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Top researchers caught in toxic scandals over money and sex

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A half a billion-shilling complex, claims of sexual harassment and corruption allegations are at the heart of a bitter war threatening to tear apart one of Africa’s mapping centres of excellence.

So intense is the infighting at the Kasarani based Regional Centre For Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) that four whistle blowers, among them a technical director, have been sacked.

The working environment at the 44-year old institute is so toxic that members of staff are now fearing it will compromise operations.

Investigations by Saturday Standard indicate that bad blood between some top managers has forced the board of governors drawn from 20 countries in East and South Africa to intervene.

RCMRD’s Director General Emannuel Nkurunzinza insists he is a victim of a plot to sabotage his work, dismissing claims of harassment against him.In October last year, some staff complained to the council chairperson Bonolo Elizabeth Khumotaka about Nkuruzinza’s governance style.Some — John Kiema (director of technical services), Joseph Masatu (staff assistant head), Byron Anangwe (business development) and Ann Kingori (executive secretary) — have now been pushed out.

All the four had testified against the director general when a raft of allegations were presented to the council last October.

“I had worked for RCMRD for 20 years. My contract was to expire in December last year and I expected it to be renewed. However, after I testified, my letter of termination was dropped at home, shortly before Christmas. What they did was not right but I have accepted this and moved on,” Mr Anangwe said.

He said he had complained about bad governance as there was too much interference by his director, whom he claimed was antagonising partners and shooting down other ideas, in the process killing creativity among staff.

Anangwe said he was concerned after all the reserves the centre had been saving for two decades were committed to the construction of a four-storey complex that will cost $5 million (about Sh500 million).But Nkrunzinza said Anangwe’s contract and those of his two colleagues had been terminated by the governing council which had also directed they should not be renewed.

Nkrunzinza, a Rwandan, has also been accused of unilaterally awarding two contracts for training in use of drones in mapping in Zambia and Rwanda a compatriot, Rhona Nyakuluma, instead of letting the centre do the work and earn some money.

The director however defended himself, saying the centre had been contracted by the World Bank to engage the consultant who they had already identified and that it was only supposed to be paid an administration fee of 17 per cent.

Subscription fees

Each member country is supposed to pay an annual subscription fee based on its Gross Domestic Product. There was controversy surrounding how some arrears owed to the centre by Uganda in form of subscription fees had been settled.Nkurunzinza dismissed as untrue allegations that he had waved off the debt after he secured a contract for the recovery of data from a destroyed disk for a Kampala based firm irregularly.

“Uganda has cleared all its arrears. Those making those allegations do not know what they are talking about. The centre’s accounts are scrutinised by external auditors and no queries about our finances have been raised,” he said.

A complaint letter to the chair seen by Saturday Standard detail the frosty working environment at the centre. It reads in part: “2019 has been a very difficult year for TSD (technical service department)  and indeed essentially because of unwarranted interference in the management of TSD) and lack of support from the Director General.” According to this petition, staff had raised their grievances to the management, issues they said were never discussed.

The staff had complained of sexual harassment of students and interns during a meeting held on April 5, 2019, but the director general conclusively dealt with the matter through a memo on May 20, saying the claims had no basis.The staff had further claimed there had been a doubtful payment of about $37,945 (Sh3,832,445) in 2017 to a Ugandan firm after it repaired a computer disc that had vital data.

According to documents seen by Saturday Standard, the payment was suspected to be fishy because another firm in South Africa had unsuccessfully tried to repair the disc.

While requesting for payment, Banuli Kasanga of Dream Soft Uganda Limited had confirmed that his firm had repaired the faulty device which had been tested at at the DG’s office and found to be working.Nkurunzinza had on July 5, 2017 written to Dream Soft: “This is to acknowledge that Mr Babuli Kasango has today delivered data recovered from Dell Power Vault MD32000 and on a sample basis  demonstrated that the data is in good condition,” he wrote.This raised questions among the technical staff who wondered why the repaired disc was never returned to the centre and why the DG had gone to Uganda not long after the payment had been made.

Received data

But the director general maintained that he had indeed received the data which he had handed over to a client who had been patiently waiting for it.When these issues were presented to the governing council, which conducted  its sittings in Nairobi between November 28 and 30 last year, things turned nasty for the whistle blowers.In a case of the hunter becoming the hunted, Prof Kiema received a letter from the governing council dated January 24 informing him of the turn of events.

“Reference is made to your letter of November 28, 2019 addressed to me in which you raised a complaint against the Director General. The governing Council undertook investigations in Nairobi. From the investigations, undertaken no evidence has been established supporting your allegations.

”The chairperson of the board said their investigations had unearthed incontrovertible evidence of insubordination towards the director general and the whistle blower was given five days to show why severe disciplinary action could not be taken against him.Ultimately, the axe fell on Kiema on February 3 when Khumotaka fired back:  “I wish to inform you that I have received your explanation on the offences you were accused of. However, I do not find the explanation satisfactory”.She added: “In the interest of  smooth running the centre, your contract is terminated with immediate effect by paying you three months salary in lieu of notice in accordance with your contract of employment”.

