This post has been updated see bottom of the page
If you thought that Kenya had sunk to its’ lowest ebb, then think again. Mambo bado.
Today is Jamuhuri day and ironically this day will be remembered for generations to come as the Jamuhuri day celebration that was held just after the 10th parliament and the ruling class celebrated a huge leap backwards in press freedom in our beloved country.
Wanted: Freedom fighters on the web now that the mainstream media has been successfully gagged by enemies of Kenya.
MPs have also successfully resisted paying any taxes on their huge allowances. There is little doubt now that the 10th parliament will now join the 9th parliament and others in the country’s crowded hall of SHAME. The 10th parliament has this week passed perhaps what is the most draconian media bill to ever be presented anywhere in the world since the apartheid days of South Africa.
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But folks there is some good news to report. The good news is that the struggle has picked up momentum. The revolution that will change Kenya is not too far off. It was rather clear from the mood of the public at Nyayo Stadium a few minutes ago that Kenyans are well aware of exactly where we are as a country and no amount of sugar-coated speeches will wash. Especially the kind where people take pride in saying "my government" (I though it is supposed to be the people's government?)
It is interesting that just towards the end of the President’s speech a few minutes ago, a man caused a commotion when he started shouting and was promptly gagged and roughly manhandled by security personnel as he was carried out kicking and still attempting to scream from Nyayo Stadium. As soon as he was out of view of he public, eye witnesses saw the man receiving a through beating from several policemen. There were loud protests from the crowd at the way the man was arrested and a section of the crowd promptly burst into the campaign song Msilale bado mapabano. (Don't sleep, the struggle is still on).
It is official folks, Kenya is a police state. A police state led by a very crowded, expensive coalition government cabinet that is just sitting there "eating" as Kenya goes to the dogs.
The gains made in securing media freedom in Kenya are now threatened by the horrible members of the August House. And yet these gains were made through the spilling of blood of many innocent Kenyans. It is very annoying to note that one Emilio Stanley himself today seats in State House due to the sacrifices that other Kenyans made to free the media enough for him to campaign to victory and yet he will probably not hesitate to append his signature on the immoral piece of paper that parliamentarians call a bill that will fall on his desk for signature shortly.
The said MPs passed the controversial Kenya Communication (Amendment) Bill 2008, without the alterations agreed upon between the Minister for Information and Communication Mr. Samuel Poghisio and members of the media owners association. This Bill was first brought into the precincts of the House in 2005 by the former minister for Information Mr. Mutahi Kagwe. After an outcry by the Media stations the president refused to assent to it then instead asking the members of parliament to amend it accordingly.
Unfortunately, Mutahi Kagwe’s departure was not the end of the Bill as expected. His wishes were continued by the PS Ministry of Information and Communication one Mr. Bitange Ndemo A man I sincerely despise and will never forget since he gave the order for the media blackout on 30th December 2007). I have no qualms calling that man an idiot!
Mr. Poghisio has held numerous meetings with the members of the media owners association promising them that the controversial clauses in the Bill shall be deliberated upon before it is passed. Poghisio also made assurances to the prime minister that that Bill would not be tabled without the requisite amendments. But that same afternoon Mr Poghisio after promising the country that he would take the concerns of media houses into consideration publicly on Q-FM he sneaked in the Bill backed by David Musila and with 23 other members of parliament passed the Bill without any amendments alleging it should not have been tempered with for the sake of national security. It has largely been said the passage of the Bill was a retaliatory attack on the media for pushing the agenda on the MPs to pay taxes.
Now the media fraternity is shouting itself hoarse about the effects of that Bill, which include having the Minister for Internal Security raid media houses to destroy equipment (ala the Michuki 2006 raid on the Standard media group), the Information minister shall have power to control broadcast content, what’s more the postal corporation shall have the power to open our letters without any consent from the court.
This Jamhuri Day morning radio presenter, Caroline Mutoko, Walter Mong'are, Larry Asego activist Mwalimu Mati and his wife together with about 20 other people were arrested at the Nyayo National stadium for wearing black t-shirts with loud messages on the MP’s tax refusal. It is said that in his arrest Nyambane was severely manhandled by the police after attempting to serve the president personally with the media petition. Some of the people arrested were stripped off their t-shirts. The arrested people were taken to Langata Police Station. Another sad day for Kenya on the anniversary of the day we attained independence. What a shame!
The Media houses are now ‘begging’ the MP for Othaya NOT to assent to the said Bill. I am a pessimist by nature and honestly don’t expect the MP for Othaya to do anything about it I mean come on this is the man whose wife stormed the Nation Media Group in the middle of the night a few years ago slapped a journalist and threw the company into disarray, making operations come to a complete halt for a few hours. This Kibaki is the same man who backed Michuki’s raid of the Standard group. So what kind of action are we expecting from him? Maybe a miracle will save this nation and Kibaki will refuse to assent to it once again but I am not holding my breath!
I will not despair either and may I just say thank God for blogs and other internet sites out there because it now seems that these shall be the only other way that the public will be able to receive unadulterated information from within our borders.
Post Update By Chris
Debate is good but it is important to stick to the facts. It is clear from the comments to this post that several eyewitnesses to the same event at Nyayo Stadium today saw different things. Phil did you forget to tell us that when the Prime Minister asked wananchi to agree with him that "Yes we can" they replied by quoting the popular Celtel slogan; "Vuka" (cross over). What they meant was that Raila should leave government immeditaly and cross over to the opposition.
It is also NOT true according to several commentators here that under President Kibaki there has been more press freedom. The fact is that under Kibaki more bills have been introduced in parliament to gag the press than has happened in the history of Kenya including the time the country was under colonial rule. That is a fact!!! Kibaki found a very free press in 2003 which the opposition had collectively fought for, spilling blood in the process. Kibaki then proceeded to dismantle that freedom. If the bill which was passed this week was really Mutahi Kagwe's brain child, then why did it not fizzle out with his departure from the August house? The truth is that the real force behind the Bill is the president himself. The fact that he did not sign it the last time was merely a political gimmick at a time when he was soon facing a general election.
Then another significant historical incident took place at Nyayo stadium today. For the first time we saw the president leaving his seat during a public holiday function to confer with the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the national assembly. They later returned to their seats after a few minutes. What were they discussing?
By the way when the president came into the stadium and was waving to the people, hardly anybody waved back. At least Moi knew one important secret, when people are hungry they can be ruthless animals. So he made sure that whatever happened Unga did not suddenly cost Kshs 130/- one morning because some minister wanted to make quick money. Such deals are not too bad with Sugar. But maize!!!!!!?????? Aiiii!!!!!
Lastly when a commotion ensued towards the end of the president's speech he cynically remarked; "let those who want to fight go ahead and fight." Is that how a leader of a nation handles themselves? Inciting or daring (depending on how you interpret his remarks) his dissatisfied people to fight?
It was very clear today at Nyayo stadium that the country is in "ignition mode" it needs only a small spark to get things really ugly. But alas, the political class do not see it like that.
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