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If leaders are wrong, media has duty to educate the public

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua ordered Mt Kenya governors to license only one bar per town, the Daily Nation reported January 26. But can he do that?

In a story titled, “DP Gachagua orders crackdown to enforce one bar per town in Mt Kenya”, Nation reporter James Murimi made a huge mistake by leaving readers with the wrong impression that the DP can unilaterally make policy changes that run roughshod over county government mandates – with roadside declarations.

All entertainment joints must only operate from 5pm to 11pm, Gachagua reportedly ordered at a stadium in Murang’a.

And county governments “must reduce and revoke licences issued to bars and restaurants,” the DP reportedly said.

Why? Because bars are the devil. They are stealing our youth’s future.

And the DP was not done. The story said that he directed “all national government administration officers (NGAOs) and the police to begin a crackdown on entertainment joints that have been operating on a 24-hour basis.”

Well, there is just one wrinkle. It is 2023. Kenya is not in the Daniel arap Moi era. During the 24 years of Moi’s Kanu reign, the word of a sub-location chief or district officer was law.

The Nation missed a chance to educate the public that Kenya’s Constitution changed, and Gachagua may have missed the memo.

Today, not even the President can make policy changes by the roadside. He can propose and set in motion a legislative or administrative process – whichever is appropriate and lawful — to change things he doesn’t like.

The President can’t order a governor to change a law. Neither can his deputy. Go check the Constitution.

Wait, did this story’s reporter know that Kenya’s laws changed? Did the reporter care to check? Why didn’t subeditors or any other gatekeeper bother to qualify the story?

Boy, did they miss an opportunity to educate the public on intergovernmental process!

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