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Ruto’s absence at Uhuru cabinet announcement sends tongues wagging

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Why absence of Ruto from statehouse cabinet announcement raised eyebrows

By ALLAN TAWAI

Deputy President William Ruto’s conspicuous absence during President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Cabinet announcement on Friday raised questions with some speculating that there could be tension between the two.

Despite being in the country, Ruto was not standing next to President Uhuru Kenyatta during the unveiling of part of the second and final term Cabinet and one in which 13 Cabinet Secretaries were sacked.

Unlike in the previous announcement where the two walked to the podium side by side, in white shirts and red ties as a sign of solidarity, yesterday’s announcement spanked of one of a lone ranger bent on finally asserting himself on the last leg of his presidency.

President Kenyatta and DP Ruto in a past public function

President Kenyatta and DP Ruto in a past public function

In the past public announcements that the two have had, they have projected this image of a perfect pair of friends and colleagues who are united in purpose in the delivery of services to the public.

During the 2013 unveiling of Cabinet, DP Ruto appeared alongside President Kenyatta with both leaders adorning red ties to convey solidarity. In September 2017, the deputy president accompanied the President to his first presser after the Supreme Court annulled their victory.

But on Friday, President Kenyatta, who exhibited a different body language, was using more of ‘I’ rather than ‘we’ in his address and ‘according to the powers conferred upon me under the Constitution,’ rather than ‘after consultations we have decided.’

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Also missing was the excitement that was previously witnessed in the other such announcements, the President cut the image of someone who simply wanted to say what he had to say and retreat to the comfort of his office.

However, speaking to the Saturday Standard yesterday, the DP’s spokesperson David Mugonyi dismissed speculation of tension between the President and his deputy saying: “The Constitution is very clear on who appoints the Cabinet. We should stop this nusu mkate (half loaf) mentality that has existed in some people’s minds. Who says so and so must be present for something to have concurrence,” he paused

Mr. Mugonyi cited other functions at State House where the DP did not attend including a recent meeting between the president and MPs in deciding on parliamentary committee chairmen. “Maybe it is the new way of doing things,” another source close to the DP said.

The formation of the next Cabinet is being watched keenly because it is the team that is expected to form the legacy for President Kenyatta.

 

President Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto during launching of their reelection campaign manifestos

President Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto during launching of their reelection campaign manifestos

Nevertheless, the formation of the Cabinet is also being seen as a pointer towards the kind of politics the country will be looking at in the next five years as Ruto prepares himself to inherit the mantle of the Jubilee Party’s flag bearer. Analysts said the absence of Ruto can mean that the excitement may be coming to an end.

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“It could mean that the excitement is over or that the dalliance is dissipating. It could also mean nothing,” Herman Manyora, a lecturer at the University of Nairobi and a political analyst said.

On his part, Dr. Mark Chetambe, a lecturer of Kenyatta University said that the president did not look as relaxed as he always was when making similar announcements alongside his deputy.

“It appeared a little odd when he showed up alone. His body language also showed that he was not as relaxed as has been in the past,” Dr. Chetambe said.

National Assembly Majority leader Aden Duale and his Senate counterpart Kipchumba Murkomen, the most vocal Jubilee leaders who comment on almost every issue, could not be reached for comment.

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It is now legal to smoke bhang

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A top court ruled on Tuesday that private, personal cannabis use was legal in a landmark case that had pitted law enforcement agencies against marijuana advocates and the judiciary.

South Africa’s Deputy Chief Justice, Raymond Zondo, delivering the Johannesburg-based Constitutional Court’s unanimous verdict, declared the law banning marijuana use in private by adults “is unconstitutional and therefore invalid”.

“It will not be a criminal offence for an adult person to use or be in possession of cannabis in private for his or her personal consumption,” he said, reading the ruling to cheers from the public gallery.

The court also ordered parliament to draft new laws within 24 months to reflect the order.

Outside pro-cannabis campaigners lit pipes and rolled joints to celebrate the news, filling the air with the distinctive aroma of marijuana.

“I’m happy I won’t be getting any more criminal records for possession,” Ruaan Wilson, 29, told AFP before pausing for a puff.

“Now we can get police to focus on real drugs and thugs,” he added, wearing shorts and dark sunglasses.

A court in Western Cape had ruled in March 2017 that a ban on cannabis use by adults at home was unconstitutional, a move that effectively decriminalised it in the province, which includes Cape Town.

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Objective proof

But the ministers of justice, police, health and trade challenged that finding, arguing that there was “objective proof of the harmful effects of cannabis”.

The ruling will not decriminalise the use of the drug in public nor the offences of supplying or dealing – but cultivation for personal, private use will no longer be illegal for adults.

Previously, possessing, growing or using marijuana for personal use – even in small quantities – exposed users to fines of up to hundreds of dollars as well as jail time, although this latter punishment was rare. Penalties for selling the drug were far higher.

