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Why It Would Be Easy For Ruto To Become President

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By Ochieng’ Maddo

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and DP William Ruto.
Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and DP William Ruto.

It came after much ado and bravado. It was also a propaganda tool for besmirching political opponents. But Deputy President William Ruto’s appearance at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in person for the hearing of his crimes against humanity case is a big leap into political future. Just as President Uhuru Kenyatta stole the show at a previous appearance in the same court to score political cards against Raila Odinga, Ruto is utilizing the chance to widen his political base while gaining international recognition and admiration. However, the fact that ICC can turn to be his hangman’s noose can not be ignored.

In Kenya, Ruto is seen as a hero in many quarters; a man capable of facing adversities of whatever magnitude. Unlike his co-accused, President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has and is still dithering on whether he would attend his hearings in person, via a video link, or none at all, Ruto is an astute politician who has exploited the ICC issue for political mileage. He is trending on a global media platform and at this rate, if the cases proceed even without his presence in the chambers, Ruto has already demonstrated to Kenyans and the world at large his respect for the rule of law. If he eventually wins the case, and before 2017, William Ruto would stand the best chance to become the next president.

Why is this hypothesis plausible? Some political analysts believe that the DP is smarter than his boss in many respects including politics, leadership and performance in office. Even as a cabinet minister under President Moi, Ruto did his job in Home Affairs portfolio with gusto. His critics then observed that he was ruthless and sycophantic.  In the grand coalition government of President Kibaki and PM Raila Odinga, his performance in Agriculture and Higher Education dockets were rated highly, save for the corruption case in Agriculture docket which almost plummeted his reputation through a vote of no confidence in parliament.

But he is always shrewd. At that point when many though he was vanquished, he used his political wit and connections to successfully wade through those virulent muddy waters. Later on in 2012 when he was courted by Uhuru Kenyata and Raila Odinga for a coalition deal, he thought hard. After making a firm decision to team up with the former, he played things out to appear as if he was consulting his community and seeking their blessing on the same. During the campaigns, he consolidated a formidable support for his new URP party and managed to contain massive fallout after hotly contested nominations which destabilised TNA, dented UDF and WDP and crippled ODM. The fact that he astutely navigated the ODM’s minefields in his path to URP, until eventually pulling out with his troupe en masse at an opportune time is an indicator that he is a genius at political calculus.

Even though the DP is deeply emotional and can’t help expressing that by shading tears publicly, he does not display tantrums on public podia. Instead, the charismatic environmental scientist cuts the image of an eloquent orator, capable of pulling out punchy quotes to rebut his opponents’ salvos overtly disproportionately. He charmed Jubilee audiences at campaign rallies with his trademark sneer during the last election, and can do better for himself in future.

Analysts have described him, rightly though, as over ambitious politician with eyes steadily focused on the presidency. He is feared and loved in equal measure. In fact, it is that fear, coupled with the chapter of the constitution on the executive that recognizes presidency as president and deputy, that still keep the dreaded clique from Mount Kenya from undermining his office. The DP may survive till 2017 to take a stab at the presidency.

There are many reasons why Ruto would be more electable than any other candidate including President Kenyatta in 2017. Kenyans have been incapable of dislodging themselves from the grip of Mount Kenya presidency. But they are tired of the same clique of people arrogating themselves every key government position as if government was their birth right. Only the gods of fate and circumstances have consistently conspired against the rest of Kenyans during elections. This can be explained from the way Raila Odinga has twice divided votes almost equally with Mount Kenya candidates. But Raila’s insiders point at some of his weaknesses which Ruto does not possess. They say he listens to so many  advisers including novices, then ends up acting as if he never heard anything from anyone. They claim he has on several occasions failed to seal perennial loopholes even after they are pointed out for him on time, which have eventually acted to his detriment.  Ruto does not have such tendencies. During the last election campaigns he derided Raila on having squandered some of the best opportunities in his way as Prime Minister for five years. Ruto’s way of exploiting his position in the Jubilee government can be seen in the way he is commanding power in the government. He has also began to make early forays in ODM strongholds.

One undoubted fact is that Ruto is the fulcrum of Jubilee Government. The man neither dink nor smoke. He is always awake and alert. The mind functions better in such a state. The Office of the Deputy President has so far managed to handle and resolve more critical crises including teachers strike, insecurity and the governors’ referendum push better than State House would have done. Moreover, the DP tackles most issues personally and directly as opposed to the president who is surrounded by bureaucratic henchmen who often misadvise him.

Ruto is quick to smell a rat. He is quick to act to salvage situations. He is good at gauging public mood and knows the boundaries of his statements and antics. He rarely blurts out irresponsibly, hence has rarely had to refute media reports attributed to him.

Ruto’s other strength lies in his solid support base. Whereas President Kenyatta’s TNA basically commands following in his greater Mount Kenya region, Ruto’s URP enjoys a broad base support across the pastoral communities, parts of northern Kenya and spatially at the Coast. He is also viewed more favourably among Raila and Mudavadi’s supporters than the president. He holds Jubilee together because his exit would paint Uhuru Kenyatta in a bad light, considering the “dark forces” fiasco involving Musalia Mudavadi who claimed he was short-changed by the Jubilee duo earlier this year.

His struggle to emerge from oblivion to national—and now international—limelight is also telling. Among the Big Five political heavyweights (Uhuru, Raila, Mudavadi, Kalonzo and himself), only him and Kalonzo are sons of nobodies. He is not an inheritor of a political throne. He has just been a ‘hyper’ when it comes to politics. His burning ambition began as soon as he graduated from university. Miguna Miguna notes in Peeling Back the Mask; A Quest for Justice in Kenya, that Dr Sally Kosgei was considering Ruto as a restless young man in early 1990s. He went ahead and dislodged the moneyed incumbent, Reuben Chesire, from Eldoret North seat in 1997.

Ruto is a wealthy man who is capable of effectively oiling the wheels of a vibrant campaign machinery. His nemeses have questioned how he amassed wealth at a tender age. He attributes his wealth to hard work. But (un)fortunately, average voters hero-worship such people. They believe rich men and women have a sixth sense for making money and therefore deserve to be leaders to do the same to the community. They are the ones referred to as “development conscious” leaders. Lastly, having aggressively supported Uhuru Kenyatta in 2002 and 2013 as well as Raila Odinga in 2007, Ruto has shown he can offer other people his support and deserves the right to be paid back.

Five Reasons Why Jubilee Will Crack

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By Ochieng’ Maddo

Outspoken Nandi Hills MP  Alfred Keter (photo  courtesy of Nation Media Group)
Outspoken Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter (photo courtesy of Nation Media Group)

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s diehards are celebrating the news that ICC prosecutor is lacking sufficient evidence against their man after yet another two key witnesses withdrew their testimonies. The news has triggered frenzied Christmas jubilation in Central Kenya, but not in Deputy President William Ruto’s home turf. Even though the international court has previously experienced many challenges with the Kenyan case, this is the closest the prosecutor has come to indicating that the case might sputter in her hands. Should that happen,  a solid ground would have been laid for Uhuru Kenyatta’s intended ten years in power!

However, the ability of Jubilee coalition to sustain him at the helm of power for two terms is doubted. Here are five major reasons why the ruling coalition might soon crack. First, Uhuru Kenyatta has put more effort in his own salvation from ICC than in Ruto’s. His defense team has severally delayed the commencement of his hearing while Ruto’s own kicked off undeterred. Witnesses have also withdrawn from his case in droves unlike Ruto’s. Journalist Walter Barasa is wanted by the same court for allegedly championing this course. Dennis Itumbi of the ‘amorphous’ Digital, New Media and Diaspora department of Presidential Strategic Communications Unit, was also once interrogated by the CID for allegedly tampering with ICC website, ostensibly to harvest witnesses’ identities. The number of witnesses involved in the case steadily whittles away, including those expected to participate in the president’s defense. Former MP George Thuo who died recently under mysterious circumstances is one of them. Ruto’s people hence continue to believe their man was set up by the people Uhuru has refused to sack from the government.

