David Kimaiyo’s Attempts to Gag the Kenyan Media Must Be Condemned

Kimaiyo must not gag Kenyan media

Kimaiyo must not gag Kenyan media

The Inspector General of Police (IGP) David Kimaiyo, has threatened to arrest journalists who “propagate a propaganda war”; “incite Kenyans”; “distribute or maybe issue statements that can amount to hate speech”; and “issue statements or reports that can be able to affect the life of another person.” The threat was issued a few days after two investigative journalists at the KTN aired CCTV footage showing KDF soldiers entering Nakumatt Supermarket at Westgate and leaving with loaded white paper bags, which were suspected to contain looted goods. This revelation must have annoyed the police boss because earlier on, a joint parliamentary committee investigating the conduct of KDF troops had exonerated them from any looting allegations. Tiaty MP Asman Kamama, who is chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Administration and National Security said: “KDF soldiers and all the officers who participated in that operation, never, and I want to use the word, never, participated in looting.”

Kamama added: “We want to confirm to the media and Kenyans that from what we have seen, no officer from KDF looted as alleged and we want to appeal to Kenyans in the social media to desist from besmirching and maligning the name of KDF.” Following Kimaiyo’s threat, police summoned journalists Mohamed Ali and John Allan Namu of the KTN ‘Jicho Pevu’ (Zilazila la Westgate) and ‘Inside Story’ (Wolves at Westgate) series respectively, to an inquiry on October 25th. Also to appear before them is Sam Shollei, CEO of the Standard Group which owns KTN. The offence being investigated is: “Unlawful sending of misleading messages contrary to the law.” Surprisingly, the police bypassed the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) which is tasked by law to deal with complaints against the media, especially on unethical issues.

According to media sources, the Chief of Defense Forces General Julius Karangi appeared before the joint parliamentary committee and defended his troops claiming “the paper bags contained bottled water which the troops needed to quench their thirst and were authorized by their commanders.” He denied that the soldiers ransacked cash boxes/vaults at Nakumatt Supermarket and were simply “sanitizing the area” to ensure there were no weapons left by the terrorists. General Karangi also denied there was friendly fire from the KDF soldiers that allegedly killed a GSU Recce Company officer, Martin Munene. He claimed the country only lost one Recce officer and four KDF soldiers.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the soldiers had sufficient reserves in their backpacks and should not have taken water from Nakumatt. Who then, looted Westgate stores as claimed by the owners? From CCTV footage on September 21st, the terrorists are seen sharing bottled water when they took a break from their nasty work and were not bothered with cash boxes or other items. But a clip dated September 22nd shows a soldier picking and putting something into his pocket then leaves Nakumatt. If Government claimed the terrorists were holed inside Nakumatt, why did they not attack the soldiers a day later as they entered and left with paper bags?

Draconian media law 

Article 34(2) of the Constitution states that: “The State shall not- (a) Exercise control over or interfere with any person engaged in broadcasting, the production or circulation of any publication, or the dissemination of information by any medium. The State shall not- (b) Penalize any person for any opinion or view or the content of any broadcast, publication or dissemination.”

Kimaiyo’s threat against the media comes in the backdrop of two constitutional bills that should be passed in Parliament by 27th December. The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) Bill and the Kenya Information and Communications Act (KICA) amendment Bill, aim to align the laws with Article 34 of the constitution on media freedom. If enacted, the Bills will not only accord the ICT cabinet secretary excessive powers over the MCK which regulates the media, but also give the right to dissolve it and authorize another body “to administer, broadcast content, formulate media standards and regulate compliance with such standards.” Clause 5(B) 4 of the KICA Bill “also allows for censorship of the Press during emergency and restricts freedom of the media during such occasions.” (See Francis Mureithi in The Star newspaper, 1st August 2013).

Article 34(5) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 “provides that Parliament shall enact legislation that provides for the establishment of a body which shall- (a) Be independent of control by government, political interests or commercial interests; (b) Reflect the interests of all sections of society; and (c) Set media standards and regulate and monitor compliance with those standards.” The media fraternity, i.e. the Media Owners Association, Kenya Editors’ Guild, Kenya Union of Journalists and Kenya Correspondents Association, still wants MCK to remain the sole regulator of professional ethics and the conduct of journalists and media enterprises. (See David Ohito in The Standard newspaper, 23rd October 2013).

If the contentious clauses in the two Bills are passed without revision, then media operations will be severely affected. For instance, journalists will not be allowed to report during crises such as the recent Westgate attack which will be categorized under ‘emergency’, and will be regulated to say what Government wants. Kenya will be taken back to the dark era of the late 1980s and 1990s under Dictator Daniel arap Moi. The Bills also suggest that State security personnel shall arrest and impound print or other materials purported to threaten national security. Such was very common during Moi’s “error” when for instance, people found with materials of Marxist persuasion, were jailed for possessing seditious publications.

Media freedom improved tremendously during president Kibaki’s regime, yet in 2005, then-first lady Lucy Kibaki raided the Daily Nation newspaper offices and allegedly slapped cameraman Clifford Otieno, who later filed a private prosecution case against her, but the then Attorney General Amos Wako terminated it. She claimed media reports on her family were biased. In 2006, the Standard newspaper was raided by hooded gunmen who terrorized staff and wheeled away equipment and burnt the day’s newspaper copies. The then Internal Security minister the late John Michuki, claimed the Standard had planned to “disseminate information that would have undermined national security.”

Incompetence and cover up

Kimaiyo’s attack on the media is a scapegoat for the embarrassment the Jubilee government faces due to misinforming Kenyans about the KDF operation at Westgate. Why blame KTN’s Namu and Moha yet Foreign Affairs cabinet secretary Amina Mohamed claimed during an interview with PBS that: “Two or three Americans, and I think so far, I have heard of one Brit woman. She’s I think, done this many times before.” Kimaiyo has said that the assumed Brit, Samantha Lewthwaite, has never been in Kenya, yet the KTN series showed copies of documents proving her entry via South Africa, using an alias. Kimaiyo will have to arrest many people then, including Amina.

On October 13th NTV reported: “The siege dragged for four days as the power struggle between the elite Recce Company and the Kenya Defense Forces meant they could not engage the terrorists without one command. KDF walked in and took over the mall and this angered the GSU Squad who lost one of their colleagues through friendly fire and left the scene that Saturday evening. The hostage and rescue squad retreated to the Ruiru Camp and for the next four days, KDF was in charge of Westgate. Two weeks after the Westgate attack, President Kenyatta visited the Recce Squad in Ruiru and shared lunch before addressing them to quell any tension before a commission of inquiry gets to the bottom of Westgate attack.” Will Kimaiyo arrest the NTV journalists too since they reported before KTN?

