THE PROPOSED ANTI MEDIA BILL IN KENYA

August 28, 2014 OPINION/NEWS

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By

Joe Khamisi

Kenyan Members of Parliament are at it again. In a move deserving worldwide condemnation, legislators in Nairobi now want not only to tighten their stranglehold on the country’s already suffocating media, but to insulate themselves further from criticism of any kind and criminal action of any manner against them.

A Member of Parliament, Adan Keynan, is proposing measures that seek to muzzle all media, shut down the voice of the people and grant lawmakers privileges of immunity not seen in any decent government system anywhere in the world.

The Bill is still in the processing stage, but if debated and enacted into law, it will make Members of Parliament an “untouchable” lot that cannot be reached even by the court of law.

While Kenyans have seen the enactment of several anti media legislation before, the current proposed law goes against the spirit of the constitution; and is beyond people’s interests and common sense.

This Parliament, elected in 2013, is notorious in its assault on the freedom of the media. It has enacted laws that are draconian and primitive; laws that are only conceived, enacted and implemented in a banana republic.

While the intended law will allow MPs to say anything about anyone within the grounds of Parliament, wananchi will not be allowed to utter any words deemed to be defamatory against Parliament, its committees and proceedings. What this means is that wananchi will be gagged from talking and writing about the rampant corruption, greed, debauchery and all the other ills touching on their leaders.

This reminds me of the days in the Moi era when people had to whisper even in their bedrooms for fear of the then dreaded Special Branch operatives. To be heard talking ill of the government then was treasonable. I hope we are not going back to those days.

Early this year, Kenyans saw some nasty demonstrations outside Parliament buildings against MPs. Protestors brought with them live piglets and dozens of buckets of pig blood and dumped them outside the building in an angry response to the excesses of their legislators. Media practitioners have also staged some dramatic scenes at the gate of the National Assembly to oppose what they view as anti media laws. That is why Kenyan MPs are now simply called “MPigs.”

The proposed bill is one legislation that must be opposed by all Kenyans. President Uhuru Kenyatta must not sign it when it gets to his desk because it is unpopular, disgusting and perpetuates a class system. It shames the nation and portrays our legislative body as wayward and intolerant to criticisms.

 

 

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Joe Khamisi

Joe Khamisi is a former journalist, diplomat and Member of Parliament. He is also the Author of the Politics of Betrayal:Diary of a Kenyan Legislator, a political memoir about the situation in Kenya between 2001, when the ruling party of President Daniel Arap Moi, the Kenya African National Union (KANU), merged with Raila Odinga’s National Development Party.

The book also narrates cases of corruption in Parliament and in the Media and records Senator Obama’s visit to Kenya in 2006. As a friend of Barack Obama Senior, the author also remembers the times and tragedies of the American-educated economist.

Joe Khamisi’s second book, a biography, ‘Dash Before Dusk’, is currently awaiting publication.

In addition to the above books, Joe Khamisi blogs at http://joekhamisi.wordpress.com/ , http://joekhamisi.blogspot.ca/ and for media enquiries can be reached at joekhamisi@yahoo.com

(This article is courtesy of Joe Khamisi and was originally published at the above WordPress blog on 27th August 2014)

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