State centralises public information access, creates Information Secretary office

ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru addresses students at Lenana school where during their 70th anniversary on January 27, 2019. /EZEKIEL AMING'A
ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru addresses students at Lenana school where during their 70th anniversary on January 27, 2019. /EZEKIEL AMING'A

The Ministry of ICT has created a powerful secretariat that will manage Public Information.

The office is poised to be the custody of data of public interest under

the leadership of an Information Secretary.

Information will be available upon release by various government agencies on official and written request.

The person tasked with this new position will be Judy Munyinyi­ Mumo.

A former journalist who rose across the media ranks to be a features editor at one of Kenya's media house, Mumo later became the Director of Research at the Presidency.

She also sits at the Communication Authority board.

Her new job will be the 'middle-man' of public information to the fourth estate whose headquarters will be at the ICT ministry under the tag name 'The Press Centre'

The centre will be open and accessible by all accredited journalists with free WiFi and a working space with a capacity of 45.

“The press centre will be the engine room supporting all of government communications officers spread out across the country,” ICT CS Joe Mucheru said.

Munyinyi will be calling shots and liaise with specific government departments and officers to provide journalists with specific answers, including organising interview

in government.

If well implemented, the office seeks to solve the crisis of access to public information.

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In Kenya, the law requires one to write to specific government entities requesting for information, the office is then expected to respond to the demand in 14 days.

After 30 days they violate the law if they fail to provide the information.

Unfortunately, this has been the scenario for some non-governmental institutions, journalists and civil society groups seeking information in various government departments.

Katiba Institute, for example, is battling in court with the President's Delivery Unit over denied access to information on how many advertisements had been published, through what media, schedules and dates when it was done.

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The institute also wanted to know copies of the documents advertised, the total cost incurred and the relevant government accounting office(r) and the individual or government agency that met the cost.

The information sought was to cover the period May 25 to August 16, 2017.