A Task Force constituted by ICT CS Joe Mucheru to look into ways of improving Government Information and Public Communications has come up with far-reaching recommendations.
Top of their 13-point plan is reorganising government public communications architecture and creating a national Government Communications and Information Service (GCIS).
The Task Force has also called for the restructuring and transforming KBC into a public broadcaster by amending the law to clearly specify the role of media channel as a public broadcaster with a clear mandate and obligations to advance national goals and public interest, fully funded by the Exchequer.
The 19-member Task Force which was chaired by veteran journalist David Makali and drew its membership from among others Royal Media Services Radio Managing Editor Robin Njogu called for relevant stakeholders to re-brand MyGov newspaper.
MyGov, in their recommendations, should be distributed both as an insert in mainstream papers and also in government offices spread across the country.
In coming up with the report, the Makali led team conducted a desk review of relevant policies and laws to establish the legislative, policy and administrative environment within which government communications take place.
It also studied public and government communications around the world with which to benchmark; received institutional and individual specialist presentation; and held focus group discussions with media practitioners.
In their study, the Task Force established that there is declining trust in public communication and institutions, lack of a coherent, overarching government communication strategy, limited appreciation of the power of information to catalyse socio-economic progress, contradictory laws that impinge on public information as well low rating of state media amongst others.
Further, the Task Force proposes that public communication be managed in a strategic manner as part of decision-making processes that contribute to effective policy implementation.
In its 96-page report titled ‘Winning Public Trust’, the Task Force also wants the government to depoliticise government policy.
“Official policy statements of the government of the day should be separated from pronouncements that could be construed as politically partisan in their intent. This is to avoid the danger of Government policy being confused with the agenda of specific political parties or personalities,” the report read in part.
Global dynamics coupled with an increasingly knowledgeable and restive population demand that Government be agile and adaptive to changes in the environment. Government should identify and swiftly embrace new technologies, which if applied in public service, will advance the Governance principles of transparency, equal opportunity, public participation, integrity and efficient service delivery.”
The task force also received oral and written submissions from key government institutions, semi autonomous government agencies, NGOs, religious groups, youth groups and trade unions.
While receiving the report in Nairobi on Monday, Mucheru hailed the team for working diligently promising to act on its recommendations.
He said: “We will read and review the report then later release it, it is for our own consumption as a ministry, some recommendations made are interesting, we will look at it in line with our resources, BBI and constitution. We will continue following the law and policies so that we are able to communicate well more so with the digital platforms, we will give our recommendations as a government after reading and reviewing it. ”
The Chair of the Task Force Makali said: “The report basis is meant to make the country move forward, because there has been considerable mistrust and a certain mindset from the public towards the government.”
On his part, Government spokesman, Cyrus Oguna said that the report will make government more responsive in communication.
“The entire government and the ministry at large will be delighted by this report; the report will make my office more efficient and effective in public communication. As a government we’ve not been communicating effectively, and that speaks the importance of this report,”noted Oguna.
The Task Force was formed to amongst others, study and review existing policies and laws on public communication and information and advise as to their appropriateness and consistency with constitutional requirements, national goals and aspirations, emerging socio-economic trends and advancements in information communication and technology as well identify and review any gaps and inadequacies in the staffing levels of public communication offices in Ministries, Departments, Agencies and county information offices that hinder effective articulation of government agenda.
Other members of the Task Force were: Brown Kutswa (Public Service Commission), Jane Gitau (Public Relations Society of Kenya Secretary General), Ruth Musembi (Communication Management Specialist), Prof. Murej Ochieng (Multi Media University of Kenya) Abraham Mulwo (Head of the Department of Communication Studies, Moi University) and Alfred Nganga (Oxygen PR firm partner) amongst others.
Additional reporting by Joan Wamweru
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