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With a struggling Senate, media is saviour for devolution

In Summary

•A simple reminder to the Council of Governors following their threat to use the advertising money to curtail media freedom and access to information in Kenya, on grounds that the media provided a mirror for them on what is happening and summary for Kenyans on status of corruption in facing devolved governments. 

•Editorial discretion allows editors to professionally pick which stories to carry depending on the public interest at hand.

Senate
Senate
Image: FILE

Don’t make the media your punching bag. They will continue holding the mirror for your as you either deliver to Kenyans or plunder public resources. If those serving public offices including Governor are planning to use advertising spend to frustrate the media and intimidate them or influence editorial content, it will not work for you. On the other hand, media must be consistent in dealing with those using such outdated interventions to harass them including failure to clear monies owed to media houses for work done or private sector corporates that use advertisements to have journalists sacked or forcing media to drop stories. Call them out in equal measure.

A simple reminder to the Council of Governors following their threat to use the advertising money to curtail media freedom and access to information in Kenya, on grounds that the media provided a mirror for them on what is happening and summary for Kenyans on status of corruption in facing devolved governments.  Editorial discretion allows editors to professionally pick which stories to carry depending on the public interest at hand.  If they, in the eyes of the readers or those covered are wrong on inaccurate, there exists a procedure provided for in the law, do deal with such. That is the professional practice and which has worked in Kenya ever through including using internal public editors in the media houses, the statutory complaints handling or courts of laws to solve. To intimidate media while covering stories touching on any entity with facts and objectively feigns ignorance of basic human rights edits and to a large extend is an admission of guilty.

In addition other institutions that have specifically been mentioned in our laws to protect and promote devolution is the media. While the senate has legislative mandate to oversight the devolution process, which they are currently struggling to do, the media has in addition to the traditional requirements in Articles 34 and 35 of the Constitution of watching over the use of public resources, has additionally been added to the responsibilities of the County Governments.

The County governments Act No. 17 of 2012 requires that County Government use the media to create awareness on devolution and governance; actively and deliberately promote citizens understanding for purposes of peace and national cohesion; undertake advocacy on core development issues such as agriculture, education, health, security, economics, sustainable environment among others; and promotion of the freedom of the media. In other words, County governments are required to use media to promote County development agenda that speaks directly to the philosophy of the country and the Vision 2030.   To threaten to disengage with the media is a violation of the County Government Act. Professional media, information access and media freedom are quintessence to the success of devolution.

Media remains a key player in the constitutional implementation, promotion of development accountable leadership and progressive governance both the national and county government level. The media also bears the responsibility of sensitizing and educating the public on the virtues, opportunities, and challenges of the devolution process and how it links up with the constitutional provisions for a solid and unitary nation state. Devolving media along with government is essential if citizens are to hold county authorities to account for the services they are owed. It will ensure that county governments will be focused, not on posturing for a national audience, but on local issues, which will ultimately have the most impact on the day-to-day operation of the counties and also on the livelihood of the people in those counties.

Media is reminding Kenyans including those in public offices that the culture of national greed that has for long been synonymous at national level has fast decentralized to the local levels and corruption has overtaken development in the counties, and governors must be concerned.  The discipline and dedication expected of your officers is wanting, and that even as you fight hard to ward off corruption allegations and related media coverage, history will judge you. Some of you have been a big let down to the voters and yourselves. You have all along been busy scoring in your own goals.  We must abandon this culture of national greed.

We are worried that the political greed that previously prevailed in the country at the national level creating space for such evils as corruption, looting of public resources, corporate fraud in the private sector and crime is at it again, this time big time at the county level.  Governors, individually or collectively through the CoG must be your colleagues keepers, and remind yourselves of the oath of office.

A number of you are serving your last terms, and are busy entangled with the succession politics at the county to the detriment of development in those areas.  You have created an environment where focus on your individual needs and after -office concerns are overriding voters’ interests.  Some of you want to stand for MPs or Senators offices after your terms, and now building those networks and political patronage syndicates is choking you, for it needs more, which money some of you are getting using suspicious means.

I am sure, if the Constitution had not provided for terms limits, some of you would have fought to have extend your terms or have ambitions of such. Allow things including the politics of succession in your counties to take their own course and be wary of those brokers pushing you to commit crimes. Be wary of those committing crimes in your names, not the media that is just reporting what’s happening. Corruption at the national level or in public agencies does not make it right for such to happen at the county level.

Serve your people and leave rich legacies that will inspire others to vie for such positions and serve their communities. While you are not perfect people, and things happen without your knowledge sometimes,  be more keen and allow public scrutiny not because of you are suspects, but more importantly, because of occupy public offices.