'Bull' Wangusi: Get out of my way or I'll tear through you

Thick-skinned man who took orders from no one died on Wednesday after suffering an undisclosed illness.

In Summary

• He was famous for getting his own way and no one wanted to cross him

•He rose through the ranks at the Communications Authority until he reached the top.

Regulator: Communication Authority director general Francis Wangusi.
Regulator: Communication Authority director general Francis Wangusi.

Francis Wangusi never pulled a punch to get his way.

“You don’t get what you don’t fight for. What are blows and kicks for?” he would tell his friends whenever he engaged in a struggle.

When he was in their good graces, news about him was about his fight for this or that, demanding this or that or giving this or that threat.

“You need to adopt this or else, migrate and update your technology or else, don’t do this or else” he would say in public.

He never feared personality or stature. Being right was the king, he believed, and he always right, he said.

Not former President Uhuru Kenyatta, nor ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru, his board or the powerful telecom services operators, his gravy train, dared not bend a knee once they knew what Wangusi was up to was the right thing to do.


The thick-skinned man who took orders from nobody died on Wednesday at Nairobi Hospital after suffering an undisclosed illness.

He was 64.

His sister Susy said the man carried huge weight for the family.

Wangusi rose through the ranks at the Communication Authority since 2000 when he joined as an assistant director.

He was appointed director in charge of broadcasting and special Projects as well as the director in charge of licensing, compliance and standards.

In 2011, an opening at the institution arose that gave him a chance to stand at the helm. He felt someone wanted to shortchange him, and at once through proxies, he mounted a legal challenge in the courts.

Cofek brought his case that saw him ushered into the office of the director general in acting tenancy. In 2012, he got the full mandate as he was made the substantive head of the powerful authority.

At the time, the country was in both political and technological transition. General elections were in the offing and the country was set to undertake a digital migration in the media sector.

The communication watchdog was pivotal in both, and it needed a fighter to lead it. The man from Tuusi, Kanduyi, in Bungoma fit the bill.

The migration, as expected, faced numerous hurdles, including court battles, lengthening the process.

But in 2015, after the Supreme Court ruled that the process was in the clear to proceed, Wangusi took the bull by its horns.

He had the analogue signal for KTN, Citizen TV, NTV and its subsidiary QTV turned off.

The new outlets then switched off their digital signals in protest. Wangusi dug in, insisting the process had to be concluded. It was dark screens for three weeks.

Perhaps what he will be remembered for most is his swift move to switch off major TV stations, Citizen, NTV and KTN News for airing the mock swearing-in of ODM leader Raila Odinga in late 2017.

Before the action, he had warned the stations not to carry the event at Uhuru Park as the government feared there could have been a bloody confrontation between the opposition supporters and the police.

Fred Matiang’i, then the interior CS, said the stations were taken off air indefinitely as the government investigated the controversial oath.

His last public fight was with the CA board that pushed him out of office. It started in 2018, with the board saying that he had served his two terms and should leave the helm of the institution.

The board, together with the officials of the ICT ministry, was determined to clear him out but he stood his ground, gained through proxies taking them to court.

His argument was that the board was illegally constituted and hence incompetent to remove him. He succeeded, retaining his office and only leaving a year later.

(Edited by V. Graham)

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