The Doctors Strike: A Stark Picture of the State of Affairs in Kenya

law opinionProtest is when I say I don’t like this. Resistance is when I put an end to what I don’t like. Protest is when I say I refuse to go along with this anymore. Resistance is when I make sure everybody else stops going along too.” Ulrike Marie Meinhof

It has been over 90 days now since the doctor’s strike began.

That is a short or overbearingly long time to be without public healthcare depending on where one falls on the social class divide- poor or rich which for majority of Kenyans, it is the former.

Kenya boasts one of sub-Saharan Africa’s fastest growing economies and a national budget amounting to well over One trillion Kenya shillings.

In 2015 more than a quarter of that budget went missing entirely and only 1 percent was spent legally, according to a comprehensive audit by the independent auditor general.

Of the amount that disappeared, a substantial amount about Kshs five billion  came from Kenya’s health ministry.

Doctors therefore argue if government officials can swindle that much money, then the government surely can come up with the funds to implement the 2013 CBA agreement.

The Genesis of the CBA…

In 2013, Kenya’s government agreed to increase salaries for doctors, dentists and other medical professionals.

The striking medical practitioners want a 300% pay rise from their current salary of up to Kshs 130,000 and walked of the job in December after the government refused to implement a three year old joint Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

The agreement was also intended to bolster Kenya’s public health system, setting aside money to fund medical research and to provide doctors with ongoing training to improve their skills. It would also create 400 new residency positions, establish overtime pay, create a grievance procedure for equipment shortages, and hire 1,200 new doctors each year for four years to address the severe nationwide shortage.

Over four years on, officials still haven’t begun to implement any of those changes.

Interestingly, during the same years in which the government was deliberating over whether to raise doctors’ salaries, Kenyan politicians voted repeatedly to raise their own. Kenyan Parliamentarians now earn about Kshs 532,000 per month and thousands of shillings more in annual perks. They are the second most highly paid politicians in the world.

There is something unsettlingly dystopian and truly disturbing about a country having both some of the world’s highest paid legislators and doctors who have little to no equipment, medication and facilities. The same could be said for other professions such as teachers, nurses etc.

Is the CBA legally binding?

The argument of the government has been that the CBA is indeed illegal,; that it is yet to be registered.

However, in a relatively recent turn of events, Justice Monica Mbaru declared the CBA binding and asked the parties to discuss Article 4 which had been suspended pending SRC’s evaluation and input whose report is now out. The Court declared the strike illegal, not the CBA.

There was a case before Judge Hellen Wasilwa of the Employment and Labour Relations Court that was brought forward by the council of governors to try and stop the strike, not the validity of the CBA.

The judgement issued on 6th October 2016 directed that the CBA is binding and to be registered as it is after 90 days if the parties involved didn’t iron out the issues in Article 4.

The government appealed specifically against the automatic registration at the Court of Appeal pending hearing and not against the validity of the CBA.

The long and short of it is that the CBA is legal and binding.

Government response to the strike?

The government has chosen a roughly callous approach to attempt to end the strike. From threatening doctors with sacking letters, with-holding salaries and even boldly threatening to import foreign doctors from countries such as Cuba and India.

Union leaders have been jailed for contempt of court. The sentencing prompted the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union to say it was calling off talks with the government. Doctors have rejected a government offer of a 40 percent rise, saying it falls short of promises made in a 2013 agreement including staff shortages and a lack of equipment etc.

It is quite unfortunate that such measures have to be resorted to by the government that is knee deep in one financial scandal after another . . . some of which have details as incredulous as public money being carried in sacks and being taken to stone quarries.

Meanwhile, the average Kenyan suffers. . .

Millions of Kenyans have been unable to access care in public hospitals. Several have passed on as a direct result of lack of proper medical attention and access to public health care.

Conclusion

In the current strike, doctors have clearly outlined the benefits of their demands to the general public and the government. These demands include better equipment, training and more doctors for the healthcare sector in the country. Data from the Ministry of Health shows that there were only about 9,734 registered doctors to attend to a population of 44 million plus.

A much bigger responsibility as compared to the WHO recommended standard of one doctor is to 600 civilians.

The CBA will also cover healthcare financing. The National Hospital Funding falls spectacularly short of providing universal healthcare to citizens of this country.

