Journalism owes us the truth about politics and corruption cartels
Jimmy Brown Mwandigah laments that this year’s presidential election has already moved away from issues and trivia. His anguished note to me reads: “Is Kenya doomed to third world status? This year’s presidential elections promise to be nasty. The façade of the so-called “thematic campaigns” is melting faster than the snowman. »
He denounces the performance of the political class, and a distraught and superficial journalism. I’m afraid he’s right. We are guilty as accused.
An election season is an opportunity for journalism to flesh out issues for the public. The reverse is to scrutinize what politicians claim to place before the electorate; examine their truth quotient and practicality; to assess their longer-term implications and help the public make decisions based on the issues. Like the political class, our journalism assumes that people are cows. They will be parked where a given politician wants them. So our journalism only counts the cows. Therefore, a front-page headline will scream, “Raila, Ruto’s Fate in Kalonzo’s Hands.”
It is not in the hands of the voters, but of an individual. The individual owns a cattle kraal. Therefore, wherever he wants them to go, they will obey. Our journalism does not help the voter to make a qualitative political decision.
A key role for journalism is the interpretation of experience. It involves the expression of memory. The scribe opens experience pools and connects them to what is happening. As explanatory glosses, journalistic memoirs and interpretations demystify misleading political propaganda.
Let me give just one example, because of space. One question the Kenyan voter needs to ask is the often asked question of “theft” and “thieves, who want to rule Kenya”, as the Raila Odinga-Uhuru Kenyatta axis tells us.
On the other hand, there are “the real thieves who ruined Kenya”, as the ANC’s Musalia Mudavadi told us in her “Earthquake” speech on Sunday. Who tells us the truth and who lies? Why do we lament helplessly over thieves?
Why can even the executive government, with all the instruments of law, only complain that “thieves want to rule Kenya”?
If Vice President William Ruto has, for example, done the things his enemies talk about at political rallies, why hasn’t anyone taken legal action?
They say “he stole billions from the dam projects”. Why is he “allowed” to run free “with stolen billions”? Is he above the law? Come on, anyone? Why don’t you enforce the law or just tell your chickens that?
Conversely, why are President Uhuru Kenyatta’s critics only talking about “Covid billionaires, Afya House scams, NYS, corrupt infrastructure projects”?
They accuse ‘senior political families’ of having ‘a deal’ in ‘every major bidding round’. How should we understand this story of theft by those in government and those who have been there? Where is the truth ? Do accusations and counter-accusations have value? Is it just cheap political gossip?
If there are giant thieves strutting around and the government can’t do anything about it, then the government should just shut up and walk away. Kenyans did not elect you to tell them there are thieves. You were elected to put thieves where they belong – in jail.
If you can’t, either you’re an accomplice to the theft or you’re of no use to us. Sadly, it’s been the same story since the 1960s, when Cabinet Minister Gikonyo Kiano was called “Mr. Ten Percent.”
Kenyans have heard of cashew thefts on the coast, poaching and ivory scandals by senior political families, government coffee smugglers, maize bombings and “Kenyanization” scams in the 1960s and 1970s, of the “cult of Mzee” and early corruption. years and the “Cult of Baba” today; the Inchcape scam of the 70s and how debts could not be collected from royalty, and their gem business at Nairobi airport.
It’s old theft against new theft, old money against new money – old thieves against new thieves, it seems.
Dr. Barrack Muluka is a Strategic Communications Advisor. www.barrackmuluka.co.ke