The Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) and the Kenya Editors’ Guild have criticized Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria’s for his recent attacks on local media.
Kuria attacked the Nation Media Group (NMG) on Sunday, accusing them of being “an opposition party” before a roadside declaration directed at government agencies to stop advertising with the media house, failure to which they would be sacked.
He was seemingly responding to an exposé NMG ran over the weekend exposing an oil scandal allegedly orchestrated by his ministry.
Moments after his speech, he went on Twitter to call the media house’s journalists “prostitutes”, angering many Kenyans who deemed it too low and juvenile.
KUJ in a statement signed by Secretary-General Eric Oduor on Monday said Kuria was “becoming a symbol of national shame” and condemned his reactions to media reports as an embarrassment to Kenyans.
“We would wish to remind Mr Kuria that he is now a Cabinet Secretary whose actions and utterances should promote a positive image of Kenya as a nation. In line with tenets of leadership and integrity law. His reactions to media reports regarding one of the many scandals that have hit Kenya Kwanza administration within a span of 10 months are not only an embarrassment to Kenyans, but a confirmation that his stomach is full and can belch and eventually vomit on the shoes of hungry Kenyans with impunity,” the journalists’ union said.
“While we support the ongoing initiatives by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua to deal with the impact of rampant consumption of alcohol in the country, it is our opinion that for this war to bear fruit, he should cast the net wider to rid the county of leaders who are not in control of their faculties. I can assure Mr Kuria that the media will outlive his political career and will be waiting with glee to write his political obituary,” added the statement.
Similarly, the Kenya Editors’ Guild (KEG) in a statement signed by Guild President Zubeida Kananu castigated Kuria’s remarks as “unwarranted, uncalled for and totally off the mark.”
“The media plays a very important role in a democracy, including holding power to account. In doing so, the media does not operate above the law. If a State Officer or any Kenyan for that matter, is aggrieved by the work of the media, they have an array of avenues to raise them, including pursuing the legal route or reaching out to the media entity concerned,” said the guild in a statement on Monday.
“To go out in public spaces to lambast and reduce the important work the media does to whorish business is the highest form of insult to media professionals in the country,” it added.
KEG demanded an unconditional apology from the Trade and assurance from President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza administration that the sentiments expressed by Kuria do not represent the policy of the government.
The guild also sought assurance that the media enterprises will be accorded their space to execute their mandate.