This whole debacle then raises the question; is it not the duty of the government as the custodian of our taxes to provide proper healthcare for its citizens? Is it thus unreasonable for doctors who have shared stories as grotesque as performing surgeries using flashlight, working very late into the night several days a week due to lack of enough personnel; receiving paltry enumeration and little to no equipment  to demand better?

The doctor’s strike ended at the 100-day mark after doctors reached a deal with the government. It is not clear how much of the doctor’s demands were met but dozens died without care during the period of the strike._

By:

Samantha Oswago

AGCP- Kituo cha Sheria.

 

 

 

The untold tales of a refugee…

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I am a potential refugee…you are a potential refugee…Amina is a recognized refugee living in Kenya, forced by circumstances to flee a place she knew as home a place she identified with the majority, where her skin color was not any different from her neighbors.

As she sat in the screening room soiled, her torn shoes telling the tales of hardships she looked at me and in her eyes I saw remorse, those documentaries on the African child had nothing on what was written on her face. So I quickly introduced myself and when it was her turn she spoke in nostalgia of a time where all she had to care about was getting to school on time and having her homework done. It seemed like ages ago …soon enough her baby’s cry got louder her cracked lips and pale face indicated that she had not had a decent meal in a long time but the baby needed to feed.

I was 15 when we managed to flee to Kenya. My step mother and my 3 younger siblings had just escaped death my step dad was killed by the militia who burnt down our house we managed to escape through the windows my step dad was not so lucky. My step mom knew of a truck driver who owed her a favor; he agreed to get us to Kenya. We were optimistic that it would be a new beginning for all of us; we finally had a sense of safety. I had so many plans maybe I could even go back to school make friends one day I will even start my own family. We had been told of how good life was in the city. The good schools, clean water, friendly people- nothing like in my country.

“Life here is nothing like I expected,” Amina continues explaining now with tears rolling down her cheeks. When we got to Nairobi a well wisher accommodated us for a few weeks we had to pick up odd jobs like doing laundry and cleaning people’s homes with little pay during the day while in the night the master (owner of the house) would call me into his room to…long pause….to clean. She looked at her breast feeding child and again broke into tears at this point I was not sure if she was crying because of her traumatizing past or because the child was suckling on empty breasts.

As soon as the lady of the house discovered of the night escapades with her husband she bitterly kicked us out. Her foster mother hated her for it she was the reason why they slept outside and hungry. She felt disillusioned, hopeless and had no reasons to live. She had to find a solution to the problems. Amina is 17, HIV positive and with child of a man she met once for a few hours in her now routinely night escapades. With her refugee status determination interview in 2019 she had to get creative as being in Kenya was the only durable solution.

This is not just Amina’s story, but the story of many other women. Most cultures have denied women the tools and resources to benefit their well-being. During these times women are mostly vulnerable as the burden of survival mostly falls upon them. They not only have to take care of themselves, but the rest of the family as well.  This is done without much social-economic development since women have not been empowered.

Most urban Refugees have been reported to be commercial sex workers they do this in cities where sex work is both legal and illegal but who can blame them? They need a means to an end. Refugees have restricted access to job opportunities, they experience language barriers, lack of proper paperwork evidencing school graduation or other job requirements (a number of refugees reported that their diplomas and other documentation had been permanently lost, so despite meet­ing educational requirements they were turned away from formal employment).

There are few studies done in this area. The stigma that comes with commercial sex work has led to extensive compromises on the protection of refugee sex workers. Protection from GBV risks has became a nightmare since perpetrators of violence know sex workers can­not officially report violence without fear of being arrested due to the nature of their work, and refugee sex workers not only risk arrest, but also their right to stay in the host country. Where refugees do not speak the language of the host community, they are even more fearful of the police, since if arrested they would be unable to assert their rights or understand what is happening, which creates further avenues for abuse to occur while in detention.

A lot needs to be done to the refugee community and more especially for female refugees. Empower these women; give them access to resources that will help them grow a different set of skills and this can be only be done if refugee woman is involved in decision-making and leadership. Discussions about sexual and gender based within the refugee community provided by organizations also need to be enhanced. However, this can not only be left to few organizations; it is upon each and every one of us who for the refugees- we should all care!

