13 December 2012

Kenya: Kibaki Outstanding On Press Freedom

Photo: Xinhua
Kenyans keen on President Mwai Kibaki's achievements.


YESTERDAY was President Kibaki's last Jamhuri Day address to the nation. He has been in power for ten years and we are now starting to consider him in retrospect.

He has done many very positive things. He pushed the government to invest heavily in infrastructure, a decision that will pay dividends as Kenya remains the regional centre of eastern Africa.

He did well on the economy, particularly in his first term when the economy was growing rapidly and KRA collections shot up. He introduced free primary education.

Perhaps he should have exercised more leadership to prevent Kenya's drift into ethnic polarisation over the last five years. He could have been more whole-hearted in his support for an end to the imperial presidency.

But one area where he has been outstanding, and the media should recognise this, was in encouraging freedom of expression.

He has not wanted to be first on the TV news. He has not blocked stories from publication. He has allowed scandals to erupt and wrongdoing to be exposed.

Often this reflected badly on his government but Kibaki allowed debate and investigation to continue. Kenya will be lucky if its next president is so tolerant of the media.

Quote of the day: "Experience is a good school. But the fees are high." - German poet Heinrich Heine was born on December 13, 1797

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