Journalists to give politicians blackout if attacks continue

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The Orange Democratic Movement came under heavy criticism following increased cases of harassment of journalists during Cord leader Raila Odinga’s western tour, which ended with a rally in Mumias town.
The Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) Secretary General Erick Oduor railed at ODM chairman John Mbadi who at a rally in Malaba town on Thursday issued threats to journalists.
“The attack on Mr Masinde was followed up by more threats to the media by ODM chairman John Mbadi, who took it out on Standard journalists Grace Wekesa and John Mondoh during a political rally at Malaba in Busia County. Mr Mbadi was vexed by the reporters’ dispatches that properly captured the violent confrontations between ODM factions during the rally at Port Victoria. The irony in Mr Mbadi’s threats to beat up journalists is that he chairs a board of directors of a party newspaper The Kenyan Weekly, a weekly associated with the Orange party that has not paid its journalists the past six months,” said Mr Oduor.
The union also took issue with derogatory remarks attributed President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, suggesting that newspapers are not important and can only be used to wrap meat.
Mr Oduor warned that the union will mobilise its members to boycott covering political rallies in the run up to elections if journalists are not granted security by rally organisers.
“The derogatory “meat wrapper” remarks were coined by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto, who have obviously set a bad precedent that now exposes journalists to physical assaults, intimidation and harassment as the country prepares for the next General Election,” added Mr Oduor.
Below is full KUJ statement:
……………………………………………
Pay your journalists or shut up, union tells Mbadi
The Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) is disturbed by an escalation of vitriol and intimidation of innocent journalists.
The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) must take responsibility for the injuries and loss of personal property suffered by K24 cameraman Moses Masinde, who is nursing injuries after the party’s goons unleashed terror on him at a political rally in Budalang’i, Busia, on Wednesday. The camera destroyed by ODM goons is Mr Masinde’s family’s only source of livelihood.
The degree of intolerance and barbarism demonstrated by ODM caps a period of two months during which journalists have been subjected to mistreatment by political parties that profess accountability and transparency only in name.
The attack on Mr Masinde was followed up by more threats to the media by ODM chairman John Mbadi, who took it out on Standard journalists Grace Wekesa and John Mondoh during a political rally at Malaba in Busia County. Mr Mbadi was vexed by the reporters’ dispatches that properly captured the violent confrontations between ODM factions during the rally at Port Victoria. The irony in Mr Mbadi’s threats to beat up journalists is that he chairs a board of directors of a party newspaper The Kenyan Weekly, a weekly associated with the Orange party that has not paid its journalists the past six months.
Mbadi is the chairman of a board that oversees the publication of the limping newspaper. It behoves him to appreciate that he has failed in his mandate to streamline the party’s communication strategy.
The Orange party prides itself as the agent of change and a defender of democracy, but appears to have now borrowed a leaf from the ruling coalition to belittle the media as a profession of riff-ruffs and their final product – the newspaper – as only good for “wrapping in meat”.
The derogatory “meat wrapper” remarks were coined by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto, who have obviously set a bad precedent that now exposes journalists to physical assaults, intimidation and harassment as the country prepares for the next General Election.
KUJ views this as a fatalistic connivance by the political class to cover up or colour the truth. It is the union’s position that journalists apply the force of reason to overcome political barbarism demonstrated by the thankless power barons – whether in government or opposition. We will restrict ourselves to the straight and the narrow: the unvarnished truth.
Acting on whims of the political class, law enforcers have equally subjected journalists to extreme mistreatment and physical assault. We note with dismay that Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet has been reluctant to crack down on errant police officers, who relish harassing and intimidating journalists.
Last year, GSU officers attacked journalists in Tana River County and up to date no action has been taken despite KUJ petitioning him to act. We are yet to know the circumstances under which former Eldoret-based John Kituyi was assassinated. Although everything there were pointers that murder was executed at behest of an individual or individuals higher up in government, the police have not lived up to the promise of “leaving no stone unturned” until Muganda’s killers are brought to book. Kenya has been is among the top 20 deadliest countries in the world for journalists to work as a result of such actions.
KUJ demands that politicians refrain from making statement that expose journalists to danger during political rallies and also provide security to the members of the Fourth Estate, failing to which journalists will begin boycotting such assignments. We are only messengers of the public, not sectarian interests.
Erick Oduor
Secretary General

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