A broke Kenya Wildlife Service is in no one’s interests but …


(Posted 18th October 2017)

The publication of the report by the Auditor General’s office about their findings at KWS do not make pretty reading.
The organization, key to Kenya’s wildlife based tourism sector’s future survival, was called ‘technically insolvent‘, in other words well near if not outright broke and tourism stakeholders were swift to dismiss KWS’s mitigative statement that this was all caused by an increase in compensation the statutory body has to pay following a change in law.
The focus of those who spoke out to this publication rather focuses on the way the organization is run and Chairman Dr. Richard Leakey has personally again come under fire as allegations persist that he has turned the Kenya Wildlife Service into his personal fiefdom.
After driving out a man of otherwise impeccable reputation, the immediate former Executive Director Kitili Mbathi, did Leakey set out to reshape the reporting lines in the organisation with focus on him rather than following good practice where departments report to the CEO who in turn reports to the board.
KWS does not have an executive chairman as far as I know and as far as the law provides. I and many others speculate that he is using the present political situation to entrench himself so much that when finally the election season is over he has created facts hard to reverse. I personally maintain my past stand that he is way beyond his prime, that his present actions do not help KWS and that he must go, and sooner than later. The audit report is damning and because he is the one on charge, he made himself to be in charge, the buck stops with him. There is no substantive ED he can blame and blaming laws of just compensation also shows what frame of mind he is. Time is up Richard, time to leave before the axe falls and completely wrecks your legacy‘ ranted a regular contributor from Nairobi though his words in essence reflected the overwhelming sentiment expressed to this author when raising the issue with key stakeholders.
Another used the phrase ‘Chairman Almighty‘ after in early September the board on Leakey’s bidding restructured the organization with two key portfolios now apparently reporting to him directly instead of following regular procedures.
Questions are also being asked about the true role one Mark Jenkins is playing at the organization, a personal buddy of Leakey, who is seen by many as his mentor’s fifth column in KWS, recruited to do his master’s bidding.
While other government offices linked to KWS have kept schtum on the change of reporting lines and subsequent internal memes will the report of the Auditor General very likely not be ignored. It is understood that parliamentary oversight activities might kick in soon to get to the bottom of the KWS undercurrents with the aim to put Kenya’s wildlife management body back on level keel, so watch this space.

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