Kenyan media companies will host three live debates ahead of the March 4 poll for presidential candidates to outline their policies to the public.
The debates unveiled at the Serena Hotel are a first, and will be broadcast on TV, radio, and streamed online on November 26, followed by the second on January 14, 2013 and February 11, 2013 when the third debate will be held.
In the eventuality that there is a runoff, another debate will be considered.
The Managing Director of Royal Media Services Wachira Waruru who chairs the steering committee says the debates will also provide Kenyans the opportunity to audit their presidential aspirants and gauge their policies.
“The debates will provide Kenyan voters with the opportunity to listen to, interrogate and interact with the presidential candidates. The debates will also afford the candidates the opportunity to reach out to the widest possible audience and explain how they would govern if elected president.”
“Politicians can hide behind many things at rallies because they choose what they want to say so they will be laid bare; they will be challenged on their knowledge of national issues, their priorities and temperament.”
The country’s TV stations, radios and online media including Capital FM are involved in organising the debates which will see candidates face it off with one another in live broadcasts for the first time in the country’s history.
Kenya Broadcasting Corporation Managing Director Waithaka Waihenya assured that high professional standards will be employed in organizing and executing the project with the input of PwC.
“We though it wise to have an independent body to audit this process as a steering committee we could decide how the process should be but we want the process to be irreproachable,” he said.
He added: “This is a very huge project, and a project of this magnitude needs us to ensure that there is an appreciable level of integrity and transparency in its execution,” he said, adding that even the candidates will be invited to give their views on how they want the process structured.
Nation Media Group’s Chief Executive Linus Gitahi said the process will further help dissociate elections with ethnicity and link it to national issues.
“The overall objective is to make this election an issue based election, we do not want tribal kingpins elected simply because they have a certain voting bloc. We want candidates to answer the question of how different life will be under their watch,” he insisted.
Each debate will have two moderators and four panellists who will engage the presidential aspirants in a question and answer session for 90 minutes.
Capital FM’s Editorial Director Michael Mumo said the station will stream the debates live on www.capitalfm.co.ke/news. He added that the public will be able to express their opinions, send in questions, and generally take part in the debates on Twitter and Facebook.