Secondly, Kenya’s political history simply has it that political pacts of any nature don’t hold for long. They are formed haphazardly in the run up to elections, without underlying principles based on ideologies. The only forces holding many politicians together are vested interests underpinned by the desire to loot the economy. But the formation of Jubilee Coalition also benefited from the need for a common strategy to defeat Ocampo (now Bensouda). That was why Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi couldn’t fit in. So, once either or both cases get terminated, it will be difficult for the two political bulls to continue to share the same cow.

Third, contrary to their public display of ‘bromance’, there is deep suspicion and lack of trust between the two leaders. So far, State House acquired identity and authority as the president’s reserve unlike before when the two leaders both worked from there. This developed during Ruto’s constant absence from the country while attending his hearing at The Hague. Ruto’s supporters are already sensing betrayal.  Political betrayals began with Jomo Kenyatta, who betrayed Mumau’s mutual trust immediately after independence. Mzee also short-changed Oginga Odinga, who had championed his release from detention. Kenyatta’s inmates at Kapenguria prison, Achieng’ Oneko, was put back in prison while Bildad Kaggia, got barred from elective politics for many years after criticising Kenyatta’s land policy. Kaggia languished in poverty until his death in March 2005.

President Moi’s pact with Raila Odinga’s NDP party would also collapse acrimoniously in 2002. Afterwards Raila teamed up with fellow rebels from KANU and joined Mwai Kibaki, Charity Ngilu and Kijana Wamalwa in NAK, subsequently forming National Rainbow Coalition (NARC). They quickly signed a MoU on power sharing. But Kibaki effectively trashed the pact after a few months in office. Raila had worked tirelessly to lead the campaign for Kibaki and Wamalwa both of whom were in the UK for treatment. NARC trounced Moi’s state-funded campaigns and dislodged Kanu from close to 40 years in power. Ruto’s contribution to Uhuru’s victory can’t match Raila’s in 2002. Short-changing him would be without much feeling. And he would not be the first to suffer that fate. Amani Coalition’s Musalia Mudavadi has luridly demonized Kenyatta for luring him into his camp before election with false promise to make him the presidential candidate, only to renege on that, days later. Kalonzo Musyoka too has vented enough anger on political betrayals from Kibaki on one side, and the Jubilee duo on the other.

The fourth reason is the contentious issue of land. The Kalenjin have always felt disenfranchised by Kikuyus, and Ruto’s position as Uhuru’s deputy has failed to resolve this historic matter. Several years before independence, the Kalenjin were already uneasy with Kikuyus’ encroachment on the agriculturally rich Rift Valley soil. In fact, it was out of that concern that Daniel Arap Moi and Taaita Towett at first refused to join James Gichuru’s KANU in 1960. They instead joined Ronald Ngala’s KADU after disbanding the Kalenjin Political Alliance, whose among other objectives was to guard Kalenjins’ land. Other smaller parties which had a similar objective included the Maasai United Front led by J. Ole Tips, the Cost African People’s Party led by Ronald Ngala, and the Somali National Association. These were parties for small tribes who feared that their interests would not be adequately championed by KANU. They later conglomerated into KADU, whose ideology was of federal government (majimbo) in independent Kenya. So strong was KADU’s pursuit of majimbo that when it eventually merged with KANU, Ngala and Moi were still reluctant to join it. They got elected KANU’s treasurer and deputy treasurer respectively in absentia on May 14th 1960. Things would take a different trajectory for the Kalenjin in January 1967 when Kenyatta heeded Charles Njonjo’s advice to appoint the 43 years-old Moi his vice president. That effectively silenced Moi. Then the treasured land began to shrink without question. All the regions once represented by these small parties are still fighting for their land which they lost since they joined KANU. 

Lastly, Jubilee might fracture because Uhuru will not listen to Kalenjin community’s grievances. While in Rift Valley this week, he warned anyone against lecturing him on whom to appoint in his government. This was in response to Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter who charged at skewed government appointments and biased awarding of tenders. But Keter is yet to discover that the president cannot easily do away with the so called ‘Kibaki’s people’ in the government, who might have contributed more to Jubilee’s March 2013 victory than William Ruto, considering that none of the presidential contenders surpassed the fifty per cent plus one threshold. So, other immense contributors to the ‘victory’ will also continue occupying their merit positions to the chagrin of Keter and his ilk, who might as well have to take a walk.

Returning South Sudan Evacuees Recall Horror

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 Via Mwakilishi

Two-hundred and thirty two Kenyans from South Sudan received a Boxing Day gift from the Government on Thursday when Kenya Airways lifted them back home and back to safety.

As they disembarked, one man lifted his hands to the heavens repeatedly shouting, “God is good,” as another women clutched her son to her chest as she went down the stairs and onto Kenyan soil.
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There was no walking or shouting for Emily Wasike however, as she was lifted off the plane wincing from the pain of a bullet wound in her foot.

Like thousands other Kenyans, she had travelled to South Sudan in search of the promised land only to find that the grass is not always greener.

“It’s not even been a year. A friend of mine told me there was a lot of money to be made over there but now I’ve come back home with nothing but the clothes on my back,” she said as she was wheeled off for a medical examination by the Kenya Red Cross.
“I was working in a hotel in Bentiu on Sunday when they (she’s not clear which faction) came in shooting. I was lucky I just got shot. The Eritrean women I was working with were raped,” she recounted.

Wasike is indeed one of the lucky ones as roughly 1,200 other Kenyans remain trapped in the Bor region from whence the Kenyan government has been unable to carry out any evacuations.

“We’re glad the United Nations has been able to get aid in and we have a charter plane on stand-by to carry out evacuations once we get an opening,” Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Karanja Kibichio said on Thursday.

Six-hundred others he said were being housed at the Kenyan embassy in South Sudan as Kenya Airways prepared to fly them out while boosting the food banks.

“We think the evacuation efforts will go on for a while because we understand that the numbers in Juba are continuing to increase and we are here to support the initiative for as long as it takes,” Kenya Airways Chief Finance Officer Alex Mbugua pledged.

And while Kibichio pegged the number of Kenyans who were resident in South Sudan at 10,000 he admitted that there were many who were unregistered and were therefore complicating rescue efforts.

“Almost half of them had not registered with the embassy. They just go to South Sudan and disappear. For example yesterday we had no one left at the Embassy following evacuations but now we have 600 more to ferry back home,” he said.

The 232 bring the number of those airlifted out of South Sudan to 1,000 as the government couples the rescue and aid efforts with diplomatic ones.

“We are trying to talk to Riek Machar. Very few people in the world have managed to talk to him. But we have an envoy from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we are trying,” Kibichio stated as President Uhuru Kenyatta held talks with his South Sudan counterpart and Machar’s nemesis Salva Kiir.

Garang’s Son Blames President Kiir for Conflict

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Via New Vision.
Garang’s son blames President Kiir for conflict Publish Date: Dec 23, 2013
Mabior Garang talks to New Vision in depth about the ongoing fighting in South Sudan.
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 INTERVIEW

By Samuel Ouga and Raymond Baguma                          

Question: In your view, where did the events in South Sudan start from?

Answer: We have to go back further than December 6th. The problems in South Sudan started way back in 2011; after South Sudan independence.  A constitutional Review Commission was formed in South Sudan. After the signing of the CPO there was an interim constitution. The interim constitution was for the interim period from 2005 to 2011.

In 2011 we now had a transitional constitution. By 2014 we are supposed to have a permanent constitution. For this a constitutional review commission was formed and mandated to consult the people of South Sudan on a wide range of issues including how they want to be governed. But the Commission was poorly funded and its mandate expired in 2012 without achieving much.

