TERMS OF REFERENCE FOR FINANCE INTERN POSITION

Siasa Place (SP) is a youth Non-governmental Organization (NGO), established in 2015 that specializes in working with youth and building institutional structures that support youth. Since its inception, SP has focused on youth expertise in policy review, participation in decision making processes including budget processes, and trained youth on policy making both at the national and county level, to improve and increase accountability.

Terms of Reference for Finance Intern Role

We are looking for a self-motivated and talented individual to fill the finance intern position. The individual must be based in Nairobi Kenya.

Roles and Responsibilities:

  • Assist in maintaining petty cash.
  • Assist in posting of journals on QuickBooks.
  • Prepare payment vouchers for all petty cash transactions.
  • Assist in filing all finance & administration documents.
  • Provide administrative and logistical support to program staff..
  • Assist with review and verification of support documentation submitted by project staff.
  • Provide organizational support to preparation, implementation
  • Assist with preparation of donor financial reports in line with donor reporting requirements.

Competence, Skills and Attributes

  • Bachelor’s degree in Commerce, Finance or Accounting, Economics or other relevant field.
  • Outstanding written and verbal communication skills.
  • Must be able to multitask and work well under pressure.
  • Excellent organizational and leadership abilities.
  • Detail oriented.
  • Must have basic knowledge of accounting software such as QuickBooks.
  • Must have basic knowledge of finance and accounting principles.
  • Should be willing, ready and able to perform other duties as delegated to him/her by the supervisor.

Benefits

  • Shadowing, mentoring & training with the Finance Manager.
  • Hands-on application of financial principles in a fast paced working environment.
  • Occasionally attend networking events.
  • Stipend available.

Interested individuals to send their resume and a 500 max word cover letter via support@siasaplace.com with the email subject of ‘Finance Intern Application’ by 14th February 2022.

Siasa Place is an equal opportunity employer and charges no fee in the recruiting process.

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

 

Terms of Reference for Communications Officer Position

Siasa Place (SP) is a youth Non-governmental Organization (NGO), established in 2015 that specializes in working with youth and building institutional structures that support youth. Since its inception, SP has focused on youth expertise in policy review, participation in decision making processes including budget processes, and trained youth on policy making both at the national and county level, to improve and increase accountability.

Terms of Reference for Communications Officer Position

We are looking for a self-motivated and talented communications officer to lead our communications department. In this position, you will be in charge of producing high-quality content that engages our members, followers and builds brand recognition.

The main duties will also include creating informative content, press releases, articles, and media opportunities to share our organization’s brand.

The ideal candidate will be an excellent communicator, with brilliant presentation, organizational skills and will be based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Roles and Responsibilities:

  • Create informative and interesting press releases, press kits, newsletters, and related marketing materials.
  • Develop and implement effective communication strategies that build brand awareness.
  • Provide design and direction for collateral, web, product packaging, and other visual communications media for Siasa Place.
  • Help promote uniformity and consistency of brand. 
  • Prepare detailed media and field activity reports.
  • Plan and manage the design, content, and production of all communications materials.
  • Work with different organizational departments (Programs Team, Executive Director Office and External Suppliers) to generate new ideas and strategies.
  • Supervise projects to guarantee all content is publication-ready.
  • Create communication and marketing strategies for new programs, launches and events.
  • Plan, manage and streamline Siasa Place membership.
  • Explore and grow our social media channels.
  • Respond to communication-related issues in a timely manner.
  • Identify brand building areas.
  • Create and/or edit multimedia content including videos, animations, and info graphics for the website, social media, quarterly newsletters (print and/ or online), and other appropriate outlets.
  • Overseeing the branding of all written, printed and drawn materials to ensure they match with the organization’s communication policy. 
  • Coordinate the appearance of all organizations print and electronic materials.

Qualifications, Skills and Experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, public relations or relevant field.
  • A minimum of 3 years’ experience in a similar role.
  • Proven experience creating targeted content is advantageous.
  • Strong knowledge of communication practices and techniques.
  • Outstanding written and verbal communication skills.
  • Must be able to multitask and work well under pressure.
  • Excellent organizational and leadership abilities.
  • Detail oriented.
  • Must have some knowledge of design software (Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Premier, InDesign).

Interested individuals to send their profile and a 500 max word cover letter via support@siasaplace.com with the email subject of ‘ Communications Officer Application’ by 14th February 2022.

Siasa Place is an equal opportunity employer and charges no fee in the recruiting process.

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

 

TERMS OF REFERENCE FOR FINANCIAL AUDIT OF DEFEND RECORD YAKO PROJECT

Introduction

Siasa Place (SP) is a youth Non-governmental Organization (NGO), established in 2015 that specializes in working with youth and building institutional structures that support youth. Since its inception,  SP has focused on youth expertise in policy review,  participation in decision making processes including budget processes, and trained youth on policy making both at the national and county level, to improve and increase accountability.

