Tag Archives: Uhuru Kenyatta

Spinning the ICC, Governing by PR

Let me let you in on a little secret.

I lined up to welcome private citizen Uhuru Kenyatta who returning from his Hague date. Ssssssssh. Keep it between us.

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As a schoolboy lining up for retired president Moi – who prophesied that KANU would rule for 100 years to much derision (Who is laughing now?) – was normal. He seemed to always be on the go and he (or his handlers) felt that school children should either be lining the road waving or singing for him at different forums. Moi also said “now you are saying Moi must go but one day you will say Moi must come.” And the hullaballoo at Moi’s birthday did somewhat validate his statement.

So Chief Chef Lenku’s circular requesting for peace-loving Kenyans presence along the roads which the private citizen/President was not a shocker. After all the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Curiosity and my continued study of human nature fuelled my ten minutes walk to Makadara along Jogoo Road. And my timing was impeccable. Fifteen minutes upon my arrival the motorcade made its appearance.

It is common knowledge that Uhuruto used ICC case and astute PR to ascend to power. Communities which felt under siege came together to protect their sons using the tyranny of numbers. And spin or PR if you like whitewashed the picture (and eyes).

Just how much this ICC and PR narrative sold is now unfolding.

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The mass of people at Makadara was positively buzzing. These were not rent-a-crowd folk. These were people sharing a common unshakeable belief. Not subject to reason or logic. It is because it is kind of belief. It felt like a stadium or a church.

Young and old. Male and female. Seated and standing. All waiting. Happily. Anxiously.

Snippets of conversation in the alternative national language floated around me. “He is ours.” “God-given.” “He is our blood.”

One side of phone conversations was overhead; “I am here. I could not miss it for anything. Where are you standing?” Also, “Where are you?….you can’t make it…he is almost here.”

Then the outriders’ zoomed past signalling the much awaited moment was near and the buzzing crowd became alive. Screaming, chanting and dancing. The junction into Buruburu from Jogoo Road was blocked as the frenzied crowd demanded an address.

Before I walked away I caught a snippet of Uhuruto and their astonishment was clear. The narrative gelled together around ICC and PR had worked beyond their wildest dreams. More conversation snippets floated around me. “See what we voted for?” “See the fruits of our labour?”

The ICC case and astute PR has managed to turn Uhuru support into a fanatical undertaking. The support is more than political. It is something akin to religion. And religion is now being woven into the narrative. Uhuru is viewed as the Chosen One. A popular chant of Uhuru supporters is “Si nguvu/si uchawi, ni maombi.” (It is not our strength/it is not witchcraft, it is prayer.) Songs have also being composed to that effect. Uhuru’s presidential victory is touted as an answered prayer.

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Another by-product of the ICC case and PR is flag-waving patriotism. Most of the crowd at Makadara had the flag. Matatus and even private cars flew the flag. The flag being used was Kenyan but is the Nation Kikuyu? Put another way, to the crowd at Makadara is the Kikuyu nation synonymous with the Kenya nation? Or another way to ask the question is did the challenge mutate from personal to communal to national? And now international?

Articles 147 and 134 are in the constitution. Ruto is a Deputy not Vice. It follows then when principal is absent the deputy acts. But politics is about perception. And Uhuruto use of PR is phenomenal. So amid much fanfare President Uhuru became a private citizen while Deputy Ruto became Acting President complete with trappings of power.

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A fact that one following the ICC case may found hard to believe is that post election violence actually happened. The Kikuyu bore a substantial brunt of the violence. The Uhuruto bromance aside, the hoi polloi still harboured a grudge. A Ruto presidency was unfathomable. Too much blood under the bridge it was said. But after ‘the handing over power’ show a Ruto presidency is now somewhat discussable. Which given numbers tyranny, then a ten plus ten Uhuruto reigns may not be fiction.

Remember the 100 years prophesy? Tingisa kabisa.

So what do all these variables portend for mkenya wa kawaida or for Kenya?

Is the ICC case good for mkenya wa kawaida or for Kenya?

Is the management by PR good mkenya wa kawaida or for Kenya?

I have no idea.

You?

GOD BLESS KENYA!

p.s – ALL images courtesy Google.

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Gagged

The passage by a handful of MPs of the Kenya Information & Communication Amendment Bill 2013 has caused shock waves in the country.

