Battle for heart and soul of once popular Uganda opposition party

The battle for the heart and soul of Uganda’s opposition parties, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), is on after a chaotic two months of accusations of betrayal and infiltration by President Yoweri Museveni.

The bitter power struggle is pitting former party leader Dr Kizza Besigye against his successor Patrick Oboi Amuriat.

The squabbles culminated in the election of a caretaker leadership faction led by former deputy president for central Uganda and Kampala Mayor Erias Lukwago in an election termed as fraudulent, unconstitutional, and comic by the Mr Amuriat group after police were deployed to block the meeting planned at Busabala, south of Kampala, only to realise it was being held at Katonga Road offices, in the heart of Kampala, about 15km from the pre-arranged venue.

Mr Lukwago unveiled an eight-point plan to revive the once Uganda’s leading opposition political party, starting with elections for which an interim Electoral Commission has been appointed after the previous one was suspended together with senior party leaders; the president Mr Amuriat, the secretary general, Nandala Mafabi and treasurer Geoffrey Ekanya.

“We are reaching out to various stakeholders in active politics, including those who had become despondent, to pick their opinions.

The most important thing is getting the party back on track and realigning it to its original mission and vision,” he said, asking the suspended leaders to respect the constitution which states in Article 28(1) b that the national chairman enjoys exclusive powers to convene and preside over the National Council and National Delegates Conference.

Party Chairman Wasswa Biriggwa presided over the extra-ordinary delegate’s conference. As the new leader settles in the seat, announcing his first task in the six-month tenure he has been given, the suspended leaders were nominated for the election scheduled for October 6.

The sharp divide in the party pits the FDC-Katonga Road led by Lukwago (President), Biriggwa (Chairman), and Dr Besigye (Founder president) on one side against the FDC-Najjanankumbi faction headed by Patrick Oboi Amuriat, Nathan Nandala Mafabi, and Ekanya, all who have been ‘suspended’ by the Katonga group.

“Today, the FDC finds itself having two centres of power, one residing in Katonga and the other in Najjanankumbi,” Mr Amuriat said recently.

“Both centres of power are fighting for the same political space. Unless we narrow the gap between the two, we will not work in harmony,” he added, pointing a finger at Mr Besigye, although the latter denies any influence on the party since he holds no position in leadership.

On Thursday, Mr Amuriat was nominated to vie for the position of president, while Mafabi was nominated for the position of secretary-general in an election scheduled for October 6, which the rival group has termed illegal since the meeting has not been convened by the party chairman. The party constitution gives exclusive powers to the chairman to organize a delegate’s conference in which national leaders can be elected.

When Uganda’s main opposition political parties were dying, each at its own pace and time, many people did not realize the invisible hand that was holding the parties by the neck. The story was always that they had internal wrangles, disagreements, and infighting for power.

The government of Yoweri Museveni, in power for nearly four decades, accused the parties of being “disorganized, ideologically bankrupt, and unable to take the country forward” if they were given power for even a day.

However, the wrangles in one of Uganda’s most formidable political parties seem to stem from an invisible hand. Dr Besigye took a swipe at the current party leaders, accusing them of receiving money from President Museveni to kill the party. He says he got a credible source from the State House that the officials received dirty money to kill the party.

“Large sums of money have been coming into our party at every election, both internal and external. Delegates from upcountry are always accommodated in expensive hotels, not by the party but by the candidates. And when I questioned the source of this money, I was told I had no locus standi to ask,” Dr Besigye said.

To Ugandans, that would not be surprising because after successfully defeating his former ‘super minister’ and Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi in the 2016 elections, President Museveni said he would work hard to ensure there is no opposition in Uganda.

He went ahead to sponsor a political grouping Interparty Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD) and through that, he has been on a charm offensive, signing cooperation agreements with friendly opposition parties like the Democratic Party, Uganda People’s Congress, and Federal Alliance Party, whose leaders are either given ministerial posts or other jobs in government in return for ‘keeping quiet’.

The FDC and Robert Kyagulanyi’s National Unity Platform have stayed away from this grouping terming it as unholy and intended to muzzle them, although they continue to get funding from the government. The government gives operational money to political parties that have members in Parliament.

“We are not going to allow Mr Amuriat and Mr Nandala to hand over our party to Museveni that simply. That is why after a long time of mostly internal discussions, we have come out to talk about this publicly,” Mr Ssemujju said in July when he unveiled the fault lines in the party, after which Mr Amuriat said they could not reveal the source of money they had received ahead of the 2021 elections in which Mr Amuriat came behind President Museveni and Mr Kyagulanyi with 3 percent of the total vote.

“We are not going to the marketplaces to betray people who have supported us financially. Some of them are in business; some of them work in government, but do not believe in the government of the day,” he said.

The battle for the heart and soul of Uganda’s opposition parties, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), is on after a chaotic two months of accusations of betrayal and infiltration […]

Continue reading "Battle for heart and soul of once popular Uganda opposition party"

Hunger, disease stalk Sudan town crowded with displaced

In war-torn Sudan, a Blue Nile River town has become a relative sanctuary from the fighting, but survivors living there endure overcrowding, widespread disease and creeping hunger.

One of the internally displaced people who made it to Wad Madani, a 200-kilometre (125 miles) drive southeast of the embattled capital Khartoum, was mother-of-three Fatima Mohammed.

Then, 10 days ago, she succumbed to illness, leaving behind three children — Ithar, 11, Dalal, nine, and Ibrahim, seven — who now largely fend for themselves in the courtyard of the Al-Jeili Salah school.

They are among hundreds of thousands who have run for their lives since the war erupted in mid-April between two rival generals in the long unstable and poverty-stricken northeast African country.

More than 2,000 people have died in the conflict between the forces of army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Many people have found refuge in makeshift camps set up in schools, university dormitories and other buildings in Wad Madani, nestled on a bend of the Blue Nile in a cotton farming region of Al-Jazirah state.

Another survivor, Soukaina Abdel Rahim, now lives with six of her family members in a room in the girls’ dormitory at Al-Jazirah University in the east of Wad Madani.

“For a family, the accommodation is uncomfortable, there is a lack of space and privacy,” she told AFP.

“We share the showers and toilets with 20 other rooms on the floor, each of which accommodates an entire family.”

Malaria rampant

Basic services are scarce in the region which is now sweltering in summer heat and frequent rainy season downpours.

“Often, there are long water and electricity cuts,” said Hanan Adam, who has been displaced with her husband and their four children.

“With the high temperatures and the proliferation of mosquitoes, all my children have contracted malaria,” she added about the disease that was a major killer in the country even before the war.

However, managing to see a doctor in Wad Madani today amounts to a minor miracle.

In one of the town’s camps, the aid group Doctors Without Borders has been able to dispatch just one medical doctor and four nurses for about 2,000 displaced people.

Humanitarian aid groups long active in Sudan have been overwhelmed, and at times targeted, in the war. Many of their Sudanese staff are exhausted or holed up in their homes, while foreign staff wait for visas.

For years millions of Sudanese relied on aid, and now food shortages are becoming ever more dire.

“We have received food parcels but there is no infant milk in them,” Soumaya Omar, a mother of five children aged six months to 10 years, told AFP.

However, she said, amid Sudan’s runaway inflation and massive shortages, “we do not have the means to buy it”.

Malnourished children

Sometimes it is neighbours who jump in and provide meals for those in desperate need, including at the Abdallah Moussa school in the west of Wad Madani.

A small team of young volunteers was distributing plates to families who are unable to cook because the building lacks kitchen facilities.

But such initiatives are not enough in a country where, even before the war, one in three people suffered from hunger.

A doctor who works across the town’s 13 displacement camps told AFP that “malnutrition is beginning to affect children”.

“We are already seeing worrying cases arrive in the clinics of the camps for the displaced,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of security fears.

Sudan’s own capacity to produce food has deteriorated further, having already been impacted by water scarcity and decades of sanctions under former dictator Omar al-Bashir, who was toppled in 2019.

Unicef said one of Sudan’s many buildings destroyed in the war was Khartoum’s Samil factory which had previously met 60 percent of the nutritional needs for children in need.

According to the UN children’s agency, some 620,000 Sudanese children now suffer from acute malnutrition, and half of them could die if they do not receive help soon.

However, UN and non-government aid agencies are short of funds and, above all, unable to transport what relief goods they have as fighting rages in multiple hotspots across the country.


In war-torn Sudan, a Blue Nile River town has become a relative sanctuary from the fighting, but survivors living there endure overcrowding, widespread disease and creeping hunger. One of the […]

Continue reading "Hunger, disease stalk Sudan town crowded with displaced"

Katiba: President Samia pulls a fast one on Tanzania opposition

Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu has formally re-introduced the constitutional review, pulling a fast one against an opposition that has been using it to criticise her administration.

Her move, coming after two recent failed attempts led by the opposition, could be the President’s way of taking charge of the process that could define her political future.

On May 6, President Samia gave the go-ahead for an all-inclusive political parties meeting to get the constitution-writing process underway based on the recommendations of a government-backed taskforce on democratic reforms.

The taskforce concluded its work of collecting public views in September 2022 and advised, among other things, that the draft that was shelved in 2015, just before being presented for voting in a public referendum, would provide the best basis for the next steps.

According to state house, the Registrar of Political Parties Rtd Justice Francis Mutungi will convene a meeting to “evaluate progress in implementing the recommendations of the task force” and set out a proper participatory roadmap for the new drafting process.

Opposition parties will also discuss with representatives of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) amendments to laws related to elections and political party activities ahead of next year’s local government elections and the 2025 presidential and parliamentary polls.
All these, particularly the new Katiba and an independent electoral system, have been key aspects of the opposition’s demands for major political reforms and a level playing field by the time the next elections cycle comes around.

Samia said that the constitution-making process should involve not only politicians but also “various other stakeholders, and particularly ordinary citizens” from both Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar.

Read: Plunder in state-owned firms rattles Samia

By the end of the week, the registrar had yet to announce a date for a meeting, even as public debate began to gather pace.

A national dialogue

In its recommendations, the taskforce proposed a “national dialogue” to pinpoint particular clauses in the current constitution that need to be amended or scrapped altogether, and a “panel of experts” appointed by the President to prepare a fresh draft using ideas from the dialogue and the 2014 draft.

Demands for constitutional change have dominated Tanzania’s political landscape since 2012, due to growing public impatience with a document that has been in place since 1977 before the return of multi-parties and now appears outdated.

The first government-sponsored constitutional review led by former prime minister Joseph Warioba produced a draft in 2014, after public consultations, but it was abandoned, amid significant disagreements at the political level.

Samia, then a Cabinet minister, was the deputy chair of the second review sittings, which produced another draft for tabling in a national referendum. However, opposition parties disassociated themselves with the entire process, complaining of CCM’s manipulation and unsanctioned alterations to the original Warioba Draft.

The referendum was postponed indefinitely in April 2015, months before the general election that saw Samia’s predecessor John Magufuli come to power, with her as vice-president.

Her initiative to kick-start the process this time round is in keeping with her reconciliation (Maridhiano) agenda designed to appease an opposition still hurting from years of political persecution under Magufuli.

In January, she ended a ban on political rallies imposed during the Magufuli years which had also been high on the opposition’s reforms agenda.

Read: Harris hails Samia as ‘champion’ of democracy

Opposition parties reacts

Opposition parties have reacted in a somewhat muted fashion to the latest move in the constitutional review.

ACT Wazalendo said it hoped the proposed meeting would agree on a timetable to ensure new laws for elections and political party activities were enacted “before the end of this year.”

“We also expect the issues that thwarted the 2014 constitutional review process to be discussed in depth, followed by resolutions to ensure those issues do not recur,” the party’s secretary-general Ado Shaibu said.

Chadema Deputy Chairman Tundu Lissu appeared to maintain his customary vocal stance, telling public rallies in Dodoma and Singida during the week that if the new constitution is not in place by 2025, “no one will be able to live comfortably in this country”.

Referring to CCM public banners portraying successful reconciliation talks with the opposition, Mr Lissu also warned the government to “first solve all the issues brought up in the talks” before sending out messages to the people that “everything is now good”.

“They have not changed a single law; instead, it’s just banners everywhere, like they’ve already started campaigning for the next election three years early,” he told supporters in Singida on Wednesday.

“I am not against Maridhiano, but I object to being led on, massaged with soothing oil, blindfolded. The only real solution is a new constitution, and if that fails, we are all finished,” he added.

Chadema is being represented by its chairman Freeman Mbowe in the Maridhiano talks with CCM leaders. According to Mr Lissu who was the party’s presidential candidate in the 2020 election, the talks have so far yielded little more for Chadema than “slice of bread” promises of inclusion in a coalition government and equitable parliamentary representation after the 2025 election.

Damas Ndumbaro, minister for justice and constitutional affairs, told parliament while presenting the ministry’s 2023/2024 budget proposals last month that the new Katiba and election laws review process would be prioritised during the year, with Tsh9 billion ($3.88 million) added to the budget for that purpose.

Minister of State responsible for Parliamentary Matters Jenista Mhagama also pledged in the House this past week that the government would table bills for the electoral and political parties’ laws for endorsement before the end of 2023.


Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu has formally re-introduced the constitutional review, pulling a fast one against an opposition that has been using it to criticise her administration. Her move, coming after […]

Continue reading "Katiba: President Samia pulls a fast one on Tanzania opposition"

Salaried Kenyans, youth hit hard in Ruto’s tax plan

Salaried Kenyans, mainly youth digital content creators and the middle class at large will have it harder under President William Ruto’s taxation plan following a raft of proposals that will hit their earnings.

In the Finance Bill, 2023, which carries tax proposals for the 2023/24 financial year, the National Treasury plans several actions that will leave Kenya’s middle class, who the government has always gone after in seeking more revenues, with more deductions.

The Bill proposes a 3 per cent deduction from workers’ basic salaries towards the National Housing Development Fund, to which the employer will make an equal contribution.

“An employer shall pay to the National Housing Development Fund in respect of each employee, the employer’s contribution at 3 per cent of the employee’s monthly basic salary and the employees contribute,” the Bill states.

Both the employer and the employee’s contributions are, however, capped at Sh5,000 per month.

Kenyans earning at least Sh500,000 monthly also face deeper tax chops as the Bill proposes to raise their income tax from 30 per cent to 35 per cent This will see a worker earning Sh500,000, pay over Sh200,000 in tax. The proposal comes at a time when President Ruto has been hard on the wealthy, even hinting at introducing a wealth tax.

Read: Content creators feel the pinch of YouTube charges

But the pain will not befall only the salaried as Treasury also proposes to raid Kenya’s digital content creators, an industry that has attracted the youth, offering an alternative to a population category hard hit by unemployment.

