Ndemo was always in the media, making pronouncements on the future direction of the Kenyan ICT industry, and many will say he totally overshadowed his former minister Samuel Poghisio, who rarely used his position to gain media presence and has not even made it to parliament this time.
No cabinet secretary nor boss would want such a junior, and this could have perhaps led to his rejection for the post of principal secretary in favour of the less vocal Joseph Tiampati, who seems to have far less credentials in the sector than Ndemo.
The former permanent secretary’s willingness to clash with civil society could also have proved problematic for his prospective employers in the Jubilee government. His row with the Consumers Federation of Kenya (COFEK) could be viewed as the reason for Kenya lagging behind Sudan, Tanzania and Zimbabwe in the digital migration process.
COFEK and Ndemo have also clashed over the appointments of representatives to the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) board, with the lobby group accusing Ndemo of overlooking already registered consumer lobby organisations in the appointment of consumer representatives.
The handling by Ndemo and Poghisio of the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) strike in 2012 and the overall rundown state of the public broadcaster may also have counted against him. The KBC’s audience continues to shrink, while it is awash with ageing equipment and demoralised staff, many of whom have spent years on temporary employees.
KBC employee Silas Kiragu used the Total Reformation of State Broadcaster Facebook group to celebrate Ndemo’s departure and ask the new principal secretary to clean up the mess at the broadcaster, while another post poured scorn on the idea of Ndemo retaining his post even before the official announcement.
Meanwhile the unverified KBC staff Twitter account celebrated the ejection of Poghisio from parliament.
KBC staff would like to rejoice the fall of communication minister Samuel Poghisio who sacked workers twice in a week on March 2012.
— kbcstaff no.1 (@kbcstaff) March 7, 2013
Although Ndemo has been the darling of the Kenyan ICT sector for some time now, what some have seen as a surprising omission from the new government’s principal secretaries list is perhaps less of a shock given the baggage that came with his undoubted ability and commitment.