, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 20 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged the National Assembly to review the contentious proposals in the Powers and Privileges Bill to ensure it does not interfere with freedoms particularly of the media to inform the public.
He called on the legislators to review the offending clauses in the Bill and allow journalists to freely report on parliamentary affairs.
“Let the media operate freely. Do not fear the media as they exercise the freedom of expression as guaranteed in the Constitution,” he said.
Using himself as an example of individuals who have been victims of slander Kenyatta said, “Let them talk, even if they speak negatively about you, you can still go about your business. They have many a times insulted me and even written bad stories about me, but here I am — Let them have the freedom to do their job.”
In the past week the media fraternity was up in arms after the National Assembly adopted proposed amendments bent to gag the media by curtailing parliamentary reporting.
However Speaker Justin Muturi postponed the final vote on the Powers and Privileges Bill and urged the House to reconsider the offensive provisions to ensure they did not raise constitutional issues.
President Kenyatta further noted that the expansion of the broadcast space due to digital migration had tripled the number of TV stations from 14 in 2013 to 55 while radio stations increased to 126 from 108 in the same period.
Kenyatta at the same time urged Kenyans to act sensibly and not misuse the freedoms granted by the Constitution.
“I am saddened and dismayed that at times our actions suggest a people who have forgotten that with freedom come onerous responsibilities to fellow citizens and us,” he said.
He called on them to carefully consider individual, institutional and collective responsibilities towards each other and the nation so as to build a prosperous Country to be enjoyed by future generations.
“Without understanding and appreciating our responsibilities, our expanded freedoms mean nothing. Indeed, they can easily become a recipe for the destruction of the future that we all so earnestly seek to build. We must tread carefully for freedom places a huge requirement on every citizen to act responsibly,” he implored.
The president also urged political leaders at all levels to avoid utterances that may undermine peace and cohesiveness in the country.
He said Kenyans should strive to build a better country at all times saying irresponsible talk will only cause irreparable damage to Kenya’s socio-economic fabric.
“While we must play our different roles, we must do so in a manner that promotes the unity and cohesiveness of our nation at all levels,” he said.
He also took the time to address the concerns of many Kenyans over devolution and the various challenges it has been facing saying despite the hiccups, the Jubilee administration was proud of the achievements this far.
“Devolution may not be working perfectly but it exists and it is the duty of every Kenyan to make sure it succeeds. Less noise more work,” said the President.