The Bill proposes a 15 per cent tax on payments relating to digital content monetisation, as a withholding tax. The tax will have huge implications on thousands of youth who currently earn a living from the digital space and comes when the government has been aggressively driving investment in internet connectivity and technology to attract the jobless.

“In respect of payments relating to digital content monetisation, 15 per cent (withholding tax),” the Bill proposes in relation to the sector.

Treasury has also proposed to raise turnover tax for businesses with revenues from as low as Sh500,000, from 1 per cent to 3 per cent, a move that will hit more businesses classified under small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which may not be stable.

National Treasury and Economic Planning Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u. Treasury has proposed to raise turnover tax for businesses with revenues from as low as Sh500,000, from 1 per cent to 3 per cent, a move that will hit more businesses classified under small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which may not be stable. | Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

“Section 12C of the Income Tax Act is amended in subsection (1), by deleting the words “Sh1 million but does not exceed or is not expected to exceed Sh50 million” and substituting therefore “Sh500,000 but does not exceed or is not expected to exceed Sh15 million,” the Bill proposes, on businesses to be slapped with the 3 per cent turnover tax.

Tax on every business

The tax is charged on every business, notwithstanding whether it has made a profit or a loss.

Read: Digital tax will hurt firms

Consumers of various products will also pay more if the Bill’s proposals are adopted and enacted into law. Among new products proposed to attract Excise Duty in the new financial year include imported fish (Sh100,000 per metric tonne or 20 per cent of the value) and powdered juice (Sh25 per kilo).

Those who consume beauty products such as wigs, false beards, eyebrows and eyelashes, and artificial nails will be hit with a 5 per cent excise tax, as the government goes harder on the industry that has over the past decade grown significantly.

Cement importers will pay a 10 per cent excise tax per kg of the product, or Sh1.50 per kg, whichever is higher.

Other areas Treasury has proposed to slap taxes on include digital assets, targeting owners of platforms that facilitate the exchange or transfer of digital assets. The assets include cryptocurrencies, token codes and numbers held in digital form and generated through cryptographic means.

“The owner of a platform or the person who facilitates the exchange or transfer of a digital asset shall deduct the digital asset tax and remit it to the Commissioner. A person who is required to deduct the digital asset tax shall, within twenty-four hours after making the deduction, remit the amount so deducted to the Commissioner together with a return of the amount of the payment, the amount of tax deducted, and such other information as the Commissioner may require,” the Bill states.

It also adds that any person who receives rental income on behalf of the owner of the premises shall deduct tax and within 24 hours remit the amount to the taxman. This cuts the period the rental income tax is paid from the 20th day of the month, as has been the case.

Read: Tech giants face tripled digital tax in fresh plan

Companies with tax disputes with Kenya Revenue Authority and who wish to pursue the dispute at the tax tribunal will be required to deposit an equivalent of 20 per cent of the disputed taxes with the tribunal, a move that could affect many companies’ cash flows and deter many from pursuing such disputes legally.

The Bill also proposes some reliefs, mainly to consumers and businesses, who have been slapped with annual inflation adjustment that has often raised the cost of consumer goods.

Employees of startups who receive shares from the companies they work for will also not be taxed on the value of the shares immediately, as the Bill proposes to defer the payment.

State targets per diems, allowances

Employees face tighter times as the State plans to tax any travel allowances exceeding the standard rates approved by the Automobile Association of Kenya (AA).

The Finance Bill 2023 proposes that the AA rates will be assumed to be the amount used, ending a common line of wastage of public funds through excessive claims.

“Notwithstanding the provisions of the sub-paragraph(ii), where an amount is received by an employee as payment of travelling allowance to perform official duties, the standard mileage rate approved by the Automobile Association of Kenya shall be deemed to be reimbursement of the amount so expended and shall be excluded in the calculation of the employee’s gains and profit,” the Finance Bill states.

The Finance Bill also targets club membership allowances.

“By inserting the following new paragraph immediately after paragraph(f) (fa) club entrance and subscription fees disallowed against employer’s income,” it says.

“Any amount paid or granted to a public officer to reimburse an expenditure incurred for the purpose of performing official duties, notwithstanding the ownership or control of any assets purchased,” it adds.

This comes amid proposals by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to eliminate four allowances for civil servants, translating to billions of shillings.

The commission has recommended the abolishment of perks including retreat allowance, sitting allowance for institutional internal committee members and task force allowance.

Presently, there are over 247 remunerative and facilitative allowances payable within the public service, up from 31 in 1999, straining the national bill through double payments. Besides trimming allowances, the SRC targets to cap allowances at a maximum of 40 per cent of a public worker’s gross pay.

Retreat allowance is currently paid to public officers participating in special assignments meant to review, develop and produce policy documents away from their work station.

The SRC also targets to scrap sitting allowance for members of internal committees which are constituted to assist the execution of the mandate of institutions.


Salaried Kenyans, mainly youth digital content creators and the middle class at large will have it harder under President William Ruto’s taxation plan following a raft of proposals that will […]

Continue reading "Salaried Kenyans, youth hit hard in Ruto’s tax plan"
A convoy of buses transporting people fleeing the war in Sudan on April 25, 2023. South Sudan says hundreds of civilians fleeing the conflict in Sudan have arrived in northern and western Bahr el Ghazal states. PHOTO | AFP

South Sudan receives over 10,000 civilians fleeing Sudan

South Sudan on Tuesday confirmed receiving more than 10,000 civilians displaced by the ongoing conflict in neighboring Sudan.

South Sudan’s Interim Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Deng Dau Deng said the majority of the returnees are the country’s nationals, while others include Sudanese, Kenyans, Ugandans, Eritreans, and Somalis.

“On the situation of South Sudanese, the government is doing everything within its power to receive its citizens who are returning to the country. In the last 24 hours, nearly 10,000 arrived in Renk, including nationals of some neighbouring countries,” Deng said in a statement issued in the South Sudanese capital of Juba on Monday evening. 

He disclosed hundreds of other civilians have arrived in Northern and Western Bahr el Ghazal states respectively. Deng said the South Sudanese government has opened its airspace for countries evacuating their diplomats and nationals. 

He said 24 Kenyan nationals who arrived from Sudan through the northern border from Paloch Airport in Upper Nile State were evacuated on Monday to Juba. This came after Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the Sudanese Armed Forces (Saf) and his rival Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the leader of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) reached a three-day ceasefire deal. 

Read: Kenya considers evacuating citizens from Sudan

Deng revealed that the lull in fighting has allowed diplomatic missions to evacuate staff and nationals, adding that hundreds of Sudanese have also been given time to relocate to nearby regions. He also said South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has engaged the warring Sudanese parties to ensure that the temporary humanitarian ceasefire is held to allow foreign missions to evacuate their diplomatic staff and nationals. 

Efforts are underway

Meanwhile, Somalia on Tuesday said efforts are underway to bring back some 200 nationals who are stranded in Sudan where the fighting may trigger further displacement both within and outside the country.

Somalia’s Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Abdirahman Nur Dinari said the country’s government is working to ensure a safe return for its citizens from Sudan. Nur lauded the Somali embassies in Sudan, South Sudan and Ethiopia for their efforts in evacuating citizens who are trapped inside Sudan following days of military clashes between Sudan Armed Forces (Saf) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary unit. 

Read: Thousands flee battle-scarred Khartoum

“Some 200 citizens will be evacuated from the border of Sudan and Ethiopia today,” he told journalists in Mogadishu capital of Somalia.  He thanked the Kenyan government which brought 19 Somalis from Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, and the government of South Sudan which allowed the Somali people to come to their border and facilitate their journey. The latest move came a day after the Somali Disaster Management Agency (Sodma) launched hotlines for Somalis stranded in Sudan.

The hotlines which will run 24 hours daily, are for Somalis to report their locations to ease the evacuation process from Sudan. The move came after the rival parties agreed to the three-day ceasefire which aims to establish humanitarian corridors, allowing citizens and residents to access essential resources, healthcare, and safe zones, while also evacuating diplomatic missions. 

More than 400 people have been killed and over 3,000 more injured in clashes in Sudan since the unrest started, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).


South Sudan on Tuesday confirmed receiving more than 10,000 civilians displaced by the ongoing conflict in neighboring Sudan. South Sudan’s Interim Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Deng Dau […]

Continue reading "South Sudan receives over 10,000 civilians fleeing Sudan"

Kenya’s mass protests have a rich history, but have been hijacked by elites

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga and his coalition party, Azimio la Umoja One Kenya, recently called for mass protests across the country. Odinga and his team have questioned the legitimacy of President William Ruto’s win in the country’s August 2022 election, and taken issue with the rising cost of living. The Conversation Africa’s Kagure Gacheche spoke with Westen K Shilaho, a senior researcher on African politics, who explores the evolution of political protests in Kenya.


What does the law say about political protest?

The right to protest is enshrined in the constitution of Kenya under Article 37. It states that:

Every person has the right, peaceably and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket, and to present petitions to public authorities.

The right to protest is also affirmed by international instruments to which Kenya is a signatory. These include the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

However, successive Kenyan governments have repeatedly criminalised the right to protest. As a result, the police consistently react with brute force against protesters.

Protestors stand amid tear gas on March 30, 2023 as they engaged police in running battles in Nairobi’s Mathare Area 10 during anti-government demonstrations called by the opposition. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NMG

What led to the latest wave of protests in Kenya?

Kenya held general elections on 9 August 2022, and William Ruto was declared president. The opposition contested the election results and filed a petition before the Supreme Court, which unanimously dismissed the petition for lack of evidence.

ReadNo handshake with Raila, Ruto says

Raila Odinga, the losing presidential contestant, rejected this ruling and has refused to recognise Ruto’s win. He has taken the dispute to the court of public opinion – the streets. He has made three main demands:

  • that the electoral agency’s servers be opened to prove that he won the 2022 election
  • that Ruto halts reconstitution of Kenya’s electoral body
  • that the government lowers the cost of living.

Protests began on August 15, 2022 when the presidential election results were declared. Hoodlums assaulted the electoral agency’s chairperson and other officials. They are yet to be held to account for these attacks.

After a six-month lull, these protests recently spilled over into the streets. The opposition called for demonstrations twice a week from 20 March until the government accedes to its demands.

ReadKenya protests: Police attack journalists

Ruto and his supporters have been scornful of the opposition’s demands, saying they have no basis in law, morality or logic. Ruto dismissed the protests as acts of economic terrorism.

An anti-riot police officer speaks to residents of Mathare in Nairobi on March 30, 2023 during anti-government protests. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

Ruto’s olive branch

After two weeks of violence – where at least three people died, several others injured and property vandalised – Ruto extended an olive branch to the opposition and asked them to call off the protests. He suggested that the issue of the reconstitution of the electoral body could be revisited.

In response, the opposition suspended the protests.

ReadRaila and Malema: Two of a kind in Africa

Ruto has previously said he would not be blackmailed into a power-sharing arrangement with the opposition. If not checked, power-sharing arrangements – or “handshake” in Kenya’s political parlance – could become the country’s default arrangement after elections. This would be to the detriment of democratic tenets.

What is the history of political protests in Kenya?

Kenya’s political history is marked by mass protests that date back to the colonial period and continued into independence.

Amid police crackdowns, Kenyans protested against political assassinations and autocracy during the tenures of the country’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, and his successor, Daniel Moi.

Through a constitutional amendment, Moi turned Kenya into a one-party state in 1982, which heightened political tensions. Later that year, Kenyans protested in Nairobi in support of an attempted coup against Moi as opposition politicians and civil society sought a return to political pluralism.

Residents of Mathare in Nairobi confront anti-riot police officers on March 30, 2023 pleading for peace and an end to running battles during the Azimio anti-government protests. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

Multiparty politics

Countrywide protests were held in 1990. This agitation, coupled with pressure from civil society, religious groups and western donors, forced Moi to accede to multiparty politics in 1991.

In 1992, mothers of political prisoners held an 11-month hunger strike in Nairobi to demand the release of their sons.

Protests against presidential results in 2007 led to a horrific crackdown. More than 1,100 people were killed, several of them extrajudicially by the police. Odinga had disputed Mwai Kibaki’s win. Protests and summary executions also followed the 2013 and 2017 announcements of presidential election results.

ReadHow politicians planned Kenyatta farm attack

Protests are important. They can influence a government or a body of authority to respond to popular interests and injustice. Through protests, a government can be forced to address service delivery concerns, corruption, labour disputes, extrajudicial and summary executions and education matters, and to abandon dictatorial tendencies. In some countries, such as Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, protests collapsed regimes.

Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga addressing his supporters in Nairobi’s Pipeline Estate on March 30, 2023 as he led mass demonstrations. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

Personality driven

As I discuss in my book, Political Power and Tribalism in Kenya, political protests in the country have become insular, sectarian, tribal, unashamedly personality driven and elitist.

My research found that the political elite have used protests for self-preservation and to pursue their interests.

ReadPoverty unites Raila, Malema in the streets

Protests have become about getting opposing political personalities to come to an agreement so that election losers don’t lose all the benefits of being in power – but such agreements stifle healthy debate.

Elections must produce winners and losers among the contestants. The citizenry should be the only constant winners. Their concerns must be met regardless of who ascends to power.


Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga and his coalition party, Azimio la Umoja One Kenya, recently called for mass protests across the country. Odinga and his team have questioned the legitimacy […]

Continue reading "Kenya’s mass protests have a rich history, but have been hijacked by elites"
Vehicles recently acquired by the Uganda Police Force to be used in dealing with civil disobedience in the country and also help in their missions in Somalia. PHOTO | MONITOR

Uganda police carry out drills in anticipation of protests

Officers of the Uganda Police Force have performed anti-riot drills in anticipation of Kenya-like protests in urban areas due to the rising cost of living.

Police’s directorates held joint drills at a training facility in Kigo, Wakiso District on Monday where they displayed their capabilities to deal with terror attacks and protests at the same time.

The Deputy Inspector-General of Police Maj Gen Geoffrey Katsigazi personally witnessed the drills.

Police spokesperson Fred Enanga told Daily Monitor on Monday that several groups, including those from the opposition, are holding secret meetings with the intention of rallying their members to carry out street protests.

ReadRaila and Malema take supporters to streets

“Our joint security teams have got intelligence that groups are holding meetings to protest against the rising prices of commodities like it is the case in Kenya,” Mr Enanga said.

High cost of living

In several African countries, including Kenya, people are rising up to protest the high cost of living and democracy.

