Thursday, January 8, 2009



By Maseme Machuka and David Ochami

Information minister Samuel Poghisio got an unlikely chance on Wednesday to redeem his dented image of an anti-media crusader — courtesy of the President.

For the second time in as many years, President Kibaki heeded the calls of Kenyans and the media fraternity, and stepped in to renew hope for a free Press in the country.

In directing that Poghisio and Attorney-General Amos Wako meet media owners, take on board their concerns and present them to Cabinet, the President drew praise from a cautious industry that has seen it all.

First, it was a draconian Media Bill passed by Parliament in 2007 that sought to compel journalists to reveal their sources, which the President returned for amendment in the House following strong protests by journalists and wananchi.

And yesterday, six days after assenting to the controversial Bill and drawing countrywide protests, the President swiftly moved in to direct that the minister and the AG take on board industry concerns over the Kenya Communications (Amendment) Act 2008 and the Kenya Communications Act 1998 that controls media content and legalises raids and confiscation of broadcast equipment.

Last evening, the Media Owners Association (MOA) met the Attorney-General in a courtesy call in readiness for talks over the controversial law.


And President Kibaki’s party PNU called for a truce with the media and went ahead to appoint a 10-member team to initiate dialogue over the contentious law.

Coalition partner ODM — whose position has been clear from the word go — weighed in with a call to the Information minister to introduce a Bill amending the contentious clauses.

With his move — that was a response to an appeal by MOA chairman Linus Gitahi — President Kibaki symbolically lifted the dark cloud that had enveloped the media industry — and threw Poghisio, the Cabinet and Parliament in the frontline of implementation.

Yesterday, the MOA welcomed the President’s move before Gitahi led the team to meet Wako.


"We welcome this chance to reach out to each other and ensure that these draconian laws are deleted. We have been reaching out to various Members of Parliament to seek their support in achieving our goal," he said.

Flanked by Vice-Chairman Martin Khafafa, Secretary Sheila Amdany and Media Council of Kenya chairman Wachira Waruru, the chairman emphasised that the media fraternity wanted to ensure unanimity of thought before the amendments are done so that they can be passed unanimously.

He thanked the President and Prime Minister Raila Odinga for their support, saying the will of Kenyans had prevailed.

Among key amendments envisaged is the repeal of Clause 88 of the 1998 law that gives sweeping powers to the minister for Security to seize broadcasting equipment.

Another contentious clause media owners and practitioners have opposed is the clause giving powers to the Communication Commission of Kenya and the minister for Information powers to control media content.

The powers that the Bill had conferred upon CCK to grant licences and cancel others unilaterally is also a subject of contention.

At the same time, the PNU side of the coalition joined the MOA in a show of solidarity with the media.

Led by Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, the team assured the media of their total support and commitment.

Kalonzo said the agreed upon amendments would be unanimously passed into law.

"We are friends of the media and we cannot allow the freedom enjoyed to be clipped. We stand with you," added the Vice-President.

Nairobi Metropolitan minister Mutula Kilonzo said as a friend of the media, he would champion the amendments. Other MPs present were Jeremiah Kioni, Lenny Kivuti, Nderitu Muriithi and Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat.

The media parliamentary committee from the PNU coalition set up on Wednesday meets today at the VP’s Jogoo House office in Nairobi.

On Tuesday, ODM distanced itself from the new law, as Prime Minister Raila Odinga said he had told President Kibaki to consult further.


1. On Thursday January 8, 2009, 0:41 AM , paul ochieng, Kenya wrote:

Do Kenyans have a President who really knows what he's doing? Why did he assent to the bill in the first place? Kibaki should stop sitting on the fence.

2. On Thursday January 8, 2009, 0:14 AM , Mlanguzi, Kenya wrote:

THE accusations and counter accusations of insincerity between PNU and ODM are nothing but "upumbavu"! How can hypocrites accuse other hypocrites of being hypocrites? What do they take Kenyans for? Idiots? Our so-called leaders are NOT leaders but a conglomeration of greedy and selfish individuals masquerading as leaders. They MUST realise that Kenyans are more intelligent than them and can see through their stupidity!

