September 19th 2017

Media / Watchdog

Moha fights on as veteran scribes floored in primaries, reflecting voters' low trust in media

Moha appealed the result within the ODM Dispute and Appeals Tribunal and has won a ruling that overturned the win by Abdallah and called for an amicable understanding on how the party can arrive at a candidate for the Nyali seat.

By Julliet Mwihakijmwihaki@kenyafreepress.comWednesday, 26 Apr 2017 16:09 EAT

Journalists protests for press freedom in a past march.

A number of journalists who sought the nomination on the major political parties for the upcoming general elections won handsomely but many more lost despite having hogged media coverage compared to their opponents, reflecting the low trust Kenyans have in the media institution.

Radio journalist Ben Oluoch Okello got nomination for the Migori senatorial race, running on the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) ticket. The party announced that Mr Okello, who has broadcasted in the Luo language for over 20 years, beat four other aspirants though the number of votes won by each candidate was not yet published.

In Kitui, former Standard Newspapers editor Enoch Wambua was on the verge of winning the Wiper Party ticket for the senatorial seat against his opponent Paul Mutisya in a contest marred by voter apathy.

Another journalist, Peninah Gathoni Muchomba of Kameme radio station, who was running for Jubilee Party ticket for Kiambu women representative, won decisively. Gathoni's platform gave priority to work on the plight of the poor whom she said were abandoned by political leaders as soon as the get into office. She is widely being supported by the Thika MP Alice Ng’ang’a.

Other journalists were not quite lucky. Emmanuel Talam, a former KTN reporter who was until the election serving as director of communication in the office of the deputy president William Ruto, was floored by incumbent Alfred Keter in the race for Jubilee's ticket in Nandi Hill constituency. Talam infused massive resources into the campaign and his loss against the Jubilee Party rebel came as a shock to many journalists.

Several newspaper reporters from Nyanza region also lost their bids for parliamentary seats. David Ohito, a former Standard Newspapers digital editor, lost narrowly for the Ugenya parliamentary seat, as did Isaac Ongiri, a reporter with the Nation Media Group.

Both lost to businessmen with little exposure to the country's governance at the national level. Other losers included Anderson Ojwang in Karachuonyo and Bernard Omondi in Uriri, respectively in Homa Bay and Migori counties.

In the Coast, former KTN investigative journalist Mohamed Ali, popularly known as 'Jicho Pevu', lost narrowly in a controversial nomination for the ODM ticket in Nyali to Said Abdallah, a cousin to Mombasa governor Ali Hassan Joho. Moha appealed the result within the ODM Dispute and Appeals Tribunal and has won a ruling that overturned the win by Abdallah and called for an amicable resolution on how the party can arrive at a candidate for the Nyali seat.

Moha's appeal provided evidence about vote rigging that the Tribunal upheld. For example, while he is a life member of ODM, his own name was not in the voters' register. He also alleged that some voters had been allowed to cast ballots twice in some polling stations and that Joho’s family had bribed voters.

Two other journalists have won automatic nomination for the August general elections. Boniface Mwangi, an activist, who launched the Ukweli party, is using its ticket to contest the Starehe parliamentary seat. David Makali of Labour party also has his party's nomination for the Bungoma senate seat.

The media for long was the most trusted institution in Kenya, with journalists revered for their contribution to democratisation. This record changed after the passage of the new constitution and reforms in the judiciary under former chief justice Willy Mutunga, when the Supreme Court kicked the media from its top perch.

Today, following the unravelling of judicial reforms, Kenyans have considerably lost faith in all national institutions and the media is struggling to recover its former reputation.

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