Unpacking the ballot tender row and how the media handled it

By David Mwenda

“Kenyatta warns judiciary not to help the opposition.”

That is the headline that screams at you when you visit the BBC website or when you google news about the Judiciary. This headline 24 days to the election is very alarming and brings into question the credibility of the Judiciary and whether it will be able to handle legal disputes and rows in the courts.

The media has brought hype to this ruling and has led to creation of many narratives, making it hard to know who is lying to the other. From the accusations by the president against the Chief Justice and other Jubilee leaders accusing Justice Odunga of being related to James Orengo the level of accusations seems to be growing daily. The narratives arising from this ruling are too many and cast a huge problem on the way the Judiciary handles matters.

The media has not been helpful in making sure they have established they have established the facts that are there. There are a lot of things that need to be established that have not been established in the entire story.

For instance at the center of this debate was Justice Odunga but no one ever tried to look for the facts behind the real facts. For instance what is his role in constitutional cases? Why does he keep on landing the cases and not any other judge in the court? It is evident that he handles a lot of constitutional cases in the Judiciary however the media went ahead to propagate the lies and not confirming his role in the judiciary. You would any media house to have handled the issue in a very fashionable way by making sure they have done their research and making sure they have not handled his image in a bad way.

This issue is also coming up and taking up a lot of air time instead of handling policy matters. The media would have handled this issue in a different way. For instance they would have granted this case little importance but still kept it under wraps. They have hyped this and they done the wrong thing to it.

This has become more and more political rather than being an institutional issue because the media is unwilling to keep this under wraps. Do not get me wrong the media needs to keep us informed in every step of the way. However they would have not given it so much hype and time in the news cycle if they wanted this case to be handled in the right way.

There are a lot of issues in political messaging. Political media strategists have used this case to attack and praise an independent institution. The Judiciary is not in any way responsible to any arm of the government. However they have been forced to look like they have been in bed with the opposition. This being a very dangerous thing to be said only 24 days to the general election and political parties need to scale down their messaging when it comes to political messaging and they need to reduce their fire towards the Judiciary.

There is a lot that needs to be done still in making sure they have done the right thing in the way they have been handling this issue.  Now that the case is in the Court of Appeal, I hope there is a different plan on handling this case in the long run.


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