IGP Kimaiyo should be questioned for not acting on prior information passed to the police on the Westgate attack as confirmed by National Intelligence Service (NIS) director, General Michael Gichangi. Can Kimaiyo explain to Kenyans why KDF intervened at Westgate yet he was the one in charge? It is known that the Kenyan military does not take orders from the police. Therefore, did he lose command of the operation? Was it the reason why his team established a command center at a house in Hurlingham, where they had a backup Digital Video Recorder feed to stream offsite from the mall?

According to a transcribed excerpt depicting a bitter exchange between the military and police, a soldier shouts at a GSU man: “Stop talking too much (keep your mouth shut),” and he replies with the abuse, “Your mother.” In the footage, an angry GSU officer curses “The military shot us. F*** them.” It’s apparently during this confrontation that Constable Martin Munene Kithinji was shot dead and another GSU man in the leg. Can Kimaiyo investigate this, instead of attacking the media?

On October 4th Roy Gachuhi penned an excellent article in the Daily Nation newspaper featuring Lieutenant-General (rtd) Humphrey Njoroge who tore into the process of evacuating people who were not subjected to thorough screening as they left Westgate. Chances are that some terrorists could have escaped because of this weakness. He also decried acts of corruption within the Immigration Department that allowed officers to issue passports and other identification documents to illegal aliens. In 1981, Lt-Gen Njoroge drafted a comprehensive paper on urban warfare that advocated for joint training of the military and police.

He wrote: “At the moment, there is no joint training that is carried out between the GSU and the Army in dealing with urban violence, and since we shall come to aid them in case of failure, we must train together for the sake of command and control. This will make us know their capabilities and limitations. The Joint Headquarters would also practice the aspect of command control, and I feel this aspect is very necessary. The Army must also be trained to be able to live and fight under urban conditions to avoid undue harassment of children, women and the aged and the looting, which comes about when an inexperienced Army is exposed to these things.” But as usual, who listened to him?

President Uhuru Kenyatta should not assent to the pending media Bills because they shall reverse the huge gains made in press freedom. He is a key player in the industry since his family owns Media Max that operates Kameme FM, K24 TV and the People newspaper. During the media breakfast meeting he hosted at State House on July 12th, he said that: “A free media is at the heart of true democracy.”

Jared Odero


  • Kenyan human rights defenders
  • Rebecca Lee SanchezJuly 18, 2013 15:24
    Draconian draft law could curb Kenya’s press freedom

    A new bill, due to be implemented on August 27, would cede control of media to Kenyan government in “states of emergency.”

    A new Kenyan draft law set for enactment in the country by late August could be detrimental to the security of press freedom under a state of emergency, reported Kenyan news publication Standard Digital.

    The bill, which proposes state control of news reports during emergencies, would give the government power to regulate broadcasts, control content surrounding controversial issues, monitor media compliance with standards and oversee the conduct and discipline of journalists — functions currently performed by the Media Council of Kenya.

    If the Kenya Information and Communications Act is passed, the Standard said, the current Media Council of Kenya would be outlawed and the Communications Authority of Kenya would usurp the aforementioned powers, with the Cabinet Secretary appointing new members of the council. This is a move current members of the Media Council find troublesome.

    “The Cabinet Secretary wants to centralize power and he can even reject appointees and nominees of the Media Council,” said Haroun Mwangi, chief executive officer and secretary to the Media Council of Kenya. “How then can the council remain independent of government?”

    Within the act is also a clause barring political officials and state officers from acquiring broadcasting licenses, although it is not clear what would happen to those officers who already hold licenses.

    Just two months ago, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who took office in April of this year, assured media stakeholders that he is committed to maintaining freedom of the press—a contentious topic in a country that has, for some years, struggled with the balance between media and the state.

    “I assure the media fraternity in the country that my Government will support the media to be free, fair and responsible in conducting their business as provided for by our Constitution as well as international conventions to which Kenya is a signatory,” the president said on May 2. “Indeed, Kenya has set an example for Africa in terms of non- interference in media freedom. We will uphold this proud reputation. We will be at the forefront in fighting any form of gagging the media, harassing of journalists, constraining media space and violation of media freedom that are fundamental to good governance.”

    But the emerging democracy, which is ranked fourth on the Transparency International Global Corruption Barometer, is having trouble believing the president’s words.

    “What you hear in public as Executive promises to defend Press freedom are not exactly what you get,” Okech Kendo wrote in an editorial for the Star. “Doublespeak is the name of the game.”

    Questions regarding what would constitute an official emergency, resulting in possible media shutdowns or live broadcast delays, have emerged among members of the press who have asked that the term be limited to attacks on the country or revolution against the government.

    “What will happen if the media starts spot lighting corruption scandals in high levels of government?” asked former Imenti Central parliament member Gitobu Imanyara, who said the move is an “affront to the media freedom aimed at scuttling the democratic space.”

    Media stakeholders became even more worried after the bill was published on the Commission for Implementation of the Constitution’s website last week, revealing that a guarantee for self-regulation of the press has been removed from the initial draft, making the bill unable to meet constitutional standards for freedom of expression and the media.

    But Kendo said the deletion of this section of the bill is far from his biggest concern.The “greatest threat to the public’s right to know,” he wrote, “is information laundering.”

    By placing bans on reporting or omitting information to “protect” the public, the regime and the law invoke an unpredictable, underhanded method of repression that Kendo refers to as a “massage parlour” that “‘massages’ editorial gatekeeprs to ‘manage’ information,” rather than “unleashing raw violence” like Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni.

    But the relationship between the state and the media has been difficult for much of Kenya’s recent history. A Center for International Media Assistance profile of Kenya insists that widespread intimidation of the media is prevalent—calling the situation “volatile.”

    According to the profile, the state continues to suppress freedom with a framework of oppressive media laws and continued enactment of what journalists are calling “draconian media laws” under the pretext of media regulation and national security.

    Kenyan journalists last year feared “hard times” ahead, the report said, adding that politicians were apparently conspiring against the media.

    “These concerns proved well-founded,” the profile reads. “[Then] President [Mwai] Kibaki approved changes to the media law that broadened the scope of official power to interfere with the media, under the guise of protecting national security.”

    This new media bill demonstrates exactly how “well-founded” last year’s media fears are continuing to be.

    According to the Reporters Without Borders 2013 World Press Freedom Index—a global report that measures a variety of criteria ranging from legislation to violence against journalism—Kenya sits at number 71 in freedom of the press.

    The country has bounced up and down 10 to 20 spots in the last five years, always remaining near the middle in the ranks of 179 countries that are bookended, this year, by Finland, the Netherlands and Norway as the best three countries for press freedom and Eritrea—located in the Horn of Arica—North Korea and Turkmenistan as the worst.

