Of governors and poor communication….

Posted on September 16, 2013

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Hail devolution. We now have 47 mini presidents that have not fallen short of asking for diplomatic passports in addition to customized number plates.

The 47 to say the least are imperial presidents. Their actions reeks of unchecked behavior and demands. Demands that most recently saw  President Uhuru Kenyatta pull the ‘tuheshimiane’ line on them. Maybe the president is also fed up with them.

But my concern is that these governors are yet to learn the art of communication. Or maybe they have learnt but not willing to put in practice. Save for two or three of them (Ali Hassan Joho and Alfred Mutua) the rest are operating in the dark.

Borrowing from my newsroom experience, getting some of these governors to speak is a tough luck. The number of unofficial channels (proxies) that one must get past is frustrating.

Given, they are politicians. As a result, they have learnt to play the part. However this is quite selfish in terms of helping the electorate understand their ‘vision and mission’

Like all of us, they have taken to social media. Several twitter pages and Facebook pages bear the names and titles of these gentlemen. But the effective use of the platforms by them is wanting. The pages however streams of hundreds of photos of governor so and so meeting this and that group- The famous photo-op.

While the pages welcome questions and comments on the happenings within their governments, such are not responded to effectively. On twitter, most of the tweets are actually re-tweets on questions that deserves answers or clarifications. That is how bad they are doing. 

More recently governors have raided newsrooms for ‘communication specialists’. Hardened reporters and some editors have left their pens and note books ‘to go and serve’. However, not much is being realized on these fronts. A number have shared with me their frustration on the attempts to ‘open up’ the free speech and public engagements.

Some of their bosses they say are hardened politicians. They believe that when all is well, there is no need to involve either the media or the public. 

I’m told of articles in the constitution that spells out how engagement with the public by the county governments. Just how many have adhered to that. I’d love to celebrate them.

The long shot of it is that our governors have taken communication too lightly. They should borrow a leaf from the central government that has revamped its communication unit. The Presidential Strategic Communications Unit (PSCU) is actually doing some good job. They respond to tweets and Facebook comments when need be. They have made the presidency accessible. 

The ‘mini-presidents’ must emulate that. Have functioning communication teams that are open and accessible. They owe it to us, the electorate

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