NAIROBI – The board of the government-funded regulator Media Council of Kenya has appointed a special panel to investigate Executive Director Haron Mwangi over allegations of mismanagement, the Jackal News reports today, shining the spotlight on a media watchdog that has found it comfortable to operate below the radar.

Mr Mwangi was named barely a year ago to run the Media Council of Kenya (MCK), but sources said he has faced fierce opposition from some ranking bureaucrats who wanted their cronies in the office. “We do not know how true the allegations are, but it appears to us that somebody is out to get the man especially at time when the council is making sense to the media,” a source explained, adding that Information PS Bitange Ndemo is monitoring the situation carefully.

Some sources inside the MSK say the mismanagement allegations are part of a vendetta being instigated by two MCK staff members, who have previously been accused of pushing one of their colleagues out of a job. “It is true, we are told that the board met and formed a panel to investigate him,” Jackal News quotes a source at the Ministry of Information ministry as saying.

Sources explained that Mr Mwangi’s troubles began when two staff members – named as Procurement Manager Jane Kiyayi and Finance Manager Zalpha Amulega – wrote letters to some board members complaining that Mr Mwangi was corrupt and was looking down upon some staff members. “So, we are told that the board had to meet and make a decision on it.

The panel is expected to give a report in a week’s time,” the source explained. Jackal News failed to obtain the letters and those who saw the letters refused to divulge details. Numerous sources however said the two ladies – one reportedly tells friends the she voluntarily left Cotton Board of Kenya to MSK – indirectly pushed out Moses Okinyi from his MCK job. Okinyi could not be reached for comment.

Mr Mwangi grew from a Post Bank communication functionary, and negotiated his way through reading books and research papers until he earned a Phd from the University of Nairobi where he lectured. Sources said the MCK is being weakened by infighting.

“It is embarrassing that another bout of vendetta will further affect the body and eventually, it may lose its funding from a German NGO. We need allegations to be investigated to the latter and if they are true, Mwangi should be reprimanded and if they are false, then the two ladies should be shown the door for displaying a classic case of insubordination,” said another source who has previously worked with MCK.

Other sources familiar with MCK affairs said the latest show-down could have resulted from communication breakdown. This is not the first time MCK is facing a crisis. Last year, controversial unionist Eric Orina filed case in the court to throw out all the board members on allegations that were appointed illegally, according to a suit notice seen by the Jackal News.

The case is still in court and all indications are that Orina, also ferocious board member, has hinted at withdrawing it. Other allegations claim that Orina persistence compelled Royal Media Services (RMS) chief Waruru Wachira out of office. Critics have accused the Council of failure to meet its mandate in the face of deeply offensive broadcasts, notably from Classic FM, which draws popularity from sex talk. (Reporting by JACKAL NEWS)

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