3. On Wednesday January 7, 2009, 23:37 PM , felix oriema , United States wrote:

This man from Othaya, Emilio Mwai wa Kibaki needs smart advisor. He doesn't know how to test waters, he is ever messy, he should sack all his intelligence so to avoid such unpopular move in future. Uhuru is a "cerelac baby" and doesn't know much about free media. Kibaki should have ignored him. Where is Mutua with his leaflets? He is an embarrassment to PNU. Hire a new mouthpiece who can think.

4. On Wednesday January 7, 2009, 23:15 PM , Larry Liza, Kenya wrote:

The reason for the signature was that ‘I had carefully considered the concerns’ raised by the Media. The reason for the ‘Return to Reason’ is same. What a way with words. MOA, KUJ and the Editor’s Guild, aluta continua! This government has proved that only draconian measures alters it's draconian means. So, take a cautious approach, don't be made complacent, more worse issues could face Wanjiku.

5. On Wednesday January 7, 2009, 23:03 PM , Bota Birika, United States wrote:

This is ineptness at its best. A minister crafts a bad bill, parliament passes the bad bill, and the president signs the oppressive bill into law. The wise wananchi condemns the bad law and the president appoints commissions to review the bad law. If this isn't squandering wananchi's money and bad governance, then what is it?

6. On Wednesday January 7, 2009, 22:56 PM , CRISPINO AUKO, Kenya wrote:

We confirm that President Kibaki is surrounded with wrong advisors, after having seen his tactical change on the draconian law, we as Kenyans can only with that he consult Rt Hon Raila most before he makes any significant action that affects the people of Kenya.All in all. we elected the two to lead us not the Kivuthas and the Tujus. Thumbs up to the media...keep us informed....God bless Kenya

7. On Wednesday January 7, 2009, 21:42 PM , Mlanguzi, Kenya wrote:

Poor President Kibaki and your sycophant mouthpiece - Alfred Mutua. Your directive comes a bit too late. We now know what is in your mind. When your willingly appended your signature you unknowingly exposed your true identity. A dictator not any different from Robert Mugabe (that's how he started). No matter what you do now, we will always see you in that light (or is it darkness?). That ODM has stolen the thunder from you is a fact you won't reverse.

8. On Wednesday January 7, 2009, 20:47 PM , otic Ramuya, United States wrote:

What was Kibaki thinking before he put his signature on to the bill? Our leaders never learn from their own mistakes. Any educated kenyan should have known that the bill would not be accepted by Kenyans as was written. If I am wrong then let us wait for 2012. People who supported this bill will be history. Kenyans now have the power to determine their future. No more dictatorship government.

9. On Wednesday January 7, 2009, 20:14 PM , Tiema Muhando, United States wrote:

Mzee is tired. He signs a bill today and the next day instructs the AG and the communication minister to review it. This is a backward way of doing things but give Mzee a break, he is old and tired, blame the young minds that are taking advantage of his old age and governing behind his back.

10. On Wednesday January 7, 2009, 19:37 PM , MethOD, Canada wrote:

It is a political game. The mafias are just trying to cool down tempers. The media bill is a political tool PNU are putting a head of 2012 elections. Saitoti is the likely presidential candidate for 2012 elections. He has been mentioned as a beneficiary of corruption that riddled Kanu regime and most likely the current regime. The media bill is meant to protect Saitoti and other political demons.

11. On Wednesday January 7, 2009, 18:35 PM , Apollo Kimani, United Kingdom wrote:

What a shame for him to back down after a day. What was he thinking of when signing it? No wonder he would not honor the MOU. Does this man even know that Kenyans are human beings ?

12. On Wednesday January 7, 2009, 15:55 PM , kalyia malombo, Italy wrote:

Who knows if it was a trick. President Kibaki with all the experience in politics and his advisers is not convincing that he didn't know the extent at which Kenyans were going to protest against that bill when he signed it. He may have just used this chance to try to convince Kenyans that he is listening to their pleas, if not then why didn't he address it like he's doing now before he signed it?