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RE: UNSUBSTANCIATED CLAIMS OF BRIBERY BY A TRADE UNIONIST

The Central Organisation of Trade Unions, Kenya (COTU, K) has read with constraints and concern claims appearing in Today's Tuesday, 18th December, 2012 copy of the Star in the Expression Today segment Page 3 alleging that a trade unionist is known to receive good media coverage because he manages to corrupt everyone from reporters to senior editors in the local media houses.

Whereas as the umbrella workers' body, COTU (K) is bound to uphold its integrity amid such erroneous and diversionary media reporting, we wish to challenge the writer that if indeed he has facts on corruption by this alleged trade unionist, let him come out openly and report the matter to the police for subsequent investigation and apprehending other than hiding behind to malign the names of leaders in the trade union movement.

For records, COTU (K) has a corporate social responsibility to sell its policies as well as educate Kenyans on various issues bordering on labour and the general working of the economy and in this regard, the COTU (K) Executive Board has with the mandate of the Governing Council, set aside a budgetary allocation on the same and it is this very budget that COTU (K) has used in its live coverage of functions and any other related media costs.

Further, it is a universal phenomenon that no media in the world will be keen and/or obsessed in covering mediocrity and airing the same for public consumption other than isolating and identifying issue-based contents that contain substance and akin on societal reflectiveness on both local and international happenings and for any individual to allege that any local newspaper and/or electronic media has been giving this alleged trade unionist “of no substance” coverage is in itself an absurdity at its banal.

For instance as a person I have enjoyed unrestricted press coverage not only in my capacity as an individual but due to the various commands that I hold not only in the country but in the region, on the continent and across the globe for the respect that the working men and women have not only in me but equally in my position as an authority in labour issues.

My regional coverage is triggered by my position as Chairman of the East African Trade Union Confederation (EATUC) with an office in Arusha, Tanzania where we have no links with any of the editors in Tanzania and in Eastern Africa as the President of Trade Union Federation of Eastern Africa (TUFEA), my media coverage spans fourteen Eastern Africa countries from Madagascar to Eritrea and in Accra, Ghana I'm widely covered as a Pan-Africanist and authority on labour matters as Vice President of the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU).

On the continent for instance, I have variously been covered in South African Daily's addressing continental issues on behalf of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) where I am the Vice President as well and just a month ago both the Washington Post and the NewYork Times widely covered my address in Washington DC which the Nation Newspaper equally lifted from the two papers and carried locally. Do I have editors and senior editors in all these countries enjoying a retainer for all these coverage?

COTU (K) wishes to advice the writer that you may have the money to bribe and corrupt editors and senior editors in newsrooms for coverage but as long as you offer no substance to warrant such coverage, your views will never see the light of day. In any case, I have no doubt that the local media has some of the best journalists in the world and this has been widely exhibited by the various international awards that our journalists continue to be feted and for one to allege that such a journalist could be cheated to a retainer and bribed to carry a story is in itself ridiculous.

One must create a niche in order to capture the eye of the press. A local thinker and journalist who harbors hate and is obsessed to serve his masters can only evoke the words “a trade unionist” without mentioning his name that is widely covered for nothing. Such cowardice reporting and hallucinations indeed have no place in the current media dispensation.

Francis Atwoli, EBS, MBS
SECRETARY GENERAL