Peninah Malonza: The Woman Who Dislodged Najib Balala from the Tourism Docket

Najib Balala survived a regime change to retain the Tourism CS position for over 12 years. The former member of the famous Pentagon has been replaced by Ms Peninah Malonza following William Ruto’s cabinet appointments on Tuesday.

Peninah Malonza

Ruto named a team of 25 members of his cabinet, great people who will be calling the shot in the Kenya Kwanza government. Peninah was chosen as the Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage.

The Tourism Cabinet Secretary will be one of many Kenya Kwanza leaders who were rewarded for their political loyalty to the coalition.

She follows former Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua as the only 2 Cabinet Secretaries from the Kamba community. Alfred Mutua was chosen as the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs.

Before her appointment, Malonza had vied for the Women Representative position in Kitui County. However, she lost to Irene Kasalu who was reelected under the Wiper Democratic Party.

Earlier, Malonza served as the Deputy Governor for Kitui County, a position she held between 2013 and 2017 under the first Kitui Governor Julius Malombe.

Before becoming a Deputy Governor, Peninah Malonza was the growth country director for Compassion, a non-governmental organization that caters for the needs of vulnerable pupils in Kitui County.

As the new CS for Tourism, Malonza faces a huge task of returning the tourism sector in Kenya to its pre-COVIC status. Since the onset of the Pandemic in early 2020, the number of incoming tourists in Kenya has reduced significantly.

In 2019, the number of tourists to Kenya was 2,048,800. The number then reduced to 567,800 in 2020 and increased to 870,500. This year, tourists are expected to go beyond the 1 million mark, but there is still a lot to be done to reach past levels and beyond.

Following the appointment of Peninah Malonza, outgoing CS Najib Balala promised to support the incoming Cabinet Secretary in her new role.

“I welcome the appointment of Hon. Peninah Malonza as the New Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Wildlife, and Heritage. You have my full support. God Bless Kenya,” he tweeted.

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