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Newspaper Visibility of Members of Parliament in Kenya
Unformatted Document Text:  NEWSPAPER VISIBILITY OF MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT IN KENYA 19 suspected ringleaders to be tried locally in Kenya. Throughout 2009, proponents and opponents of the proposed draft constitution clashed over some contentious clauses during public debates on the impending new constitutional dispensation. The draft document was overwhelmingly adopted the following year during a national referendum on August 4 th . So, as some MPs commented on the hot issues of the day, others took the opportunity to lambast the government over the way it was handling the same issues. Because it appears the two variables – commenting on contested issues and excoriating the government are intertwined, explains why the latter also emerged as a predictor of MPs’ visibility. It is, however, ordinary MPs and those in committee leaderships who openly criticized the government than cabinet ministers who because of collective responsibility cannot take a swipe at the government they serve. But as findings show, being an ordinary MP is a better predictor of visibility than chairing a parliamentary committee. Ordinary MPs are freer as they are not tied to paying loyalty to the appointing authority or the government in general. Committee leaders are supposed to champion the interests of the public by acting as the watchdogs. However, it appears, at least based on this study, that the committee chairmen have not actively defended interests of the public, hence the weak correlation with visibility. After the PAC chairman who ranks third in total visibility, the next parliamentary committee leader is John Mututho at position 23. He chairs the Agriculture committee. Cabinet ministers are presidential appointees and are the political heads of their ministries. They are entrusted with providing leadership in their respective ministries, something which puts them in the public limelight as they attract more media coverage than ordinary members. Though the top-10 list is dominated by ministers holding powerful ministerial dockets, findings of this study show that what generally matters most is being a cabinet minister. That is why as Table 2 shows that over half of the cabinet (27 ministers) is in the high quartile category in terms of MPs’ total visibility. This shows that MPs in charge of powerful ministries don’t necessarily have greater visibility than being a member of the cabinet. Findings also indicate that those hoping to contest for presidency in 2012 received a lot of coverage in the four newspapers. MPs William Ruto, Uhuru Kenyatta, Musalia Mudavadi, Goerge Saitoti, and Martha Karua – all are likely to run for presidency. They are also in the top 10 list of the

Authors: Ireri, Kioko.
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suspected ringleaders to be tried locally in Kenya. Throughout 2009, proponents and opponents of the 
proposed   draft   constitution   clashed   over   some   contentious   clauses   during   public   debates   on   the 
impending   new   constitutional   dispensation.   The   draft   document   was   overwhelmingly   adopted   the 
following year during a national referendum on August 4
So, as some MPs commented on the hot issues of the day, others took the opportunity to 
lambast the government over the way it was handling the same issues. Because it appears the two 
variables – commenting on contested issues and excoriating the government are intertwined, explains 
why the latter also emerged as a predictor of MPs’ visibility. It is, however, ordinary MPs and those in 
committee leaderships who openly criticized the government than cabinet ministers who because of 
collective responsibility cannot take a swipe at the government they serve. But as findings show, being 
an ordinary MP is a better predictor of visibility than chairing a parliamentary committee. Ordinary MPs 
are freer as they are not tied  to paying  loyalty to the appointing  authority or the government  in 
general. Committee leaders are supposed to champion the interests of the public by acting as the 
watchdogs. However, it appears, at least based on this study, that the committee chairmen have not 
actively defended interests of the public, hence the weak correlation with visibility. After the PAC 
chairman who ranks third in total visibility, the next parliamentary committee leader is John Mututho at 
position 23. He chairs the Agriculture committee.
Cabinet ministers are presidential appointees and are the political heads of their ministries. 
They are entrusted with providing leadership in their respective ministries, something which puts them 
in the public limelight as they attract more media coverage than ordinary members. Though the top-10 
list is dominated by ministers holding powerful ministerial dockets, findings of this study show that 
what generally matters most is being a cabinet minister. That is why as Table 2 shows that over half of 
the cabinet (27 ministers) is in the high quartile category in terms of MPs’ total visibility. This shows 
that MPs in charge of powerful ministries don’t necessarily have greater visibility than being a member 
of the cabinet.
Findings also indicate that those hoping to contest for presidency in 2012 received a lot of 
coverage   in   the   four   newspapers.   MPs   William   Ruto,   Uhuru   Kenyatta,   Musalia   Mudavadi,   Goerge 
Saitoti, and Martha Karua – all are likely to run for presidency. They are also in the top 10 list of the  

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