Kenyan politicians warned on politicising RMS frequency row

Kenya’s National Steering Committee on Media Monitoring has warned politicians against inciting members of the public by politicising the Communications Commission of Kenya’s (CCK’s) disconnection of 17 transmitters owned by Royal Media Services (RMS).

The issue has sparked protest from a number of politicians and prompted Bitange Ndemo, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Information and Communication, to warn politicians from commenting on matters that are pending in court. 

“It wasn’t proper for most of our politicians to make comments on this because the matter is actually in court and to actually tell a blatant lie that we are shutting down this station. It is actually fuelling the citizens to rise up against something that is not there,” he said.

Already major players in Kenyan politics have expressed sentiments over the issue. Following CCK’s crackdown on the illegal transmitters, CORD’s presidential candidate, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, said the switch-off was the start of the election rigging process.

“This is aimed at muzzling those who have opposing views to theirs and a ploy to rig the polls before Election Day,” he said.

Jubilee’s deputy presidential candidate William Ruto, who was the first to speak on the issue, described the shutdown as an assault on freedom of the press by the government.

“We want the Ministry of Information to desist from interfering with any media house because we have freedom of information in our country and Citizen have a right like any other station to broadcast and if they (CCK) have issues they should use the right channels of law,” he said.

The National Steering Committee on Media Monitoringwarns that such remarks have the potential to incite the public.

“We want to appeal to Kenyans not to politicise the shutting down of the illegal frequencies. We also want to urge politicians to desist from incitement and hate speech over the shutting down of the frequencies,” said Mary Ombara, the committee’s secretary and the director of public communications.

The CCK has already received the go-ahead from the High Court to continue the shutdown of RMS’s transmitters.

CCK said it will be prosecuting RMS boss S.K Macharia for installing the transmitters without a license.

“CCK intends to return the transmitters to the court, which issued the warrants for use in criminal action against the owner of the company,” said CCK’s lawyer Wambua Kilonzo.

The case will be heard on February 14, 2013.

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