Media Partiality and its effect on the Right to Vote

The general elections are coming soon and the biggest question right now is have you registered
as a voter? But this cannot knock the most important question of all out of the race. The one
question that will forever be ringing in everyone’s mind even long after the elections. The
question that is to determine the course of our country’s development in the next five years. And
that is, who will you elect as your president, as your governor or senator, as your Member of
Parliament?
Do you even know all the persons vying for these seats? For instance in regards to the
presidential bid do you even other candidates apart from BABA and HUSTLER? What about
who is running for the gubernatorial seat in your county? Is it a man or a woman? Have you even
read their manifestos or heard about the plans they might have for your county and its people?
What about those who may be potential MCAs in the various wards? Did you even know that as
of today there are seven different potential presidential candidates? I did not think so… but it is
not your fault. How could you possibly know the same when you spend your whole day hustling
to make money and when you actually sit down to watch or listen to the news, you are
bombarded with several headlines of what the two ‘horses’ in the election race have been upto
on the campaign trail.
And by the way, who made these two the ‘horses’ in the race while all the others ‘donkeys’ as
the media likes to portray? Which criteria did the media use to reach this conclusion? Were we
as a country consulted on the same?
This brings out a very serious concern that most people seem to have overlooked or totally
ignored. That is the right to information. It is provided for under article 35 of the Constitution of
Kenya 2010. It is a right that encompasses various spheres of our lives as citizens of this great
country. In this article I will focus mainly on the media, their partiality when it comes to
reporting political news and how it affects our democracy.
First of all, it is the mandate of the media to provide information to the public. It is expected that
they provide citizens with all available information so that the citizens in turn make the right
decisions. Secondly, such information should ideally be provided in an impartial, truthful and

fair manner. This is to ensure that they do not wrongly influence the citizens. Especially in
crucial and sensitive matters such as the elections.
In several instances, the media has acted as our mouthpiece when even us as a people had been
gagged by our own government. It spoke against ills that plagued the country without fear or
favour of anyone like in the case of the ‘Covid-19 Billionares’. They are like our personal David
ready to defend our honor by taking on Goliath even when the odds are against them. But just as
they are so ready to report on corruption scandals, they should apply the same zeal when it
comes to reporting on election matters. Giving information about every candidate not just the
chosen few so as to actually let the citizens choose who they really want to be their president.
By the media playing favorites, they are interfering with our will to choose our leaders. This is
because most people take the news to be the gospel truth. ‘If the news says it then it must be
true’ mentality really affects how we as a society reason and in turn who we will choose. When
the news decides to choose for us the two main contestants, then are we really electing our
leaders based on our own free will? By providing little to no information on the other candidates,
are we as a people really making informed decisions at the ballot box?
I personally think not. Without all of the information we need, how are we to know who is truly
the best for us. As I type this, there is an outcry by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries
Commission (IEBC), the body mandated to carry out voter registration and elections amongst
other roles, that there has been a low turnout in voter registration, especially among the youth.
Have you asked yourself why? Maybe it is because the Kenyan youth have already seen enough,
experienced enough and are fed up. Maybe they believe that from the choices presented to them
in the media, there is none who can actually address their problems. But what if they knew that
there are actually other choices to pick from? That they are not only limited to the ‘horses’ whom
the media is shoving down their throats. What if they heard agendas and manifestos from the
likes of Alfred Mutua, Ekuro Aukot, Kivutha Kibwana, Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi or even
Dorothy Kemunto? What if from the media-branded donkeys, the youth found someone they
can relate to, someone who may actually have answers to their problems? Someone who will
restore their faith in the government and the legal system? Maybe then, they will have a reason to
turn up and register as voters.

But this can only be achieved if the media stops playing favorites, stops branding certain
candidates as the horses and possible winners. And anyway, who says a donkey cannot be a
horse one day? We won’t actually know unless we give it the chance to be one. So let the media
lay down all the facts and let us, the people of Kenya, make our choice as to who we want,
whether donkey or horse.

Fauve Mangich
JKUAT Legal Clinic

14 thoughts on “Media Partiality and its effect on the Right to Vote”

  1. Wou! Absolutely true. The media makes and or breaks politically and in the process deny the people achance to make a choice

  2. Good article
    Media really plays a critical role in elections and it hugely impacts citizens in decision making

  3. This is very eye-opening Fauve👏 ,I honestly did not know there were other presidential contestants other than the horses. The media IS a very strong tool that can make or break a nation.

  4. Mang’ich this is great. It seems that specific media houses are advocates for specific ‘horses’. Anyway. This is an eye-opener.

  5. Mang’ich this is great. It seems that specific media houses are advocates for specific ‘horses’. Anyway. This is an eye-opener.

  6. Mang’ich this is great. It seems that specific media houses are advocates for specific ‘horses’. Anyway. This is an eye-opener.

  7. Media should take a side bench, not campaign for specific camps, only provide necessary and impartial information to allow us choose the right candidate.

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