Nairobi — Trade and Industrialization Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria has remained adamant that he will not apologize to the media fraternity for the derogatory remarks he made against Nation Media Group.
The Trade Cabinet Secretary stated without evidence that the accused media house had threatened to sack a journalist for insisting to write a balanced story.
“I am not apologizing, first they should apologize to Gerald Andai who they have threatened to fire for wanting to write an article that is balanced. I have been a media owner and a writer in your newspaper,” said Kuria.
Shortly after concluding his submission before the floor of the Senate. Kuria maintained his insults against the media defending he is a pro activist of the media but he will not be cowed to speak his ‘truth’.
“There is no one who has been pro media more than me but I know the difference between media and not the trauma borne in the prerogative of harlots. There is no power without responsibility,” Kuria stated.
The push for a public apology followed a public statement during an event in Embu on Sunday where Kuria accused NMG of being “an opposition party”.
He made a roadside declaration ostensibly directing government agencies to stop advertising with the media house.
The CS implied that the media outlet was only appropriate for advertisements on auctions and funeral announcements and threatened to sack any state official who placed ads.
Kuria said: “I want to tell Nation Media, you need to choose whether you are a newspaper, broadcasting house or an opposition party. From today, not even tomorrow, if any government department advertises with Nation Media, know you are on your way home.”
The CS appeared to be reacting to an exposé published by NMG over the weekend detailing an alleged edible oil scandal under his ministry.
Azimio Senators stormed out of Wednesday’s morning Senate sitting in protest of Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria’s appearance, plunging the house into a temporary quorum hitch.
Opposition Senators walked out in protest of Kuria’s appearance in the plenary before consideration of a censure motion over his weaponized outburst against the media.
The walkout was prompted by a decision by Senate Speaker Amason Kingi disallowing attempts to have the said motion debated saying it was yet to filed procedurally.
“As far as am concerned am not aware of any motion that [Senator] Sifuna has submitted. Having not seen this particular motion it cannot be a subject of discussion of the floor today. Even if it was submitted to the office of the Speaker it may be admissible or not admissible,” the Speaker asserted.
Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna said he had sponsored a censure motion citing Kuria for misconduct.
The Nairobi Senator said failure to challenge and reprimand Kuria’s actions could impede media freedom.
“I rise to seek guidance on whether a person who is a subject to a motion of censure that has already been filed before this house can again appear prior to the motion on censure being dispensed,” he said.
“That motion will be prejudiced by the appearance of that person before we have dispensed the matter,” he added.
Sifuna had argued that the Trade CS might take a chance to explain and exonerate himself from the accusations against him.
“We in the minority side are opposing his presence in this house and we seek your direction on whether his presence prior to dispensation of the motion would be prejudicial to the same motion,” he said.
Kitui Senator Enock Wambua said the question which the embattled CS was supposed to answer touched on the issues raised in the censure motion hence he should not have had the opportunity to address Senate until the motion is dispensed.
“To allow a leader to use the floor of this house to sanitize himself over accusation of abuse and insult is a painful thing. On a matter of principle, we should not allow Moses Kuria to use the floor to sanitize himself,” said Wambua.
Majority Leader Aaron Cheruyoit questioned why Opposition Senators had decided to be part of the proceedings where CSs appear to answer questions yet they had filed a petition in court to outlaw the proceedings.
“What’s the justification of a person who has not shown interest in any of these proceedings. Kuria is the 10th appearing before the house and they have never shown interest but today they want to stop the rest of us who wants to put the Executive to account,” said Cheuyoit.
Senator Cheruyoit further pointed out that Sifuna’s censure motion had not gone through the necessary procedure for approval to necessitate the cancelation of CS Kuria’s appearance.
“Let’s allow the CS Kuria to answer the question then once the censure motion has gone through the process of approval then we will have an opportunity to answer to the issue about the media,” said Cheruyoit.
Media sector associations have condemned Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria’s onslaught against the National Media Group as disgraceful.
In separate statements issued on Monday after Kuria called journalists “prostitutes”, the Media Owners Association (MOA) , Media Council of Kenya (MCK), Kenya Editors’ Guild (KEG) and Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) termed the minister’s remarks as a threat to free press.
Media Council CEO David Omwoyo defended the media’s watchdog role in holding the government and those in power to account.
“The Council notes that this is the most extreme, since independence that individuals have pushed media and government relations to the brink and lowered the country’s dignity,” he said.
Omwoyo said Kuria’s conduct falls below the constitutional threshold of leadership and integrity for state officers.
He added that there exists an array of platforms through which any party aggrieved with media reportage can lodge their complaint and have the issue at hand addressed.
“Disagreements and misunderstandings are the hallmark of a democracy. While we appreciate the government’s concerns about perceived negative coverage in the media, it is important that the media receives a coherent and consistent narrative from the State to enable a balanced coverage of government initiatives,” he added.
KEG 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,” the guild stated.