I’m sure you’re thinking-“But why all this concern” because you too are a potential refugee. As you sit there with your spinning chair with that Kenyan flag wristband indicating the love for your country; “hakuna matata” tune playing in your head since you just won your last Sportpesa bet, thinking that this is a non-issue then think again.

Didn’t we just discover oil in Turkana? …reference “the resource curse”; post-election violence, tribal conflicts, Al-shabaab militia et.al now do you care to know who a refugee is? …good; Articles 1 and 2 of the United Nations (UN) Convention and Articles 1 and 2 of the Organization of African Union (OAU) Convention;…a refugee is a person owing to well founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality membership of a particular group or political opinion is outside their nationality and as a result of such events, is unable or, unwilling to return.

#iWelcome

By:-

Kabura Mbiriri

Forced Migration Programme

Kituo cha Sheria.

Prisoners’ right to vote.

prison23‘‘Giving inmates the vote isn’t just constitutionally the right thing to do; it could also help the country solve one of is most intractable problems.’’

The concept of universal suffrage is defined as every adult citizen capable of voting has the right to vote and the opportunities to vote.

One of the most critical ways that individuals can influence governmental decision-making is through voting. Voting is a formal expression of preference for a candidate for office or for a proposed resolution of an issue.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, recognizes the integral role that transparent and open elections play in ensuring the fundamental right to participatory government.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly stipulates under Article 21:

Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his/her country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 38 of the Constitution of Kenya provides:

  1. Every citizen is free to make political choices, which includes the right—
    1. to form, or participate in forming, a political party;
    2. to participate in the activities of, or recruit members for, a political party; or
    3. to campaign for a political party or cause.
  2. Every citizen has the right to free, fair and regular elections based on universal suffrage and the free expression of the will of the electors for—
    1. any elective public body or office established under this Constitution; or
    2. any office  of any political party of which the citizen is a member.
  3. Every adult citizen has the right, without unreasonable restrictions—
    1. to be registered as a voter;
    2. to vote by secret ballot in any election or referendum; and
    3. to be a candidate for public office, or office within a political party of which  the citizen is  a member and, if elected, to hold office.

Is this Right Applicable to Prisoners?

The reading of provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution shows clearly that the intent of the drafters envisaged that no class of persons should be locked out from participating in choosing a government of their choice.There can be no selective application of rights when it comes to citizens of a country.

Therefore it is important to ask just why is it even acceptable to question prisoners’, right to vote?It is wrong to perpetuate the view point that prisoners are a qualitatively distinct group of persons in the outside world and that disenfranchisement arising from this false narrative i.e. taking away the right to vote is a just penalty or “retribution’ upon this class of persons.

As of 2009 Kenya had well over 50,000 prisoners most of whom are eligible to be registered as voters. When the IEBC began the voter registration exercise in the year 2012, its main target was to register 18 million Kenyans. But by the end of the exercise on 19th December 2012, they had barely reached 15 million despite the heavy campaign for people to go out and get registered.

The reality that prisoners may have an impact on the outcome of the elections is an argument in favour of allowing them to vote rather than against it. All in all our view is that prisoners should be allowed to participate in choosing their government as they are also affected by it.

Situational Analysis: Kenya

The genesis of the push for voting rights of prisoners began soon after the promulgation of the Constitution in 2010 where in a historic judgement; the Court held that prisoners had the right to vote in the referendum.

The Attorney General and concerned authorities were directed to facilitate accessibility of prisons and prisoners’ identification documents to enable the then Interim Independent Electoral Commission to register eligible prisoners. Prisoners however, did not vote.

This   was subsequently followed by a public interest action by the Legal Resources Foundation   in 2012, enjoined as an interested party seeking orders that IEBC registers prisoners in preparation for the 4th March, 2013 elections.

However, once more, the prisoners did not get to vote as the Court upheld that re-opening registration would have a negative effect on the smooth running of elections.

The court however, faulted the IEBC and other State Organs for not facilitating and promoting prisoners’ right to vote.

Fast forward to 2017 and beyond, it is imperative that the IEBC must guarantee the participation of prisoners.

