Beginning of the End of a Vibrant, Bold & Free Media in Kenya?!

Media Council orders the Star to apologise to Uhuru

The Star Newspaper has been ordered to retract and apologise over an article it published about President Uhuru Kenyatta in February last year. The order was issued by the Media Council of Kenya’s (MCK) arbitration panel, the Complaints Commission which was chaired by Grace Katasi with Peter Mwaura and Murej Mak’Ochieng being the other members of the Commission.

Additionally the newspaper has been directed to pull down the same article from its online edition. The council directed that the apology should be published on the Star website with immediate effect for seven days after the ruling.

Parties from the Star and representatives of the president will however meet to agree on the terms of the apology to be published in the print section within 14 days of the ruling.

The commission has also ordered a reprimand to be published by the MCK in two other dailies with wide circulation. The complaints commission has however declined to grant a ruling on damages which President Uhuru Kenyatta had applied to be paid.

Katasi said the commission has no jurisdiction or mandate to order for payment of damages. In the case in question, President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta lodged a complaint with the Media Council of Kenya on February 7, 2012 against The Star Publications Ltd and Jerry Okungu in respect of an article published in the The Star newspaper on February 6 2012 titled “What if Uhuru Ruto win?” and written by Mr. Jerry Okungu.

President Kenyatta complained that the article was offensive and biased in breach of section 35 (1) of the Media Act Cap 411B and article 1 (a) on Accuracy and Fairness of the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism.

President Kenyatta further complained that the newspaper and the writer failed to maintain the Code of Conduct in breach of Section 35(2) of the Act. Following the reading of the ruling, the Star Newspaper has 14 days within which to appeal.


And recently, we had this case below this time from Ruto:

Paper faces legal action over Sh100m Ruto jet story

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 22- Deputy President William Ruto has sent a demand letter to the Nation Media Group (NMG) over a story that ran on the May 19 issue of the Sunday Nation, alleging he spent Sh100 million of taxpayers’ money to hire a luxury jet.

Ruto said the media group must issue an apology, admit liability for libel within seven days and retract the false story because of the harm it caused him after publication.

He argued that the newspaper ran with the story, which was accessible throughout the East African region and the Internet, under what he termed as an ‘unnecessary, provocative and alarming headline’.

Ruto’s office was this week forced to control the damage done by releasing invoices and other documents relating to the rental of the jet, maintaining that the actual cost was Sh18.5 million.

“It was expressly meant to embarrass, discredit and malign his respected status and standing as a respected Kenyan and deputy president in the government of Kenya,” the demand note from Ruto’s advocate Kioko Kilukumi states.

The deputy president added that the jet he hired did not have any bedroom, meeting room, office, lounge or fully equipped kitchen as alleged in the article.

He explained that he opted for the cheapest option out of the three quotations that were obtained from charter aircraft service providers and cautioned the media house against running additional publications of a similar nature.

Ruto maintained that the jet in question was not hired on an annual basis but on a one-off basis adding that there would be no need to pay for it in instalments.

“The article was calculated to be understood that our client was leading a lavish lifestyle at the expense of the taxpayers. A prudent reader will conclude that our client has very little regard to tax payer’s monies,” argued Kilukumi in part.

It was not immediately clear what damages Ruto plans to get from the suit.

He also said that he will file a complaint with the Media Complaints Commission if NMG fails to comply with his demands within the stipulated time.

Ruto added that the journalist behind the headline did not seek his side of the story before publishing the article.

“The story as published lacks fairness, impartiality and accuracy. It is biased and heavily tilted to depict our client in the most unfavourable light,” stressed Kilukumi.

By einstein Posted in kenya

8 comments on “Beginning of the End of a Vibrant, Bold & Free Media in Kenya?!

  1. And the vitimbi show continues!

    Journalists refuse to cover MPs over ejection

    Drama on Tuesday unfolded at Parliament Buildings after journalists declined to cover a press conference called by Leader of Majority Aden Duale at the National Assembly’s media centre.

    More than 30 journalists who had assembled in Parliament refused to cover the conference in protest at the ejection of reporters from the Media Centre by the National Assembly administration two months ago.

    Later, another group of 11 Maa MPs led by Kajiado West MP Moses ole Sakuda also assembled at the same Media Centre and asked journalists to cover them.

    But the journalists asked Mr Sakuda and his colleagues to address them from outside Parliament Buildings, citing the same reasons.

    In the first case, Mr Duale and 15 Jubilee MPs had taken their seats at the centre, waiting for journalists to set their equipment but were shocked after the reporters refused to enter the venue.

    Mr Duale and Othaya MP Mary Wambui left the centre to plead with journalists to cover the event but the newsmen ignored the pleas.

