When Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto dressed as modern “twins” stood before Kenyans to appoint a new government, they promised that no politician would be appointed to the cabinet and that the President and Deputy President would be the only politicians in a team of technocrats and experts. The idea was and remains that these technocrats will work devoted to the law and the Best Practices, paying no heed to tribalism, sycophancy or personal gain. We cheered with three hurrahs.
As Kenyans we had very good reasons to cheer. After all since independence and all for too long, we had seen politicians – the majority having risen from market traders, street conmen, wheeler dealers, village headmen and councillors with limited education – become “Ministers” and proceed to wreck havoc with impunity. Their ignorance was only matched by their hubris. The need to steal as much money as they could was as overwhelming as it was unquenchable.
So when Uhuru Kenyatta named Charity Ngilu and Najib Balala to the cabinet, we got startled but remained hopeful. Then came Kazungu Kambi and we started wondering. Finally when Ole Nkaissery and Eugene Wamalwa arrived on the scene – hired specifically because of their ethnicity and not to promote diversity – we threw up our arms in surrender and sighed helplessly.
The question is could we have been cheated in broad daylight? Are there in fact more politicians in the cabinet than Uhuru Kenyatta told us? Are these politicians disguised as non politicians?
Take Dr. Fred Matiang’i for example. He is listed as one of the most educated ministers in the Uhuru Kenyatta government. A quick search returns the following:
“Dr. Matiangi’s education includes a Ph.D. in communication and comparative literature from the University of Nairobi, an M.A. in English from the University of Nairobi, and a B.A. in education from Kenyatta University. He speaks Swahili, English, and has a working knowledge of French”
It is the first time that I come to discover that Fred Matiang’i is not an IT specialist as he has tried to present himself. At his appointment he made waves and created the impression that he was just as good as Dr. Ndemo who had been a Permanent Secretary in the ministry who some thought would be promoted to the CS position.
Qualifications aside, my beef with Matiang’i is simply his attitude that betrays a high level of impunity, arrogance and a rare form of hubris. He displays a sense of “superiority” over not just ordinary Kenyans but the Constitution. He acts in a way that shows he looks at the Laws of this country as obstacles and not guidelines to help him deliver services.
My suspicions about the man were first aroused when he went to his native Kisii to “represent” The President who had skipped the burial service for 15 victims of a school bus tragedy following a road accident. It is not the booing he got or the fact that he was prevented from addressing the mourners that I noticed. It is his reaction. He made insinuations directed at CORD without offering any evidence. He emerged not as a technocrat but a partisan politician sent to Kisii to be a jubilee party hack.
Hardly had Matiang’i been in office before he embarked on “Chotaraism” (defined as extreme and laughable political sycophancy) by accusing the social media users of exploiting it to ” ‘intentionally’ assassinate the characters of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto”! He clearly sought to become an “information” minister of the old Communist days when News on the National Broadcaster was known as “Information” or “Matangazo”. It is at this point I started doubting his academic qualifications.
Matiang’i then followed up on his sycophancy by making tribal appointments. While naming members of the Board of the Communication Authority of Kenya, he appointed his former classmates and members of the Kikuyu to dominate the board. This overlooked provisions of the constitution that demand diversity in the composition of this and other public institutions. There was an argument peddled that since he did not appoint his own tribesmen as is the practice in Kenya, then he is “not a tribalist” as if discriminating against one’s own tribe is kosher. The High Court rebuked him for the skewed appointments following a legal challenge. Most decent people would resign at such a rebuke especially when the whole idea of naming non politicians was to promote high adherence to ethics, decorum and respect for public morality. He did not resign and instead he sought to find ways to circumvent the court orders!
When Al Jazeera published an expose of the widespread practice of Extrajudicial Executions (EJK) in a country that enacted a new constitution with a robust bill of rights and other freedoms, Matiang’i travelled to Doha to defend the Uhuru Kenyatta regime and attempt to counter the expose. He forgot to read UN reports on the subject before he left and generally made a fool of himself on the screen. There was no explanation why he needed to travel to Doha to offer the defense when he could easily have done the same from any place in Kenya. I guess the wastage of public funds took the back sit.