It’s time was extended but still poorly funded, therefore making it impossible to fulfill its objectives. To me this was an indicator that there will be no national elections and a sign that this government is moving towards a dictatorship. After independence there was a lot of euphoria that many people of South Sudan failed to see the subtle moves towards stifling democracy.

The SPLM was in a period of transition from a liberation movement into a new reality of operating as a political party. SPLM was reviewing its Bush war guiding documents whose geo-political context had changed. Back in the bush way days the SPLM articulated in its documents a context of a united Sudan. But South Sudan gain independence and the context changed.

With this were also problems as the Chairman of the party; President Salva Kiir, frustrated efforts to review the current constitution, rules of procedure and how the national convention would be held.  For instance, in the convention, one of points of contention is the system of voting for the Chairman by show of hands rather than through secret ballot.

The group of 13 progressive party leaders led by Dr. Machar rejected this among other provisions, because people could be intimidated by security during the voting process. So the document was not passed because after the passing of this document SPLM would then be registered as a political party. So SPLM today has not yet been registered as a political party.

The parties act; an important instrument that will regulate party activities, was passed by parliament and forwarded to the president for signing. But up to now it has not been signed into law. These are indications that the president is becoming more authoritarian and that there will be no elections. Because you can’t just wake up one morning and say let’s have elections.

There are due processes that have to be followed. For those who are more educated and understand political science, they knew a long time ago that things were not going well, but sometimes you have to give people time to see what the realities are.

 

This group that has now been accused of mounting the coup has over time also raised concern over among other things the unconstitutional sacking of governors deemed critical to the current government and imposing handpicked governors on the people of South Sudan because he wants all governors to be on his side so that they can doctor the results of the national convention.

According to our constitution when a governor’s seat falls vacant there should be elections within 60 days.  But instead Chairman Salva Kiir unconstitutionally imposed handpicked Governors on the people of South Sudan.

When he sees a governor not doing his bidding, he removes that governor by first accusing him of something. Like he did to the Governors of Lake state, Western Upper Nile state…who were falsely accused and sacked.  Like when he sacked the whole cabinet. He accused the top leaders of having stolen money yet he had no evidence. Why would you do that? It’s like defamation. Why didn’t he charge them in courts of law? He was just doing this to ruin their political image in the eyes of the people.

When in reality the office of the president has borrowed US$4.2 billion. Members of parliament are not aware of details of this loan because they were not informed about it. Nobody knows where it was borrowed from or what the money was used for.

There is nothing to show for it and yet the people of South Sudan are left to finance this loan. Since the oil started flowing government employees have not been paid. It’s a situation where somebody has to say something. Like the Americans say, you can’t keep pissing on people and then you tell them its raining.

This group of 13, on the December 6th, called for a press conference. Before that we all know that he sacked the entire cabinet. He sacked the Vice president. Actually the national convention was supposed to happen before that.

It was so close to the national conference where if you didn’t want Dr. Machar to be your deputy, because you chose him in 2005 and again you chose him in 2011 as your running mate, didn’t you know about the atrocities of 1991 for which he accuses Dr. Machar?

When were reconciled as a movement in 2002 we had left that behind us in 2002 and we had started a process of reconciliation. Until 2005 we came together with Dr. Machar as a movement. When the CPO was signed we came with Dr. Machar as a member of the SPLM.  So why would he bring up the 1991 massacre now?

President Kiir now keeps referring to Dr. Riek Machar as the prophet of doom and keeps mentioning the 1991 massacre. The 1991 incident is being used to politicise things on tribal and to remove attention away from his mismanagement.

The Group of 13 are not saying that they are the benevolent ones, what they are saying; for instance during the press conference The Governor of Lake state who was sacked by Kiir said; “we have all failed including us seated here together with you in government. It is only our children who are going to study in good schools in East Africa. When we fall sick we are air lifted out of the country. It’s our children

who are eating ice cream. The children of the local people are not eating ice cream Lets us all seat down and have a dialogue and see how to resolve the leadership crisis and see how we can move forward.” So they were calling for a peaceful reconciliation, because after sacking the entire cabinet there was mounting tension.

 

Presedent Kiir, after meeting Khartoum allied militias who were fighting South Sudanese people, he came back and sacked top Generals of the SPLM who had fought in the bush and instead integrated the people from Khartoum into the army. This created a lot of tension.

The group of 13 said, let us resolve this issues from within the party, instead of us forming another party through dialogue. But President Salva Kiir saw all this as a threat. Because he is aware that what happened Thabo Mbeki in South Africa, could also happen to him in a national conference.

Because if he is unseated as the chairman of SPLM that another person like Dr. Riek Machar or any other person would become the new leader of the party before the elections. He knows he will be defeated. If he Chairman Salva Kiir claims that Dr. Riek Machar is the prophet of doom then why not go ahead with the elections?

 

Because it’s up to the people of South Sudan to decide. He should have faith on the people of South Sudan. If he knows he is popular then why can’t he let the convention go ahead?  If you want to stay in power you don’t throw away your party.

He is trying to compare himself to other African leaders who have stayed in power for long. Saying the “So and so has stayed in power for long so why not me.” But those people have not thrown away their parties. Those African leaders who stay in power for long use their parties. It’s the delegates in their parties who vote them to come back.

It was not unconstitutional but the sacking of the cabinet was bad politics. The national conference was so close. If he dint want the vice president he would have gone to the national conference.  By doing this, you formant tribal divisions.

After the sacking of the president you would expect an outbreak of tribal conflict. But the vice president pleaded with his people not to orchestrate violence.

It would not have been a smart move to mount a coop since he has support from most of the delegates and Dr. Machar, had the president cornered diplomatically. Salva Kiir wanted to foment tribal violence by sacking the vice president. Any lay person in South Sudan would have known that if you sack this person you would foment tribal violence.

 

So Salva Kiir has now achieved through this alleged coup what he wanted to achieve through the sacking of the vice president because this draws attention away from the problems, he can now declare martial law and suspend civil liberties. He has now achieved what he wanted. What really happened in Juba, the 13 political prisoners on the December 6th, declared that they would hold another press conference to tell the people of South Sudan about what is really happening.

Tell them how the President was running a one man show, micro managing the government and not allowing other people to do their work.  After hearing this, President Kiir scheduled a national liberation council meeting on the same day.

The group of 13 then said since we want a peaceful means of solving these issues lets then go and have dialogue within the same meeting. But when they went there they were informed that the only issue on the agenda was the passing the basic document and nothing else.

When it came to discussing other business they kept insulting them. The same thing happened on the second day. Realising that the meeting was not constructive the group of 13 decided not to show up for the meeting on the 3rd day.

Coincidentally there was an argument between members of the republican guard. A small argument between the presidential guards escalated into a gun fight that spread to other units. Apparently there was a rumour that an arrest warrant had been issued for the arrest of Dr. Riek Machar.

On Monday the president appeared on TV in full military uniform saying he had foiled a coup attempt. That he was in full control. There should have been more investigations. Because you can’t go and arrest politicians when there is a military coup. You first arrest the military commanders and find out from them. But the way they rushed to arrest the politicians and threw them in Jail raises questions. Up to now they have not been taken to court or allowed to access their lawyers. Our constitution states that suspects should be brought to court within 48 hours. They have not been charged.

They have not been given legal counsel. They are being detained illegally. One gets the feeling that everything was pre-planned because it happened so quickly. This is responsible leadership. The president of the republic started using genocidal language like calling people coach roaches.

Sometimes he speaks like it’s okay for some people to attack others. He can’t continue referring to people like “Those people of 91.” All the people of South Sudan know what he means. I will not tell you, but the people of South Sudan know what he means. There is a recording where he sanctioned violence. This is on record.

Recently during a memorial service of 80 people who were killed as result of cattle rustling by another tribe, while comforting the mourners, President Kiir told them in the mother tongue, that “You people have allowed this to happen and yet you are the ones holding the spears.” If you translate this, what he was actually telling them was that “the minister of defence is from your area. How do you let yourselves to be attacked?”