We at Kituo believe this can only be ensured through a tripartite action plan that includes;

  1. Effective voter registration in prisons across the country; policy guidelines must be put in place for future prisoner voter registration and prisoner information in training curriculums/manuals. This goes hand in hand with accreditation of election officials from gazetted prison centres. [IEBC has since announced that prisoners will only be allowed to vote for the presidential seat as they make proposals for regulation of their participation-31st January, 2016].
  2. Stake holder involvement prior to elections and even post elections. Such players include The Kenya Prisons Service, the Registrar of Persons, Civil Society, et cetera.
  3. Effective communication mechanism regarding access to voter information, documentation and mode of voting and in which voting centres.

Conclusion…

A loss of rights should not be part of a prisoner’s punishment, and removal from society should not entail removal from society’s privileges including the right to vote.

There is no link between deterrence of crime and disenfranchisement of prisoners.

Samantha Oswago.

Advocacy Governance and Community Partnerships

Kituo cha Sheria.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

Also from my point of view prisoners should be given the right to vote but it should have some measures placed on this. As I believe right to vote is a right not a privilege and people are sent to prison to lose their liberty not their identity. Giving prisoner the right to vote can add to their process of rehabilitation as they will not be alienated from the society which they tend to go back in to once out of prison.

I cannot see a link between deterrence of crime an disenfranchisement of prisoners, as pointed out by the prisoner reform service given prisoners the right to vote can a have a number of advantages also it can save thousands of pounds of tax payers money which the government would have to pay out if they choose not to implement the ruling. As Susan argues that

It is ironic that the Government has declared a commitment to promoting universal suffrage,58 is concerned about underregistration among the electorate, and has introduced a new bill this session,59 which, is designed inter alia to improve electoral registration, but at the same time it continues to exclude convicted prisoners.

 

Know your Labour Rights Vlogs

Are you employed or looking for employment? Then this is for you!

All you need to know about your labour rights!

You may watch your labour rights explained Haki Vlogs HERE>>

 

Types of workers >>>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Koh23ked8zA

  • Permanent Worker:
    • you have a written employment contract identifying you as a permanent worker
    • or if you do not have a written contract but you are paid at the end of 30 days.
  • Casual worker
    • You work for a short period of time – usually not more than24 hours and you are paid at the end of each day
    • You have no guarantee of being employed more than 24 hours and you can be dismissed at only one day’s notice
  • Fixed term –contract worker
    • You are employed for one determined fixed period of time which is more than one day
  • Any employment of 3 months or longer should have his/her contract in writing.
  • A worker who does not have a letter of appointment or a written employment contract will find it difficult to prove a right to benefits.
  • Oral Contracts are recognized under the Kenyan law.

Wages and Salary

  • Every worker is entitled to receive full payment for work done
  • In case of summary dismissal, wages are paid up to the date of dismissal
  • Every permanent worker is entitled to housing accommodation or housing allowance.
  • The rates for housing allowance or accommodation can be found on the current Year’s Wage Orders- Google – Kenya 2016 Year’s Wage Orders, click on Kenya Law.Org link and you will find a legal notice on the regulation of wages or click on http://www.africapay.org/kenya/home/salary/minimum-wages.
  • Minimum wage is determined by the job description and region of work. Those working in cities (Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu) earn more than those working in municipalities (Mavoko Town Council, Riuru Town Council, Limuru Town Council) and those working in areas that are neither cities nor municipalities earn less.

For example: Minimum Consolidated Wages by Region and Occupation in Kenya with effect from May 1, 2015

Occupation/Grade Region Minimum Wage per hour Minimum wage per day Minimum wage per month
Cleaners, Gardeners, General Workers, House servants, Children’s ayah, Sweepers, Day watchmen, Messengers Cities
(Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu)
97.90 527.10 10,954.70
Municipalities, Mavoko Town Council, Riuru Town Council, Limuru Town Council 89.50 484.30 10,107.10
All other areas (neither cities nor municipalities nor town councils) 54.70 296.20 5,844.20

 

What happens when an employer has not being paying minimum wages?

This is calculated based on the minimum wage set for the year. E,g you have a house help and you have been paying her KES 8000 per month since 2013.

Minimum wage for 2013/2014 for house helps was set at:  9785/= . So you owe your house help ( 9785-8000)* number of months worked in addition to her 8,000/= per month salary. In short you need to add him or her KES 1785 on top of the KES 8000 per month for the year 2013/2014.

