Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) has threatened to sue the government if it does not rescind its decision to stop advertisements in commercial media.
Cofek Secretary General Stephen Mutoro in a press statement sent to the media Wednesday accused the government of making the decision without involving the public.
“There has been no sufficient public consultation on this matter of great public interest considering the role of the media. The Ministry of ICT is terribly wrong to seem to wish away the mandatory public participation on the said mater,” he stated.
Mr Mutoro said denying media houses government advertisements is a threat to the economy, democracy and the Constitution.
“Loss of jobs is unavoidable. Media houses shall run the risk of potentially compromising their editorial content at best and shut down at the worst,” he said.
He said it is the quality, believability and trust of editorial content which drives Kenyan consumers to the local mainstream thereby accessing government advertisements.
In a memo to all government departments, Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua stated that all government advertisements will only be published on its own publication, My.Gov.
Mr Mutoro said various legal statutes explicitly require notification of public interest issues such as public notices, job advertisements, tenders and other such information to be run in “at least newspapers of national circulation”.
“Government will, therefore, be in breach of the said statutes and Article 10 of the Constitution on national values such as public participation,” he said.
Cofek said public interest stories, especially those on graft will disappear to the detriment of government accountability and transparency.
Mr Mutoro said despite the directive, negative perception of government publications and media outlets being used as propaganda tools will continue to persist.
“There is need for more clarity on the capacity and sustainability of the institutional framework within which My.Gov shall be run,” he said.