By Phil Wesonga
A tweet appearing on Macharia Gaitho’s twitter feed on Thurday evening right after the announcement of the death of Homa Bay Senator, Otieno Kajwang’, reads “…Let’s face it. Sen Kajwang was not a paragon of virtue. Like many of us he was deeply flawed, and his career littered with ethical lapses..”
Immediately thereafter, Gaitho was confronted by a series of angry responses from Twitter users.
Some of Kajwang’s supporters indicated that they want to state categorically, that Macharia Gaitho insinuated attacks on the late Kajwang are in bad taste and a poorly-executed hatchet job. Gaitho, they say, is acting for and on behalf of the late Sentor’s political enemies some of whom are right within ODM and beyond.
Gaitho’s Kikuyu community may desecrate the dead, but for Luo’s where the late Kajwang came from, it is deeply insulting and a cultural taboo when the launches such unprovoked attack on a man whose sudden death is still under investigation and has yet to be buried. Being an editor in a pro-regime newspaper, Gaitho might also be playing tune to his masters.
As a long serving journalist who cut his teeth in Hilary Ngweno’s Weekly Review in the 1990s, Macharia Gaitho is a former Chairman of the Kenya Editors Guild, and the current the Managing Editor, Special Projects at Nation Media Group. Gaitho ranks as the most ineffective head of the editor’s guild ever and perhaps the most compromised of all individuals sitting in any media editorial room in Kenya, moreso in the predominantly Kikuyu NMG. His lack of objectivity was displayed when he organised a series of meetings in State House to have the President and his team fete journalists so as to buy their loyality.
Gaitho was also instrumental in being a stumbling block against the Kenyan journalists fight against state sponsored clamp down. All the meetings and press conferences organised by the likes of David Ohito were scuttled by a team led by Macharia Gaitho.
Those who are dumb enough to buy the Nation will not have failed to read Gaitho’s so recklessly partisan column that is often so undisguisedly laced with biased propaganda and so devoid of any professionalism. He has a pathetic record at editor’s guild where he played a well-earned role as the chief apologist of the Agikuyu hegemony in business, politics and media.
Recall that when the Kibaki Government launched the most violent and bizarre attack on media using foreign mercenaries in a night raid on the Standard/KTN, the then Editor Guild Chair Macharia Gaitho spent months issuing weak threats against the government, and despite the late minister John Michuki later confessing that he plotted the attack, despite international condemnation of the attack on Standard/KTN, there was no single offensive tweet or column from Gaitho’s compromised pen condemning Michuki, who unlike Hon Kajwang, was honoured by Kibaki with a three-day half-mast flags countrywide.
Interestingly, Gaitho had lots of kind words for Michuki when he passed on, showering praises on the late minister for neutralizing the Mungiki menace in Mount Kenya region. What happened behind the scene is anyone’s guess. Otherwise, why would senior media personalities sing praises for someone who presided over mass execution of Mungiki suspects in the worst ever recorded massacre through extra-judicial killings in this part of the world?
To underline Gaitho’s nauseating hypocrisy, in December 2012, during the height of campaigns for the 2013 general elections, the government unilaterally disabled broadcast transmitters for the Royal Media Group, Chaired by the flamboyant billionaire SK Macharia also a close confidant of opposition leader Raila Odinga. As expected, Macharia Gaitho did not take any action as Chair of the Editors guild. Neither did he send out an offensive tweet attacking the Kibaki government.
When the Jubilee government hastily inacted draconian media laws in 2013, which were condemned worldwide as inhibiting press freedom, it was laughable observing Gaitho’s body language at his local pub in Birongo Square in Nairobi West. His feeble opposition to these laws could well have been a campaign to have the president fastrack assentation to the laws.
Where are media editors like Gaitho to write stinging editorials to put pressure for accountability of killings of civilians, and for terrorist attacks like Westgate and Mpeketoni? They would rather publish NSI manufactured stories on an imagined impending implosion of ODM. Or besmirch the memory of Hon Kajwang with distasteful tweets.
That is why you find yourself looking so stupidly isolated when you cheer on by retweeting Gaitho’s tasteless attack on the late Hon. Otieno Kajwang. In country where the fourth estate exists as a branch of the executive, the Macharia Gaithos of this world will go down in history as those who sold our hard fought freedoms for six pieces of silver when they led an unprecedented loyalty pledge by media to the state house.