 

It’s like he has allowed the people of that area to use national resources to go against other people of South Sudan. He also mentioned that when such people use to attack “our villages my people came to me and asked what should we do? I told them organize yourselves.

And they orgnaised themselves and attacked those people. And up to now they have never come back to our village.” That is bad politics. That is inciting violence. So it’s the president who is the chairman of SPLA who has been inciting violence. He speaks one thing and does another.

Another important point is that the groups of 13 have been writing to the office of the president asking for them to meet through the office of party Secretary General.

The reason that made them call the press conference on December 6th was because they have it on record, of them sending letters to the chairman for dialogue several times but the chairman kept ignoring them and kept falsely accusing them. These people had reached out to the chairman for dialogue.

When the president kept on accusing them falsely and they would keep quite the president took it as a weakness. There was silence and the people didn’t know what was happening. He was the only one talking saying these people were thieves. But when does the buck start with you Mr. President? When do you take the blame?

You have been reshuffling your cabinet since 2005 and blaming everybody else. Can you take responsibility and say “People we have failed. What can we do?” These sacked people who fought for South Sudan have been humiliated. They have never been given any kind of military decoration. Nothing.

South Sudan You could say that south Sudan is a young nation Many African countries like Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa have offered us training opportunities for capacity building, but government selects and sends the oldest people who are going to retire in two years.

They are so old that they get bored in class and only go to enjoy the per diem. For a development of a country you develop the human resource and the human resource develops the country.

Question: But maybe the country is young with a largely untested constitution and laws. Could that be the case?

Answer: Many African countries like Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa have offered us training opportunities. But it’s up to the Government of South Sudan to show how serious they are. Yes, we could say South Sudan is a young nation but how serious have we been?

Look at some of these training opportunities for example. They send the oldest people to attend, yet they are going to retire in two years, and are so bored when they get in class. So they are wasting state resources. They are there because it is favoritism and a way of rewarding people for loyalty. They don’t get sent there in order to build a human resource.

South Sudan is two years old; but there was an interim period of five years when the guns fell silent and there was a time for nation building. On top of that, we did not just fall from the sky. We were in a liberation movement that had liberated territory bigger than the Republic of South Sudan today. We had a history of administration in the liberated territory that we could have transformed into the new political reality.

But what the President did when he took power was to first throw away the party. And that is a story for another meeting because that goes back to 2004. I am sure you are aware of the Rumbek meeting in 2004.

 

 

Question: You mean when Dr. John Garang apologized…

Answer: Yes, they had a meeting in Rumbek and they were reconciled. There was tension between Salva Kiir and Dr. John (Garang). When Dr. John died, they had just reconciled. In Kenya when Kenyatta died, President Moi said ‘Nyayo.’ But what happened in South Sudan is that Salva Kiir did not do ‘Nyayo.’

So, if we go back to 2005, this is where the SPLM got derailed. So we have to go back to 2005 and put the train back on the tracks. Otherwise the train cannot move.

Question: From what the Rumbek meeting and the reconciliation, do you think President Salva should have followed that path as well of reconciliation?

Answer: Definitely. Not only that; but even after the reconciliation with Riek Machar, there was a committee that was enacted to conduct something called the ‘South-South Dialogue.’ This is something like South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. During the reconciliation with Riek Machar in 2002, the South Sudanese had their own way to come together and resolve their conflicts.

There were not outside forces or interests that came in. South Sudanese have the capacity, and they have proven it in the past, to come together and solve their differences. In 2005, we got derailed and the process of south-south dialogue did not continue.

This is what was supposed to be. But it did not happen. Why it did not happen, I don’t know. This tension has been there since before the independence of South Sudan. But people have been exercising responsible leadership. Nobody wanted to be on the bad side of history.

People were waiting for independence; and after we can solve whichever differences we have.

 

 

Question: To what extent has ethnicity contributed to the existing tensions?

Answer: There is that dimension and it’s very real because people are killing each other. But I will say that it is in the interest of somebody who is fomenting it. If you look at the 13 political prisoners, they are from different region of South Sudan.

The tribal dimension comes in when somebody is trying to use it as a way of escalating the violence. It’s almost like hate speech coming from the President’s mouth. The year 1991 is a sad chapter in the history of South Sudan. But the President is talking about the 1991 tragedy in the context of the ‘prophet of doom.’

Yet the President should be talking of the 1991 tragedy in the context of reconciliation and truth. It was the President’s bodyguards in Juba who went house to house executing people because of their tribe. Yes it has a tribal dimension but in the context of it being used by the regime in order to create chaos and declare martial law and suspend civil liberties.

 

Question: Do you think it would have been different if Dr. John Garang was still alive?

Answer: There are no ‘what-ifs’ in history. But of course it would be different. There would still be a lot of challenges but the difference is that he was a person who was committed to his leadership and took it seriously. He would not have slept. I watched him as a leader during the war days.

He was always constantly educating himself. This is what leadership demands. You have to always be ahead of the people. This is what our President lacks. He does not take his job as a leader seriously. Otherwise, he would have constantly tried to find ways of solving the challenges.

Question: And the current role being played by Dr. Garang’s widow, your mother Rebecca?

Answer: It is up to her, but I think she would rather be a business person. She has been in that leadership position for 20 years with my father leading the movement. She knows the stress and hardships of leadership. If the people of South Sudan were managing, you would not hear from her. Through the private sector, you can do more for the people.

Two years ago, she started farming, cultivating sorghum. In the first harvest, she made at 300-400 percent more in a year than what she makes in government. She can be a leader in the private sector. But it is because the vision of the movement has been hijacked by people pretending to be using the vision on one hand while doing another thing.

They are using the family of Dr. John Garang to say that Salva is doing the right thing. With this, you get a crisis of conscience at some point and have to say something. When you see something you have contributed to being deliberately destroyed in your name, you have to say something.

So, she has been forced back into politics because at least, not because of her desire for political power.

Question: There were reports that she had been arrested. Is she safe?

Answer: She is at home. They have not harmed her. But if you go out, vigilantes can do anything. I don’t think there is any kind of presidential order for her arrest. They have respected her because within that group there are people who are trying to advise the president that this is not the way.

The senseless were saying that she should be arrested. But I think sense prevailed and they said they would not arrest her. I think if she tries to leave the country they will arrest her. So, she decided to stay home until the situation subsides.

Question: How about you? Are you not threatened?

Answer: I am in danger. Not to say from direct orders of the president. When a leader makes reckless statements, I am in danger from vigilante groups. I could be mugged. I am in danger yes; but God is good.

Question: How do you think what is taking place in Sudan will end? Will it be an all-out war or reconciliation?

Answer:  It depends on the seriousness of the parties involved. Of course our priority is to have a peaceful resolution. We hope for the best. When we reconciled in 2002 with Machar, there were no outside forces involved.

I am confident the people of South Sudan will do it again and reconcile but it depends on the seriousness of the groups.

 

Question: Machar has been quoted as saying that the only negotiation they can have is to negotiate President Kiir’s departure. Do you think this will bring peace or escalate tension?

Answer: Well that’s what he said. We are all human beings. This is what negotiations are about. Now are going to enter into negotiations under IGAD. We shall see.

Question: Do you think President Kiir still has legitimacy given what has taken place?

Answer: He would not have legitimacy but for the sake of reconciliation and national unity, I think there are many components. In the case of Kenya, many people died but they found a way to resolve it. If mishandled now, it can lead to more violence.

There are people who said they would never allow Riek Machar to lead South Sudan. But if you say we are democratic, and then say that you can never allow him, you are denying people their civil rights and liberties. The people of South Sudan are not stupid.

Question: Do you have any political ambitions?

Answer: Sometimes you have to be what you have to be during certain situations. Under normal circumstances, I would rather be in the private sector. You go where your soul needs you most. If my country needs me I will not hesitate to answer that call.

Answer: Do you think from this crisis SS will emerge stronger?

Answer: Yes, people have been exposed and they will be stronger.  Whether it’s a case where we will reconcile, we will become stronger. Where the party splits, we will still be strong because the enemy within would have come out. Still the party will be strong.

Question: Is your mother Rebecca Garang supporting Riek Machar?

Answer: Mama Rebecca is not supporting Riek Marchar. Both of them declared their interest to contest for the chair of the party during the national convention. They became allies and what they are pushing for is for the national convention to take place.

And if the national convention takes place, they will compete against each other. And one of them will emerge victorious and the rest will shake hands. This is the spirit of democracy we want to bring to SPLM. So they have become allies. But they are trying to present it as if Mama Rebecca is putting her weight behind Riek Machar.

She is not putting her weight behind Riek Machar. They are allies. Their interests convinced and politics is about interests. The crisis began because people were denied their right. That they should not contest against Salva during the primaries because of some issues of 1991.

If Mama Rebecca had jumped on the tribal bandwagon, then ethnic violence that occurred would have been much worse. The fact that Mama Rebecca and Riek Machar are allies, gives people hope that there is national unity. There is a group that is supporting the President.

They call themselves Dinka elders. And their objective is not to allow the Nuers to take over power. In a way the alliance is what is making the situation not to break into genocide.

Oldest human DNA found in Spain

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A drawing shows what the species of Homo heidelbergensis might have looked like 400,000 years ago.
A drawing shows what the species of Homo heidelbergensis might have looked like 400,000 years ago.

Via By Elizabeth Landau, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Homo heidelbergensis remains found in Spain
  • From a femur bone, scientists sequenced mitochondrial DNA
  • Technique can be used elsewhere, too, scientists say

(CNN) — There were no genetic tests 400,000 years ago, so our ancient relatives didn’t know as much about themselves as we know about them now.

Scientists have reconstructed a nearly complete mitochondrial genome of an ancient human relative, whose remains were found in Sima de los Huesos (“pit of bones”) in northern Spain. It is the oldest DNA to be recovered from an early humanlike species, authors of a study wrote in the journal Nature.

The ancient species that has revealed some of its genetic secrets, via bone fragments from a femur, is probably not directly linked to your family tree though.

“It’s quite clear that this is not a direct ancestor of people today,” said Svante Paabo, a biologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and senior author of the study.

Instead, he said, this representative of an early humanlike species, called Homo heidelbergensis, could be an ancestor of both Neanderthals and another group called the De nisovans.

The genetic relationship to Denisovans, discovered through this DNA research, is surprising because the Homo heidelbergensis remains found in the cave have many Neanderthal-like features. The only remnants of Denisovans come from Siberia — a long way from Spain.

“It’s sort of an open question really what this means, and I think further research into the nuclear genome of these hominins will address that,” Paabo said.

How they did it

Paabo and colleagues used a new method for sequencing ancient, degraded genetic material to put together the 400,000-year-old specimen’s mitochondrial genome. It is the oldest DNA ever found outside permafrost conditions — in other words, it was not permanently frozen.

Mitochondria are structures in cells that convert food energy into usable forms. DNA stored in the mitochondria is passed to children through the maternal line only (i.e., only moms can pass it on), so it’s only a small snapshot of inherited genes.

Genetic material in the cell’s nucleus comes from both parents and gives a fuller picture of genetic heritage.

To study genetics of our ancient predecessors, researchers have an easier time studying mitochondrial DNA because there are hundreds of times more copies of it in each cell.

“It’s a much bigger chance to find some fragments of this preserved,” Paabo said.

A skeleton of a Homo heidelbergensis representative from a cave site in Spain.
A skeleton of a Homo heidelbergensis representative from a cave site in Spain.

The method that researchers used involves separating the two strands of the DNA double helix. They then make a “library” from each of the two strands. If part of one strand is damaged, its analogue on the other strand — which is made of complementary genetic partners — may be intact.

“That is sort of the big trick involved,” Paabo said.

After sequencing the mitochondrial DNA, researchers then compared the result with genetic information about Neanderthals and Denisovans.

Since nuclear DNA encompasses more information about a person’s inheritance, a nuclear genome sequence from Homo heidelbergensis may reveal even more clearly how it is connected to other ancient humanlike species, he said.

But retrieving the nuclear DNA sequence will be challenging, study authors wrote. Just to get the mitochondrial DNA sequence, it took about two grams of bone — less than 0.1 ounce — even though hundreds of copies of this DNA are in every cell.

Still, Paabo said, the sequencing technique his group used “opens a possibility to now do this at many other sites, and really begin to understand earlier human evolution.”

Relationship to other species

Researchers thought initially the mitochondrial DNA of the Homo heidelbergensis specimen would share a common ancestor with Neanderthals. Neanderthals lived in Europe beginning as much as 300,000 years ago, Paabo said. (Homo sapiens, our species, first appeared in Africa between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago.)

Instead, researchers discovered through the DNA that this specimen is closer to the Denisovans, a group related to the Neanderthals.

A likely explanation is that in Eastern Eurasia this species gave rise to Denisovans, and in Western Eurasia they were the ancestors of Neanderthals, Paabo said. But more research needs to be done to verify that theory.

Humans, Neanderthals related to yet another group

Little is known about the Denisovans. Although some of their remains were found in southern Siberia, their genetic signature is only found today on islands in the Pacific.

Paabo was also the senior author on a 2012 study in the journal Science analyzing the Denisovan genome. That research suggested that human ancestors and the Denisovans’ ancestors must have branched off from one another as much as 700,000 years ago — although that number is vague. Still, it seems that the Denisovans must have mated with indigenous people in Papua New Guinea and Australia, Paabo said.

About 3% to 5% of the DNA of people from Melanesia (islands in the southwest Pacific Ocean), Australia and New Guinea as well as aboriginal people from the Philippines comes from the Denisovans.

On the other hand, everyone who lives outside Africa today probably has some Neanderthal DNA in them, Paabo said in 2012.

The bottom line, Paabo said, is that the relationships between these early human relatives — Homo heidelbergensis, Neanderthals and Denisovans — are not clear-cut.

“It’s going to be a more complex history that one will eventually clarify with the help of DNA,” he said.

BBC boss defends Nelson Mandela coverage after 850 complaints

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nelson_mandela-2

Via The Guardian

Viewers voice concern that repeat of Mrs Brown’s Boys was cut short and bulletin did not devote enough time to severe storms

The BBC News director has defended the corporation’s coverage ofNelson Mandela‘s death, after 850 viewers complained that it had devoted too much airtime to the former South African president and not enough to the storms that lashed Britain’s eastern coast.

James Harding apologised to anyone who thought the corporation did not do enough about the weather on its BBC1 10pm bulletin on Thursday night but said Mandela was a man of “singular significance” and the “most significant statesman of the last 100 years”.

The BBC received about 850 complaints about the extent of its Mandela coverage, including its decision on Thursday evening to interrupt a repeat of sitcom Mrs Brown’s Boys on BBC1 to bring viewers news of his death.

“Firstly I’m sorry if there are people who felt we didn’t inform them of what was happening in the weather,” Harding told the BBC’s Newswatch programme on Friday.

“The decision-making is one around the significance of Nelson Mandela. Nobody needs a lecture on his importance but we are probably talking about the most important statesman, the most significant statesman, of the last 100 years, a man who defined freedom, justice, reconciliation, forgiveness. The importance of his life and marking his death seems extremely clear to us.”

BBC1’s 9.30pm repeat of Mrs Brown’s Boys averaged 2.8 million viewers, while the channel’s 10pm bulletin – doubled in length to an hour – attracted 5.1 million. ITV’s News at Ten, also extended to 60 minutes, averaged 2.8 million.

