News has emerged that the Kenya Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources had formed an action team committee to put the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) back on track, and has given the team 100 days to come up with results. This action ran into immediate criticism when stakeholders accused the ministry of trying to bring back the “old guard” with former KWS CEO Rotich and several others to provide a platform to manage KWS from the within the ministry. The six vacant positions, of two heads of department and four deputy directors, were also filled according to the announcement made by the Principal Secretary Lesiyampe, himself a former KWS staffer, with personnel on an acting basis, while the substantive office holders are on forced leave to allow investigations to unfold, a witch-hunt as some portrayed it and an overdue move as others interpreted it, showing how divided the views are over anything happening at KWS these days.
“What the cabinet secretary should have done, and it is frankly long overdue and her reluctance to act speaks volumes now, is to appoint a substantive new board of trustees for the organization. It is the board which can provide guidance and make policy decision as it ought to do under the relevant laws and regulations. Now instead of doing what she is required to do by law, to appoint a new board, she instead introduces a committee of people who have not undergone any scrutiny about how suitable they are or why and how they got selected. It is this sort of failures and underhand moves which gives KWS a bad name, gives her an even worse name and makes the Jubilee government look like a bunch of amateurs.
“I am wondering if and what for she is buying time? Do we have to wait for another three months before a new board is appointed? What powers does the committee have to get involved in the running of KWS and interfere with day to day business? Is Rotich now the overlord to Kiprono? And why does she not have the guts to make that announcement herself and send instead her Principal Secretary? Too many questions and too few answers,” ranted a regular conservation source, also citing on condition of anonymity several KWS staff the source spoke with who were up in arms over the latest moves by the Cabinet Secretary Prof. Judi Wakhungu.
The fundamental question though must be, is this sheer panicky activism or a well-planned and carefully considered action by a Cabinet Secretary who has in recent weeks come under increasing pressure over her failure to act in the face of a widening wildlife poaching crisis. Time no doubt will tell what impact, if any, the committee will have and if it will in the end have enhanced the war against poaching or impeded it and thereby ultimately became a costly failure and waste of precious time.