Minimum wage for 2015/2016 for house helps was set at 10,954/=. So you owe your house help (10,954-8000) * number of months worked in addition to her 8,000/= per month salary. In short you need to add him or her 2954 on top of the KES 8000 per month for the year 2015/2016.

Types of Leave >>>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBoYT9vPFE8&t=29s

Annual Leave

  • Every employee is entitled to at least 21 working days of leave after completing 12 consecutive working months
  • If an employee is terminated after working at least 2 consecutive months , he/she must be given at least 1 ¾ days of paid leave for each completed month of work except if he/she is summarily dismissed.
  • Public holidays and sick leave days are not counted as leave days
  • Some industries e.g hotel and security give workers a leave travelling allowance

Sick Leave

  • A worker who falls ill must inform the employee
  • The employer once informed must provide the employee with proper medical attention
  • After completing 2 consecutive months of work, a permanent worker is entitled to at least 7 days of fully paid sick leave. After that, a worker is entitled to 7 days of sick leave with half pay.
  • To obtain sick leave, a worker must produce a letter signed by a qualified medical personnel.
  • If a worker has an accident at work and the accident is not the worker’s fault , the employer must pay the worker the full salary for the period he/she is absent from work until the worker is certified  incapable of returning to work.

Maternity and Paternity Leave

  • A woman takes 3 months maternity leave with full pay.
  • The female employee must give written notice , no less than 7 days in advance at which date she intends to leave and return to work.
  • A woman who has taken maternity leave cannot in the same year claim annual leave unless the employer agrees in writing.
  • Male employees are entitled to 2 weeks paternity leave with full pay

For more information on your labour rights write to info@kituochasheria.or.ke or SMS 0700777333

Wage Deductions >>>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_ArklYC8F4

If the worker is absent from work without leave, the employer can deduct wages equal to the amount of time when the worker did not work.

An employer may deduct any contributions by a worker to his or her retirement or provident fund.

If a worker loses or damages goods or money at the work place, the employer may deduct the value of the lost goods or money from the worker’s wages

Salary advances or loans can be deducted from wages.

NOTE: An employee may not make deductions form wages as a form of punishment. Moreover, the total amount of deductions shall not exceed 2/3rds of the worker’s total wages.

  • Every employer is required by law to deduct a certain amount to pay the NSSF, NHIF and PAYE.

NSSF

  • Workers save a portion of their present earnings and contribute it to a retirement or pension fund.
  • Any employer with more than 5 employees must make payments to NSSF from his employees wages.
  • To find out how much you should be contributing towards NSSF click on this link : http://calculator.co.ke/nssf-pension-contributions-calculator
  • Casual workers do not benefit from this scheme, so they do not have to pay into it.
  • A worker is entitled to his /her NSSF payments after he/she reaches 65 years old and has retired from regular employment.
  • However a worker can access his/her NSSF contributions before the retirement age by supplying a letter of appointment , termination latter and a declaration that he/she is not able to continue making contributions.
  • A worker who is forced to retire because he /she is suffering any physical or mental incapacity can also benefit from this fund.
  • An employer who fails to make these payments is guilty of a criminal offence and should be reported at the nearest NSSF office.
  • An employee has the right to know if the employer is making NSSF payments and can write to NSSF to confirm.

PAYE

NHIF

  • All workers make a contribution to this fund to offset medical bills when admitted in hospital.
  • Click here http://www.nhif.or.ke/healthinsurance/ to find out how much you should be contributing to NHIF.

Working Hours

  • 8 hours per day except for certain types of workers such as watchmen, herdsmen and caretakers.

Overtime payment

  • This is any period worked in excess of the regular working hours
  • An employer must give 24 hours’ notice for overtime requests
  • A worker cannot be forced to work overtime and should be compensated for any overtime work
  • Overtime= 1 ½ times the worker’s normal hourly rate for any time worked over the normal working hours
  • If overtime is on the worker’s normal rest day or public holiday, overtime pay is twice the normal hourly rate
  • If the worker is not employed by the hour, the basic hourly rate = 1/225 of the employers monthly wage.
  • A worker cannot be asked to work more than 116 hours in any consecutive 2 week period. For night workers it should not exceed 144 hours for 2 consecutive weeks.
  • An employer can offer time off in place of overtime pay if the worker agrees in writing.

