Of Politics and Values

Posted by on 12th September 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

By Shitemi Khamadi

Thomas Paine, the English-American political activist stated that “what we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.” These words reverberate when reflecting on the Kenyan politics of the day.

This past week has evidenced news on magnitude of greed from the politicians. Senators want higher remunerations and details of allowances from sittings and mileage of Members of Parliament have been reported with some expected defense from some legislators. These elected representatives were given the mandate to undertake their various duties by the voters in the March 2013 General Elections.

They are therefore supposed to be acting in the public’s confidence and trust. It starts with campaigns when aspirants seek for votes. There are those who will present their manifestos at the individual and party levels. They would be eloquent and exhibit the ideal leadership tenets needed to address certain problems. There are also others who in addition, oil their campaigns with money and other goodies.

The song Fuata Sheria (follow the law) by Sarabi Band and Juliani has a line which says “…t-shirt, 50 bob, leso, siku ya campaign ilikuwa free! ni five year long investment, utalipa akiingia parliament…” (the t-shirt sh50, wrap, during the campaigns were free! It is a five year long investment that you will pay when they gets to parliament). The song is critical of both the leaders who use power and influence for selfish gains and the public who are equally replete with using unlawful means to get by.

This brings into focus the place of values in a society. The constitution does well to enumerate them in Article 10. Religious institutions do their part in imparting the good word during days of worship and in reading the scriptures. But as Dalai Lama aptly points out, it is about the individual and what he or she feels is most critical.

As a people, what is that which can rally the country united devoid of prejudices! Regardless of the answer, does what the public values vis-à-vis what parliamentarian value change once they are sworn into office?

The responsibilities of leadership as enshrined in Article 73 of the constitution, expect leaders to demonstrate respect for the people, bring honor to the nation and dignity to the office and promote public confidence; core tenets that would inspire public trust. These qualities consolidate the expectations on national values in Article 10 specifically integrity, equity, equality, human dignity, inclusiveness and social justice.

These ideals should inform leadership right from when one intends to run for office. It is an expectation that further inspires the spirit of chapter six of the constitution. A careful inspection of Parliamentarians activity within and outside the House reveals, none of these provisions inform them. The August House to them is a market place to amass wealth and endear selfish interests.

There is this governance practice of respecting the office that one holds. The individual could be callous and inept but the office needs to be firm in what its mandate is. To what extent does the quality of the person influence the office they hold? It does a great deal, regardless of level of education but driven by passion and commitment to service delivery.

Do Kenyans expect too much from leaders after the ballot? Are they justified to call the legislators greedy yet they played a core role in accepting goodies in exchange for votes? Are the leaders being accused of something society has accepted hence the gun should be pointed elsewhere? The dynamic has to be changed. Change is a process and it starts with a conscience voter making the right and informed decision at the ballot. Thoughts?

Anointing Appointments!

Posted by on 5th September 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

“Being single is a status, not a competitive advantage,” replied Lucy Chelimo, the Kenyan nominee ambassador to Canada when asked by MP Chris Wamalwa how her single status would affect her work. In her case, what would status really mean!

Status could mean being politically correct! It could mean being ethnically correct! It could mean an age transition that she will surmount, like all else and be older, probably wiser and have this question not asked again if she is to appear before any vetting again.

Lucy was among 11 nominated for ambassadorial duties in Kenya’s diplomatic missions. The constitution in Article 132 lists the functions of the President. Part 2(e) lists high commissioners, ambassadors, consular and diplomatic representatives as some of those the president nominates, to be approved by the National Assembly before formal appointments.

It is a precedence practice, birthed by the constitution and which the country has started to reflect on. Prof. Sam Ongeri, who has been nominated for Kenya’s representative to UN-Habitat, was asked about his age being a hindrance to quality service delivery. He emphatically stated he is not old, at 76 to deliver on his diplomatic duties and affirmed that he has gained wisdom and skills in his long career which he would bring into this job if approved.

These two examples show that age was one of the considerations by MPs in interviewing the nominees. Other questions revolved around new ideas they will add to blossom diplomatic relationships between respective countries and Kenya.

