The Star (Nairobi)

24 January 2014

Kenya: Media Fails to Stop Matiang'i MCK List

THE High Court has declined to issue an order stopping the selection and appointment of the chairperson and members of the Media Council of Kenya and the Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal.

Justice Mumbi Ngugi yesterday said there is no danger that necessitates issuing of the orders. She, however, directed that the case be consolidated by another filed by three media firms--the Nation Media Group, Royal Media Services and Standard Group--challenging similar issues.

Certifying the matter as urgent, Mumbi directed that the parties exchange the necessary documents ahead of the hearing date on Tuesday next week.

In the case, the Kenya Editors Guild, Kenya Union of Journalists and Kenya Correspondents Association petitioned the High Court on Wednesday seeking to stop the selection and appointment of the chairperson and members of MCK and the tribunal.

Through lawyer James Orengo, the groups say the Media Council Act 2013 and the Kenya Information and Communications Act 2013 are invalid having been enacted in violation of various articles of the constitution.

They said that if the conservatory order sought is not granted, it will compound the invalidity of the two acts and create illegal and unconstitutional agencies of the state.

KEG, KUJ and KCA say that although the two acts are invalid, ICT Secretary Fred Matiang'i has began the selection and appointment of the chairperson and members of MCK and the tribunal. The three say the provisions of the acts contravene the constitution and the Bill of Rights.

"The public and the national government will incur unnecessary, unlawful and unjustified expenditure in view of the impugned and unconstitutional status and establishment of the Media Council of Kenya and the Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal," their application reads.

KEG vice chairman David Ohito says that Matiang'i on January 13 unlawfully declared vacancies in the positions of chairperson and members of MCK and the tribunal. The Cabinet Secretary advertised the vacancies and invited applications.

Ohito says that on the basis of not prejudging the outcome of the petition, KUJ has submitted to the ICT Secretary a name for the selection panel for the nomination and appointment of the chairperson and members of MCK and another name for the selection panel for the nomination and appointment of the complaints commission as required by the impunged Media Council Act 2013.

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