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No rain this season, weatherman says

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By PAULINE KAIRU
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It is official. There will be no rains this season, the weatherman has finally said, painting a grim picture of the long-awaited rainy season that is now drawing close to an end.

Acting Deputy Director of Kenya Meteorological Department Bernard Chanzu said Kenyans should not expect the March-April-May long rains.

He called on Kenyans to brace themselves for scarcity of water resources for drinking, sanitation and industrial use as well as for power generation.

Mr Chanzu blamed the failed rains on climate change.

According to Mr Chanzu, there’s no immediate rainfall in the horizon this week and all the signs point to this state persisting to the end of the season.

“The bigger picture about prolonged dry spell which means a drought is foreseeable is growing increasingly clear,” he said on Tuesday, noting that their data shows that May would come and go without any rain. 

The period has also persistently been plagued by high daytime and night-time temperatures of up to 41°C in some places.

Generally sunny and dry weather conditions have prevailed over most of the country during this season.

The Met said only several stations in the Western highlands such as Kisii, Nyamira, Bungoma, Trans-Nzoia, Kakamega, Busia, Homa Bay, and Kericho recorded substantial amounts of rainfall.

Some parts of central highlands in Kiambu, Meru and Nairobi also experienced some irregular rainfall.

“This is because of the persistent high pressures over the Arabian region and the tropical cyclones in the western Indian Ocean,” the meteorologist said.

Cyclone Idai, which ripped through Mozambique last month, played a key role in delaying the northward movement of the rain-bearing inter-tropical convergence zone (ITCZ).

The ITCZ is a low pressure belt which shifts its position north and south of the equator according the position of the sun. It is here where rain-bearing trade winds converge.

The department also predicted the possibilities of more tropical convergences developing in the South-West Indian Ocean Basin that may delay further the onset over the eastern sector of the country.

“We’re experiencing a bad season. Historically, it is normal to experience variability of weather,” he said, adding “some years you get good weather, others you don’t. This is usually a possibility but the frequency with which these inconsistencies are happening is a hallmark of climate change.”

Initially the weather department had forecast that the long rains would begin in April, not in March as is the norm. They had also warned of generally depressed rains.

On Tuesday, however, Mr Chanzu said this sustained dryness is foreshadowing a future of parched rainless season with the bigger concern being that there will be no rains at all.

“It is something that is happening throughout the world and which is associated with the global atmosphere where precipitation patterns are being moved in new directions by climatic changes,” he said.



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Uganda’s top court upholds ruling on extending president’s rule

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A 4-3 majority decision affirming the validity of 2017 constitutional amendments was widely expected in the East African country where critics say judicial independence has been eroded under President Museveni’s 33-year rule.

Parliament, which is controlled by the ruling party, voted overwhelmingly in December 2017 to scrap an age limit of 75 years for presidential candidates.

The original legislation would have effectively barred 74-year-old Museveni from standing in the next elections due in 2021. Opponents of Museveni, including lawmakers and individual opposition activists, mounted a legal challenge to the amendment first in the constitutional court which rejected their petition.

That rejection triggered their appeal to the supreme court.”The decision of the constitutional court is upheld. This appeal therefore fails,” ruled Bart Katurebe, the country’s chief justice and a member of the panel. The process to amend the constitution was marred by widespread violence including police dispersing rallies by MPs consulting their constituents on the amendments and beatings and detentions of opposition activists

Some opposition MPs were also at one time forcefully removed from the House’s debating chamber by members of military. The petitioners had cited these incidents and other irregularities as sufficient grounds for nullification of the amendment.

Eldad Mwangusya, of the three justices who ruled in favor of the petition said widespread violence and security personnel interference in MPs’ public consultations made the removal of the age limit unconstitutional.”Members of parliament… were assaulted, thrown onto public vehicles, detained and released without charge all of which amount to inhuman treatment which is in contravention of the constitution,” he said.

In power since 1986, Museveni has been accused by critics of using security forces to stifle opposition through intimidation. Political activists routinely allege arbitrary arrests and beatings.

In February the executive committee of the ruling National Resistance Movement endorsed Museveni as its candidate in the next presidential election due in 2021, potentially extending his rule to 40 years.

One of his opponents in the next polls will likely be singer and lawmaker Bobi Wine – real name is Robert Kyagulanyi – who has rattled officials with his fast-growing support base.Kyagulanyi’s following has ballooned since he joined parliament nearly two years ago, drawn by his criticism of Museveni’s long rule and government excesses through his lyrics.