Project Background

Defend Record Yako is a project aimed at capacity building youth to gain awareness on the  tools and methods  through which they can organize around public participation in governance and establish a working relationship with leaders to create an enabling environment for effective engagement between youth and County leaders.

Siasa Place wishes to engage an auditor to examine the finances of the Defend Record Yako project, as is stipulated in the agreement between Siasa Place and ForumCiv. The audit is to be carried out in accordance with the International Standards on Auditing (ISA) issued by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB).

Objectives and scope of the audit 

The auditor shall examine the financial reports for the period January-December 2021 submitted to ForumCiv by Siasa Place and to express an audit opinion according to ISA 800/805 on whether the financial reporting regarding the Defend Record Yako project submitted to ForumCiv is in accordance with Siasa Place’s accounting, established budget and ForumCiv’s instructions for financial reporting as stipulated in the agreement including appendix between ForumCiv and Siasa Place.

Core Deliverables

  1. Follow up whether salary costs debited to the project/programme are recorded throughout the duration of the year in a systemized way and examine whether the salary costs can be verified by sufficient supporting documentation. 
  2. Examine whether the financial report includes a comparison, for every budget item, between the actual costs/expenditures of activities and the budgeted costs/expenditures as approved by ForumCiv for the period. 
  3. Based on materiality and risk the auditor shall examine whether there is supporting documentation related to incurred costs. Regardless of materiality of the findings the auditor shall quantify the amount for costs lacking sufficient supporting documentation. 
  4. Examine whether foreign exchange gains/losses are disclosed as a separate item in the financial report as well as disclosed in accordance with what is stipulated in the agreement including appendices and generally accepted accounting principles. 
  5. Siasa Place’s compliance with the applicable tax legislation with regard to taxes (e.g. PAYE) and social security fees.
  6.  Review if outgoing balance for the previous period is the same as incoming balance for the current period.
  7.  If Siasa Place applies a modified cash basis as accounting principle, the auditor shall describe the method used and motivate whether the applied accounting principle is acceptable for this type of financial report. 
  8. Verify the unspent balance at the end of the financial year against accounting records and its supporting documentation. 
  9. Verify the unspent balance that shall be repaid to ForumCiv in the final report of the last agreement year.
  10. Follow up whether Siasa Place has implemented recommendations from the previous audits reports of the program. The examination includes reviewing whether Siasa Place has implemented the action points as described in Siasa Place management response that has been submitted to ForumCiv in connection with audit reports. The examination also includes reviewing whether Siasa Place has followed up the action points, in all subsequent links. 
  11. The reporting shall also include a Management letter that discloses all audit findings (significant and other findings), as well as weaknesses identified during the audit process. 
  12. The financial report that has been subject to the audit shall be attached to the audit reporting. 
  13. The auditor shall make recommendations to address the identified findings and weaknesses.

The responsible auditor must sign the report (not just the audit firm) and shall include the title and CPA Number of the responsible auditor. If the auditor assesses that no findings or weaknesses have been identified during the audit that would result in a Management Letter, an explanation of this assessment must be disclosed in the audit report.

Measures taken by Siasa Place to address weaknesses identified in previous audits shall also be presented in the Management Letter. 

Eligibility Criteria

A firm seeking to apply should be registered in Kenya and must have been in operation for at least five (5) years providing both audit and tax services. Additionally, the firm must demonstrate experience in auditing of not-for-profit entities and organizations.

The following information should be provided:  

  1. Copy of certificate of incorporation/registration  
  2. PIN Certificate 
  3. Valid certificate of tax compliance  
  4. Valid certificate of good standing from the Institute of Certified Public Accountants Kenya (ICPAK)

Submission of proposals

Interested and eligible firms can submit a short outline methodology of how they would conduct the audit, a brief profile of the company which includes profile of past work done and budget via support@siasaplace.com

The last date for application will be on Thursday 20th January 2022, 12pm EAT

TERMS OF REFERENCE FOR THE END OF PROJECT EVALUATION BY EXTERNAL CONSULTANT

ABOUT SIASA PLACE 

Siasa Place (SP) is a youth-led non-governmental organization (NGO), established in 2015 that specializes in working with youth and building institutional structures that support youth. Since its inception,  SP has focused on youth expertise in policy review,  participation in decision making processes including the budget process, and trained youths on policy making both at the national and county level, to improve and increase accountability.

PROJECT BACKGROUND

DEFEND RECORD YAKO is a pilot project being implemented in Kericho County between January 2020 and December 2021 and targeting youth through their organizations and members of the county assembly. The project aims to capacity build youth to gain awareness on the  tools and methods  through which they can organize around public participation in governance and establish a working relationship with the leaders to create an enabling environment for effective engagement between youth and County leaders.

