Dennis Itumbi: I Worked at State House for One Year Without Pay

  • File image of Digital Strategist Dennis Itumbi in court in July 2019
    File image of Digital Strategist Dennis Itumbi in court in July 2019
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  • Dennis Itumbi, formerly the Director of Innovation, Digital and Diaspora Communication in the Office of the President on Thursday, August 8, claimed that he worked in the position for a year without pay.

    Itumbi was explaining the behind-the-scenes drama that characterised his stint at State House as a member of the Presidential Strategic Communications Unit (PSCU).

    Itumbi claimed that former State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu, now Kenya's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, was instrumental in the woes that he faced before his unceremonious exit from the position in March 2020.

    He claimed that they particularly crossed paths as Itumbi played an instrumental role in the transition of the President's communications team from the Presidential Press Service (PPS) to the Presidential Strategic Communications Unit (PSCU).

    Former Digital Communications Director at the Presidential Strategic Communications Unit Dennis Itumbi.
    Former Digital Communications Director at the Presidential Strategic Communications Unit Dennis Itumbi.
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    Itumbi noted that changes he proposed to transform the team faced opposition from Manoah Esipisu, whose approval he required for PSCU to be formed and new hires made.

    The digital strategist revealed that after being kept waiting by a reluctant Manoah, he decided to bypass him and approached President Uhuru Kenyatta directly to sign off on the project, which he did. 

    "They (Manoah) saw it as Breaking News on their phones as they took their stroll in the gardens. 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 wrote.

    He maintained that the changes he proposed were informed by a desire to re-shape the communication of the Presidency to suit the modern, digital age.

    "The idea was that the Presidency, in the modern era did not need to be covered but communicated. I made a small mistake there by naming it a Unit as I was to learn later. Lessons of Life," he wrote.

    Itumbi's stint at PSCU was marked by a combative defense of the President and government projects online.

    The re-organisation of the President's communications team which included the axing of Itumbi was perceived as part of a major overhaul of State House's communications strategy.

    His position, as well as several others within the PSCU, was scrapped as part of the re-structuring.

    Other scrapped positions included Senior Director, Communications (Events and Branding), Senior Director, Communications (Speech Writing), Director, Communications (Events and Branding) and the Principal Information Officer (Head of Digital Strategies).

    Dennis Itumbi (Second from right) with former members of the Presidential Strategic Communications Unit.
    Dennis Itumbi (Second from right) with former members of the Presidential Strategic Communications Unit.
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