Similar uprisings due to food prices in 2011 led to the toppling of African leaders in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. In Uganda, the protests — code-named Walk-to-Work — led by Mr Mathias Mpuuga, now the leader of the opposition in Parliament, and Dr Kizza Besigye, lasted for five years and left more than a dozen people killed and hundreds injured.

ReadKenya’s chaos puts Uganda on edge

Mr Enanga said they will deal firmly with any uprising.

“There are many sections of the Public Order Management Act that are still in place, including notifying the inspector-general of police about the planned demonstrations. Organisers of demonstrations should follow the law,” he said.

At the Kigo drill, the joint police team re-enacted an incident that happened during the recent general elections where police arrested National Unity Platform leader Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine in Luuka District leading to protests in which security personnel killed 54 people and arrested hundreds of others.

Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango said the drill was intended to show how to handle incidents that evolve fast from the use of teargas to live bullets.

ReadRaila’s ‘mother of all demos’ acid test for Ruto

Since the November 2020 protests, the Ugandan government has invested billions of shillings in the procurement of equipment to deal with civil disobedience.

Police bought 65 trucks, including 15 riot control vehicles this month. Some of the trucks use laser beams to target protestors. The laser causes serious headaches.


Officers of the Uganda Police Force have performed anti-riot drills in anticipation of Kenya-like protests in urban areas due to the rising cost of living. Police’s directorates held joint drills […]

Continue reading "Uganda police carry out drills in anticipation of protests"

South Sudan releases journalists held over viral Kiir video

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir. Two journalists detained over a video reportedly showing him urinating on himself have been freed. PHOTO | PETER LOUIS | AFP

Two South Sudanese journalists detained over a video reportedly showing President Salva Kiir urinating on himself have been freed, a media lobby group said Wednesday as it demanded the release of two other colleagues.

Two of the seven journalists arrested in January remain in police custody over the video that went viral on social media in December, the Union of Journalists of South Sudan (UJOSS) said.

The journalists — staff at the state-run South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation — were arrested by agents from the National Security Service as part of an investigation into the source of the clip.

In the footage, Kiir, dressed in his trademark black hat and a grey outfit at what is described as a road commissioning ceremony, is seen with a damp patch on his left trouser leg.

“We are still calling on the government to release the two (journalists) who are still behind bars,” UJOSS president Patrick Oyet told AFP.

Probe dragged

Oyet urged the government to present the duo in court if they have broken any law, adding that the probe had dragged on for months. 

“The law says you should carry out investigations and produce somebody in the court within 24 hours.”

“If there is no case they should be released,” he said.

In January, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists called for the unconditional release of the journalists and for state authorities to “ensure that they can work without further intimidation or threat of arrest.” 

Arbitrary detention

The arrests match “a pattern of security personnel resorting to arbitrary detention whenever officials deem coverage unfavourable”, said CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative, Muthoki Mumo.

Kiir, 71, oversaw the birth of South Sudan as an independent nation after it broke free from Sudan in July 2011.

But the world’s youngest country has lurched from crisis to crisis since then, enduring brutal conflict, political turmoil, natural disasters and hunger.

South Sudan ranks 128th out of 180 countries on the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) press freedom index.

According to the media watchdog, freedom of the press is “extremely precarious” in the landlocked nation, “where journalists work under constant threat and intimidation, and where censorship is ever-present.”


South Sudanese President Salva Kiir. Two journalists detained over a video reportedly showing him urinating on himself have been freed. PHOTO | PETER LOUIS | AFP Two South Sudanese journalists […]

Continue reading "South Sudan releases journalists held over viral Kiir video"


The CIVICUS Monitor measures enabling conditions for civil society or civic space. We provide ratings for civic space in 197 countries and territories (all UN member states and Hong Kong, Kosovo, Palestine, and Taiwan). At CIVICUS, we see civic space as the respect in policy and practice for the freedoms of assembly, association and expression which are underpinned by the state’s duty to protect civil society.

We view civic space as a set of universally-accepted rules, which allow people to organise, participate and communicate with each other freely and without hindrance, and in doing so, influence the political, economic and social structures around them.


Today, only 3.1% of the world’s population lives in countries with Open civic space. 

For better accuracy and comparison over time, this year we added a decimal point to the percentages.


Over the past year, civil society across the world has faced a variety legal and extra-legal restrictions. Below we document the top ten violations captured in the CIVICUS Monitor.

Top 10 Violations to Civic Freedoms


The CIVICUS Monitor currently rates 39 countries and territories as Open, 41 rated as Narrowed, 42 rated as Obstructed, 50 rated as Repressed and 25 rated as Closed.


Americas 109952
Asia and Pacific8710114
Europe and Central Asia1921644
Middle East and North Africa00469
This page was last updated on 22 June 2022


The CIVICUS Monitor measures enabling conditions for civil society or civic space. We provide ratings for civic space in 197 countries and territories (all UN member states and Hong Kong, Kosovo, Palestine, and Taiwan). […]

Continue reading "CIVIC SPACE IN NUMBERS"

Burundi sends ten disaster management specialists to Turkey

The Burundian government on Sunday announced that it had deployed ten officers specialised in disaster management to Turkey as part of the efforts to rescue lives after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Turkey and Syria. 

“Taking into account the quality of the ties of friendship and cooperation with Turkey, and the deadly earthquake that struck it, Burundi is sending a specialised natural disaster intervention team in solidarity with the brotherly people of Turkey,” Burundi’s Foreign Affairs Minister Albert Shingiro tweeted. 

In a letter from the Secretary-General of Burundi Government Prosper Ntahorwamiye, Gitega designated the team that will help in rescue missions in Turkey for a period of at least one week.

Funding the rescue mission

“Financing of the mission is provided by the Government of Burundi from the Disaster Prevention and Management Fund which is under the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Public Security,” the letter read.

This comes a week after the deadly earthquake that hit Turkey and its neighboring Syria, and which has killed nearly 40,000 people.


The Burundian government on Sunday announced that it had deployed ten officers specialised in disaster management to Turkey as part of the efforts to rescue lives after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake […]

Continue reading "Burundi sends ten disaster management specialists to Turkey"

UAE firms troop into Tanzania after President Samia’s visit

Two more United Arab Emirates companies have made in-roads into Tanzania, following President Samia Suluhu’s trip to the Gulf country last year to seek business.

On February 6, the Tanzania Forest Services Agency (TFS) and UAE-based Blue Carbon LCC announced a joint environmental conservation programme to promote sustainable forest management practices while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

It came after state-owned Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) on January 27 signed a memorandum of understanding with Tanzania’s Ministry of Energy to invest up to $500 million in expanding the national imports gateway for fuel products and related storage facilities.

Presidential seal

President Samia’s administration has made the UAE a top target of its international economic diplomacy agenda since she assumed power two years ago. During an official visit to Dubai in February 2022, she made a personal appearance at the Expo Dubai festival where 36 bilateral MoUs were signed between Tanzania and UAE authorities for total investments of $7.49 billion.

The deals involved energy, agriculture, tourism, infrastructure and transport technology sectors. Tangible results of that trip have so far included a $500 million deal for Dubai-based logistics firm DP World to improve ICT and other infrastructural systems at Tanzania’s seaports and another agreement for UAE renewable energy firm Masdar to oversee the development of up to 2GW of renewable energy in Tanzania.

Oil terminal project

Tanzania also reached a formal agreement with UAE authorities in September last year to remove double taxation hurdles in mutual trade, investment and social interactions including labour payments, education exchanges (student bursaries) and sports matters.

A preliminary MoU for the latest oil terminal project was signed between ENOC Group CEO Saif Humaid Al Falasi and Tanzania’s Energy Minister January Makamba in Dodoma on January 27 and ministry officials later said formal negotiations would start “soon” on the project requirements and a detailed implementation framework.


Two more United Arab Emirates companies have made in-roads into Tanzania, following President Samia Suluhu’s trip to the Gulf country last year to seek business. On February 6, the Tanzania […]

Continue reading "UAE firms troop into Tanzania after President Samia’s visit"

Uprooting of baobabs in Kenya sparks outrage of conservationists

Lisa Libutu was going about her business at the Kenyan coastal county of Kilifi when a truck loaded with an uprooted giant baobab tree drove by on the Mombasa-Malindi Highway.

She was astonished at the sight of what is considered an everlasting tree uprooted.  It had not happened before.

The baobab is known as Africa’s “Tree of Life”, adapting to arid landscapes, living for up to 5,000 years and with many useful properties for local communities.

They are landmarks where they stand for centuries.

Libutu was not the only person shocked by the uprooting of the baobab. Soon, it became the talk of villagers as more of uprooted gigantic trees were seen being ferried to Mombasa.

Villagers approached by buyers

Libutu later learned that villagers had been approached to sell their trees for $3,000, an offer they could not turn down, she told The EastAfrican.

It is not clear whether the uprooting of the iconic baobab trees in Kenya’s coastal county of Kilifi is a case of ignorance on the part of national agencies and the county government or it is bio piracy.

Researchers fear that Kenya risks losing the baobab species to foreign multinationals who will patent its products and the country will pay the price of negligence yet again after it lost crucial species that were patented and cannot now be uses for commercial purposes in the country.

Lost patents

Dr Amos Lewa, a Kenyan biomedical scientist with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), notes that Kenya lost the Prunus africana (the African cherry), endemic in the Rift Valley, which was harvested and sent to Europe and later patented.

Formulations from the Prunus africana are used to treat prostate gland inflammation.

Dr Lewa says Kenya also lost frangipani, a flowery tropical tree whose milk is potent for herpes zoster, and is useful in HIV management of dermatological disorders.

“We lost the patent of the Prunus africana and frangipani, and we can no longer use it commercially. Kenya has lost patents of the kiondo basket and now the baobab tree – whose leaves, bark and roots show febrifuge potential and other medicinal uses – is threatened. The fruit pulp is highly potent for nutrition in children as an alternative to breast milk. We shall lose it in patents too,” he said.

Fibrous leafy tree

The baobab, or mbuyu in Kiswahili, is a gigantic fibrous leafy tree, common in the open semi-arid areas of eastern and coastal counties of Kenya.

Local communities use baobab leaves, pulp and seeds as a source of food.

Baobab seed oil is used in cosmetic products and stem fibres are used in rope making, the fruit shells as fuelwood, the leaves as vegetables and livestock fodder and the powder is used in making jam and juice.

Libutu is the founder of Baossence, an organisation that works with local women and youth at the Kenyan coast to care for and trade in baobab-based products.

“I used to get about 100kgs of baobab seeds in a week from women groups in Kilifi but they suddenly stopped supplying. It turned out the trees they harvested from had been “sold” to a foreigner who intended to export them to Georgia, in the United States,” Libutu said.

Go-ahead to uproot trees

It turned out that in October, the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis), the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) and the county government of Kilifi had given the go-ahead to Ariba SeaWeed International to uproot the trees in Mtondia and Tezo for botanical purposes for two years. A Kenya Forest Service approval was granted on November 1.

Eight huge baobab trees had by then already been uprooted and stored for shipping to Shekvetili Dendrological Park Ltd in Ureki in Ozurgeti Municipality, Georgia, US.

KFS said it allowed the uprooting of the baobabs because the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) did not list them as an endangered species.

Libutu has now launched a petition dubbed “Please Save our Baobab Trees from Wanton Destruction”, which has attracted over 3,000 people including government officials who sought explanation from county officials.

Petition details

The petition is an appeal to the Kenya government, the United Nations Environment Programme and the International Union for Conservation of Nature to immediately ban the “carnage” of baobab trees and to place them on the World List of Threatened Trees/Species.

The petition also seeks to have the baobab become a protected tree species in Kenya, included on the appendices of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals from the threats of international trade.

Researchers, scientists and environmentalists have jumped on the petition and propelled it to the public for discourse. They are calling out the Ariba Seaweed International Ltd, which has been uprooting the trees in Tezo, Kilifi North, and condemning the environment management agency and the Kenya Forest Service for allowing the decimation of the iconic species.

Amisha Patel, the founder of O’bao, a baobab-based natural skincare brand in Kenya, called on the government to protect the trees.

“I would like to strongly condemn any uprooting and export of whole trees or live parts thereof. I strongly urge the Kenyan government to enforce, be vigilant and protect Kenyan resources,” said Patel.

she said uprooting the baobab tree deprives communities of future economic benefits and sets a dangerous precedent for other natural resources.

Nature Kenya coast conservation programme coordinator Francis Kagema alleged that the uprooting of the trees could be biopiracy as there were no consultations and there was no environment impact assessment.

“It is biopiracy because that is our biological resource. Someone is uprooting and taking it to another country. We do not know who allowed that and the process involved because there were no consultations,” he said.

Nagoya protocol

Kenyan President William Ruto says the harvesting of the trees must conform to the existing regulations, including the Convention on Biodiversity and the Nagoya Protocol.

“I have instructed the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to look into the ongoing uprooting of baobab trees in Kilifi County to ensure that it sits within the Convention on Biodiversity and the Nagoya Protocol,” he tweeted.

“There must be adequate authorisation and an equitable benefit-sharing formula for Kenyans. Further, the exercise must be in line with the government’s agenda of planting 15 billion trees in the next 10 years,” he added.

The Nagoya Protocol, formally known as the Convention on Biological Diversity, came into force on October 12, 2014, and has been signed by over 50 countries.

Baobab is native to Africa and is typically found in sub-Saharan African countries. In Kenya, it grows in several counties including Kitui, Kilifi, Kwale, Taita Taveta, Makueni, Tharaka Nithi, and Lamu.

“Research shows that baobab trees, commonly called the iconic trees of life, grow in 32 countries in Africa and live for 5,000 years,” says Libutu.


Lisa Libutu was going about her business at the Kenyan coastal county of Kilifi when a truck loaded with an uprooted giant baobab tree drove by on the Mombasa-Malindi Highway. […]

Continue reading "Uprooting of baobabs in Kenya sparks outrage of conservationists"

Pope Francis to visit DR Congo and South Sudan early 2023

Pope Francis will visit the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan early 2023, Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, the Apostolic Nuncio to the DRC, has said.

Monsignor Balestrero made the announcement after meeting President Felix Tshisekedi on Thursday in Kinshasa. He said that Pope Francis will make the already announced trip to DRC from January 31, 2023 to February 3. He will visit Kinshasa and South Sudan on an ecumenical pilgrimage of peace.

Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde revealed that Pope Francis will arrive in Kinshasa at the invitation of President Félix Tshisekedi, adding that the pontiff’s arrival is “a comfort for the Congolese people”.

