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Zain Verjee rejected Uhuru’s offer to head PSCU, Itumbi alleges

Former Senior Director of Digital Communications in State House Dennis Itumbi has detailed the behind the scenes of the post-2013 general election as President Uhuru Kenyatta sought to set up his communication team.

Itumbi, who was officially fired from the position last March, also described how he was frustrated while working at State House.

Itumbi was among five individuals who were let go in March after the Public Service Commission (PSC) scrapped five positions within the Presidential Strategic Communications Unit (PSCU) and terminated the contracts of those holding the posts.

He had worked at the house on the hill since President Kenyatta was elected in 2013.

In a series of posts he shared on his Facebook account, Itumbi sought to debunk what he termed as “lies that have been told for far too long”.

Itumbi now a critic of the Jubilee administration, started his narration from 2013 when Jubilee coalition won the highly contested presidential election.

The ardent supporter of Deputy President William Ruto claims that things were not all rosy from the onset.

According to Itumbi, the head of state after he was sworn in was looking to set up a vibrant communication team and his first choice was then CNN anchor Zain Verjee who turned down the offer and the president eventually settled on Manoah Esipisu.

“The year is 2013. We have a new President and his Deputy. The new President is putting up his communications team. He is about to let go Isaya Kabira, the question is who should take over. The New President wants Zein Verjee of CNN to take the job. She is contacted. She asks for time. She reverts with a regret message – I need to complete my studies and I have a contract extension at CNN. I cannot take up the job,” he writes.

Nairobi News could not independently authenticate his claims.

Itumbi claims it was under the new leadership that he witnessed frustrations that affected the delivery of the president’s communication team claiming that they went for a year without pay.

He claims that he coined the title Presidential Strategic Communications Unit (PSCU) for rebranding instead of the previous one Presidential Press Service (PPS) but the same was not signed off, until he approached Mr Kenyatta.

“I activated gear two and waited for the President, who signed it off. I did not go back to the duo,” he adds.

“They saw it as Breaking News on their phones as they took their stroll in the gardens.”

This he says to them was a betrayal and what followed were frustrations after another as the system was “fighting back.”

“For a whole year, avoiding the details, we worked without a salary and accessed State House only on the strength of a News Release,” he said.

Mr Esipisu has since been appointed Kenya’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (U.K) in 2018 with TV anchor Kanze Dena taking his position at State House.

For his part, Itumbi has found a new home in DP Ruto’s corner.