Prior to this constitution, the head of state would choose anyone and the die was cast. It may not follow that even if nominated, and vetted in the current regime, you are automatically approved or otherwise. But it helps show a process in which the wider public can take part by contributing information either through memoranda to respective parliamentary committees or general discourse about the topic and individual.

In having the National Assembly vet certain presidential nominees, the public is having a say in who they are as a delegated responsibility by the constitution in Article 1 (2). Even so, we would like to see a more an open and inclusive nomination exercise.  Majority of the nominees being vetted are political cronies of the current administration and may not have the requisite expertise necessary on the appointments. Is it enough to put forward a single name only for each of the positions? How were those nominated arrived at? A random pick by handlers of the country’s leadership?

Regardless, it is a first and should offer lessons. The suitability of the nominees is being tasted through this process and we hope the expected bill on Public Appointments will give clear standards to guide future nominations and vetting process.

The Japanese have a quality work ethic since the 1960s by Shigeo Shingo, ‘do it right the first time.’ Has this first footing been rightly done and of quality?

Constitution Implementation – State of Play Four Years on

Posted by on 28th August 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

The Constitution of Kenya 2010 turns 4 this week, giving us a chance to reflect on the gains and missteps that have marked the implementation exercise.

At the centre of the 20 year clamour for a new Constitution was the need to give the public a say in Kenya’s governance and development. This was meant to ensure the interests of the Kenyans are always represented as well as to provide a check against the wanton misuse and waste of public resources.

Article 1 of the Constitution lodges all sovereign power with the people of Kenya to be exercised only in accordance with the Constitution. This sovereign power can be exercised either directly or through democratically elected representatives.

Other major gains of the new dispensation included:

i)                    Clear separation of powers between Parliament, the Judiciary and the Executive;

ii)                   Devolution of power and responsibilities between National and County governments;

iii)                 Establishment of independent commissions;

iv)                 Mainstreaming of public participation into the governance architecture.

Taking stock of where we are since the promulgation of the constitution it is apparent that MPs and Senators still control the public political discourse and sometimes slow down Executive arm and County governments in the execution of their tasks.  And although most of the laws that were to be in place by August 2013 were enacted; the deliberation processes were rushed and most have diluted ideals set out in the Constitution, case in point the laws on Elections, Election Campaign Finance and Political Parties.

Parliament has not prioritised laws that were to be enacted by August 2014 in line with the 5th Schedule of the Constitution. The laws expected included those on: Values and Principles of Public Service, Public Procurement and Disposal; Public Audits; Fair Administrative Action; Persons Deprived Liberty and Environment Management Coordination. These laws are critical in prescribing Public Officials conduct, checking corruption and waste and guarding the rights of people under custody.

At the same time, minimal civic education has been done so far. Most Kenyans still do not know the gains afforded them by the Constitution and their responsibility to engage their public officials on all levels. At the National Government level formal public participation opportunities remain limited to the election and budgetary processes.

While more opportunities for public engagement exist at county level, events in which the public can participate often register low turnout as the public remains largely unaware of their responsibility to engage and its importance. For the most part the public appears still beholden to its leaders in many ways and do not realize they have the responsibility to question them.

For the gains enshrined in the Constitution to be realized, civic education should on the long term be mainstreamed to the education system and on the short-term be an all year round affair until  the next 2017 election. The public needs to own the Constitution and ensure their leaders keep its ideals alive! Thoughts?

On Turf Wars between Senators and Governors

Posted by on 14th August 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

The intention behind devolution is noble – to bring both government and services closer to the people. However the implementation of the devolved governance system is more than a bit clunky. Since its inception devolution has seen turf wars – between the Senate and Governors, between Governors and the National Assembly, between the National Assembly and Senators, and at times all three simultaneously. Issues of role clarity and hierarchy are especially apparent in the most recent power struggle between senators and governors.

According to the constitution the Senate’s role is to consider laws that affect county matters and help determine the allocation of national revenue to the county administrations (Article 96 (3), and to basically represent the interests of the devolved governments at national level (Article 96). Governors lead the county assemblies running the counties, exercising oversight over the county executive committee and other county organs (Article 185).

While the constitution gives a broad framework for governance under devolution it offers little clarity on the specific role either the Senate or the Governors or on the hierarchical relationship between the two, the County Governments Act is equally vague on this issue.

