IN DEFENSE OF THE FREE KENYAN MEDIA.
CCM stands in place of a pro-poor people movement. The Party, unabashedly, at all times proclaims the greatness of Kenyan people to the world. Kenyan Wananchi are no longer invisible of the world given the Obama factor. And just because the Wananchi have been subjugated for decades by their own leaders does not mean they would not now stand up and democratically fight for their wellbeing and their pride.
Exploitation from all angles does not equal inferiority. Although mercilessly impoverished, materialistic poverty is not a sign of morale inadequacy. When the press informs the Wananchi about their leaders it does so just in recognition that the Wananchi are the real bosses when it comes to whose interests comes first.
The sickening power and material greed of elected and self imposed Kenyan leaders – in an increasingly unpopular and insensitive coalition – must not stop the media from informing and entertaining the Wananchi.
For now the media is un-avoidable public eye. We are living in a country where official opposition does not exist and the free media is the only watchdog of the voiceless voting population.
Through a free media the Wananchi do get chances to air their grievances. Once that happens, the majority of the current MPs and senior government officials blame the media for giving out unclassified information that exposes the leaders’ skeletons and unwarranted misrule.
Nearly everyone in today’s coalition government has skeletons in his or her closet that can look bad, if brought into the light in a certain way by a fearless and free media. Hence the breaking-speed by parliament to gang the free media before some truths are brought to the attention of the angered and overtaxed population.
What the Kibaki and Raila shaky leadership have quickly ignored is the fact that ordinary Kenyans are a people with a conscience and a dignity.
During 1990s and in the year 2002, a fearless and committed media served as a motivator-as well as rationale for the Wananchi for taking action to dislodge a regime that had become insensitive to the Wananchi demands for political changes. Among today’s leadership are those who believed it was impossible to remove Moi and his henchmen from power.
Most of the leaders in the coalition have forgotten that journalists as well as Wananchi were detained, went to jail and some lost their lives during the dark days of Kanu rule. The friendship of the media and Wananchi dates far back in those days of street demonstrations and torture inside the Nyayo House dungeons.
For some of those tax free living MPs who passed the media bill, looking back to what happened in 2007 general elections alone sends cold chills in their spines. As time runs out, they find themselves having fallen short of the expectations of the now awakened Wananchi.
These MPs see no other way to cling to power or escape such nightmares as being suspects in the Waki list. Instead of letting the truth set them free they conspire, point their middle fingers at the free media, and pass unpopular media bill aimed at keeping the press brutally ganged during the Waki report court hearings. Amnesty won’t come easily.
Even for the greedy MPs, escaping taxation will not last long. The media community pays taxes. The poor of Korogocho and the forgotten peasants do. Those in IDPs do also indirectly pay whenever they buy paraffin or some salt to taste their Ugali.
In fact an order by Kibaki to look at the bill would not have been had he and his confused PNU cabinet members listened to the voice of the people before accenting to it. By ordering a look at it does not fool anyone and makes none of his government members a Hero. To ODM MPs and leadership, pretending they were not in parliament during the passing of the bill and that they are opposed to the bill does not buy the bunch a trouble free ticket to the next parliament.
A clean democratic pro people leadership does not need to gang the press and instead needs it to reach the majority of its citizens. A clean government that respects the rule of law allows courts to do their work lawfully to justly punish those who disobey just laws. Having a mindset that a free media is evil and unaccountable to journalistic ethics is wrong.
Thinking that the media community can be turned into a bunch of cheerleaders or remote controlled robots is even unthinkable at this moment of time. Some of the best minds we have in this country are members of the media community. In fact they are often well informed and aware of what the Kenyan Nation needs to do escape total economical, political and social collapse.
Some of the MPs read about the goings on and the suffering of the people in their electoral constituencies from the press. Sometimes these leaders tell the hungry from their constituencies to eat rats if they have no food and to stop being lazy if they have no jobs.
CCM sends a notice to the coalition government that today the Wananchi have an even longer list of grievances against the current leadership. There no secrets about it. What eats us up has been presented to the leadership regularly by the press. Lets for a moment look at some of these grievances:
1- More than half the Kenya’s population survives on less than 100 ksh.a day-about the same real income as they had thirty years ago.
2- More than 26 million Wananchi lack access to basic amenities, including electricity, clean water, sanitation, land titles, police, disease and hunger protection.
3- There is a 80-90 percent failure rate for all Wananchi small Bank loans sponsored projects.
4- Ownership of Kenyan wealth is more concentrated to less than 1 percent of the population than it was before the I980-90s era of massive economic looting and privatization wave. Today the one percent of Kenyans and foreigners accounts for more than 90 percent of all private wealth.
For these MPs trying to blackout essential exposures and criminalizing free expression, they should be reminded that our constitution gives Wananchi the right to hear what others doesn’t want the Wananchi to know.
Lastly, thinking Kenyans can again be driven like robots by their leaders to slaughter as happened in 2007 and blame the media or the police for the mayhem is another illusion. The Waki report has evidence of who did what. That evidence came from the Wananchi and not from the press.
And when time comes to re democratize their country the downtrodden with or without a ganged media will do the necessary. They are just waiting. They know their freedom fighters had no pro people media helping them force the British out of their lands. But the British left.
There is time for everything under the sun. Its just a matter of time. In CCM its our ideological tradition to always stand with all whose constitution and human rights are at risk.
BY DICK KAMAU
Secretary General CCM.