Musalia Mudavadi urges President Uhuru Kenyatta not to assent to Media bill

NAIROBI, KENYA: Amani coalition leader Musalia Mudavadi has condemned passing of Information and Communication Bill by members of the National Assembly on Thursday.

In a statement, Mudavadi urged President Uhuru Kenyatta not to assent to the bill terming it discriminative, punitive and and an act that would criminalises an economic sector and profession.

“It must also not be forgotten that media is an investment even as it serves a social good in purveying information and enables citizens to engage,” said Mudavadi. “Governments exists to provide an enabling environment, but the action of the National Assembly contradicts this principle by purporting to punish the media,” he added

He asked the President not to give assent to the extremely repressive bill passed almost clandestinely by the National Assembly on Thursday. This he said will be in exercise of Uhuru’s sworn fidelity to defend the Constitution and protect the rights of the people of Kenya.

“The National Assembly must be reminded that its legislative authority is a delegated one derived from the people. The National Assembly resolves issues of concern to the people. The Constitution does not envisage situations where the National Assembly turns tables and abrogates the people’s rights and freedoms.”

Freedom of the media is a guaranteed right. The passage of the debilitating bill to gag the media calls for a re-look as to whether Parliament exists to advance democracy through press freedom or Parliament is intent stifling of freedoms under the constitution.

In interpreting the Constitution through enacted laws, Parliament has an obligation to enhance freedoms rather than curtail them. The media in Kenya may have its weaknesses. But the solution to weaknesses is not the use of the bullet but calls for strengthening capacities in the media through enabling legislation.

A critical bill that has far reaching implications on the rights does not deserve the casual manner in which Parliament of 349 members passed it with a very thin minority. This is a reminder that Parliament is abusing its mandate the way it did in the one-party system.

The National Assembly must be aware that by curtailing press freedom, it is acting in vain and against its own interests in invading and annulling all the other constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of all Kenyans. The bill as it stands, abrogates the human rights chapter and specifically violates articles on equality and freedom from discrimination, expression and access to information.-standardmedia

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