The fact that two clauses can have two differing interpretations continues to manifest in strange and interesting ways. Some of these ways more innocuous than others i.e. whether or not Governors should be addressed as ‘your Excellency’ or should be allowed to fly the national flag on their vehicles, versus questions of what the exactly the Senate’s mandate of oversight over national revenue allocated to counties entails, and this is probably here where the real contention lies.

Of the three wings of the devolved government i.e. Senators, Governors, and Members of the National Assembly only two control budgets. The members of the National Assembly control CDF budget whose total budget runs into tens of billions of shillings (more recently the MPs have wanted the CDF allocation increased from 21 billion shillings to 35 billion shillings). Counties also receive hundreds of billions of shillings of over which governors exert significant control, leaving senators as the only seat with no specific budget to draw from.

Yet money is a significant factor in interaction between state officers and citizens, and definitely a significant in election and re-election of state officers. So it is of little surprise that the most contentious turf wars between the different the state officials revolves involves control or oversight of revenue.

In order to establish this control it seems several layers not originally envisioned in the constitution have been added to the devolution structure i.e. county commissioners and more recently County Development Boards chaired by the local Senator who is required to “approve” all development plans and budgets before they are presented to the County Assemblies, effectively shifting control of county funds from the hands of governors to the hands of Senators

As the supremacy battles rage on between the Senators, Governors and MPs the biggest losers remain the Kenyans for whom devolution was intended.

Power to the People: Hold Your Parliamentarians Accountable – #InTheirWords

Posted by on 3rd June 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

Fifty-one years ago, on 1st June Kenya attained “Self-Government / Self-Independence,” but do Kenyans individually own and occupy that political space beyond Election Days?

Article 1 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 re-emphasises the same idea as it states, “All sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya and shall be exercised only in accordance with this Constitution.” Kenyans exercise this power indirectly through the democratically elected representatives including their Parliamentarians (MPs, Women Representatives & Senators).

Politicians are known to easily sway crowds through by their words in the public sphere. But do you know what contributions your Parliamentarians have made to plenary discussions in the National Assembly or the Senate since you elected them?

Www.mzalendo.com has now made each Parliamentarian’s Hansard contribution record easily accessible at a glance on their profile.

To access an MP’s or Senator’s Hansard record, click on the appearances tab of their profile, the most recent records will show, with a ‘view all’ option below it. Click on the ‘view all’ option to scrutinise each entry on your Parliamentarian’s record e.g.  http://info.mzalendo.com/hansard/person/aden-duale/appearances/

This feature allows you a greater possibility to explore your MP, Women Representative and Senators record on issues of interest to you.

Over the next two weeks, starting from this Madaraka weekend Mzalendo is running a campaign titled, ‘In Their Words’

We invite you to explore your Parliamentarians records on our site and send us:

i) A list of their most hilarious statements;

ii) Their most valuable/worthwhile contributions; and

iii) A list of issues they have discussed and what you wish they would discuss.
Our twitter handle is @mzalendowatch and the hashtag for this initiative is #InTheirWords

You can also post on our FB Fanpage: www.facebook.com/mzalendowatch

Mzalendo will compile the most hilarious and valuable contributions and highlight them on our homepage and Facebook Fanpage. Parliamentarians are paid from your tax shillings so hold them accountable by their own words.

 

Over to you!!

Operation Usalama Watch Needs a Rethink

Posted by on 28th May 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

In early April the government began a nation wide crackdown dubbed ‘Operation Usalama Watch’.  The intention of the operation, arrest and prosecute people suspected of engaging in terrorist activities and eliminate terrorism. However almost two months in one wonders if the operation is achieving this.

Since the start of the operation we have seen the arbitrary arrest, detention and deportation of thousands of people, mostly of Somali descent. According newspaper reports, since the 2nd of April the numbers of people arrested and detained could be upwards of 4,000 a number confirmed by the CS for Interior. These numbers could be higher considering in its first day the operation saw the arrest and detention of 600+ Eastleigh residents, and the operation has since been extended to include South C, Lang’ata, Kawangware and Kasarani. Currently several hundreds of people are being detained at Kasarani Stadium.

