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Lifestyle: Time to worry in Kenya if you’re a public servant

Kenya is set to practically sniff if government officials are living within their means

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Kenya is set to practically sniff if government officials are living within their means.

President Uhuru Kenyatta gave indication to this effect when he announced that all public servants will undergo a compulsory lifestyle audit to account for their sources of wealth.

This latest announcement follows financial scandals that have rocked the country with revelations that millions of dollars were lost in various government agencies through corrupt deals that involved government officials.

Kenyatta offered himself to be the first leader to undergo the audit that seeks to identify corrupt public officials, saying the lifestyle audits would control the misuse of public funds. He said public servants would be required to explain their sources of wealth with an aim of weeding out those found to have plundered government funds.

“You have to tell us, this is the house you have, this is your salary, how were you able to afford it? This car that you bought, (don’t try to put it under your wife’s name or son’s name, we will still know it is yours), where did you get it? You must explain and I will be the first person to undergo the lifestyle audit,” he said.

In the past month, various corruption scandals involving tenders and suppliers in government agencies have been unearthed. The corruption scandals as revealed have exposed the theft of hundreds of millions of shillings by state officials from several government bodies.

So far, more than 40 government officials, including businesspeople, have been arrested over the recent scandals.
Kenyatta has continued to express his frustration about the graft, which seems to have spiraled out of control since he came into office in 2013.

“This issue of people stealing what belongs to Kenyans, I swear to God it has to come to an end in Kenya,” Kenyatta said.

The president said the lifestyle audit will be key among other measures also put in place by the government to curb the vice.

Earlier in the week, Kenyatta issued an executive order requiring all government entities and publicly owned institutions to publish full details of tenders and awards beginning July 1, 2018.

“For example, if this road is being built, we want to know: Who won the tender for the construction? How much was the tender? Who came in second and third? Why was the first person awarded instead of these two? All these reasons, we need to know. Kenyans need to know so that it is out there, that this company was awarded this tender, belongs to a certain person, these are the directors, these are the shareholders. There will be no more hiding,” he said.

On June 1, Kenyatta ordered that all heads of procurement and accounting units be vetted again. He said the vetting would include subjecting the officers to polygraph tests to determine integrity.

Kenya scored 28 points out of 100 on the 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International. The Corruption Index in Kenya averaged 22.62 points from 1996 until 2017.

Culture

Court jails Malian prof for criticizing military junta in new book

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A court sitting in Bamako, Mali, has sentenced a Professor of Economics, Etienne Fakaba Sissoko, to two years in prison, with one year suspended, for criticizing the military junta in a newly published book.

Sissoko’s lawyer, Ibrahim Marhouf Sacko, who announced the verdict of the court in a statement, however, said the legal team plans to appeal the conviction of the renowned economist.

“We are not surprised, even if we said we had faith in the justice system,” Sacko said in a video released on social media

Sissoko, a professor at the University of Bamako, was arraigned on charges of “harming the state’s reputation, defamation, propaganda, agitation and harassment, and spreading misinformation for his 2023 book on government communication during Mali’s transition.”

The “transition” refers to the period the army leaders said they needed to stabilize the country before returning power to civilian rule. They have already missed their first March 2024 deadline and no new date has been set.

Local media reports that the book details the government’s “aggressive” use of “propaganda, agitation, manipulation and even lies” to win over public opinion.

An online review of the book notes that it critically examines the military government’s use of what it terms propaganda, manipulation and even lies to influence public opinion, particularly during the promised transition period leading back to civilian rule.

“But the junta missed their initial deadline of March 2024 for a return to democracy, with no new date set,” the online review said, with Sissoko arguing that his work contained factual evidence and expert analysis.

This is not however, not Sissoko’s first run-in with the authorities. In 2022, the Professor, formerly an advisor to the ousted president, spent months in jail for criticizing the government’s stance on Christmas celebrations and questioning the validity of his academic credentials.

But Sissoko’s lawyer suggests the real trigger for his recent imprisonment was his public commentary on the economic impact of sanctions imposed on Mali by neighbouring West African nations.

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Culture

One-year-old Ghanaian breaks GWR as world’s youngest artist

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A one-year-old Ghanaian, Ace Liam, has broken a Guinness World Record as the youngest male artist.

The infant’s groundbreaking achievement was which was announced by the GWR board at a press conference, revealed that his “journey to the record books began with an ambitious attempt to mimic his mother’s daily activities in her art studio.”

A statement from the GWR said the feat of the child has further showcased the potential young children possess when given the opportunity to explore their abilities.

Guinness World Records recognized Ace Liam following his exhibition in Accra from January 18 to 20, 2024, breaking the 31-year-old record held by Dante Lamb, who achieved the milestone at age three in 2003.

His mother, Chantelle Eghan, also shared her experience with her son, stating:

“He paints when he sees me painting. If I have my setup, he’ll pull his chair and easily come and sit beside me.”

She also described how, even as a six-month-old, Ace began blending and spreading paint on a canvas, and by 11 months, he was intuitively using a paintbrush.

Ghanaian artist, Amarkine Amateifio, while reacting to Ace’s achievement, called on parents across Ghana and Africa to nurture their children’s talents from a young age, highlighting the impact this can have on their future success.

“All children are like that. They come into the world as artists, scientists, and engineers. It is we, the adults, who stop them from maintaining this,” Amateifio said.

“I’ll give all the credit to the home environment and particularly to his mother, Kukua, who created the enabling environment for the gifts this child has brought into this world to flourish.

“At a very early age, all children show their natural inclinations. Children come here to contribute and make the world a better place.

“This Guinness World Record for Liam should act as an inspiration for parents to pay more attention to their children, provide all the resources, and give the child all the necessary tools so that their gift will flourish,” the renowned artist added.

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