Popular cartoonist Gado has joined German media giant Deutsche Welle (DW) weeks after his contract with the Nation Media Group (NMG) was discontinued in controversial circumstances that have sparked global protests.
NMG, through Editor-in-Chief Tom Mshindi, says the decision not to retain Gado was a normal employer-employee disengagement. But the cartoonist asserts he was asked to take a break (sabbatical) when the heat from state house in Nairobi and Tanzanian over his controversial cartoons became too much to bear. As he served his sabbatical, apparently a decision was made not to take him back.
Fingers have been pointed at the Aga Khan, the media house’s main investor, for allegedly cracking down on critical voices at Nation Centre at the behest of State House in order to protect his commercial interests especially after meeting President Uhuru Kenyatta during last year’s Jamhuri Day celebrations.
The accusations came was after other key editors, Denis Galava, who was the Managing Editor for Special Projects and Investigations, Sunday Nation News Editor Mugumo Munene and Investigations Editor Andrew Teyie were also shown the door.
Galava was dismissed for failing to “follow laid-down procedures and endangering the company’s interests” after he wrote a hard-hitting editorial critical of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s management style while Mugumo and Teyie were rendered redundant in unexplained circumstances.
While the Kenyan government had become unease with Gado, the situation took a turn for the worse when he drew a cartoon that portrayed then Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete’s anti-graft credentials in negative light.
The incident saw Dar es Salaam clamp down on NMG’s regional paper, The East African, banning its circulation in the country on grounds it had been operating without the necessary licences. The paper was readmitted mid last month.
Both Galava and Gado are taking steps to sue the media house for wrongful dismissal and breach of contract.
Apart from joining Deutsche Welle, Gado will also be contributing to the Star newspaper, which has taken a political stance in its editorial policy after relaunching last week. He has also launched an online platform through which anyone interested in purchasing his cartoons can do so.
Deutsche Welle is an international broadcaster, which is aimed at audiences outside of Germany and is available on television, radio and the internet.
It was not immediately clear what Gado’s job description entails and whether his contribution will be confined to generating cartoon illustrations for DW’s website.
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