Jubilee legislators gagged from live TV and radio shows

State House has gagged Jubilee MPs from appearing on live TV and Radio shows.

They have also been stopped from responding to media enquiries without prior consultation.

It has also emerged that President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto barred lawmakers allied to the ruling party from making public pronouncements without permission.

Instead, county commissioners have been deployed to vernacular radio stations to articulate the government’s development agenda in what is seen as a strategy to boost coherence in government communication.

“As you might have noticed, we are not talking to the media as per the instructions given to us by his Excellency the President and Deputy President,” an MP, who sought anonymity for fear of reprisals, said on Tuesday.

The MP said Uhuru warned them against making appearances on live broadcast shows without the authority of the presidency.

“He [Uhuru] was categorical that the caveat must be respected at all cost,” the lawmaker, who noted that the directive had strained their engagement with the media, said.

“We are in dilemma even when we feel we have strong and persuasive views we want to articulate. We are missing a lot on constructive public discourse,” the third term MP added.

This means that MPs wishing to make contributions on topical issues or comment on current affairs must first obtain express authority from the Leaders of Majority in the bicameral House.

Vocal Garissa Township MP Aden Duale is the Majority Leader in the National Assembly while Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen is in-charge of the majority party in the Senate.

A senior Jubilee MP said the order was given by the President during the Jubilee party parliamentary group meeting held at State House Nairobi last Tuesday.

The President is said to have lectured the lawmakers on the need to toe the party line or ship out, a rare move that angered the lawmakers who claimed Uhuru was ‘disrespectful’ to them as representatives of the people.

They were also warned against snubbing PG meetings that are supposed to deliberate and take a common position on the party’s legislative agenda in Parliament.

Barely 50 Jubilee MPs attended last Tuesday’s PG, angering the president who was forced to rebuke them.

During the lead up to the August 8 general elections, MPs were frequent guests on TV and Radio talk shows explaining Jubilee’s agenda to voters.

At some point many of them solicited for the shows as they raced against time to articulate Jubilee’s manifesto in a bid to win the hearts and minds of the electorate.

The government also then deployed Cabinet secretaries to radio and TV stations to explain Jubilee’s action plan.

While the DP appeared on live TV shows to explain the government’s programmes, the President offered both on air and recorded interviews with vernacular radio stations.

However, the ruling alliance and seems to have shifted its public engagement policy, in what is seen as a strategy to control and regulate information outflow.

One of the Jubilee leaders in Parliament says the directive is strategic to diffuse political temperatures following the divisive twin presidential elections last year.

“We have done that because we feel that as Jubilee our priority is not to respond to allegations being thrown left, right and centre. We want to be coherent in our communication.”

This is likely explains why no Jubilee MP has come out to respond to any of Nasa’s claims even in the wake of the recent state crackdown on opposition leaders.


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