According to the Administration Police spokesperson, “the process is all in order, there is nothing wrong happening here. We just needed space and we have used this one…and we would like to ask human rights organisations to stay away until we complete the process.” Human rights reports on the crackdown paint a different picture, (see reports here and here).

If there is nothing wrong with the process and everything is order as stated by the Police spokesperson then there would be no need to ask human rights organisations to stay away.

While it is recognised that the balance between human rights and national security is a challenge world over and that Kenya is no exception. The response to this complex issue requires an equally sophisticated response.

In the way it is being carried out, Operation Usalama Watch seems to have little effect on terrorism, radicalisation of the youth, and religious extremism.

What is clear however is that government should have by now developed a more coherent approach to national security and terrorism as whole and to Operation Usalama Watch in particular i.e. more targeted intelligence, sealing of corruption loopholes, registration of genuine refugees, development of humane conditions and registration for asylum seekers? As opposed to the current approach, which seems both haphazard and desperate, and will undoubtedly adversely, affect innocent persons.

How has the ongoing security operation affected your life?

The Lands Ministry and the National Land Commission

Posted by on 26th May 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

Land has always an emotive issue in Kenya. The new constitution with its provisions on land and the pursuant legislation were all intended to improve country’s contentious land situation. However the recent goings on between the National Land Commission and the Lands Ministry calls into question whether Kenya’s land issue will ever be resolved.

Confidence in the ability of the bodies to resolve the country’s land issues is not helped by the sudden discovery of millions of ‘missing’ files from the lands registry. The first story about the files appeared in the Standard newspaper on 12th of May claiming that 10,000 ‘missing’ files had been discovered, during an audit of the central registry. More recently the Nation newspapers reported that more than a million ‘missing’ or ‘misplaced’ files had been recovered, and according to the Cabinet Secretary for Lands, Charity Ngilu, up to 500,000 files could still be missing.

The fact that so many land files are ‘missing’ or ‘misplaced’ is even more worrying when juxtaposed against the on-going turf wars between the Land Commission and the Lands Ministry. However the ongoing supremacy battles between the two land organs should not be surprising given their almost similar mandates.

Under the Constitution the National Land Commission is charged with managing public land on behalf of the national and county governments; recommending national land policy to the national government; advising the national government on a comprehensive programme for the registration of titles in land throughout the country; conducting research related to land and the use of natural resources, and making recommendations to appropriate authorities; assessing tax on land and premiums on immovable property in any area designated by law; as well as to monitor and have oversight responsibilities over land use planning throughout the country etc

According to the Lands Ministry’s website, its role is providing policy direction, setting national standards and coordination of all matters concerning lands, housing and urban development. The Ministry is responsible for putting in place policies and initiating laws that ensure sustainable land management and that promote sustainable housing for all and foster orderly urban development in the country.

Though the role of the Lands Ministry seems not be expansive as the that of the National Land Commission, one has to admit that the roles of the two organs seem quite similar, so its almost no wonder that the two have been fighting over who does what. The situation is worsened by the fact that the laws that were intended to clarify the land situation including the roles of the different organs governing land were among the laws rushed through Parliament in 2012/2013 to meet the constitutional deadline on lands.

The situation is unlikely to be resolved soon as the Land Commission recently got its budget cut by more than half from (Kshs 1.9 billion to Kshs. 652 million) while the Lands Ministry had its budget increased from Kshs 15.5 billion to Kshs 21.7 billion. The allocation appears to favour the Ministry over the Commission. One hopes with a bigger budget the Ministry will hasten the digitization of the land registry and improve service delivery. It is hoped that the Supreme Court to which the matter has been referred will resolve the issue once and for all.

Have you received better service at the Lands Ministry after it resumed duty following the recent find of ‘missing’ and ‘misplaced’ files?

On the Anglo-Leasing Payment

Posted by on 22nd May 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

Anglo Leasing seems to be one of Kenya’s most convoluted and drawn out scandals to date. The scandal has been going on for over ten years, has spanned three Presidential administrations, and most recently has cost Kenyan taxpayers 1.4 billion shillings (this figure could be much higher if one considers payments which may have made in the past).

