The Media Owners Association, the Media Council of Kenya and the Kenya Editors Guild, in consultation with Political Parties have launched the Kenya Presidential Debates 2022, ahead of the August polls.
The three entities agreed on a joint inclusive approach to the process during a press briefing on Wednesday, March 02, 2022, and appointed Clifford Machoka, currently Head of External Affairs & Marketing, Nation Media Groups, as the Head of the Presidential Debates Secretariat.
Machoka will lead a multi-institutional team to engage political party partners and stakeholders in the electoral process, as well as organize the 2022 Presidential and Deputy Presidential Debates.
He will be aided by Leo Mutisya, the Media Council of Kenya’s Head of Research and Media Monitoring, and Rosalia Omungo, the Kenya Editors’ Guild’s Chief Executive Officer.
“A team of senior editors from across media houses has been established to provide stewardship of the content aspects given how critical the debates are to ensure the public interest obligations are served,” a joint statement by the three media entities reads.
According to the three media organizations, structures have been put in place to protect Kenyans’ interests and to provide fairness to all parties involved, particularly audiences and candidates.
“What we launch today is a journey that will see the various arms of the media industry play their rightful role during this electoral process,” the statement adds.
Since 2013, the Kenyan media has worked to establish Presidential Debates as one of the cornerstone pillars of Kenya’s democracy and electoral process for the benefit of Kenyans.
In 2013, all eight candidates convened for two 2-hour debates to engage each other and Kenyans on the country’s future.
In 2017, the media hosted two presidential debates, as well as one vice presidential debate, during the same time period.
According to the media partners, debates of this nature have become the place for clarity of priorities, public policies, ideas and other development aspects key to the Kenyan people particularly given that Kenya has many diverse political voices.
“The debates play a significant role in the way we choose our leaders. During these debates, the public gets to listen to the candidates and gauge what their priorities could be once they assume office, “the joint statement reads.
“In that way, they catalyse issue-based elections; provide an opportunity for candidates to debate, interact and engage; and enable 2 Kenyans to make informed decisions. Such efforts call for collective action by media stakeholders, given the centrality of the media in shaping public opinion,”