…By Roland Peterson for TDPel Media.
Moses Kuria, Kenya’s trade minister, is at the center of a firestorm following a series of derogatory remarks he made against a prominent media outlet, including referring to its journalists as “prostitutes.”
The opposition and journalist associations have called for Kuria to be censured, arguing that his behavior renders him unfit for public office.
The controversy erupted when Kuria launched an attack against Nation Media Group (NMG), a major media house in East Africa owned by the Aga Khan.
Threats and Insults Directed at Nation Media Group
During a public event on Sunday, Kuria not only threatened government officials who advertised with NMG with dismissal but also questioned whether the outlet was a media house or an opposition party.
He boldly stated, “Any government department that I see has advertised on Nation Media (platforms), consider yourself fired.”
In a tweet written in Swahili, he referred to the “prostitutes at Aga Khan.”
Additionally, Kuria claimed that NMG journalists had confessed to being coerced by their editors and management to write anti-government stories, allegedly as part of a scheme sponsored by a former president.
NMG’s Response and Condemnation
NMG stated that Kuria’s outburst followed an investigation aired on Sunday by their NTV station, which looked into an alleged import scheme scandal involving a state body within Kuria’s ministry.
The Daily Nation, a publication under NMG, condemned Kuria’s “unprovoked verbal attack,” highlighting that it was not only undignified for a state officer but also an assault on press freedom, a cornerstone of democracy.
Censure Motion and Opposition Protests
Opposition senator Edwin Sifuna filed a censure motion against Kuria, warning that an attack on one media house often leads to attacks on press freedom as a whole.
Members of opposition leader Raila Odinga’s alliance staged a walkout from the Senate chamber in protest against Kuria’s appearance and the speaker’s refusal to allow them to question him.
Kuria, in response to the backlash, told reporters, “I am not apologizing.”
Outrage and Condemnation from Media Associations
Media associations strongly condemned the minister’s comments, expressing anger and disappointment.
Kuria’s remarks came shortly after he took center stage at the signing of a major trade deal with the European Union, further fueling the controversy.
The Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) described Kuria as “becoming a symbol of national shame,” while the Media Council of Kenya, an industry regulator, considered his remarks as a threat to press freedom and tarnishing Kenya’s global image.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission of Kenya also intervened, assuring that no public bodies would face victimization for engaging in lawful dealings with any organization.
Calls for Accountability and Disqualification
The Media Owners Association of Kenya stated that Kuria’s tirade disqualifies him from holding public office.
It is worth noting that Kuria has previously accused the Kenyan media of bias against him.
During the campaign for the August 2022 election, he even threatened to withdraw from a presidential debate, claiming unfair coverage.
Ultimately, Kuria narrowly won the fiercely contested presidential race against Raila Odinga, who continues to protest that the election was stolen from him.
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