For more information on your labour rights write to info@kituochasheria.or.ke or SMS 0700777333

Kituo cha Sheria

We Care for Justice

 

ACTIVITIES DURING THE 16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM

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The 16 days of Activism that started on the 25th of November 2016 is currently on -going and we have a lot more planned during this period.

As of right now we are working with very fun and interesting projects surrounding the 16 days of activism. We are also sharing two videos on rape # take a stand and let’s set the record straight” The clip will feature an explanation on rape and going through different excuses on rape.

We will arrange the following activities during the 16 days of activism

First, we will have Radio talk shows on Jambo radio, Rueben radio and Ghetto radio on sexual gender based violence (SGBV) .The talk show will include guest speakers and Kituo staff talking on how SGBV affects girls’ education.  (Specific dates: TBA)

International day for Persons living with Disabilities

In the interest of mainstreaming and including person with disabilities in our activities; Kituo will converge together with persons living with disabilities on the 9th of December at Mukuru Kwa Njenga to celebrate the international day for person with disabilities. The theme for the day is inclusion matters; access and empowerment for people of all abilities. The day will be celebrated under the Dutch Embassy as the projects targets person living with disabilities. In facilitating access to justice in eviction and sexual gender based violence matters.

Candle light Dinner with Survivors of S.G.B.V

The 14th of December will be the conclusion of the 16 days of activism for Kituo Cha Sheria. On this day we will have an evening candle lit dinner at Amber Hotel in Nairobi as the main event for the Sexual gender based violence survivors, guests and other stakeholders to appreciate and show our support with them.

Except for these community activities the blog will be updated every day on informative posts on SGBV and also documenting our activities during the 16 days of activism. And your activeness in our #IamAware challenge!

#IamAware Challenge

 

violenceKituo wants you to get active during the 16 days of activism. The goal is to spread as much awareness on sexual gender based violence as we possibly can, together.
We are challenging you and your friends to spread awareness about SGBV through social media. The challenge is to upload a Facebook update, Twitter, Ínstagram, a blog post or short videos where you say a fact about SGBV for example saying:
“I am aware that sexual gender based violence has a grave impact on a person´s life #IamAware”
Or
“I am aware that a person who commits rape is liable upon conviction to imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than ten years. #IamAware”
Use the hashtag #IamAware and tag Kituo Cha Sheria so we can see your updates. Here´s the fun part:

We will select a number of articles and photos that will be featured on our Haki blog and Facebook page. The persons will also be invited for a high level dinner on the 14th of December as we conclude the 16 days of activism.

Our objective: behind the #IamAware Campaign is to motivate people to find out more about the issue and impact of SGBV. Secondly, show that we together can learn and spread awareness.
Knowledge is power.
Let´s go and spread awareness together!
If you are not a part of these social media outlets, we welcome you to email us, every contribution counts.
If you have any questions you can email us or just comment below.
Kituo email contacts: info@kituochasheria.or.ke

Kituo and 16 days of Activism

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This year’s theme announcement for the 16 days of activism is: “Orange the World: Raise Money to End Violence against Women and Girls”

This is the second year that Kituo is participating in 16 days of activism and our ambition is to engage you to take action and participate at whatever level you can to appreciate and acknowledge survivors of sexual gender based violence (SGBV).

Our Haki blog will feature your informative articles together with your photos on the action you are taking on Sexual Gender Based Violence. START NOW by going to our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/kituo.chasheria) and watch the videos, comment, and tell us what you have learnt, and how we can reach you to promote and live in a world that is free from SGBV also visit our Haki blog during the 16 days for more(https://kituochasheria.wordpress.com/)

Discerning the Concept of Political Representation of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Kenya

law opinion

The Constitution of Kenya (2010) carried with it an aspect of novelty; this is because the document represented a radical shift from the past. The Constitution not only designed a people-friendly governance structure but also brought on board a very robust human rights chapter. This chapter deliberately characterized by social, political and economic rights for women, youths the marginalized- and of interest to this paper- persons living with disabilities (PWDs).

Close to over a decade now, the world has been reverberating about the idea of disability rights culminating in political representation as the ultimate solution. After all, political representation is about making citizens’ voices, opinions, and perspectives “present” in the public policy making processes.

