New media bill – democracy under siege
Today I stand together with men and women I shared a class, a belief and a profession with not more than a decade ago. Like the old saying goes: “Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.” So even though I no longer practice the noble profession of journalism to the letter, it is my duty to defend the men and women who go go through a lot of challenges to the extent of putting their lives in arms way so that we can have an informed citizenry. This acts remind me of March 2006 when a government minister unilaterally ordered a raid on Standard group, if this bill is signed into law such raids will have a legal backing and will be the order of the day.
This is indeed a war that we must all join because it affects the very core of our society and values entrenched in our constitution that upholds the right for citizens to access information. A right that our politicians are now keen on curtailing.
This is not an attempt to promote responsible journalism as our politicians want us to believe. For a long time
now, practitioners of the noble profession have carried out themselves with a lot of dignity and restraint in their reporting and coverage of sensitive stories. What we have today is a government that wants to deprive it’s citizens of rights that they indeed shed blood for during the struggle for the second liberation.
This is an attempt by Uhuru Kenyatta and his cronies who are threatened by a free media to take this country back to the days of President Moi when newsrooms had a government official from Statehouse sitting in the newsroom ready to pull the plug on any story that they felt was not propagating the “nyayo agenda.”
The democratic space that we are enjoying in this country is a direct result of the vibrant media that we have developed over the ages through ugly struggles. That democratic space has by and large been a catalyst for the economic growth that our country has continued to enjoy. This has only been possible through men and women of the press who have done their duties to breath life to stories and opinions without fear that a huge fine might be imposed on them by some individual in statehouse who is uncomfortable with their story.
The constitution allowed for the media practitioners to come up with a body for internal regulation and that so the birth of the Media Council of Kenya which is tasked with receiving complains regarding conduct of journalists and media houses. Creating another regulating body that is government controlled (rubbish the independent body lies) is denying journalists the right to regulate themselves like practitioners of other professions like law and medicine do.
It is time that every well meaning citizen of this country let President Uhuru Kenyatta know that he cannot go against the provisions of the constitution and democratic principles to sign that draconian bill that was passed by 60 selfish politicians in to law. We must reject this attack on the sovereignty of our fourth estate with the contempt it deserves. This is not an appeal, we are not begging….we are demanding that President Uhuru Kenyatta sends that bill back to parliament for amendment.
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