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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Media Bill Product of Living National Lie

Tenth Parliament served the media sweet cold revenge marinated in the Kenya Communication (Amendment) Bill. And the Kenyan media must have seen it coming after their spirited exposure of the MPs’ lust and opposition to have their salaries taxed. Welcome to Kenyan politics and way of life where national good only stretches as far as personal aggrandizement.

This must be a very delicious pre-Christmas meal to the media just as we mark 45 years of independence whose tenets have been reduced to serve personal interest at the expense of the national good. Our myopic politicians may have just tightened the noose around their own necks albeit unwittingly so. They may smile from ear to ear cheating themselves that they have eventually nailed the press oblivious of the fact that the scribes will be their first port of call when they are out of political favour.

The present political class have summarily disabused us of the hitherto call for fresh political faces. They have proved no different from Shariff Nassirs of yore. Their selfish antics is an arrogant confirmation that all the high-sounding rhetoric were nothing but decoys meant to blind us from their ambitions to replace the eating at the table of impunity.

But again they are not alone. We have seen right here bigots clothe their tirades in unrivalled eloquence that redefines learned demagogy.

The good old adage that all that goes around comes around mean nothing to our political elite. A simple historical lesson would inform them that then Vice-President Kibaki ARTICULATELY seconded Njonjo’s 1982 bill to make Kenya an official dictatorship only to RUE his misplaced with and ELOQUENCE during his long stint in opposition politics.

Poisoned eloquence
Freedom is never granted but instedad it is bitterly and painfully fought for. Forget the entire fad that Kibaki has given Kenya the present freedom they enjoy. Times have changed and people have commensurately raised the bar. Only our politicians still draw pleasure and pride in primitive gimmicks.

Legalizing police raids on media house is akin to watering the seed of political incest where the Government would pretend to police itself in Parliament. Well, the politicians have selfishly made the bed and must accept to lie of it with all the thorns sprouting underneath. Self-regulation with independent arbiters is the practice the world over to have media remain responsible but not in Kenya.

That Kenya will never be the same after last year’s bungled election is no cliche. The truism that life changes fast and furiously and the villains of today can easily be tomorrow’s victims cannot be gainsaid. Double standards remain our bane to national progress.

Only Kenyans joyfully live the national lie in killing institutions and turn around to decry dearth of the same even before the burial ceremony if over. The Artur brothers must be exposing their post molars in obtuse exhilaration at the present turn of events.

11 comments:

papa plus said...

Lack of leadership

This is one of the biggest problems faced by African countries. Parties or grouping of people without any basic concepts in ideology such as human rights and freedoms, transparency and accountability and so on.

People who aspire for public office do so as a means to an end. That end in many cases is power and wealth. It is the type of power and wealth akin to a big fish in a small pond; nay infact it is more a big toad in a small puddle of water. These "big fish" can not even compete with the rest of the big fish in the ocean. And this is from both PNU, ODM and KANU etc.

To borrow a phrase from Turkish in the movie Snatch,"The rabbit gets fukced...proper fukced"

Guess who's the rabbit here...
happy 45th b-day kenyans!

Vikii said...

First, I have tremendous respect for Hon Poghisio, the communications minister. I also have a lot of respect for Gitobu Imanyara, the greatest and most honourable member of the tenth Parliament. It is however regrettable that Poghisio could introduce such a bill in Parliament and that individuals of Gitobu's stature would support it. I agree, any attempt to stifle the press must be rejected.

The problem with this post, however, is the usual irrationally unfair apportionment of blame. This post introduces the imaginary role of President Kibaki in gagging the media, yet the President has had absolutely nothing to do with the bill as at this stage. President Kibaki does not attend Parliament and instead of us blaming the MPs who voted for the bill (including the ever exalted and omnipotent heroes of ours), we choose to attack the President.

