Thursday, September 17, 2009

It is not "the Media"..It is not "Politics"..It is not "Disrespect"... is a populace that is fed up of being treated as though we are less than, as though our thoughts, opinions and feelings do not matter or do not count. It is your bad management, flawed PR and poor strategy.

Everytime the president does something that causes friction (such as the Ringera reappointment or the Kivuitu reappointment), government supporters come out with the same arguments:

- The Media is to blame for the government being unpopular
- Its ODM and their politics that cause the government to be so unpopular
- Questioning the president is disrespectful/Kibz bashing is in Fashion

I tend to disagree with all three viewpoints.

The Media/Public Relations/Strategy
Yes indeed, as has been mentioned countless times in countless forums, the media is always seeking negativity to report on. Afterall, that's what sells. The trick therefore is TO MANAGE MEDIA RELATIONS not to sit whining and crying about biased media. It is not about returning to a dictatorship, it is about playing smart. This is one area in which the Kibaki administration has completely failed.

Any successful organization needs a smart PR strategy. Since 2003, I have watched as the Kibaki administration has stumbled from PR gaffe to PR gaffe, from crisis to crisis and from mistake to mistake. This cannot be blamed on media. This is a management failure.

Yes ODM play politics, dirty politics even. But, this is the nature of the sport that is politics. If you are in power and I want to get to where you are, I will try to discredit every single thing I can about everything you do.

Once again, a good, smart PR strategy takes care of this problem. The trick here is NOT TO GIVE YOUR OPPONENT ANY AMMUNITION TO USE AGAINST YOU. Nobody in their right minds can say Kibz & Co. have done this. Infact Kibz and Co have often seemed like ODM moles due to all the silly gaffes they keep making.

Sometimes this argument will also take the form of: "Well it's his ministers who do that and he's a hands off manager". Garbage. Even the most hands off manager is ultimately responsible for results. Public perception is a result. To ignore that aspect of the job would be grossly negligent. Same way people will say "Kibz cannot be responsible for individual's performance, he hires people and lets them get on with their jobs". Are you kidding me? Who is responsible for delivery if not the manager? Ultimately, the buck has to stop with the man at the top, it is he who appoints and therefore it is he who must demand performance.

Questioning the President is Disrespectful/Kibz bashing is in Fashion
Only sycophants would say that questioning the president is disrespectful. Who pays the president? He works for the Kenyan people, therefore we can question him about any issue that relates to the running of the country we hired him to steer ON OUR BEHALF.

Kibz bashing might be in fashion..but this is because of the flawed & ineffective PR strategy that Kibz has in place. Over the years, the government (starting right from the very top) has given the impression that it is not bothered about the views and opinions of Kenyans, that it is not bothered with being popular. Well in democracy, popularity is the currency of power. This is where strategy comes in. Kibz may be content being unpopular, inaccessible and arrogant towards Kenyans but at the end of the day, that will have repercussions. The repercussions of 2003-2007 were simple. A disputed election, meaning a coalition government..therefore meaning that exercise of powers is not as straightforward as Kibz might like it to be.

It is easy to blame politics, the media etc, but I would suggest that Kibs needs to look much closer to home to figure out exactly why he has many of the problems he faces today.


  1. It is not the media, it is not politics, it is not disrespect. It is Kibaki's stupidity!!

  2. Mama,

    Kibaki is not stupid, senile or evil. He just does not care. He is totally apathetic.

    It is perhaps we who are stupid for voting such a person to lead us. Someone who thinks our only role is to worship & praise him and laugh heartily when he descends from his glass tower to call as pumbavus and watu wa mavi ya kuku.

  3. Let me humbly disagree. It is indeed the media, politics and a growing lack of decorum in our national discourse that is responsible for all this negativity. We have descended into hacking each other to death and calling each other names. Much of the anger you see directed at Kibaki is in many cases ethnically backed, inflamed and propagated by the media.

    No matter what appointments Kibaki makes some will always find fault. That means no PR strategy can work for such people. Allow me to use the best PR President in the world today as an example. President Obama who must have the most effective PR strategy is right now facing redhot rage and hatred from some republicans on his healthcare proposals. Infact a closer study reveals that his opponents are not driven so much by his healthcare proposals but actually by everything he stands for and sometimes by race.

