Kenya: Journalists must cooperate with us, warn MPs

Members of Parliament.

MPs were united in their resolve to control the media when they passed the new communications law on Wednesday. The following are edited excerpts from the Hansard.S

Eng James Rege (House Committee Chairman): Mr Temporary Deputy Chairman, Sir, I beg to move:

THAT the Bill be amended by inserting a new clause immediately after clause 32 as follows;

32A. The principal Act is amended by deleting section 88.

Mr Rege: Sir, if you have the Bill, Clause 98–

Hon Members: Why? Tell us!

Mr Gitobu Imanyara (Temporary Speaker): Hon Members, that is the Clause that enables the Minister to raid media houses.

An Hon Member: What is the problem with that?

Mr Rege: Sir, the problem is that this is an infringement of freedom of information.

Mr Imanyara: Mr Minister! This is a new clause!

Mr Samuel Poghisio (Information Minister): Sir, this is a difficult
one, because my understanding is that it is put there to take care of
public emergencies. I know that it is interpreted that this is the one
that the Minister uses but it is not the one that he uses if he wants
to raid a station. We do not raid stations any more.

That is something that never happens any more. It is a criminal thing
to do! But for purposes of managing public emergencies, I really would
like to ask that we keep this clause in the law, partly because the
principal Act has to be amended in order to allow us to delete this
part. However. I would like to hear what the Chairman has to say.

Eng Rege: Sir, I agree with him.

The Assistant Minister, Mr David Musila: Sir, I just wanted to make my
contribution on this issue. I totally oppose the deletion of this
section. I have actually read this very carefully. It only says, in
the event of declaration of a state of emergency, which is very rare.
Secondly, it says, or in the interest of public safety and

This concerns national security. In any case, it is not an infringement
because it provides for the Minister to put it in writing and it is
only a temporary measure for security. Those who are aggrieved are
allowed to appeal to the High Court within 14 days. So, I think that it
is safe and we should not temper with it for the interest of national

Mr Poghisio: Sir, I beg to move that the Committee report to the House
its consideration of the Kenya Communications (Amendment) Bill and its
approval thereof with amendments.

(Turkana Central MP Ekwe Ethuro took the Chair)

Mr Imanyara: Sir, I beg to report that the Committee of the whole House
has considered The Kenya Communications (Amendment) Bill and approved
the same with amendments.

Mr Poghisio: Sir, I beg to move that the House agrees with the Committee in the said Report.

Mr Mungatana seconded.

Mr Njeru Githae (assistant Minister): Sir, I would like to take this
opportunity to, again show how much this House can achieve if Ministers
and Committees work together. I was one of the persons who were very
uncomfortable with the current Section 88 of the Act, because of the
immense powers bestowed upon the Minister.

The Minister is given powers to disable, dismantle and close printing
presses and broadcasting equipment, but I have been assured that this
will only happen during an emergency. Again, we have been assured that
it is only the President who can declare an emergency, and not a

Our fears were that the Minister could declare an emergency today,
disable and dismantle a printing press and then the following day,
revoke the emergency. However, we have been assured that this is not
going to happen. Therefore, I wish to commend the Minister for that

Eng. Rege: Thank you, Sir, for giving me this opportunity.

The only problem we have about the section providing for dismantling of
equipment in a media house is two-fold: We cannot ascertain that an
emergency exists at an instant of time, or digitally. If equipment is
removed from a media house, do we know— The Bill says that such an
equipment will be removed for a short time.

Mr. Ethuro: Order, Eng Rege! This is not debate time! It is the Third Reading of the Bill! So, do not re-open the debate!

Eng Rege: Thank you, Sir.

Mr Jakoyo Midiwo: Thank you, Sir. There is no country on earth where
the media is not regulated. If you want structured development, you
cannot have a very vital industry like the media being so rogue.

I want to thank this House for enhancing the rules. I can assure you
that if you sat in your living room and flip through the television
channels, you will not sit for 30 minutes before seeing a nude picture
in front of your own children.

We want the media to co-operate, because there is now a tendency where
the media is moving one way and leaders in the country are moving
another way. So, the media must co-operate with us as much as we
co-operate with them.

You know of cases where the media has been inciting people. I beg to support this move. I thank the House.

Mr David Ngugi (Kinangop): There is no country in the world where
self-regulations on their own work. In the USA, we have seen how the
economy has been destroyed because the Government did not take control.
They left matters to self regulation. For the Minister to bring this
Bill before this House, was preventing a disaster from happening
tomorrow. – Daily Nation

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