#FRONTROW: Waiguru would have saved face by quitting earlier

Monday November 23 2015

Former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne

Former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru responds to questions before the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee on November 4, 2015. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By LARRY MADOWO
More by this Author

Just over a fortnight ago, 19-year-old Ian Waiguru posted a video of himself driving an Aston Martin on his Instagram page.

His mother,  Devolution Cabinet secretary Anne Waiguru, was at the time feverishly fighting attempts to have her step aside even by the president’s own party. Even though the video was quickly

taken down and Ian’s account deactivated, nothing is ever really deleted from the Internet.

Bloggers, Twitterati and everyone else in the great big echo chamber of the worldwide Web jumped on the

ride to condemn him and his mother.

“A diabolical machine has been applied incessantly by misinformed and mischievous parties to discredit, intimidate and harass both my professional and personal integrity,” she said on Saturday when

she resigned. Anything and everything has been fair game, including attacks on my children.”

The attack on Ian, for instance, was so relentless that he took to his Twitter account to clear the air about the car that was claimed to be his.

“Just to clear up something for people, no, I do not own an Aston Martin. I have, however, driven one belonging to a good friend that let me,” he tweeted. “So no, the car does not belong to me or anyone in my family. And the video was just a fun little post.”

Ian runs a small accessories business, Something Inc, which designs and manufactures custom-made skins for mobile phones and laptops.

THOROUGHLY IMPRESSIVE ENTREPRENEUR

When I interviewed him in late May, he was a thoroughly impressive entrepreneur who still manages to juggle that with school.

Just a week earlier, I had emceed at the launch of 21-year-old Celestine Mangiti’s debut novel, The Attaché.

“We’ve been blessed that our children are doing things that amplify the work that we do at the ministry,” her father, engineer Peter Mangiti, said in his speech.

He might have been principal secretary for devolution and planning, but on that night he was just a proud dad. Anne Waiguru was the chief guest.

For some strange reason, almost every public official who swears not to resign ends up doing just that, often shortly after that defiant declaration.

The most famous must have been then finance minister Amos Kamunya, who stood up at a rally and boldly declared that he would not be vacating his office at the Treasury building.

Then MP Boni Khalwale’s rallying cry, “Kimunya must go!” became such an iconic statement that some people still use it as a ringtone today.

In the past two administrations alone, there have been numerous other such characters who stood up to spit in the faces of their employers, the long-suffering Kenyan taxpayers, and maintained that

they would not be going anywhere. Oh how the mighty fall.

Around the time the calls for Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru to resign hit fever pitch, VW CEO Martin Winterkorn quietly resigned after an emissions scandal he knew nothing about.

“I am doing this in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part,” he said.

At the beginning of this month, Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta resigned after some 20,000 people took to the streets to protest over a nightclub fire that killed 32 people.

“I’m handing in my mandate, I’m resigning, and implicitly, my government too,” Ponta said in a statement. Neither Winterkorn nor Ponta was directly involved in the mismanagement of their

situations, but the buck stopped with them and they knew what needed to be done.

STATEHOUSE BLOGGERS

Kenyans never resign and hang on to their plum jobs because of an inexplicable hubris and a crushing sense of entitlement. In Waiguru’s case, State House’s semi-mythical “36 bloggers” were

engaged to take control of the narrative and paint her as a whistleblower who had done nothing wrong.

Even though they got several sympathetic or outright sycophantic hashtags to the top of Twitter, trending topics are not what they used to be.

They can’t even help your client keep her job even though she has been trending for weeks, sigh. These social media streets are brutal!

Maybe Waiguru would have saved herself the grief, health problems and public ridicule by stepping aside when her dignity was still largely intact.

She had built a reputation as a high-performing, no-nonsense Cabinet secretary but all that was eroded by one scandal, manufactured or not. It is more honourable to be reinstated after investigations

bring up nothing than go through the pain of trial by public opinion.

She will probably weather the storm, get a soft landing, maybe even the “lighter” duties the President may deem fit for her but her second act will be harder.

Though he left the government in different circumstances, former Interior CS Joseph ole Lenku is yet to show face in public. So here’s some counter-intuitive advice: if there are questions about your docket, step aside!

 

***

Why Moses Kuria wants Senate scrapped

This has been debated for nearly half a decade now, but it just won’t go away. Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria wants the Woman Representative’s position in the National Assembly removed.

He believes that the country does not need senators either, and that that House should go. “We do not need 349 MPs, 200 are enough,” he argues. India has 548 Members of the Lok Sabha with a population of 1 billion people.”

He claims that the “total cost of maintenance for each MCA is close to Sh1 million.”

He is not the first to suggest a reduction in the number of elected representatives at the national and county levels, but is probably the most odd.

He rightfully says that Kenya is over-represented, and that regional groupings bringing together several neighbouring counties are the future.

The controversial MP cites the North Rift Economic Block that combines eight counties as a roadmap to fewer counties: just turn each into a single county.

 

***

Zuckerberg’s two-month paternity leave

Mark Zuckerberg might want to put out an “out of office response” for Facebook. The social networking site’s founder and CEO is taking off for a two- month paternity leave when his daughter gets here. He and his wife, Dr Priscilla Chan, are expecting a baby girl after three miscarriages.

“Studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, outcomes are better for the children and families,” he wrote on his page.

According to the US Department of Labour, only 12 per cent of workers in the private sector are offered paid family leave by their employers. It is the dark ages in America, alas.

“At Facebook, we offer our US employees up to four months of paid maternity or paternity leave, which they can take throughout the year,” he continued.

Tech companies tend to have better perks in America than your typical brick-and-mortar business.

Yahoo CEO attracted criticism when she said she would return to work just two weeks after delivering twins. Like at Facebook, her employees can take up to 16 weeks off when they have children. Kenya’s two-week paternity leave is still progressive relative to the rest of the world.