The prime minister asked all DRC citizens to “remain in an attitude of prayer” as they welcome the pope, especially at a time “when the DRC is going through all these security situations”. He also asked the Congolese to re-launch the preparations for the visit which had been prepared a few months ago.

Initial visit postponed

Pope Francis had earlier been expected visit to the DRC and South Sudan in July but the visit was called off after he developed a knee problem.

“Accepting the request of the doctors and in order not to cancel the results of the knee therapies still in progress, the Holy Father is forced, with regret, to postpone the apostolic journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, planned for 2-7 July, to a new date to be determined,” the director of the Pope’s press office Matteo Bruni announced then.

In the postponed papal trip, the pontiff had been scheduled to visit the DRC capital Kinshasa and Goma in North Kivu province, where M23 rebels have been fighting with government forces. But in the January 2023 trip, the pope will stay in Kinshasa before flying to Juba, in South Sudan, skipping Goma

The announcement of the pope’s planned arrival in the DRC has already started generating enthusiasm among the Catholic faithful.

In July, several towns in the DRC had put up billboards with the image of the pope under the theme “All reconciled in Jesus Christ”.


Pope Francis will visit the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan early 2023, Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, the Apostolic Nuncio to the DRC, has said. Monsignor Balestrero made the announcement […]

Continue reading "Pope Francis to visit DR Congo and South Sudan early 2023"

US sanctions suspected terrorists, weapon traffickers in East Africa

Days after a deadly attack in the Somali capital of Mogadishu where twin car bombs killed at least 100 people and injured more than 300, the United State has issued sanctions targeting nine suspected terrorists and weapon traffickers in Eastern Africa.

The US Treasury Department on Tuesday took its first action against Islamic State in Somalia (ISIS-Somalia), designating members of the group and others it accused of having ties to the terrorist affiliate.

ISIS-Somalia pledged allegiance to ISIS in October 2015 under Abdiqadr Mumin (Mumin), previously a senior leader of Al-Shabaab faction operating in the Somali region of Puntland.

The designation of the nine comes barely four years after the US State Department categorised ISIS-Somalia a specially designated global terrorist.

Disrupt terrorist financing

The US in a statement said several of the suspected traffickers have sold weapons to, or were active Al-Shabaab members, with threats to issue additional action in coming weeks as it seeks to expose and disrupt terrorist financing in Africa.

Those mentioned in the suspected weapons trafficking network include Liibaan Yousuf Mohamed (Mohamed), Abdirahman Mohamed Omar, Mahad Isse Aden (Aden), Isse Mohamoud Yusuf (Yusuf), Abdirahman Fahiye Isse Mohamud (Fahiye).

Others are Mohamed Ahmed Qahiye (Qahiye), Ahmed Haji Ali Haji Omar (Haji Omar), Liibaan Yousuf Mohamed and Osama Abdelmongy Abdalla Bakr (Bakr).

The US said the ISIS-Somalia usually works with other terrorist organisations such as Al-Shabaab, Somali pirates and smuggling groups.

Illicit networks

“Many of the relevant individuals are also involved in other illegal activities, including piracy and environmental crimes, demonstrating their integration with illicit networks operating in the region,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

The individuals and the designated entities are said to be critical nodes for a weapons trafficking network that is closely integrated with ISIS-Somalia.

These networks operate primarily between Yemen and Somalia and have strong ties to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Al-Shabaab. The US Treasury also designated a vital supporter of ISIS in Brazil, who has attempted to serve as a liaison for the terrorist group.

Terrorist groups operating in the region continue to commit violent acts in Somalia, targeting Somali civilians, civil servants and first responders in order to instil fear.

Attacks against civilians

ISIS-Somalia has also continued to conduct vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attacks against civilians.

During last week Saturday’s attack, the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the two car bombs that exploded outside the education ministry in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, killing at least 120 people in the deadliest blasts since a truck bomb killed more than 500 people at the same location five years ago.

“We extend our heartfelt condolences to all who lost loved ones and were injured in Saturday’s horrific attack and strongly condemn this indefensible act of terrorism,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson.

Direct aim at networks

He added, “Today, we take direct aim at the networks funding and supplying both ISIS-Somalia and al-Shabaab that support their violent acts. The involvement of those designated in other criminal activity, including piracy and illegal fishing, demonstrates the extent of ISIS-Somalia’s integration with illicit networks and other terrorist organisations operating in the region. Treasury is committed to working with partners in the region to disrupt the financing of ISIS and Al-Shabaab.”

As a result of the US action, all property and interests in property of the persons that are in the United States or in the possession or control of people in the US must be blocked and reported to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 per cent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked.

OFAC regulations generally prohibit all dealings by US citizen or people within the United States, including transactions transiting the US that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons.

In addition, people who engage in certain transactions with the designated persons may themselves be exposed to sanctions or be subjected to an enforcement action.

The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish but to bring about a positive change in behaviour.


Days after a deadly attack in the Somali capital of Mogadishu where twin car bombs killed at least 100 people and injured more than 300, the United State has issued […]

Continue reading "US sanctions suspected terrorists, weapon traffickers in East Africa"

Catholic priest in court over sexual abuse of students in Tanzania

A Catholic priest was arraigned Monday at the Resident Magistrate’s Court in Moshi over allegations of raping and sexually assaulting more than 10 children.

He had been in police custody since September 20.

His arraignment came after he was accused of giving a Standard Six pupil and a Form One student Tsh3,000 ($1.29) and Tsh5,000 ($2.14), respectively, for sexual favours.

The children had been attending First Holy Communion and Confirmation classes.

Regional Commissioner Nurdin Babu said “it is a disgraceful incident”.

Parents had raised the alarm that the priest had abused many students and planned to march in protest to Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa’s office before the priest was arrested.

Sources said that the parents had reported the allegations to the leadership of the Catholic Church in Moshi and to the police.


A Catholic priest was arraigned Monday at the Resident Magistrate’s Court in Moshi over allegations of raping and sexually assaulting more than 10 children. He had been in police custody […]

Continue reading "Catholic priest in court over sexual abuse of students in Tanzania"

Rwanda genocide ‘financier’ Felicien Kabuga trial to open in The Hague

Alleged Rwandan genocide financier Felicien Kabuga will go on trial in The Hague on Thursday, one of the last key suspects in the 1994 ethnic slaughter that devastated the small central African nation.

Kabuga’s trial will open at 0800 GMT before a UN tribunal, where he has been charged with genocide and crimes against humanity for his role in the Genocide against the Tutsi 28 years ago.

Read: Rwanda protests Kabuga trial delay at Hague court

Also read: Genocide survivors welcome decision to begin Kabuga’s trial

Prosecutors and the defence are expected to make their opening statements on Thursday and Friday, with evidence in the case to start the following Wednesday.

Kabuga’s lawyers entered a not guilty plea to the charges at a first appearance in 2020.

Once one of Rwanda’s richest men, prosecutors say the octogenarian allegedly helped set up hate media that urged ethnic Hutus to “kill Tutsi cockroaches” and funded militia groups in 1994.

Now in his mid-80s, Kabuga was arrested in France in May 2020 after evading police in several countries for the last quarter of a century.

He was then transferred to the UN’s International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, set up to complete the work of the now defunct Rwanda war crimes tribunal.

Read: Rwandan genocide suspect Kabuga denounces charges as “lies”

Said to be in fragile health, Kabuga in August appeared before the judges in a wheelchair — and it was not known whether he’ll be in court on Thursday as judges are permitting him to attend the hearings via a video link.

Kabuga was originally scheduled to appear in court in Arusha, where the other arm of the IRMCT — also referred at as the MICT — resides, but judges had ruled he would remain in The Hague “until otherwise decided.”

Also read: Kabuga’s trial in Arusha will lift the lid off a dirty East African family secret

In June, the judges denied a defence objection, ruling Kabuga was indeed fit to stand trial.

Swift trial wanted  

The UN says 800,000 people were murdered in Rwanda in 1994 in a 100-day rampage that shocked the world.

Read: Felicien Kabuga: The quiet businessman from Byumba who took over Kigali

An ally of Rwanda’s then-ruling party, Kabuga allegedly helped create the Interahamwe Hutu militia group and the Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), whose broadcasts incited people to murder.

The radio station also identified the hiding places of Tutsis where they were later killed, prosecutors said in the indictment.

More than 50 witnesses are expected to appear for the prosecution, which said they needed about 40 hours to wrap up their case.

Prosecutors said Kabuga controlled and encouraged RTLM’s content and defended the station when the minister of information criticised the broadcasts.

Kabuga is also accused of “distributing machetes” to genocidal groups, and ordering them to kill Tutsis.

Read: Felicien Kabuga pleads not guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity

Later fleeing Rwanda, Kabuga spent years on the run using a succession of false passports.

Investigators say he was helped by a network of former Rwandan allies to evade justice.

Following his arrest in a small apartment near Paris, his lawyers argued that Kabuga, whose age is now given as 87 on the indictment, should face trial in France for health reasons.

But France’s top court ruled he should be moved to UN custody, in line with an arrest warrant issued in 1997.

Kabuga is one of the last top wanted suspects for the Rwandan genocide to face justice.

Others, including the man seen as the architect of the genocide, Augustin Bizimana, and former presidential guard commander Protais Mpiranya have both died.

Victims of the genocide have called for a swift trial for Kabuga saying “if he dies before facing justice, he would have died under the presumption of innocence.”


Alleged Rwandan genocide financier Felicien Kabuga will go on trial in The Hague on Thursday, one of the last key suspects in the 1994 ethnic slaughter that devastated the small central African […]

Continue reading "Rwanda genocide ‘financier’ Felicien Kabuga trial to open in The Hague"

Kenya clarifies position on Sahrawi after gaffe

Kenya says it has not abandoned a decades-old policy in which it supported the African Union’s call for free self-determination of the Sahrawi people.

In a diplomatic note sent to embassies and representatives offices of international organisations in Nairobi, Kenya walked back on a controversial tweet last week in which President William Ruto appeared to end recognition of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in favour of an autonomy offer by Morocco.

Read: Kenya pushes Western Sahara issue back on AU agenda

Instead, Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said Nairobi has not departed from supporting the African Union call, as well as mediation programmes under the UN, to have the people of Western Sahara decide their future.

“Kenya’s position on the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is fully aligned with the decision of the Organization of African Unity (now African Union) to admit SADR to its membership on 22nd August 1982, and the AU Charter which calls for the unquestionable and inalienable right of a people to self-determination.

“Further, the country aligns itself with decisions of subsequent AU Assemblies of Heads of State and Government on SADR,” Kamau said in the note dated September 16.

Last week, a day after President Ruto took office, he tweeted: “Kenya rescinds its recognition of the SADR and initiates steps to wind down the entity’s presence in the country.” This was posted after he had earlier met Sahrawi President Brahim Ghali, who attended his inauguration, and later Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita.

The tweet was later deleted.

However, the President also did say that Kenya supports the United Nations framework “as the exclusive mechanism to find a lasting solution of the dispute over Western Sahara.”

Also read: UN names new envoy for Western Sahara

The Foreign Ministry in Kenya told embassies all formal declarations will, in future, be made only through formal diplomatic documents, not social media, in an apparent move to prevent another gaffe.

The President indicated that relations with Morocco will, nonetheless, be speeded up “in areas of trade, agriculture, health, tourism, energy, among others, for the mutual benefit of our countries.”

The announcement would have upended a decades-old policy in which African countries generally support the call for a referendum for a region claimed by Morocco as part of its territory.


The SADR has had a seat at the African Union since 1982 and had, for a long time, caused Morocco’s withdrawal from the AU, then known as the Organization of African Unity (OAU) until 2017 when Rabat returned to the bloc.

The decision means Kenya has joined the US in recognising Morocco against SADR but it is the only African country to do so publicly.

During Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidency, Kenya’s policy was to side with SADR. When Kenya’s then Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed ran for the Chairperson of the African Union Commission in 2017, she visited the SADR government in Algeria. That decision is said to have disadvantaged her as Morocco mounted a lobbying against her quest for AU chair.

Western Sahara has been claimed by Morocco since 1975. And Kenya had argued that the boundaries of Western Sahara as vacated by the Spanish colonialists should be left unchanged.

Initially occupied by the Spanish, the Western Sahara was claimed by both Mauritania and Morocco. Mauritania later dropped its claim, leaving Rabat to call the region as its Southern Provinces.

In 1979, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution A / RES / 34/37 which provided “the unequal rights of Western Sahara people in their own discretion and liberty, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, the Charter of the Organization of the African Unity and the purposes of the General Assembly.”

The dispute between the two sides had been floated in the UN systems, including at the International Court of Justice. But a referendum meant to determine the future of the region is yet to be organised as both sides disagree on who should participate.


Kenya says it has not abandoned a decades-old policy in which it supported the African Union’s call for free self-determination of the Sahrawi people. In a diplomatic note sent to […]

Continue reading "Kenya clarifies position on Sahrawi after gaffe"

Cybercriminals on the continent target East African firms most

Businesses in East Africa have reported the highest number of cyber-attacks in Africa, implying the rising threats that come with massive digital transformation.

A survey by audit firm KPMG focusing on 300 companies, both large corporations and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), reveals that about three in 10 businesses in the region have fallen victim to cyber-attacks.

The survey blames this on “rapid development and adoption of digital technology across business sectors with limited expertise and awareness around technology and digital infrastructure.”

About nine in ten firms in the region are currently undertaking a digital transformation or have already finished transitioning, compared to 82 percent in West Africa.

John Anyanwu, Africa cyber lead at KPMG, said many economies in the continent have managed to shake off pandemic woes and the effects of other shocks to increase “consumption and adoption of digital technologies at grassroot level.”

The threats

But cybercriminals have revamped their tactics to prey on unsuspecting organisations, primarily posting ransomware, business email compromise and data leakage threats to firms across the continent.

“Today, there is a much larger focus needed on not only mitigating threats, but in the way organisations are set up to deal with them,” said Anthony Muiyuro, cyber lead at KPMG East Africa.

Even so, a quarter of firms across the continent are yet to develop any form of strategy to prevent or deal with cyber-attacks, with only 34 percent of those with a strategy having independent cyber and information security functions.

“This function should be a strategic focus, cut across all business functions. Therefore, establishing an independent information security function is touted as a critical success factor for mature information risk management,” Mr Muiyuro said.

In East Africa, where there is the most threat, 77 percent of businesses have well-defined and regularly reviewed cyber strategies, even though all countries in the region except the Democratic Republic of Congo have established cyber security legislation that requires some form of information protection.

Budget constraints and shortage of skills still hinder African companies’ efforts at building strategies and security operation centres.

