Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka has accused Jubilee government of planning to cripple the Kenyan media industry by starving them of advertisement revenue ahead of the August elections.
Speaking at Wilson Airport on Monday, Kalonzo said that the circular by Head of Public Service and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s chief of staff Joseph Kinyua calling on all government institutions to desist from publishing adverts on local newspapers is malicious and should be rescinded.
In the communication, Kinyua stated that the move is aimed at cutting costs in the provision of services noting that all advertisements should be directed to a government publication named MY.GOV.
“Each accounting officer shall ensure any request for services by them will be done through MY.GOV publication. Any officer found violating this requirement will be liable to surcharge of the amount spent besides other disciplinary measures,” he stated.
The Standard on Monday reported that Government Advertisement Agency (GAA) had already held meetings with media houses to inform them of the decision while seeking to push the publication as an insert in local newspapers.
While President Uhuru Kenyatta-owned The People newspaper has accepted the offer, The Standard and The Star have reportedly declined the offer.
Kalonzo however sees this new move as a plan to gag the media in the run up to the August elections with the government keen to just use the media as a conveyor belt to pass their propaganda to the public.
“The media should join us in speaking against the ills of the Jubilee government because they too are victims of the government’s incompetence in handling critical issues,” he said.
“Right now every government advert must go to GAA which is a clear way to starve the media of advertisement revenue and control the country’s agenda ahead of August elections.”
GAA will be headed by former President Mwai Kibaki’s spokesman Ngari Gituku, replacing Dennis Chebitwey who has been moved to head MY.GOV.
The media has been a beneficiary of government advertising following a shift in the consumption of news from print to digital. The government currently owes the media Ksh1 billion in unpaid bill dating back 18 months.