Moses Kuria has gone ahead to repeat the same statements, insults and threats, even after a court of law issued orders restraining the Cabinet Secretary from doing so,

Insidious attacks of the media in general and theNation Media Group in particular by Trade, Investments and Industry Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria are nothing ingenious but a replay of a well-established script of how corruption and impunity fights back when exposed.

Like the prophetic antelope in Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s ‘Devil on the Cross’ that “hates more the one who shouts to alert others to its presence than the one who spears it” there is no doubt that CS Kuria’s raw anger and unrelenting outbursts against the media have been triggered by the audacity and courage of the media to expose what is emerging in the Kenya Kwanza government as an administration that is slowly but systematically becoming a kleptocracy that thrives on capture and consolidation of State power for rent-seeking.

The expose by the Nation Media Group that the Kenya Kwanza administration has in the last eight months of taking over the reins of State power awarded lucrative contracts and tenders exclusively to a close-knit cabal comprising the ruling elite, their friends and family for self-enrichment and possible political investment in future seems to have been the straw that has broken the camel’s back, setting the stage for the vile insults, threats of bias against the media group of State advertisement opportunities, and obvious violation of freedom of the media as guaranteed in the Constitution of Kenya.

Article 34 (2) of the Constitution of Kenya provides that the State shall not:

(a) Exercise control over or interfere with any person engaged in broadcasting, the production or circulation of any publication or the dissemination of information by any medium; or

(b) Penalize any person for any opinion for view or the content of any broadcast, publication or dissemination.

But contrary to these commands of the supreme law of the of the Republic that both President William Ruto and his Deputy Rigathi Gachagua took solemn oaths of affirmation of allegiance and due execution respectively on September 13, 2022, the two senior most leaders of the Kenya Kwanza government have sprung to the defence of the Cabinet Secretary and not the Constitution and the values of integrity, good governance, transparency and accountability and the rule of law that their constitutional offices shouldembody and exemplify.

While this may not have come as a surprise considering that institutions, governments included have always demonstrated an abiding tendency to take on the true characteristics of those who control it, one of the key functions that Article 132(1) has assigned to the President, and which his Deputy is required under the Constitution to assist H.E. President William Ruto to perform, is to report in an address to the nation on measures that the government has taken, and the progress achieved in the realisation of the National Values and Principles of Governance outlined in Article 10 of the Constitution.

At this rate, the Kenya National Civil Society Centre joins other Kenyans who may be wondering already what the President will, in a matter of months later in the year, publish in the Kenya Gazette and submit for debate to the National Assembly as required under Article 132 (c) (ii) of the Constitution on the measures his government has taken and the progress achieved on the attainment of the National Values and Principles of Governance.

That Moses Kuria has gone ahead to repeat the same statements, insults and threats, even after a court of law issued orders restraining the Cabinet Secretary from doing so, points to a situation in which the Head of State and his Deputy are wittingly or unknowingly sending the signal that the government they lead have no qualms about the blatant disregard by their close allies to the principles of the rule of law, respect for rights and fundamental freedoms (including freedom of the media), integrity, good governance, transparency and accountability that should underpin decision-making processes and management of public affairs by the government.

In view of the fact that some of those who have been awarded tenders lately, obviously through State patronage and not fair and open competition are among those who benefitted not too long ago from withdrawal of corruption-related cases against them on claims of having been politically framed, the Kenya National Civil Society Centre has every reason to fear that attacks targeted at the media will not only have a chilling effect on freedom of the media alone but the wider society as well.

The attacks seem to be aimed also at other independent actors in the larger society, including organized civil society and individual citizens who may now fear to report on and partner with State and non-State anti-corruption agencies for fear of gas lighting and reprisals of the kind that Moses Kuria is threatening to visit upon the media, with apparent support of the President and his Deputy.

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