Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Open letter to the Nation and the Standard

Dear Managing Directors of the Nation and the Standard,

As one amongst millions of Kenyans that support your business, I am rather disappointed in you. Actually, I am disgusted. I know that in the past you have often submitted to eating a piece of the stolen pie but I was under the impression that it was all over after you realised that those strange feelings of guilt and sleepless nights caused by your willingness to give money precedence of morality were just not worth it. Correct me if I am wrong but the real wake up call came when your so-called friends decided to put you in your place and legitimize their right to raid your offices and put a whole in your business - yes, yes, that bit of paper called the ICT Bill.
Do you remember how angered you were by it? But do you also remember who stood by you? Allow me to jolt your memory:

I would like to draw your attention to the tshirts those very brave chaps are wearing. I am sure you will recall where they came from and what it was all about but in case you don't, they are part of a campaign launched by a handful of very tired Kenyans. Tired of our money being stolen by politicians, tired of waiting for justice, tired of watching criminals walk scot free, tired of Kenyans facing starvation, tired of poverty, corruption, judicial incompetence, violence...the list is endless.

You will recall that it so turned out that the government decided to put a sock in your mouth around the same time that Kenyans were being arrested for wearing those tshirts and we all took to the streets in solidarity. We were all tired together and we all wore those silly tshirts and shouted, "Freedom" together. Remember scenes like these:

Forgive the long winded narrative but I have learnt that our memories are notoriously short. I will need to jolt your mind and take you back a little bit further. You might recall that in the Sunday Nation Publication Date: 2007/05/27, you published an article entitled, "Vexing Matter of Promissory Notes" in which you stated the following:

"The Sunday Nation would like to place on the public record its strong objection to the conduct of the Treasury regarding the promissory notes corruptly issued to suspect security contractors. The statements made by Treasury officials thus far show that it is either trying to play Kenyans for fools or is unsure about what it is doing, or probably both...."

That was a long long time ago and far too complicated for me but from what I understand, the government stole lots of our money (they called in Anglo-leasing), got caught with lots of dollar bills stuffed in their underwear and now they are refusing to give it back. Fortunately, there a few people in this country who have much better memories than me and you so have been causing Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta and his cronies a bit of a headache which I am sure you are very pleased about but then instead of getting your black t-shirt out and taking to the streets like the good protectors of freedom of speech and freedom from impunity, you went and did this:

Click on image to read full press release
Click HERE to read something with substance

Did you actually read what you printed? How much did they pay you to print this garbage? Did you ask us if we thought this was a good use of our tax? Did you ask your wife and kids what they thought? Or is this your idea of a clever little way to get some of your tax back from the thieves. Come on man!

I know, I know, what you will say. "We are the media and everyone has a right to say what they want to say. Even criminals have a right to defend themselves." Sorry, but when you throw things like morals and values and ethics (all those things our mother's taught us and we conveniently forgot), this argument does not hold any ground. The least those bureaucrats could have done if they felt they had to respond is to use our hard earned money to print something with substance. Read it and read again. And it has appeared at least three times in your papers. I know for a fact that has cost us several hundred thousand shillings!

Shame on you Mr. Managing Directors of our newspapers. Shame on you! You gave us the impression that you will no longer accept to be paid legitmately or through kick-backs to front criminals. And what have you done? If we can't trust the government, and we can't trust our parliamentarians and we can't trust the media, who then shall we trust? You tell me.


coldtusker said...

Sukuma: I disagree. They have to publish the info from the other side. Otherwise, how do we know the press is right?

I have my gripes with the Kenyan business press/reporting. Sometimes, their other stories as well.

Without a counter the new demagogue would be the press.

Personally, I think the GoK is the bigger demagogue but 2 wrongs do not make a right!

Sukuma Kenya said...

coldtusker: if the government has something to say, then they should use the government printing press and not waste Kenyan tax payers money. The adverts appeared three days in a row. This is not a good use of our money especially when they are using it to hide and deny the millions they stole.

propaganda said...

Admit it, Sukuma K. You activist types don't believe the State should reply to any criticism. (I believe it should, so we can tell whether there is any merit to the allegations made).

When the Government did use the Government Press -- Dr Mutua printed leaflets on the Communications Act, remember -- the exact same arguments of "wasting public money" were bandied around.

Mars Group is doing well to remind us the payment dates for promissory notes are coming up. They would be doing better if they proved the notes were being paid secretly. Until then, it is in order for Kinyua to reassure us no payments are being made.

propaganda said...

PS: Each ministry -- and the Dept of Public Comms -- has a budget for public communication. This is tiny in relation to overall expenditure and much less (proportionally) than most private sector corporates. As long as they don't spend more than the allotted fraction, this "waste of money" argument is moot.

dopsco said...


Read the Public Accounts Committee and the Controller and Auditor General's Report on these promissory notes. Then decide for yourself whether the PS is addressing the issues raised by Mars Group. They have done their bit.

It's about exposure not Kinyua's belief or conviction about what he (or his successor) will be able to do the day the ghosts (or their successors) come calling with a sheaf of Kenya's sovereign debt worth millions of Euros in their hands.

Obviously, the proof of the pudding is in the eating of it, but notwithstanding Kinyua's "reassurances" I would prefer to see a more proactive position taken by the PS than "let's wait and see."

By the way what is the fiduciary duty of a Permanent Secretary to the Treasury?

As to what is is wrong with buying space, it seems an expensive way to do things especially since if he wanted he could for free have the entire local and international press corp in his boardroom at a moment's notice to hear him repeat his caveat emptor. Or is he scared of a Q&A session?

Methinks the paid ad doesn't serve to protect Kenya's interests in this matter. This retiree PS should go!

Sukuma Kenya said...

Thanks for clear response dobsco...

dopsco said...

you are welcome - Keep up the Good Job!