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Standard pulled best story from Ruto’s Jamhuri Day speech

When President William Ruto concluded his 50-minute Jamhuri Day speech at Nairobi’s Uhuru Gardens on December 12, most media seemed to agree on one key takeaway: That the controversial housing levy was here to stay.

All media houses ran this story. The Standard was among those who did it best.

First, sample the next day’s headlines:

  • Star: “I’m determined to implement housing levy no matter what it takes – Ruto”
  • Citizen Digital: “No matter what it takes, we are going to implement the housing levy,” President Ruto tells Kenyans.
  • KBC Channel 1: “We’re going to implement the housing levy no matter what it takes,” President Ruto tells Kenyans.
  • K24: “President Ruto says he is going to implement the housing levy no matter what it takes.”
  • TUKO: “William Ruto insists housing levy must be implemented despite court’s ruling: “No matter what.”
  • Daily Nation: “President Ruto: Housing project is here to stay.”
  • Standard: “President Ruto: I will implement housing levy no matter what.”

 Notice how, except for the Daily Nation, all other media ran “no matter what” in the heading. This quote from the President’s mouth hit home for its forcefulness. Media rightly focused on this emphasis by the President.

It was as if the media wanted the public to read the President’s lips.

“Make no mistake,” he might as well have said, “nothing, nobody is going to stand in my way on this. Not the courts. Not the Opposition. Nothing. No one.”

As we said, The Standard was among those that did justice to the story.

First, the heading of this story by Sharon Wanga made the President own this levy: “I – emphasis on “I” – will implement housing levy…”

Second, the intro wasted no time pointing what was eye-popping:

“President William Ruto has vowed to implement the housing levy despite a High Court judgment that declared it unconstitutional.” Underline “despite”. Did the Head of State just imply that the courts be damned? That he was going to run roughshod with this and ram the controversial law down the public’s throat?

Then, the story provided appropriate background and context.

President Ruto had previously said publicly, “that the affordable housing plan needs to be implemented to catch up with other developing nations.”

However, the story added, three High Court judges had already “found the levy to have violated Article 10, 2 (a) of the Constitution.”

The Standard juxtaposed these two positions against each other. The story didn’t need to shout it. The President was not only commenting about a matter that the courts may not have completely dispensed with, but he was also publicly opposing the courts, wasn’t he?

That would be trampling on the rule of law. The public needed to know.

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