For Kenyans old enough to remember, this feels like the start of a return to the dark days of dictatorship when KANU was baba na mama. For the younger ‘digital’ generation who have no recollection of Kenya Broadcasting Corporation ruling the airwaves and bulletins riddled with Mtukufu Rais, the hullabaloo may seem to be overkill or even a timely blow to the unfashionable traditional media.

As for the Kenyan media for whom the bill has direct impact, shock is an understatement. Just the other day, tea and a photo-op at Statehouse was the hottest ticket in town. Now the members of the Fourth Estate are learning, if you jump into bed with someone, do not be surprised if they screw you.

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Before jumping in on the debate which was unfolding on my social media space I took time to read up on the laws, bills and amendments in question.

There is the Kenya Information & Communication Act of 1998 which is subject to the 2013 amendment Bill which sailed through parliament and now awaits Presidential assent. Then there is the Media Council Bill 2013 which in MY reading repeals part/all of the Media Act 2007.

Both the KIC Amendment 2013 and Media Council Bill are being pushed by Aden Dualle, Leader of Majority in Parliament and also Hawk-Extraordinaire for Jubilee. I am unsure whether he is fronting the bills in his individual capacity or as the government head in parliament.

As a matter of full disclosure, I am a journalist or is it broadcaster or is it media practitioner? It depends on which of definition of the diverse media laws you read. But more importantly, I am a Kenyan worried about the slippery slope the country has embarked on. Echoes of China or Uganda anyone?

Let us start with the Kenya Information & Communication (KIC) Amendment Bill 2013:

The Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) is to be replaced with the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK).

According to Section 6A, the board of the CAK shall comprise of a Chair who will be appointed by the President, Principal Secretaries of Information, Interior, National Budget and 7 persons appointed by the Cabinet Secretary of Information.

According to Section 6E, the CAK Board will establish a Broadcasting Standards Committee. This committee will administer broadcasting content, formulate media standards and regulate and monitor compliance.

Section 34 of KIC Amendment Bill 2013 seeks to amend Section 102 of the 1998 Act. This is the part dealing with the Appeals Tribunal. In 1998 Act, the tribunal was made up of a chair who is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya, 2 people chosen by the Minister for Communication and 2 people forwarded by Media Council of Kenya. In the 2013 Amendment, the tribunal is to be made up of a Chair who is a Judge appointed by JSC and 4 people chosen by the Cabinet Secretary of Information.  Quorum is 3 = Chairman + 2 members.

Surprise addition to this part is the punitive fines to media houses and threat of fines and deregistration to individual journalists. (This was not on the amendment put forward so my take is this was an on the floor of parliament addition.)

The Appeals Tribunal part of the KIC Amendment 2013 Bill is what has caused major furore. Mega fines with threat of accounts getting attached is sure to get tongues wagging. But in my (very layman) opinion I think this KIC Amendment 2013 Bill in totality is in bad faith.

The entire board of the CAK which has sweeping powers is made up entirely of government functionaries. How can they be fair?

The Broadcasting Standards Committee will be established by the CAK. Its function of to administer content, formulate standards, regulate and monitor compliance has a terrible ring to it. Does this not sound like some Communist country in the 1980s not Kenya in 2013? This to me is even worse than the Appeals Tribunal.

Then there is the threat of suspension and de-registration of journalists. Is there/was there a registration of journalists conducted? And just to ensure absolute supplication, there is the threat of individual fines up to the tune of one million which may lead to journalist accounts getting attached.

This the bill in front of the President.

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Let us now check out the Media Council Bill 2013:

It is quite a long bill which for large parts addresses itself to the nitty-gritty’s of the running of the Media Council. However, it still finds space to address journalists and journalism.

The first thing I did in this Bill was to re-read the Code of Conduct for Journalists which is in the Second Schedule. By and large have no problem with the code. Methinks, it should be required reading for all with an interest in media.

My reading of Section 8-11 is that for all intents and purpose appointment to the 7 member Media Council is in the hands of the Cabinet Secretary of Information.  Does this then not make the Council a government puppet?

According to Section 45(a) the Cabinet Secretary of Information may from time to time amend the Code of Conduct for Journalists. Imagine that?

Section 28 talks of the council setting up a Complaints Commission whose functions are in Section 32.

Perhaps lawyers can illuminate this. How does Section 34 of Appeals Tribunal in the Kenya Information & Communication Amendment Bill 2013 relate/co-exist with Section 32 of the Media Council Bill 2013?

This Bill is still snaking its way through Parliament.

