The Kenya Editors Guild is divided over alleged threats against, and intimidation of, media houses by the Jubilee government over giving airtime to the planned ‘swearing in’ of Raila Odinga in a meeting that took place between some editors and senior government officials led by Uhuru Kenyatta in state house.
SAMUEL MAINA – “FRUITFUL DISCUSSION”
The Guild’s Vice-Chairman Samuel Maina has dismissed a statement issued by the Chairman Linus Kaikai’s alleging ‘intimidation’ of media bosses at State House ahead of NASA ‘ oathing ceremony.
In a statement Maina maintains that he attended the meeting, which he says was a meeting with the Executive, led by the President, and Media owners, and that the allegations by Kai Kai are personal and a misrepresentation of facts.
“I personally attended the said meeting to represent the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation Managing Director. What is being termed as a ‘dress down’ is a misrepresentation of facts. We had a fruitful discussion and we all agreed that media freedom has to be accompanied by high degree of responsibility,” Maina said.
Maina further denied that there were any threats issued to media houses.
“At no point were any threats issued to media houses or any ultimatums given on how we choose to broadcast matters of public interest, or those relating to the current political situation in the country,” he said.
He further distanced the Guild from Kaikai’s statement saying that was his personal position on the matter.
“Let it be clear that there has been no meeting by the Kenya Editors’ Guild executive committee to agree on, and issue the statement alleged to have been sent out by Mr. Kaikai. In this regard, as the Vice Chairman of the Guild, I disassociate myself with the said statement,” he said.
The Guild has laid down structures which must be followed when issuing any statement on behalf of members, especially on such a pertinent issue.
LINUS KAIKAI – “BLATANT INTIMIDATION”
Linus Kaikai had earlier released a statement as Chairman of the Editors Guild, condemning a blatant intimidation of the media during a meeting in State House.
The meeting was reportedly attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi, ICT Secretary Joe Mucheru and AG Githu Mungai.
“The Kenya Editors’ Guild is gravely alarmed over a developing trend by the government to gag or threaten the media over coverage of the current political events in the country.
“We have just learned today that on Friday last week, a section of media managers and select editors from the main media houses were quietly summoned to a meeting at the State House, Nairobi, the objectives which were unknown. But the proceedings should be clear cause for alarm to the media and the public”, Kaikai said in the statement.
Kaikai further stated that President Kenyatta expressly threatened to shut down and revoke the licenses of any media house that would broadcast live the planned purported ‘swearing in’ of NASA leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka on Tuesday.
“The Guild is appalled by the details of the meeting which was held under an atmosphere of intimidation for the media representatives present. Chairman of the Media Owners Association Hannington Gaya this evening confirmed the tone of the meeting as a ‘dressing down’ in which the media was, quote; ‘read the riot act’ “, he said.
Kaikai went on to say that the Editors Guild condemns and rejects the threats and purported instructions issued at the State House on Friday.
“We call on all media houses and journalists to carry on their work diligently and to report impartially on all matters of public interest as they have always done. We would like to state it with all the clarity we can that the media is not an actor in the ongoing contest between Jubilee and NASA over the outcome of the last General Election. The Media remains a mere messenger and a chronicler of any events happening in our country,” he said.