vellum

5th November 2021 Political Round Up

KENYA

Voter Registration Extended to Tuesday, November 9

The High Court in Eldoret issued orders on Monday, November 1, 2021, compelling the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to extend the voter registration exercise until November 9, pending the hearing of a case filed by a voter, Mr Patrick Cherono. The exercise was scheduled to end on November 2, but it was argued by the applicant that the Commission had fallen short of its target of registering about 6 million new voters. According to a press release dated October 25 issued by IEBC on the status update on Enhanced Continuous Voter (ECV) Registration – week 3, the Commission had registered a total of 800,462 new voters out of a projected target of 4.5 million and serviced 125,266 transfer requests from existing voters.

Despite the court order, IEBC stated that it would not extend the voter registration exercise owing to insufficient funds. “The mass voter registration exercise can’t be extended. We can’t start making plans unless we have been assured of funds,” said IEBC Vice Chairperson Juliana Cherera. Consequently, the Commission moved to court to challenge the order contending that it was unable to abide by the order when there were no funds to facilitate the exercise. In the meantime, IEBC has directed that pending the hearing of the case on November 3, the registration process will continue taking place until further advised.

Following the Commission’s move to court, the High Court has lifted the order compelling the IEBC to extend the voter registration exercise with effect from November 5 at 5pm. IEBC, through lawyer Moses Kipkogei, argued that the initial order for extension was obtained through misinformation or concealing of information to the court. Despite closure of the ECV registration, the Commission is still obligated and intends to undertake continuous voter registration at its constituency offices. 

Shock as Kenya Power Suspends Supply Chain Leadership

On March 29, 2021, the Presidential Taskforce on the Review of Power Purchase Agreements was formed to address the cost of electricity, as well as streamline and strengthen the business and the sector.

Six months later, on September 29, 2021, the Taskforce presented a report to the President which contained a raft of proposed measures that would result in reforms within Kenya Power and the energy sector, so as to catalyse a 33% reduction in the cost of the end user tariff by 25th December 2021.

Among the recommendations that were made by the Taskforce was a review of Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) in order to lower the cost of purchasing power from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) with the aim of securing the sector’s sustainability.

The Taskforce Report further recommended reforms within the organisation and in particular, the Supply Chain Division, which will include undertaking a forensic audit to identify areas of possible leakages so as to facilitate the implementation of remedial measures as part of the business’ reform and restructuring process.

The goal of the forensic audit, which will be done on the procurement systems, stock and staff, is to enhance the robustness of the Company’s supply chain processes so as to anchor them on the principles of value for money, professionalism and accountability.  

As a consequence, and in compliance with the Taskforce recommendations, Kenya Power has, with immediate effect, suspended the top leadership of the Supply Chain Division comprising 59 members of staff to pave the way for the forensic audit. In the interim, the Company has appointed a team in an acting capacity to ensure business continuity.

Medical Supply chain: KEMSA Reforms Explained. By Mary Mwadime

“You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself into one.” – JAMES ANTHONY FROUDE, ENGLISH HISTORIAN

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Kenyans woke up to the realisation that their national medical supplies agency, the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA), was reeling from a regrettable corruption scandal.

The days that followed saw a national outcry and the reconstitution of the Board of Directors to provide oversight and policy direction. President Uhuru Kenyatta was acutely aware and concerned that the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority was treading on very thin ice. At the inauguration, the Board was tasked to oversee a rapid results programme that would facilitate transformation of the Authority.

It would never be business as usual at KEMSA, as the organisation was teetering on the brink of a national health care disaster. Media reports and accounts from its own clients, mostly county and national referral hospitals, painted a picture of a misfiring gun.

Evidently, this has endangered the lives of Kenyans and is gravely threatening the realisation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) goals which are critically predicated on a successful and optimally operating KEMSA.

KEMSA is not just any other State Corporation – it is our only national strategic organisation with a capacity to handle the medical products and drugs supply chain needs of more than 8,000 health facilities countrywide through a critical last-mile delivery service.

However, an independent review of its operating capacity by a local and international panel of experts recently established that KEMSA is grossly underperforming and unable to meet the needs of its clients.

The panel of experts under the KEMSA Immediate Action Plan and Medium Term Reforms Working Committee (KIAPRWC) confirmed that operational challenges at the Authority are borne out of deeply-rooted systemic issues. Some of the issues touch on its core operating fronts, such as the integrity of the Authority’s procurement, warehousing and distribution, Information Communication and Technology (ICT) systems and procedures.

