The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has responded to the recent statements made by Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria regarding State agencies advertising with the Nation Media Group (NMG).
Kuria criticized NMG on Sunday, accusing them of being biased and likening them to an opposition party. He publicly called on government agencies to cease advertising with the media house, warning that failure to do so would result in termination.
Kuria’s remarks seemed to be a reaction to an exposé published by NMG over the weekend, which uncovered an alleged oil scandal involving his ministry.
In a statement on Monday, EACC CEO Twalib Mbarak dismissed Kuria’s directive and emphasized that public procurement in Kenya is governed by the law. He stated that no public institution or official should face repercussions for engaging in business with NMG.
Mbarak highlighted that the Constitution requires public procurement to be fair, transparent, and competitive. Therefore, no individual or organization can be lawfully excluded from participating in public procurement unless specified by the law.
Furthermore, Mbarak stressed that no public institution or official should face victimization for lawful dealings with any organization, including in the awarding of tenders. He urged all state and public officers to adhere strictly to the laws governing public affairs and the requirements outlined in Chapter Six of the Constitution and the Leadership and Integrity Act, 2012.
“The Constitution in Article 227 requires that public procurement be carried out in a system that is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective. Consequently, no person or organization can, lawfully, be denied an opportunity to participate in any public procurement except as may be authorized under the law,” said Mbarak.
He added: “Similarly, no public institution or public official should be victimized for engaging in any lawful dealings with any organization, including in the award of tenders. The Commission, therefore, advises all state and public officers to strictly adhere to the laws governing management of public affairs, including the requirements of Chapter Six of the Constitution and the Leadership and Integrity Act, 2012.”
Kuria’s comments, which included derogatory language towards NMG journalists, drew criticism from many Kenyans who considered them inappropriate and immature.
The Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) and the Kenya Editors’ Guild both issued statements on Monday condemning Kuria’s remarks and his conduct as a State official.
KUJ described Kuria as a “symbol of national shame” and denounced his reactions to media reports as embarrassing for the country.
The Kenya Editors’ Guild characterized Kuria’s comments as unwarranted, uncalled for, and completely inaccurate.
The guild demanded an unconditional apology from the Trade Cabinet Secretary and an assurance from President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza administration that Kuria’s statements do not reflect government policy.
Additionally, the guild sought reassurance that media organizations would be allowed to carry out their mandate without interference.