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Backlog at Nyayo House cleared, get your passport in 21 days

Introduction

This comprehensive analysis looks at the trending topics on social media and mainstream media from April 22 to 26, 2024. Topics sampled include the Law Society of Kenya’s ultimatum against Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi, creation of Mazingira Day, the war on corruption, floods, and grassroots activism under the hashtag #Lazimaiwork.

Linturi and fertiliser scandal

The Law Society of Kenya made waves on X by demanding that Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi compensates farmers affected by the fake fertiliser scandal. LSK issued a seven-day ultimatum to the ministry to establish a task force to probe the scandal that ignited demands for Linturi’s resignation President William Ruto was urged tto showcase his anti-corruption stance by swiftly punishing those implicated.


Impact on media

Media outlets have given significant coverage to the fake fertiliser scandal, especially following calls for action from political figures. The coverage could lead to heightened public interest and engagement with the issue, as citizens become more aware of the implications of corruption in the agricultural sector. The media’s sustained reporting on the demands of LSK and other stakeholders could exert pressure on the government to respond effectively to the scandal. This may compel the authorities to take concrete actions to address the situation as they seek to maintain public trust and credibility.

Passport backlog ends

Reports on social media indicated that the Ministry of Interior has addressed the longstanding backlog in passport processing, which reached 774,000 applications as of March 11, 2024. The achievement was made possible through the purchase of two new passport printing machines, bringing the total to four. The ministry announced that starting May 1, 2024, the processing time for passports will be reduced to 21 days, decreasing to just seven days from August 1, 2024, and ultimately to three days starting September 1, 2024. Spearheaded by Interior CS Kithure Kindiki, this initiative aims to streamline the passport acquisition process.


Impact on media

The successful resolution of the backlog and the implementation of faster processing reflect positively on the government. Media coverage may analyse the strategies employed by the Ministry of Interior, interview government officials, and provide commentary on the broader implications for governance and public administration. The announcement of reduced processing times for passports, particularly the significant decrease to just 3 days from September 1, 2024, is likely to generate increased public interest and demand for information. Media platforms may experience higher engagement levels as individuals seek to learn more about the streamlined passport acquisition process.

Yatani arrested for corruption

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission apprehended former Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani and Marsabit Governor Mohamud Mohamed Ali over the purported misappropriation of Sh8 billion in county funds, implicating 21 current and former governors and four former Cabinet Secretaries.


Impact on media

The arrests will likely spur investigative reporting into the deeper roots of corruption within government, the role of political influence, and the mechanisms through which public funds are misappropriated. Journalists may delve into the connections between politicians, bureaucrats, and business interests implicated in corrupt practices to provide the public with a comprehensive understanding of the issue. The media will be expected to give factual information and provide context.

#Floods

The country is experiencing heavy rains resulting in flooding. On Facebook, Kenyans shared alarming images depicting the devastation caused by the raging waters, with properties, homes, and vehicles submerged. Many voiced frustrations, blaming the government for delayed rescue operations and neglecting to maintain drainage systems. The floods in Syokimau and other parts of the city garnered significant attention, with over 5,500 individuals discussing the issue, while the broader topic captured the interest of 206,000.

Impact on Media

The media’s coverage of natural disasters, such as flooding, plays a vital role in informing the public about the inherent dangers and necessary precautions. Through comprehensive reporting, news outlets can effectively educate citizens about the risks associated with floods, including property damage, displacement, and health hazards, enabling communities to remain vigilant and better prepared.

The trending of flood-related topics on social media, along with criticism of government actions, would exert significant pressure on the authorities to address the situation promptly and effectively. Media coverage amplifies public sentiment, potentially leading to increased accountability and transparency in government actions.

#Lazimaiwork

Transport on Thika Superhighway was disrupted by floods. Videos emerged on social media depicting a backhoe loader scooping water and redistributing it onto an already affected road, rather than directing it towards drainage tunnels. The videos were accompanied by the hashtag #Lazimaiwork (“It must work”), sparking a flurry of commentary from Facebook users who expressed their disbelief at the counterproductive exercise. However, amid the criticism, some Facebook users began to endorse the hashtag as the Nairobi City county government swiftly responded to clear blocked roads caused by a fallen tree on Moi Avenue. At the same time, images of Kenyans navigating flooded streets in boats went viral.

The hashtag #lazimaiwork garnered over 4,100 posts on Facebook, reflecting a mix of frustration, scepticism, and demands for accountability.


Impact on media

The widespread circulation of videos and images depicting the challenges faced by commuters and the alleged mismanagement by local authorities has the potential to have the traditional media outlets cover the story comprehensively. By providing more in-depth coverage of the situation the media exposed the government’s lack of adequate preparedness for disasters. The hashtag gained prominence, potentially influencing public opinion and policy decisions.

Return of Bomas saga

Unforgettable memories of the August 2022 general election at Bomas of Kenya resurfaced during the memorial service and burial of Kenya’s Chief of Defence Forces General Francis Ogolla. Videos of leaders went viral on TikTok. During the memorial service at Ulinzi Sports Complex in Lang’ata, Nairobi, on April 20, 2024, Opposition leader Raila Odinga said that Ogolla did not go to Bomas to attempt to overturn President William Ruto’s victory as alleged by the President. During the burial on April 21, Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale recounted phone conversations with the late general, suggesting Ogolla went to Bomas under instructions, not willingly. Siaya Governor James Orengo also refuted allegations against Ogolla. During a full media interview on May 14, 2023, the Head of State accused the general of seeking to overturn his victory.


Impact on media

The conflicting narratives and speculations about General Ogolla’s death, his actions and integrity could impact the perceived credibility of key institutions like the military and the government. Media coverage of such delicate stories must be based on facts. Professional and balanced coverage of the issue will play a crucial role in shaping public perceptions and trust in these institutions.

The accusations and counter-accusations made by various leaders may prompt media outlets to conduct further investigative journalism into the events surrounding the 2022 general election and General Ogolla’s purported role.

Final salute for CDF Ogolla

The late Chief of Defence Forces Francis Ogolla was laid to rest in his hometown of Ng’iya, Siaya County. Mourners praised the exemplary leadership, profound humility, and unwavering bravery demonstrated by the late general throughout his life. His son, Joel Rabuku, underscored the close working relationship between his father and President William Ruto. Rabuku appealed for sensitivity, particularly from bloggers, recognising the delicate nature of the occasion. Azimio Coalition called for a comprehensive investigation into the plane crash that killed the general. President Ruto promised to make the findings of a military probe public.


Impact on media

Media outlets throughout the mourning period engaged in discussions and analysis surrounding the implications of the general’s relationship with political figures. Azimio’s call for an investigation into the general’s death could lead to political analysis and speculation. The media must exercise objectivity, independence, balance, and duty of care.

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