    The draft law must still undertake several revisions prior to going before the president for approval. Kenyan media affiliates fear that a House recess on August 2 will cause a rushed decision in the parliament.

  • Jubilee insulting USA

    Don’t lecture us on media freedom, Matiang’i tells USA

    By OLIVE BURROWS | October 25, 2013

    The censure did not stop at the American government with Matiang’i accusing all those who had, “condemned,” the government over the journalists’ summoning of blowing matters out of proportion.

    “Us in this day and age to be told about press freedom by anybody, including the American Ambassador… In Kenya? In the 21st Century?” he posed incredulously.

    The outburst aside, Matiang’i, “hypothetically,” admitted that the Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo may have made a mistake by summoning the journalists instead of referring the matter to the Media Council of Kenya.

    “Let us assume I come here, I’m a public official, I make a mistake, I make a pronouncement out there which actually doesn’t auger well…which of the two is the better option? To immediately go to a press conference and condemn or engage on a one-on-one level?” he again posed.

    But despite his reticence to admit Kimaiyo made a mistake, he made it clear that Kimaiyo had acted, “in his own opinion,” and not that of the government.

    “Just because a senior police official said I am summoning so and so because in my view in doing their work a crime may have been committed is that enough to expend the amount of energy we have expended in the last two days?” he posed incredulously.

    But even as he desperately sought to put an unfazed face on the reaction to the summons, they must have had an impact for sources from within government told Capital FM News that the summonses were withdrawn within hours of their issuance on Thursday.

    It’s also worth noting that Matiang’i acted in an indirect capacity for the US Embassy as a liaison between Parliament and USAID before his appointment to public office.

  • Pro- Democracy & Reformist.

    The Story is very shocking reading how General Karangiplanned silly unproffesional rescue mission by his most corrupt KDF! how doy describe this Gema corrupt & un-patriotic nut>General Karangi is a hand-picked Kikuyu probably from Othaya Village .where former President (tribalist) Mwai Kibaki originates.This short stout Fat-assed (anus thinking) big head corrupt general armed with prostrating belly(perhaps pregnant)and back fat assed battocks,(Kifua Mbele Matako Nyuma) a navigator by proffession (known to always navigate Wrong )should be fired and courtmartialled by Uhuru&ruto government !the wholw world and the most brainwashed Kenya Zombies(kenyan people) are anxiosly waiting for the ICC indictees Uhuru& Ruto to act against this useless Kikuyu-Gema corrupt General Karangi & coy!

  • David Kimaiyo attemps to gag the Media>One has to say this>The Chief Justice is a captive of Ahmednasir. He was coached and supplanted by him. He once told me that he will ensure Mutunga gets the CJ’s job,” . If that allegation is true, then the Judiciary is indeed ‘ Korti Bandia’.

    Kenyans seem to be very virile and randy these days, there must be something in the air since even divorcees, bovines and canines are not safe from the clutches of these bulls of power.

    I really wonder where Kenya would be today if we had chosen to vote/select the Boogeyman instead of taking the Jubilee path.

    – The country is currently in a ICC coma.
    – Greed for looting money via ‘sanitized’ avenues like sitting allowances is increasing
    – We have a looting military led by a lying tribal general.
    – We have an intelligence agency that behaves more like the old KANU youth wingers
    – Insecurity is everywhere
    – We have a part-time DP
    – We will soon have a part-time or wanted President
    – Morality , humility and respect is at an all-time low with shenanigans such as Baraza nose pinching, Shebesh/Sonko mpango ya kandos, Kidero/ Shebesh b**l grabbing/slapping.
    – Previously independent mainstream media have been castrated and turned into vuvuzelas…

  • Why is not Kimaiyo sending his recce boys here>Uhuru wants to hand over oil&gas companies to Chinese?Kweli Uhuru you must be planning ATo Zanother False flag !You will loose & be locked in Hague>FEARS OF SAFETY

    Demonstrators blocked all roads leading to drilling sites at Kalapata, Lokichar, Lochor Emoit, Kaalmorog, Kakongu in Turkana South and Nakukulas and Lokichada in Turkana East and vowed not to back down until their demands are met.

    On Sunday, the British oil firm, through its public relations firm, Africa Practice, said it had suspended all drilling operations and expressed fears for the safety of its staff, especially expatriates.

    “Tullow confirms that there have been a number of demonstrations at Tullow operated sites in Northern Kenya today (Saturday, October 26) regarding local concerns around employment. We are working with the central and county government to bring these demonstrations to a peaceful and orderly close as soon as possible. We have temporarily suspended our operations across Block 10BB and Block 13T in Turkana East and Turkana South sub-counties. The priority at the moment is to ensure the safety and security of our staff,” Tullow said in a statement.

    The closure could cost Tullow millions of shillings in lost time as this will further delay its exploration and drilling programme.

  • Uk has taken the Lock (Gibrattafrom the powerful) Spain Malvinas(falklandsIsland) from Argentina !Why Monkeys like UHURU&RUTO breaching Tullow Oil&gas Contracts) this is British Intrests in Kenya !UK must change the Soft Language and Swicht to the Language Nigger Understands>UK cannot allow a Nigger to rape Murder his masters wife and daughter then goes on to hang his masters dog and to burn his masters house/Villa this will not be allowed or even torelatednot by Imperial British and her Armed forces Fire Power!arrest Uhuru&Ruto Lock them & bring in new Regime that respects Rule of Law & human Rights >Ukhas only few Kikuyu fanatical supporters!Uhuru Holding western Europeans at Ramsom>Another False Flag Operations >Here Turkanas allowed to block oil drillings without IG Kimaiyo sending his trygger-happy killing Police Riot Squads of Kwekwe>Up to you Western sleeping Giants>Teach Uhuru&ruto a Lesson for him to respect Contracts>FEARS OF SAFETY

    Demonstrators blocked all roads leading to drilling sites at Kalapata, Lokichar, Lochor Emoit, Kaalmorog, Kakongu in Turkana South and Nakukulas and Lokichada in Turkana East and vowed not to back down until their demands are met.NOTE >The Answer is to Change and to replace the Rogue Regime>>>Regime change is the solution!

    On Sunday, the British oil firm, through its public relations firm, Africa Practice, said it had suspended all drilling operations and expressed fears for the safety of its staff, especially expatriates.

    “Tullow confirms that there have been a number of demonstrations at Tullow operated sites in Northern Kenya today (Saturday, October 26) regarding local concerns around employment. We are working with the central and county government to bring these demonstrations to a peaceful and orderly close as soon as possible. We have temporarily suspended our operations across Block 10BB and Block 13T in Turkana East and Turkana South sub-counties. The priority at the moment is to ensure the safety and security of our staff,” Tullow said in a statement.

