NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 7 – The party of National Unity (PNU) has now appointed a committee comprising ten Members of Parliament to liaise with media owners over the controversial Communication Amendment Act, 2008.,
Addressing the press outside the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka affirmed PNU’s commitment to finding a long lasting solution to the controversy surrounding the Act.
“We want to assure Kenyans that PNU is committed to press freedom. We have already formed a committee of ten people to liaise with the media owners who will in turn come up with lasting solution to the problems following the passing of the Communication Act,” said Mr Musyoka.
He accused the media of ignoring some leaders while giving coverage to another group of leaders, especially after the President signed the Bill.
“The statement that was given a blackout was very categorical. I remember the honourable Mutula Kilonzo saying he will lead the effort in trying to bring any necessary amendments to the offending clauses,” he explained.
He further stated the need for the media to engage in dialogue with the Government and other major stakeholders as far as the Bill was concerned.
“When the President signed the Bill, it did not mean that, that was the end of the story. It should be clear that there is room for consultation among the media, Government and other media stakeholders,” said Mr Musyoka.
Internal Security Minister Prof George Saitoti and his Nairobi Metropolitan counterpart Mutula Kilonzo concurred with Musyoka that there was need for consultation with the media fraternity instead of engaging in a war of words.
“I don’t think that there is any Act at all or anything in the world that does not have an error. If it were the case, then there is no reason why countries continually go on amending such Acts,” Mr Saitoti said.
They said it was unfair for media houses to give blackout to a section politicians on the basis that they supported the passing of Kenya Communications (Amendment) Act, 2008.
Their position came a few hours after President Mwai Kibaki directed the Attorney General (AG) and Information Minister to look at the controversial media law afresh.
In a brief statement, the head of state ordered the two to study amendments that members of the media fraternity have proposed to the controversial Act.
The President was responding to a letter from the Chairman of the Media Owners Association Linus Gitahi, appealing to him to consider proposed amendments to the new law.
The President further directed that the AG and Information Minister to bring appropriate recommendations on the proposed changes to the Cabinet for consideration.
In the meantime, Mr Musyoka has said that there was need to declare the famine that has continued to hit many parts of the country a national disaster.
“We believe in fact that both the famine and the issue of IDPs to be declared a national disaster. It is a matter that is very serious,” he stressed adding: “We want to call on the partnership of the media so that even the international community will come to the aid of our people.”
He said leaders irrespective of their political parties and the media should support the Government in looking for lasting solutions to famine, to prevent it from getting out of control.
The Vice President urged the media in particular to give more attention by highlighting issues pertaining to the famine situation to help the Government resolve the problem for once and for all.