, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 12 – President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto have assured the media fraternity in the country that their administration will ensure openness and freedom of the press.
Speaking on Friday at State House Nairobi when they hosted the first annual Government-Editors Guild breakfast meeting, President Kenyatta and Ruto reiterated the Jubilee Government’s commitment to openness, transparency and accountability.
Observing that a free media is at the heart of true democracy, the president said the government will endeavour to facilitate the media to effectively support democracy by promoting prudent governance.
“In an ideal world, the media should provide a realm for debate and a lubricant to the effective functioning of democratic processes,” the president said.
The Head of State pointed out that the media should be the voice of the people accommodating all voices and ensuring that the more dominant voices do not crowd out the lesser marginal voices and ideas.
The president said the success of the country’s democracy lies in treating information as a public good to which all citizens have equal rights.
President Kenyatta said his administration is not interested in government control and propaganda, saying that would be a disservice to the role of the media in nation building.
“What we want is openness and transparency that offers benefits to Kenyans,” President Kenyatta said.
Emphasizing the need for the government and the media to be partners in development, the president said the relationship between government and media should not be adversarial.
He assured that there will be channels of communication through which media can easily get information from government.
He added that the government will provide information on what it is doing and respond to matters that the media are interested in.
“We can, and we will, disagree, but we cannot afford not to work together in mutual respect.”
The Head of State noted that as much as the government and the media serve in different arms of society, they all share a common goal to make Kenya a better home for all Kenyans.
In an ideal world, the media should provide a realm for debate and a lubricant to the effective functioning of democratic processes, the president said.
President Kenyatta said by working in partnership, the government and media will enable the country to overcome the challenges it faces.
“As a government we will try as much as possible to do our bit, but we need you as partners,” the president urged the media.
He added: “You occupy a special place through which you can guide public debate for the benefit, not just of the media or Government, but the whole country and all citizens.”
The president called on the media to refocus the debate to issues that move the country forward so that it is not stuck in matters that are not useful to national affairs.
“Help us lead our people better, devolve resources and services better, make the education of our children better, provide better healthcare to our people and make agriculture a better enterprise, among other issues.
This is possible because we are empowering our counties despite the many reports in the media,” the president said.
On devolution, President Kenyatta expressed satisfaction that the government has devolved 34 percent of national tax revenue as per the taxes collected in the last financial year, surpassing the constitutional requirement of 15 percent of the funds to properly anchor the county governments.