Spokesperson’s weekly briefing
State House, Nairobi
19 March 2017
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen
Welcome to today’s briefing.
1. Visit with troops in Somalia
Yesterday, the Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces visited our men and women in uniform at the Dhobley Military Camp, which, as you know, is also the nerve centre and log base of the United Nations.
The President wanted to appear in person to show his support for the very important work our men and women in uniform do to secure our country. It is often lost to some in our country that the relative security we enjoy is in part due to the commitment, dedication and sometimes the ultimate sacrifice of these men and women.
The President told the soldiers of his pride in them as soldiers and as Kenyans, and assured them of his personal as well as the government’s support in ensuring that the goal for which they were deployed in Somalia was met. Our soldiers are an integral part in the President’s campaign to secure our country and region. As he has oft stated, a secure Somalia, South Sudan and DRC or Burundi, means a secure Kenya.
The President also praised the new Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known as “Farmajo”, for his stated objective of working to ensure peace, security and stability were returned to Somalia – a critical factor in ensuring that Somalis can be proud to live in a safe and secure country again.
2. State visit by the President of Somalia
The question of Somali’s security and stability is one that will be discussed when President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed makes his first State Visit to Kenya on Thursday, ahead of a special summit on refugees of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
The relations between our two countries have remained warm and cordial as they are founded on trust, cooperation and mutual interests. We share common heritage and our views converge on many regional and international issues. Our common endeavour for durable peace, viable stability and sustainable development for both our peoples and region continue to underline the necessity for our mutual cooperation.
The President will speak to the need to reinvigorate our efforts and to scale up collaboration in mutual areas of interest identified during the inaugural session of the Joint Commission for Cooperation that was held in Nairobi in July 2015. These include cooperation in fields such as Security, Trade and investment, Civil Aviation, Education, Agriculture, Resources sharing and development, Livestock Development, Fisheries, Tourism, Immigration, Labour and Health.
President Kenyatta looks forward to robust multi-sectoral bilateral engagements and enhancing the existing partnerships in order to leverage on the existing opportunities therein. Kenya and Somalia can be highly complementary to each other in the identified areas of cooperation.
As a way forward, the President will speak to the importance for our technical teams to convene as soon as possible to review the implementation status of the Joint Commission for Cooperation, in particular to conclude the proposed instruments of cooperation including:
· MoU on Political Consultations by our respective Ministries of Foreign Affairs;
· Initiating measures to enhance cooperation on immigration matters and develop a comprehensive border management system;
· Cooperation on Police Matters, including capacity building;
· Encouraging the private sector to explore the investment opportunities in both countries, among many others.
President Kenyatta will also inform his guest that Kenya would also be ready to offer technical support and capacity building assistance to the Federal Government institutions and other sectors based on mutual agreement.
The President will also speak to the urgency of addressing the fragile security situation in Somalia which remains at the core of our engagements.
Al shabaab still remains a threat and a destabilizing factor in the country and the region — threats of terrorism and piracy have not been fully abated. Stabilization of the liberated areas and to ensure their effective governance remains of critical concern.
The President will also speak to the fact that AMISOM draw-down, scheduled to begin in 2018, means that we need to scale up the efforts to build the Somalia national security architecture and strengthen the security apparatus to facilitate a smooth handover.
The President will speak to the need for Kenya and Somalia to approach the forthcoming 3rd London Conference on May 11, 2017, with a coordinated position as a region to ensure that the outcomes of the meeting serve, first, the interests of the People of Somalia.
3. IGAD summit
The IGAD summit will be held here in Nairobi on Saturday. It will focus largely on the question of Somali refugees and the creation of a conducive environment in their own country, so that they can feel safe to go back and contribute to its development and growth.
The summit will also review other security matters, with a focus on South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi. Regional security is a matter that world leaders have expressed concern about and want to see Kenya remain in the pivotal role in terms of tackling these.
These matters have come up in the recent discussions President Kenyatta has had, namely with US President Donald Trump, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and only the other day with UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
Some of you have asked me about the President’s views now that the doctors’ strike is behind us.
The only thing to say is that the President was saddened that some of our society’s most intelligent people took so long to understand, acknowledge and accept, some of the very basic principles of labour relations.
The President engaged directly with the doctors as well as other stakeholders to bring the strike to an end, but fundamentally, he is also committed to ensuring that this never happens again.
The President acknowledges the important place doctors hold in our society and values their work.
You will recall that two of the issues doctors raised during their strike were first, the availability of equipment in hospitals and secondly, the ratio of doctors to patients that is still wanting.
The first question has been addressed in a massive way in the past few years, with the injection of billions of shillings in modern diagnostic equipment, including dialysis machines, cancer diagnostics and radiology machines. Government has also made significant strides in ensuring that medicines are available to patients.
The second matter concerns the numbers of doctors. First, let me debunk the misguided notion that there are 1,400 doctors who have come through our public university system hanging around without jobs. Doctors are the only cadre of professionals that are still posted directly to hospitals from college; first as Interns, and after a year or so are confirmed as Medical Officers. Some do leave to expend all their energies in private practise, while others stick in government, while still committing large chunks of their time to private practice.
The President has been concerned about the doctor:patient ratio for some time and has been determined to improve it, and significantly bring in the right skills set required in some areas.
CS Health Cleopa Mailu has visited Cuba and Tanzania, as well as discussed with a host of other stakeholders on how to pug this gap, and bring in the right skills.
Following a conversation on the subject by Presidents Kenyatta and Magufuli, CS Mailu led a delegation to Tanzania which met President Magufuli. The sum result of that meeting was Tanzania agreeing to send to us 500 doctors, whose skills set has been determined by the National Government and the Council of Governors.
The doctors will be paid at par, according to their experience and skills, with the package offer Government has made to Kenyan Intern doctors and Medical Officers, and on a contract basis. The fact that the Tanzanian doctors have no access to the mortgage, car loan packages or pension offered under Kenya’s public service scheme means that they will come in at a cost effective and sustainable basis.
It must be noted again, and contrary to misinformed opinion in some quarters, that the curriculum in East African medical schools has been rationalised and a doctor qualifying in any East African country can work in another without further examination or exam.
It must also be noted that Kenyans work across our region – in Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, South Sudan, Somalia and even Ethiopia – and that nationals of these countries can work here without any hurdles.
The doctors from Tanzania will be issued with work permits and limited to working to a hospital or hospitals they have been assigned.
They will give their full attention to patients in public hospitals across the country. They will not be involved in private practise.
5. President’s diary
I have spoken to half the diary already. The remainder is the President’s visit to Kisii and Nyamira on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The President will traverse the counties, inspecting or commissioning projects. He will also meet local leaders and residents, discussing how the investments in infrastructure is impacting lives, the challenges that remain, and how to solve them.
6. Recap of Coast tour
I want to close by noting the statements attributed to some Coast governors over the last few days. They very much confirm what the President has accused them of – being all talk, and no action.
The question, really, is one of the governors detailing how they have invested the billions of shillings in taxpayer funding that they have received over the last four years. Improved delivery of their insults does not respond to this fundamental question.
Manoah Esipisu, MBS
Secretary, Communication &
State House Spokesperson