This most recent payment is a result of an order entered against the Kenyan government made in a London Court in December 2013. A case at which it turns out that the Kenya government case was inadequately defended. The order has resulting in buck passing between the current and former AG calling in to question their performance in the of role government principal legal advisor.

Since the order was entered, there has been varied response from different factions of the government as to whether Kenya should or should not the pay the court ordered Sh1.4 billion. The issue of whether the payment should be made is even more controversial because the Anglo Leasing companies seem not to exist, the procurement process was riddled with irregularities and allegations of corruption and bribery, and the Kenyan public is not completely abreast of what goods and services where procured and whether these have been delivered.

Prior to the payment the Deputy President fell on the side of not paying stating, “We have not paid any single cent and we are not intending to part with any single coin in payment for dubious projects whose origin we don’t know about. We know there is a court ruling that the government pays Sh1.4 billion but we have said Parliament will have the final say on the matter.”

Shortly after this statement was made there was a meeting between the Cabinet and the Budget and Finance Committees of the National Assembly, after which the two committees recommended the payment of the said contracts. A motion to this effect was later to be presented before the National Assembly but was subsequently withdrawn by the Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman, Mutava Musyimi, following opposition to the from both Jubilee and Cord MPs. The withdrawal effectively halted parliamentary debate on whether or not the country should pay.

In an oddly worded statement the President said that the Sh1.4 billion would have to be paid while simultaneously adding that he stood by the 2006 statement he made as the chair of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee that the amounts should not be paid.

The Government’s decision to settle the payment is premised on: “protecting Kenya’s economy on account of rising interest rates occasioned by domestic borrowing due to constrained access to international borrowing, protecting Kenya’s reputation as a country that meets its contractual obligations and adheres to the rule of law, protecting Kenya’s assets abroad, and, maintaining and improving Kenya’s credit rating currently at B+.” (Read the government’s full statement on the settlementhere)

The President has also ordered the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission to launch fresh investigations into Anglo Leasing. However questions still remain as to who the money is being paid to considering the Auditor General, Parliament, and the High Court have all previously declared the Anglo Leasing companies fictitious? The Presidential directive to pay the Sh1.4 billion also raises the larger question as to the implications of the by-passing of Parliament through a Presidential directive and whether this is the beginning of such a trend, as unconstitutional as it is?

State of the Nation Address (Part 2): Let’s Take a Look at Those Statistics

Posted by on 22nd April 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

Kenya’s First Lady’s historic London Marathon run after barely six months training is a great shot in the arm for the child and maternal health sector; unfortunately, the President’s record after a year in office is not as illustrious.

For instance, with regards to progress in the health sector the President referenced his declaration of free maternal health care in all public hospital and the positive outcomes stemming from this initiative stating, “Before we came to power, we had already pledged to bring free health care to every expectant mother in the nation…trained medical staff in our facilities now attend to 66% of our deliveries, up from 44% barely a year ago.”

That’s a 22% increase, the statistic could simply indicate that more expectant mothers attended public hospitals as a result of the declaration. The statistic says nothing about the quality of service received or whether the move has resulted in the drop in maternal and child mortality rates. It would be great to know if the declaration was accompanied by a commensurate budgetary and human resources allocation.

Initial stories on the uptake of the free maternal health care service indicate otherwise. In fact they show that public hospitals have neither the staff nor the equipment to accommodate the increased demand. A situation that is likely to worsen if medical staff in public hospitals follow through with threats to strike over working conditions and salaries.

Making reference to the Jubilee administration’s promise to resettle all IDPs by the end of 2013 the President stated: “In September 2013 the government began the implementation of the cash payment programme for all IDPs that had not been resettled so far, a total of 8298 households. A total of 777 have received cash payments of Kshs. 400,000 per household total, totalling Kshs. 3.3 billion”

It is unclear whether this statement refers only to the 500,000 displaced from the 2007/2008 post-election violence or all IDPs i.e. the Mau Forest Evictees, PEV IDPs, Coast and Nyanza IDPs, squatters etc. If the statement refers to the latter then the statement may not be at all accurate, as several IDPs still remain in camps, informal settlements and in other areas where they stay displaced from their homes. The statement also obscures the fact that several PEV IDPs claimed they are yet to receive the funds as stated.

