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More taxes proposed in Finance Bill anger Kenyans on social media

Introduction

During the monitoring period from May 11 – 17, 2024, the trend analysis explored different current issues on Facebook and TikTok. The topics include the Finance Bill 2024, CS Mithika Linturi, the murder of Faith Musembi, Internet down, and journalist Kimani Mbugua’s mental health issues.

Finance Bill

On May 9, the Finance Bill was published. For the entire week, social and mainstream media engaged in discussions on its proposals. The bill was received with mixed reactions from the public and leaders of Azimio coalition vowed to protest if passed by Parliament. Facebook and TikTok users raised concerns over the proposed 16 per cent VAT on bread, which would translate to an increase of 10 shillings per 400gm loaf. Other sections of the bill that elicited debate was the introduction of a motor vehicle circulation tax.

Facebook and Tiktok users called on legislators to be considerate of struggling Kenyans and cushion them from further taxation. On Facebook, Finance Bill saw over 61,000 Kenyans talking about it and the topic trended for more than five days.

Impact on media

The story was initially highlighted by the mainstream media and picked up by social media. This led to traction of the story both online and on mainstream media. The increased visibility underscores the role of media in informing the public and breaking heavy financial terms into simpler information for understanding.

Media houses have the opportunity to conduct interviews, invite experts to the studio during talk shows to expound on the bill and its implication to Kenyans and the economy. The media could provide vital information to the public for ease of engagement and public participation. The media too has an opportunity to hold leaders to account on the Finance Bill.

Faith Musembi murder

The news broke of the murder of Faith Musembi, a 19-year-old student at Mount Kenya University who was found killed in her house in Pilot Estate in Thika. Her father visited her house after the family received chilling messages from the daughter’s WhatsApp demanding for a ransom. He found the lifeless body of the expectant daughter in a pool of blood. The news triggered heated debates across mainstream and social media platforms with majority of users blaming the DCI for failing to respond with speed even after the family reported the incident. David Kioko, the 25-year-old boyfriend of the student was arrested.

Across social media, #FaithMusembi murder gained lots of visibility with over 1,200 engagements.

Impact on media

Mainstream and digital platforms condemned the murder and called for speedy investigations to ensure the family gets justice. The incident elicited conversations on how university students have recently been targets of violence. Many called on students to be vigilant. The coverage of the incident might lead to increased discussion on the the safety of learners in institutions of higher learning.

Internet downtime

On Sunday, May 12, 2024, Kenya experienced internet outage following a deep-sea fibre cut. The disruption was attributed to a cut in the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy) and the Seacom cables that affected several East African countries like Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda. The director general of the Communications Authority of Kenya David Mugonyi stated that the deep-sea fibre cut occurred on the Mtunzini Teleport Station, resulting to slow internet speeds across East Africa. The incidence was widely discussed on social media platforms.

 

Impact on media

The world is going digital. Therefore, the internet outage led to critical services being hampered and online users expressed their concerns. With speculations being rife on social media, the media could use the opportunity to educate the public on what the outage means and its impact on service delivery.

Linturi, corruption, fake fertilisers

On Monday May 13, 2024 seven members of the select committee investigating allegations against Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi cleared him of any wrong doing. The committee report tabled before Parliament stated that there was no evidence of allegations made against the CS. The report led to criticism from several leaders led by Azimio coalition leaders who claimed that some committee members were bribed to favour the CS. The fake fertiliser story has been a topic of discussion for a while and Kenyans expected that the embattled CS would be held to account. Reactions online pointed to the fact that many Kenyans were disappointed by the committee’s report.

Impact on media

The action of the parliamentary committee that absolved CS Linturi led to wider coverage on both mainstream and social media spaces. The coverage shaped public opinion and influenced public discourses. The issue trended on TikTok for more than three days, with different perspectives being highlighted. The media could take up and investigate the claims of the committee being corrupt. Claims of MPs being paid to clear individuals accused of corruption have been reported before in parliament. A deeper and objective coverage would help dispel the rumors.

#Kimani Mbugua

Former Citizen TV reporter Kimani Mbugua made headlines across social media platforms after a video of him looking mentally disturbed emerged. In the video, Kimani is visibly angry, delusional and bitter at some individuals.

Kenyans on Facebook were shocked to see him in that state and called for intervention. However, a section of users claimed that he was using his bipolar condition to gain sympathy and create content. TV host and Comedian Oga Obinna (Steve Thompson Maghana) hosted Kimani’s father for an in-depth interview on his son’s condition.

Mbugua worked as a broadcast journalist for Royal Media Services until 2020 when his life took a turn for the worse. His father said the son became ill after partying with his friends who allegedly laced his drink with hard drugs. On Facebook, Kimani Mbugua news attracted conversation among 1,200 individuals.

Impact on media

Due to the media coverage of Kimani Mbugua’s, media outlets experienced increased website traffic, social media interactions, and overall reader interest. Media houses could use the opportunity to interview experts on addressing mental health issues among journalists.

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