The truth of the matter is that this bill was first introduced in Parliament by minister Kagwe last year. It was known as the Media Bill 2007. While it is perfectly alright to revisit the President's past in relation to media freedom, objectivity dictates that in so doing, you give credit to the President for saving the media fraternity from a rogue Parliment by refusing to assent to a draconian bill. This post is about the media bill and a little history about the same would make plenty of sense.

When Kagwe introduced the bill, it had a notorious clause 35 that compelled media houses to disclose unnamed sources in the event of a suit arising from a story. The President rejected this bill on August 22 2007 and sent it back to Parliament claiming that such a requiremet would amount to an affront to democracy.

I cannot petend to know whether the President will assent to the bill this time round, but as at today, he has had nothing to do with it. We need to redirect the blame to our heroes in Parliament.

Now about the bill; it is true that the conduct of some, if not most, of the media houses has been questionable when not flat-out irresponsible. But such is the case with the media all over the world. The best way to cultivate responsible journalism is by leaving it to evolution. As the citizenry becomes increasingly erudite, they learn to differentiate fact from fiction. In the long run, it's only through factual reporting that a media house would stay competitive. Self regulation is the way to go.

Singa said...

Tell them Taabu you must know better I just wonder what has Kibaki committed or condoned in the present state over and above what your heroes have done to deserve the blame but then what did you expect of a parliament controlled by ODM. Ask Gor Sungu he who reduced none other than the PMs niece to pulp what ODMs ideology is and you will surely get an answer

Kimi Raikkonen said...

Taabu, can you for once be objective and place blame where it belongs i.e with the myopic, ignorant MPs of this parliament? Leave Kibaki out of it.
Having said that, the media are their own worst enemies. In their zealous efforts at cohabitation and canoodling with the very same politicians that they are complaining about, and consequent collusion and conspiracy against the people of Kenya and whom they have excelled at dividing including in the run up to last years disastrous election and right up to this day, it is ironic that they should now call on the very same people to sympathize with them. Frankly, i have no sympathy for the media in this. They brought this on themselves by deliberately refusing to get the people on their side by:

1. Deliberately misinforming the Kenyan people.

2. Ignoring the same peoples views and choosing to report only what they think will please politicians.

By refusing to educate the people on the conspiracy against them by politicians, the media are themselves part of the social elite's conspiracy to keep the majority of Kenyan people in darkness. I have no sympathy for them in that regard and they have reaped what they sowed. Folks, it is just two hyenas fighting over the same femur.
If the media were indeed sincere in their complaints, what is stopping them from denying the politicians who want to oppress them their most prized asset, the OXYGEN OF PUBLICITY? Supposing the media decided, beginning today, that they will not cover the Jamhuri day celebrations for instance, will not cover and report on parliamentary debate, will not, in a word, cover and report on a single politicians political rally or mere utterance, until the bill is withdrawn? You cannot tell me the media is unaware of this power, yet they are unwilling to use it. Why? Because they want to have their cake and eat it. They want to continue making money by reporting on every politicians idiotic utterance because it sells newspapers, without considering the valueless nature of those utterances to the Kenyan people nor its divisive capacity. Indeed, the newspapers have the power to change what politicians say and the way they operate but they won't. Reason? They are two sides of the same coin. Remember the Arabic saying: 'Me and my brother against my father; Me, my brother and my father against my cousin; Me, my brother, my father and cousin against my neighbour...' and so on and so forth. For the current situation, it is enmity in the opposite direction. The media and the politicians have been against the people all along and having defeated them, have now turned on each other. It was inevitable.

Anonymous said...

Very well put Taabu:

"Artur brothers must be exposing their post molars in obtuse exhilaration at the present turn of events."

Anonymous said...

Taabu,

Last night you received an award for Kumekucha most improved blogger... and WE ALL agree, you deserve the award. now why are you going back to your vomit?
hakuna haja ya fitina, apana..! tunataka ukae na style hiyo hiyo.
Merry christmas!

Bobie, Bristol said...