With regards to affirmative action the President referenced the setting aside of 30% of government tenders for youth, women and persons with disabilities. Again the statistics given say little about whether this is actually being implemented or if there has been any uptake of the government tenders by the said groups.

The President further stated a third of that the membership of the, “cabinet, senate and county assemblies are now women.” Although, the statistic on the women in the senate is true; it obscures the fact, none of the women in the Senate were elected and cannot cast votes when it on matters to do with counties. There is no woman governor in any of the 47 counties, and there are only 9 women’s deputy governors. In addition, there are counties in which there isn’t a single woman elected as a Member of the County Assembly.

While the President gave no specific statistics on the cost of living, he did make some statements which bare analysis. For instance he stated, “Recognising the need to contain the cost of living, and to improve the competitiveness of our economy, my government instituted measures and initiatives that will doubtlessly lead to a significant reduction of the cost of goods and services…We already have some results to show the price of basic commodities such as fuel, sugar and cooking fats were actually lower in February this year than they were in February 2013.” This whole statement begs a fact check, is the price of basic commodities (maize meal, sugar, wheat flour, oil, milk, and bread) lower now than it was in February 2013? What’s your take?

On Security, Corruption and Terror Attacks

Posted by on 4th April 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

Shortly after the Westgate Attack, making the link between corruption and the increase in terrorism in the Guardian article ‘Kenya: behind the terror is rampant corruption,’ Giles Foden wrote:

 “In Kenya crime and terrorism are deeply linked, not least by the failure of successive Kenyan governments to control either….These attacks are part of a spectrum of banditry, with corruption at one end, terrorism at the other, and regular robbery in the middle. Some Kenyans will feel that the conditions in which the attacks have happened have arisen because of economic growth in a vacuum of governance. Money that should have been spent on security and other aspects of national infrastructure has been disappearing for generations.”

At the time, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed responded with an article of her own denying the link between corruption and the Westgate terror attack titled, ‘Kenya terror attack: corruption wasn’t to blame.’ With the recent terror attacks in Eastleigh the link between corruption and the country’s increased vulnerability to terrorism is one that needs to not only acknowledged but addressed as well.

In the very recent past the President in his State of the Nation address and in subsequent statements has echoed sentiments that appeared in the first Guardian article.

In his State of the Nation address the President while promising that his administration would make added investments in the security sector, the President urged Kenyans to remember that some of the difficulties experienced with were due to three decades of under investment. In another statement the President, highlighted corruption as a major barrier to the implementation of the Prevention of Terrorism Law passed in 2012.

The link between corruption and the country’s susceptibility to is also recognised in the Parliamentary Report on the Inquiry into the Westgate and other attacks in Mandera in North Eastern and Kilifi in the Coastal Region. The report mentions systemic corruption and the link to terror attack stating:

“Corruption has greatly led to the vulnerability of the country in many cases including where immigration officials are compromised thus permitting ‘aliens’ who could be terrorists to enter the country and acquire identification. This enables terrorists ease of movement and are therefore able to plan and execute attacks without the fear of discovery. Further compromising of security officials enables ‘suspected individuals’ to fail to pursue suspected terrorists and enable them to secure early release when caught or reported in suspicious criminal activities.”

Of the link between Kenyan troops in Somalia and the increase in terror attacks in the country the report states, “It should also be interrogated why other countries such as Ethiopia and Burundi who had earlier sent troops to Somalia have not been attacked by the al-shaabab. Tanzania has also not suffered any terrorist attacks after the 1998 bombings. Is it because our security forces are weak, in-disciplined and easily corruptible?”

The report makes further note of nationwide systemic failure on the part of the Immigration Services Department, Department of Refugee Affairs; and Registration of Persons Department, also “rampant corruption by security officers and other government agents,” and  further that, “police officers are corrupt and lax too. They work in cahoots with alShabaab and are paid to pass information to the latter.”

Last week National Assembly rejected the Joint Committees report and the recommendations made therein. However questions and issues in the report raised with regards to the link between corruption and terrorism still remain.

In the face of security challenges reported over the past couple of weeks, what measures would you like the government to undertake to check corruption which opens doors to security lapses?