The main problem is the lackluster way in which the constitutional right to participate in decision-making and governance are implemented on the ground by duty bearers. Public engagement is reduced to tokenism and mere checking of boxes contrary to the spirit of the constitution which demands that government had to work with the people to maintain quality of service delivery. As a result youth priorities are not taken into consideration during key development decision making processes like development of County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP) and Annual Development Plan (ADP) making youth disillusioned and disengaged because they feel that they are not listened to and their needs are not met. As a result, failure in governance is often characterized by corruption and mismanagement of public funds. This has resulted in mismatched priorities between county and community, conflict of ideas, lack of community ownership, translated to lack of accountability on initiatives, which leads to failed projects. 

It is in this regard that Siasa Place is proposed to create a social accountability structure through which youth can engage the duty bearers in good governance. The project trained youth group leaders who  became social accountability champions on the structure of devolution, roles of leaders and necessary laws to enable them participate effectively in governance, organize community engagements and dialogue meetings to facilitate information sharing, conduct personal development training for the leaders and initiate performance tracking for the members of the county assembly. The project also engaged with county officials and built a collaborative working relationship between duty bearers and right holders. The project  adopted a combination of both traditional media and social media as tools for advocacy. For instance, the project incorporates social media conversations, as well as use of creative messaging for awareness creation and update issues that youth are discussing and seeking response from the duty bearers in addition to the use of physical meetings. 

1.1  Youth leaders training: The training aimed at capacity building the county leaders personal leadership development and also to introduce the project to the County, and further seek collaboration with other partners involved in similar projects. This session will be an opportunity to educate on the importance of youth inclusion, as well as capacity build leaders to often engage young people in their processes and how. The objective of the meeting is to invite other stakeholders to support SP during project implementation.

1.2 Community barazas cum stakeholders dialogue forums: These are grassroots meetings held within communities to educate youth on the importance of participating in decision making, available opportunities for participation, structure of governance, tools and methods that they can use to address issues of concern.   The proposed project uses education to promote issue-based political mobilization, specifically promoting participation, utilizing non-traditional avenues such as digital platforms that give voice to youth, counter divisive narratives to facilitate civic education and engagement. The activity is set to enhance a network of youth influencers, looking at collaboration with duty bearers through dialogue forums. These forums will educate on understanding their rights, to demand those rights and to hold leaders accountable, roles of officers and securing those rights. A youth steering group will also be formed, to be the social accountability group, to build a collaborative partnership between leadership and the community.

1.3 Youth leaders strategy review meetings: The project  supports  youth stakeholders meetings based on the advocacy gaps identified during the follow up meetings. The meeting was aimed at facilitating information sharing, learning and planning on  advocacy follow ups and further engagements between the stakeholders. The platform provided youth with the opportunity to exchange ideas with their colleagues and other leaders on how they can organize better and tackle challenges that they may face.

1.4 Online/Media engagements and radio: Hosting monthly engagements on Chapter 6, and the characteristics of a good leader, and linking it to leaders in the community as well. Call to action will involve people submitting stories of ordinary people they would like to highlight for having good character e.g. a waitress recently returning 60,000 shillings she found in a restaurant. The media engagement is to highlight young officials who are performing well in the County. This will in turn boost their visibility which will support their political career, improving their prospects for re-election. 

1.5 Exit meeting: Organize one meeting for the people who have participated in the project as we end the project and hand over most of the things that they will need to follow through.

1.6  Youth leaders, women chama leaders and youth group social media administrators training : Map and identify social media administrators, train and support them to organize awareness creation and initiate dialogue to influence governance.

1.7  Advocacy training for elected ward based committee members on the right way forward: Based on the monitoring and evaluation report, most of the committee members did not have the capacity to initiate and sustain follow ups hence they were  trained on how to organize dialogue advocacy 

 1.8 Mentorship for youth group  leaders on management:The project organized a one day  management training  for  youth group leaders to provide support to the ward advocacy  committee  members during their follow up process to ensure consistency  and sustainability in advocacy follow ups. 

1.9 Ward based advocacy follow up meetings on identified governance concerns: The project is proposing to support  a total 12 advocacy follow up meetings organized by the committee  and attended by 30 people (⅔ gender representation) and also aired live on social media.

2.1 Training workshop with county officials: The training aimed at capacity building the county leaders personal leadership development and also to introduce the project to the County, and further seek collaboration with other partners involved in similar projects. This session was aimed at creating  opportunities to educate on the importance of youth inclusion, as well as capacity to build leaders to often engage young people in their processes and how. The objective of the meeting is to invite other stakeholders to support SP during project implementation.

2.2 Monitoring leaders performance: After training the youth on the role of different duty bearers, tools will be developed to monitor their performance based on their prescribed role in the constitution during the community barazas. 

EVALUATION  PURPOSE AND OBJECTIVES: 

The objective and purpose of this evaluation is to generate information that will assist the project management team to determine the level of success, identify weakness and recommend improvement for project efficiency and effectiveness towards the achievement of its goals and objectives. Specifically, this evaluation aims to:

  1. Determine the relevancy of the interventions, lessons learned, track key outcomes and impacts related to the different project components, assessing whether the objectives, aims and goals were achieved
  2. Determine the prudency in resource utilization (Value for money)
  3. Demonstrate that programme efforts have had a measurable impact on expected outcomes and have been implemented effectively. 
  4. Assess gaps and opportunities including approach used in execution.
  5. Assess the impact of the project to the beneficiary community 

SPECIFIC TASKS OF THE CONSULTANCY

Under the general guidance of the Executive Director and direct supervision of the program officer and other key colleagues, the Consultant will be responsible for developing evaluation tools, administering the tools and generating the report.

