President Kenyatta will continue to suffer a bad press if his PSCU continues acting as if it is Amateur Nite at the Apollo! Take this rubbish with the moving-target story about the stolen BMW. The Digital Directors of the PSCU should have kept their thumbs off their iPhone touchscreens until they knew what they were going to say, and how they were going to say it. When a person in a "sensitive" position as a State House "driver" is carjacked by armed men, the reaction should not be to blithely declare that "he is not a member of the President's Fleet" as if that in itself is sufficient explanation.
Don't Mr Esipisu and his directors wonder what even halfway intelligent Kenyans will make of their statements? The message has been received and understood. al Shabaab can murder members of the President's family without being troubled by our Special Forces. Car-jackers not only seem to be targetting members of the President's extended family with impunity, they are now targetting "drivers" out of State House. No wonder Inspector-General Kimaiyo wants an "intelligence" unit of his own.
But the worst management of the news cycle is the one on the billion-shilling drugs haul set to be destroyed at the Coast. Mombasa and Malindi are the preferred gateways of narcotics into Kenya. The last time around it was a very large consignment of cocaine. By the time that saga was over and done with, and the drugs destroyed, GSU officers were dead, NIS officers were dead, policemen were in hiding, politicians were blacklisted from ever setting foot on US soil ever again, and Kenyans' faith in the forces of law and order took another giant knock. You would think that Manoah Esipisu and his team would have drawn lessons about how to handle information this time round. Lightning rarely strikes the same place twice; regarding this drugs business, it did and Mr Esipisu and his team are pissing the opportunity away.
Maybe I have too much faith in my peers in the civil service. Maybe I have too much faith in #TeamDigital. What they have achieved in the past eighteen months would make even the most sunniest of dispositions cloud over and brig forth buckets of tears at the wasted opportunities. When the MV Bushehr was intercepted in the Port of Mombasa, Mr Esipisu should have set up a special team to keep abreast of developments in the matter and advise the Inspector-General, the Director of Criminal Investigations and the Director of Public Prosecutions on the best way to tell the story. Where it proved difficult to get the proper information out of these offices, he should have enlisted the help of the Chief of Staff who would rope in the Interior Cabinet Secretary.
Then Mr Esipisu should have read up on the law, and not just the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act, 1994. He should have taken time to familiarise himself with the Nairobi Convention also known as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas, the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, the National Environment Management Act, 1999, the National Police Service Act, 2011, and, of course, the bits of the Criminal Procedure Code, Penal Code and Constitution that dealt with due process, rule of law and presumption of innocence. In this, Abdikadir Mohammed, the President's Advisor on Legislative and Constitutional Affairs would have been an invaluable resource.
When the Magistrate took pleas from the crew of the MV Bushehr, Mr Esipisu should have known what happens next. When the Prosecutor applied for the destruction of the remainder of the consignment after taking samples for analyses, Mr Esipisu should have understood how the process worked. When the President demanded audience when the drugs were being destroyed, Mr Esipisu should have known which bits of the law applied and which ones did not. Mr Esipisu is not a legal eagle, nor is he a criminal or constitutional lawyer. But he is not a moron either. But so far he has demonstrated such a casual disregard for the finer points of messaging that we remain to wonder what the hell these people were thinking when it came to this drugs business.
Drugs gave Mwai Kibaki's governments a whiff of narco-corruption that simply refused to fade away. Artur Brothers and narco-tarfficking remain an indelible stain on Mwai Kibaki's government. Uhuru Kenyatta risks being similarly tarred if the geniuses in the PSCU do not get their shit together. They call themselves "strategic communicators;" what they are is a privileged cohort of civil servants who are doing the bare minimum when it comes to their duties, but lining their pockets as fast as possible. If this PSCU does not have the capacity to shape the presidential national narrative, if it ever did, then perhaps it is time we simply went back to the Presidential Press Unit days of mass choirs and obsequious fawning on KBC radio and TV. It'd be less embarassing than the schlock peddled today in the name of "strategic communications."