Kenya

Uhuru Appoints As New Presidential Spokesperson

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doctor geneva; font-size: small;”>Uhuru told journalists during a breakfast meeting on Friday that Manoah has had a distinguished career as a journalist and diplomat, starting off his media career with the Standard Group, where he reported briefly before joining the global news and information group Reuters.

“It is at Reuters that his stock rose, being recognized as one of the leading financial journalists in Africa, as well as a newsroom mentor and coach,” said Uhuru.

“His work resulted in his being tapped by the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, where he was Spokesperson and Deputy Director of Communication and Public Affairs.”

Uhuru took the opportunity to encourage journalists to support government programmes and refrain from publishing falsehoods.

The breakfast meeting was attended by the Deputy President, William Ruto Cabinet Secretaries, Members of the Editors Guild and The Media Owners Association officials.

Below is Uhuru’s speech in verbatim

Fellow Kenyans who are following our proceedings via various media, Let me begin by welcoming you all to State House Nairobi.

I thank the Editors Guild, its chairman Macharia Gaitho, and other players in the media industry for accepting our invitation to this breakfast that I, envision as an annual event.

This breakfast is part of my government’s outreach to various stakeholders in our economic, political and social scene.

It provides an opportunity and avenue to share the progress we are making as a country and our views on the way forward. Today’s gathering should be a candid forum through which we identify what issues the Government have regarding media, and you raise what concerns you have on Government in relation to your work.

We would have wanted to meet with you earlier but as you are aware the formation of the full government took rather long due to constitutional timelines. I am therefore happy that members of the cabinet have also joined us for this breakfast.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The essential role of the media is advancing the cause of good governance. It is based on the principles of democracy and the independent sharing of responsibilities between the three arms of government the Judiciary, the Executive and the Legislature as enshrined in our constitution.

The media, the Fourth Estate, is an essential collaborating element in the evolution of modern standards of governance. Technical advances and the presence of the internet provide the media with unprecedented advantages to further the interests of humankind in modern societies, and certainly reach even the furthest points in our country.

A free media is at the heart of true democracy. I am happy that in Kenya, we don’t even have a debate about free media any more. That for me is given. Our commitment is to better ensure how the media can more effectively support our democracy by promoting prudent governance.

In an ideal world, the media should provide a realm for debate and a lubricant to the effective functioning of democratic processes.

The Media should be the voice of the people accommodating all voices ensuring that the more dominant voices in our systems do not crowd out the lesser ensuring that marginal voices and ideas are also heard.

The success of our democracy lies in treating information as a public good to which all citizens have equal rights. Such information could be market prices of farm produce, national economic data or even the latest government policy on particular issues of interest.

We are not interested in government control and propaganda. That would be a disservice to the role of the media in nation building. What we want is openness and transparency that offers benefits to Kenyans.

The relationship between Government and media need not be adversarial. There should be, and there will be, channels of communication through which media can easily get information from Government. Government, too, will provide information on what it is doing, and respond to matters that the media are interested in.

Falsehoods

We can, and we will, disagree, but we cannot afford not to work together in mutual respect. For example, the Government sometimes finds the media pursuing an agenda that is not in the public interest and elevating falsehoods and wrong perceptions to national debate.

This is a matter that you must search your conscience over. Ladies and Gentlemen, What I ask of you today is a partnership for Kenya. We may serve in different arms of government and society but we all share a common goal to make Kenya a better home for all of us.

I ask this of you because our country today faces challenges that need our joint efforts. When I was born just over 50 years ago, our country had a population of 8 million people. Today we have crossed the 40 million mark.

By extension demands on our factors of production have been far outstripped by supply. In that challenge are the great opportunities for our people. Where our land mass has remained static, our country boasts of one of the widest fibre optic cable connection on the African continent.

We have one of the largest pools of an educated labour force that has proven to be world class innovators. We have a beautiful country that many would like to visit. We are admired around the world for our sports prowess. In the last quarter of this year we have attracted close to one billion dollars in new investments despite the challenges that we have faced.

Indeed there is a beautiful Kenyan narrative that needs to be told. As a government we will try as much as possible to do our bit, but we need you as partners. These should be characterised by the right mindsets the right ideas and delivered at the right time.

As the media, you play a key role in the gathering and processing of information. You occupy a special place through which you can guide public debate for the benefit, not just for the media or Government, but the whole country and all citizens. I, therefore, urge you to refocus the debate to issues that move our country forward so that it is not stuck in matters that are not useful to national affairs.

Resources

Help us lead our people better, devolve resources and services better, make the education of our children better, provide better healthcare to our people and make agriculture a better enterprise, among other issues. This is possible because we are empowering our counties despite the many reports to the contrary.

I am sure you are aware that the government has devolved 34 percent of our tax revenue as per the taxes collected in the last financial year. The constitution requires us to devolve just 15 percent of the funds but we saw it prudent to properly anchor the county governments.

Next week, you as media will seek to take an audit of what the Jubilee Coalition Government has achieved in the last one hundred days. I do not seek to pass judgment on ourselves.

Let me, however, assure you that the journey of fulfilling the promises we made has begun in earnest and we are focused on delivering value to the Kenyan people. We are laying the foundation for transforming our nation. We are on track to delivering on our promises and faithfully implementing the constitution that the people of Kenya passed three years ago.

Food security, water provision, enhanced security, infrastructural connectivity and employment creation are all possible. We shall also take provision of energy and power to the people to unprecedented levels. We have embarked on a mission to connect all our primary schools to the national grid in a 15 billion shilling project. This will enable a success of the 17 billion shilling laptop project.

Also benefitting from these interventions are the computer laboratories that we are going to have in all our schools for use by all students. Power in our primary schools also benefits local communities who are empowered to grow their small scale businesses as we light up millions of homes around the country.

As part of our promise we have set aside funds to employ 10,000 teachers. The process of promoting teachers who have stagnated for years will be fast-tracked while a medical cover scheme under the NHIF is being introduced.

The welfare of our teachers will also be improved in line with our economic realities while still maintaining a public wage bill that is sustainable now and in the coming years. Ladies and Gentlemen, As we plan for the future I am also appealing to the media to partner with us in communicating to Kenyans that we must also do the small things in a big way.

We must help inculcate a culture of good mannerisms among our people. We can use our various media to propagate good road manners, social etiquette, campaign against alcohol and drug abuse and teach our people to think as Kenyans brought together by God in this great country Kenya. You can also say no to the dissemination of negative vices on our media. Let us say no to vulgar talk on our radio stations and lucid scenes on our TV stations.

Let us say no to hate speech that has often found its way via social media. This is a partnership not for media or government but for the country.

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