    The closure could cost Tullow millions of shillings in lost time as this will further delay its exploration and drilling programme.

  • Turkana News Londwar

    David Kimaiyo attempt to gag the media>

  • Uhuru Showing his Teeth(rotten)

  • John Maina · Top Commenter · University of Nairobi (UoN)
    May someone explain where small looting or big looting is not looting? Does mineral water cost money? Yes or No? Nakumatt was a scene of Crime, big time. Everything in Nakumatt, including the cockroaches, belonged to Nakumatt. Good, KDF has confirmed they ‘took’ water to quench their thirst. The taxpayer pays for their water back at the Barracks and the City Council has water flowing in taps including in and outside Westgate Mall. Who is fooling who here? Guilty as charged.

  • RUTO’s Popularity RATINGS Rises As Uhuru Slides to a High Low!
    Posted in: News|October 23, 2013

    This is the new catch-phrase supporters of Deputy President William Ruto are flaunting whenever questions of ‘honestability’ by kenyan politicians arise.

    William Ruto’s consistent attendance of his ICC case, coupled with his widely popular CNN interview and a wobbling boss seems to have endeared him to Kenyans who take leaders for their words.

    After the CNN interview, where the Deputy President acknowledged, or did not deny, that KDF soldiers looted Westgate during the last month’s siege by Al Shabaab, many Kenyans praised the honesty of Mr Ruto.

    “It is so unlike the things we have been hearing from Uhuru (president) and that Lenku guy (Joseph Lenku is the Interior Cabinet Secretary on whose docket falls internal security)” observed a social media commentator.

    Ruto told CNN’s Jean Vergee that ‘corrective measures’ will be taken on all those who may have ‘overstepped their mandates’ during the incident.

    On ICC, Ruto has continued to cooperate with the Court despite Uhuru Kenyatta’s charm offensive to the AU where he discredited the institution as a ‘colonial toy’ used by western nations on Africans in new forms of neocolonialism.

    Ruto, unlike Uhuru, prefers the ICC to handle the cases, only that the court should factor in his current status as a serving deputy president of a sovereign country. However, his boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta, favours other means rather than the Hague based court.

    The contrasting moral, and political standpoints of the two leaders appears to run down in their two parties running the coalition government.

    Most Uhuru sidekicks are vocal anti-Hague chatterboxes while Ruto’s ‘guys’ have apparently taken a rather quite and less abrasive approach.

    Because Ruto case is already ongoing, many of the current last-minute attempts to halt the ICC case is seen to be pushed by Uhuru, whose trial will begin on Nov 12.

    Fundamentally missing in the whole ICC debate; whether the cases should continue or get terminated, is the Kenyan populace.

    From election, the faultline which ensured the ICC become the most polarising issue during elections has not been overcome. With it, attempts by Uhuru to shore up public opinion against the cases only appeals to his Jubilee supporters, not the country he presides over.

    New attempts to bring in the opposition and civil societies in the cases, according to keen observers, may be the first true indication to seek bipartisan approach to the ICC.

    For now, Ruto’s moral bank overflows with new deposits taken from the continued pussyfooting and dilly dallying by people like Gen Julius Karangi, the chas at State House and saddening appointees like Lenku and Omamo.

    But Ruto is a politician. From his verbal records; he is among the few politicians in Kenya who have perfected the art of ‘truthful lies’. Innocent till proven guilty. . . err…honest until proven innocent!

  • Uhuru promised Kenyans during the campaign that he will go to Hague, but Kenyans did not elect him, instead, he bought the elections and thererfore do not feel obligated to keep the promise. If he is brave enough he should not go to the Hague and be humuliated. Uhuru is between a hard stone and a rock but he asked for it and he should stop whinning. If he is a coward like I suspect, he will whine and complain but eventually he will go to the Hague and face the humuliation and the down sizing. I would really be suprised if Uhuru is brave enough to say NO to the West and ICC and face the way Bob or Bashir has. Uhuru is not made from the same material those two are. Uhuru is a product of western upbringing who has never have to face any difficult challenges in his life.

    I still blame our corrupt judicial system and the electoral commission for ignoring the constitution and succumbing to tribalism, incompetence and corruption to put Kenya through this dilema with the Uhuruto presidency

  • Monday, October 28, 2013

    Organisations voice concerns over treatment of journalists

    By Nation Reporter
    More by this Author

    Two organisations have expressed concern over the treatment of Journalists in Kenya and some provisions of the country’s media bill.

    In a joint statement issued on Monday, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) said that security forces should stop intimidating journalists over their reporting of looting during the Westgate attack.

    The IFJ/FAJ stance follows the summoning and questioning of KTN journalists John-Allan Namu and Mohammed Ali over their report on the looting by army officers in the aftermath of the attack.

    According to IFJ/FAJ affiliate, the Kenya Correspondents Association (KCA), media freedom in the country has been seriously undermined as a result.

    Government officials including President Uhuru Kenyatta have defended the Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo over the matter.

    “Journalists and all media practitioners have done their duty in professionally covering the Westgate mall attacks. What they reported was indeed what happened. They must not be intimidated for the way they covered the events,” said Gabriel Baglo, IFJ Africa Director.

    “The IFJ and the FAJ join their affiliate KCA to stand by all journalists in Kenya. Kenya has not the right to lag behind in respecting and promoting press freedom. Journalists must work without any fear as enacted in the country’s constitution”, said Mohamed Garba, FAJ President.

    “The journalists have done their duty to the nation and the world by providing information about what happened and the police should stop any attempt to intimidate them through summons or calls for their arrest under whatever pretext,” said KCA Chairman William Oloo Janak.


    Janak said the attempt by the police to criminalise media coverage of the Westgate mall and the claims that the journalists lacked patriotism, was diversionary and an attempt to deflect attention from the credibility issues facing the security forces over their handling of the mall terror attack saga.

    “Our concerns are not only with the threats from the police, but also about the Media Bill which is now before parliament,” said KCA chairman William Oloo. “We call on the National Assembly to review the sections that give the government more power in the Bill which pose threat to media freedom.” (OWINO: Media bills before House fail constitutional test)

    “The threats of arrest by the Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo against the journalists and the subsequent summoning of the two and the Standard Group Chief Executive can only be seen as part of a wider plot by the government to muzzle media freedom, a move that must be resisted by all believers in press freedom,” added Janak.

    KCA is concerned that the police should seek to gag the media over the Westgate attack at a time when the security forces owe the nation answers over their handling of the issue and more particularly the conduct of the army officers during the security operations.

  • media bill useless

    Saturday, October 19, 2013

    Media bills before House fail constitutional test

    By Sekou Owino
    More by this Author

    There are two proposed legislation that would have profound effects on media work in the country.

