By Advocate Paul Musyimi
Prof. Philip Mbithi had been Head of Public Service since 1992 after he was picked from the University of Nairobi where he served as the Vice-Chancellor. He was to remain the Civil Service boss for five years.
On the fateful day, February 29, 1996 before he was demoted, the former Head of State President Moi invited Prof. Mbithi to help in reshuffling the Cabinet.
Moi and Mbithi discussed for hours and agreed on the list of the major reshuffles that also included Permanent Secretaries. The Head of the Civil Service left after they had finalised on the names. In fact, Mbithi personally released the list to the media houses.
However, a few minutes later during 1pm news he heard that a new Head of Public Service one Fares Kuhindwa had been appointed. Moi had deployed Mbithi to represent Kenya at the East African Community in Arusha, Tanzania. He was not only traumatised but his officeers immediately asked him to leave his office for cleaning.
Prof. Mbithi took a taxi outside Embassy House and instructed his driver to go all the way to his Kibwezi home where he hid cos he was afraid for his life. His wife started asking about his whereabouts all over afraid the worst had happened as she had not seen him at their Lavington home since the sacking. It was later when she called her rural home on landline that their workers confirmed mzee was there.
Prof. Mbithi declined the Arusha posting and retired to farming in his Kibwezi farm. Rumour has it he became unhinged and even became a ‘Prophet’ preaching in the villages. In one of his prophecies, he claimed that a curse had been laid on his former office, and that powerful evil spirits haunted the corridors of Harambee House.
Fares Kuindwa’s four year tenure was lackluster before he was replaced by the former Kenya Wildlife Service Director, Richard Leakey in 1999 under the so-called ‘Dream Team’. Leakey was latter replaced by Sally Kosgey who served until Moi retired in 2002.
Prof Mbithi was reportedly an arrogant professor who had no time for the power barons of Ukambani at the time like illiterate Mulu Mutisya and fast rising Kanu star in those days, Kalonzo Musyoka. Prof Mbithi not only failed to acknowledge those two, he completely ignored them and in turn they pushed Moi to hand him the sack.