How a country can allow for a parliament that's makes laws based purely on vendetta and greed is simply mind boggling

For me this is just another fine example of all that's is wrong with our pretend parliamentary system. It simply beggars belief that this is the same guys that we are trusting to give us a new constitution. Also goes without saying that some very prominent people including the PM have been extremely circumspect on this issue. The passing of this dodgy bill could very well determine the future and the direction of our beautiful country and its a very sad day for democracy the world over when s/elected members of parliament decide to hold a country to ransom. Its now up to the president to not only strike down this bill but also any other malicious legislation that will come his way in the future. In the meantime the onus is on the media to redouble their effort in educating the denizen about their rights and freedoms for this is the only way we are going to eliminate ignorance albeit bit by bit and show the so called honourable members that they are supposed to be working for us and not vice versa.

Baba Shiru said...

You have no ideas whatsoever,
I agree with the fact that parlament should have left media alone, but anything else from that is nonsense.
Media became irresponsible, spreading radical views.

You have NOTHING to offer!

b-carotene said...

Taabu:
It would help tremendously if you spelt out what it is about the content of the (ammended) bill that rubs YOU the wrong way --and why. In your post I find nothing worth contesting (or supporting) for the lack of concrete information, besides of course your pettiness, which I’m now used to.

What puzzles me though is the general disaffection (with this bill) I see expressed in the print media--as if they were caught off guard! Where were they/their representatives during the bargaining processes that resulted in the drafting of this bill? Were there no mass media representatives involved? If that is the case, as improbable as it may sound, then we have a seriously flawed policy process.

If that is not the case, then can we assume that the mass media community itself is divided, disorganized, lacking in capacity to articulate and defend its own interests and exert the influence necessary over a process that determines their effectiveness? And if so, should we really be arguing for less regulation, or even self-regulation?

Alternatively, they may have been bracing themselves to battle it out in court. A solution even a person of unsound mind would quickly judge as suboptimal.

In any case, we have an amendment bill in the offing that is perceived as strengthening regulation. What Kenyans should be doing is some simple accounting of the benefits and costs (not necessarily monetary) of the media--whether the benefits they derive exceeds whatever real or perceived costs. That is whether, up until now and absent of this amendment, there has been sufficient competition among the sector's actors to the extent that a broad range of people's preferences/needs are well articulated. And further whether the mass media has provided good opportunities for informed public debate and for the public's multiple voices to be heard.

Taken as a whole, my sense is that Kenya’s mass media, for all its shortcomings, is on track towards meeting these policy objectives--has increasingly a larger number of actors allowing for some competition in the sector and some choice to the public. As Vikii says the quality of information will sort itself out as competition sharpens.

True, there were severe failures in the mass media prior to and after the 2007 election that would compel a responsible government to seek greater control. But such control counters the prospects of a relatively free and open media and indeed prospects for deepening democracy. Might less control (see the minister's powers) and MORE guidance (by a/the commission) achieve the responsibility that is, perhaps, being sought? I see this less as a battle between the MPs and the media (though such power struggles should never be discounted) but in the broader scheme of things as a setback in the struggle to deepen democracy in Kenya--an enterprise that our esteemed parliamentarians pay lip service to. All the time.

Taabu said...

B-CARROT,
You are very right save for the initial unwarranted PERSONAL attack. Only self-regulation ensures a win-win in this saga and why Kenya would wish to re-invent the will your guess is as good as mine.

You would wish too to know that Poghisio sneaked in the Bill after duping media owners/stakeholders that he would revise it with their input incorporated. He ignored that and Musila seconded him with less than 30 MPs voting. See through it and expose the fraudulent/deceptive scheme instead of getting obsessed with insults tyhat only message your ego, will you please?

Anonymous said...

Taabu:
This is a detail that Chris provides in his post, check it out. Still, thanks.

I guess B-CARROT must be doing something for you, huh?....:)...such persistence!

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