    These are the Media Council Bill, 2013 and the Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Bill, 2013. The latter will shortly go through its second reading in parliament.

    If these Bills are passed in the form in which they have been published, they will have great impact on the media landscape for journalists and for the country.

    The Bills are not a matter of happenstance. The need to pass media legislation is a command of the Constitution.

    It is intended that the legislation regarding the media industry be amended to attune it to the changes that the new Constitution intended to introduce. The constitutional freedom of the media and the right to information were non-existent under the previous constitution.

    Article 34 of the Constitution is clear that the State shall not control or interfere with any media establishment. The article adds that any regulatory body with authority over the broadcasting and electronic media shall be independent of control by government or any commercial or political interest.

    Therefore, the litmus test of any media legislation must satisfy the two standards. These are first, that the media must be cushioned against state control and, second, that any regulatory body must also be independent. This is understood to mean freedom from oversight or supervision by any of the arms of government including but not limited to the agents or officers of the State.

    A look at the two Bills reveals some concerns and possible doubts as to whether these principles have been considered adequately––or at all.


    For instance, the Media Council Bill, 2013 is intended to regulate media establishments and journalists. However, this Bill would appear to reverse the balance of power in the media from regulation to control in favour of the Executive generally through the Cabinet secretary in charge of information and communication. The Cabinet secretary is given the power of life and death over the Media Council.

    The Bill empowers the Cabinet secretary to effectively dissolve the current Media Council by declaring vacancies in the Council and convening a selection panel to choose candidates for appointment to the successor Media Council.

    Second, the possibility of independence of this selection committee is remote because the Cabinet secretary is empowered to be the one to provide facilities and support for the panel in the discharge of its functions. The view is that this perpetuates the patronage of the panel to the Cabinet secretary.

    After conducting interviews with the applicants, the panel submits 12 names to the Cabinet secretary. From these names, the secretary shall select six persons for appointment as members of the council. The panel shall also submit the names of a further three persons (3) to the Cabinet secretary from whom the President shall appoint the chairperson of the council.


    The Bill further gives the Cabinet secretary the unbridled power to reject any of the names of the nominees submitted by the panel and request alternative names. Theoretically, therefore, the Cabinet secretary shall retain the power to reject any nominees for membership of the Media Council until he is personally satisfied with the persons.

    Put simply, the net effect of the Bill would be to subordinate the appointment of the members of the Media Council to the Cabinet secretary, a position that would completely negate the constitutional requirement of independence.

    Of equal concern is the section of the Bill that empowers the Cabinet secretary to amend the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism. Although it is stated that this shall be done in consultation with the Media Council, the driving and operational mind shall remain the Cabinet Secretary. There does not appear to be any requirement for public participation in this kind of endeavour.

    This power to make rules of ethics for media practitioners is effectively the power to regulate. and in my view, contradicts the Constitutional requirement for a free media and one devoid of regulation by government. Our reading of the fulfillment of this constitutional edict is that the code of ethics of journalism ought not to have the imprint of the Executive at all.

    These concerns persist when focus is placed on the second of these Bills: the Kenya Information and Communications Bill, 2013. The Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Bill, 2013 is intended to amend the Kenya Communications Act (1998) to ensure compliance with the Constitution.


    Some examples of the pervasive influence of the Cabinet secretary appear to have been retained in this Bill. The Cabinet secretary again retains the power to dissolve the board of the Current Communications Commission of Kenya and replace it by inviting applicants to and appointing qualified persons to the board of the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) which is meant to substitute the current Communications Commission of Kenya.

    The same powers are retained by the Cabinet secretary for removal of any board member. A section of the Bill proposes that any complaints against a member of the board shall be submitted to the Cabinet secretary for determination as to whether there is a ground for removal of the board member.

    In case the subject of the complaint is the chairperson of the CAK board, the Cabinet secretary shall forward the complaint together with recommendations to the President.

    The powers of the Cabinet secretary to determine the merits of the complaint effectively gives him/her powers to appoint, to influence the conduct and to remove board members. It is unlikely to meet and satisfy the constitutional threshold first for independence of the commission from political influence and interests.

    Second, the Bill seeks to create a Broadcasting Standards Committee with the declared objective of “developing standards for broadcasting content and regulating and monitoring compliance of those standards. A reader of the Constitution in its strict terms would see a clear violation of Article 34 as it presents a danger of this committee becoming a censorship authority.

    It is my considered view that this power to regulate content turns the authority and this committee from regulation as contemplated in the Constitution into a controller of content which the Constitution did not intend. Of greater concern is that the committee will be established by the CAK without reference to any public participation generally or to industry practitioners and broadcasters specifically.

    It is also possible that the roles of this committee and those of the Media Council’s complaints commission would be in operational conflict. The Media Council’s complaints commission already addresses (and rightly so) the issues of content across all media and has dispute resolution mechanisms for this.

    The proposed Authority under this Bill should rightly regulate the use of frequencies and technical aspects of broadcast generally and communication but not editorial issues of content.

    For the above-mentioned reasons, there is reasonable apprehension that even if the Media Council of Kenya Bill, 2013 and the Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Bill are passed by Parliament and are enacted, they may face several challenges as to their conformity with the constitution.

  • Uhuru misleading himself
  • Monday, October 28, 2013

    Team to table proposed changes on media laws

    More by this Author

    The parliamentary committee on Information is ready to table a report on proposed changes on media laws, which have caused an outcry over threats to press freedom.

    However, the chairman of the Energy, Communication and Information committee, Mr Jamleck Kamau, did not divulge details of the report, saying the team had heard and taken into consideration media concerns.

    This came as International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) on Monday expressed concerns about the intimidation of journalists in Kenya and some provisions of the country’s media Bill.

    In a joint statement, the IFJ and FAJ said that security forces must stop intimidating journalists over their reporting of looting and disarray during the coverage of the Westgate mall attack.

    According to the federations’ affiliate, the Kenya Correspondents Association, media freedom had been seriously undermined after police summoned two journalists over their report on the Westgate Mall looting by army officers.

    About the Press outcry, Mr Kamau said: “The team is aware of the media complaints and we will be presenting to the House a report of observations and recommendations, and have the committee of the whole House deliberate.”

    The sub-committee on the Media Bill met on Monday in a closed session. Speaking to the Nation afterwards, Mr Kamau said he would not pre-empt the report’s recommendations, but that the committee was aware of the complaints by players in the media industry by the time of compiling the report.

    “We sat with the media players and we heard their complaints…” he said without elaborating whether there would be any radical changes to the media Bills.

    The Media Council Bill, 2013, which is set for debate in the National Assembly today, proposes radical changes to media operations, likely to contradict constitutional provisions on media freedom.

