Journalist Najma Ismail, blogger Pauline Njoroge lose tourism board jobs

Tourism CS Peninah Malonza

Tourism CS Peninah Malonza at the KICC in Nairobi on February 20, 2023, during a meeting with the National Assembly Committee on Tourism and Wildlife.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

The Kenya Kwanza government on March 9 revoked the appointments of journalist Najma Ismail and Jubilee-affiliated blogger Pauline Njoroge as members of the board of the Tourism Regulatory Authority.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Peninah Malonza, in her announcement via a Gazette notice, also revoked the appointments of three other board members - Kevin Muasya, Alais Lenana Momoi and Isaac Muchiri Njangu.

Earlier, Ms Ismail announced her resignation from Standard Group, where she was a prime time anchor on KTN news channels.

She wrote: “Mic Check 123. Happy #InternationalWomenDay It has been an incredible honor and pleasure working at Kenya’s leading multi-media house @StandardKenya from a reporter 9 years ago to achieving several firsts. The first Hijabi English News-anchor then coming up with the FIRST ever Islamic publication by mainstream media Ramadhan Special and finally to becoming the FIRST Head of the newly formed Gender desk, I have grown tremendously and  I am forever grateful,” she wrote on March 8. However the time has come for me to say Kwaheri. To new endeavors and opportunities in sha Allah [sic].”

Ms Njoroge shared the Gazette notice on her social media pages, confirming that her appointment had been rescinded.

Her initial appointment was clouded by an uproar over an old Facebook post about the Nairobi National Park, in which she advocated for it to be developed and put to better use.

“The only selling point of that park is that it’s “The only National park in a capital city in the world”. Beyond that glamorous title, what else does it offer? The orphanage and the nature walk make economic sense but the park?! It does not make sense that in a congested city like Nairobi we can afford to have acres and acres of land in the name of a park when this is literally bursting at the seams with people… We even have to hold discussions on re-routing the SGR so as to save a park that is economically redundant [sic],” she was quoted as saying.

The then Tourism minister Najib Balala revoked her appointment and replaced her with Ms Ismail.

Ms Njoroge, however, challenged her firing in court and won, and was therefore reappointed to the board.

Lately, the blogger has been a vocal critic of the Kenya Kwanza government, defending the previous administration from attacks and accusations of corruption by President William Ruto’s allies.

Her latest target has been Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, who has been blaming former President Uhuru Kenyatta and Azimio coalition leader Raila Odinga for the high cost of living and the misappropriation of Sh15 billion from the National Treasury ahead of the August 2022 General Election.

Ms Njoroge has accused DP Gachagua of making up lies to distract Kenyans from the government's failure to keep campaign promises.