The good, the bad and the ugly: 2020 in a nutshell - Beaking Kenya News

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Saturday, 26 December 2020

The good, the bad and the ugly: 2020 in a nutshell

 

For many people, 2020 has been the worst year of their lives. Annus horribilis, a horrible year.

They suffered through the Covid-19 pandemic, a fractured economy, onerous public debt, rising unemployment, ugly politics, corruption scandals and a spike in insecurity. among others.

Some also think there's no reason to think it will get much better in 2021.

Still, there were some bright moments.

Here is a brief look at some of the best and worst moments of the year.

Launch of UHC biometric registration 

President Uhuru on October 31 launched the biometric registration into the Universal Health Coverage program.

Even though the benefits have not yet kicked in, the President hopes the digitisation of the health sector will ensure the authentication of patient identification prior to treatment therefore drastically reducing fraud in health insurance.

According to Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, the biometric registration will go hand in hand in reducing the cost of maintenance and in turn reduce the cost of treatment in the country.

The new improvement into the health care system will enable patients in remote areas to access treatment from doctors across the country.

Kenya winning UNSC seat

It won't make much difference to wananchi, but Kenya won the two-year Africa slot on the UN Security Council in June.

It means status and recognition, pushing African issues but it has no veto power.

On the 15-member council, the Big Five - the US, Britain, China, France and Russia - wield the real power.

Kenya defeated Djibouti with 129 votes in a second-round vote after failing to secure the 128 required in the first round. The UN's 192 member states vote.

Kenya’s candidature was endorsed by the African Union, though Djibouti contested the endorsement. It replaces South Africa for 2021-22.

The council, which handles global peace and security, has 10 non-permanent members and the Big Five.

Fighting Covid-19 Pandemic

Covid-19 dominated the year and left the struggling economy in shambles.

It touched everyone in one way or another - including the deaths of loved ones and friends, loss of jobs and income, uncertainty, strict safety rules, required mask wearing that many people, including VIPs, defied. 

There is the Kemsa procurement scandal, police brutality and corruption in enforcing safety rules and a rise in gender-based violence.

It exposed shocking inadequacies in Kenya's healthcare system and neglect of health workers by failing to provide them with proper PPEs.

Kenya's first case of the potentially deadly respiratory virus was reported on March 13,  a woman who travelled to Nairobi from the US via London on March 5 

On the same day of confirmation, the government came up with strict guidelines and rules, including temporary lockdowns, travel restrictions, orders to stay home when possible, masking, hand washing and sanitising, avoiding crowds, among others.

National Co-ordination Committee on the Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic (NCCRCP) lead the government’s efforts in trying to flatten the novel coronavirus curve.

And though the situation in Africa is not as horrific as that in the US and Europe, it's still bad.

Kenya has recorded 92,055 virus cases with at least 1,593 reported Covid-19 related deaths.

As of December 15, 73,452 patients had recovered from the virus.

Worldwide, the virus has killed more than 1.5 million people and the numbers rise daily.

BBI rallies disrupted

In a blow to politicians, especially those pushing Building Bridges Initiative, public gatherings were banned; churches and mosques were closed, visits to prisons - Covid breeding grounds - were suspended.

The pandemic came at a time when the BBI popularizing rallies were intensified with proponents taking campaigns across the country. 

Kisii, Kakamega, Narok, Mombasa, Kitui, Meru and Nakuru had played host to the rallies while more scheduled regional meetings were suspended.

However, regardless of the pandemic, the President, ODM Party leader Raila Odinga were able to launch the report on October 26 at Bomas.

Learning paused, teen pregnancies spike

All schools and educational institutions started closing in mid-March. Suspension of the academic calendar was greeted with mixed reactions; with parents, teachers and learners expressing fear of losses.

The seven months out of school had had severe damages to the learners. Cases of rape, kidnap, teenage pregnancies and drug abuse skyrocketed.

Kakamega county was one of the badly affected counties having recorded 6,686 adolescent pregnancies between January and May this year.

Full school opening is expected in January 2021.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe

Kemsa scandal

The crisis focused attention on  social and economic inequality.

The #Covid-19billionaires became a very popular hashtag on social media following reports of alleged theft of funds at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority.