  • Uhuru scared of military mafia

    Tuesday, October 29, 2013

    Westgate probe: Could it be Uhuru doesn’t want to embarrass military?

    By Macharia Gaitho
    More by this Author

    We have waited more than a month for President Uhuru Kenyatta to appoint a Commission of Inquiry into the Westgate Shopping Mall terrorist attack.

    The longer we wait, the more unlikely, it seems, that the president intends to honour his promise to the nation.

    Perhaps the Head of State has had a rethink.

    It is highly probable that he would not want to expose his top security officials to a process of public inquiry that would reveal to the world the tragic incompetence and ego battles that gave Al-Shabaab terrorists more mileage than they could ever have dreamed of.

    The president not want to embarrass his security chiefs, and nor would he want their failing put on display for all the world to see, including those who wish us harm and would be on the lookout for chinks in the armour they could exploit.

    But it is unclear at this stage whether the president is just being judiciously prudent, or whether he is scared of offending the bemedalled men in uniform who carry all the big guns.

    In the past few weeks since the story of heroic exploits at Westgate unravelled, we have been preoccupied with sad tales of looting soldiers; but in the process been diverted from the more serious issues.

    The closer I look at what went wrong, the more I am persuaded that a major failing was in the collapse of civilian oversight, coupled with the lack of centralised command as rival security units duelled for glory.

    One big lesson from Westgate must be the security structures that must be put in place to respond to future attacks.

    It is evident now that calling in the military, usually a last resort, was premature. How that decision was arrived at calls for urgent review.

    The Kenya Defence Forces came in to take charge of the operation with heavy guns blazing and riding roughshod over the Kenya Police Service units that are better trained for such operations and had already cornered the terrorists.

    The military may be ideal fighting Al-Shabaab deep inside Somalia and defending our borders against external aggressors, but in domestic situations, they must always be kept on a tight leash.

    The generals may well welcome every opportunity to display their firepower, but their armoured cars, anti-tank missiles and all kinds of howitzers might not work very well in a shopping mall.

    When the president sought to mediate between the security bosses on the first day of the terrorist attack, he announced that Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo would be in charge of the Westgate operation. But the KDF under General Julius Karangi were to carry out the actual assault.

    General Karangi must have been purring like the proverbial Cheshire Cat because somebody neglected to inform President Kenyatta that the military does not take orders from the police, whom they look down upon as mere civilians.

    The upshot was the military took charge; with the police boss and National Intelligence Service chief Michael Gichangi being reduced to mere by-standers, hapless Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku merely echoing prompts from the military chiefs, and Defence Secretary Raychelle Omamo mute in the periphery.

    Lost in the whole imbroglio was some unit called the Kenya National Disaster Operation Centre.

    The unit headed by a military colonel based at the Office of the President is tasked with managing and coordinating all manner of national disaster responses.

    This might include terrorist attacks like Westgate, or natural calamities like floods and tempests.

    I think they have surrendered their role to the Kenya Red Cross, being more present on the Twittersphere than in any actual operations.

    The disaster operations outfit could safely be disbanded, and in its place could come a powerful national security and disaster command centre, a kind of Homeland Security unit with real functions and responsibilities.

    To be effective the command centre would have to be senior to the military, the police, and the intelligence services when called upon to coordinate an inter-agency response to future Watergates, sorry, Westgates.

  • Police& Military must be Reformed!

    Let us pity an Anus thinking Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta and his equal Anus thinking Kenyan Masses!Here gangs committ murder everyday hence lawlessness &moral decay in Kenya>

  • Karangi stupid liar

    2 thieving Westgate soldiers sacked, jailed – Karangi
    By OLIVE BURROWS | October 29, 2013

    NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 29 – Kenya’s Chief of Defence Forces has now admitted that some soldiers were found with stolen property following the Westgate mall terror attack.

    General Julius Karangi said two of the soldiers were dismissed from the force and jailed, while a third is still under investigation.

    The military has been under the spotlight after CCTV footage from the mall showed soldiers trying to open drawers in a jewellery store, while others were filmed walking into the Nakumatt store only to emerge moments later with paper bags in hand.

    The contents remain a mystery but Karangi recently told a parliamentary committee that the soldiers were carrying water, provoking public outrage.


  • A lost & cursed People

    Deferral of Kenya’s cases before the ICC

  • Can't trust Kimaiyo /Muhoro corrupt goons!

    They look like sunday-church preachers ,but really kills with Impunity>

  • Washeni Upumbavu

    Uhuru Kenyatta Govt must have incited these Primitive and Savage tribes hence vehicles were used to ferry them trucks/buses/mini-trucks and cars etc were used on the other hand Kimaiyo corrupt thugs were no where to be seen! United Kingdom & Tullow oil personnelsmust be protected by Uhuru govt but not to threaten and to intimadate British citizens in Turkans hence they have the right of their savety or the UK govt will send her troops with their mighty fire-power and arrest both Ruto& Uhuru for trying to create another westgate and take them away!it can be done !


    KENYA Defence Forces chief General Julius Karangi yesterday admitted that some soldiers looted Westgate Mall during the terrorist attack between September 22 and 24.

    “We instituted our own internal inquiry. The inquiry has so far found three of our officers with stolen goods,” Gen Karangi told the media yesterday.

    Several shop owners said that their premises had been looted during the siege but KDF had previously denied the allegations despite CCTV footage suggesting that looting took place.

    Two administration policemen and four civilians were also arrested and are under investigation. One AP was found trying to steal a vehicle at the mall.

    At the Department of Defence Headquarters in Hurlingham yesterday morning, Karangi said Victor Otieno and Victor Ashihundu had already been jailed and sacked while Isaiah Wanjala was under investigation. They were found with mobile phones, cameras and battery chargers.

    “There is no evidence of widespread looting and those who we have got evidence against have paid the price,” said Karangi

    Wanjala and his wife Joyce Nafula were due in court yesterday but the case was withdrawn minutes before they appeared following the intervention of the military police.

    Prosecutor Stephen Wambua said military police argued that Wanjala could only be court-martialed and should not be tried in a civilian court.

    The couple were arrested after Nafula was found hawking suspicious electronic goods along Gusii road in Nakuru’s Central Business District at the weekend.

    After being arrested, Nafula said she had been given the four mobile phones, two cameras and a projector by her husband after his mission at Westgate. Wanjala is in the 20 Para battalion stationed at Kenyatta Barracks in Gilgil.

    At the press conference Karangi was flanked by Defence Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo, Principal Secretary Monica Juma, Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo, Director of CID Ndegwa Muhoro, Deputy KDF chief Lt. Gen. Samson Mwathethe, Army Commander Lt. Gen Joseph Kasaon, Kenya Air Force chief Major Gen Joff Otieno and KDF spokesman Col. Cyrus Oguna.

