Succession Politics


You are not successful until your successor succeeds”. This is my former boss’s quote that best underscores the importance of mentorship in leadership. Leadership mentorship averts corporations from going through turbulent waters during leadership transitions. A case in point is Safaricom Ltd. The succession of Michael Joseph in 2010 was well executed such that Safaricom never lost the public trust it had been enjoying before. Michael Joseph was replaced by Bob Collymore who had joined Safaricom’s board in 2006. This means it took several years for Safaricom to mentor Michael’s successor. Even after Bob took over the reins of Safaricom, Michael Joseph continued to serve in the board for some years just to ensure that his successor succeeds.

Equity Bank is also rumored to be gearing up for a leadership transition. In 2012, the former KWS director Julius Kipng’etich was appointed as Equity Bank’s chief operating officer (COO). His arrival at the bank fueled speculation that Equity could be grooming him to succeed the long serving chief executive James Mwangi. Speculations of Kipnge’tich becoming the next Equity CEO were further enhanced by the fact that he resigned from the lucrative post of KWS chief executive to accept the lesser role of the then newly created post of COO. If the speculations turn out to be true, then I bet Equity Bank will have a smooth transition period.

Kenya Airways brings up the rear in this list of corporations undergoing leadership transition. Since curtains are falling on Titus Naikuni’s career as CEO at the Airline in 1st December 2014, a replacement in the name of Mbuvi Ngunze has already been found. He has been working as the airlines COO since 2011. His experience at KQ and his intellectual acumen corroborate with majority views that he has the muscle to steer KQ to greater heights.

mentorJohn C. Maxwell summarizes mentorship in five stages; The first one is; You do a task alone, then do it as your mentee watches, then let him/her do it as you watch, then let him/her do it alone, then lastly let him/her do it as someone else who has the potential of succeeding him/her watches. Once this is done, you will now be free to take a bow, knowing very well that there will be continuity. The problem with our leaders is that they fear their mentees overshadowing them. If your mentee overshadows you, then you are a successful leader.

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Now, let’s shift our focus from the corporations and put our political parties on the microscope. To be specific, I would like us to focus on the party headed by “Baba”. That is ODM. The reason being; this is a party that oozes with confidence that it will form the next government. So we expect its house to be in order. It tried to do this by attempting an internal election but failed terribly. Right now if ODM is serious about winning an election, it should be mentoring young leaders to take over leadership of the party. As I pen this, “baba” has got no succession plan and there is no ODM without “Baba”.

Right now, any party member who has a divergent view in the party is sidelined. A case in point is Ababu Namwamba’s isolation because of his perceived opposition to “Saba saba” rally and referendum calls. Instead of holding an election, the party is installing leaders to please the warring factions within the party. This type of behaviour is what KANU embodied. What shows ODM will be any better if it forms the next government? Raila Odinga should allow elections to be held, then mentor the winners irrespective of whether he supported them or not.




  1. This is eye-opening!

    However, for somebody who is self-centered, it might not be possible to mentor. and that might be the reason why ODM has no mentorship program for its young Turks.

  2. denis, that’s unfortunately true. this is the time to institutionalize parties and stop personalizing them

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