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Kenya’s push for a national ID raises red flags | News | Africa

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In 2008, following the violence that accompanied the disputed presidential election, Kenyan politicians came together to form a government of national unity. 

One of their very first acts of the GNU cabinet was to set in motion a brazen scheme that took advantage of a shortage of the country’s staple to line their pockets. By the time they were done, fully a third of the country was starving and close to $350-million had been lost.

So Kenyans have good reason to be wary whenever their famously pugnacious political class agree on something.
It almost always means grief for citizens.
In the last few weeks, they have had especially good reason to be concerned as the ruling class unites behind a new system for registering all citizens. Under the scheme, which was snuck in via innocuous legislative amendments and which the government appears intent to force down Kenyan throats, everyone aged six and above is required to register for a Huduma Namba (‘service number’) in order to access government services.

The government claims that it wants to establish what it calls “a single source of truth” but the opaqueness of the process as well as the scope of the personal data it hopes to collect — from biometric data to DNA to information on personal assets — has raised alarm among human rights, privacy and anti-corruption organisations.

The idea of an electronic register of citizens is not particularly novel. However, such schemes have always been opportunities for illicit enrichment. A similar plan to issue new “tamper-proof” passports in 2005 was proven to be part of a long-running scam involving $770-million worth of dubious security sector contracts.

It was followed in 2009 by a plan to issue so-called “third generation” identity cards — with biometric features and a centralised database — which also got bogged down in procurement irregularities. 

Five years later, the government announced yet another plan to register the entire population afresh. “We will ask everybody to actually come along and bring their documents, their IDs, their birth certificates. We’ll do biometrics, we’ll do the eye scans, we’ll do the fingerprinting. We’ll scan your documents and we’ll create a digital record for every Kenyan,” declared Mwende Gatabaki, the official in the president’s office responsible for delivering the new system. The system, which would also feature a new ID card with an embedded chip, was to cost over $100-million — but it also never got off the ground.

The current effort was meant to be mandatory and will cost around $60-million. However, following a court challenge by three human rights organiSations including the independent Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, stringent conditions were imposed on its roll out. Registration could not be compulsory and neither could the government deny services to those who failed to register. Further, the government was prohibited from collecting DNA (which the law it had snuck in allowed it to do) and from sharing any data with international bodies.

The government has seemingly employed a duplicitous strategy of scaremongering to get as many Kenyans to register before the 45-day deadline it has set, which expires on May 18.

From one side of the mouth, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s spokespeople have been at pains to reassure citizens that the government would abide by the court ruling. Meanwhile, other government officials have been threatening to rain down fire and brimstone on those who fail to register. 

The head of the Communications Authority of Kenya initially vowed to deactivate their mobile phone numbers before he was forced to walk back the talk. The official government spokesman has threatened “consequences”, including denial of government services, which would be contrary to the orders of the High Court, while other officials have said those who do not register would effectively lose their citizenship and be considered national security threats. Even televangelists have been arrested for preaching against the Huduma Namba.

All this pressure heightens suspicions that there is more to this than meets the eye. The unseemly haste and insistence on a process that most Kenyans neither understand nor have consented to, the cart-before-horse approach of collecting data and then proposing a data protection law, and the blatant scaremongering all suggests that the registration exercise is a front for nefarious schemes to benefit a small, but powerful clique.

In his analysis of the reasons for the failure of Gatabaki’s National Digital Registry System, Keith Breckenridge, a professor and deputy director at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research in South Africa, blames it on “a conflict between the formal banks and Safaricom, the monopoly telecommunications firm” over control of information on collateral and thus the ability to make money off offering credit to the masses of Kenya’s poor. 

Safaricom, which had partnered with a bank owned by President Kenyatta’s family, won out and today provides credit at extortionate interest — 140% or ten times the legal limit imposed on the formal banks. Breckenridge reckons that the arrangement transformed the Kenyattas’ bank “from a bespoke bank providing services to the elite to one of the most profitable banks in the world, offering credit and banking facilities to the majority of adult Kenyans — most of whom were very poor”.

There is thus lots of money to be made from exploiting the personal data of Kenyans, and no shortage of unscrupulous politicians and their friends willing to do it. It is for these reasons that it is important that Kenyans take a step back and think deeply before they hand over their data as the government is pressuring them to do. 

At a minimum, they must demand a more open and transparent process as well as an inclusive public debate over what information the government is entitled to and the protections that are needed to ensure such information is not weaponised against them.

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Malema, Ndlozi case postponed to March next year – SABC News

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The alleged assault case against Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema and Spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi has been postponed to March 2020. Magistrate Liesl Davis has released the pair on a warning.

The politicians allegedly assaulted a senior police officer in April 2018 when they forced their way into the cemetery where late struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was buried. Malema, however, says the case brought against them is baseless.

“It’s a useless case; I don’t know what you are all doing here. She said to you it’s a common assault case which the public wants to know. It’s a waste of a court case. If you are stopped from burying your mother, how will you react? The NPA just decides to go the way they went because they are succumbing to the Boers agenda,” says Malema.

Lobby group AfriForum, claims that after the senior policeman laid a charge, the case did not receive the necessary attention. Only after the group’s private prosecution unit made enquiries was the matter prioritised.

AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel says, “We are happy that the trial date has been set for the 10th of March. It brings clarity it also sends out a message to all South Africans that there is equality before the law. Unfortunately sometimes you need pressure from organisations like AfriForum to get equality before the law. Unfortunately, this has taken 19 months despite the fact that we have video footage of the incident.

But the NPA has downplayed AfriForum’s claims.

NPA regional communications manager Phindi Louw-Mjonondwana says, “We have to come up clear as the NPA on this matter to say that the investigations into this matter had not concluded. There were still on-going investigations hence the matter could not be enrolled. Once the investigations were concluded, the NPA could place the matter on the roll. It is not a matter of it being placed on the roll because AfriForum has brought a complaint, that’s not how it works.”

The EFF leader says he’ll be happy to take the fall for fighting to witness the burial of struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. But has at the same time dismissed AfriForum’s intentions.

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Miller signs up for Big Bash League stint with Hobart Hurricanes

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Proteas finisher David Miller has been signed as an overseas professional for the Big Bash League side the Hobart Hurricanes.

Miller joins as a replacement for Jofra Archer who will be unavailable due to England international commitments.

Miller time in Hobart

The experienced left-hander is expected to play a big part for the Hurricanes who are likely to be without Australia regulars D’Arcy Short, Matthew Wade and Ben McDermott for a good portion of the tournament.

David Miller
HOBART, AUSTRALIA – 11 NOVEMBER 2018: David Miller of South Africa celebrates after reaching his century during game three of the One Day International series between Australia and South Africa at Blundstone Arena on 11 November, 2018 in Hobart, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

The Hurricanes home ground Blundstone arena holds fond memories for the Maritzburg College Old Boy who crunched 139 from just 108 balls in an ODI win over Australia at the ground in 2018.

“It’s very exciting to welcome a player of David’s calibre to the Hurricanes,’ said Cricket Tasmania chief executive officer Nick Cummins.

“We’ve built a reputation as a destination club among internationals, and we are confident David’s hard-hitting batting will give our members and fans great entertainment, and possibly a few opportunities to catch a six.

“We expect to lose some batting experience throughout the season, so David will provide valuable runs in our drive to our third successive finals campaign.”

Miller brings the number of South Africans committed to the BBL up to four. Chris Morris and AB de Villiers set to turn out for the Sydney Sixers and Brisbane Heat. Dale Steyn will test his fitness in the Mzansi Super League before joining the Melbourne Stars. Miller, Morris and Steyn are all available for Proteas T20I selection.

The stint allows Miller to get valuable T20 experience across Australia ahead of the T20 World Cup which the country will host in 2020.

Read – Katy Perry to perform at Women’s T20 World Cup final

Miller will be available to play all 14 of the Hurricanes home and away games before returning to play for Proteas duty against England during the limited-overs portion of their tour to South Africa.

The Proteas star joins Afghan Qais Ahmad as the club’s second overseas signing for BBL|09.

The Hobart Hurricanes BBL|09 campaign begins on 20 December against the Sydney Sixers at Traeger Park in Alice Springs.

Brisbane Heat and the Sydney Thunder kick off BBL|09 on 17 December at The Gabba.

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At least 10 killed in eastern DRC by ADF militia

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At least 10 civilians were killed in two attacks by militia gunmen in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where government forces have vowed to root out armed groups, sources said on Wednesday.

Seven people were killed in the city of Beni and between three and 14 were killed near Oicha, 30km away, according to the UN radio Okapi, which quoted the military, and local civil society.

The attacks late Tuesday were blamed on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a militia of Ugandan origin targeted by an army campaign to restore peace to DRC’s troubled east.

Around 10 people were also kidnapped, sources in the local NGOs said.

In Oicha, “a Catholic church and 14 houses were burned down,” said civil society worker Teddy Kataliko.

“There’s been non-stop firing of heavy- and light-calibre weapons,” a Catholic cleric in Beni told AFP during the night. “I don’t know if we are going to get out alive.”

At least 60 people have been killed by the ADF since the offensive in North Kivu province began on October 30, according to a toll compiled by AFP.

Commentators see the massacres as warnings to the local population against collaborating with government forces.

Beni, a trading hub of around 100,000 people, lies in an area that has long been troubled by the ADF.

It also sits in the heart of DR Congo’s Ebola zone, and is the site of a base used by the UN’s peacekeeping force.

Local anger 

The latest attacks sparked an exodus in the Beni district of Boikene and in the Mavete district of Oichi.

Protests erupted against poor security, and members of the UN peacekeeping force, Monusco, were advised not to go out on the streets of Beni.

The force’s base is at the airport, around 10km from the city centre.

Kataliko said the authorities had been tipped off by local people as early as last Friday about the presence of armed men near Oicha.

“The public are afraid of the ADF infiltrating towns in the region,” he said. “You can sense when they are in the town. They are in disguise.”

Anger has been building since the start of the army’s campaign over the choice of tactics.

The offensive has focussed on the area around Beni rather than on the so-called “triangle of death” farther north around Oicha, where the ADF has its reputed stronghold.

The ADF’s historical roots lie in Islamist Ugandans opposed to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

The group has plagued the North Kivu region bordering Uganda since the Congo Wars in the 1990s, although its membership has since broadened to non-Ugandans and it has not carried out an attack on Uganda for years.

Hundreds of deaths have been attributed to the shadowy organisation since 2015.

The so-called Islamic State group has claimed some of the attacks ascribed to the ADF this year, but there is no clear evidence of any affiliation between the two groups.

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