Kenya Editors Guild (KEG) has reprimanded the Ministry of Investments, Trade and Industry Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria for his comments against the Nation Media Group.
Speaking on Sunday, June 18, during the Akorino Annual Convention in Embu, Kuria hit out at the media house, “Let me finish by saying this to those in the media industry, Nation Media should decide whether you are a gazette, a broadcasting house, a media house or an opposition party”.
He also added that any government department found advertising with the said media house will face consequences.
“And I say this, from today, any government office that I will see advertising with Nation Media, you will go home. May God bless you all,” said Kuria.
Kuria later posted a tweet on his account insulting the media house which was founded by Aga Khan adding that he will not have a problem with those who post obituaries.
“You can still advertise auctioneers and funeral announcements. We will not stop those,” read part of the tweet.
On Monday, June 19, KEG put out a statement saying the media plays an important role in being the country’s watchdog and if any Kenyan is disgruntled by its activities, they should follow protocol to address it.
“If a State Officer or any Kenyan for that matter, is aggrieved by the work of the media, they have an array of avenues to raise them, including pursuing the legal route or reaching out to the media entity concerned,” read the statement.
Kuria took to social media to raise his discontentment with the media house instead of acting in accordance with the rule of law, a move that has highly agitated media stakeholders.
“To go out in public spaces to lambast and reduce the important work the media does to whorish business is the highest form of insult to media professionals in the country,” said KEG.
Kuria’s foul comments have also drawn the attention of the Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) who have released a statement reminding the CS that he is the mirror of the country and should set a positive image.
The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) has as well joined KUJ in terming these actions as a threat to press freedom and a stain to the country’s image.
“The Council notes that this is the most extreme, since independence, that individuals have pushed media and government to the brink and lowered the country’s dignity,” read the MCK’s press statement released today.
Nation Media Group (NMG) has also issued a statement demanding that Kuria issue an apology following his sentiments.
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The Media House has also called on President William Ruto to publicly affirm his commitment to media freedom.
“We wish to reaffirm our commitment to relentlessly uphold media freedoms and fiercely guard our role as the public watchdog,” reads the statement by Nation.
Media stakeholders want an assurance from the government that Kuria's actions do not represent government policies.
Although it’s still unclear what put Kuria on the offensive, the ill comments are alleged to be a result of an investigative report done by NTV on how the government allowed private firms to import oils without taxing them.
According to the report, private firms would be assigned the task of importing oil without taxation, government agencies would later buy the oil from them selling it to the public through other private firms.
The feature also added that a lot of money is wasted and the oil is sold at a high price compared to the ones produced locally, a move that would cost taxpayers Sh10 billion loss.
Netizens, especially Kenyans on Twitter have come out to support the media saying that they have been doing a commendable job.
“Nation Media group have been doing a great job in exposing graft that we would have otherwise not know existed. In a civilized country, such a minister would have been called to resign immediately over such attacks to the media,” Kiprono tweeted.
“You have to remember that His Highness Aga Khan is a religious figurehead for a large community, who are also big investors. To use his name in this manner is totally inappropriate,” tweeted Mihr Thakar.
“If this statement by a whole cabinet secretary doesn't lead to any disciplinary action against him, we will just assume that this is what Bishop Dr. William Ruto stands for. This is the kind of language they use in cabinet meetings and the daily statehouse devotions,” read a tweet by Ms Nyaguthii.
Moses Kuria has however continued his onslaught against the media house. He has gone the extra mile to take pictures of government adverts posted in the newspaper and berate the departments involved, captioning the tweets, “…not good!”