• Scandals abound but few take up investigative journalism, many fear being targeted
• Journalists have dropped stories unravelling dubious business deals under duress
Kenya scored 28 out of 100 in a 2019 global corruption perception index released by Transparency International in January.
It was way below the global average of 43 and only a single point above the score of 27 in 2018.
“Since 2012, Kenya has scored between 25 and 28 out of 100, depicting slow progress in the fight against corruption,” the CPI statement reads.
Despite the obvious high rate of corruption in the country, fear of being targeted has meant that only a few journalists are in investigative journalism.
Faced with the prospect of threats, journalists have dropped stories seeking to unearth dubious business deals.
They have had to give up digging critical information held by the state concerning multibillion-shilling contracts, despite Article 35 of the constitution allowing access to information.
For instance, in the city of Mombasa, where many youths have been turned into zombies due to drug abuse, issues such as international narcotic networks and terrorism networks with roots in the city remain underreported as journalists censor themselves.
Under the influence of drugs, machete-wielding youth gangs have killed dozens and left many with permanent scars in Kisauni, Old Town and Likoni.
Sophie Njoka, a crime and security journalist with the People Daily newspaper in Mombasa, says she has to change her mobile number regularly.
“One time my phone was tapped while interviewing a key leader of a group that was being targeted by the government… Intelligence guys called my boss to query about my interview. That made me panic. Why would they tap my phone?” she asked.
Scores of police officers and officials have been killed in cold blood in the past while investigating underworld multibillion-shilling drugs and illicit trade syndicates at the Mombasa Port.
Fearing the same fate would befall them, many journalists have kept off writing about drugs and corruption in Kenya’s second-largest city.
This has paved the way for rogue businessmen and politicians to carry on with crime, depriving the community of a healthy, peaceful and crime-free environment.