By Sospeter Otieno
For the offensive media bill to make it to parliament, it must have been discussed and approved in cabinet.
That means Uhuru and Ruto are roped in this scandal especially given that Justin Muturi and Aden Dualle are their side kicks.
Kenya seems desperate to align its media and civil society policy with its new found diplomatic friends like China, Russia and Zimbabwe.
I know Breton Woods institutions demand good governance, could this media gag bill be one of the conditions set by China, behind the scenes? This media bill has all the hallmarks of Chinese media bills.
The tip of the spear within Jubilee leadership read Uhuru and Ruto did its political tutelage in the repressive KANU of the 90s. Uhuru and Ruto are Moi’s ideological successors.
The fight for media freedom goes way back in history, and a consistent streak is evident. That whenever the dictatorial tendencies of a leadership rears its ugly head on matters media censorship, it has been vanquished.
And the same fate will certainly befall the Jubilee- led parliament’s ill-intentioned desire to gag the media.
It is for a reason that James Madison- the father of Bill of Rights and later US 4th President cordoned off US First Amendment that guarantees Freedom of Speech from any Congressional or State Assemblies legislation.
And that’s because when in power, it becomes very tempting for men or women to alter media laws to shield their ego from being challenged.
The Jubilee led efforts to gag the media, are irrefutable proof that Madison’s was timeless foresight.
The US media, which is one of the most progressive and open media regimes, had to contend with New York Times vs Sullivan (1960s) in which the New York Times ran into trouble for highlighting the civil rights abuses in The US State of Alabama.
And in this case the Supreme Court voted 9-0 in favor of New York Times and out of it the precedent setting judgment further opened up US media freedoms. Good prevailed over evil.
The threshold for proving malicious intent in libel cases was even raised higher, and the prefix real- was adjunct-ed onto the word malice. Real Malice has to be proved to nail a journalist in America.
Crown vs John Peter Zenger(1735) , is probably more important because a jury of 12 drawn from a cross-section of the lay American public rendered a “not guilty” in the most landmark case in matters media freedom jurisprudence.
Peter Zenger had been accused of reporting election rigging. And while we still have many questions about what transpired in March 2013, Crown vs Peter Zenger teaches us that all the media needs to stay relevant is fidelity to the truth. Not a pledge of loyalty to the rulers.
The triumph of the printer Peter Zenger is even more pertinent because the jury in its pragmatism defied the draconian Sedition-Libel laws to enter a “not guilty” verdict. The common man drawn from the American street in 1735 knew what is intrinsically the right and moral thing to do.
Truth be told; the laws, as recently augmented with draconian recommendations by the son of Jomo then referred back to parliament, are part of Jubilee’s broader scheme to lay the infrastructure for oppression.
Moi students are back in power, and they are nostalgic about the good OLE 90s when the rule of law was disregarded, corruption thrived and impunity unchecked.
It would be unforgivable for the US Educated Uhuru to let any form of this bill get his signature. He has no excuse to do what he is subjecting Kenyans to because he knows the truth. At Amherst, he must have been indoctrinated on the very basic tenets and philosophies about the infallibility of free speech.
But in the footsteps of KANU’s spiritual leader, Uhuru has decided to unwind the clock of reforms; judicial or media. IEBC was run over before elections.
This article first appeared as a Face book post on the writer’s wall.