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Criticism Mounts Over Moi Remarks On Civic Education

The Nation (Nairobi), 23 July 2001

Leaders countrywide criticised President Moi and three of his Cabinet ministers over their remarks that NGOs and churches be excluded from civic education programmes.

The leaders said Friday's demand to the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission by Ministers Nicholas Biwott, Julius Sunkuli and Henry Kosgey must have been discussed at "very high levels".

"It is a strategy that was planned and plotted by President Moi's Kitchen Cabinet so as to give him an opportunity to express his dissatisfaction with the Ghai Commission," said Kimilili MP Mukhisa Kituyi.

The leaders were also concerned about the timing of the criticism and the surprise demand to the commission, which has already held two sessions to discuss the civic education process and ways of establishing district data centres to receive suggestions from the people.

On Saturday, President Moi supported his ministers and said Kenya's destiny depended on decisions made by politicians and not by churches and NGOs.

The President Moi said the two groups were being manipulated by foreigners and lacked the electorate's mandate.

He once again told church leaders to stop preaching politics from the pulpit and challenged those interested in politics to quit.

While the government has had an uneasy relationship with churches and NGOs involvement in civic education for reasons not made clear, Ministers Biwott and Sunkuli have had recent run-ins with Catholic Church representatives in Lolgorian parish in Trans Mara District and in Keiyo.

Relations between Mr Sunkuli and the late Father John Kaiser of Lolgorian were tense. Minister Biwott and his supporters were recently engaged in a stand-off with Father Michael Rop of the Catholic Church over excision and allocation of 400 acres of Kaptagat forest to a trust fund in honour of Mr Biwott's mother, Mama Maria Sote.

Yesterday, Dr Kituyi said the criticism by the three Cabinet ministers had made it clear that the matter had been discussed at a very high level.

He added: "The ministers are talking as if they have been out to lunch all this time when the constitutional review was being discussed. It is regressing debate...they are taking us back."

Archbishop Ndingi Mwana a'Nzeki of the Nairobi Catholic archdiocese said the church would not abandon civic education in the run-up to the constitutional review process.

"The President has a right to express his own personal view," he said. This should not be taken to mean that his suggestion would be binding to the commission, however. "We must be involved in the constitution review as people must be educated on their right."

The archbishop was speaking at the Consolata Shrine in Westlands yesterday after a confirmation mass for youth.

The chairman of the NGO Council, Mr Oduor Ong'wen, said: "This is tantamount to undermining the independence of the commission as the Act gives the commission the prerogative to decide who should be involved and what curriculum should be incorporated."

Mr Ong'wen said the President's remarks would make it difficult for the churches and NGOs to implement their civic education programmes. "It will not surprise us when the administration starts breaking up or stopping the civic education workshops and seminars."

He accused Kanu of attempting to take control of the civic education process by indoctrination and propaganda.

Former Law Society of Kenya Chairman Gibson Kamau Kuria said the government would not allow the civic education programme to go ahead because it would have little control of it.

Shirikisho party legislator Suleiman Shakombo said that he supported the federal government issue .and proposed that it be the same way as in Australia where there are four regional assemblies "for proper representation of Kenyans."

On succession in his party, Mr Nassir said that a capable leader would take over mantle from president Moi.

"One must show that he is capable and needs to work harder to enable him have a chance to be the future president after president Moi," the minister remarked.

He said that he supported the Prime Minister's post but added that those who would co-operate with Kanu should benefit.

Speaking at Cheplanget Secondary school in Bureti District where he was the chief guest, Mr Nassir repeated his earlier call that the country needed a federal government in order to be governed accordingly.

A total of shillings 1,535,820 was realised . Mr Nassir donated shs.261,068, Mombasa DC Reuben Rotich who is also the school's BOG chairman brought shs 312,960, Uasin Gishu DC Francis Sigei and his Bureti Counterpart Davis Chelugoi each gave shs 57,151 and 28,850 respectively.

Bureti MP Paul Sang gave shs 40,000 while Likoni MP Suleiman Shakombo, Nandi DC Taitus Ngoyoni and area DEO Ali Ibrahim each gave shs. 10,000.

Mr Nassir accused the Nation and The People Daily newspapers of negative reporting saying that now Kenyans are mature and would not be hondwinked by the press.

Copyright 2001 The Nation. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).