The Committee report indicated that the systemic challenges have gravely impacted the Authority’s ability to meet its obligations. This is demonstrated by indicators such as the declining order fill rate, prolonged order turn-around time, cash-flow crisis, low staff productivity, amongst other indicators.

This week, the Board announced the stepping up of the reforms agenda to get KEMSA back on its feet under a consultative model. The envisaged reforms and restructuring will help reconstitute human resource functions to bring about the much-needed coherence and end-to-end visibility of the Authority to ensure we have an efficiency that facilitates the delivery of KEMSA’s organisational core mandate.

As the review gets underway and complies with legal requirements governing labour management, the Board has already issued general notice letters copied to the respective trade unions. The General Notice letters require all non-core staff members to work from home as the necessary consultations progress to an amicable settlement. Already, the core operating teams under a caretaker management team have been notified, appointed and mobilised to ensure seamless operations in the intervening period.

Ultimately, the Board is optimistic that the restructuring and reforms will herald the dawn of a new KEMSA – an authority that is structurally aligned to industry-accepted standards for a health commodities and technologies procurement and distribution organisation. A KEMSA that maintains global best practices including an acceptable span of control, transparent reporting relationships and command structures, compounding related functions for strengthened accountability, and a re-determination of optimal staffing levels and norms.

A new effective KEMSA is possible; join us in the reforms journey.

About the Author: Mary Mwadime is the Chairperson, Kenya Medical Supplies Authority. She can be contacted via email at:Chair@Kemsa.co.ke

UGANDA

The government of Uganda is keen on raising the country’s per capita income in the upcoming financial year 2022/2023. According to the World Bank, the GDP per capita in Uganda was last recorded at USD 958.19 in 2020. With a goal of improving the income of poor Ugandans, the government now aims to raise the per capita income to around USD 1,049. This is in line with the Third National Development Plan (NDPIII 2020/21 – 2024/25). The plan is the third in a series of six NDPs that will guide the nation in delivering the aspirations articulated in Uganda Vision 2040. The economic growth and jobs strategy in the Plan focuses on: expanding the industrial base of the economy; consolidating and increasing the stock and quality of productive infrastructure; enhancing productivity especially in the agricultural sector; sustainable exploitation of natural resources; and supporting private sector development through providing affordable financing. The main goal of the plan is to increase household incomes and improve the quality of life of Ugandans.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Ramathan Ggoobi has said that the government will prioritize maintenance of available infrastructure, tourism and security, among others in the next financial year. As part of Covid 19 recovery, the government has also pledged to not impose any new taxes on Ugandans so as to cushion them from the impact of the pandemic.

TANZANIA

Starting December 2021, Tanzanians may enjoy reduced and stable fuel prices when the government implements a new system of importing petroleum products. According to reports, the government seeks to cut out intermediaries in the fuel marketing chain through direct importation from refineries owned by crude oil producing countries. Currently, private entities import petroleum products through the Bulk Procurement System (BPS) which is a system established pursuant to the Petroleum Act and the Petroleum (Bulk Procurement System) Regulations, 2017. Under the new proposed system, the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) will be tasked with importing fuel for use in the country. TPDC is a wholly owned Government parastatal through which the Ministry of Energy implements its petroleum exploration and development policies.

The move to introduce a new system of fuel importation follows the directive to reduce the levies, fees and charges on fuel issued last month by President Samia Suluhu after receiving a report from a team of experts drawn from Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (Ewura), Tanzania Revenue Authority and the Ministry of Energy. It is expected that the directive will be followed by a review of various regulations governing the levies, fees and charges.

ETHIOPIA

The Council of Ministers has declared a nationwide state of emergency in Ethiopia owing to the escalating conflict between government forces and Tigrayan forces. The state of emergency will last for six months or as otherwise determined by the House of Peoples Representatives before the expiration of the six-month term. There is a high likelihood of increased media monitoring and state control, restrictions on movement of goods and people, human rights violations and a general slump in economic activity. Residents of Addis have been instructed to register their firearms and prepare to defend their neighbourhoods owing to the impending advance on the capital by TPLF.

The US Embassy in Addis Ababa is urging US citizens to leave the country and has restricted travel for all personnel from leaving the capital, according to a new security alert issued on Tuesday 2nd November, following the declaration of the state of emergency. US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman has consistently condemned the TPLF expansion of the war outside Tigray and continues to call on the TPLF to withdraw from Afar and Amhara. Furthermore, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “is extremely concerned by the escalation of violence in Ethiopia and the recent declaration of a state of emergency”. Guterres reiterated “his call for an immediate cessation of hostilities, unrestricted humanitarian access to deliver urgent life-saving assistance, and an inclusive national dialogue to resolve this crisis and create the foundation for peace and stability throughout the country.”

