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Macharia Kamau: The diplomat with fast fingers and quirky views

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Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau, the son of a PCEA cleric, cuts the image of a distinguished diplomat.

With more than three decades in foreign service and the UN system, few of his contemporaries are still serving in the Kenyan government.

When Parliament vetted him for the PS job, he said he was “drawing the line in the sand” to stop any further violations of Kenya’s territorial integrity or torture of its citizens abroad.

Outside of Kenya, he is associated with environmental advocacy, having served as Special Envoy of the President of the General Assembly on Climate Change and UN Secretary General on El Niño and Climate.

While serving as Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, he was awarded the Elizabeth Haub Award, Gold Medal, for Environmental Diplomacy.

But he is also a controversial diplomat. This week, through his unverified Twitter account, he attacked a panellist appearing on KTN News and called her, among other things, a “nincompoop”.

Ms Jerotich Seii, the activist and fierce critic of Kenya Power’s services, was appearing in a KTN News show hosted by Ben Kitili where the subject was Chinese loans to Kenya.

The show on Tuesday came in the wake of Chinese and Kenyan governmental denial that the standard gauge railway (SGR) extension was part of the agenda when President Uhuru Kenyatta met with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping last month.

The key question Ms Seii asked was why the government has refused to publicly diverge details of the SGR loan.

“What about this issue of one million Chinese who are supposed to make their way quietly into Kenya regularly … then dispatched to different locations … where are these Chinese? She posed on the show, referring to an alleged plan to ship in Chinese to work in Kenya in exchange for the Asian nation loans, which the government has previously denied.

“Our bureaucrats are too short-sighted, too corrupt and too foolish to understand that this is a long game,” she said.

The allegation appeared to incense Mr Kamau. He went ahead to incorrectly say the old railway line, the Lunatic Express, was constructed by the British under a loan arrangement (It was actually part of the British strategy to conquer the hinterlands and acquire the highlands).

“It’s a wonder we are still not slaves!!Where do they find these nincompoops? Where would Kenya be without the loans and rail?” he wrote.

When members of the public called him out for violating free speech, he said it was sacrosanct.

“That was never my contention. Mine is the manner of the uptake by some. The reason I like this medium is precisely because it avails feedback (sic). Some welcome, some not so. But all good. And for your information, the views here are personal.”

So why does the distinguished envoy rant in an office where diplomatic tone is almost daily dose?

In an interview with the Nation, he argued that he speaks his mind and tries to balance between office needs and his personal convictions.

“You have seen my tweets. Sometimes don’t say things that are flattering to the government of the day. Because even though I am a principal secretary, I am also a private citizen,” he told the Nation in April.

“And I have to manage this relationship. I am proud that I live in a country where I am free to do this even though I am a government official.”

He takes his liberty as a private citizen to exercise certain rights, “knowing very well that they might be perceived by some people, including journalists, as non-governmental. This is an amazingly progressive government.”

This freedom has seen him criticise Nairobi City County’s traffic jams and the National Environmental Management Authority’s lethargy in addressing noise pollution near his holiday apartments at the Coast during Christmas.

On the global scale, when serving as envoy to the UN, he infamously wrote to the UN Security Council asking it to stop ICC’s “offshore” trial of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto as it was hindering them from serving Kenyans.

Later, the contents of the 13-page letter were thrust into mystery after then-Attorney-General Githu Muigai claimed Kenya would continue to cooperate with the International Criminal Court. The cases were later dropped.

But Mr Kamau also dislikes the way journalists report on government. “I think there is an abdication of patriotism on the part of Kenyan journalists. Their interpretation of patriotism, sadly, appears as bashing the government of the day,” he said.

His first fit of anger, outside of Twitter, came when he criticised Somalia for auctioning oil blocks (which it denied), and summoned Kenya’s Ambassador to Somalia back Nairobi.

“Am I angry? Are you happy to learn that you are about to lose a third, if not half, of your maritime area? Does that make you feel good as a Kenyan?”