In particular he/she will;

  1. Develop and administer tools for evaluation 
  2. Provide expert guidance to the entire evaluation process 
  3. Conduct an analysis of the data collected and generate a report of the findings

CORE DELIVERABLES

  1. Inception brief inclusive of proposed methodology and proposed work plan.
  2. First draft shared before validation and thereafter incorporates inputs from the validation. 
  3. A final and comprehensive evaluation report
  4. A PowerPoint presentation of the findings

QUALIFICATION AND COMPETENCIES REQUIRED

Interested consultant(s) should have expertise in the following areas:

  1. Extensive knowledge in project management, monitoring and evaluation.
  2. Proven wealth of previous experiences in evaluation work with written recommendation letters & recommender’s contacts.
  3. At least three years of knowledge and experience in practical program evaluation in either governance, public participation  and  devolution
  4. Good understanding of public participation with demonstrated practical working experience around the same.
  5. Excellent drafting ability (English) and analytical skills. Good communication skills in English. Kiswahili is an added advantage
  6. Ability to meet deadlines.
  7. Must possess at least a degree in Social Sciences, Development Studies, Public/government Economics.

SUBMISSION OF PROPOSALS

Interested and eligible applicants can submit a short outline methodology of how they would conduct the evaluation, both on a theoretical and practical basis (not more than 2 pages), proposed work plan, detailed CVs of lead consultant and a link of your past work on a similar task via support@siasaplace.com

The last date for application will be on 16th December 2021  and thereafter one week within which the elevation will be done.

Please note the following:

  • Subject to donor approval and funding.
  • Consultant will be required in Kericho between 21st to 23rd Dec 2021
  • Consultant to be available between 20th to 31st Dec 2021.

PEOPLE AND POLITICS By – OMAO KIMONGE

I strongly believe that the March 2018 handshake that heralded the Building Bridges Initiative has brought more divisions than a unity of purpose that it was initially meant to bring. The opponents and proponents of the report are in a constant push and pull trying to woo their supporters onto their side. This  Initiative was aimed at stabilizing the body politics to underpin sustainable development and also eradicate poverty. We all welcomed the handshake because the country had reeled under the perennial cycle of post-election violence. We also believed the BBI reform process was a sure pathway to the promised land of political stability and the United Nations Development Goals. However, reading the body language of the political elite in the country makes me have a second thought regarding the referendum call. Having read the Building Bridges Initiative report, there are quite a good number of loose ends in the proposals and a reason as to why Kenyans should give it a wide berth in the upcoming plebiscite if at all it will materialize.

Foremost, the Building Bridges Initiative is illegal and unconstitutional. Our constitution gives two clear pathways to its amendment -a parliamentary way and also the popular initiative. Any amendments to the constitution emanating from the three arms of government must go through the legislature while those from the people must be people-driven. Proposals in the BBI  emanated from the Executive and thus must go the parliamentary way. This has not been the case, public resources have been used to push the BBI agenda without a proper budget for the same. This is in contravention of the Public Finance Management Act(2012). Our leaders have misled us on this and I suggest that any elected leader in support of the BBI must not be re-elected in next year’s general elections. In the social contract theory, philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean Jacques Rousseau challenged feudal absolutism. Their common argument was that since the inhabitants of a polity could not exercise direct authority over themselves, they ceded such authority to a sovereign. The sovereign had to rule for the benefit of the masses’ failure to which the inhabitants could withdraw such power. As Kenyan citizens, we have a five-year social contract with our elected representatives and those who are working contrary to our expectations must face the electoral wrath in next year’s elections.

Secondly, the call for the constitutional amendment is ill-timed. It comes at a time when the country is facing Covid-19 that has ravaged our economy. Many Kenyans are currently hanging from tight economic ropes. The mainstream media highlighted a story of a woman who boiled stones to pacify her hungry children. We have further read about the thousands of children who have been sent away from children’s homes because such homes can no longer support them. Hundreds of thousands of Kenyans go without food on a daily basis and none is ready to address this pertinent issue. Kenyans are just sick, they are not only sick but also tired of the government of the day. I suppose there should be an amendment to reduce the size of the government and redirect the savings to other starved but important sectors of the economy like health and education. This is because a referendum is not a priority at the moment. Just like the 2005 referendum, this year’s referendum will be a test-run for next year’s presidential elections and whoever has his way will ride on the momentum to the general election.

