With just about 80 days left to Kenya’s general elections, political aspirants are gearing up for a showdown in different counties as the May 28 date for starting campaigns draws closer.
Among the biggest reapers during electioneering season is the media, who are notorious for spreading propaganda through sensational stories published by unprofessional journalists and gutter press publications, as desperate politicians seek to be seen, heard and understood.
Aspirants are faced with the gruesome task of having to deal with propaganda and fake news being spread around, most of them picked up by the same media and printed or broadcasted as news, fed to the public.
One such journalist is David Odongo, who is known for his brown envelope journalism, where he threatens his victims with going public with dirty propaganda information, and if they don’t pay him, he goes ahead and publishes the story.
His latest victim is Uasin Gishu gubernatorial aspirant, Zedekiah Kiprop Bundotich, commonly known as Buzeki, whose entry into the race and the political arena continues to draw heightened attention both from the media and political circles, especially those allied to the incumbent, Jackson Mandago’s camp.
A man allied to Kapseret MP, Oscar Sudi, who goes by the name Edwin Misoi, recently bragged to the press on phone that he was tasked with making sure Buzeki’s name is tarnished and reputation completely destroyed.
Sudi and Misoi invited Odongo to an outing where the MP was thronged by a bevy of women including a Sheila Rotich of Tena Joy company, formerly a girlfriend to Meshack, the chief procurement officer Nandi county. It was here that the two reached a deal with the writer.
Misoi handed Odongo a brown envelope holding KSh 200,000, and a list of propaganda items he demanded be published, following orders from his ‘boss’ Sudi, promising to add him more after the story comes out.
Misoi then went ahead to publish the highlights of the upcoming propaganda on social media as if to prepare the public to read about the propaganda he cooked up, in a bid to sway their votes in favor of Mandago.
The conversation and information about the upcoming story was leaked by an informant who said the journalist asked him for money not to publish the story, but since he declined to pay the bribe, Odongo said he would not relent.
Politicians are bracing themselves for such occurrences especially from their main opponents, and journalists like Odongo are more than ready to sacrifice the honor and integrity of their job to make a quick buck.
The issue has since been raised with the Media Council of Kenya, who have promised to investigate the matter and reprimand the journalist involved.