Matiang’i has widened and increased the intensity of his arrogance with every single day he occupies the Cabinet Secretary position. Uhuru Kenyatta must be liking the crude actions of his CS because when a “vacancy” for an acting minister occurred in the all important ministry of Lands, Uhuru Kenyatta chose Matiang’i to take over. The man wasted no time in giving a dose of his controversial medicine to the new department. In fact this time he went over-board.
First he wrote a kind of draft law that would practically abolish the National Land Commission (NLC) which has more power in the constitution than the so called Ministry of Lands. He proposed that the NLC become a research institution and leave all its constitutional mandate to the Ministry of Lands. It was a clear indication of exactly how intended to manage the new department.
If people thought it was mere bravado and political bluster, they were in for a rude awakening when Matiang’i presided over the preparation of a title deed over Public Land that his ministry has no say or authority over. Not just that the land belongs to Bomet County but managed and administered on its behalf by the NLC. The Law is not just clear but detailed on how such land shall be alienated (see separate story : Uhuru Illegally Allocated Stadium Land to University). He handed the fake title deed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to public utter it.
Matiang’i when challenged over the title deed arrogantly defend his illegal actions citing a section of the law that even a retarded mongrel would tell him is irrelevant.
Earlier we saw that Matiang’i had been reprimanded by the High Court over his appointments to a parastatal board. Naturally one would expect him to be more careful when making similar appointments. On the contrary Matiang’i simply knocked himself out.
When the term of office of the Postal Corporation of Kenya CEO – Mr. Enock Kinara – expired the Board embarked on the recruitment of his replacement. The board had earlier decided not to renew the CEO’s three year term after he failed to meet the minimum 71% score during his evaluation. The PCK has grown to become one of the few demanding employers in Kenya. Kinara is not the first CEO to be shown the door after failing to perform. Matiang’i as the head of the parent ministry of the parastatal would hear nothing of the sort. Board members reported being subjected to undue pressure to award higher marks to Kinara so he could “pass” and stay in his post. It is unbelievable that a ministry headed by an “academic” would be advocating the use of cheating and deception to undermine a process meant to guarantee quality! It appears the board – composed of persons with less education than Matiang’i valued the process higher than the ministry and flunked Enock Kinara.
Matiang’i felt slightly and decided to do what he has learned to do – violate the law. He irregularly renewed the CEO’s contract. The Board of the Postal Corporation of Kenya will hold a special meeting to discuss the illegal action by Fred Matiang’i. PCK Board is not alone in protesting: The State Corporations Advisory Council has also written to Matiang’i strongly opposing the CS’s decision to issue Kinara with a reappointment letter. The Council urged the CS to respect the PCK Board decision to send Kinara home and re-advertise his job.
The procedure for reappointing a CEO requires that the Board evaluate the sitting CEO’s performance. The incumbent CEO must score at least 71 per cent of the set criteria for the Board to write to the CS approving reappointment. If the CEO scores less than the required threshold, the Board sends him home, advertises the position and advises the CS. This is the standard procedure for the appointment of CEOs for parastatals functioning without their own Acts of Parliament.
If he does not climb down and revoke the purported appointment, he is headed for another showdown in the courts where he will lose – with the costs being absorbed by the taxpayer. There is already a well established precedent making it an easy task for any challengers. A normal person, even if he chose to ignore asking the AG for advice, would have long understood that he stood no chance in court. But Matiang’i has a super ego and is not about to surrender.
Why is Matiang’i hell bent of having Enock Kinara re-appointed? Is Kinara singularly gifted or endowed for this job? Is he an academic giant from whom PCK would gain tremendously from his well of knowledge? The answer is NO.
In brief Kinara has seen PCK make huge losses. He illegitimately uses the title “Doctor” on the basis of a PhD from an unaccredited degree in business administration from the infamous Washington International University.
It has also been emerging that Matiang’i is not the technocrat he claims to be but a political activist loyal to Simeon Nyachae, for whom he campaigned vigorously over the years.