    “We request that you come and cover us. We have assembled here and I am the one who called you, so please come in and cover us,” said Mr Duale.

    But journalists insisted that they could only cover Mr Duale and his colleagues from outside the National Assembly precincts in compliance with an order by the Speaker, Mr Justin Muturi.

    At the same time, Suba MP John Mbadi requested the Speaker to reopen the Media Centre to journalists covering the House and its proceedings.

    Speaking on the floor of Parliament, Mr Mbadi said MPs were feeling the effect of closing the centre.

    But he was dismissed by Mr Muturi, who said the centre was only meant to be a temporary room for the reporters.


  2. Have you peeps also noticed this or am I the only one?

    Both the Daily Nation and The Standard Media are busy regurgitating old news for the last few months on their websites! It looks like there is a shortage of news in Kenya of late!! What is going on here?

    Is there an official or inofficial media gag in Kenya jameni?


  3. And now it is parliament frustrating the media.

    Journalists locked out of Parliament’s media centre

    The Clerk of the National Assembly Justin Bundi has issued an ultimatum to journalists to vacate Parliament’s media centre.

    The Clerk has also ordered that journalists will be “invited” to Parliament as and when they are needed. He said the media centre will host parliamentary committees.

    “We’re not creating residence for journalists in Parliament,” said Mr Bundi, shortly after he issued the ultimatum. The implication is that the parliamentary orderlies have the power to eject journalists from the media centre anytime a committee decides to meet in the venue.

    “We have a shortage of committee rooms and we will use as much space as possible,” said Mr Bundi.

    The Clerk did not provide an alternative accommodation for the journalists who will now have to work from the press gallery, which aside from being squeezed, lacks power outlets for journalists to plug in their laptops and electronic equipment to file stories.

    The order comes just a fortnight after the Leader of Majority Party in the National Assembly Aden Duale warned that the media will be taught a lesson, over the coverage of MPs’ pay controversy.

    A room where journalists used to file their stories, just next to Parliament’s debating chambers was demolished during the multibillion refurbishment of the debating chamber, and when the House was re-opened, the parliamentary journalists were asked to use the media centre-built with money from the American government— as their operating base.

    With the renovation of the Old Chamber to create room for the Senate still ongoing, and the building of the multibillion-shilling office block yet to begin, journalists will stay out for a long time, if the Clerk’s directive for the media centre to be converted into committee rooms is implemented.

    “Let us see how we manage the process as we move on,” said Mr Bundi.

    The Kenya Parliamentary Journalists Association issued a statement and appealed to the leadership of Parliament to reconsider the stand.

    “We know, in an expanded democracy, there will definitely be consequences and space constraints is one of them, but at a time when State House is thinking of allowing journalists on its hitherto hallowed grounds, the least the National Assembly can do is to convert the media centre into a committee room and tell journalists that they will be allowed into Parliament “by invitation.”,” read the KPJA dispatch.

    The journalists’ body said that while it was aware that there were constraints of space in Parliament, the media centre was a donation to Parliament from the US government, for exclusive use by journalists and MPs’ in order to improve the coverage of the House and let Kenyans know what their leaders were up to.

    “It must be recalled that it took a long time and persistent effort for the House to let journalists have a place within Parliament for them to file stories for their media houses. Let’s not roll that back under the so-called digital regime,” KPJA said.

    At the meeting of the Budget Committee with the Parliamentary Service Commission on Tuesday, MPs complained about the lack of offices, which has forced some to operate from hotel rooms and cars.

    Budget Committee vice chair Mary Emaase said Parliament’s public relations department is also sleeping on the job and said there was an apparent lack of preparedness for the increased number of legislators.

    “Some of us have replaced handbags. We carry very huge handbags,” she lamented. She said MPs have had to work from their cars and the lounge at Parliament Buildings.

    Silverse Anami (Shinyalu, ODM) said he identified office space outside Parliament but then the team from Parliament that was to inspect it didn’t show up.

    “It’s not interesting how we operate,” he said. “This issue needs to be addressed squarely.”

    A provision by the PSC of a Sh50,000 allowance for any MP who finds an alternative office has also not worked as only two members have secured private offices.

    Most complain that the amount is not enough to rent office space in the neighbourhood of Parliament.

    Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye said the central government has offered Parliament office space at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre and ministries previously hosted there ordered to vacate it.

    Parliament will occupy all but three floors and the conference facilities at the landmark building in the centre of the capital, which will also be modified as necessary to host MPs’ offices.


  4. And below is the NMG story that rattled Ruto that much.

    Deputy President William Ruto’s chartered jet is marketed as one of the finest executive planes in its class, complete with an office, catering facilities, a bed and a lounge for relaxing.