To the diplomat, making sense in international relations today also means you have go to the edge of ideas. “You can’t’ just sit there saying nice conservative things and hope that you are going to provide leadership on the world stage,” he said.

source:Nation

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Photo of Sonko’s daughter with Miraa and wine gets mixed reaction

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Just like her father, Saumu Mbuvi has brought about mixed reaction after sharing a photo online with Miraa.

Saumu’s dad,  Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, surprised many after sharing a clip enjoying a bunch of Miraa straight from Meru. The photo brought about mixed reaction as many didn’t understand why a governor would do such a thing.

Mbuvi, shared the photo on social media with the drug but it’s not clear if she was taking them.

Mixed emotions

The photo came with a lot of mixed reaction as Kenyans poured out their opinion as usual. While some were interested to see that she was carrying miraa, others rebuked her clamming that the drug is not for women at all.

Source:Ghafla

 

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Why you can’t have consensual gay sex in Kenya – High Court

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The High Court on Friday declined to decriminalise sections of the Penal Code that make it illegal to have consensual same sex in Kenya.

Judges Roselyn Aburili, Chacha Mwita and John Mativo noted that phrases used in the law are clear and disclose offences known in law.

They further said a statute is not rendered vague for lack of a definition and that the petitioners failed to prove discrimination and violation of rights.

THE LAW

Petitioners wanted the court to quash sections 162 and 165 of the Penal Code.

The law states that a person contravening the sections, whether in public or private, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for five years.

 

Section 162 reads: “Any person who – (a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; or (b) has carnal knowledge of an animal; or (c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.

Section 165 reads that any male person who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with another male person, or procures another male person to commit any act of gross indecency with him, or attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any male person with himself or with another male person, whether in public or private, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for five years.

ARGUMENTS

The petitioners argue that the State has no business regulating matters of intimacy; they told the judges that gay feelings are natural and that the State should not interfere with the private matters of two consenting adults.

It is their argument that the two sections are discriminatory and contravene various provisions of the Constitution such as the right to equality, freedom from discrimination, human dignity, freedom, security and privacy.

However, religious groups say such matters should be guided by the country’s values.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has said in the past that gay rights are a “non-issue” in Kenya, as same-sex relations are not an issue of human rights, but of “our own base as a culture”.

During a visit to Kenya in 2015, Barack Obama, the then US president, directly challenged Mr Kenyatta, on the need for equality for the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) community, suggesting that “bad things happen” when countries do not accept their citizens’ right to be homosexual.

Mr Kenyatta bluntly shut down Mr Obama’s discussion on gay rights terming it “a non-issue” and that Kenya is not keen on embracing homosexuality.

NATION.CO.KE

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Waititu mum on alleged family’s hand in Kiambu graft probe

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Besieged Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu has left the public guessing on the alleged involvement of his family members in theft of millions of shillings from the county coffers.

The governor, who is accused of presiding over the alleged loss of close to Sh600 million, has neither denied nor admitted claims that his daughters did business with the county.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has accused him of conflict of interest after it emerged that some of his relatives got tenders.

“Preliminary investigations show that contractors paid monies to senior county officials, their companies or relatives through proxies,” the statement reads in part.

But in an interview with the Nation on Thursday evening after his release from police custody, Mr Waititu said “anybody is free do business with the county government of Kiambu”.

“I want to state clearly that any Kenyan has a right to do business with the county government of Kiambu so long as he or she is qualified,” he said without elaborating further.

Unconfirmed reports had said that one of Mr Waititu’s daughters was among the 15 people being targeted in the ongoing investigations by the EACC detectives.

The outspoken governor, popularly known as Baba Yao, is also being investigated over alleged corruption in a number of his county programmes, including ‘Kaa Sober’, which was aimed at rehabilitating alcoholics.

The initiative was said to have gobbled close to Sh700 million before it was terminated.

His arrest on Thursday came hours after the Kiambu County Assembly rushed and passed a supplementary budget in which it approved an expenditure of Sh722 million under the controversial programme.

The approval of the budget was widely seen as a scheme to regularise the controversial expenditure in which millions of shillings are suspected to have been stolen.

Mr Waititu was released after being granted Sh500,000 anticipatory bail.

Kiambu Principal Magistrate Brian Khaemba ordered the governor to present himself alongside his lawyers to a police station.

source:nation.co.ke

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