Among those viewers who complained, one said: “Major stories such as Mandela’s death need to be dealt with but a balance has to be struck. His death was not unexpected, he was an elderly man who had been ill for many months.”

Another said on Twitter: “BBC interrupts Mrs Brown 10 minutes before the end for a newsflash about Nelson Mandela. News at 10 could’ve waited!”

Harding said he “completely took” people’s point about the weather but pointed out the BBC had other news services, such as local radio and online.

“But in this particular moment I thought on BBC1 we were telling people as they switched on the news as they came home that president Mandela a man of singular significance had died,” he said.

“In addition to that there is a lot of news that is rolling, you are seeing president Obama come out and make comments, David Cameron make comments. The BBC and only the BBC managed to get former [South African] president FW De Klerk.”

He added: “I completely take your point about the weather. What’s happening in people’s communities, what’s happening closest to where they live matters enormously. We had been rolling weather coverage from early in the day, particularly when the storms were at the strongest.”

In 1990, more than 500 Antiques Roadshow viewers complained after the BBC cut away to news of Mandela’s release from prison.

Separately, Harding defended his decision to create a handful of new senior management posts in BBC News, including the newly created role of managing editor, at a time when the corporation’s budget was being cut.

“In the last three or four years we have been cutting senior management within BBC News by about 30%. It is a very large news organisation and it is important it is well managed. It can’t be a free-form jazz band.”

Kanye West: “I am the Next Nelson Mandela”

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       Kanye-West            

  Popular Rapper Kanye West Kanye

 

Via Standard Digital.

West is quite the controversial rapper and he was recently put under fire for claiming that he will soon be a bigger cultural and civil rights icon than Nelson Mandela. In an interview with WGCI radio in Chicago, the notoriously self-promoting rapper said that the death of the 95-year-old South African leader will finally allow people to focus more of their attention on West’s own accomplishments.

“I am the next Nelson Mandela,” West responded. “I’m only 36 years old, and when I look at everything I’ve accomplished, it’s the only comparison that makes any sense. By the time I’m 95, I’m going to be a bigger hero than he ever was. “Nelson Mandela did a lot of good work, don’t get me wrong.

But I think I’m on track to do something even bigger. I liberate minds with my music. That’s more important than liberating a few people from apartheid or whatever. “Not to say Mandela wasn’t for real. I have mad respect. I just think we need to keep things in perspective here. Anyone can be replaced. And I think I’m well on my way towards being the next great black leader. I’m already worshiped around the world. And there’s more to come.”

Former South African president and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela died after years of declining health. His legacy of peaceful reconciliation has been universally praised by political leaders, the media and ordinary citizens around the world. Kanye

West, for his part, is known for going to extraordinary lengths to focus attention on himself. His reaction today was so unusual, however, that host Adrian Cronauer decided to challenge his assertions. “What have you actually done for civil rights?” he asked. “Have you been involved in any campaigns? Any political activities?

It seems to me comparing yourself to Mandela is a bit of a stretch.” “I’ve blazed a trail with my career,” West responded. “I faced mad racism when I entered this profession. I mean how many black rappers can you name that came before me? I was a pioneer. And now I’m doing the same thing in the fashion world.

“Not to mention I have a bigger market than he ever did. Mandela was working in South Africa, which has, like what, six people? I started my magic here in the USA and then I took my business global. Worldwide baby. “I just want everyone out there to know. I see y’all crying on the TV. Being all sad. Just know that Kanye’s gonna carry on Mandela’s legacy. There’s nothing to worry about. I got this.” Well, Kanye has been overstepping boundaries and this may not be the last we hear from him.

 

25 Common Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

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By james Stephenson Via Entrepreneur

Regardless of your definition of success, there are, oddly enough, a great number of common characteristics that are shared by successful businesspeople. You can place a check beside each characteristic that you feel that you possess. This way, you can see how you stack up. Even if you don’t have all of these characteristics, don’t fret. Most can be learned with practice and by developing a winning attitude, especially if you set goals and apply yourself, through strategic planning, to reach those goals in incremental and measurable stages.

The Home Business Musts
Like any activity you pursue, there are certain musts that are required to be successful in a chosen activity. To legally operate a vehicle on public roadways, one must have a driver’s license; to excel in sports, one must train and practice; to retire comfortably, one must become an informed investor and actively invest for retirement. If your goal is success in business, then the formula is no different. There are certain musts that have to be fully developed, implemented and managed for your business to succeed. There are many business musts, but this article contains I believe to be some of the more important musts that are required to start, operate and grow a profitable home business.

1. Do what you enjoy.
What you get out of your business in the form of personal satisfaction, financial gain, stability and enjoyment will be the sum of what you put into your business. So if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, in all likelihood it’s safe to assume that will be reflected in the success of your business–or subsequent lack of success. In fact, if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, chances are you won’t succeed.

2. Take what you do seriously.
You cannot expect to be effective and successful in business unless you truly believe in your business and in the goods and services that you sell. Far too many home business owners fail to take their own businesses seriously enough, getting easily sidetracked and not staying motivated and keeping their noses to the grindstone. They also fall prey to naysayers who don’t take them seriously because they don’t work from an office building, office park, storefront, or factory. Little do these skeptics, who rain on the home business owner’s parade, know is that the number of people working from home, and making very good annual incomes, has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years.

3. Plan everything.
Planning every aspect of your home business is not only a must, but also builds habits that every home business owner should develop, implement, and maintain. The act of business planning is so important because it requires you to analyze each business situation, research and compile data, and make conclusions based mainly on the facts as revealed through the research. Business planning also serves a second function, which is having your goals and how you will achieve them, on paper. You can use the plan that you create both as map to take you from point A to Z and as a yardstick to measure the success of each individual plan or segment within the plan.

4. Manage money wisely.
The lifeblood of any business enterprise is cash flow. You need it to buy inventory, pay for services, promote and market your business, repair and replace tools and equipment, and pay yourself so that you can continue to work. Therefore, all home business owners must become wise money managers to ensure that the cash keeps flowing and the bills get paid. There are two aspects to wise money management.

  1. The money you receive from clients in exchange for your goods and services you provide (income)
  2. The money you spend on inventory, supplies, wages and other items required to keep your business operating. (expenses)

5. Ask for the sale.
A home business entrepreneur must always remember that marketing, advertising, or promotional activities are completely worthless, regardless of how clever, expensive, or perfectly targeted they are, unless one simple thing is accomplished–ask for the sale. This is not to say that being a great salesperson, advertising copywriting whiz or a public relations specialist isn’t a tremendous asset to your business. However, all of these skills will be for naught if you do not actively ask people to buy what you are selling.

6. Remember it’s all about the customer.
Your home business is not about the products or services that you sell. Your home business is not about the prices that you charge for your goods and services. Your home business is not about your competition and how to beat them. Your business is all about your customers, or clients, period. After all, your customers are the people that will ultimately decide if your business goes boom or bust. Everything you do in business must be customer focused, including your policies, warranties, payment options, operating hours, presentations, advertising and promotional campaigns and website. In addition, you must know who your customers are inside out and upside down.

7. Become a shameless self-promoter (without becoming obnoxious).
One of the greatest myths about personal or business success is that eventually your business, personal abilities, products or services will get discovered and be embraced by the masses that will beat a path to your door to buy what you are selling. But how can this happen if no one knows who you are, what you sell and why they should be buying?

Self-promotion is one of the most beneficial, yet most underutilized, marketing tools that the majority of home business owners have at their immediate disposal.

8. Project a positive business image.
You have but a passing moment to make a positive and memorable impression on people with whom you intend to do business. Home business owners must go out of their way and make a conscious effort to always project the most professional business image possible. The majority of home business owners do not have the advantage of elaborate offices or elegant storefronts and showrooms to wow prospects and impress customers. Instead, they must rely on imagination, creativity and attention to the smallest detail when creating and maintaining a professional image for their home business.

