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Kenya’s president appointing elderly man? No, photo of Lesotho prime minister

Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta’s government has faced criticism for appointing older people to prestigious leadership positions and leaving out younger candidates.

In late November 2019, the appointment of Macharia Irungu as the new managing director of the Kenya Pipeline Company drew similar reactions. Irungu is reported to have “over 28 years of experience in the oil and gas industry” and is in his early fifties.

Soon after the appointment, a photo of an elderly man shaking hands with Kenyatta started circulating on Kenyan social media, with the claim it showed Irungu – and sarcastic comments about his age.

“Another youth by the name Dr Macharia Irungu as been appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta,” one Facebook user captioned the photo. In Kiswahili, the user congratulates MPs, senators and the president for “caring about the youth”.  

Photo of Lesotho prime minister

A reverse image search reveals that the photo is actually of Motsoahae Thomas Thabane, the prime minister of Lesotho, greeting Kenyatta during a state visit to Kenya on 11 November. Thabane turned 80 in 2019.

State House Kenya, the presidency’s Twitter account, tweeted the photo on 11 November.

The caption reads: “The bilateral talks were the culmination of an elaborate state reception that saw the Prime Minister of Lesotho accorded full military honors complete with a 19 gun-salute followed by private talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta.” – Dancan Bwire


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