When asked why the witnesses had been sacked barely a month after testifying against him, Nkurunzinza said although the complainants had poisoned the working environment with baseless allegations, this was not the basis of their loss of jobs.“Their contracts ended in December and the governing council opted not to renew them. They were not victimised for reporting me,” the DG said.

On sexual harassment allegations, Nkurunzinza said when the investigators came, nobody came forward or presented evidence to back the claims.

By Saturday Standard,

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Education

School where Kindiki was filmed building mud-walled classrooms gets Sh10m

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A Tharaka school where Senate Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki was in 2018 filmed building mud-walled classroom leading to mockery has received Sh10 million infrastructure funds from the Ministry of Education.

Speaking to media yesterday, Tharaka Member of Parliament Gitonga Murugara said they had also made sure that Kamutuandu Primary School, which was founded by locals is registered and government teachers deployed.

He said the money would be used in the construction of classrooms and an administration block to ensure that the local children get quality education like their counterparts in the rest of the country.

Tharaka Nithi senator Kithure Kindiki and Tharaka Member of Parliament Gitonga Murugara (left) join Kamutuandu Primary School pupils in a dance on February 17, 2018. The school has received Sh10 million for infrastructure from Ministry of Education. PHOTO | ALEX NJERU

“We are happy to announce that although we were ridiculed for constructing mud-walled classroom, the school has received Sh10 million infrastructure funds,” said Mr Murugara.

He said the school is expected to bring a great change in the area that had been disadvantaged in many ways.

He added that peace had also resumed in the region which is prone to banditry attacks after the deployment of police in Kamutuandu police post.

0080: Tharaka Member of Parliament Gitonga Murugara receiving mud from a local during construction of mud-walled classroom at Kamutuandu Primary School on February 17, 2018. The school has received Sh10 million for infrastructure from Ministry of Education. PHOTO | ALEX NJERU

After the photos of Prof Kindiki and MP Murugara constructing mud-walled classroom went viral on social media, the senator defended himself saying that they would be temporarily occupied by pupils who were using the police post’s buildings, until they get permanent tuition block.

Kindiki promised that he would make sure that the school becomes a centre of excellence in the region.

By NN

 

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Business

7 Ways to Place yourself on the Path to Success

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BY GEORGE WACHIURI

Whether you are just starting your journey towards your life’s purpose or you have just realized that you need to make a turn-around and head towards the right direction; here are 7 practical ways to help you achieve immeasurable success in your life.

 

  1. Identify a Cause:

In a world where there are many good things which you can engage in, you will need to pick one thing; one career; one business; one trade, that you are so good at and then keep perfecting it.

 

  1. Galvanize your Character:

Your character will ultimately contribute hugely towards your success. Be conscious about your mental and moral qualities, although they develop over time. Make sure that you associate yourself with the right people and with the right surroundings for you to attract success.

 

  1. Cultivate on your Commitment:

Commitment is the nerve center of a man’s consent to a cause. It is the very engine that drives your desire to achieve the impossible. Commitment gives you an obligation to self, as opposed to even the external expectations. In order for you to succeed, you need to strengthen your commitment towards the cause that you have identified.

 

  1. Maintain High Levels of Self-Discipline:

They say – If it is character that gets us out of bed, it is commitment that makes us get into action and even more importantly, it is discipline that facilitates us to follow through. Discipline is all about doing what you know is supposed to be done even if your entire system or even the system outside you, is pointing towards the opposite direction.

 

  1. Avoid Time-Wasting Distractions:

The contemporary world is full of distractions. Some may seem meaningful, but as long as they do not add up towards the cause that you have identified, you must learn how to side-step them by all mean.

 

  1. Learn how to rejuvenate from burnout:

A good run towards success will once in a while result to exhaustion. Learn to pick the signs of a tired body and mind and establish the best ways you can break this in order to revitalize your energy. A mind and body that is fresh will always produce good results. So, don’t keep pushing it too hard just for the sake of pushing it.

 

  1. Enjoy the journey:

If you are always too fixated to the final results, you will end up missing on the thrill of the journey towards your success. Again, when you make it look too serious, it might have a detrimental effect on you. Take it easy, enjoy what you are doing, and everything else will fall into place.

 

Thoughts by: George Wachiuri: A Leading Entrepreneur, a Published Author, Philanthropist, Youth Empowerment Enthusiast, a Family man and CEO of Optiven Group

 

Contact Optiven Group: 0790 300 300 Email: admin@optiven.co.ke Website: www.optiven.co.ke George Wachiuri Blog: www.georgewachiuri.com

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/OptivenEnterprises/featured

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Education

MKU fourth-year student jumps to his death from multi-storey building

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A fourth-year student at Mount Kenya University (MKU) on Monday committed suicide by jumping from the 7th floor of a multi-storey building at the institution.

The male Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Rural Development student sustained serious head and leg injuries after jumping from Chancellor’s Tower at the university’s main campus in Thika, area Deputy OCPD Daniel Kitavi has confirmed.

He was rushed to Thika Level V Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries while receiving treatment.

The deceased’s body was transferred to General Kago Funeral home.

It was not immediately established why the student took his own life, but preliminary investigations showed he may have been battling depression.

Police have since launched investigations into the incident.

By NN

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