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Moment Of Truth: Jalang’o Leads Media Employees Quitting To Join Politics

Will these prominent media personalities leave their salaries and prestigious positions to plunge into the uncertain world of politics?

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Prominent media personalities have declared their interests in running for elective seats in this year’s general elections. With days chipping away towards 9th August 2022, pressure is piling on the media employees to quit their seats in the next two weeks to ensure fairness for other non-media contestants.

The Kenya Media Council holds that journalists and other media practitioners intending to run for political seats should quit, like civil servants, by 9th February 2022, exactly six months to the election. Among big names that have expressed interest in politics are radio FM presenter Felix Odiwuor aka Jalang’o, Milele FM’s Alex Mwakideu and Switch TV’s Tony Kwalanda.

Others are communication expert-cum-journalist Patience Nyange, former Citizen TV political reporters Jackie Maribe and Kendagor Obadiah as well as former Nation Media Group journalists Isaac Ongiri, Nyambega Gisesa and Samuel Baya Kazungu. People Daily senior editor Eric Obino is said to be seeking to vie for the Nyaribari Chache Constituency seat. (see their profiles below)

“The Kenyan law provides that civil servants seeking political offices resign six months to the general election,” says Kenya Media Council chairman CEO, Mr David Omwoyo. “It is on this basis that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) imposed a February 9 deadline on those eyeing elective seats to resign.”

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Civil servants have already started resigning while some corporate leaders have also followed suit. According to Media Council Guidelines for Election Coverage launched in September last year, journalists and media practitioners seeking political seats in the 2022 General Election should resign from their posts six months to elections.

Leaving the newsroom will eliminate conflict of interest or using their newsroom’s positions to the disadvantage of their competitors.  “It is unethical for a journalist aspiring for an elective position to sit in a studio discussing politics and election they will participate in as candidates,” Mr Omwoyo says. “In the same vein, there has been widespread outcry from elected leaders and their supporters over personalised attacks against them by talk show hosts eyeing elected positions, for their political mileage.”

Some aspirants use their positions in media to deny their competitors space to engage in debates meant to enable voters make informed assessment of the candidates. Mr Omwoyo says this is unfair competition that goes against the rules of the political game.

“It is only right that media workers intending to vie for political office step aside to enable the media to effectively play its role in enabling full public participation in elections by educating voters on how to exercise their democratic rights,” he says.

Here are some of the journalists who have expressed their interest in various political seats.

  1. Obadiah Kendagor

The former Citizen TV political reporter whose stay lapsed in 2016 is eyeing the Kapenguria MP seat which he unsuccessfully contested in the 2017 elections under the Maendeleo Chap Chap party ticket.

  1. Felix Odiwuor

Famously known as Jalang’o, the Kiss FM morning show radio presenter will be eyeing the Langa’ta MP seat. He has been hinting at the political transition since mid last year. He is hoping to vie for the seat under an ODM ticket.

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  1. Jackie Maribe

In August 2021, the former Citizen TV news anchor hinted at joining politics in the 2022 polls. She is looking to become Murang’a county woman representative, a seat that is currently held by Sabina Chege. She has, however, not disclosed the party ticket she hopes to contest under.

  1. Alex Mwakideu

Alex Mwakideu
Alex Mwakideu has not announced his preferred party.

The Milele FM presenter wants to be MP for Taita Taveta’s Wundayi constituency. He is hopeful of clinching the seat citing the area to be his backyard. Mwakideu has however not announced his preferred party.

  1. Tony Kwalanda

The sports anchor and moderator from Switch TV is eyeing the Manda Shivanga ward MCA seat, Kakamega County.

  1. Isaac Ongiri

Former senior political reporter for the Daily Nation will not be new to the political ring as he first contested in 2017 and lost. He will be running for the Kapisul Kabondo Parliamentary seat and will be contesting against current MP Ongondo Were.

  1. Evelyne Waithera Muithirania

The veteran radio presenter has worked for Inooro, Kameme, Coro and Kihoto radio stations (FMs) for over 10 years. She will be vying for the Murang’a woman representative seat under the UDA ticket.

  1. John Mbuthia

Working for the Standard Group as a radio correspondent, Mbuthia is vying for the Hongwe ward seat in Lamu county.

  1. Patience Nyange

The communications expert and former Kenya National Human Rights Commission Assistant Director is seeking to be the next Governor for Taita Taveta County. She is expected to fight out with former Governor John Mruttu, former Senator Dan Mwazo and MP Andrew Mwadime to unseat Governor Granton Samboja.

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  1. Josiah Murigo

Josiah Murigo (36), a former Political reporter at K24 is contesting for a political seat for the second time in this year’s general elections.

He will be vying for the Kirinyaga senatorial seat under the UDA party ticket.

In 2017, he lost his bid to vie for the Kirinyaga Central Constituency’s seat after missing out on the Jubilee Party nominations

  1. Nyambega Gisesa

This will be his third time on the ballot after making trials in 2013 and 2017.

In 2013, he emerged fourth after vying on a SDP ticket while in 2017, he was number two after vying on an ODM ticket. He went back to the newsroom after losing. He is vying for MCA in Rigoma Ward, Kitutu Masaba Constituency. He will compete against the current MCA, Benson Sironga.

  1. Samuel Baya Kazungu

Mr Kazungu, 44, a former Nation Media Group journalist, will be vying for the Bamba ward seat.  He is a close ally of outgoing Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi.

Mr Kazungu expressed confidence that he will clinch the Bamba MCA seat, a ward which borders Tsavo East National park.

13. Festus Amimo

The radio Mayienga morning show presenter will vie for the Nyando parliamentary seat. He has been behind the microphone for over 15 years interviewing politicians.

The 40 year–old journalist said he will decide whether to contest on an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) or Movement for Democracy and Growth whose party leader is Ugenya MP David Ochieng.

14. Mwanaisha Chidzuga

Mwanaisha Chidzuga
Mwanaisha Chidzuga is already distributing campaign merchandise and pushing her agenda.

Former K24 news anchor Mwanaisha Chidzuga is eyeing the Matuga MP seat on a United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party ticket in 2022. Chidzuga has already hit the campaign trail, distributing campaign merchandise and pushing her agenda for her constituents.

She is the daughter of the late Zainab Chidzuga, who served as Kwale Woman Representative between 2013 and 2017. Mwanaisha has received the endorsement from a section of the family to go for the seat. Her brother, Hassan Chidzuga, is notably also keen on the same seat – setting the stage for heightened lobbying.

15. Fred Akali

Fred Akali is a popular presenter on Royal Media Services (RMS) Luhya vernacular radio station Mulembe FM. In 2022, he wants to be elected Member of the County Assembly for Kisa Central Ward in Kakamega Constituency.

Akali welcomed guidelines from the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) advising journalists running for various seats on not misusing the media to advance their interests or attack others, with a push for aspirants to quit newsrooms ahead of the polls.

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