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Media has done stellar job reporting Ruto, one year in

When President William Ruto took over the reins of power on September 13 last year, he affirmed his long list of promises that were well articulated in his bottom-up manifesto. Ruto promised to chart a new path in revamping a limping economy and reset the overall governance of the country. More importantly, he pledged to implement his manifesto to the letter.

Kenya Kwanza’s bottom-up ideology essentially attempts to rethink economic relations by giving priority to the needs of the ordinary person. It brings into sharp focus the unspoken class tension in the country that has created a vast group of haves on one side and have-nots on the other, a possible recipe for chaos.

It’s therefore refreshing to see the media bring these significant conversations closer to their audiences by offering nuanced analyses and reflections that critically interrogate the President’s one year in power.

Holding the powerful to account is the heartbeat of great journalism. A typical politician is a pathological liar with a unique ability to spin believable narratives for their gullible supporters. In the absence of a vigilant media that takes no prisoners, politicians can virtually run down a country with their tall tales. Trade CS Moses Kuria’s obnoxious outbursts on Citizen TV’s the Big Conversation show (Wednesday, September 13) when he was reminded that cooking oil prices had not significantly dropped as he claimed, is a perfect example.

Citizen deserves highest commendation for allocating hours of news time to reflect on Ruto’s one-year presidency. The reflections and analyses that started on September 12 began with delightful highlights. Interviews with political players – from the government and opposition sides – were followed by expansive political coverage that reminded viewers of the key promises made by the Kenya Kwanza administration. Its explainer segment brought into sharp relief the hits and misses.

The coverage did not stop at that. The role of Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua was also cogently analysed, with his often, off-the-cuff remarks (such as government is a ‘shareholding company’) being used to dramatise the shortcomings of the Ruto regime. To strike editorial balance, the TV station also included the voices of political activists, such as Nerima Wako and Salesia Thuranira, whose critical perspectives added colour to the discourse.

While Citizen TVs story angles leaned more on campaign promises and the overall governance structure of Kenya Kwanza (this was witnessed as well in The Stars coverage of the same), the Daily Nation chose a different angle.

The paper focused on the intrigues and drama that characterised the announcement of the presidential results on the tense evening of August 15 last year. Choosing IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati as its protagonist and the Bomas of Kenya as the setting, with a supporting cast of Ruto and Azimio’s then-presidential candidate Raila Odinga, the stories vividly highlighted the limits of a presidential system. The coverage also demonstrated that winner-takes-all politics always inevitably divides the nation along ethnic lines, disrupts economic activities, and literally brings the country to a standstill.

The Daily Nation’s fresh re-examination of the 2022 polls also succinctly stressed the integral role institutions like the electoral commission and courts play in mediating political conflicts that often threaten the fabric of the nation-state. The fundamental questions of poll integrity, strong political party systems, the benefits, and limits of technology in election infrastructure and political violence were once again brought to the fore.

A quick comparison of Citizen TV and the Daily Nations coverage (because the two media houses devoted more airtime and space to analysis of Ruto’s one-year presidency) converges at one point: Democracy as a political project is an ongoing experiment.

This reality often requires the input of various stakeholders, including political actors, the church, civil society, and the Press. The latter plays an invaluable role in informing and educating its audiences on the responsibilities of institutions and the people in charge of them. The media also reminds citizens of their power to bring about the change that they deserve by electing leaders of high integrity.

One year into Ruto’s presidency, the media has proven they are up to the task of holding the power elite to account. They must not relent.



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