    They played video clips of the KTN’s Jicho Pevu feature showing armed soldiers walking into Nakumatt and then strolling out with plastic shopping bags full of goods.

    Previously Karangi said the soldiers had only taken water during the four-day siege and were checking through drawers in the supermarkets to ensure the terrorists had not planted any explosive devices.

    “At the time I said that, we had not seen the new CCTV footage which showed soldiers walking out with Nakumatt bags. When we saw it we immediately constituted an internal inquiry whose findings l have with me,” said Karangi.

    He blamed “poor judgement” by the officer who allowed the soldiers to collect water from the Nakumatt supermarket and promised action against him.

    The press conference was also shown video interviews with shopkeepers who had previously complained on TV that their shops had been looted and merchandise stolen. They were recanting their original stories saying that they had since established they had not lost any goods.

    Karangi said the exact number of terrorists was still unknown. Government had initially said that between 10 and 15 terrorists were involved in Westgate attack in which at least 70 people died.

    “What we are sure about and what has been seen on CCTV is four terrorists some of whom have positively been identified,” said Karangi.

    Karangi and the other chiefs denied suggestions that the operation was poorly coordinated due to infighting between the security agencies.

    He dismissed allegations of a shootout between the KDF and the GSU Recce Unit as a “creation of the media”.

    “I’m baffled by the allegations to the effect that some of the casualties were as a result of friendly fire between KDF officers and members of the Recce squad. We lost five officers, three of whom were killed on Monday,” stated Karangi

    Karangi said he was not aware of any time lag that could have disrupted the operation following the switchover from the regular police to the KDF.

    CID boss Muhoro said they had established that one terrorist called Norway during the four-day siege. The call is believed to have been made by Norwegian national Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow, 23 years old, born in Somalia and identified as one of the four attackers.

    Muhoro added that Interpol was assisting the police in analyzing the body parts recovered from the debris of the mall. He said that five other people in custody will soon be charged in court.

    Kimaiyo denied that the NIS had issued any specific warning regarding the Westgate Mall attack. The NIS chief Michael Gichangi was not present at the press conference.

    Previously army spokesman Col Oguna said the KDF soldiers had helped “repatriate” assets belonging to banks and shops in Westgate and saved banks and a casino millions of shillings.
    – See more at: http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-141583/karangi-admits-soldiers-stole-westagate#sthash.MhNjVk7p.j4GpbeGw.dpuf

  • Reform The Police.

    Why do all African Gaping ass Dictators lack wisdom? Why do they have very Low iqs equal to a whiteman’s 7 years old boy(toto)1. The issue is not the ICC. In fact it is wrong to say that the ICC is a racist ploy by Western imperialists: that is absolute balderdash.
    2. Africans created the ICC, they have jobs there, they take themselves there, and they create the political mess that provides work for the ICC.
    3. If the AU political anus thinking honchos do not want the ICC, let them do us a favour: stop rigging elections and killing people to get and retain power.It is that simple.
    4. Once they take people there to be tried for crimes against humanity, let them keep the script simple by accepting responsibility for their decisions.
    5. Just tell me: who took Anus thinking Laurent Gbagbo to ICC, was it the French President or his Ivorian counterpart? As far as I remember it was Alassane Ouattara, the Ivorian President. What about Joseph Kony? Who has hired the FBI to hunt for him and take him to The Hague? I will not be wrong if I gave the responsibility to Yoweri
    Museveni, President of Uganda.What about a man called Bemba, the ‘butcher of Goma’. Was it not Kabila who handed him over to the ICC?
    6. In the Kenyan case the evidence is there in Parliament: “ don’t be
    vague go to The Hague” was the
    chorus of those now very vociferous in their denunciation of ICC.
    7. Get President Paul Kagame(wanted by french Police)
    of Rwanda and ask him whether
    he has absolutely nothing to do
    with the ICC. Most likely he will
    tell you one of his generals is
    probably heading there at his
    behest.We should excise our
    Sovereignty within the confine
    of Dignity and Integrity.

  • MPigs pass media bill
  • draconian media bill

    Kenyan press up in arms over ‘draconian’ media bill


    Kenyan press up in arms over ‘draconian’ media bill
    By blade

    Created 01/11/2013 – 08:33

    Kenya’s media reacted with shock and outrage Friday after parliament voted through a bill that could see journalists and outlets slapped with huge fines for violating a code of conduct.

    In a late-night sitting Thursday, MPs voted to set up a government-appointed Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal with the teeth to impose penalties of up to 20 million Kenyan shillings (173,000 euros, $234,000) on offenders and even bar journalists from working.

    The bill, which is pending approval by President Uhuru Kenyatta, would also herald strict controls on radio and television broadcasts, with stations obliged to ensure that 45 percent of programmes and advertising is locally-made content.

    In a furious attack on the bill, The Daily Nation newspaper said the bill “puts the country in the same ranks with Zimbabwe, Cuba, Ethiopia and Kuwait” and would take Kenya “back to the dark age”.

    “In one dramatic swoop, parliament has written away the media’s rights,” wrote the paper, part of Kenya’s burgeoning and vibrant independent media.

    “It is a frightening place, and it is valid to ask: what is there to prevent Parliament from simply sweeping away the independence of the judiciary tomorrow?”

    According to The Star newspaper, the new bill will effectively hand the government “a stranglehold over the media”, while The Standard said democracy and free speech in Kenya had been “dealt a major blow” and lambasted the bill as “draconian”.

    The passing of the bill comes amid a string of measures to reinforce national security in the wake of the September’s attack by Islamist gunmen on the Westgate shopping mall.

    Kenya media drew the ire of authorities by broadcasting security camera footage of troops who were dispatched to the scene of the attack purportedly robbing the upmarket mall.

    Police chief David Kimaiyo reacted by summoning two journalists and an executive from KTN television for questioning, although the summons was retracted following a media outcry.



    Source URL: http://www.france24.com/en/20131101-kenyan-press-arms-over-draconian-media-bill

  • draconian media bill

    Daniel arap Moi ruled Kenya for 24 long years. He jailed and maimed journalists BUT he never EVER introduced a single bill in parliament to reign in the press. Mwai Kibaki ruled Kenya only for 10 years but introduced a total of 4 bills aimed solely at trimming down the powers (real and imagined) of the critical fourth estate.

    Yesterday parliament passed a bill that effectively shuts down free media in the country. What you need to know is the fact that President Uhuru Kenyatta has retained many of Kibaki’s closest advisors (the security team for instance is intact) and the idea is to continue on the same path as his predecessor in a few key areas. Naturally top on their agenda is the “annoying press.”

