Information, Communications and The Digital Economy Cabinet Secretary (CS) Mr Eliud Owalo has condemned the attack on members of the media fraternity during the ongoing demonstrations called for by the opposition.
Mr Owalo condemned the shameful act saying that the media should be allowed to exercise their mandate of passing information to Kenyans and the whole world in a safe and secure environment free from interference and violence.
This comes as some members of the local and international media were attacked by demonstrators with some losing their cameras and personal belongings like phones and wallets while some media vehicles were destroyed by stones thrown by the protestors.
Mr Owalo assured that as government, they will offer adequate security to the media as they cover the demonstrations and other events across the country, adding that the government is committed to protecting the people and their properties irrespective of their standing in society.
At the same time, the Cabinet Secretary said the media ought to follow the media code of conduct and any other laws, regulations and constitutional provisions.
“We expect the media to self-regulate always and shall continue insisting on the same throughout. The government does not intend to regulate or coerce the media,” said Mr Owalo.
The Cabinet Secretary underscored the need for responsible journalism which conducts itself maturely and avoids inflammatory language which can create a perception that the country is on conflict with its citizens.
“We need to use moderate language throughout on matters socio-economic matters since the citizens and the media operate in the same environment,” the Cabinet Secretary explained.
He said the media should not scare investors or be an alarmist on security concerns in the country; and assured the media of the freedom of association, opinion and dissemination of information as it is enshrined in the constitution and other legal provisions.
On the ongoing demonstration, the Cabinet Secretary said the government is willing to dialogue with any integral segment of the Kenyan society on economic issues but it is not going to open a window of political dialogue since there is no provision within the law that they can exploit to get into political dialogue.
“In our view as government, the current demonstrations are not as a result of the cost of living since the cost of living is not just affecting Kenya but other countries globally caused by varied factors,” said Mr Owalo.
The CS insisted that they are not going to enter into any political negotiations with any segment of the Kenyan society under the guise of demonstrations. “If any Kenyan comes up with a viable proposition to address economic issues, the government is ready and willing to engage it but we will not engage in dialogue that is anchored on political discourse,” said Mr Owalo.
The Cabinet Secretary urged Kenyans to utilize effectively the ongoing rains and plant early maturing crops to bring down soon the cost of living.
“The government through its subsidy programme has reduced the cost of fertilizer from Sh7,000 to Sh3,500 ; and will be complimented by cheap farm inputs to be distributed to all registered farmers countrywide so as to boost farm output, lower the cost of food products and finally avail cheap and affordable foodstuffs in the market ,” explained Mr Owalo.
By Joseph Ng’ang’a