Third, the reform agenda has been hijacked and is under the control of politicians who to me are driving their self-interests at the expense of the citizenry. The drafters of the BBI report were political appointees who served the interests of their masters. These drafters were keen to appease every conceivable group so that they could induce such groups to support the document. The youth were promised a national youth commission to address their challenges. There could also be a seven-year tax holiday for youth-owned businesses. Counties could receive up to 35 percent of the sharable revenue from the national exchequer. There is also a proposition of ward development to cater to the development agenda at the ward level. All these are just ploys to hoodwink the masses to support a report that is unnecessary. We have the ministries of Youth, culture, and sports both at the national and county levels, what challenges will the youth commission solve that the aforementioned ministries haven’t solved? The addition of national revenue to the counties is welcome, but how sure are we that these resources won’t be squandered, ours is a history littered with unsolved cases of corruption and millions of lost dollars. The endemic graft is rotting in every sector of the economy with realms of newspaper columns, hashtags in political speeches, and presidential speeches devoted to the topic.

The report also proposes the creation of the office of the Judiciary Ombudsman to police the judiciary. This is wrong because the judiciary is an independent wing of the government. Giving the president powers to appoint the judiciary ombudsman will thus weaken this important wing of the government. The main reason for coming up with the BBI was to actually look for an everlasting solution to the cyclic chaos after every electioneering period. How does the Judiciary Ombudsman come in? I have further failed to understand the nexus between the “reggae” and a sense of everlasting peace. The proponents of this report have been telling Kenyans how no one can stop the reggae. The makers of the Titanic ship that capsized on the 14th day of April 1912 had shown off that no one could sink that ship including GOD. Eventually, the ship sank killing over 2000 passengers on board. Kenyans must say NO to the BBI proposals which are a new cash cow to the political elites.

By:OMAO KIMONGE

RESEARCH AND POLICY ANALYST.

CENTRE FOR RESEARCH AND CONSULTANCY

 

Redefining Self Love – By MARILYN GLORIA ODONGO

What is self-love? Do I particularly love myself? These are some of the many questions that arise in people’s minds when they have a feeling of disconnection with themselves. In addition to that, they are caught up in a cycle of unlocking their self-worth but it remains futile for quite a while. Much to my dismay, it is also a popular search according to Google Trends, with the searches rooting down for information on how to practice it and make it your daily routine. Talking about routine, is there really an end goal to self-love or is it a daily task to keep me happy and content with who I am? I believe there is, it can be an extended-expression of yourself but with a lot of emphasis on your values, what you stand for, and love that you have decided on being just that or however more, you feel best.

The art of not loving yourself places you on one of the records of the climbing statistics on behavioral disorders. Poor self-image arising out of not accepting and loving yourself as you are enhances the chances of you being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). This is a mental health condition that greatly affects your mood, behavior, and self-image. It is a cluster B personality disorder that affects a person’s emotional functioning and can lead to behaviors that others see as extreme or irrational. The above clarification leads me back to my definition of self-love, it also involves being at peace with your relationship with others and choosing to value those who are there for us. Self-love borders on a lot about our past, present, and even future, it is the bane of our existence.

Why the name Borderline though? Clinicians thought of the person diagnosed with this disorder as one on the border between having neurosis, an anxiety disorder, and psychosis, which is loss of contact with reality. This condition is characterized by feelings of dissociating yourself from others, stress-related paranoid thoughts, chronic feelings of emptiness, a series of intense emotions such as anger, low moods, impulsive behavior in terms of excessive spending of money, drug and substance abuse, instability in your relationship with others and lastly poor self-image in values and career plans.

It is really painful that one has to go through all this, what could be the triggers? Is it societal or individually based? It could be both. I figured it would be pointless to recoin and redefine the true meaning of self-love and what works best, without getting to the root cause. Society at large has a great task ahead in reigniting the true spark of self-love in each individual. Three main factors have been analyzed to be the causes of Borderline  Personality Disorder. The first one being genetic factors, this could be attributable to cases where an immediate relative has had a mental health condition such as bipolar, depression, substance use disorder, or even antisocial personality disorder. Secondly, the individual’s environmental factors, how was the person brought up? Who was around him or her? What were the values instilled? How did they deal with losses or even sadness while still young? The individual could have been a victim of maltreatment, conflicts, abuse, and abandonment that could have been a thorn in his or her development and even emotional formation. Lastly, neurological factors have been well elaborated in medical records.

Someone would ask, “So what is the way forward, what are the solutions available?” There are a variety of treatments that have been described to help individuals with this disorder. First of all, is the cognitive behavioral therapy that involves working with a therapist closely in order to see and think things differently. Second, is a dialectical behavioral therapy that deals with a combination of both physical and meditative methods that enable an individual to regulate his or her emotions in a better way. Third, mobilization-based therapy, which is a talk therapy that helps people identify their own thoughts. Fourth, schema-focused therapy reframes how the person views themselves. Fifth, the transference focused psychotherapy that aims to develop a relationship with a therapist and thus there is an understanding of your emotions and interpersonal difficulties and lastly a systems training for emotional predictability and problem solving, which is a group therapy that is led by a social worker meant to supplement other forms of treatment.