This article however, is concerned with three things: first, defining the concept of political representation for PwDs. Second, analyzing political representation for persons with disabilities as provided for in the law and lastly, looking at how well this has worked in Kenya.

What is political representation? The Concept of political representation has been a subject of social and philosophical discourse for decades. The origins of this traced to the likes of John Locke and Jean Jacques Rossue, spreading their wings to the modern day scholars such as Hanna Pitkins, and Nadia Urbinati. Interestingly, none of these scholars claims to have a conclusive definition of political representation. They however, agree on the components springing from what is called the simplest definition thus, an activity of making citizens views, opinions, present in a public policy or law and advocating, symbolizing and acting on behalf of others in a political arena. What about persons with disabilities? Con-temporarily speaking, Uganda like Kenya is now in the process of amending their electoral process to reserve political seats for PWDs. This is to ensure that they have a voice and take part in building the country. This is a requirement of international law that has been adopted by many other countries but how best it works is the point of discourse.

How does political representation for PwDs Kenya look like? The Constitution of Kenya (2010) recognizes representation of persons with disabilities as an integral part of Kenya. The preamble states that as the people of Kenya, we are committed to nurturing and protecting the well-being of individuals, families and communities hence perhaps affirmative action to ensure representation in the political arena. The idea of representation is strengthened by the national values and principles of governance stating inter alia human dignity, equity and inclusiveness and protection of the marginalized. Further, the principles of electoral mention fair representation of persons with disabilities as a key component.

Away from the principles, the Constitution of Kenya (2010) provides for a formula that guarantees representation of PwDs. The law provides for reservation of seats through political parties nominations. This means, out of the twelve members nominated by parliamentary political, there ought to be a member representing PwDs. Article 98 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 also provides for the nomination of a man and a woman to representing PwDs. There is also an elaborate formula with regards to representation in the county governments. Article 177 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 provides for representation for the marginalized youth and PwDs in the county assembly

Having seen the law, the last part of this paper looks at the practicality of the issues. Kenya is just about to finish the first electoral cycle under the new supreme law, prompting a need to take stock. Can we therefore say that political representation for PwDs has been successful? Are there gains to be counted? Is it “true representation” or is it a fallacy? Time always attracts evolution and change and therefore, it is inevitable that in the last five years we have had gains in respect to the lives of PwDs. However, it falls shot of true representation in light of the aspiration of Article 54 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.

The law requires access and facilitation in educational institution, reasonable access to all places, access of device material, 5% of appointive position to be for persons with disabilities among others. All these remain as aspirations and dreams with nothing to show for political representations. The lives of persons with disabilities are still in shambles with the advocacy work left for Non-Governmental Organizations despite having representation from all the legislative houses in the country. Political representation for PwDs is a fallacy-not true representation that requires change as we move to the next electoral cycle.

There are three things that can be done; first political parties need to create structures not only to promote disability awareness but to promote rights of PwDs. Second, the parties that nominate these members should hold them accountable, ensuring they deliver on their mandate and lastly, PwDs in Kenya need to take charge and demand real political representation.

By:-

Ouma Kizito Ajuong’

Lawyer and writer at Poetic Fountainhttps://poeticfountain.wordpress.com/

 

 

Success Story of Alex Mmera Mwalati

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Alex Mmera Mwalati from Kakamega worked as a radio producer at Sauti Ya Rehema (Sayare RTVN) for seven years until October 2015 when he voluntarily chose to resign and pursue other things. He duly followed the process required in terminating one’s employment by giving a notice period and diligently completing his tasks as he‘d always done.

At the end of the working relationship with Sayare RVTN,  Mmera requested payment of his outstanding arrears something which he got verbal commitments from the network management but which was not forthcoming. After several unfruitful attempts to get his dues, he decided to seek legal assistance. He approached the Milimani Commercial Court in Nairobi. “The Courts are where justice resides”, he said. At the Commercial Court he was directed to Kituo Cha Sheria for further assistance. He walked through the gate at Kituo Cha Sheria, an organization he’d heard about but never interacted with before, in April 2016. Mmera was registered as a new Kituo client and given legal advice on the actions he needed to take to get his arrears.  This was done before he was given another date to come and see a lawyer with all the relevant documents.

