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Uhuru media team fate hangs in the balance

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The State House-based Presidential Strategic Communications Unit (PSCU) is likely to be dissolved as the government moves to consolidate its messaging system to make it more coordinated and effective. Business Today has reliably learnt that all government communications, including the presidency, will be channelled from a central place – the Government Communications Unit (GCU) – which will be placed under the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government at Harambee House.

The move puts at stake the jobs of the PSCU directors, Munyori Buku (public communications), Eric Ng’eno (messaging), Dennis Itumbi (digital communications and diaspora), James Kinyua (branding and events)  and Munira Mohammed at stake though there is a possibility they would be redeployed or absorbed in the GCU.

PSCU head Manoah Esipisu is likely to survive as he doubles as the State House spokesman. He was in the President’s entourage to the UK. Keen observers could have also noticed that Chief of Staff and Head of the Presidential Delivery Unit Nzioka Waita, who is at the core of implementing the government’s transformation strategy, has taken to tweeting updates on the presidency.

The latest was on the President’s interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, which he termed the “hottest interview” though it is Itumbi who confirmed Friday it would air at 9pm tonight.

The PSCU, which was created in July, 2013 to succeed the the Presidential Press Service headed by Isaiah Kabira, has previously been heavily censured for engaging in political fights with those they view as critics of President Uhuru Kenyatta and by extension, the Jubilee administration, especially on social media and sometimes embarrassing the President.

Many observers are confused on differentiating when they are expressing their own standpoints and when they are speaking on behalf of the presidency and State House.

READ: Kenyan woman makes it to TIME 100 list for 2018

When they were briefly suspended in 2016, the Daily Nation concluded they had turned into” lobbyists, challengers, damage control journalists, provocateurs, public relations experts and mischief makers.” They were later reinstated by Nzioka following appeals to President Uhuru but after what was said to have been a thorough dress-down on operations and practice. It seems they never learnt.

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 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.

Chief of Staff, who then doubled as Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua was at some point forced to  relocate them to Harambee House but they later wormed their way back to State House by reaching out directly to the President. During the last election, Ng’eno and Itumbi were ever on the frontline taking on NASA leaders and functionaries. At one time, Ng’eno issued a statement castigating NASA leader Raila Odinga using the PSCU handle.

Related: State House media team back – but not for long

However, the plan to dissolve the team comes despite President Uhuru congratulating them late last year for a job well done. “Asanteni sana @PSCU_Digital – you have done a good job this year. I appreciate. A lot more will be demanded of you in 2018 #HappyHolidays,” a tweet on the @PresidentKE on December 22 read.

Signs that all was not well emerged last month when Ng’eno wrote a commentary in the Nation critiquing court ruling on Miguna Miguna case and signed off merely as an advocate of the High Court. Itumbi has also in recent days taken a low profile on social media, politically speaking, with his Facebook page that previously was an arena for fierce exchanges saturated his ‘Pastor’s Moment’ musings.

NEXT: Betty Kyallo – Meet the drama queen off screen

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