Kenya media blamed for State failures

May 13, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 13 – Lately the government has been on the receiving end and blamed for bad governance in the country and the misery that Kenyans have been going through.

As the institution charged with responsibility of protecting and ensuring the welfare of its citizenry, many Kenyans are of the opinion that it has failed miserably.

This is because as a financial analyst Job Kihumba says a nation cannot be any stronger than its institutions which cut across all spheres of the society. Thus when one institution fails, all other aspects of the society are affected, and this impacts on nation building.

“For example, if the police as an institution is weak, then it affects even the investments because no one wants to invest in a place where there is no security,” he says citing the example of Central Kenya where hundreds of buildings which were once used as shops are now abandoned.

He says individuals work best when they are in larger groupings and thus institutions and how well they operate makes a lot of difference in the running of a country.

So why is there so much suffering and discontent in the country now? Capital News posed.

“The suffering in the country is because some institutions are not working optimally. However, every society goes through (difficult) phases and we may be going through one now. But sometimes, it is inevitable that you have to fall so that you can rise and I believe that we are almost there,” he says.

To get out of the quagmire that the country is in, Mr Kihumba particularly singles out the need to have a political leadership that has a vision and the people’s interests at heart which in his view can cast out light to every corner of the country.

“Leadership should not be an end. It should be seen as a means to achieving something. Good leaders don’t think of what they will become, they think of what they will do for the common good,” he emphasises.

However, retired Provincial Commissioner Joseph Kaguthi disagrees and puts the blame squarely on the media.

He argues that the Fourth Estate has failed Kenyans by refusing to use its immense power to ensure reform in the country.

While admitting that the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary have not been working harmoniously, he says the biggest let down has come from reporters and Editors-in-Chief who are biased and (they) do not ask the right questions that would put these people in check.

“The Legislature has managed to muzzle the Executive and it is attempting to gag the Judiciary but with little effort. While all the arms have failed in their duties, this is the point the media should step in and keep them in check,” he emphasises.

“Do not give up,” is his message to the scribes. He says reporters should not coil back and be threatened when a newsmaker attacks them, arguing that being a journalist is not a ‘popularity contest’.

“The media ought to do much more in putting those estates to their defence. Sometime they do so well but then they reach a level where they agree to be compromised,” he regrets referring to the spirited campaign that the media put up to try and have Members of Parliament pay taxes.

To deal with the ‘hardcore’ people who head these weak institutions, Mr Kaguthi suggests that the press should use the ‘divide and rule’ tactic where it picks on one group, highlight the issues they have not addressed until they conform or until something has been done about the issue.

“Supposing you pick on, say Coast or Central MPs, or any ethic group and decide on what they should do and you now decide like wild dogs that you are going to deal with them until they serve the people. What do you think they would do?” he poses.

While acknowledging that media houses have become commercial, he advises that they should find a balance between those interests and those of being a watchdog of the society.

He has criticised them for airing just politics and security matters and challenged the Fourth Estate to start focusing on other issues in the society.

 “We have a situation where everybody thinks that the government is in Nairobi. Everybody should start going to where the people are. Find a balance between development stories which support security and vice versa,” he advises.

The Fourth Estate has ‘sacrificed the country’s nationalism’ but to redeem itself, Mr Kaguthi suggests that they should start airing major programs with the first three lines of the national anthem as one way of helping to bring back patriotism.


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