9. Get to know your customers.
One of the biggest features and often the most significant competitive edge the home based entrepreneur has over the larger competitors is the he can offer personalized attention. Call it high-tech backlash if you will, but customers are sick and tired of hearing that their information is somewhere in the computer and must be retrieved, or told to push a dozen digits to finally get to the right department only to end up with voice mail–from which they never receive a return phone call.

The home business owner can actually answer phone calls, get to know customers, provide personal attention and win over repeat business by doing so. It’s a researched fact that most business (80 percent) will come from repeat customers rather than new customers. Therefore, along with trying to draw newcomers, the more you can do to woo your regular customers, the better off you will be in the long run and personalized attention is very much appreciated and remembered in the modern high tech world.

10. Level the playing field with technology.
You should avoid getting overly caught up in the high-tech world, but you should also know how to take advantage of using it. One of the most amazing aspects of the internet is that a one or two person business operating from a basement can have a superior website to a $50 million company, and nobody knows the difference. Make sure you’re keeping up with the high-tech world as it suits your needs.. The best technology is that which helps you, not that which impresses your neighbors.

11. Build a top-notch business team.
No one person can build a successful business alone. It’s a task that requires a team that is as committed as you to the business and its success. Your business team may include family members, friends, suppliers, business alliances, employees, sub-contractors, industry and business associations, local government and the community. Of course the most important team members will be your customers or clients. Any or all may have a say in how your business will function and a stake in your business future.

12. Become known as an expert.
When you have a problem that needs to be solved, do you seek just anyone’s advice or do you seek an expert in the field to help solve your particular problem? Obviously, you want the most accurate information and assistance that you can get. You naturally seek an expert to help solve your problem. You call a plumber when the hot water tank leaks, a real estate agent when it’s time to sell your home or a dentist when you have a toothache. Therefore, it only stands to reason that the more you become known for your expertise in your business, the more people will seek you out to tap into your expertise, creating more selling and referral opportunities. In effect, becoming known as an expert is another style of prospecting for new business, just in reverse. Instead of finding new and qualified people to sell to, these people seek you out for your expertise.

13. Create a competitive advantage.
A home business must have a clearly defined unique selling proposition. This is nothing more than a fancy way of asking the vital question, “Why will people choose to do business with you or purchase your product or service instead of doing business with a competitor and buying his product or service?” In other words, what one aspect or combination of aspects is going to separate your business from your competition? Will it be better service, a longer warranty, better selection, longer business hours, more flexible payment options, lowest price, personalized service, better customer service, better return and exchange policies or a combination of several of these?

14. Invest in yourself.
Top entrepreneurs buy and read business and marketing books, magazines, reports, journals, newsletters, websites and industry publications, knowing that these resources will improve their understanding of business and marketing functions and skills. They join business associations and clubs, and they network with other skilled business people to learn their secrets of success and help define their own goals and objectives. Top entrepreneurs attend business and marketing seminars, workshops and training courses, even if they have already mastered the subject matter of the event. They do this because they know that education is an ongoing process. There are usually ways to do things better, in less time, with less effort. In short, top entrepreneurs never stop investing in the most powerful, effective and best business and marketing tool at their immediate disposal–themselves.

15. Be accessible.
We’re living in a time when we all expect our fast food lunch at the drive-thru window to be ready in mere minutes, our dry cleaning to be ready for pick-up on the same day, our money to be available at the cash machine and our pizza delivered in 30 minutes or it’s free. You see the pattern developing–you must make it as easy as you can for people to do business with you, regardless of the home business you operate.

You must remain cognizant of the fact that few people will work hard, go out of their way, or be inconvenienced just for the privilege of giving you their hard-earned money. The shoe is always on the other foot. Making it easy for people to do business with you means that you must be accessible and knowledgeable about your products and services. You must be able to provide customers with what they want, when they want it.

16. Build a rock-solid reputation.
A good reputation is unquestionably one of the home business owner’s most tangible and marketable assets. You can’t simply buy a good reputation; it’s something that you earn by honoring your promises. If you promise to have the merchandise in the customer’s hands by Wednesday, you have no excuse not to have it there. If you offer to repair something, you need to make good on your offer. Consistency in what you offer is the other key factor. If you cannot come through with the same level of service (and products) for clients on a regular basis, they have no reason to trust you . . . and without trust, you won’t have a good reputation.

17. Sell benefits.
Pushing product features is for inexperienced or wannabe entrepreneurs. Selling the benefits associated with owning and using the products and services you carry is what sales professionals worldwide focus on to create buying excitement and to sell, sell more, and sell more frequently to their customers. Your advertising, sales presentations, printed marketing materials, product packaging, website, newsletters, trade show exhibit and signage are vital. Every time and every medium used to communicate with your target audience must always be selling the benefits associated with owning your product or using your service.

18. Get involved.
Always go out of your way to get involved in the community that supports your business. You can do this in many ways, such as pitching in to help local charities or the food bank, becoming involved in organizing community events, and getting involved in local politics. You can join associations and clubs that concentrate on programs and policies designed to improve the local community. It’s a fact that people like to do business with people they know, like and respect, and with people who do things to help them as members of the community.

19. Grab attention.
Small-business owners cannot waste time, money and energy on promotional activities aimed at building awareness solely through long-term, repeated exposure. If you do, chances are you will go broke long before this goal is accomplished. Instead, every promotional activity you engage in, must put money back in your pocket so that you can continue to grab more attention and grow your business.

20. Master the art of negotiations.
The ability to negotiate effectively is unquestionably a skill that every home business owner must make every effort to master. It’s perhaps second in importance only to asking for the sale in terms of home business musts. In business, negotiation skills are used daily. Always remember that mastering the art of negotiation means that your skills are so finely tuned that you can always orchestrate a win-win situation. These win-win arrangements mean that everyone involved feels they have won, which is really the basis for building long-term and profitable business relationships.

21. Design Your workspace for success.
Carefully plan and design your home office workspace to ensure maximum personal performance and productivity and, if necessary, to project professionalism for visiting clients. If at all possible, resist the temptation to turn a corner of the living room or your bedroom into your office. Ideally, you’ll want a separate room with a door that closes to keep business activities in and family members out, at least during prime business and revenue generating hours of the day. A den, spare bedroom, basement or converted garage are all ideal candidates for your new home office. If this is not possible, you’ll have to find a means of converting a room with a partition or simply find hours to do the bulk of your work when nobody else is home.

22. Get and stay organized.
The key to staying organized is not about which type of file you have or whether you keep a stack or two of papers on your desk, but it’s about managing your business. It’s about having systems in place to do things. Therefore, you wan to establish a routine by which you can accomplish as much as possible in a given workday, whether that’s three hours for a part-time business or seven or nine hours as a full-timer. In fact, you should develop systems and routines for just about every single business activity. Small things such as creating a to-do list at the end of each business day, or for the week, will help keep you on top of important tasks to tackle. Creating a single calendar to work from, not multiple sets for individual tasks or jobs, will also ensure that jobs are completed on schedule and appointments kept. Incorporating family and personal activities into your work calendar is also critical so that you work and plan from a single calendar.

23. Take time off.
The temptation to work around the clock is very real for some home business owners. After all, you don’t have a manager telling you it’s time to go home because they can’t afford the overtime pay. Every person working from home must take time to establish a regular work schedule that includes time to stretch your legs and take lunch breaks, plus some days off and scheduled vacations. Create the schedule as soon as you have made the commitment to start a home business. Of course, your schedule will have to be flexible. You should, therefore, not fill every possible hour in the day. Give yourself a backup hour or two. All work and no play makes you burn out very fast and grumpy customer service is not what people want.

