On May 17, the Daily Nation and its sister publication the Business Daily dared Safaricom and printed twin stories highlighting findings of a KPMG audit which has revealed massive corruption deals at Safaricom.
Safaricom promptly punished the NMG by withdrawing all media spend to all its outlets!
It is the longest, and the only one of its kind, supervised gagging practice in Kenya. Even the Presidency does not invite such fear in editorial rooms.
But NMG has defied this prohibition and in hard-hitting pieces decided that “the Truth” will always eventually work in its favour by maintaining the credibility of its journalists and publications.
The decision by Safaricom to pull out media spend from NMG compromises the integrity of Safaricom in many ways. It shows that Safaricom is afraid of the “truth” coming out; it is informed by a culture of fear that pervades all aspects of Safaricom and which has been illustrated in the KPMG report itself.
To whimsically pull out advertisements from the leading media house in the country only because the ego of an individual member has been bruised must surely speak to the lack of professional and ethical codes within an organisation. Safaricom is not a private company; and because it is a public company, its affairs invite public scrutiny and to suppress such scrutiny is to breach fundamental rights of millions of Kenyans who are shareholders or customers of Safaricom.
It is an attitude that must be challenged and Nation Media Group must be applauded for standing firm on the side of its readers’ rights to impartial and “truthful” information.
Whatever happened to Vodafone’s commitment to “Empowering Citizens and Businesses by Supporting Whistleblowers, Civil Society and a Free Media” which was the session sponsored by Vodafone at the recent UK Anti-Corruption Summit?
Double standards indeed!