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Video Of The Day: Ministry of Education may scrap 98 ‘useless’ degree courses




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Egg on the face for Wangusi as State House, Ministry disown SIM-card switch-off threat

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Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) Director General Francis Wangusi has been forced to eat his words about an alleged plan by the government to switch off SIM-cards of mobile subscribers who will not have registered for the Huduma Namba before the set deadline of May 18.

In a rather common fashion and frantic attempt to calm down a countrywide storm sparked by his words, Wangusi now claims he was misquoted by the media when he stated: “We are waiting for the 45 days to end. We will say, unless you have a Huduma Namba, you don’t have a SIM-card.

So prepare yourself. And when we say it that way, it could be a polite order but it’s an order that is enforceable.”

Interestingly, according to Wangusi, those words did not suggest any plans to switch off SIM-cards but only “emphasized the importance of the Huduma Namba”

“We wish to clarify that the Director General has been quoted out of context. For the record Mr. Wangusi emphasized the importance of the Huduma Namba as a single source of the truth for the identity of citizens,” said Wangusi.

He issued the statement after State House and the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology disowned the alleged plan to switch off SIM-cards.

Wangusi, however, added that “Huduma Namba may be considered for use in the registration of SIM-cards.”

“After adequate consultations with the relevant stakeholders and changes in the law, the Huduma Namba may be considered for use in the registration of SIM-cards,” said Wangusi.

“The Authority, therefore, wishes to assure Kenyans that there are no plans in place to switch off SIM cards for subscribers who will have not registered for Huduma Namba by the set deadline of May 18.”

The ICT Ministry, in its statement, reiterated that the Huduma Namba registration is a voluntary exercise in compliance with the recent High Court ruling.

“There is absolutely no directive from the Government to institute any punitive measures against those who don’t register,” reads part of the statement issued by ICT PS Jerome Ochieng.

Earlier, State House Chief Nzioka Waita also emphasized that registration for Huduma Namba is a purely voluntary process and that nobody will be forced to participate in it.

“There is no directive from the Government to institute any punitive measures against those who don’t register. More emphasis will be laid on civic education!” Waita wrote on Twitter.

The roll out of the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS), also known as Huduma Namba, had been challenged in court but the government was allowed to continue with the registration on condition that it should not be mandatory.

A three-judge bench – comprising Justices Weldon Korir, Pauline Nyamweya and Mumbi Ngugi – on April 1, 2019, also barred the government from collecting DNA data and GPS coordinates as well as sharing the NIIMS information with any foreign organization.

 




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CA’s threat to switch off SIM cards invalid

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By PAUL WAFULA
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The Information ministry Thursday dismissed a threat by the communication’s regulator that it will block SIM cards whose owners do not have a Huduma Namba.

The ministry said the statement by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) was not the official government position since the court had stopped the government from forcing any Kenyan to get the new identification number.

The ministry’s position was echoed by Mr Nzioka Waita, the chief of staff at the Office of the President.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Huduma Namba registration is a voluntary exercise in compliance with the ruling of the Courts,” Mr Waita said in a tweet.

“There is no directive from the government to institute any punitive measures against those who don’t register. More emphasis will be laid on civic education!” he added.

The CA Thursday threatened to block all SIM cards whose owners do not have a Huduma Namba after the registration is completed.

The Authority’s Director-General, Mr Francis Wangusi, said the Huduma Namba would replace the national IDs cards used to register SIM cards.

“Once the 45 day registration exercise is over, we shall engage mobile operators to switch off the SIM Cards,” Wangusi said in an interview with the Nation. He said if the government extended the registration, the switching off would also be extended.

The threat e to switch off the SIM cards appears to be the latest push by the government to force Kenyans to acquire the new identification number, touted as the one-stop source of information on all citizens.

Wangusi justified the move saying criminals have infiltrated the National IDs and there are instances where terrorists have used IDs of dead people to acquire SIM cards.

He said the Huduma Namba will give the authority a new avenue to clean the system and prevent cyber criminals from penetrating the system.

This is now set to make the Huduma Namba the most important identification number for Kenyan citizens. It is under the National Integrated Management Systems (Niims) being pushed by the jubilee administration and has been endorsed by the opposition leaders to give it a national buy in.

The system will consolidate population registration information into a single database for ease of verification by both government and private bodies.



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