Outside the Box
MPs should be courteous
I am tired of lies and time wasting that MPs are so accustomed to.
On Thursday at a press conference, I gave an annoying lawmaker who seems to think highly of himself.
Here’s what happened: An urgent phone call from Parliament to the newsroom stated that “ODM rebel MPs had an urgent press conference at 10 am” to speak on the revocation of the positions of nominated councillors.
Considering this might be a newsworthy function, a parliamentary reporter was assigned to cover the event.
Well, I got to Parliament five minutes early. I asked which MPs were coming for the press conference. I was told that it is Assistant minister Aden Duale who had booked the media centre.
“Is he coming alone?” I asked.
“He’s coming with his colleagues,” I was told.
Twenty minutes later, with nearly all the media houses in attendance, the MP had not shown up. Calls to his cellphone number went unanswered.
I waited for ten more minutes. House rules state that when meetings delay for thirty minutes without prior notification, the meeting stands cancelled. That is Standing Order 167.
When a colleague came and informed us that he had seen Mr Duale “chilling out in the lobby alone”, I informed my photojournalist William Oeri and we asked the legislator why he kept us waiting.
He looked at me and said, “I will be with you in two minutes”.
And, as an afterthought, he stared right at my eyes and asked, “Are you the only ones who can cover this assignment?”
I responded. “Does it mean if we can’t wait for you, we should just go and let the newsrooms send other reporters to cover this function?”
“Yes! If you have other engagements let others come to this press conference,” he said.
I told him, that it was okay and that I was leaving.
He got angry and yelled that I should respect him.
He roared that he was told that not all media houses had arrived and that’s why he was waiting for more journalists.
“But you said ten; we were here at ten o’clock!” I shot back. Infuriated.
Then he said: “You can as well go, other journalists will cover me.”
Mr Duale, tends to believe while debating in Parliament, every word he utters has to get prominence in the press. He has a habit at staring at the press gallery while debating.
He is among a group of MPs, in the absence of TV crews, will end up dismissing radio and print journalist with comment “the media is not here; let’s wait for them to come.”
As I left Parliament's lobby, I informed my colleagues that “the guy says that for those who can wait, should keep waiting”.
However, when turned back to leave, I saw him trotting quickly to issue his statement. I debated about covering him. I gave in and covered the event.
The guy then berated journalists: “If you think you can’t cover me here in Parliament, I’ll just walk to your media houses and issue my statement there.”
“You’re late,” said one journalist.
“It’s not my mistake. Ask the staff here. They told me you guys were not ready yet; some of you had not even arrived,” he shot back.
Another journalist clicked. Still another told him: “Mheshimiwa usiongee mbaya!” (Sir, kindly watch your tongue). Some kept quiet. Some smiled. Others giggled. Others just looked on blankly. Others grumbled. But they still went ahead to cover him.
I learnt a lesson. If Parliament says “this group of MPs has a press conference”, unless they specify who are in the delegation, I’ll skip the event unless the event is of absolute importance.
Lone MPs who feel that they have important statements for Kenyans should consolidate their thoughts, amass some form of clout, then, they can inform the press with a specific and well polished agenda.
There’s a reason why not all of them contribute to House debates. There’s also a reason why most of them are not taken seriously given their conduct in political rallies.