BWIRE: Insincere leaders require a hostile media


Sugarcane farmers
File image of Sugarcane farmers. PHOTO| COURTESY

By Victor Bwire

It’s time the media decided; in spite of the freedom of expression provided for all Kenyans, those who thrive on giving alternative truths and engage in political deceit should be labelled so, and debunked whenever they misinform the public.

The cost of lies and propaganda being peddled by many, especially those aspiring for political office is so high that undoing it will require huge investments by generations to come. It’s so wrong and immoral on the part of leaders to continuously propagate lies on national issues that have a serious bearing on the lives of Kenyans, while it’s irresponsible for media platforms to give these guys a platform to mislead.

The current trend of lies peddled through the media requires of the media to strengthen their research units and working relations with some veteran journalists to ensure quality control, misinformation fact checking and historization of media content, as we work on ensuring that content is the king.

Content can only be king when it’s professional, factual, interesting and relating to the audience. There are dead topics that media must be able to stop insincere people from spreading, for the mere need of public attention- media platforms must be serious market places of informed ideas and not cheap, old and misleading information. Media must fact check these guys, at all costs.

It’s wrong for example for leaders from Western Kenya, to continue creating a false narrative around the possible revival of Mumias Sugar Company, its relevance to the residents in the region and wanting to make some political mileage from a dead thing.

Facts are available, from research reports, cabinet reports, detailed media reports and Parliamentary reports not just on the company, but the sugar industry in Kenya in general, which already noted that the industry using its current technology and practice is not viable. It cannot compete with the rest of the sugar producing countries globally.

Other sugar factories including Muhoroni, Ramisi, Awendo to name but a few went through a similar fate. In any case, Mumias Sugar is even peculiar; it’s a crime scene, its ownership is shrouded in mystery — it’s not farmers who own the company. Even the few times the government attempted to bail it out, the priority payments never reach the farmers who supplied the cane and are owed millions, but town-based ghost suppliers who are paid first. Why such stories are still given space when it’s known that they are lies surprises me.

Unlike in other regions where farmers have formed strong Saccos and farmers unions, the leaders from the regions have miserably failed to encourage and invest in helping local farmers and traders form strong societies and groups that can collectively market their produce, and enjoy the benefits of government interventions.

The leaders must help residents identify and engage in activities that are helpful and economically productive than currently is the case. The situation of people in the region won’t change from mere political and feeding people on idle talk. The leaders must collectively and individually engage with the Governments, both national and county and other development partners to the region, instead of wasting time on stale issues.

A report by Deloitte East Africa done few years ago entitled Lake Victoria Basin Economic Blueprint noted that the lake basin region, is strategically placed as a gateway to Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region which are potential markets for goods and services produced here. The Lake Basin Region also has access to all developed transportation routes into the COMESA and SADC regions.

In addition, the Lake basin shares natural resources like Lake Victoria, rivers, tourists’ destination sites, environmental and climatic conditions among others.

The agricultural potential is very good and rainfall levels are relatively high and stable while the Lake Victoria Kenya Tourism Circuit (LVKTC) has enormous potential as a tourist destination for service like nature and wildlife; agro-tourism; water sports among other cultural heritage activities.

Another area that requires urgent attention, which will greatly spur investment in the region is developing the infrastructure. Working with national institutions such as KENHA, KURA, KETRACO, LBDA, KAA among others, they must address the issue of fewer paved and tarmacked roads, inconsistent energy and electricity provision, inadequate clean water for drinking and cooking and a dead manufacturing sector.

None of these issues seems to matter to the leaders from that region, and many times they are still focused the Mumias Sugar Company as the rallying point for getting political support. There are vast opportunities in the region including cotton farming, fishing, bamboo farming, cassava factories, cement, fruit extraction, rice farming among others that need attention.

Leaders from this region please pull up your socks and show more grasp of the changing dynamics and needs of the region, more than mere politics of survival. You have already survived for too long with your politics of deceit and blame games and now need to live with the current realities or leave the scene.

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