KWS Director-General John Waweru sent on compulsory leave

John Waweru

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Director General Brig (Rtd) John Waweru during a past KWS Honorary Warden Conference. He has been sent on compulsory leave.

Photo credit: Pool I Nation Media Group

The Director General of Kenya Wildlife Service Brig Rtd John Migui Waweru who assumed office under controversial circumstances has been sent on compulsory leave as President William Ruto continues to constitute his government.

Brig Waweru who assumed office in March 2019, was sent home on Monday moments after attending the handing over ceremony of Principal Secretaries at the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife.

He has been replaced in an acting capacity by Dr Erastus Kanga, the current Wildlife Secretary in the State Department of Wildlife, as the government seeks to competitively recruit a new Director General.

Sources told the Nation that the KWS boss was asked to remain at the Ministry headquarters after the handing over ceremony as other top officials proceeded for lunch, where he was instructed to vacate office immediately.

According to a memo released to KWS staff at 5 o’clock, Deputy Directors, Divisional Heads, Field Senior Assistant Directors and Wardens in charge of Parks and Game Reserves were instructed to inform all employees under them of the changes.

"This is to inform you that the Director General Brig Rtd John Waweru has proceeded on compulsory leave and the Government has appointed Dr Erastus Kanga as Acting Director with immediate effect,’’ read the terse memo released by KWS Deputy Director, Human Resource and Administration.

Brig Waweru was appointed to head KWS by former President Uhuru Kenyatta to replace former acting Director Julius Kimani who died in office, but he took over from Prof Charles Musyoki, a distinguished wildlife expert who was also serving in acting capacity.

His appointment was announced as the KWS Board of Trustees was in the process of recruiting a new man to enter the proverbial lions' den.

The Board of Trustees was on its second day of interviewing candidates who had applied for the top KWS job when President Kenyatta appointed the retired military man to head the wildlife agency, throwing the process into disarray.

Resigning in protest

The appointment triggered disquiet among staff with the Chair of KWS Board of Trustees, Dr. John Waithaka, who was chairing the recruitment panel resigning in protest.

The retired brigadier was not among the applicants and was never interviewed for the job.

The law provides that the Board of Trustees advertises for the Director General’s position and interviews applicants, before forwarding three nominees to the Tourism Cabinet Secretary for appointment.

Brig Waweru’s last public appearance at the helm of KWS was last week when he appeared before the Senate’s National Security, Defense and Foreign Relations Committee to shed light on how the agency was planning to manage the South Kitui Game Reserve, which has been a hideout of armed bandits.

He had been summoned by the Senate Committee to explain why the game reserve had been neglected by the wildlife agency.

The Director General’s sacking comes amid continued purge by President Ruto on leadership of civilian government agencies headed by military officers.