I hope and pray that self-love shall become a moment of rest, a moment of unlimited joy, and a lifetime assurance of one wanting the very best for themselves. I want to be part of a community that voices self-love and works to ensure that each person is at peace with themselves.

By: MARILYN GLORIA ODONGO

Freedom of The Press: An Estranged Concept? – By Mercy Chepkemoi

Media refers to the means of mass communication, especially the press, radio, and television, but also including film and recorded music, as well as a number of distributions by way of cable, satellite, discs, and tapes. Media freedom in Kenya has always been tied to responsibilities which journalists are expected to carry for the realization of the societal common good. The emergence of new forms of journalism as a consequence of technological development and appropriations has engendered serious debate about media freedom and the practice of journalism around the world.

Good governance, an essential component of any thriving democratic state, is premised on a system of openness, trust, and government accountability. This can only be achieved if the public is involved in the process of governance. If the general public knows the functions, policies, and decisions made, they can question the government on the basis of the information obtained, and, most importantly, the reasons for the government’s actions. It is thus necessary that the government develops a clear policy on the freedom of information in a bid to ensure that subsequent legislation on freedom of information laws – is implemented effectively and based on accepted international principles and best practices.

The right to information is enshrined in Article 35 of the constitution, which provides for access to information with Article 34 providing for freedom of the media. The right to information underpins all other human rights; it is the cornerstone of all other rights. The right is encapsulated in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) under Article 19. It is similarly enshrined in the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Kenya is a party.

Royal Media Services ran an expose in a segment ‘Guns Galore’ where the Citizen Tv journalist did an undercover episode on Police Officers allegedly renting Police Officer’s uniforms and firearms to civilians. In a press statement, DCI Director George Kinoti, discredited the expose alleging that the segment attempted to tarnish the entire National Police Service and undermine the efforts made by police officers. He further summoned the RMS editorial management team to make a statement on the allegations.

In recent months, there have been a number of accusations that the government has been cracking down on press freedom in Kenya which saw eight independent columnists resign from the Nation Newspaper citing lack of editorial independence. Journalists have reportedly been physically assaulted in their line of duty with some losing their lives while at it. In 2018, three of Kenya’s biggest TV stations were temporarily shut down after they confirmed plans to cover the mock presidential inauguration of opposition leader Raila Odinga. A move that was widely condemned internationally by the United Nations, United States, and human rights watchdogs.

The media is an important tool in the dissemination of information in Kenya. Without free media, the government could easily spread propaganda in the name of the truth. This tends to feed the masses, and in doing so, creates a utopian world where the government, in the eyes of its people blinded by the propaganda, can do no wrong to the country. The lack of care towards protecting journalists and media houses, through the passing or even the creation of laws limiting the free press, is worrying and may lead to further restrictions on freedom of the media.

Almost everyone relies on the media for information, education, and entertainment among other needs. The media, therefore, has a central role to play in the freedom of information and freedom of expression. Thus interference nubs its role on its knees.

 

 

Loans and Debts – By Isaac Murimi

Africa is often characterized by poverty. With the aim of development, these third-world countries tend to apply for foreign aid which heaps up and accumulates into billions in debt. The accumulation of bulks of loans is alarming and raising concerns. The concern is not just about the amount of debt relative to national income, but where the debt comes from. Giving an example of Kenya, the National Treasury report as of March 2018, showed that more than half (USD$24.5billion) public debt came from outside the country. Though studies show that external debt is not necessarily harmful as it can stabilize an economy and economic growth, it, however, depletes a country’s foreign exchange reserves. The depletion of a country’s foreign exchange is achieved because interest and principal repayments on external debt are made in foreign currency and this may devalue the domestic currency. In the short run, the country’s exports may lack the competitive touch hence a weak currency. When the currency is weak, it may lead to high inflation rates in the long term because it costs the country more to import what it needs for production and consumption.

How external debts pose great threats

External debts, especially foreign aids are believed to put debtors in situations that pose greater danger. Similar to Eurobonds, bilateral agreements are believed to cost a lot more than their explicit interest charge. Taking the case of China, where it is Kenya’s largest creditor, holding about 72% of the country’s bilateral debt; studies show that Kenya’s Chinese debt poses a threat because the loan agreements are not transparent, projects are not prioritized, accounting procedures are weak and it’s not clear what projects are costing. On top of this, most Chinese loans are conditional on Kenya’s acceptance of Chinese contractors. This limits the loans’ developmental impacts through potential technology transfers which could improve the country’s productive capabilities and in turn its future ability to comfortably absorb the debt burden. This kind of threat is not wholly likely to affect Kenya only. Many countries in Africa are on the verge of getting the same treatment or maybe they are facing the threat already. Giving a look at these countries’ Chinese debt is worrying. Angola is the most indebted African country to china with an estimated debt of over US$25billion. The threat that Angola is facing is that, despite it being the second-largest producer of oil in Africa, most of its oil is going towards the repayment of Chinese debt. East African countries have an estimate of over US$30 dollars debt to China which was overseen in the building of infrastructure especially roads and railway lines whose contractors are Chinese, but because of a lack of transparency and accountability, a lot of money has been lost to corruption hence threatening the East African coast from captivity by the Chinese. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) could be one of the richest countries in the world considering how it is abundantly endowed with precious natural resources and minerals. However, the plundering of these resources and the unending debt to China of US$3.4 billion has set the country back.

