Amidst the heated election campaign, is the media doing enough to ensure peace?

By David Mwenda

The campaigns have brought the country a lot of ghosts from the past and they do not seem like they will be going away in a long time.

Statements have been shot from different sides of the political divide. Each side has been trying to make the other side look like the bad guy in the spin stories they have presented. At the center of this is the voter who is more confused about who to vote for and who to trust with their ballot.

However this is not what I wanted to discuss with you today. The issue is that of peace and whether the media has been able to keep the message of peace alive and running.

This is what I wanted to decipher first. As I was watching the Fred Njiri’s show, Face Off you could tell there is a lot that has not been covered by the media. It has even escalated into discussions on peace being in any show you have political debate.

The showdowns are expected to even get more heated with the nearing of a general election. One thing is for sure the media has been doing very little to curb this backlash that might happen if this continues. For instance the EU has sent a report to the people in the nation for election observation and they have reported an outcome of violence in the country. This report has been given very little attention by media houses. There has been very little chatter at what this reports means and what it means for the country.

The role of the police also comes into play in these discussions. They have been accused of being impartial and yet they have not really shown that they are acting as impartially. Up to now there are very scanty details from the police as to how they plan to do their job during this election. It is important for the media to cover the election in every aspect and this includes them giving the police a chance to expound on their role in the election.

In a piece done by Macharia Gaitho in this week’s Daily Nation he gives a glimpse of how the skirmishes do not affect politicians. If anything they take their children outside the country and they leave their followers to kill each other. This is a picture that has been totally been left out by the civil society. Organizations such as KNHCR have been very low key in this election process. The media has failed to give them some spotlight so that they can also spread the message of peace and love.

The media also needs to questions the role of the NCIC. The NCIC needs to be vocal at this time of the election. There is a lot to be done by the NCIC and their role and peace messages also needs to be spread out there so that they do not reduce to saying that they are spreading the message of peace and we are left wondering where because we have not seen this in any way.

Finally the media needs to make sure the country is politically prepared. Professor Karuti Kanyinga talked about the IEBC being unprepared politically during the Nation Leadership Forum.  This can be attributed to poor media strategy by the IEBC and the media’s love for flashy headlines. The media has the power to build a country or break it and they need to make that choice very wisely in this election.


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