Video of Magoha ‘bullying’ senior education official sparks outrage

Education Cabinet Secretary  George Magoha. 

Photo credit: Laban Walloga | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The video clip was shot last Friday while Prof Magoha made an impromptu visit to Langas Primary School in Eldoret. 
  • Prof Magoha was less than pleased with the untidiness and general poor state the school was in.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha is on the spot after a video clip showing him insulting and publicly humiliating a senior education official in Uasin Gishu County went viral. 

An outraged public, a teachers’ union and the Senate have demanded an apology from the CS, with some calling for his resignation or sacking by the President over what they term arrogance. 

In the video clip shot last Friday while Prof Magoha made an impromptu visit to Langas Primary School in Eldoret, the CS is seen visibly angry and wildly gesticulating at the Uasin Gishu County director of education, Dr Gitonga Mbaka, whom he calls a “complete fool” in the full glare of cameras, teachers and other officials. 

Prof Magoha was less than pleased with the untidiness and general poor state the school was in.

The CS, who is known for his tough-talking, accused Dr Mbaka of not being keen in his work and failure to inspect schools in his jurisdiction. Interestingly, he seemed not to have known who Dr Mbaka was, for in the video he asks, “Na huyu ni nani? (Who is this?)”. 

When he demanded answers on why the school was in the state in which he found it, Dr Mbaka stepped forward to explain, but Prof Magoha would hear none of it. “Sir, I said I have a report… this is being addressed,” Dr Mbaka says in the clip.

Nikisema wewe ni mjinga ni uongo? (If I say that you are fool, would it be false?) You are talking about the report, I’m talking about what is here on… on…” an angry Prof Magoha says.

“Sir, we have noted. We’re working on it.”

Unaweza enda! (You can leave!) Get away from this meeting! Wewe ni mjinga kabisa! (You’re a complete fool)!” He motions Dr Mbaka to go away, but the official stays put.

The CS then turns and asks, “Na huyu ni nani? (Who is this?)” A subdued Dr Mbaka stands by, holding some files, head bowed.

“Our CDE. The county director of education,” someone answers. 

“He doesn’t understand the problem,” says Prof Magoha. 

Public apology

Afterwards, the CS asked the sub-county administrator to organise for Kazi Mtaani youth to be sent to the school to clean it up, warning that he would be back after two hours.

Before the youth arrived at the school, teachers and students started collecting the litter. He then proceeded to another function at Eldoret National Polytechnic.

Curiously, Dr Mbaka, who will retire next month, accompanied him there.

The CS, who lately rarely fields questions from journalists, refused to take questions at both the school and the polytechnic, accusing the press of “reporting what best suits them”. 

Prof Magoha’s action has drawn the ire of the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet), which has demanded that he publicly apologises to Dr Mbaka. 

The national chair of the union, Mr Omboko Milemba, accused Prof Magoha of failure to listen to his officers. He said the litter the CS was complaining about had been occasioned by construction work going on at the school.

“The minister’s conduct was totally unbecoming of a public official, let alone the one who sets and directs the policy on education in the country,” Mr Milemba said during a press conference at the union’s headquarters. 

He defended Dr Mbaka as a distinguished educator with many years’ standing, saying the CS’s outburst “contravened every norm governing educational management in Kenya”. 

He claimed that the action by the CS had “poisoned” the work environment in the Ministry of Education and schools countrywide.

“Staff morale is low in both the ministry and staffrooms across the country, with officials and teachers feeling harassed and intimidated by the minister. Only an unambiguous public apology by Prof Magoha will calm matters,” warned Mr Milemba. 

Soy MP Caleb Kositany tweeted, “This is arrogance at another level from CS Magoha. You must respect your juniors, how do you call a grey-haired man stupid? He did well not to argue with you.”

Magoha’s outburst

Yesterday, the Senate condemned Prof Magoha’s outburst and called on the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to pick up the matter and investigate the conduct of the CS, and possibly reprimand him.

The Leader of Majority, Mr Samuel Poghisio, advised President Uhuru Kenyatta to take note of the CS’s conduct and take necessary action.

“Prof Magoha has a boss. I hope the boss has perfectly heard what he uttered and he must act to bring sanity to the leadership of this country.”

The senator wondered what angered the CS so much that he could not control his speech, and insisted that public officials must always weigh their words before speaking in this era of advanced technology.

The matter was brought to the floor by Nominated Senator Naomi Shiyonga, who questioned the conduct of the CS and said it was against national values.

“Such conduct is unflattering and should be condemned,” she told the House.

“As the Education minister, Prof Magoha should be the last person to set a bad example for our children,” she said, noting that the video that captured the CS insulting Dr Mbaka had gone viral and had been accessed by school children.

“He must issue an unreserved apology to the official and the public for his misconduct, which in my view, was unbecoming behaviour.”

Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina said the conduct of the CS was against the Public Officers Ethics Act and called on the EACC to move in and reprimand him.

Efforts by the Nation to get a comment from the CS or the ministry had not been successful by the time of going to press.