While 55 percent of African firms said they are planning on recruiting cybersecurity professionals in the next 12 months, more than two-thirds of the companies find it hard to recruit and retain qualified personnel.

A 2022 report by the International Systems Audit and Control Association estimates that there are currently three million cyber security job vacancies globally that remain unfilled, and this is projected to rise to 10 million in the next few years.

Other challenges that impair organizations’ ability to establish cybersecurity strategies include an influx in the number of security alerts reported, difficulty managing and analyzing related data, and lack of documented processes.


Businesses in East Africa have reported the highest number of cyber-attacks in Africa, implying the rising threats that come with massive digital transformation. A survey by audit firm KPMG focusing […]

Continue reading "Cybercriminals on the continent target East African firms most"

William Ruto sworn in as Kenya’s fifth president

Dr William Ruto has been sworn in as the fifth President of Kenya at Kasarani International Stadium in Nairobi.

Dr Ruto took the Oath of Office at 12.44 pm in a swearing-in process led by the Judiciary under Chief Justice Martha Koome and the registrar Anne Amadi.

Dr Ruto also received the highest award in the country – Chief of the Order of the Golden Heart. 

His deputy, Rigathi Gachagua, was also sworn in shortly after him. 

The swearing-in and inauguration kicked off with the entry of President Uhuru Kenyatta aboard the Commander in Chief ceremonial vehicle, after which he inspected a full parade mounted by the Kenya Defence Forces under Lt-Col Gilbert Kinanga’s command.

The event was attended by tens of head of states and diplomats from across the world. They included East African Community presidents among others. 

Check out our other coverage of William Ruto’s inauguration below:

Watch Ruto’s swearing-in live


Dr William Ruto has been sworn in as the fifth President of Kenya at Kasarani International Stadium in Nairobi. Dr Ruto took the Oath of Office at 12.44 pm in […]

Continue reading "William Ruto sworn in as Kenya’s fifth president"

President William Ruto’s full speech after his inauguration

Dr William Ruto was on Tuesday sworn in as the fifth President of Kenya at Kasarani International Stadium.

Here’s the full speech he issued afterwards.

“This is a momentous occasion for Kenya. Our politics and elections have never failed to be emotive, engaging and dramatic. The most recent installment, however, showcased our most exemplary democratic performance ever. This day comes on the back of a peaceful election following an intense, issue-based campaign, in which major coalitions, made up of strong political parties canvassed their agenda for examination by the people of Kenya. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) stewarded a transparent and credible election, whose result faithfully reflected the democratic will of the Kenyan people. 

Dissatisfied parties exercised their right of petition before the Supreme Court, whose proceedings and determination not only gave comfort to the doubtful, but also restored faith in our electoral and judicial institutions. Many countries aspire to have moments like this, and we should not take ours for granted. This is the third election under the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and the second peaceful democratic transition.

We have had a robust conversation about the moment we are in and what it demands of us, and we sought to answer whether this was a constitutional or an economic moment. In this process, we have demonstrated the maturity of our democracy, the robustness of our institutions and the resilience of our people.

My competitors and I mobilised vigorously to offer the citizens of Kenya the most appealing agenda as well as the best roadmap to achieving it. I remain firm in the conviction that all sides in the last election did their best to present a pathway to actualize the people’s aspirations. The just concluded election was a choice between competing agendas towards the Kenya we want. Elections and democracy entail unifying competition, not divisive rivalry.

The performance of our security services, the IEBC and the Judiciary was put to severe test. By and large, these institutions lived up to our expectations. We can only aspire to do better in future, and I give my undertaking that my administration shall work to ensure that the bar is raised even higher for the next election. 

A significant dividend of our electoral and democratic process is the tremendous achievement we made in breaking the glass ceiling by enhancing the participation of women in leadership. 7 women were elected governors, up from 3 in the last election. 29 women were elected as members of the National Assembly up from 23 in 2017. 7 women Deputy Governors and 3 women Senators were also elected.

It is very clear that this election had many winners far exceeding those who were actually elected. By far, the people are the biggest winners. We have done well. We have blazed the trail in an increasingly challenging environment where democracy is consistently on trial.

We have come a long way in our nation’s journey to freedom and going by our most recent performance in the election, we conclude in confidence that we are almost home. 

Allow me to single out the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for special commendation for the courage to do the right thing under exceptionally challenging circumstances. As an institution, they have set a new standard in public service that is uncompromising, professional and exemplary, raising the bar of integrity of our public officials and institutions. 

It is appropriate to celebrate our Judiciary for sustaining its tradition of boldly giving much-needed guidance, especially in allaying post-election anxieties and resolving grievances in a sensitive, credible and authoritative manner. Its articulation of the aspirations and standards enshrined in the Constitution has deepened our democracy and institutionalized the rule of  law. Our Judiciary is now, without doubt, Kenya’s biggest constitutional dividend. It has successfully arbitrated 3 election disputes and defended the nation against formidable onslaughts on our Constitution. Our Judiciary has demonstrated transparency in its proceedings and decision-making thereby consolidating thereby consolidating its independence, authority and legitimacy.  

I also take this opportunity to say a special word of appreciation to our security services for a commendable job at a critical period in our nation. Their service and the heroic sacrifices they have made beyond the call of duty has kept our nation safe. I am aware that our uniformed services effectively resisted concerted attempts to foment unrest and subvert the will of the people. 

My special commendation to all candidates who contested various positions. Their participation enhanced competition and enriched public debate that underpins democratic choice. Special recognition goes to my worthy competitor and friend, the Hon Raila Amolo Odinga and his running mate Hon Martha Wangari Karua, who mounted a vigorous and  determined campaign. 

Our special gratitude also goes to millions of Kenyans in the Hustler movement for tirelessly mobilizing for the campaign and executing a historic revolutionary feat, perhaps as great as the daring exploits of our legendary freedom fighters. This includes all our campaign volunteers, agents, mobilizers and those who contributed whatever they could, in whatever form, to keep the movement going.  

I also appreciate our religious community and institutions for their support, prayers and encouragement. I commend the Church in particular, and in equal measure the Islamic religious leadership, for their considerable support to us and our campaign. We also appreciate them for continuously exploring avenues for inter-faith understanding and solidarity, which have gone a long way to enhance tolerance and cohesion in Kenya. Faith-based institutions continue to play a noble and indispensable role in our communities and I commit that we will enhance our partnership, collaboration and support. 

At this juncture, it is important for me to speak directly to the youth and especially those who participated, in one way or another, in the election campaigns. I commend them for resisting pressure and enticement to be misused as agents of conflict and disruption during the electioneering period. I also congratulate those who went out to seek various roles within campaigns and election, thus playing their part in keeping Kenya’s democracy robust. Even if your candidates did not win, your participation in the activities of political parties, campaigns and elections is the beginning of political internship. My political journey similarly began as a young  campaign volunteer, fresh out of university. Your experience and lessons learnt should form the basis for your leadership journey.

We have all, therefore, emerged out of this contest stronger, more united and alive to the issues that are common to all of us. We should remain conscious that we have all been elected to work together in ensuring that our children go to school, our people have food and decent healthcare, our youth have jobs and our workers have dignified livelihoods, for it is our strong belief that every hustle matters.

Dreams and ambitions live in the hearts of Kenyans, who struggle daily against daunting odds, often with nothing except stubborn hope. Some succeed, others fail while the others do not even get a decent chance. Before the nation and the world today, I stand with great humility and profound joy, as a living testimony, that with faith in God, willingness to work hard and commitment to a vision, dreams can become reality in the fullness of time. I promise to throw open every door of opportunity and to keep them open until success stories become the norm rather than the exception and urge all other leaders to do the same, so that we can together expand opportunity and chance for many more.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We should consolidate our success in the just-concluded elections and enhance the capacity and performance of all our governance institutions. 

The innovative deployment of technology to secure election results has been the electoral commission pioneering breakthrough. Going forward, we will support IEBC’s institutional capacity so as to expand the deployment of technology to cover all elections from the MCA to the President.

I also believe that there is tremendous opportunity for IEBC to support electoral processes in our political parties as part of broader democratic development.

To consolidate the place of the judiciary in our constitutional and democratic dispensation, my administration will respect judicial decisions while we cement the place of Kenya as a country anchored on democracy and  the rule of law. 

Our campaign for financial independence of the Judiciary has paid off with the implementation of the Judiciary Fund, on July 1st this year. My administration will scale up the budgetary allocation to the judiciary by an additional Ksh 3 billion annually for the next 5 years. These resources will support the bottom-up scaling of justice by increasing the number of small claims courts from the current 25 to 100. We will also work with the Judiciary to build High Courts in the remaining 7 counties, magistrates courts in the remaining 123 sub-counties and support their ongoing digitization program. These interventions will empower the Judiciary to adjudicate and expeditiously conclude corruption cases, commercial disputes and all other matters, thereby enhancing  access to justice and efficiency in the Judiciary.

To further demonstrate my commitment to the independence of the Judiciary, this afternoon I will appoint the 6 judges already nominated for appointment to the court of appeal, three years ago, by the Judicial Service Commission and tomorrow, I shall preside over their swearing-in ceremony so that they can get on with the business of serving the people.

As required by Article 245 of the Constitution, the Inspector-General of Police is mandated to exercise independent command over the National Police Service. The services’ operational autonomy, however, has been undermined by the continued financial dependence on the Office of the President. This situation is going to change.

As I address you, I have instructed that the instrument conferring financial autonomy to the National Police Service by transferring their budget from the Office of the President and designating the Inspector-General as the accounting officer, be placed on my desk for signature. 

Financial independence to the police will give impetus  to the fight against corruption, and end the political weaponization of the criminal justice system; an undertaking I made to the people of Kenya.

I understand the deep fissures and low morale in the public service. The intimidation that was visited on IEBC commissioners and staff during the last election was also meted on various other agencies and staff in the Public Service.  This is now in the past. I assure all public officers that my administration will respect their professional service, and no public servant, even chiefs and their assistants, will be required to run political errands so for any political party or formation.

Ladies and gentlemen, we anchored our campaign on the platform of the economy premised on job creation and the well-being of the people and we have been working continuously on the measures to bring down the cost of living.

Our people are confronted daily with increasingly unaffordable prices, especially food and transport. In our economic forums across the country during the campaign, citizens consistently shared their anxiety, pain and fury on this matter. It calls for an urgent and decisive resolution. 

The interventions in place have not borne any fruit. On fuel subsidy alone, the taxpayers have spent a total of Ksh144 billion, a whooping Ksh 60 billion in the last 4 months. If the subsidy continues to the end of the financial year, it will cost the taxpayer Ksh 280 billion, equivalent to the entire national government development budget. Additionally, there was an attempt to subsidize Unga in the run up to the election, a program that gobbled up Ksh 7 billion in one month, with no impact. In addition to being very costly, consumption subsidy interventions are prone to abuse, they distort markets and create uncertainty, including artificial shortages of the very products being subsidized. 

The cost of living challenges are related to production. Our strategy to bring down the cost of living is predicated on empowering producers. The forecast for maize harvest this year is below 30 million bags against the normal production of 40 million bags. The main cause of the decline in production is the high cost of inputs. 

Our priority intervention therefore, is to  make fertilizer, good-quality seeds and other agricultural inputs affordable and available.  For the short rain season, we have already made arrangements to make 1.4 million bags of fertilizer available at Ksh3,500 for a 50kg bag down from the current Ksh 6,500. This will be available from next week. I appeal to county governments in Eastern, Central and Western regions, to work with us in making sure that the fertilizer is available to farmers. Additionally to cushion tea farmers, we have made arrangements with KTDA to immediately supply tea farmers with fertilizer at Kshs 3,500 down from Kshs 6,500. This is our initial intervention, we will be doing more for the medium term and the long term. 

We are alive to the challenges of drought that face seven counties, which are now at ‘alarm’ and 13 that are at alert stages respectively. We are determined to ensure that no county slips into the emergency phase and will coordinate with county governments, which are the first line of response. We are mobilizing resources to reverse this situation. 

Our goal is not just to provide relief and recovery to restore the situation, but to invest and unlock the huge economic potential of the rangelands that constitute two-thirds of our country.

Jobs is our other priority. It is time for us to stem the tide of youth unemployment. Every year, 800,000 young people join the workforce and over 600,000 of them do not find opportunities for productive work. Moreover, our young people in cities and towns face  very hostile environments, many times treated as a nuisance and their hustles criminalized. Those who seek to set up formal businesses are faced with the bureaucratic monster that is multiple licences. 

Our immediate agenda is to create a favourable business and enterprise environment, decriminalize livelihoods and support people in the informal sector to organise themselves into stable, viable and creditworthy business entities. This is the essence of the bottom-up economic model, which creates a path for traders and entrepreneurs to build linkages, experience safety, and enjoy security. We will work with county governments to create frameworks that provide secure trading places in our cities and towns.

Financial inclusion and access to credit are critical in addressing the fundamental factors of the cost of living, job creation and people’s well-being. We shall take measures to drive down the cost of credit. Our starting point is to shift the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB) framework from its current practice of arbitrary, punitive and all or nothing blacklisting of borrowers, which denies borrowers credit. We will work with Credit reference bureaus a new system of credit score rating that provides borrowers with an opportunity to manage on their creditworthiness. This will eliminate blacklisting. 

In our engagements, traders also complained about the onerous burden involved in cash transactions exceeding Kshs 1 million. Many have reverted to storing money under their mattresses at great risk, which is clearly not the intention of the anti-money laundering regulations. While we remain fully committed to mitigating this risk, we believe that there is scope to make compliance less burdensome on genuine business transactions. I have been assured by the Central Bank that work on how to ease this burden without compromising the security of the financial system is underway.

We shall implement the Hustler Fund, dedicated to the capitalization of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises through chamas, saccos and cooperatives to make credit available on affordable terms that do not require collateral.

To implement all these interventions, we shall establish a Ministry of Cooperatives and SME Development mandated to ensure that every small business has secure property rights, access to finance and a supportive regulatory framework.

Furthermore, to deal with the huge challenge of youth unemployment we will roll out our social and affordable low-cost housing program, targeting an average of 250,000 units a year. This will create opportunities in the entire job market.  We will engage TVET institutions to provide necessary skills to enable the Jua Kali industry supply standardized products for our housing program.  We will leverage on our competitive advantage in leather and textile to roll out our labor intensive Agro-processing industrialization program. This will start with the Dongo Kundu and Naivasha industrial parks. 

This afternoon, I will be issuing instructions for clearing of all goods and other attendant operational issues to revert to the port of Mombasa. This restore thousands of jobs in the city of Mombasa. 

