Kenya Wildlife Service Board chairman Richard Leakey has announced major management changes at the troubled conservation agency and re-appointed former Managing Director Nehemiah Rotich as the Chief Operating Officer.
Mr Rotich will be in charge of Finance, Administration and Human Resources among others.
In a memo seen by the Sunday Nation, KWS/223 dated September 5, 2017, the world renowned conservationist seems to have made changes that put him at the apex of management hierarchy by having the two powerful directorates report to him directly.
Previous line departments reported to the Director General who reported to the Board, while the new tri-polar structure has two new directorates reporting to the board directly.
Dr Leakey has retained a tight grip on KWS, wildlife conservation policy and management affairs since he spearheaded the founding of the premier wildlife management agency in 1989 to replace the defunct Game Department.
Through the internal memo, Dr Leakey announced the move to split the office of the Director General into two powerful directorates headed by two veteran conservationists “pending completion of review and structuring”.
In the new structure, former Meru National Park warden Mark Jenkins is retained as advisor to the two directorates.
Acting director general and immediate former head of parks and reserves, Mr Julius Kimani, was elevated to head one of the new powerful directorates, that of Conservation Services and Law Enforcement Services.
The new docket clusters several departments previously headed by deputy directors among them Security, Parks and Reserves, Devolution and Community Wildlife Services, Biodiversity, Research and Monitoring, Species Conservation and Management, Intelligence, Airwing and Inspectorate among others.
Mr Kimani will however retain his current role as acting Director General which he assumed last month after the controversial departure of immediate DG, Mr Kitili Mbathi.
The latest changes also see former KWS head, Amb Nehemiah Rotich make a second coming this time as a powerful Chief Operating Officer (COO) and head of the new Corporate Affairs directorate reporting directly to the board and not to the DG.
Ambassador Rotich’s directorate also forms the nerve centre of the new structure with a cluster of critical departments among them Finance and Administration, Human Resources (renamed human capital), Corporate Services/Infrastructure, Strategy and Change among others.
Under Mr Rotich’s functional terms of reference, the name of Mark Jenkins is inserted as a note in bold type (NB) stating:
“Mr Mark Jenkins currently serving as advisor on secondment from Zoological Society of London will continue advising both interim director of conservation and chief operation officer.”
“The Board approved the immediate establishment of the two new directorates in consultation with the State Corporations Advisory Committee (SCAC),” reads the memo which is signed by the acting director general and copied to all headquarters and field staff.
The SCAC is chaired by Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua.
Mr Rotich, a former Kenya representative to the UNEP, was two years ago hired as a consultant by the government to conduct an audit of the state of affairs at the KWS following an outcry over runaway slaughter of wildlife with security breaches in KWS protected facilities becoming the order of the day.
Mr Rotich’s audit came on the heels of the departure of another high profile CEO, Dr Julius Kipng’etich, together with his deputy director in charge of security, Mr Peter Lipitor, who has since been redeployed to the Environment ministry.
Among Mr Rotich’s recommendations was to devolve functions and delegate more decision making authority to the regions as well as to allow for quick responses to situations.
However, the new structure seems oriented in the opposite direction of centralised management.
Neither Dr Leakey, KWS communications director, Mr Paul Gathitu, Acting DG, Mr Julius Kimani, nor Conservation Secretary, Dr Gideon Gathaara, have made any public statement on the high stakes intrigues that have rocked the organisation for months.