24. Limit the number of hats you wear.
It’s difficult for most business owners not to take a hands-on approach. They try to do as much as possible and tackle as many tasks as possible in their business. The ability to multitask, in fact, is a common trait shared by successful entrepreneurs. However, once in a while you have to stand back and look beyond today to determine what’s in the best interest of your business and yourself over the long run. Most highly successful entrepreneurs will tell you that from the time they started out, they knew what they were good at and what tasks to delegate to others.

25. Follow-up constantly.
Constant contact, follow-up, and follow-through with customers, prospects, and business alliances should be the mantra of every home business owner, new or established. Constant and consistent follow-up enables you to turn prospects into customers, increase the value of each sale and buying frequency from existing customers, and build stronger business relationships with suppliers and your core business team. Follow-up is especially important with your existing customer base, as the real work begins after the sale. It’s easy to sell one product or service, but it takes work to retain customers and keep them coming back.

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”: I Transformed Myself Into a Fact Finder

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By Lou A. via LinkedIn.

In 1990, I discovered Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and was transformed.

Now I didn’t wake up the next day and become a more effective person. Hell no. Instead I discovered I wasn’t a very effective person. Then something worse happened. Even when I tried to incorporate some of the seven habits into my style, my less effective habits got in the way. However, I quickly discovered that none of this mattered. It wasn’t about me becoming highly effective; it was about my candidates.

Since I was a full-time recruiter when I first read the book, I quickly realized I could become a better recruiter and assessor of talent by looking for these habits in the people I presented to my hiring manager clients for open jobs. This was the transformation. Some of my hiring manager clients even became better interviewers when I suggested they also focus on these seven core traits.

Late last year I wrote a post that got some good press, a million reads, and offered a way to measure the seven habits during the interview. It even got a Bloomberg TV mention (the post, not me). It was audaciously, but correctly, titled, The Most Important Interview Question of All Time. The technique involves spending 15-20 minutes digging into each of the candidate’s most significant accomplishments. After doing this for 3-4 different accomplishments, the person’s trend of performance and impact over time is revealed. (A full description of the process is included in my book, “The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired.”) As noted, the real skill in using this question is the associated fact-finding involved. After obtaining a complete word picture of the candidate’s major accomplishments, they’re compared to the performance requirements of the job to determine if the candidate is a fit or not.

By looking for Covey’s seven habits as part of the fact-finding, it’s easier to separate those who are a reasonable fit and those who are exceptional. Here’s a quick summary on how this can be done for each of the seven habits using the most significant accomplishment question (MSA).

Be Proactive. Take the initiative. Don’t wait for things to happen. Make them happen.

As candidates describe their major accomplishments, have them describe where they took the initiative, went the extra mile, exceeded expectations, and did more than required. Patterns emerge revealing the types of work the person finds innately satisfying and motivating. Map this to the performance-based job description to determine best fit.

Begin with the End in Mind. Define the outcomes before you create the process.

When I have a candidate describe a major accomplishment, I always ask how the person developed the plan, how they managed against the plan and if they were successful. The best people always begin any major activity with a thorough plan giving full consideration to all of the various alternatives.

Put First Things First. Prioritize what’s important, not just react to what’s urgent.

Find out how people multi-task, getting specific examples and details for each MSA. As part of this, determine how the candidate prioritized different activities and how the person balanced competing objectives. Collectively this is all part of the decision-making process.

Think Win-Win. Consider the impact on all of the stakeholders; how the person deals with superiors, subordinates and peers; and how the person deals with conflict.

Ignore the generic “I’m a real people person.” Instead dig into how the candidate develops team-based consensus. Get specific examples of when the person persuaded people in other functions, including higher-ranking managers, executives, vendors and customers. Thinking win-win is not about capitulating, but about persuading and convincing others, and being persuaded and convinced.

Seek First to Understand, and Then Be Understood. Don’t offer solutions or assume your approach is the best. Understand the problem first.

One of the core MSA questions is: “Can you describe the biggest problem or challenge you’ve ever handled?” As part of the fact-finding, it’s important to find out how the person figured out the root cause of the problem and the process the person used to put together a solution. To best understand this habit, focus on how the candidate reached out to others, modified his or her approach, and achieved group consensus.

Synergize. This is team skills on steroids: working with, influencing, coaching and developing people.

Rather than focusing on personality traits to assess team skills, it’s better to find out the types of teams the candidate has been assigned to, participate in, and lead. Those who can “synergize” are typically assigned to important cross-functional project teams far more often than their less “synergistic” peers. During the fact-finding, ask who was on the teams, the person’s role, and why the person was assigned to the team. If these teams are growing in size and importance over time, you’ve found someone who can synergize.

Sharpen the Saw. Constant self-improvement is how a person remains current and relevant.

Ask people how they’ve become better. Be very concerned if they have not taken any proactive self-development action. On the other hand, keep a very open mind to someone who has done something exceptional when they were underemployed or unemployed. These are the diamonds that others have failed to recognize or hire.

Job-seekers should own these habits, and interviewers should focus on them. If you’re into the seven habits, you’ll discover I changed the definitions a bit — but you should appreciate the switch especially if you begin with the end in mind, seek first to understand and then be understood, and think win-win. Collectively, that’s how you sharpen your own saw. Quite frankly, that’s why Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is transformational.

Ruto Fury Over Losing His Budget

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William Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto
By Star Team.

DEPUTY President William Ruto is furious that the financial budget allocated for his office has been transferred back to State House.

Ruto’s office will now have to seek approval from State House for almost every expenditure.

“The Office of the Deputy President is no longer allowed to incur expenditure without approval from the Presidency,” said a senior officer in the Office of the President yesterday.

State House Controller Lawrence Lenayapa referred the Star to the Treasury secretary Henry Rotich whose secretary said he was in meetings yesterday afternoon.

Presidential spokesman Manoah Esipisu is in South Africa with President Uhuru Kenyatta and did not respond to our inquiries.

Yesterday Ruto summoned Lenayapa, his Principal Administrative Secretary Daniel Wambura, his chief of Staff Maryanne Keitany and other senior officials including his controller of budget and the chief accountant to a meeting in his Karen office.

“The meeting went on and the DP demanded clarification on a number of issues. Lenayapa provided some answers but asked that he consults with the Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua and the President on other issues,” said a source at the meeting.

It is not clear when Ruto’s vote was moved to the Office of the President but multiple sources told the Star that it was taken away while he was attending his trial in the Hague.

As a result there have been delays in processing allowances for Ruto’s staff, some who have been with him at the Hague.

“The Office of the DP cannot hire anyone without approval from the Presidency and can not buy tissue paper unless it is approved by the same office. We have no idea what this means,” said a URP MP yesterday.

In another meeting on Tuesday, Ruto almost fired Keitany when he learnt that appointment letters of some staff, some in his press service, had been revoked without his knowledge while he was away.

At that meeting senators Kipchumba Murkomen and Charles Keter reportedly pleaded with Ruto to give Keitany a second chance.

“The boss was very upset with Keitany because he could not understand why the letters of appointments had been revoked yet he personally ensured some of them were written before they joined his office. Some of those affected were senior staff who left their jobs to join him when he took over the office,” said the source.

The new staff have gone for months without pay and some have been grumbling about how Keitany has handled them.

The Deputy President is the principal assistant of the President and deputizes for the President in the execution of his constitutional duties.

Article 134 of the constitution states that when the President is absent or temporarily incapacitated, the Deputy President shall act as the President.

When Uhuru’s trial starts at the Hague in February 2014, Ruto will presumably have to deputise for the president for lengthy periods.

Ruto’s office is run by Keitany but also has an administrative secretary, an economic advisor, and an adviser responsible for food and climate change. He also has his private secretary, communication secretary and legal adviser.

Most of these officials deputise equivalent positions in the Office of the President.

The annual budget for the Office of the President is Sh1.1 billion for development and Sh3.1 billion for recurrent expenditure. The allocation given to the Deputy President was drawn from this vote.