Ladies and gentlemen, we must stabilize our public finances. This year, we will spend 60 per cent of our revenues to service our debt. We are faced with Ksh 600 billion in pending bills for goods and services supplied to the government. Clearly, we are living beyond our means. This situation must be corrected. I am aware that many individuals, families and their companies have been driven to ruin and forced to shut down, over government unpaid bills. 

We shall give priority to the expeditious resolution of our pending bills so that the government can meet its obligations and facilitate better economic performance. In the coming weeks, we shall advise government creditors on the mechanism for the resolution of their outstanding payments. We are committed to ensuring that they are paid in the shortest time possible. 

Additionally, we urgently need to expand our tax base. Our job-creation agenda and the capitalizing SMEs will go a long way in broadening our tax bracket.

We will make KRA more professional, efficient, responsive and people-friendly. I urge taxpayers to respond by undertaking their patriotic duty and pay taxes. 

In furtherance to this, oversight institutions such as the Auditor-General and the Controller of Budget will be adequately funded to execute their mandates.

On the matter of gender parity, I am committed to the two-thirds gender rule as enshrined in the Constitution. We will work with Parliament to fastrack various legislative proposals and establish a framework that will resolve this matter expeditiously. The participation of women in our governance does not make us lesser; it makes us greater. And their role can no longer be nominal; it has to be substantive. 

Ladies and gentlemen, our health agenda is premised on fundamental reform in the way healthcare is financed and provided. We shall reform the National Health Insurance Fund to make it a social health insurance provider, improve procurement of medical supplies, deploy an integrated state-of-the-art health information system and most importantly, provide adequate human resources at all levels. Contributions will now graduated and will now be based on income.

There is a robust conversation in the country on education, in particular the implementation of the CBC curriculum. Public participation is critical in this matter. We will establish an Education Reform Taskforce in the Presidency which will be launched in the coming weeks. It will collect views from all key players in line with the constitutional demand of public participation. We are particularly alive to the anxieties of parents on the twin transitions of the last 8-4-4 class and the first CBC class in January next year. I assure that there will be a solution to the matter before then. 

We have elevated our diaspora to be the 48th County. The complaint has been that the diaspora has not received the attention they deserve. The focus has been on remittances, while their fundamental rights as citizens have been neglected. To correct this oversight, I pledge to:

a.Elevate diaspora issues at a ministry level. 
b.Strengthen diaspora services in all embassies.
c.Work with parliament to set up a committee that will exclusively deal with diaspora issues.
d.Set up a mechanism for public participation by the Diaspora. 
e.Work closely with the IEBC to expand and enhance diaspora participation in elections.

Ladies and gentlemen, devolution and sharing of power and resources is not just a national value and principle of governance in the Constitution, but it is the crown jewel of our constitutional dispensation and the proudest achievement of the citizens of Kenya. Every part of the country has experienced the positive impacts of this invaluable institution and Kenyans yearn for a better performance of devolved units. 

One of the best ways of accelerating national development is through collaboration with county governments. As Deputy President, I witnessed first-hand the tremendous potential of inter-governmental synergy and look forward to scaling up our capacity to harness these bountiful possibilities. 

Because of this realization, I have no hesitation in accelerating the transfer of outstanding functions to counties, together with the attendant resources. 

To promote budget efficiency and minimize disruptions and delays in devolved service delivery, my administration commits to take necessary measures to secure the timely disbursement of revenue allocations to county governments.

The success of devolution depends on sound inter-governmental relations. There is a template which incorporates lessons from successes as well as failures in past engagements, and we stand a stronger chance of making devolution work better.

Kenya will continue to be a dedicated partner to peace, security and prosperity in the East African region. We look forward to deepening our integration. We welcome our newest member, the DRC, whose entry now extends our region from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic. Kenya is fully committed to the implementation of the EAC treaty and its protocols of free movement of people, goods and services. Equally important is our commitment to the full actualization of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). 

Ladies and gentlemen, Kenya will continue playing its key role in international diplomacy at the bilateral and multilateral levels, appreciating that we are host to major international agencies, including the United Nations.

Among the central concerns of my government will be climate change. In our country, women and men, young people, farmers, workers and local communities suffer the consequences of climate emergency. 
It is not too late to respond. To tackle this threat, we must act urgently to keep global heating levels below 1.5C, help those in need and end addiction to fossil fuels. 

Africa has the opportunity to lead the world. We have immense potential for renewable energy. Reducing costs of renewal energy technologies make this the most viable energy source. Kenya is on a transition to clean energy that will support jobs, local economies and the sustainable industrialisation. In Kenya, we will lead this endeavor by reaffirming our commitment to transition to 100% clean energy by 2030. We call on all African states to join us in this journey. 

As members of the international community, we shall support a successful Climate Summit in Africa in November, by championing delivery of the finance and technology needed for Africa to adapt to climate impacts, support those in need and manage the transition.

My administration is ready to work with global partners to fight pandemics and other health emergencies. We are also committed to promoting Kenya’s vigilance and efficacy in responding to emerging public health challenges. We stand ready to play our role in the collective efforts to keep the public safe. I call upon countries that have developed vaccines to make them accessible.

Ladies and gentlemen, my government commits to create a business-friendly environment, eradicate barriers that hamper business development and growth, and make Kenya one of the most compelling and attractive business destinations. 

We are an open, democratic society founded on freedom and justice. We take pride in receiving visitors and offering them our legendary hospitality. Kenya is a land of immense natural beauty and unforgettable delights. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I stand here on my Day One as your President. I make a commitment that, in the days ahead, I will make pronouncements that are going to better define the trajectory of my administration. I promise to make every Kenyan proud and ensure the economic well-being of all.”


Dr William Ruto was on Tuesday sworn in as the fifth President of Kenya at Kasarani International Stadium. Here’s the full speech he issued afterwards. “This is a momentous occasion for Kenya. […]

Continue reading "President William Ruto’s full speech after his inauguration"

Kenya polls agency chair Wafula Chebukati, deputy Juliana Cherera clash in split

he divisions within the Kenya polls agency continued to play out Monday, with the chairman publicly clashing with his deputy in their first joint meeting after four of seven commissioners disowned the results of the presidential election.

During a meeting with candidates from eight electoral areas, which had their elections postponed, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Vice-Chairperson Juliana Cherera hung her boss, Mr Wafula Chebukati, out to dry over the cause of the initial postponement of the elections.

After being invited by Mr Chebukati to explain to the candidates what informed the first postponement, Ms Cherera put aside the official script to lament the secretive nature of IEBC operations.

Insisting that commissioners were not reading from the same script, Ms Cherera charged some commissioners were intentionally kept in the dark regarding the printing of ballot papers.

Read: Kenya’s poll agency faces performance queries

“We talked amongst ourselves as commissioners and did what we call PR [a public relations exercise] to save face because we did not want the commission to be divided,” Ms Cherera said.

“We tried to put pieces together despite the fact that, as a commission, we didn’t even know the first ballot papers were arriving. We were only made aware on the night before the arrival,” she added.

She further detailed how, as part of a team appointed by IEBC to oversee the printing of presidential ballot papers, they were frustrated only arriving at the tail end of the printing process.

“We did not see Mombasa, Kakamega or Kitui Rural papers, and so I cannot take responsibility for ballot papers that I was not part of [their] verification. I rest my case,” she said.

Caught flat-footed, Mr Chebukati looked on, not knowing what to do, appearing cornered after Ms Cherera pulled a fast one on him.

Read: Kenya polls agency split on presidential results

“The commission issued a statement on the issue and we apologise for the mix-up,” was all Mr Chebukati could say.

Since Monday last week, when Mr Chebukati declared Deputy President William Ruto the President-elect, IEBC has been divided into two camps with Ms Cherera leading one and Mr Chebukati leading the other.

Ms Cherera’s group has commissioners Justus Nyang’aya, Irene Masit and Francis Wanderi while Mr Chebukati’s camp has commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu, in what seems to be battle of wills between the newcomers to the commission and the old guard.

The four new commissioners, who rejected the presidential election results that Mr Chebukati announced said publicly that they cannot take ownership of the announced results.

They have also complained about being sidelined in the appointment of returning officers, amid claims that they were blindside by the arrival of the first batch of ballot papers.

In yesterday’s meeting at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi, the faction led by Ms Cherera sat close to each other save for Ms Masit who was sandwiched between Prof Guliye and Mr Molu.

Furthermore, Ms Cherera’s faction did not contribute to the proceedings after a round of introductions with the Chebukati-led wing dominating the session.


he divisions within the Kenya polls agency continued to play out Monday, with the chairman publicly clashing with his deputy in their first joint meeting after four of seven commissioners […]

Continue reading "Kenya polls agency chair Wafula Chebukati, deputy Juliana Cherera clash in split"

Tanzania begins weeklong population census

Tanzania has launched a nationwide week-long population and housing census that will delve deeper than in the past to identify bona fide citizens, immigrants, refugees, foreign residents and passing visitors along with employment statuses and other livelihood engagements.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan, who designated Tuesday as a public holiday for the exercise, was the first to be enumerated at the Chamwino State House in the capital Dodoma.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) is asking a raft of questions, about 100, related to age, gender, birthplace, residential status (ownership and tenancy), education, employment and financial inclusion status. It is also collecting details on marital status, reproductive health and technology use.

“I have been counted. It is true that the questions are more, but they can be answered,” President Suluhu told journalists at State House, where she urged citizens to familiarise themselves with the questions and have the necessary documents such as the national identity cards beforehand so they can answer quickly.

Read: Census: Tanzania lures hunter-gatherers with bush meat

The census commissar Anne Makinda said the exercise would run for seven days.

This year’s census is the first to be done digitally and will cost Tsh328 billion ($141 million). The census will also include housing and property statistics for the first time.

According to the concept documents, the findings will allow relevant authorities to streamline the provision of various social services and facilities according to more accurate estimations of different community, demographical and living environment needs.

Officials say the census findings will also be used to determine unemployment numbers, crime control requirements by area, and the sustainability of existing social security and pension systems.

Tanzania is estimated to have a population of between 55 and 65 million. In 2012, Tanzania reported 44.9 million people.

UN predictions have placed Tanzania’s population among the world’s eight fastest-growing countries over the next three decades.


Tanzania has launched a nationwide week-long population and housing census that will delve deeper than in the past to identify bona fide citizens, immigrants, refugees, foreign residents and passing visitors […]

Continue reading "Tanzania begins weeklong population census"

UN’s Congo peacekeeping mission pulls out of major eastern city

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo has pulled out of one of the largest cities in the country’s east after deadly protests against its failure to protect civilians, Congolese and U.N. officials said Thursday.

Butembo, a trading hub of almost a million people, has been one of the epicentres of violent demonstrations since last month that have killed dozens, including civilians, peacekeepers and Congolese police.

Read: Death toll from anti-UN protests in DRC rises to 19

The mission’s hundreds of troops and civilian personnel in Butembo have left and discussions are planned over how to evacuate their equipment, General Constant Ndima, the military governor of North Kivu province, told reporters.

Ndeye Khady Lo, the spokesperson for the mission, which is known by its French acronym MONUSCO, said the departure was temporary. “MONUSCO is not leaving Butembo. After consultations with local and national authorities, the mission has proceeded to a temporary redeployment of its personnel outside Butembo,” she told Reuters, without saying when they might return.

Also read: DRC kicks out UN peacekeepers spokesman, to speed up troops withdrawal

The protests, which also hit the cities of Goma and Uvira, have laid bare public frustration with the U.N. peacekeepers, who have been deployed to Congo for more than two decades. MONUSCO has around 12,400 troops and costs more than $1 billion per year.

Congolese demonstrators gesture during a protest against the UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO in Goma on July 26, 2022. UN peacekeepers and Congolese forces have been unable to stamp out persistent violence by dozens of rebel groups in the eastern areas. PHOTO | MICHEL LUNANGA | AFP

Even after a peace deal in 2003 drew a line under a five-year regional conflict in which millions died, U.N. peacekeepers and Congolese forces have been unable to stamp out persistent violence by dozens of rebel groups in the eastern areas bordering Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

Local residents often accuse the peacekeepers of being too passive. The protests that broke out last month were called for by a faction of the ruling party’s youth wing.

Read: Protesters storm UN base in eastern DR Congo city

In a plan drawn up last year, the United Nations laid out a set of minimum conditions that would be necessary for MONUSCO’s withdrawal, which it aimed to achieve by the end of 2024.

The conditions include a reduction in the militant threat, the re-establishment of state authority in conflict zones and progress toward disarming and demobilizing former rebels.


The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo has pulled out of one of the largest cities in the country’s east after deadly protests against its failure […]

Continue reading "UN’s Congo peacekeeping mission pulls out of major eastern city"

95 killed in South Sudan communal conflicts

At least 95 people have been killed in communal conflicts in South Sudan in July alone, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has reported.

A humanitarian snapshot released by UNOCHA on Thursday and seen by The EastAfrican adds that more than 17,500 people were also displaced.

“At least 80 people were killed during intercommunal violence in Kapoeta North County, Eastern Equatoria. Fighting between armed factions in Mayom County, Unity State resulted in dozens of people being killed or injured.

“Cattle raids in Gumuruk County, Pibor Administrative Area, displaced some 1,700 people and left 15 dead. Torrential rain and floods affected nearly 2,400 people in the IDP site, Twic County in Warrap,” OCHA stated.

The agency added that some 7.7 million people are estimated to face crisis or higher levels of food insecurity across the country.

“People’s situation in Longochuk County, Upper Nile State, related to food security was reported as worrying; as a result, some 5,000 people moved to Maiwut and Pagak in Maiwut County. Residents fled to the bush or to nearby villages seeking safety.

“In July, armed cattle keepers attacked villages in Yei County, Central Equatoria and looted properties including livestock. Renewed fighting between armed factions in Kundru Boma, Yei County, displaced hundreds of people to neighbouring villages, and others crossed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” said OCHA.

The agency went added that in Ikotos County of Eastern Equatoria State, clashes between an armed youth group and government soldiers led to the death and injury of an unconfirmed number of people, including an NGO worker, adding that an unknown number of civilians were reported displaced within Ikotos town.

Last year, the UN Security Council approved a resolution extending an arms embargo and sanctions against South Sudan for one year. South Sudan’s unity government opposed the decision, arguing it would jeopardise the progress of the 2018 revitalised peace agreement [ARCSS] which helped form the unity government last year.

South Sudan has many guns in circulation, most held by civilians.

According to a Gun Policy report, the estimated total number of guns (both legal and illicit) held by civilians in South Sudan was 1.2 million in 2017 and 3 million in 2013. The Defence Forces of South Sudan is reported to have 351,500 firearms.