The Auditor General said Kenyans lost Sh2.3 billion in Kemsa procurement.

The report said Kemsa illegally and irregularly diverted monies meant for UHC to purchase Covid-19 items without approval of the Health ministry.

Kemsa spent Sh7.6 billion despite getting approval for Sh758i.6 billion.

Dead medics

This year can easily be marked as the worst year for medical workers. From the numerous deaths of doctors to delay pays to inadequate Personal Protective Equipment for the frontline workers.

The fate of patients in the country remains unknown as the standoff between the government and the healthcare workers continues to deepen.

The crisis in the health sector went from bad to worse when doctors joined nurses and clinical officers in the industrial action.

The doctors have for a long time demanded for better working conditions, medical and insurance cover, hiring of more healthcare workers and provision of quality and adequate personal protective equipment.

As of December 21, at least 15 medics had lost their lives with infected.

Suffering police brutality

The fatal shooting of a 13-year-old Yassin Hussein Moyo and the brutal enforcement of the initial 7pm to 5am curfew further exposed police brutality, despite attempted reforms.

Yassin was on the family balcony in Huruma, Nairobi, when he was shot apparently by the officers who were enforcing the curfew to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Police had spotted some suspicious youths past curfew and fired indiscriminately, a source told the Star. Yassin was struck.

He is one of more than 130 victims of police brutality, ranging from curfew enforcement to other shootings and disappearances.

A protester marches to call for an end to police brutality.
PROTESTER: A protester marches to call for an end to police brutality.
Image: FILE

Economy plummets

The rate of joblessness doubled two months after Kenya reported its first coronavirus in March, rising to 10.4 per cent from 5.2 per cent. It was also higher than the 4.7 per cent in the same quarter of 2019.

Unemployment rose to 4,637,164 between April, compared to 2,329,176 same period last year.

Many firms closed because of Covid-19, including stay-at-home and travel restrictions. Bars and entertainment venues closed. workers were sent home.

The number of people in active employment shrank to 15,870,357 compared to 17,790,800 in the corresponding quarter last year and 17,586,961 in the first three months of the year.

Unemployment rose sharply amongst people aged 20 to 29 years.

Most jobs were lost in the services sector, followed by industry and agriculture.

Loss of income resulted in increased crime.

CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge in May said at least 75 per cent small and medium businesses risked closure by end of June due to lack of funds in the wake of Covid-19.

This translates to close to eight businesses out of every 10, a situation the CBK governor described as dire and requiring quick interventions for a sector that accounts for 70 per cent of new jobs.

Rising public debt, missing revenue targets

On November 25, Interior CS Fred Matiang'a said low revenue collection, a ballooning debt and the economic challenges of Covid-19 have plunged Kenya into a cash crunch,

Increase of budget gaps, resource utilisation and the rising debt has been a source of concern to the country economic experts.

Kenya's public debt currently stands at a new high of Sh7 trillion.

According to the Institute of Public Finance (IPFK) and the International Budget Partnership Kenya (IBPK), the country's budget continues to experience deficits forcing the government to continue borrowing heavily.

Meanwhile, the country continues to channel more funds towards recurrent expenditure with the financial year to October having consumed Sh295.8 billion.

Government total development expenditure was at Sh91.8 billion and as of October 30, total revenues for the current financial year was Sh783.8 billion.

A total of Sh664.3 billion has been channelled to the national government with counties taking up Sh78.4 billion, the bulk going towards recurrent expenditure.

Ruto pushed out

2020 saw more troubles dog the Jubilee Party as Deputy President William Ruto and his allies were on the receiving end of the arrow.

Ruto has been sidelined in Jubilee with some of his key allies, including former Majority leaders Aden Duale and Kipchumba Murkomen, being kicked out of parliamentary leadership positions.

Party members allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta went as far as recommending Ruto be removed as Jubilee deputy leader.

Triggered by the opening of the Jubilee Asili Centre, the Kileweke sanction warned that Ruto was no longer welcomed at the party's headquarters.

Meanwhile, Ruto has given the clearest indication that he is done with the Jubilee Party and will be seeking a new outfit for 2022.

He said he was working to solve the issues facing the party but was ready to consider other options.

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