Media gag in Kenya.
This year has been a tough one for Kenyans.We started it with the post-election violence,and experienced food crisis with the rest of the world,and inflation being at its peak.
Today should be a happy day in Kenya,as we celebrate our 45th anniversary since independence.But it has not turned out to be so.It is a cloudy day,since we depend on the media,not only for news but also for intervention when situations are hard.Several media personnel and activists have been arrested for trying to urge the president not to sign a bill;one that will have the media gagged.
A message printed out on T-shirts:No Tax For MP's,No Tax For Us,was the "cause" of today's arrests.The Parliamentarians must have been irked by the exposure that the media gives to their deals:like refusing to pay taxes.
Parliament must have passed this bill due to the pressure in the past one month to have their salaries taxed.The legislators earn a good Kenya Shillings 888,250,which sums up to about US$11 800 per month,when most of their employers,Kenyans,have barely sufficient to put a simple meal on the table everyday.These also come with other benefits such as security,luxury cars,and more allowances for sitting in Parliament,all at the expense of the tax payers,and the benefit of tax exemption.
So how will the ordinary Kenyan know most of these things that will not be allowed to be aired? And how can our letters have no more privacy? A clause of the bill allows the Internal Security Minister "to take temporary possession of any telecommunication apparatus or any radio communication station or apparatus within Kenya".
Were it not for the media,we would be living in a dark world filled with rumors.I don't know how we would exist if this final signature allows our freedom of expression to be taken away.Are we taking the backwards direction? Why would somebody allow me to (or not to) talk? Let all of us pay taxes.Members of the August House need not worry,for at the end of the day a big sum will find its way back to their pockets.This is dictatorship.
Leah Auma Okeyo (Expressing my personal concerns as a Kenyan for Kenyans).