Juba, which is barred from purchasing weapons from the international market unless with express permission from the UN Security Council, argues that the arms embargo makes it difficult to equip its forces.


At least 95 people have been killed in communal conflicts in South Sudan in July alone, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has reported. A humanitarian […]

Continue reading "95 killed in South Sudan communal conflicts"

Uproar over proposal by African leaders to invest in fossil fuels

Climate lobbyists have faulted African leaders over their retrogressive proposal on investment in fossil fuels despite scientists warning that countries should move away from the production and use of the fuels.  Fossil fuels are made from plants and animals that decompose to form natural gas, petroleum and coal.

Scientists have persistently warned that the production of such fuels contributes to greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide, which are responsible for the changing climate. This call on investments was done during a meeting held in July by Africa’s technical committee on energy in their 41st Ordinary session, which adopted the African Common Position on Energy Access and Just Transition.

Amani Abou-Zeid, the African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, said such investments push for favourable outcomes in energy and infrastructure. “This is an important and major step forward in ensuring and confirming Africa’s right for a differentiated path towards the goal of universal access to energy, ensuring energy security for our continent and strengthening its resilience, while at the same time acting responsibly towards our planet by improving the energy mix,” he said.

The leaders suggested that natural gas, green and low carbon hydrogen and nuclear energy will play a crucial role in expanding modern energy access in the short to medium term while enhancing the uptake of renewables in the long term for low carbon and climate-resilient trajectory.

Read: ADOW: Why continent should lead the Green Revolution

The damning proposal comes at the backdrop of the backing of the European Union’s recent vote in favour of a new rule that will consider fossil gas and nuclear projects “green,” making them eligible for lost-cost loans and subsidies.

The climate activists now warn that this plan would distract from the clear need for renewable energy such as the use of solar, and embracing fossil fuels, while also shifting dangerous nuclear technologies shunned by Europeans on African soil.

Mohamed Adow, Director of Power Shift Africa, said in a joint statement from the lobbyists that African leaders should be maximising this potential and harnessing the abundant wind and sun, which will help boost energy access and tackle climate change. “Africa is blessed with an abundance of wind, solar and other clean renewable energies.  What Africa does not need is to be shackled with expensive fossil fuel infrastructure, which will be obsolete in a few years as the climate crisis worsens,” said Mr Adow.

This new call is ahead of the 27th Conference of Parties (COP27), a global climate change meeting that will be held in November in Egypt.

Mr Adow added: “It would be a shameful betrayal of African people, already on the front line of the climate crisis, if African leaders use this November’s COP27 climate summit on African soil to lock Africa into a fossil fuel-based future. Africa does not need the dirty energy of the past, it needs forward-looking leadership that can take advantage of the clean energy of the present and future.”

Dr Sixbert Mwanga, the coordinator of Climate Action Network Africa, urges leaders to transfer those resources to renewable energy such as solar, wind, and geothermal, which are safer for the planet. “At COP27, we call for the African Union and African leaders to announce the utilisation of these sources for the benefit of our people and leave aside fossil fuel development for export.”

Read: ATELA: What agenda will an African champion bring to COP27?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which brings together science experts on climate change, warned in its latest report that human activities such as fossil fuel production and use adversely affect our climate. Lorraine Chiponda, Africa Coal Network Coordinator, reiterated this, saying the world needs to cut carbon emissions to prevent catastrophic climate impacts.

“The globe already has seen the temperature rise and we will exceed 1.5ºC by 2030 and suffer an increase in intensity and frequency of climate disasters. The prospect that African leaders are presenting and pushing for gas developments and investment is overwhelming and reckless given the climate impacts that threaten the lives of millions of people in Africa having seen worsening droughts and hunger, recurring floods and cyclones,” she said.

“We have seen in the past the acceleration of gas projects in Africa is another colonial and modern Scramble and Partition of Africa amongst energy corporations and rich countries. Fossil fuel projects have neither solved energy poverty in Africa where 600 million still live in energy poverty nor brought any socio-economic justice to Africans. We shall continue to strengthen calls for a people’s just transition away from fossil fuels,” she added.

One of the contested fossil fuel projects in Africa is the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project (EACOP), which will be in Uganda and Tanzania. Coordinator #StopEACOP Omar Elmawi said it is time for Africa to invest in green energy that supports and meets African needs and not extract oil and gas for Europe’s needs as we leave all the impacts and destruction to be faced by the African people.

Joab Okanda of the Pan Africa Senior Advocacy Advisor, Christian Aid feels that Africa is being shortchanged by its own leaders. “The African Union is in danger of falling for the con of African gas at a time when other countries are investing in renewables, which will be what powers development and progress in coming decades. It would be the ultimate betrayal of African people if their leaders missed the opportunity to become a renewable energy superpower by locking us into a doomed experiment with fossil fuels that is hurting Africa through climate breakdown.”


Climate lobbyists have faulted African leaders over their retrogressive proposal on investment in fossil fuels despite scientists warning that countries should move away from the production and use of the […]

Continue reading "Uproar over proposal by African leaders to invest in fossil fuels"

Weakening shilling pushes up Kenya’s debt by $4.1b

Kenya’s depreciating currency cost the country nearly half a trillion shillings on the external public debt burden alone, eroding the government’s efforts to pay external lenders.

The shilling, which continues to present a challenge to the economy mainly in servicing of external debts and importation of goods by businesses, devalued by 9.3 per cent from 107.85 units by end of June 2021 to 117.83 by June 30 this year.

A new report by the National Treasury shows that while Kenya’s external debt stock – in dollar terms – reduced by five per cent from $37.1 billion to $35.3 billion in the year to June 2022, in Kenyan shilling terms it increased by Ksh156 billion ($1.3 billion), to Ksh4.16 trillion ($34.7 billion).

“The increase in the public debt is attributed to external loan disbursements, exchange rate fluctuation and the uptake of domestic debt during the period,” Treasury stated in the 2021/22 last quarterly budget and economic review report. The increase in the external debt burden was despite the government’s spending to service loans from other countries, multilateral lenders and foreign commercial banks.

External lenders

Between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, Treasury reported that taxpayers paid a total of Ksh305.3 billion ($25.5 billion) to external lenders. This shows the full impact of the depreciated currency on the external debt burden in the last financial year alone totaled Ksh461 billion ($38.5 billion), or at least 12 per cent of the country’s 2021/22 budget.

“By the end of June 2022, the total cumulative debt service payments to external creditors amounted to Ksh305.3 billion ($25.5 billion). This comprised Ksh184.5 billion ($15.4 billion) (60.4 per cent) principal and Ksh120.8 billion ($10.1 billion) (39.6 per cent) interest,” Treasury stated.

The government spent the highest amount Ksh152 billion ($12.7 billion) on repayments to commercial lenders, bilateral lenders Ksh102 billion ($8.5 billion) and multilateral lenders Ksh51 billion ($ 4.3 billion). Yet the multilateral lenders’ debt stock still rose by Ksh265 billion ($22.1 billion), commercial lender’s debt stock was only reduced by Ksh74 billion ($6.2 billion) and bilateral lenders’ by Ksh30 billion ($2.5 billion).

Had the shilling remained at 107.85 units in the mean exchange rate as was the case by end of June 2021, the external debt stock by end of June 2022 would have been Ksh3.8 trillion ($ 2.5 trillion).

External public debt

“In dollar terms, external public debt stock declined by US$1.8 billion from US$37.08 billion by end of June 2021 to US$35.26 billion by the end of June 2022. This comprised debt owed to multilateral (46.3 per cent), bilateral (26.6 per cent), commercial banks (26.8 per cent), and Suppliers Credit (0.3 per cent),” Treasury stated.

The amount by which the debt reduced is equivalent to Ksh214.6 billion ($17.9 billion), by June 30, 2022 exchange rate terms.

The punishing cost of the depreciating currency, which has remained on an accelerated devaluation trend for months now, is not only being felt by taxpayers while servicing the external debts but also by businesses while importing goods since they have to purchase dollars first.

In recent months, companies have complained of an acute shortage and high cost of dollars in the market, with some being forced to scale down operations.

The ultimate victim is the final consumer, as businesses pass on the cost when setting prices. This has led to higher prices of commodities and increased overall cost of living in the country.


Kenya’s depreciating currency cost the country nearly half a trillion shillings on the external public debt burden alone, eroding the government’s efforts to pay external lenders. The shilling, which continues […]

Continue reading "Weakening shilling pushes up Kenya’s debt by $4.1b"

Exit Uhuru Kenyatta, East Africa’s big hugger, glad-hander and master of soft power

In the past 10 years the Kenyan president has perpetuated an unblinking business-led foreign policy in the region, playing the main character in the play. As he exits the stage, he might well say, with his bow to the audience: “East Africa is our plate. You don’t pee where you eat,” writes Charles Onyango-Obbo.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s political rodeo will end a few weeks after the August 9 General Election. With that, the East African Community (EAC) will see the departure of its most extroverted president. There was more, though, to Uhuru’s gregariousness than a happy lad.

The late Tanzanian president, John Magufuli, was a combative, prickly, volatile and quarrelsome leader who got things done. His government had trade disputes with nearly all his neighbours and, in an unforgettable “up yours” moment, set day-old chicks from Uganda and Kenya on fire. By July 2019, the trade fight with Kenya had reached a fever pitch.

Uhuru jumped on his plane and headed for Dar es Salaam to massage Magufuli’s feelings. He went one better, visiting Magufuli’s ailing mother and the grave of father.

He melted combative Magufuli’s heart. A weepy Magufuli spoke of how he was touched by Uhuru’s kind-heartedness and gifted him four peacocks, a gesture, which he said, had great significance in Tanzania’s history.

Read: Kenyatta arrives in Tanzania for two-day private visit

For effect, Magufuli said that he had never gifted any other Head of State the birds, nor was he planning to do so again. He died in March 2021 before he could go back on his word.

It was signature Uhuru to hug his peers and give them backslaps like none of them.

His most hearty hugs and backslaps were handed out to Rwanda President Paul Kagame, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and, curiously, newcomer Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi.

President Uhuru Kenyatta receives Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi at State House Nairobi on June 20, 2022. PHOTO | PSCU

He was less handsy with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, an avuncular philosophising germaphobe who is averse to public cuddling but accorded him the reverence of an elder. He handled South Sudan’s fragile President Salva Kiir like a delicate pot.

When newish Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye broke the Pierre Nkurunziza-era isolation and visited Kenya in May 2021, the first time in nearly a decade that a Burundian leader had dropped in the country, Uhuru buttered and treated him like a long-lost brother. Ndayishimiye grinned happily throughout the visit.

Uhuru Kenyatta receiving President Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi at State House, Nairobi, in June 2022. PHOTO | PSCU

He liked to give PM Abiy massive bear hugs, and they would walk hand-in-hand, chuckling away. When new Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan visited Kenya in May 2021, Uhuru brought out the best family silver and laid on elite-level pampering for her. With a rare pro-Suluhu chorus in the Kenyan media during her visit, the Tanzanian president was visibly pleased.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (left) and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta embrace during the Kenyan leader’s visit to Addis Ababa on November 14, 2021. PHOTO | POOL

If it hadn’t been for the lingering social distancing of Covid-19, the awkwardness men feel around powerful women, and the austere signals sent by Suluhu’s hijab, Uhuru would probably have kissed her hand.

Also read: A region on the fly: Queen Samia and the five East African kings

As president, Uhuru was East Africa’s champion hugger and backslapper. If it were only about pressing the flesh, it would have gone down in history as little more than feel-good. But it wasn’t.

Uhuru Kenyatta receiving President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia during his official visit at State House, Nairobi on July 15, 2022. PHOTO | PSCU

It was partly a posture that allowed him to leverage soft power and steward the ever-expanding business interests of corporate Kenya in the region. And, too often panned at home, he seemed to find refuge in East Africa.

The result of the latter was that there were more peace meetings held in Nairobi during Uhuru’s presidency than in any other EAC capital.

When South Sudan descended into a deadly war again in 2013, the warring parties gathered in Nairobi under Uhuru’s watch to talk peace.

Uhuru Kenyatta receiving South Sudan President Salva Kiir at State House, Nairobi, in June 2022. PHOTO | PSCU

When the horrors of the Tigray war against the Ethiopian government eventually forced the adversaries to yield to negotiation, the Tigrayan rebels suggested that Uhuru host peace talks with Addis Ababa.

As the security situation in eastern DR Congo deteriorated sharply this year, Uhuru hosted the rebels and the Kinshasa government to seek a settlement.

A good part of all this is about oiling the wheels for Kenyan business. The chest bumps with Tshisekedi were not just boys’ play. It had money written all over it. During his presidency, Uhuru unlocked doors for companies like Equity Bank to enter DR Congo, make acquisitions and become the country’s second-largest bank in a blink. Profits for Kenyan banks in the East African region have soared.

Read: Equity to fund Kenyan businesses in DRC cities

His glad-handing of Abiy might well have helped telco giant Safaricom, East Africa’s most profitable company, to gain a foothold in the lucrative but closed 120-million-people Ethiopian market. Unsurprisingly, in June last year, Uhuru flew to Addis Ababa on an official visit that included witnessing the formal award of a telecom operating licence to a consortium led by Safaricom.

Uhuru Kenyatta after talks with his host Rwanda President Paul Kagame in Kigali in 2019. PHOTO | PSCU

His East African canoodling also represented perhaps the strongest stream of continuity with the policies of his predecessor Mwai Kibaki. Kibaki pushed a neutralist “don’t-rock-the-boat” policy with the rest of East Africa.

Thus, like Kibaki, Uhuru prevaricated and buried the dispute with Uganda over the pint-sized Migingo island in Lake Victoria in diplomatic niceties and promises of task forces to look into it. He was not going to die on that island.

Read: Kibaki was East Africa’s ‘good thief in the night’

This unblinking business-led foreign policy is uniquely Kenyan in the region. For the past nearly 10 years, Uhuru has been the main character in the play.

As he exits the stage, he might well say with his bow to the audience: “East Africa is our plate. You don’t pee where you eat.”


In the past 10 years the Kenyan president has perpetuated an unblinking business-led foreign policy in the region, playing the main character in the play. As he exits the stage, […]

Continue reading "Exit Uhuru Kenyatta, East Africa’s big hugger, glad-hander and master of soft power"

Africa’s real food problem is households are too poor to purchase it

ccording to recent data 72 percent of Uganda’s land is arable, compared with Kenya’s 48 percent, Tanzania’s 45 percent, Ghana’s 65 percent, Malawi’s 60 percent, Burkina Faso’s 44 percent and Mozambique’s 53 percent, Leo Kemboi and Emmanuel wa-Kyendo explain.

