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Why Itumbi and Co. are going nowhere

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[dropcap]P[/dropcap]resident Uhuru Kenyatta has hinted at retaining his communications team for his second term despite sharp criticism it has received over the manner it has handled the docket.

The President met the State House-based Presidential Strategic Communications Unit (PSCU), which is headed by Manoah Esipisu, before they took a festive holidays break and from the body language, he is likely to dissapoint those who have been looking forward to seeing the likes of Digital Communications Director Dennis Itumbi let to go.

“Asanteni sana – you have done a good job this year. I appreciate. A lot more will be demanded of you in 2018 ,” a tweet on the @PresidentKE, which was accompanied by the photos of the event, read.

The team has heavily been censured for engaging in political fights with those they view as critics of President Uhuru and by extension, the Jubilee administration, especially on social media and sometimes embarrasing the President.

Recently, the team came under criticism for using the official State House Twitter communications account to disparagely take on lawyer Donald Kipkorir, who had raised issue with Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko over waste management in the city.  The post (above) was later pulled down with what NTV journalist Larry Madowo calls a “nimble apology.”

Also a photo of multi-billion Anglo Leasing scandal mastermind Deepak Kamani shaking hands with the President at a Coast hotel he owns during the governors’ induction retreat raised eyebrows.

“The same Head of State who said it will no longer business as usual and every shilling would be accounted for mixing with a man whose name pops up in every corruption scandal is a new low. If his communications team got over their own self- importance and worried about optics, they would know that such a meeting should never happen, whether in public or private,” Madowo wrote in his weekly column, #FrontRow, in the Daily Nation last week.

“He has been speaking out of both ends of his mouth, authorising a further payment of Sh1.4 billion to two Anglo Leasing-type firms while calling the scam “a thorn in the flesh of the Kenyan nation”’ How he is comfortable being photographed with such a man when his party has frequently railed against Nasa’s embrace of another well-connected “tenderpreneur”, Jimmy Wanjigi, is baffling,” the acerbic journalist added.

President Uhuru Kenyatta poses for a group photo with the PSCU team before they broke for the Christmas holidays

Apart from Esipisu and Itumbi, others in the team include head of public communications Munyori Buku, chief of messaging at the Presidency Eric Ng’eno, branding and events head James Kinyua and Munira Mohammed, who joined the unit much later.

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The team has also been previously accussed of publishing information purporting to come from the Presidency and failure to follow procedure when dealing with the media.

At one time, Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery (now deceased) warned the PSCU against issuing unauthorised communication on the country’s national security matters.

PSCU has in the past five years also had to grapple with internal fights that at one time saw the team sideline Esipisu, whom they viewed as an johnie-come-lately as he was plucked from the Commonwealth headquarters in London to head the unit.

The wars saw the “senior” directors suspended by Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua and later relocated to Harambee House but they later wormed their way back to State House by reaching out directly to the President.




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BT Reporter
BT Reporterhttp://www.businesstoday.co.ke
editor [at] businesstoday.co.ke
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