 

African countries need to be cautious and prudent with the resources available within and produce for both consumptions and for exportation. Borrowed funds should be put to productive use. Investing them in improving public infrastructure would lower the cost of doing business and make a country an attractive investment destination. This in turn would bolster economic output, and therefore its ability to service the debt and, in the long run, lessen the need for additional debt.

 

Isaac Murimi

Contact Number: 0796962375

Social media handle @m.blizzler

 

Time to step up – By Gravice Luvuga

Good morning, I know many might be wondering why to specify the time to the morning when we all are going to go through this article at different times of the day or night. Actually, this is not a Good morning call indicating its morning but rather a wake-up call to the young people who for long we’ve been in slumber.

Time to wake up from the deep slumber of sitting back and letting our beloved Nation be driven anyhow while we just sit back and watch without even raising a finger. Time to wake up from sleep and dream that there are specific people who own our nation, specific people who can always make choices for us and drag us in the direction of their choice.

A wake-up call from the slumber of allowing ourselves to be used as tools and weapons by the very people we call our elders. Being used to a point of conflicting ourselves rather than encouraging and supporting one another. To a point of creating enmity amongst ourselves while the bosses are sipping expensive Champagne at five-star hotels.

Wake up from thinking that someone else will fix our nation. It’s high time we realized that it’s up to us to make the changes we desire. It’s up to us to fix our nation and realize that not involving ourselves in our country affairs is not only making us weak but also the main cause of poverty due to our own induced ignorance.

Most of us don’t even know about public participation in our county’s budget-making process hence we are greatly affected when the budget is released. We might seem to be careless but at the end of the day, we are the most affected. When we don’t air our views on how the government will allocate funds to help solve issues affecting us then for how long are we going to be left behind in poverty and distress. It’s high time we rise to the occasion, speak out on the issue of the budget, and make sure the government is allocating adequate funds to sectors that actually affect us.

The majority of the youths do not realize that we have public and private programs that are there to empower them. When each year millions are being allocated to these programs that very few know about, oh what a waste! A waste that we create for ourselves for being in a comfort zone that is nowhere close to being comfortable. A waste that we have brought by our own carelessness allowing other people to squander and benefit our own ignorance. We should wake up and explore every opportunity given to us or else we will forever be on televisions begging and accusing the government.

All of the slumber issues can be resolved by simply focusing on healthy youth leadership and representation. A healthy youth representation will only happen if we the youths start believing in our fellow youths. I was surprised by the fact that in a country where the population of the youths is huge a youth candidate couldn’t even score half the votes simply because he had little resources for his campaign. If we cannot give our fellow youths who understand the issues, we face a chance to lead simply because we’ve been ‘bought’ then when will our voices ever be heard.

We should believe in ourselves and give ourselves a chance to make a difference rather than always criticizing ourselves and looking down on ourselves. When we have leaders, who could always keep us in line by encouraging and motivating us to be actively involved in our country’s affairs and being active as well in the affairs rather than by preaching water and drinking wine, then surely enough things will not be the same for us. We have a chance in our own hands. Let’s all take it.

Finally, when we have the opportunity to be at the forefront when we’ve been given an opportunity to lead, let’s not misuse the opportunity, let’s always think about making our country better, encouraging other youths to be active in leadership and always striving to make a difference.

How to Maintain a Positive Mental Health-By Joy Ngoiri

World Health Organization (WHO) describes mental health as a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. I describe mental health as simply having peace of mind.

We all feel sad sometimes. That is part of being human. We are often told that we need to distinguish between an emotion and a mental illness. That when someone feels sad, it does not mean someone is depressed. But where exactly do we draw the line?

Depression is described as a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. Depression often causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed.

With the unprecedented events of the pandemic, most people have been struggling with how to stay afloat, feelings of loneliness and anxiety and the fact is, everybody is feeling something.

There are several ways you can try to cope with negative mental health at this moment. One of the best ways that I have discovered that can do wonders in calming and slowing down your thoughts is journaling. Journaling is basically just writing or noting down your thoughts and how you’re feeling. It can be compared to writing in a diary.