On 25th May, 2016 Mr. Mmera presented all the relevant documents (appointment letter, resignation letter and bank statements) necessary for his claim to Ms. Christine Obiero, a Kituo lawyer who advised the client, drafted demand letters and pleadings in pursuit of his claim. The employer remained non-committal to all communication from our client until the matter was filed in Nakuru-the nearest labour court to where Mmera was working. On being served the employer finally acknowledged the employee status of Mr. Mmera and the amount owed in arrears. After negotiations an agreement was put in place giving the formula of payment with Mmera receiving a cheque of Ksh. 138,000-the first installment in September 2016. The employer is expected to clear the balance by December 2016.

A beaming Mmera received the cheque as reward for his labour and persistence in pursuing his rights; he urges people to follow-up their issues where they feel deprived but as a good journalist warns that patience is key. He remains grateful to the team at Kituo for their work in giving hope to the poor and marginalized that they too have rights safeguarded in law that deserve to be pursued.

RCKM-Kituo cha Sheria

We Care for Justice

Discussing the Right to Education in Kenya

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Playing Football without Goal Posts?

Discussing the Right to Education in Kenya

 What if FIFA were suddenly to take away goal posts from the game of football? What would it mean? Players engaged in a kick-about, without a target? What about the fans? Would they have anything to cheer for? Maybe the moves, but without goals most certainly the game will lose all its allure. I am sure you already see difficulty in working without a target or rather being in a system without eventuality.

This article seeks to talk to the right to education with the legal and social prisms in mind. Can we therefore say that the right to education in Kenya carries with it fruits or is it an empty right? With the year coming to a close, many will be excited because of one graduation or the other, moving from one class to another, one grade to another but to what eventuality? Can we equate this to progress? Can we measure this and say that the children have learnt and developed or is it just about passing examinations. What about those who graduate? Do they really have the required skill? I bet that even for the many that have skills, all they are given by the Universities is not the power to go and read as proclaimed but the power to gamble with their lives and wait for fate to place them somewhere. Answers to all these questions however, may lead you to one simple conclusion; we are playing football without goal post, but perhaps I am yet to convince you, so what does the right to education mean?

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) document A human Rights- based approach to education for all defines the right to education as one that is not only recognized by many treaties as an important right, but one that is pivotal to  development and social transformation in a society. In addition to these, the right to education also deals with individual personality growth and development. The nine (9) International instruments touching on education give it an amorphous look and an interactive sphere with other concepts of human rights, these include; best interest of a child, right to dignity, right to socialize, right to participate, equity, equality and social economic development.

The Constitution of Kenya (2010) read with the relevant Acts of parliament also support this narrative. In other words, the law contemplates a system that is not only progressive but one set out for social transformation, something we can’t really say about our glorious 8-4-4 education system. I tend to see this internationally proclaimed right as a toothless dog given that our policies and systems have largely remained archaic, ineffective and mostly corrupt. Pause for a minute and think about it; Kenya’s Education Cabinet Secretary-Fred Matiang’i has been a busy man this year. From changing the school calendar, issuing a number of threats and disciplinary actions while at the same time playing ostrich. It is an open secret that on matters of integrity and examination irregularities in this country, the door will always open and close with the examination bodies and if not cleaned up, the CS will be in for a rude shock comes January 2017. He may as well have been playing football without goal posts all along.

Away from this, I also feel that it is important to discuss the social implications of our education system. How much creativity and adaptability does it give a child? Why take chemistry as a compulsory subject and spend four years with it knowing full well that I intend to be a lawyer? And why append 16 years of study only to come out and feel wasted? A lot of football without goal posts is going on at the ministry of education and if we are not careful they will help in turning the children of this country into academic zombies.

The other aspect that we cannot ignore is the cost of education. Why have the right in statutes and books of law yet we know that as much as 60% of the population of Kenya cannot afford basic education. Today we have high schools where parents have to part with as much as 100,000 shilling, not to mention the commercialization aspect in our universities.

Clearly, we have to make things right. There is a need to re think the whole idea of education in Kenya. This includes the system, available options all the way down to practicality and alignment to the job requirements and the cost of education.  If we don’t do that we are bound to perish and render the right to education useless.

By:-

Ouma Kizito Ajuong’

Lawyer and writer at Poetic Fountainhttps://poeticfountain.wordpress.com/