    Ruto’s luxury jet hire to cost Sh100m

    Deputy President William Ruto’s office has hired a luxury jet for his travels across the continent in a deal which will cost taxpayers up to $300,000 (Sh25.14 million) every three months.

    Documents seen by the Sunday Nation show that the invoice for the first instalment of the “quarterly payment” for the Bombardier 850 Challenger plane was lodged on Wednesday.

    The plane is being supplied by VistaJet Company, a firm which describes itself as the world’s premier luxury aviation company for private jet charter and private jet ownership.

    The payments across the year for the use of the jet will amount to $1.2 million (Sh100.56 million).

    Mr Ruto left the country aboard the jet on Thursday for a four-nation trip which will take him to Gabon, Congo, Nigeria and Algeria.

    The Deputy President’s office issued a statement saying Mr Ruto was representing President Kenyatta on the trips in response to invitations by leaders of those countries when they attended the Kenyan leader’s inauguration last month.

    The Deputy President’s office said the trips reflected a desire by the government to underline its intention to pursue a foreign policy agenda guided by Pan-Africanism.

    “The Deputy President is representing the President on the official engagements. This follows the emphasis by the government and President Uhuru that the next frontier of the country’s partnership is the African continent. We believe with the strategic leadership we have in the region, Kenya needs to establish a partnership with countries in the South, West, North and Central Africa.”

    But the cost to taxpayers of the President’s and Deputy President’s foreign trips will raise eyebrows.

    Mr Kenyatta enjoys the services of a private jet purchased during President Moi’s reign which he uses when travelling around Africa.

    The decision to procure the services of a different jet for Mr Ruto’s use will inevitably draw criticism as wasteful at a time when the government says it is trying to limit expenditure on running the government to free up resources for development.

    The speed with which VistaJet was contracted to supply the lucrative jet hiring services will raise questions as to whether any tender process was followed before the contractor was identified.

    An official whose name appears on the “VistaJet Program Partnership Agreement” payment request sent by the company from its offices in Salzburg, Austria, flatly refused to comment on the matter saying it was a “sensitive issue”. He demanded that the Sunday Nation reporters go physically to the office of the Deputy President to lodge their inquiries on Monday.

    But transparency campaigner Mwalimu Mati of Mars Group said the government needed to halt trips abroad which were costing the taxpayer millions of shillings.

    “This is totally outrageous,” he said. “We already have a presidential jet at the disposal of the President and his Deputy. Why hire another one when you have already bought one? The President should live up to his word that the government will not be a gravy train and stop this.”

    An initial list indicted that Mr Ruto was to be accompanied by 14 people including politicians and aides.

    The plane which Mr Ruto’s team flew in lives up to its reputation as a luxury jet.

    The Bombardier 850 Challenger is marketed by VistaJet as a plane which “fuses the capabilities of a larger aircraft with the comfort and flexibility of an executive jet”.

    It is capable of accommodating 15-19 passengers and the firm says all its planes come complete with a mahogany finish and all-leather interior. The jet has a bedroom at the rear for VIPs, wireless Internet and a fully equipped kitchen.

    The plane has a transcontinental range meaning it can fly further than the official President’s jet and, according to its manufacturers, the plane affords “the best-in-class business environment, offering the widest cabin in its class”.

    “The Bombardier Challenger 850 aircraft was created to challenge convention and establish a new class of business aircraft,” the jet manufacturer’s promotional material reads.

    “In doing so, the jet has excelled in every way, setting the standard for reliability, dependability and value in its class. Expansive and versatile, it provides the flexibility to deliver customised solutions for any corporate requirement.”

    The plane has lately become a favourite of jet-set celebrities.

    Last year, American singer Beyonce bought a Bombardier Challenger 850 as a gift for her husband, musician Jay-Z, on the occasion of Father’s Day. The plane cost a reported $30 million (Sh2.5 billion).

    The jet is also popular in many parts of the world and VistaJet, whose fleet is dominated by Bombardier planes, has recorded impressive growth opening offices across Europe, the Middle East, Asiaand West Africa.

    The plane was reportedly last used by Kenyan clients when one was leased to take Prime Minister Raila Odinga to Cote d’Ivoire to mediate following a post-election crisis in that country.

    On that occasion, the bill was footed by various international organisations which were sponsoring efforts to end the blood-letting following a disputed election in that country.


  5. And below is The Star article by Jerry Okungu last year that pissed off Uhuru so much.

    What If Uhuru, Ruto Win?

    MONDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2012 – 00:00 — BY JERRY OKUNGU

    Judging by the mammoth rallies witnessed in Eldoret and Kiambu this week with respective youths on top of vehicles shouting their voices horse, it is evident that William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta command respectable followings in their regions. What is yet to be seen is whether these massive crowds will suddenly forget the bitter memories of the aftermath of the 2007 elections and vote these two gentlemen in to the highest office.