Three cannabis users who had faced prosecution for using the drug argued in the Constitutional Court that the prohibition “intrudes unjustifiably into their private spheres”.

Activists clutching banners reading “Weed are free now” and Rastafari flags gathered outside the court in central Johannesburg.

Other boards read “Free the weed”, and “Legalise weed, end economic depression #weedislife”.

Some activists also called for cannabis to be decriminalised for use in public.

“It’s not enough, we also have privacy in person, as we walk in a public space, therefore we should be allowed to carry cannabis in public,” said Jeremy Acton, leader of the Dagga Party in South Africa which advocates the rights of cannabis users.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Now DP's wife Rachael Ruto apologises to Kenyans

Several of the roughly 100 activists sang struggle-era anti-apartheid songs.

Previous court hearings on the emotive issue have drawn protests by those opposed to legalising cannabis, as well as by those in favour of decriminalisation.

Use of cannabis and medicinal marijuana has gained popularity in some parts of the world to ease suffering from cancer, glaucoma, HIV and Aids, and other serious conditions.

But opponents fear crime connected to drug abuse and users graduating to harder drugs. They also cite medical research which suggests a link between heavy use of marijuana and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

The country’s Medical Research Council has already launched trials to help guarantee quality, consistency and standards, according to local media.

“We have used cannabis to treat anxiety, colic in children and as an antiseptic in secret for many years,” said Phephsile Maseko of the Traditional Healers Organisation. “Now we will be able to develop the plant even further.”

Coca-Cola recently confirmed it was studying the use of a key ingredient in marijuana to make “wellness beverages”.

-Standard

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BREAKING NEWS: Cyrus Jirongo arrested

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Former presidential aspirant Cyrus Jirongo has been arrested. Sources have told KSN News that Jirongo, who is also a former member of parliament for Lugari Constituency in Kakamega County was arrested for failing to pay a Ksh.20 million debt owed to a Nairobi businessman.

Jirongo was arrested on Tuesday afternoon and taken to Muthangari Police Station where he was being held by the time of going to press.

Kenyan media reported that the High Court in Nairobi issued a warrant of arrest against the politician in August this year over the Ksh.20 million loan balance owed to businessman Brian Yongo.

The deputy registrar, in a letter addressed to Muthangari OCS on August 7, directed police to arrest the former presidential aspirant for reportedly failing to pay the amount.

The registrar further directed Jirongo to pay the expenses of the executing officers including fare and fuel.

“These are to command you to arrest the said J/D and unless the sum of Ksh 20 million as noted in the margin, together with the executing officers expenses fees. If any, to bring the said debtor before the court with all convenient speed,” reads the order.

Businessman Yongo has accused Jirongo of failing to pay him the balance of a loan he advanced him. He allegedly loaned Jirongo Ksh.25 million between 2014 and 2015 but the former politician has since paid only Ksh.5 million.

READ ALSO:   Blow to Raila as his buddy-S Africa's VP- pledges to work closely with Jubilee

According to the businessman, the entire loan was to be settled in three installments. He says Jirongo’s failure to settle the debt forced him to reason to move to court in order to recover the money.

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VIDEO: Nasa backs Uhuru Kenyatta’s 8pc fuel tax with conditions

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The National Super Alliance (Nasa) has offered conditional support to President Kenyatta’s memorandum to Parliament cutting VAT on fuel from 16 percent to eight percent.

A parliamentary group meeting of the Raila Odinga-led coalition on Tuesday resolved to support the tax, which is set to substantially raise the cost of living, for a year.

The backing came after a three-hour meeting at Orange House in Nairobi, chaired by Mr Odinga.

The meeting was attended by MPs from all Nasa-allied parties — Mr Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement, Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper and Moses Wetangula’s Ford-Kenya.

“In light of the need to address the suffering of the people while ensuring that development is also delivered, we recognise and appreciate that there was bilateral support for our attempt to remove VAT altogether and the president was able to meet us half way by lowering the tax from 16 to eight percent,” the MPs said in a joint statement read by National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohammed.

“Nasa therefore offers its conditional support for the initiative to cut VAT from the initial 16 percent to eight.”

The coalition, however, wants the government to eliminate wastage and be economical with the resources.

The opposition also wants Mr Kenyatta’s administration to be sensitive to hard financial times facing Kenyans and live within its means.

READ ALSO:   Blow to Raila as his buddy-S Africa's VP- pledges to work closely with Jubilee

On expiry of the 12 months, the lawmakers said in the joint statement, the tax will be subject to review and possible scrapping.

Their statement comes hours to the a special sitting of the National Assembly to debate Mr Kenyatta’s memo.

Last week, President Kenyatta announced that he had rejected the bill deferring implementation of the tax until 2020 and slashed the 16 percent tax by 50 percent.

Daily Nation

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