Dennis Itumbi can’t just avoid egg on the face

Dennis Itumbi during a past interview. [File, Standard]
One-time State House digital communications guru Dennis Itumbi has egg all over his face.

And it has to do with a rather ambitious attempt to inform the world that the Deputy President William Ruto’s wife was alive to the drought ravaging parts of the Rift Valley and therefore doing something about it.

But the whole thing bombed. In some Kenyan languages, itumbi means egg, something the blogger now has all over the face.

"I apologize for images I shared here earlier. Mama Rachel Ruto was not in Turkana. I relied on unverified images. This was my mistake and I am sorry," Dennis Itumbi told his 778,000 followers on Twitter yesterday.

It was the aftermath of one of the -- now common -- horrendous and self-inflicted gaffes that have consumed Dennis Itumbi, the former State House secretary of Innovation, Digital and Diaspora Communication. Former because he now communicates more about the Deputy President but the president.

Itumbi, a press honcho for Deputy President William Ruto, had posted that DP Ruto's wife Rachel Ruto had been in Turkana donating foodstuffs.

The pictures from 2014, were meant to portray Mrs Ruto as responding to the current hunger that is sweeping through dry villages in Turkana.

"I have since deleted them. May the record reflect the true position and my apology too. Jioni poa," he ended his apology.

But Itumbi is a man from whom controversy is never far behind.

Itumbi, a career blogger, made a name for himself at the height of the ICC trial of President Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto.

On March 22, 2012, he was arrested in Embu and detained at the Muthaiga Police Station over claims he hacked into the ICC's website.

His fortunes would change a year later when he was rewarded with a job at the Presidential Strategic Communications Unit (PSCU) for campaigning for Uhuru Kenyatta.

His reign as the president's head of digital media has, however, been besmirched by embarrassing slip-ups like the one witnessed yesterday.

On November 26, 2014, PSCU_Digital under Itumbi posted a faux pas moment after President Uhuru Kenyatta returned from a tour of Abu Dhabi -- Kenyans had been massacred in a bus attack in Mandera by Al Shabaab.

“I have been out of the country for a few days as you have seen from the selfies in newspapers'," Itumbi posted a tweet quoting the president.

It was deleted after a backlash online and replaced with: "As you are aware, I have been away for a few days, as you have seen in the in the newspapers."

When Al-Shabaab attacked KDF in Yumbis, Garissa County in May 2015, a condolence message purportedly posted on behalf of President Uhuru Kenyatta was posted in the PSCU Twitter handle.

"I mourn and pray with the family and friends of the police officers who lost their lives in Yumbis. They died protecting us. I salute them," it read.

Blunder. Interior Cabinet Secretary Major-General (Rtd) Joseph Nkaissery had insisted no lives were lost.

Dennis Itumbi took responsibility for the tweet which was later deleted.

In 2017, PSCU was forced to apologise to lawyer Donald Kipkorir after his account was used to post a derogatory tweet directed towards the lawyer.

In the tweet, the city lawyer was referred to as a 'Slay Queen lawyer' and 'Socialite lawyer'. Mr Korir had complained to Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko about the state of Karen environment.

The PSCU, in response to Mr Kipkorir's protest, tweeted: "Well, #SlayQueenLawyers ama ni #SocialiteLawyer got his match @ahmednasirlaw @kipmurkomen @Oleitumbi."

"We apologize for the tweet that appeared on our timeline. We agree it was inappropriate. It has been deleted. Thanks for pointing it out. Administrative action has been taken," PSCU later said.

Fast forward to 2018, most of the Twitter accounts managed by PSCU were deleted. Chief of Staff and Head of the Presidential Delivery Unit (PDU) Nzioka Waita named four Twitter handles that would only be allowed to tweet for State House.

"Please note that all official communication originating from the President's Strategic Communications Unit shall be strictly communicated through the aforementioned channels. Operational correspondence by PSCU staff to media outlets will be done through officially assigned "president.go.ke" email addresses," Nzioka said.

He advised that State House shall not accept any liability or responsibility for any inaccuracies arising from the reliance by a media outlet on communication delivered through any other unofficial means.

For some reason, Itumbi has gravitated towards Deputy President William to whom he has dedicated considerable energy.

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