    In Kibaki's case some will never support him because of his ethnicity, the manner in which he was re-elected or simply because they don't like him. Just as racists will never come out openly and say they hate Obama because of his skin colour, tribalists will never say they hate Kibaki because of his tribe. They will always find fault with something he does by using some half baked truth.

    So faced with such situations how would one deal with such people? One is to try to beg them by giving in to all their demands. Two is to ignore them or three is to use a combination of the two. Fourth is to vociferously challenge their assertions by defending all your actions.

    Now you said the nature of politics is dirty. You allow ODM to use dirty politics against the President. Why dont you allow the President the same luxury. This is like a petulant child who when fighting with you wants to hit you but complains when you hit him back. ODM has now taken to fighting a covert political war through Parliamentary actions undermining Presidential authority.

    A closer examination of the Ringera issue which has caused so much hullabaloo will reveal that it is esentially a political issue and has nothing to do with Ringera's performance or lack of it. The media has tended to potray the KACC as having underperformed yet they have conveniently failed to report KACC's achievements. In my opinion Ringera has delivered alot given his limitations under the law. Some then say why does he not resign. Well a conscientious and dedicated person who wants to root out corruption in a difficult environment try's as hard as they can to deliver. Resigning is cowardly or a cop out. If you have the confidence of the President why should you resign because Parliament is refusing to give you the powers to do your job? Then even if he resigns and another person takes over with the same powers nothing will have been achieved except removing Ringera. If those opposing Ringera are really concerned about corruption they shouldn't focus on him but rather on why he says he cannot deliver. No one has furnished proof that he is corrupt or incompetent. The real opposition to him is that he comes from an ethnic backgound or region that some find intolerable or that he is a Presidential appointee and fiercely loyal. To demonstrate his achievements consider this.

    Achievements of Ringera, 8 ministers, 16 MPs, 8 PS's & 58 CEO's investigated.
    Let people have all the facts and aim to reform the system rather than rant and rave against the President. The best way to achieve a better Kenya is by pursuing constitutional reform that is sensible and logical rather than calling the President names or blaming his appointments.

  4. Jellyfish,

    I am glad you mentioned Obama. One thing that amazed many media pundits in the run up to the US election was what a tight ship the Obama camp was. There were no leaks, no loose talk..the Obama camp portrayed what they wanted to portray. They tightly controlled what was put out there and they stayed on message. The only things that the media got from the Obama camp was what the Obama camp needed to put out.

    As a member of a minority community, any slip up Obama made would have been used to crucify him. By creating a strategy that took into account the potentially hostile environment he was operating in and ensuring that there were no slip ups, Obama won. Yes, there are many who hate him because of his race, but they are in the minority and as long as Obama does not slip up, as long as he does not begin to antagonize his people, as long as he is seen to be doing a good job, those that hate him will remain in the minority.

    Kibaki won the election in a landslide. He had the backing of a vast majority of the population. He represented change that we all wanted. He was our Obama.

    I ask how that changed.

    Yes indeed, politics played a part. Yes he screwed over some folks and they thus undertook to undermine him and discredit every achievement he made, yes there were tribal elements introduced to muddy the waters, yes the media is negative and ready to jump on anything negative BUT

    Did the media conduct the standard group raid?
    Did the media use government resources to campaign then come out and deny what we all saw (like we are fools with no eyes)?
    Did the media appoint an ECK with no reference to anybody and thus discredit the organization?
    Does the media perenially keep referring to citizens as pumbavu etc?

    The media can only run with what you give them.

    In politics, it is important to do, it is far more important to be seen to be doing.

    Is Kibaki seen to respect Kenyans and treat Kenyans with dignity?

    Why then does he chose to treat us like we are idiots?

    If you treat people with disdain, they will hate you whether you give them gold or not.

    I do not doubt Kibaki's achievements, infact I have high regard for what has been achieved but living here I have come to see that rather than ODM, media etc being the enemy, Kibaki's worst enemy throughout his tenure has been none other than Kibaki himself. Kibaki and the group of sycophants he surrounds himself with and makes his spokesmen/women

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