TRANSCEND MEDIA GROUP (TMG) TRIUMPHS OVER SAFARICOM’S PREJUDICIAL GAG ORDER
The High Court on Thursday 4th October 2016 declined to issue a gag order in favour of Safaricom Limited that prevented Transcend Media Group from publicly discussing the irregularities that had muddled an Advertising Agency tender award. Through TMG’s Lawyer, Maingi Musyimi Advocates, the court declined to grant Safaricom’s prayers after the telecom company failed to produce sufficient evidence for the case as filed.
The gag order sought by Safaricom for alleged peddling of malicious falsehoods by Transcend media refers to letter of 18th April 2016 by TMG to Vodafone Group requesting a tender audit to expose procurement illegalities and a separate paid notice in the Daily Nation on 27th May 2016 by the advertising agency detailing the irregularities surrounding the tender and contract awarded to Saracen Media for the implementation of Safaricom’s youth segment product now popularly known as ‘Blaze’.
Through the injunction Safaricom had sought to gag TMG from challenging its irregular processes and in effect water down an existing copyright suit seeking to stop the implementing agency, Saracen Media Group from executing the contentious product, Blaze.
In the 4th October 2016 ruling, the High Court Judge F Tuiyott noted that Safaricom had failed to demonstrate a case to grant an injunction curtailing TMG’s freedom of expression and speech. Further, the court observed Safaricom’s failure to disapprove the veracity of the TMG’s publication surrounding the matter as well as the validity of there being economic loss after the said publication.
The landmark ruling instantaneously voids Safaricom’s claim and intention to infringe on TMG’s freedom of expression as enshrined in article 33(1) of the Kenyan Constitution.
It is also a testimony to the progressive and independent judicial system in Kenya. This in the face of undue influence exerted by East Africa’s corporate behemoth – Safaricom, and offering a fair process and subsequent ruling. The lifting of the orders allows TMG to pursue justice through all legal means available.
The obliterated order additionally promotes the individual and company right of reply and justification. The High Court move is also a challenge to the media and the industry regulators to espouse independence and embrace the spirit of public interest.