There are concerns that the escalating violence could potentially spill over and detrimentally affect the wider East African region. On high alert in particular is Eritrea owing to previous tensions which have been thawing. In fact, the Eritrean Government is said to be assisting the Ethiopian Army in the Tigray conflict.

Of particular concern is the influx of internally displaced persons, and with the latest escalation in violence this is likely to lead to a refugee and humanitarian crisis. Recent reports estimate approximately 1.7 million persons have been displaced with 63,000 fleeing to neighboring Sudan, which is also experiencing political upheaval.

SOMALIA

The Charge d’Affaires of the United States Embassy in Somalia, Collen Crenwelge privately met with the Foreign Affairs Minister, Mohamed Mohamud at the backdrop of the ongoing parliamentary elections. According to Radio Dalsan, the two discussed strengthening bilateral relations and cooperation, as well as security and political developments. The meeting also covered the ongoing elections with the US praising the current Somali government for its efforts in the run-up to the elections.

Somalia has an indirect election model where nearly 30,000 clan delegates are assigned to choose 275 MPs for the lower house while senators for the 54-member upper house are elected by Somalia’s five state legislatures. The president is voted in by both houses of parliament once the members are elected and sworn in.

SUDAN

The ousted Sudanese prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok is still under house arrest following the toppling of his government on October 25 by military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. According to Reuters, Abdalla Hamdok wants detainees released and governing bodies restored before he enters into any dialogue. However, a source close to Hamdok told Reuters mediated talks were ongoing but no deal has been reached. “Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who is detained in his residence by order of the coup authorities, is sticking by the conditions that all detainees be released and constitutional institutions be restored (as they were) before Oct. 25, before engaging in any dialogue,” the office of the prime minister said in a statement posted on Facebook.

Reports indicate that one of the proposals under discussion would see Hamdok given greater powers but with a new cabinet more palatable to the army. The army, on the other hand, would be in charge of the government’s security and defence councils. The US special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, said on Tuesday the army knows support for Sudan’s economic development and debt relief, as well as World Bank and International Monetary Fund financing, depends on restoring the democratic path.

RWANDA

Rwanda’s Prime Minister, Edouard Ngirente, who is leading Rwanda’s delegation to COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland called for significant private and public sector climate adaptation financing to be quickly made available to developing countries. He was speaking at an event hosted by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson dubbed Action and Solidarity – The Critical Decade, as part of the ongoing COP 26. “Rwanda, like other developing countries, is facing the severe impact of climate change. Adaptation is especially critical for countries that are both vulnerable to climate and bearing the effects of global warming,” Ngirente said. 

According to Faustin Munyazikwiye, the Deputy Director General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) who is among government’s negotiators at the conference, developed countries under the Paris Agreement pledged USD100 billion annually to help developing countries including Rwanda build resilience to climate change effects. However, based on latest data, only USD 79 billion was made available in 2019.

Rwanda needs over USD 11 billion to implement measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change between 2021 and 2030. This is according to its recently submitted revised Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Rwanda leads the pack by being the first country in Africa to submit its NDC revision and it’s committed to implement measures such as green transport, reforestation, green buildings, green cities, water security, floods control among many others.

ERITREA

A joint investigation by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the UN Human Rights Office has found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that all parties to the conflict in Tigray have, to varying degrees, committed violations of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law, some of which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. “The Tigray conflict has been marked by extreme brutality. The gravity and seriousness of the violations and abuses we have documented underscore the need to hold perpetrators accountable on all sides,” said Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The report by the Joint Investigation Team released on November 3 found that all parties to the conflict including the Eritrean Defence Force (EDF) either directly attacked civilians and civilian objects, such as houses, schools, hospitals, and places of worship, or carried out indiscriminate attacks resulting in civilian casualties and destruction or damage to civilian objects. The report further notes that unlawful or extrajudicial killings and executions were perpetrated by the EDF and other parties in the conflict. It is reported that on April 2 in Samre, Eritrean soldiers forcibly paraded at least 600 Tigrayan men who were stripped to their underpants or completely naked, through the town.

As part of its recommendations, the JIT report calls upon the Government of Eritrea to take immediate steps to ensure all acts of violence by its forces against civilians cease, while removing from active duty those suspected of committing such acts pending investigation.

Spread the love