The 19-member Makali led Task Force constituted to study the status of government communication function handed its report to the ICT Cabinet Secretary (CS), Joe Mucheru on Monday.
The report titled, ‘Winning the Trust,’ pointed out that the biggest challenge that continues to derail government communication is the mindset and culture in public service, touching on the need to gain public trust on government communication as well as looking at emerging public dynamics and expectations.
The report which is yet to be made public further called for reviewing of policies and laws that facilitate public communication and access to information, and the willingness of those in government to abide by the rules and laws that guarantee the same.
The team further noted that there is considerable suspicion and rising mistrust among citizens in government communication and information passed to them.
It also highlighted on lack of adequate capacity among government communications persons as well as low morale accompanied by an environment termed as ‘poisoned’ by The Taskforce Chairman, David Makali.
Key among the recommendations highlighted by the Makali team was the need for relevant stakeholders to re-brand MyGov newspaper and make it a standalone paper distributed free across the country to improve access of government information.
The CS, while receiving the report lauded the team for what he termed good work, adding that as government they will look into the document and see what is viable and can be implemented within the law.
Mucheru noted that the government was evolving and with the recently passed ICT Policy, there was need for the upgrade on how it conducted its communication business.
“As the government, we must be alert and do the right thing. That is why we sought this team to help us unravel what is ailing government communication so that we restructure and realign our strategies to suit the current communication systems,” said the CS.
The CS noted that with the evolving technology and mode of operation by government, there was need to respond to demand of information by the public in a timely manner.
Mucheru said that President Uhuru Kenyatta acknowledges the critical role played by Information and Public Communication Officers in the dissemination of information to the public and called on the officers to be proactive in giving information to the media and the public.
The Information Principal Secretary (PS), Jerome Ochieng acknowledged the existing gaps within government communication, adding that the government takes cognizance of the disruptive nature of technology and as such must align its communication to suit current trends.
He further said that proper communication is key to social economic transformation of the country and promised that the government will restructure its communication needs to suit its citizenry as well as address their concerns.
On his part, government Spokesperson, Col. (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna emphasized on the importance of communication, saying that a government that cannot communicate effectively cannot administer appropriately to its citizens.
The Task Force’s members were, Brown Kutswa from Public Service Commission, Royal Media Services journalist, Robin Njogu, Public Relations Society of Kenya Secretary General, Jane Gitau, Communication Management Specialist, Ruth Musembi, Prof. Murej Ochieng from Multi Media University of Kenya and Head of the Department of Communication Studies at Moi University, Abraham Mulwo and Oxygen PR firm partner, Alfred Nganga among others.
The government launched the Task Force in January this year and tasked it to come up with recommendations on how to streamline the functions of Information and Public Communication in Public Institutions to facilitate provision of information to the citizens and the media in line with the government’s policy of openness and accountability.
By Alice Gworo