RETIRED CATHOLIC Archbishop Ndingi Mwana ‘a Nzeki dies in Nairobi

RETIRED CATHOLIC Archbishop Ndingi Mwana ‘a Nzeki dies in Nairobi

The Catholic fraternity is in mourning after the announcement of the death of retired Archbishop Raphael Ndingi Mwana a’Nzeki.

According to a statement shared by the Archdiocese of Nairobi on Tuesday, March 31, the death of the retired archbishop was made public by His Eminence John Cardinal Njue.

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It was not immediately clear what had caused his death.

Ndingi Mwana a’Nzeki was a retired Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Nairobi.

He passed away aged 89 after battling illness for a long time

He is best remembered for his fearless confrontation of the provincial administration and the police for their role in political clashes of 1992 where 2000 people are reported to have died.

Ndingi made history last year as the first Catholic bishop in Kenya to mark 50 years. Records show that no Catholic bishop has celebrated their episcopal golden jubilee in Kenya. This was a first, a record for the Church in the country.



BREAKING: Israel PM Netanyahu and His Staff in Quarantine After Aide Tests Positive for Coronavirus

BREAKING: Israel PM Netanyahu and His Staff in Quarantine After Aide Tests Positive for Coronavirus

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his close aides have been placed under quarantine after a staffer within his office tested positive for COVID-19, a statement and Israeli media said.

In a statement, Netanyahu’s office said the quarantine decision was precautionary as the veteran prime minister had not been in recent proximity with the ill staffer.

“The preliminary assessment is that there is no need for the prime minister to be quarantined, as he did not come into close contact with the individual and did not personally meet with that person,” the statement said.

“Over the past two weeks, the two were never in the same room at the same time,” it added.

It further noted that the “epidemiological investigation” was ongoing and that Netanyahu and “his close staff would be in confinement until [tests] were completed.”

A separate statement from the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, identified the staffer as Rivka Paluch, Netanyahu’s parliamentary aide, noting three dates she had been in the building.

Members of the Knesset and employees have already been instructed to follow the health ministry’s orders and self-quarantine if they were in her vicinity, it said.

The Knesset said it was offering footage from its surveillance cameras to the health ministry for them to see where and when Paluch had been in the building, for the health professionals to determine which measures need be taken.

Netanyahu’s office stressed that he has had limited interpersonal contact in recent weeks, conducting “most of his meetings via video conferencing from his residence”.

The news comes as Netanyahu, 70, is widely expected to agree on an emergency unity government with his election rival Benny Gantz to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

The two fought three bitter but inconclusive elections over the past year, with neither securing enough support to form a viable coalition government.

Gantz, a centrist, was elected speaker of Israel’s parliament last week and has committed to backing an emergency unity government with Netanyahu, citing the need to combat COVID-19.

According to The Jerusalem Post, if Netanyahu tests positive, then he and his entire staff would have to be quarantined – in addition to Gantz, who spent eight hours with him overnight on Saturday, negotiating the terms of the unity government.

Netanyahu had tested negative for coronavirus after he and his immediate circle underwent tests on March 15.

Israeli health authorities have so far confirmed 16 deaths and over 4,300 infections from the virus.

According to the Ministry of Health, 80 of the patients are in critical condition and 139 have recovered.

As part of measures to curb the virus, all schools have been closed in the country. All meetings in public, open or closed areas with more than 10 people have also been banned.

All trading firms except supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and banks have also been closed since March 15. Tel Aviv also banned the entry of foreign citizens to the country, except for those who have residency in Israel.


Uhuru pledges 200 million to help region fight coronavirus

Uhuru pledges 200 million to help region fight coronavirus

NAIROBI, 30th March 2020, (PSCU) — Member states of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) have agreed to forge a joint approach to curb the spread of Coronavirus disease.

The Heads of States of Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Sudan, Somalia and South Sudan today held a videoconference where they discussed the challenges the region is facing in managing the global pandemic.

The Heads of State tasked the IGAD Secretariat to urgently formulate a regional response to COVID-19 that adopts a whole-of-government approach.

The leaders also agreed to intensify information sharing including tracking of infected persons.

Further, the Heads of State agreed to direct their relevant agencies to enhance cooperation in border control and management, with a view of ensuring safety along common borders and guarantee movement of cargo.

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The leaders appealed to the international community to provide support for vulnerable groups particularly refugees within IGAD countries and to support national efforts to ensure that humanitarian corridors remain open.

In addition, the Heads of State agreed to pursue joint mobilisation of financial resources from international institutions and partners.

They said the region needs resources to help in combating the virus as well as in mitigating the social-economic impact of the disease.

The leaders urged the private sector to contribute more to the fight against the infectious disease.

To mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic, the Heads of State tasked regional ministers of finance to carry out a comprehensive assessment with a view of establishing an IGAD emergency fund.

Further, the Heads of State tasked the IGAD secretariate to formulate appropriate response programmes that will be discussed by the leaders.

The leaders said the assessment will form the basis for joint engagement with international partners such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank Group, and the G20 for economic stimulus packages.

While briefing his counterparts on the measures Kenya is taking to curtail the spread of the virus, President Kenyatta stated the country’s willingness to assist regional nations that may require its support saying, it is imperative for IGAD countries to forge a common front against the global pandemic.

“My administration will do whatever is within its power and capacity to extend any support that our brothers and sisters in our neighboring countries might require,” President Kenyatta said.

President Kenyatta also briefed the leaders on the outcomes of a teleconference of the Bureau of the African Union Heads of State and Government held on 26th March.

One of the key outcomes of the meeting was the agreement to establish a continental anti-Covid-19 Africa Fund to which members of the Bureau agreed to immediately contribute US $12.5 million as seed funding.

The bureau also agreed to contribute a further US $4.5 million towards boosting the capacity of the African Union Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC).

On its part, Kenya pledged to contribute US$ 2 million and US$ 1 million to the Fund and the Africa CDC respectively.

President Kenyatta reminded IGAD member states to continue the fight against desert locust invasion even as they work to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus.

He said the desert locust invasion risks plunging the region into a food crisis at a time when the world’s attention is focused on dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Chairperson of IGAD who is also the Prime Minister of Sudan Abdalla Hamdok, President Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), President Ismail Omar Guelleh (Djibouti), Vice President Dr. Riek Machar (South Sudan) and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia participated in the teleconference.

My administration will do whatever is within its power and capacity to extend any support that our brothers and sisters in our neighboring countries might require,” President Kenyatta said.

SAD: Finance minister of Germany’s Hesse region dead from apparent suicide ‘over coronavirus crisis worries’

SAD: Finance minister of Germany’s Hesse region dead from apparent suicide ‘over coronavirus crisis worries’

The state finance minister of Germany’s Hesse region, which includes Frankfurt, has been found dead.

Authorities said he appears to have killed himself and the state’s governor suggested on Sunday that he was in despair over the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

The body of Thomas Schaefer, a 54-year-old member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, was found Saturday on railway tracks at Hochheim, near Frankfurt.

Police and prosecutors said that factors including questioning of witnesses and their own observations at the scene led them to conclude that Schaefer killed himself.

State governor Volker Bouffier linked Schaefer’s death to the virus crisis on Sunday.

Bouffier said Schaefer was worried about “whether it would be possible to succeed in fulfilling the population’s huge expectations, particularly of financial help.”

“I have to assume that these worries overwhelmed him,” Bouffier said. “He apparently couldn’t find a way out. He was in despair and left us.”

Germany’s federal and state governments have drawn up huge aid packages to cushion the blow of largely shutting down public life to slow the spread of Covid-19.

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Thomas Schaefer, finance minister of Germany’s Hesse region Photos/Courtesy

Schaefer had been Hesse’s state finance minister for a decade.

The Hesse CDU party said in a statement that it was in mourning, adding: “We heard with dismay the news of his sudden and unexpected death. Our thoughts are with his family and relatives.”

Germany has reported 455 deaths and more than 58,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the start of the outbreak.

The Online press conference last Wednesday was supposed to be his last.

In the 40 minutes of this unusual switching conference showed Schäfer, however, no signs of Overload, striking was the fact that he kneaded his hands. The inner tension was visible. But he was confident.

But no one knew something was up. On the side of the green Cabinet colleague, Tarek Al-Wazir, Hessen’s Christian democratic Finance Minister Thomas Schäfer explained the billion program, which had enabled the Parliament to deal with the Corona-crisis the day before, unanimously. Of the “unprecedented challenges,” said Schaefer.

HOUSE OF GREED: MPs oppose Uhuru pay-cut appeal but fear backlash from voters

HOUSE OF GREED: MPs oppose Uhuru pay-cut appeal but fear backlash from voters

They say salary reduction will take a heavy toll on them.

Most MPs have found themselves between a rock and a hard place after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s appeal to public and state officers to voluntarily take a pay cut to aid in the fight against the coronavirus disease.

