A video of President Uhuru Kenyatta telling journalists to pack up their equipment and leave a function at the Kenya School of Government in Kabete Constituency, Kiambu County on Friday, February 2, has drawn attention on social media.
The Head of State was presiding over the launching of service standing orders for the National Police Service, when he ordered journalists to leave the function.
President Kenyatta asked video journalists to stop rolling their cameras and leave the event after he’d concluded making his formal speech.
“Sasa si nyinyi mzime hiyo mavitu yenu muende, kazi imekwisha (And now, switch off your equipment [cameras, microphones] and leave. Your work here is done),” said President Kenyatta.
The Head of State’s remark drew mixed interpretations, with a section of online users claiming the tone he used in making the order showed he has no respect for journalists.
Journalist Oliver Mathenge tweeted: “President Uhuru Kenyatta tells the media to switch off their cameras and leave after his official speech at the Kenya School of Government at the Launch of the Service Standing Orders & other reforms documents.”
State House digital strategist Dennis Itumbi, however, defended President Kenyatta, saying: “…the officers were getting into a closed door meeting (which required no media presence). Nothing wrong at all.”
This comes three days after the Government shut down television stations belonging to three media houses, Royal Media Services Ltd (Citizen and Inooro)., Nation Media Group (NTV) and Standard Group (KTN News).
Interior CS Dr Fred Matiang’i said the Government was ‘investigating’ their participation in an “illegal act” of transmitting live broadcasts of the symbolic ‘swearing in’ of Opposition leader Raila Odinga as the ‘‘people’s president.’’
Dr Matiang’i claimed that the stations were bent on inciting violence that would have contributed to “a massacre of catastrophic proportions”.
On Thursday, February 1, High Court suspended the Government’s directive to shut down the three leading TV stations in Kenya pending a full hearing of the case that was filed by Activist Okiya Omtatah on Thursday.
Judge Chacha Mwita ordered the Communications Authority of Kenya to restore live transmission for KTN News, Citizen TV, Inooro TV and NTV.
Judge Mwita also barred the Government from interfering with the signals of the affected TV stations.
In his ruling, Judge Mwita said the orders will remain until the case is heard and determined on February 14.
Earlier, Activist Omtatah had submitted the petition to court seeking to overturn the Government’s directive that led to switching off Kenya’s leading TV stations, arguing the move is contravening the Constitution.
Omtatah indicated that the public’s right to information under Article 35 of the Constitution was directly affected since the switch off had curtailed the public right of access to information broadcast by the media houses.
Omtatah also sought an order for compensation of the media houses for loss incurred during the switch off saying
He further argued that the respondents’ action violates the right to freedom of expression by limiting freedom of expression.
“The respondent’s action violates the prohibition in article 34(2) which bars the state from exercising control over or interfering with any person engaged in broadcasting the production or circulation of any publication,” read the court document.