This is part 5 of our food and politics series.

Part 5: The recent food crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Covid-19 supply chain shocks has led people back to discussing the African food problem. Africa’s real food problem is a demand-side problem.

African households, both rural and urban, are relatively poor. Their low incomes restrict the access they have to food markets. For the African rural household, food problems comprise both climate shocks and market shocks.

Climate shocks affect both the supply of food and the source of income for rural households. Market shocks that result in increased prices also make it more difficult for both rural and urban households to access food. Many discussions, however, don’t sufficiently address the matter because they are framed largely as a supply-side problem.

Pundits lament that African farmers do not grow enough food. In practice, the selection of crops that African farmers grow faces intense global competition. Furthermore, variations in national productivity are great. Many international institutions that work on food and agriculture are focused on supply-side solutions of different flavours.

In joining the majority of African nations in tackling the food problem, institutions including the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Africa Export-Import Bank (AFREXIM), and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) have proposed supply-side interventions to resolve Africa’s food problem.

The AfDB is a multilateral financing institution. AFREXIM is a pan-African multilateral trade finance institution. AGRA is a promoter of technology and financing solutions for Africa’s productivity problem.

Read: AfDB arm releases $5.4 million for Somalia food security

At the nation-state level, proposals for African food sovereignty comprise another set of supply-side solutions that are usually import substitution by another name.

To evaluate the food systems and their dynamism in East Africa, it is important to understand the nature of food production, which can be classified into homestead production where production is on a small scale, and labour intensive while large-scale production is capital intensive and application of more scientific methods.

Smallholder farming is practised by a sizeable portion of East African households, who primarily grow cereals that are highly competitive on a global scale. Low incomes per unit are a result of stagnant productivity in countries like Kenya and the surrounding region over the past 20 years.

William Kiarie feeds goldfish at his Green Algae Highland fish farm in Sagana, Kirinyaga County, central Kenya. This project is a beneficiary of the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to improve agriculture and food security across the continent. PHOTO | AFP

Zero alternatives

Smallscale farmers automatically experience income shocks and food shocks when weather shocks cause the yield per unit to decrease. On the other hand, because there are no market alternatives available to them, middle-class and higher-income earners only experience access issues.

The food systems problem and how it affects the food market in sub-Saharan Africa can be defined through a variety of factors; economics, environmental, innovations, political factors, and degree of urbanisation.

Historically, it is unheard of for any country to have attained self-sufficiency in all different categories of food. How income causes problems in the food system is something that is not always obvious in the public affairs field. Households plug into the food market using income, which determines largely whether they face food shocks or not.

If a household deals in the livestock economy, income earned from the sale of livestock allows families to use that income to buy food, and this explains why there are famines whenever the rangeland economy is affected by weather as is currently happening in the Horn of Africa and parts of Uganda like Karamoja and northern Kenya.


The second factor that shapes the food system is the environment which includes climate change and natural resources. A large portion of Horn of Africa nations’ agriculture is rain-fed and vulnerable to weather shocks, which have been made worse by climate change, and this has been exacerbated by the fact that the climate shocks in the recent past have been frequent.

Climate shocks effects on agricultural productivity manifest themselves both directly and indirectly through unprecedented rainfall patterns, droughts, flooding and outbreaks of pests and diseases.

The unfavourable effect of temperature and rain variance on agricultural production results in uncertainty in food sufficiency in the region. Floods and droughts are harmful to agricultural production that cause food problems in the region that is highly dependent on rainfed agriculture.

Available land

In terms of natural resources, the proportion of total land that is suitable for agriculture determines the type of food system a country has. Agricultural land refers to the share of land area that is arable, under permanent crops, and under permanent pasture.

According to data from the World Bank, Uganda has 72 per cent of its land used for agriculture, compared with Kenya’s 48 per cent, Tanzania’s 45 per cent, Ghana’s 65 per cent, Malawi’s 60 per cent, Burkina Faso’s 44 per cent and Mozambique’s 53 per cent. This means that already the food system is constrained by the natural conditions of a country.

The degree to which agriculture can be mechanised is determined by additional natural resource factors like water availability and terrain. Because Uganda and Tanzania have more water resources than Kenya, they have a comparative advantage over Kenya when growing crops that require a lot of water. If Kenya makes investments in capital-intensive irrigation systems, it may be able to compete.

The paradoxical relationship between low productivity and excessively low incomes makes up the third factor. In the East African region, some minor improvements to the seed and animal breeding systems have been made but have been slowed by required resources. This is constrained by the correlation between those innovations and the amount of capital that each nation’s agricultural sector can amass and deploy to improve productivity.

Political factors

The fourth factor that is important is the political factors that affect food systems, including public policies, conflicts, and general governance of the economy. To illustrate this, public policies in Kenya on food are built around guaranteeing high income to producers at the expense of the consumers. This kind of food regime has made Kenyan food expensive compared with other countries.

For example, the benefit incidence of the fertiliser subsidy in Kenya is appropriated by suppliers and big farmers, while smallscale farmers are not able to appropriate the same benefit. The subsidy is smaller and has not been able to cover all farmers. This is a market distortion generated by political action.

The fifth factor that shapes the food system is demographic, which include the degree of urbanisation. Some of the factors such as the rural-urban dimension, affect incomes and preferences (which include tastes).

The urban folk in East Africa like other African countries consume more rice, wheat and its derivatives relatively compared with rural areas.

In joining the majority of African nations in tackling the food problem from the supply side, some international organisations have proposed some supply-side interventions.

One of the principles that has impacted food security on the continent is the idea of African food sovereignty. Sovereignty is an idea that is difficult to argue against. In Africa, an argument that runs against state sovereignty is a political loser, for it can be construed to be an argument for Africa’s perennial bogeyman — colonialism. Yet, the term sovereignty hides bad policy ideas from scrutiny.

Food sovereignty is the idea that a country should be fully sufficient in the production of its food basket and that anything less is tantamount to a breach of sovereignty.

Essentially, Africa should produce its coffee, tea, rice and chicken. The phrase makes it seem the smart, obvious and foundational approach to food policy.

In other words, the need to import agricultural products is an unacceptable vulnerability. Other states may use the so-called over-reliance on, say, grain imports to starve the importing country for political purposes.

Market shocks are anxiety-inducing events that tend to cause a clamour for security-oriented policy responses. Anxiety is the domain of the populist.

Economist and prominent theorist of the classical school of David Ricardo proposed that comparative advantage is the principal argument for international trade. That is, countries specialise in the production of one good or a set of goods — say agricultural products — because they can produce it more efficiently than any other nation can.

Countries then trade those goods in which they have a comparative advantage for the goods in which they have no comparative advantage.

The principle reveals that countries that produce goods for which they lack a comparative advantage incur the opportunity cost of foregone revenues from specialisation.

By the principle of comparative advantage, consumers get the cheapest goods at the highest quality possible. International trade allows Kenyan consumers to buy Ugandan bananas and Malaysian palm oil. Absent specialisation or trade, consumers would have a limited choice between pricey, possibly lower-quality goods. Bye-bye palm oil.

Furthermore, a country that tries to produce all the goods represented in its food basket must forego the use of land, labour and capital for the production of other goods.

If African countries must engage land, labour and capital in pursuit of African food sovereignty, they must incur the opportunity cost of foregone revenues from specialisation in the production of other goods.

Kenya cannot meet its demand for bananas at the same quality and price that Uganda can, for it has an abundance of water and rich soils Kenya lacks.

Policies of food sovereignty also assume that access is a matter of food supply. The Russia invasion of Ukraine has caused a sharp drop in the supply of specific grains.

Demand-Incomes ratio

Curiously, only the poorest consumers of this grain have felt the sharp increase in prices. Not-so-curiously, the wealthier consumers are relatively less affected. But this is not the way the problem is framed in Africa’s policy-making centres. Rather, policies seek to correct the lack of supply through interventions that will increase domestic supply.

These policies would go further by restricting foreign supply. The effect is that domestic suppliers are subsidised at the expense of domestic taxpayers and domestic consumers. In other words, African food sovereignty is import substitution in all but name.

In truth, food access is a demand-side problem. More precisely, food access is an income problem. This means that it is not the abundance of food that determines whether consumers get it but the levels of income.

The Russia invasion of Ukraine and other food crises of the present and past have had greater effects on poorer households the world over because those households are too poor to continue purchasing food at high prices.

In the short term, African nation states should respond to food crises with cash transfers to the most affected. A country like Kenya can reach its affected population with precise cash transfers through tools like M-Pesa.

Read: OBBO: Business people, you can take food to our hungry at a profit

In the long term, lowering barriers to trade and instituting policies that are conducive to structural transformation and economic growth would result in rising incomes that would then allow those consumers to access the foods they can afford.

African food sovereignty is a vehicle for state rents waiting to happen.

Africa’s food security problem can be resolved primarily through interventions that raise African household productivity and incomes.

When smallholder farmers encounter climate-related shocks, crop failures result in less food and lower incomes. They have less crops to sell and little money with which to buy food.

Spending a bulk of their income on food, urban households are also vulnerable to international food market shocks. Supply side solutions alone will not overcome the problem that African households are too poor to purchase food.


ccording to recent data 72 percent of Uganda’s land is arable, compared with Kenya’s 48 percent, Tanzania’s 45 percent, Ghana’s 65 percent, Malawi’s 60 percent, Burkina Faso’s 44 percent and […]

Continue reading "Africa’s real food problem is households are too poor to purchase it"

Kenya threatens ban on Facebook over hate speech

Kenya has threatened to shut down Facebook over its failure to improve content moderation on hate speech in the run-up to the August 9 elections.

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has given the social media giant seven days to adhere to recommendations on taming online hate speech on its platform in the country.

The state agency said Meta, Facebook’s parent company, has been reluctant to take action to combat the spread of hate speech, propaganda and disinformation, escalating the risk of violence ahead of the elections.

Read: Misinformation rears ugly head as Kenya poll campaigns heat up

As such, the commission has asked Facebook to urgently increase the number of content moderators in Kenya, expand its capacity to cover content expressed even in indigenous languages, and deploy integrity systems to “mitigate risk before, during and after the upcoming Kenyan election.”

This follows an investigative report by human rights organization, Global Witness, which revealed that Facebook approved several adverts promoting hate speech in both English and Kiswahili languages.

Jon Lloyd, a senior advisor at Global Witness, said that Facebook approved content that violates its own policy and community standards since it qualified as hate speech and ethnic-based calls to violence.

“Much of the speech was dehumanising, comparing specific tribal groups to animals and calling for rape, slaughter and beheading. We are deliberately not repeating the phrases used here as they are highly offensive,” Mr Lloyd said while presenting the findings to the NCIC.

NCIC Commissioner Dr Danvas Makori said Facebook’s inaction toward the inappropriate content on its platform is an outright violation of the Kenyan Constitution and threatens the peace of the country, especial during this election period.

“The freedom of expression does not extend to propaganda, incitement to violence, hate speech, or advocacy of hatred,” he said. “Facebook violates our laws because they have allowed themselves to be a medium of hate speech, incitement, misinformation, and disinformation.”

Dr Makori said that the commission has already engaged Meta’s representative in the country and informed them of the requirements failure to which the company’s operations in the country will be suspended until they abide.

Last Wednesday, Facebook published a statement saying it is working to “ensure a safe and secure” general election in Kenya.

“We’re investing in people and technology to reduce the spread of misinformation and remove harmful content across our apps,” Mercy Ndegwa, Meta’s Director of Public Policy for East and Horn of Africa, said in the statement.

However, according to Global Witness’ report, Facebook still allowed hate speech and spiteful adverts to run on the platform even after declaring its efforts against it.

Motaung petition

Meanwhile, Meta is fighting a court battle with Daniel Motaung, a South African national who was employed as a content moderator for Facebook in Kenya.

Motaung’s petition, also filed against Meta’s local outsourcing company Sama, alleges that workers moderating Facebook posts in Kenya are subjected to irregular pay, inadequate mental health support, refusal to join trade unions and violations of their privacy and dignity.

Read: Facebook faces suit over work conditions in Nairobi office

Last week, a group of human rights organisations, including Global Witness and Article 19, criticised Meta, saying it was actively trying to silence Motaung.

Recently, a report by Mozilla also revealed how social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok, were used to propagate disinformation, misinformation, and hate speech in Kenya during the electioneering period.

Dr Makori said Twitter and TikTok have taken quick action to curb the menace, but Facebook has been slow, even refusing to promote the commission’s peace messages while allowing inappropriate content to continue.


Kenya has threatened to shut down Facebook over its failure to improve content moderation on hate speech in the run-up to the August 9 elections. The National Cohesion and Integration […]

Continue reading "Kenya threatens ban on Facebook over hate speech"

Tanzania bans day-old chicks imports, again

Tanzania has imposed a total ban on the importation of day-old chicks effective next week as it seeks to protect its local hatcheries and limit the inflow of substandard chicks.

The ban, which takes effect on July 30, aims to protect the local poultry market, the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries said in a statement on Monday.

Deputy Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Abdallah Ulega said the government would no longer issue import permits on chicken from Saturday.

This was after a meeting with poultry business executives in the capital Dodoma. The government, Mr Ulega said, is currently collecting poultry industry data to ascertain the demand for day-old chicks.

Local poultry producers, Organia and Mkuza Chicks, had decried the rise in smuggled chicks sold at lower prices.

Most incubators in the country are selling day-old chicks at an average price of Tsh2,000 ($0.85), while the smuggled chicks sell at Tsh1,200 ($0.5) per chick.

In 2016, Tanzania banned the importation of chicks and fresh poultry meat from Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, South Africa and the US to protect local farmers.

On October 31, 2017, government authorities in Arusha destroyed 6,400 chicks imported from Kenya through the Namanga border crossing. The ban was later lifted.

Read: Tanzania destroys another 5,000 chicks from Kenya

Most of the day-old chicks are imported from the United Kingdom and South Africa, with substantial quantities imported from Kenya and Zambia.


Tanzania has imposed a total ban on the importation of day-old chicks effective next week as it seeks to protect its local hatcheries and limit the inflow of substandard chicks. […]

Continue reading "Tanzania bans day-old chicks imports, again"

And if you Join the experience?

It doesn't cost anything to try. Join our community today and take part in the latest discussions revolving around civic space.

This is an open online forum that seeks to re-inforce the capacity of civic actors in East Africa to counter shrinking civic space by sharing information, human resources and successful strategies.

© 2022 Protection of Civic Space in East Africa

Translate »