- The President’s political organisation had ran a one of a kind glitzy and on message campaign, with the word digital being thrown around a lot.
- There was brouhaha over a tweet sent from the President’s official Twitter handle, a not so subtle anti-corruption message construed to be targeted at the Deputy President.
When President Uhuru Kenyatta assumed office in 2013, there was an undoubted sense that his would be a savvy government, especially with regard to communication.
The President’s political organisation had ran a one of a kind glitzy and on message campaign, with the word digital being thrown around a lot.
However, on assuming office, things started unfolding in the opposite direction. Corruption became the new buzz word, with the President literally throwing his hands in the air at one point.
By this time, the citizenry had grown weary of the President’s hitherto effective public relations machine.
It was proof of the adage that people campaign in poetry — neat, succinct, rhythmic lines — but govern in prose — long, winding verbose.
By 2017, most, if not all, government communication seemed like spin. There was Manoah Esipisu, now Kenya’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, an old hand serving as State House Spokesman. Then there was the Dennis Itumbi-led brigade of digital warriors.
By 2019, there appears to be a complete lack of coherence, with the mishandling of questions around the standard gauge railway (SGR), the housing levy and Huduma Namba being but examples of a fumbling lot, either unable to articulate government positions or confirming that there exists no internal clarity.
During a previous live interview, President Kenyatta promised NTV’s Mark Maasai a copy of the SGR contract, to clear doubts about at-risk national assets were Kenya to default on its debt obligations to China.
Consequently, Esipisu’s replacement, Kanze Dena, upon inquiry, promised a second journalist, the Daily Nation’s Edwin Okoth, that the SGR contract would be circulated to journalists in due course.
As questions about the contract persisted, the President’s Chief of Staff, Nzioka Waita, had to recently step in to categorically state that no journalist would receive the contract since the President had been counselled against such action by the Attorney General.
Surprisingly, Waita further suggested that the President had in fact been ambushed by Mark Maasai.
It wasn’t the first nor last time Waita was being forced to publicly intervene. In the Huduma Namba marketing-cum-coercion spree, Francis Wangusi, Director General of the Communications Authority, declared that there was a possibility of insisting on one having a Huduma Namba as a prerequisite for owning a SIM card.