Kenyans fought too long for freedom to allow State to take it away again

In just under two weeks, two Cabinet secretaries in the Jubilee government have behaved in a manner that has posed a serious threat to the freedom of the media and speech.

This, coupled with the recent attempts to pass draconian legislation in Parliament, casts serious doubts on the government’s pledge and commitment to protect the freedoms of the media and speech, as enshrined in the Constitution.

On Tuesday, Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery ordered the arrest of Nation Media Group parliamentary journalist John Ngirachu.

Information CS Fred Matiang’i, on his part, has threatened to advise the Treasury to stop funding the Media Council of Kenya.

There seems to be a well-coordinated plot by both the Executive and the Legislature to gag the media.

After failing in several attempts to the muzzle the media through draconian pieces of legislation, the two institutions now seem intent on crippling the activities of the council, which is mandated by law to regulate the conduct and discipline of the media and journalists.

The role of the media in nurturing and promoting democracy should not be underrated.

Politicians and public figures are a creation of the media.

The media was fully involved in the second liberation struggle, whose fruits the current crop of politicians and government officials now enjoy.

A UNITING TOOL

The media and journalists have continued to unite Kenyans and fight for worthy causes.

Mr Nkaissery must stop living in the past and wake up to the realities of the Constitution of 2010 and the 21st century.

He should know that freedom of speech and the media are here to stay and no amount of intimidation, threats, or coercion will stop Kenyans from enjoying these rights.

Democracy thrives best in an environment where rights and freedoms are freely exercised.

Kenya has made gains towards achieving this.

We have had to fight for it, have been jailed for it, have been maimed for it, and have even died for it.

Yet we are still soldiering on and will not relent until these rights and freedoms are part of our daily living.

Kenyans are informed and intelligent enough to separate fact from fiction, right from wrong and they will resist any attempts to deprive them of their right to speak freely.

ZACKAYO OCHIENG, Kisumu County

The arrest of Mr John Ngirachu on the orders of Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery marked a dark day in our democracy.

A lot of us had a lot of faith in the UhuRuto Jubilee regime but alas! we have been disappointed.

This regime cannot sink any lower. Methinks it is jinxed and that no matter how many prayer rallies are held, it is irredeemable.

The arrest reminded me of a dark day in 1972 when our history teacher was picked up, in broad daylight, by Special Branch officers.

His crime was showing us a film on the Russian Revolution during the lesson.

He was detained for five days and released without charges being preferred against him.

I am ashamed to live in a country where a few rich and powerful individuals use their might to trample on defenceless taxpayers, loot the economy, and gag the whistleblowers.

Shame on Jubilee and its leaders! What a letdown!

KIPRONO SANG KIRGIT, Kipkelion

Long gone are the days when journalists were denied the right to expose critical information for the public interest.

The arrest of Mr John Ngirachu is a sad and painful sign that Kenyan journalists are yet to fully enjoy freedom to expose corrupt deals in the government.

I am a young journalist and to my knowledge, Section 34 of the Bill of Rights provides protection to journalists who offer fair and factual information to the public.

Mr Nkaissery is the source of the story in question and his strong reaction indicates the veracity of the story.

Mr Ngirachu’s arrest not only violates the rights of journalists but also undermines the sovereignty of Parliament, which protects journalists who cover parliamentary proceedings fairly.

The government must realise that the mandate of journalists is to inform, voice the complaints of the Kenyans, and scrutinise the government’s activities for the sake of Kenyans.

The government should find better ways of fighting corruption instead of harassing journalists and activists who are out to ensure justice and good governance.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION