AGRICULTURE: Due to lack of adequate rains this year argent measures should be taken to increase food production. Money allocated for irrigation should be approved urgently to implement this.

EMPOWERMENT: Funds for creation of jobs, youth and women empowerment should also be passed and distributed as soon as possible, many idle youth are the ones engaged in crimes because cost of living is high and many have lost jobs.

LOWERED TAXES: Measures proposed for cushioning the poor should be looked into as a matter of urgency. READ MORE

I think I have touched on most of the urgent issues legislatures should give priority. Other issues like budget allocation for next years elections can be given enough time and scrutiny.

The common mwananchi is eager to see the new budget causing an impact on his/her life.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Why all the fuss about Dr. Willy Mutunga's nomination

Having watched live judicial nominees vetting on local TV stations, I can say it is historical and a great achievement on Kenya’s reforms. It was very interesting and entertaining to listen to different comments for and against the nominees yesterday.

Today the nominees Dr. Willy Mutunga for Chief Justice, Nancy Baraza for Deputy Chief Justice and Keriako Tobiko for Director of Public Prosecutions underwent approval hearing by members of Parliament. It was intriguing to hear them question the candidates on their qualifications and mostly on their personal life especially for 2 candidates Dr. Mutunga and Ms. Baraza. Compared to Mr. Tobiko, Dr. Mutunga and Ms. Baraza are new faces in the public positions, are divorcees and liberal in their beliefs, that is why they got a lot of probing into their personal life.

From my view I think the person with the most issues about his nomination is Dr. Willy Mutunga. Apparently many Kenyans are happy about his nomination, but there are two groups that are not happy about his nomination. One group is some Christians and some politicians. This is why I decided to take time to listen to Dr. Willy Mutunga himself giving information about his qualifications and personal life that has really caused a big controversy over his nomination.

From what I gathered I can describe Dr. Mutunga as being human, every human being has his/her good and bad side, no one is perfect. About the good side of him, he has been described as humble, in-corruptible; a reformist who was detained for fighting for reforms and today he proved he is humble from the way he approached his vetting. What I can say may be his bad side is he is divorced twice therefore does not uphold family values, it is believed he supports abortion but did not deny or confirm this claim. Then there is a side of him that may be good or bad depending on ones attitude he confirmed he is not gay as speculated because of the stud he wears on one ear, but does not discriminate against gay people. He is a believer in all religions as a boy under his Kamba tribe traditional beliefs he was named Willy Mutunga, as a Christian he was named William Jacob and as a Muslim he was named Wali Mohamed.

I believe the real issue here is not that Dr. Willy Mutunga went to his interview with a stud on his ear or about his lifestyle and beliefs. How many prominent Kenyans are hiding their sexuality, are divorced, devil worshipers, are involves with prostitutes on Koinange street, corrupt, drug dealers, land grabbers, criminals, pretend to be very religious? The list is very long. Kenyans are sooo tired of these pretenders. Hon. MP Martha Karua who was taught by Dr. Mutunga at the University applauded him for the humility and tolerance during the vetting process, many of our prominent personalities in Kenya cannot accept to go through this kind of vetting and act in the same manner.

In answer to questions about his personal life and beliefs, he says the constitution is clear on issues of family values, gayism/abortion is illegal and only allowed on medical grounds. Dr.Willy Mutunga accepts to serve Kenyans impartially and upholding the constitution, he also advices Kenyans to read and understand the constitution.

I have come to realized that criticism against Dr. Willy Mutunga’s nomination is political. The non reformists in the Government, Parliament, Judiciary and Kenya at large are hiding in religion to condemn him. Those who detained him are worried he may revenge but he confirmed today he is not interested in doing that, in fact he said he does not talk about his detention. The corrupt and those with pending criminal cases are worried that they will not use their money as usual to bribe for their freedom. The fear is that it will not be "business as usual" in the coming election of 2012.

In conclusion I can say as a common mwananchi all I want is a system I can believe in. Just like MP Ekwe Ethuro said, Kenyans want a Judiciary that can judge fairly in case of a disputed Presidential election, after 2007 election the opposition did not go to court, because they knew they would not get a fair judgment. There are issues about Mr. Tobiko’s partiality, so new appointees like Dr. Mutunga and Ms Baraza should be given a chance in these important public positions.

Kenyans, File your Tax Returns

We are now heading into June 30 2011. Do you know that it is time to fill up your returns with KRA. Below are some of the things that you need to remember and where you are not sure contact your accountant or tax consultant.

Who is to fill the returns?
1. All Kenyans
2. All non-Kenyans getting their income from Kenyan employment or business.
What do I need to fill the returns?
1. Dully filled up Individual return form obtainable from Kra website .
2. Disclose all your income.
3. Certified Individual tax card (P9) form- obtainable from your employer.
4. PIN number of your residence landlord if applicable.
5. Evidence of tax paid in advance e.g withholding tax (obtain certificate from where you were paid and the ta withheld).
Where do I take the filled up returns forms?
The return forms once filled up should be submitted to kra office ground floor in Times Towers, Nairobi or any other Kra offices throughout the country or any other designated collection points as KRA may advice from time to time.
What happens if I do not file the returns?
Failure to file returns attracts heavy penalty plus possible prosecution.It is illegal not to file your returns. The deadline is 30th June 2011 but you need not wait till the last day.

One may argue that he/she is not employed. Please note that you can still fill up nil returns. Failure to file return is in itself an offense.

MY ADVICE IS THAT YOU DO THIS EARLY ENOUGH.NOT 30th JUNE 2011

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Justice outside Kenya

Why is it that more and more prominent Kenyans are getting summons or banned from foreign countries for crimes committed in Kenya and abroad? These prominent Kenyans who have been summoned this year are:- The Ocampo Six for post election violence summoned to Hague, former Member of Parliament Chris Okemo & James Gichuru former Kenya Power MD for money laundering summoned by UK and now Member of Parliament for Kilome Harun Mwau banned by US for Drug trafficking.

The plain answer is IMPUNITY rules in Kenya, prominent Kenyans are protected while the common citizen faces the full force of law. It is known in Kenya that a petty thief can be jailed for life while prominent Kenyans known for big crimes against humanity walk free, enjoying life and getting richer and richer. Since independence cases of crimes by prominent Kenyans have piled up in courts and parliament, I believe some are now very dusty in archives, others have been trashed and many have since disappeared. Some of those I can name include:- assassinations of Tom Mboya, JM Kariuki, Robert Ouko,Crispin Mbai etc. the Goldenberg saga, Anglo leasing, land grabbers just to name a few.

Media, religious bodies, civil societies, human rights bodies, common citizens have cried for justice, but nothing much is done. Now Kenyans are happy that at long last there is someone who can touch the untouchables in Kenya.

Sociable

Kenya

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