    As we wait for more drama to unfold, let’s us see how other rallies in Kisumu, Machakos, Nyeri, Embu, Nakuru, Kakamega, Nairobi and Garissa turn out.

    Indeed these two gentlemen are not alone. They have close to 50 MPs, some of them Cabinet ministers in tow. To cap it all, they have bagged the unswerving sympathies of the Vice President of the Republic of Kenya; a man who has hinted that he is ready to forgo his quest for the presidency to either Uhuru or Ruto should the need arise.

    The man spoiling the party for this grouping is the chairman of PNU, Prof George Saitoti, a man who has chosen to have nothing to do with the PNU Alliance or any other party. He is vying for the presidency on PNU ticket period. Uhuru Kenyatta though sounds like he is deeply rooted in PNU Alliance; he is yet to get a clear nod from his party KANU; the party that has time and time again sworn to seek the presidency on its own.

    Kalonzo Musyoka of the Wiper Democratic Party is not home and dry either. His general secretary is questioning where he read his law degree to keep the company of two Kenyans who though still innocent in the eyes of the law, have a case to answer at The Hague in the near future.

    One thing tis clear, the crowds at the prayer meetings certainly do not belong to Ali Makwere, Eugene Wamalwa, Kalonzo Musyoka or even Njeru Githae the new acting finance minister. They belong to Uhuru and Ruto alone. Remove the two from the equation; it will be difficult even to have their allies gathering a quarter of that crowd. They just don’t have the balls, wherewithal or the charisma to do it.

    Assuming the Ocampo duo keep the momentum, are cleared by the IEBC to contest the presidency on a joint ticket and win, what will Kenya be on the morning after the elections? There are a series of hypothetical chain of events that will most likely take place.

    Firstly, the nation and the rest of the world will be stunned because their trial for crimes against humanity will probably be in progress unless their appeal against confirmation hearings succeed. Their elections will remind the world of populist Adolf Hitler of Germany in the early 1930s when he won the German elections in a landslide.

    Secondly, the second phase of the KANU regime will be back in full force with dire consequences for those individuals that had spent their lifetime fighting the Jogoo party. It will be back to business as usual with attendant higher level of helpings from the state, impunity, land gifts and offloading public corporations of excess cash and property not to mention relieving the Central Bank of excess liquidity.

    As the new leaders embark on the job of running Kenya, there will be several amendments to the constitution that will return most of the executive powers to the Presidency. Having won the elections in a landslide, they will easily galvanize the 65% majority in Parliament to amend any part of the constitution that may give them unnecessary irritation.

    To reward their supporters country-wide, the first clause that will be deleted from the constitution will be the requirement to recruit Cabinet secretaries from outside Parliament. To accommodate all supporters from different parts of the country, the Cabinet will be as large as possible, may be 48 ministers to give at least six ministerial portfolios to each province with Central and Rift Valley taking the lion’s share.

    To make life easy for the new regime, Parliament will have to dissolve several commissions to save the much needed tax payers funds. Lined up for scrapping will be the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution, Kenya National Human Rights and Gender Equity Commission and of course the Ombudsman’s office.

    As Parliament will be busy fine tuning the new constitution to meet the challenges of 2012 and beyond, there will be a few activities on the national and global front. The Republicans in Mombasa will be upping their game in a bid to say good bye to Kenyan Republic. Down in the Lake Region, some Luos and possibly Luhyas will be weighing their options of being the youngest members of the UN and the AU.

    Meanwhile the European Union will have issued travel advisories warning their nationals against visiting or dealing with the new regime. Reason? Because the President and his deputy would be required to answer charges of crimes against humanity at The Hague. Along with these advisories, the US and Britain will be pushing for full sanctions against the Nairobi regime since by that time the two leaders will have been advised by Omar El Bashir to stop going to the Hague for those useless trials that only target Africans.

    Meanwhile, Jeremiah Kioni , the Ndaragwa MP will be putting the final touches on the bill to disband the Senate, County Governments and if possible the Gender Equity clause that requires special seats reserved for women. He will in this crusade strive to save the tax payers money and make politics more competitive and democratic than ever before.

    However, since either Ruto or Uhuru will be the Vice President, Kalonzo Musyoka will take the portfolio of the Ministry of Shuttle Diplomacy to deal with problems that the Civil Society will give the new regime. This will be done as Uhuru and Ruto also reclaim their God given ministries of Finance and Agriculture. In this scenario, Raila Odinga will be asked to retire from politics for good in the interest of peace, progress, reconciliation and national development.

    And here is the link to the story but which will be soon pulled down.


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