A Kenya Media Roundtable held in Nairobi on October 25th highlighted the role of the media in shaping political parties towards the 2012 general elections. It appeared that themedia as a public watchdog has a big role to play in influencing the country’s political system ahead of the next elections.
Guest speaker Paul Muite said the country may risk a repeat of the 2007/08 post election violence if the media fails to hold politicians accountable. The Senior Counsel added that there is an urgent need to break ethnic mobilization so that the next general election is based on issues. Muite noted with concern that it was the same ethnic mobilization that characterized the 2007 elections, that is still being witnessed now.
He further said the ethnicity dimension in Kenyan politics should not be ignored adding that the media had, over time, failed to put politicians on the spot when they contravened the Political Parties Act.
“Kenyans and politicians should not see political parties as vehicles to acquire power but rather the parties should be ideologically driven”, he said. Speaking at the same forum themed “Media and Political Party Culture”, Executive Director of the Institute for Education in Democracy Peter Aling’o said there was need for the media to “develop partnerships with like minded organizations with an aim to eliminate negative political culture and generate good political leadership and integrity”. He cited political impunity, voter buying, incitement, bribery, political accountability, hate speech, corruption and ethnicity as some of the issues that needs to be addressed before next year’s election.
The four-year Health Media Project (HMP) launched in January 2013. It builds on the success of Internews’ Voices in Health media training program (2003-2012).