It sounds childish when you think about it through writing in a diary context, but journaling has proven to be very effective in calming down racing thoughts. Sometimes you have no explanation for how you are feeling, your mind is constantly racing with thoughts and you can’t exactly pinpoint what the problem is. You end up feeling sad the whole morning, afternoon or even the whole day but when someone asks you what is wrong, you genuinely have no answer and cannot explain exactly how you feel. That is the best moment to a journal. Write down exactly your exact thoughts. Whether you note down some mumble jumble, note it down. If you feel like life is hard, write it down. If you feel like you are not good enough and your insecurities get the best of you, write it down. This will at least help these thoughts not to be crumpled in your mind.

The other method that can help you maintain positive mental health is meditation. I know the word meditation sounds exotic and something that ‘black people don’t do but meditation has been proven to be very effective in calming someone down. We have seen people who get angry a lot take a deep breath two times and calm themselves down, that is ideally a method of meditation. Meditation is a practice for settling the mind and redirecting your thoughts. It is basically getting a new sense of perspective. It is not trying to shut down your thoughts or feelings, it’s about learning to be okay with them without being insecure about them. I like to think of meditation as exercising a muscle, only it’s my mind.

It is important to note that the mind is one weird place. Your mind will wander off when meditating and this is okay. Don’t give up. It takes constant practice. There are different types of meditation and one should try what works for them. One particular site that can help with meditation is mindful.org.

Another way to keep good mental health is staying active and exercising. This is a more practical way. We have all heard stories of people who were overweight and insecure about themselves and they used that insecurity to motivate them to exercise and become a better healthier version of themselves. Exercising daily, even for 30 minutes, whether it is home exercises or gym exercises helps to improve mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative moods. Exercising also helps to improve self-esteem and cognitive function. Once your self-esteem is top-notch, your insecurities will fade away.

Most people cannot afford a gym membership, this is where home workouts come in. Home workouts are hard to follow every day. Consistency becomes hard when nobody is following up with you. However, everything is in the mind. Sounds cliché, but once you put your mind to something and determine yourself to do it, it is easy to follow up.

These three are the most commonly used ways that help in maintaining positive mental health. Never feel like you are pressured to try everything. Everything happens in its own time. However, you have to take the first step in bettering yourself for yourself and for the people around you.

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Social Activism in the 21st Century – By Billy Osogo

Simply defined, social activism is an intentional action with the goal of bringing about social change. Ergo, anyone who is fighting for change in society is an activist. From Malala Yousafzai fighting for education for girls in Pakistan; to Boniface Mwangi fighting for constitutionalism in Kenya; to Greta Thunberg fighting for immediate climate change mitigation.

In the digital era where the number of smartphone users worldwide is on the rise social activism has become a force to reckon with. Anyone armed with a smartphone can galvanize action by other citizens from anywhere in the world. Events in individual societies are increasingly capturing the attention of the world at lightning speed. The oceans and seas separating them notwithstanding.

#FreePalestine is the most recent illustration of social activism in the twenty-first century. The senseless killings of innocent children in Gaza have taken the world by storm.

The United Nations Secretary-General, in his remarks to Security Council, described the ongoing conflict as “utterly appalling”. He further said:

“The hostilities have already caused unconscionable death, immense suffering and damage to vital infrastructure. I am appalled by the increasingly large numbers of Palestinian civilian casualties, including many women and children, from Israeli strikes in Gaza.  I also deplore Israeli fatalities from rockets launched from Gaza.”

Massive demonstrations have been held all across the globe demanding justice for Palestine. Protestors gathered in cities including Doha, Stuttgart, New York, Cape Town, and Paris. In Nairobi, Christians and Muslims alike staged protests in solidarity with Palestine.

With social media playing a more prominent role in access to information, political causes cut across the traditional silos of streets and sovereign boundaries. As Israel escalated its relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip, the players of the beautiful game made their position known in the ongoing conflict. Football superstar Paul Pogba and his Manchester United teammate Amad Diallo held up a Palestinian flag following Manchester United’s final home game of the season.

 

Elsewhere, Leicester City players Hamza Choudhury and Wesley Fofana showed support for Palestinians after winning the FA Cup final. In a video making rounds on social media, the two were seen holding the Palestinian flag.

This is not the first time the world is rallying behind the cessation of gross human rights violations and injustice. In the 1980s, anti-Apartheid protests across the world brought attention to the diabolical human rights violations manifested in the apartheid government. Although limited, President Regan would impose economic sanctions on the apartheid government following pressure from various lobby groups. The apartheid government would eventually fall and Mandela would take his rightful place as the first black President of South Africa.

In 2020, following the gruesome killing of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter protests were held across the world. 331 days later, Derek Chauvin, the office responsible, was found guilty by the Hennepin County Courthouse.

The United Nations Security Council must not wait for an Israel-Palestine version of the Sharpeville Massacre to act. Too many lives have been lost already.

In the immortal words of Dr. King:

On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” And Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks the question, “Is it right?” The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge, moments of great crisis and controversy.”

The writer is an active and concerned citizen.

Facebook: Billy Osogo

Twitter: @a_b_osogo

 

 

 

Siasa Place is an NGO formed 2015 that aims to create an enabling environment for women and youth mainstreaming into our body politics.

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