Nation asks for redress over assault
Published on December 14, 2007, 12:00 am
By Standard Reporters
The Nation Media Group has lodged a complaint with the Media Council over harassment of its photographer at a presidential function.
And the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) on Thursday demanded an explanation from State House over what it described as “gross violation of freedom and independence of the media”.
“The media takes a grave view of this complaint because such action amounts to gross violation of the freedom and independence of the media,” MCK chairman, Mr Wachira Waruru, said in reference to the scuffle in which Mrs Kibaki slapped the master of ceremonies.
An Office of the President functionary, Mr Francis Musyimi, who introduced her as Mama Lucy Wambui, apparently incensed Mrs Kibaki.
Immediately after the incident, Musyimi was whisked away by security agents and his role assumed by Head of the Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet, Mr Francis Muthaura.
The scuffle had been recorded on camera by Nation photojournalist, Mr Robert Gichira, who was quickly summoned into a secluded room where security agents forced him to erase all the digital pictures he had taken.
The MCK has now given State House 14 days to give an explanation over the incident, although it did not specify what action it would take if there was no response from the Office of the President.
The incident at State House is a reminder of another last year when the First Lady stormed the Nation Media Centre and slapped KTN’s TV cameraman, Mr Derrick Otieno, as she protested against negative coverage of herself and her family.
Meanwhile, the Maendeleo Ya Wanaume Organisation has also criticised the First Lady over the incident.
The organisation warned that the incident could cost the President dearly through votes in the forthcoming General Election.
The organisation’s national chairman, Mr Nderitu Njoka, said the rights of the official had been violated.
Speaking to journalists in Naivasha, Njoka who was flanked by some of the organisation’s members, termed the incident as unfortunate.
Njoka said the organisation would be seeking legal redress against Mrs Kibaki over the matter, adding that nobody was above the law.
“The incident was sad and I am sure that the victim and his family have been affected psychologically by it,” he said.
“Any human being is prone to error and the First Lady should have used a better way to address the issue,” he said.
Njoka claimed the incident had tainted the President’s image, who many Kenyans considered peace loving.
Lucy should control temper
Elsewhere, Mrs Ida Odinga and Mrs Najah Balala have appealed to the First Lady to control her temper.
The two, who were addressing a news conference at Malindi Airport, noted with concern that it was not the first time the First Lady had engaged in such behaviour.
“As a mother, she should control her temper. We are the role models of young leaders and for that reason, we can only apologise to the offended civil servants,” said Ida.
They beseeched Lucy to lead by example, be a role model to other mothers and asked her to display only qualities befitting her title and high office.
While acknowledging the slip may have offended her, the two said she overreacted and did not show the kind of leadership expected of someone of her status. Ida called on Coast women to come out, vote and make an informed choice.