On Wednesday, Uhuru and Deputy President William Ruto volunteered to take an 80 per cent pay reduction, with Cabinet Secretaries agreeing to have 30 per cent of their salaries slashed.

The head of state appealed to officers in other arms of government to also consider forfeiting a percentage of their salaries. Covid 19 is threatening to cripple the economy.

However, most of the lawmakers are opposed to the voluntary salary deductions but are not coming out for fear of a backlash from the electorate.

Interviews with several members of the National Assembly and senators painted a picture of individuals in a catch-22 situation, even though they are some of the best-paid legislators in the world.

The MPs earn about Sh1.3 million per month, inclusive of basic salary and several allowances, making them some of the best remunerated, not only in the region but around the globe.

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While some stated their readiness for the reduction, a majority said slashing their pay will take a heavy toll on them – economically – as they are servicing huge loans they took at the beginning of the term of the 12th Parliament.

“My brother, some of us take home only Sh50,000 per month. If I was to accept a deduction, then my family will not eat. That is what it basically means,” a first-term ODM lawmaker said in confidence.

A Wiper MP was against the idea of taking a salary cut but could not go on record for fear of being branded insensitive to the plight of Kenyans.

“Please, don’t quote me but that is the truth. I, and not only me, most of us, we cannot go public on that. It will be detrimental. People will say we are insensitive,” the legislator said.

Awendo MP Walter Owino and Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr said it would be impractical for every member to take a pay reduction owing to the huge loans they are repaying.

“Some of us have commitments which may not allow us to take cuts. Let the Treasury retain the five per cent relief in our income tax,” Owino said.

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Mutula cautioned that a blanket pay cut will punish some of them and instead proposed budget readjustments to free some cash for the fight against the virus.

“The only thing members can surrender is the allowances they collect from Parliament. We can free between Sh2 billion and Sh2.5 billion from travel, meetings, catering and conference allocations and channel it towards equipping hospitals and hiring of medical personnel,” he said.

On Thursday, speakers Kenneth Lusaka (Senate) and Justin Muturi (National Assembly) announced taking a 30 per cent pay cut and said negotiations were ongoing on how individual members could sacrifice part of their salaries.

Car loans and mortgages are the common facilities most parliamentarians are servicing. They are entitled to a personal car loan of up to Sh7 million and mortgage of as much as Sh20 million payable at an all-time low-interest rate of three per cent.

The MPs take home Sh710, 000 as basic salary and a number of allowances, which put their gross salary to at least Sh1, 378, 000 per month. The allowances include mileage, sitting, airtime, travel, good life and personal accident cover and responsibility perks, and attendance of plenary and committees.

In addition, the 416 lawmakers enjoy a Sh5 million car grant scheme and a generous medical allowance covering themselves, their spouses and up to four children. They are entitled to a weekly mileage allowance of Sh109 per kilometre for as many as 750 km per week and monthly car maintenance allowance of Sh356,525.

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But with this huge income, not even the ‘good, generous’ MPs want their cash reduced. They have maintained they are broke and have been pushing for higher perks. They have been at war with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, the constitutional agency charged with overseeing remuneration of state and public officers.

Just last year, the commission was forced to move to court to stop the legislators from awarding themselves Sh250,000 per person in monthly house allowance. They had already pocketed the money, backdating it by some months, behind the commission’s back, forcing the team to seek court intervention.

#EpukaCorona: Kenyans united against COVID-19

#EpukaCorona: Kenyans united against COVID-19

#EpukaCorona hashtag, which has been trending for the better part of Friday, was a well-coordinated campaign generated to raise awareness regarding social distancing and how it can actually save the lives of thousands around you.

This comes few hours before Kenyans are subjected to a countrywide curfew from 7pm to 5am in efforts to curb the spread of Coronavirus infections.

This is the second time the country will be put under such conditions since independence, with anxiety rising as the clock ticks to the magic hour.

There’s no vaccine or cure for coronavirus. Hence, we’re bound to take all the precautions. If we don’t take it seriously then we may face our doom too, just like some countries in the world.

There’s no other way to stop covid-19 from spreading other than washing hands and staying at home.

#EpukaCorona means practicing social distancing, observing hygiene to be exact. While the vaccines are being developed and tested, we can save ourselves and others too, just by being home. Many countries, including Pakistan, are experiencing a complete lockdown. It’s the only way to prevent people from going out and becoming potential carriers that may spread the virus even more.

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