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In conclusion:

Let me remind everyone that freedom of the media is enshrined in the constitution under Article 34. I also understand that no freedom is absolute. Actually, regulation of the media is a constitutional requirement under Article 34 (5c).

However, I totally dispute that government through the Cabinet Secretary of Information and his lackeys can be trusted to be 100% decider of what the media can or cannot broadcast.  That is wrong on so many levels and I shudder to imagine that the Jubilee government is seeking to return us to the dark old days.

The two bills as presently constituted are wrong both in the letter and spirit of the law. Will President Uhuru Kenyatta stand on the right or wrong side of this debate? Let’s wait and see.

GOD BLESS KENYA.

(all images are courtesy of Google)


President Njenga?

Former Mungiki leader Maina Njenga yesterday alluded to his presidential ambitions and the formation of a new party for the youth early next month.

Speaking at Kwa Mbira grounds during the Limuru 2B meeting that was attended by thousands of youth and a cross-section of leaders in a speech heavily laden with parables, biblical quotes and snippets of Kikuyu culture, Njenga indirectly took battle to Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta for the hearts and votes of the youth.

“Some are saying that money can take you to State House. Others are saying education can take you there. I say the secret is God.”

Makadara MP, Mike Mbuvi who had arrived midway through the meeting to a mixed reception from the crowd was booed and jeered off the stage when he declared support for Mr. Kenyatta.

Njenga, who was the last to speak, was clearly the star attraction. His entry to the stage was dramatic. For ten minutes there was mass euphoria. To a man, everyone stood. Chants of Chairman rent the air. Kenyan flags were waved. Guys were screamed.

Then Maina, hands stretched out, intoned, “Bwana Asifiwe!” and the response was electric. He began by speaking of his salvation and of being reformed. Stating that the purpose of the meeting was to combine as Kenyans and finish tribalism, Njenga asked the crowd to join him in burying GEMA and Kamatusa.

Alleging that ten thousand youth were victims of extra-judicial killings, he wondered why MPs from Central Province remained mum on the issue while they had used the youth at one point or another.

Speaking in Kikuyu, he cryptically said, “I started the work in 1987. I have a register for all members. When they joined and when they took the oath. Home secrets are not shared but let them not play with fire. We put them in power, we can eject them too”

Releasing two doves as a signal for peace, the Hope International Church leader stated that from then going forward there was no Mungiki and that all should reform and see the light.

Stating that he had come to give youth hope and inform them that this was God’s time, Njenga declared “I note you have a party but no driver. I can be the captain or driver.”  to a thunderous applause by the crowd.

Earlier a Mr. Wafula Simiyu had spoken of having registered a new party, Kenya Solidarity Network which is to be launched on ninth June at Kamukunji grounds.

He implored the youth to elect a new crop of leaders. Those who can listen without class barriers. Those who espouse the freedoms granted in the new constitution. Those who can bring desired change.

Touching on the International Criminal Court cases he said that he wished ill on no one and that he believed no Kenyans should be jailed outside the country.

Earlier, a cross section of leaders had addressed the charged crowd. They included former legislators Paul Muite and Kalembe Ndile, activists Zekii, Ken Wafula, Hassan Omar, Bob Ndolo, Zarina Patel, Gacheke Gachihi, Rajab Mohammed and Jacob Rotich. Daughter of Freedom fighter Dedan Kimathi, Evelyn also spoke.

Chief guest Rtd Archbishop David Gitari gave the keynote speech. He urged Kenyans to approach the next elections as nationalists not tribalists.

Quoting the Constitution and the Political Parties Act, he condemned parties that are not national in outlook. In reference to GEMA’s meeting last month he asserted, “I do not think people can sit in Limuru and decide who leads a certain community.”

The former prelate said that Exodus 18 should form the template for what kind of leader should be elected. Necessary qualities he said were capability, God-fearing nature, trustworthy and incorruptible. He also called for American-style presidential debates to enable voters interrogate policy and leaders.

Bunge la Mwananchi Chairman Gacheke Gachihi, who was the first to address the crowd, set the tone. Celebrating the reforms in the judiciary and legislature, he regretted that the executive remained in darkness. He asked for the youth to be given a chance as they were armed with ideas.  “If you prevent a peaceful revolution, you incite a violent one but that is not our prayer,” he said.

The meeting began and ended with intonations from a priest from the African Orthodox Church. There was also a rendition of the first stanza of the national anthem.


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