REMARKS OF HON RAILA ODINGA AT THE LAUNCH OF THE KENYAN WEEKLY NEWSPAPER;
NOVEMBER 9, 2015:
Ladies and Gentlemen;
It has often been said that a democracy without media is like a vehicle without wheels.
In the push for greater democratisation, transparency and accountability in the management of public affairs, the more the voices, the merrier.
Access to affordable, balanced, and objective media is key to the preservation of our democracy.
The media are key to helping people know what is going on in their communities, to check on and oversee what happens in government, and enable people to play active, informed roles as citizens.
The media may not have constitutionally defined role and power to change any decisions made by the various arms of a stateâ€“â€“the legislature, executive and the judiciary.
Yet, the media plays one of the most important roles in the functioning of any society. It amplifies the voice of citizens and communicates their opinions to the leaders.
That is the spirit in which we unveil the Kenyan Weekly.
In this regard, this newspaper is not in competition with the established dailies and weeklies.
To the extent that all media seek to give voters a voice and hold leadersâ€”all leaders– to account, the Kenyan Weekly is a complementary to such on-going efforts to consolidate the gains made so far and demand more.
Of course the paper intends to be a tool for communication and information for the Opposition fraternity. We intend to get our stories out in the most comprehensive, fair and balanced way possible.
We expect it to champion ideology-driven politics by explaining to our supporters and to the nation at large the ideals and virtues of Liberal Democracy that we subscribe to and how it differs from the principles and ideals of other parties.
Our ultimate aim however is the good and health of the nation. We expect the paper to pay close attention to how public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources.
We expect the paper to be vigorous in its watch dog role by questioning decision making and the process by which decisions are implemented.
In the times we live in, and I trust that everyone here is familiar with the times we live in; the era of grand corruption, grand standing and governance through investment in public relations and selfies, it is critical that the media take nothing on face value and dig deep into the processes of making and implementing decisions. That is the proven way to ensure good governance.
Good governance is not about making correct decisions but about the best possible process for making those decisions.
Time Magazine once wroteâ€¦â€œOften when historians set about figuring why a nation took one course rather than another, they are most interested in who said what to whom at a meeting far from the public eye whose true significance may have been missed even by those who took part in it.â€
As we all know, there are plenty of matters on which Kenyans would wish to know how the decisions were arrived at and who said what at the meeting where those decisions were discussed or whether there were any discussions at all.
I am convinced that Kenyans would like to know how the decision to pump so many billions into the Ministry of Devolution was arrived at and how more money kept getting pumped into the ministry despite mounting evidence of misuse of public funds.
How was the decision not to pay teachers their September salaries despite a court ruling that they be paid arrived at? Who said what at a meeting where this matter was discussed if it was discussed at all?
Who is insisting that the Devolution Cabinet Secretary should remain in office when her colleagues were pushed out for what look like less grim crimes? How are these decisions being arrived at?
Our country is on a borrowing spree. How this decision to borrow and spend and the choice of projects to spend the borrowed money on are arrived at would certainly be of interest to Kenyans.
It is our expectation that this newspaper will be able to rise up to this challenge and keep Kenyans informed.
If media is to have any meaningful role in democracy and governance it must be free and independent from the control of not only the government but also the Opposition. My hope is that the Kenyan Weekly will publish freely any information of interest to the public regardless of how that publication affects either the Opposition or the government.
The unveiling of this paper is also a manifestation of our belief in the media and its role in a democracy. We will continue fighting for freedom of the media and all attempts to curtail access to information.
I wish the editors and writers well in their efforts. I also wish the readers a nice experience.