    There was such secrecy in the drafting and preparation of the bill coupled with the fact that it was carefully introduced when many vocal CORD legislators and level headed JUBILEE members were not in the house. This press shut down law was passed only by 60 members in a house with over 400.

    Most Kenyans do not believe that the president will pick a pen with his left hand and appended his signature on the bill. Now why wouldn’t he when the bill was hatched crafted and plotted through parliament from State House? Our only hope are some “annoying” level headed the advisors that the president insists on retaining who may just persuade him that the huge political capital he will gain from not signing the bill will be worth rubbishing all the hard work that was put into it that started way back during Kibaki’s presidency.

    But what Kenyans need to focus their attention on now is what the government is so desperate to hide from the public. That is where this whole phobia from the press originates from and is driven by.

    Corrupt deals? Unlikely. That is stale, harmless information. Everybody knows that mega-corruption is alive and well in Kenya today. So we have to look elsewhere.

    One tiny piece of information that the government is terrified about has to do with Kenya’s invasion of Somalia. For starters this blogger has credible information that our soldiers entered Somalia many, many months before the official invasion was announced. Indeed a number of “entrepreneurs” close to State House made a killing supplying all kinds of stuff to the military for that operation. In case you did not know military contracts are confidential meaning that the suppliers trusted to supply the KDF can charge anything that comes to their mind safe in the knowledge that nobody will ever closely scrutinize the contracts.

    I also happen to know that a few journalists are closing in on this mega-story. Already a few editors at a leading daily have ruled out the possibility of ever publishing such a story in their high circulation newspapers. However you can be sure that some hungry journalist in an equally hungry newspaper somewhere will publish it one day soon… oops maybe not, if the bill is made into law.

    There are a lot of messy things going on in the port of Kismayu that I will be highlighting here in the next few days. It paints the KDF in terrible light and naturally the government will be very keen to keep that away from the mainstream media at all costs.

    But the mother of all stories is the emerging information of links between the KDF/local intelligence community and terrorists.

    Mercifully we have social media, blogs and Internet to keep those Kenyans who want to know abreast of what is really happening. However recent moves to control bloggers and bring them under the Media Council of Kenya are now making a lot of sense. The new body established in the draconian bill passed by parliament yesterday (which will replace the media council) has sweeping powers to use government resources to trace and punish bloggers and other online publishers, which is not as difficult as most people may think.

    The banana republic has officially become a police state right under our noses even as we are busy fighting each other over who belongs to CORD and who belongs to JUBIREE. Will you believe that even this article will be carefully analyzed to determine whether it was instigated to favour CORD or JUBIREE? I will be waiting for the angry emails even as the president quickly signs the “lala salama” bill into law. This time round I will be shedding tears of pity.

  • Uhuru -Ruto Strategy

    Here Comes Uhuru Strategy of Chasing White Settlers unlike Robert Mugabe uhuru is using Fire Revolution that leaves settlers shocked & poor (brietze kreig)>

  • Uhuru tribalist

    Posted Saturday, November 2, 2013 | by- Murithi Mutiga

    MUTIGA: Ethnic nationalism will ruin Uhuru’s legacy just as it tarnished Kibaki’s image

    As a self-declared digital President, one would expect the Twitter-using, Facebook-surfing Uhuru

    As a self-declared digital President, one would expect the Twitter-using, Facebook-surfing Uhuru Kenyatta to be an improvement on his predecessors.

    One would expect him to be Kibaki 2.0, to use the language of the technology companies which shrewdly keep modifying and slightly upgrading their products to boost sales.

    Unfortunately, Mr Kenyatta is very similar to Mr Kibaki in one important respect. He is in the habit of making key appointments from his own ethnic community.

    If he does not change course, he will have the same image problem that ruined Mr Kibaki’s legacy.


    In a country where ethnicity is so salient, it is obviously unwise to allow the perception to set in that your own group is getting a bigger share of the national cake than everyone else.

    There is no excuse for it. The claims that people are appointed on merit amount to hogwash which even the people advancing the argument do not themselves believe.

    There are professionals from all over the country who can do some of the jobs to which the President has made appointments recently.

    Mr Kenyatta should log on to Facebook and see the reaction when he announces that yet another Kikuyu has taken up a new post. Cries of exclusion follow with disappointment being expressed even by his own supporters.

    A clever wag recently changed the tag that united the nation post-Westgate from “We are One” to “We are Onedering”.

    Mr Kenyatta should know better because he had a ringside view of the Kibaki presidency. By any standards, Mr Kibaki was a reasonably successful president.

    Today, Uhuru is able to go toe to toe with the West largely because the percentage of public expenditure drawn from foreign aid went down sharply in the Kibaki years.

    In Uganda and Tanzania, foreign aid accounts for about 40 per cent of their budgets.


    By 2007 in Kenya, the percentage of donor support for the recurrent budget (the money needed to keep the state afloat, pay the salaries of teachers, nurses and policemen) had fallen to five per cent.

    Yet Mr Kibaki is viewed negatively in many parts of the country because he is seen as having taken what was a major Kenyan success – the defeat of Kanu in 2002 – and turned it into a Mt Kenya affair.

    The appointments in his first two or three years in office when he disproportionately favoured the Kikuyu and Meru made his presidency unnecessarily turbulent and laid the ground for the defeat of the government in 2005 in the referendum (a contest that had almost nothing to do with the constitution) and his narrow escape from being a one-term president in 2007.

    As it is, instead of being feted as a national hero, the most fulsome praise for Mr Kibaki has come from non-Kenyans who are not implicated in our ethnic politics, commentators like Charles Onyango-Obbo who noted in a blog post that Mr Kibaki spent more on infrastructure in 10 years than his two predecessors did in 40 years.

    To give him his due, Mr Kenyatta has done a few things right. He fully implemented the MoU between him and William Ruto’s URP, eluding the sort of crisis Mr Kibaki courted by dumping Mr Raila Odinga in 2003.

    For the first time since the Kibaki years, also, the offices of Internal Security and Finance minister are held by people who are not from the mountain.

    An enlightened leader would seek to build on that base and expand his support beyond the Mt Kenya and Kamatusa groups that delivered nearly 90 per cent of his support at the last election.

    There will be no outcry among the Kikuyu if they do not land every top public sector job that falls vacant.

    By taking up the worst habits of Mr Kibaki and making appointments that suggest a pattern of exclusion, Mr Kenyatta is making life unnecessarily difficult for himself.

    Such decisions not only mean he will face a tough re-election fight, but that when he exits State House, he will be viewed in large parts of the country not as a Kenyan but as a Mt Kenya nationalist. That is a fate he can easily avoid.

    Murithi Mutiga, an editor with the Sunday Nation, is a Chevening Scholar at the London School of Economics.

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