, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 25 – The Speaker of the National Assembly has rescinded a directive issued in June to close the media centre located within Parliament.
Justin Muturi said he had reviewed the decision and resolved journalists be allowed to conduct their work from the media centre and the Press Gallery in addition to the Committee Rooms whenever the House Committees are in session.
“No one will stop journalists from doing their job, but we need order in the precincts of the National Assembly,” said Muturi after a meeting with the Kenya Parliamentary Journalist Association (KPJA) members, Clerk of the National Assembly Justin Bundi, Sergeant-at-Arms, Aloisio Lekulo and Media Relations Officer, Joe Okong’o on the matter on Wednesday morning.
“We need to work in harmony. There’s no need for all this pushing and pulling.”
The Speaker had last week pledged to assess the progress of renovations at the Old Chambers where the Senate is expected to hold its sittings having been housed temporarily at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre.
“I have been to the other side, where construction is going on. It appears it will take a very very long time,” he told the meeting.
The Speaker further ordered that computers which had been taken away from the facility be returned.
“We will allow you to use this Media Centre and we will put a few computers,” he stated adding, “All journalists who will come to cover Parliament will be accredited and will be required to display the special badges at all times.”
Journalists will be allowed to conduct interviews with MPs at the Media Centre, with the Speaker urging the Sergeant- at -Arms to enforce the new rules and ensure questioning is not conducted on the gardens or walkways.
“The accreditation cards will be given to the media houses. No journalist will be allowed into the building without the card, unless on special occasions, but that too will require clearance from the Speaker,” Muturi understated.
The Media Centre was closed on June 5, after MPs complained coverage of their quest for higher pay was shed in bad light.
The KPJA chairman, Alphonse Shiundu, protested the closure of the facility before calling on the Speaker to allow journalists to use the centre that has lain idle since the directive was issued almost four months ago.
“For the last 106 days, it has been a nightmare for parliamentary journalists to cover the National Assembly,” Shiundu said in a statement condemning the move.
“That action alone consigned journalists to cover the August House from the corridors and the Press Gallery. At times, they play hide-and-seek with the security officers to use the vacant media centre from which they were chased.”
Muturi had ordered journalists vacate the media centre due to a shortage of space for MPs to conduct House Committee meetings.