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‘Nation’ journalist threatened over cabinet appointments story

Deputy President William Ruto’s spokesman David Mugonyi on Sunday threatened ‘Nation’ journalist Justus Wanga with unspecified consequences.

This was after an article written by Mr Wanga suggested a split between his boss (the DP) and President Uhuru Kenyatta over the new Cabinet line-up was published in the Sunday Nation.

Mr Wanga, a Sunday Nation reporter, had in the article documented the behind-the-scenes intrigues over the appointments that President Kenyatta  announced on Friday.

Unlike in 2013, when the two leaders jointly announced cabinet appointments, Mr Ruto was conspicuously absent during Friday’s announcements from State House.

“I want to be outright with you. Ukitaka kufutwa kazi, utafutwa… (If you want to be fired, you will be fired, I assure you),”  Mr Mugonyi told Mr Wanga in a 50-second phone call recording in Nation’s possession.


And in a series of text messages, Mr Mugonyi accused Mr Wanga of unethical journalism, claiming that he had carried falsehoods in the story.

Without explaining, Mr Mugonyi fired made one more threat: “And if you guys continue with this nonsense we’ve options (sic).”

Mr Mugonyi, who holds a Master’s Degree in International Journalism from the City University, London, is the communication secretary at the Deputy President’s office.

Sunday Nation political writer Justus Wanga. PHOTO | COURTESY
Sunday Nation political writer Justus Wanga. PHOTO | COURTESY

The story was splashed by the Sunday Nation under the headline ‘Cabinet seats that split Uhuru, Ruto.’

In the article, Mr Wanga quotes sources saying that the DP was, at the time President Kenyatta named the Cabinet, in the country, and had reported to work at Harambee House Annex. Mr Mugonyi has termed these reports as false.

“The DP reported to which Harambee House Annex? He’s never been there since December 20. Why do you cook untruths?” Mr Mugonyi asked in the text message.


Why Ruto skipped Uhuru’s cabinet announcement

He went on: “You people should respect the journalism profession. You have made it full of nonsense. Am ashamed to claim to be a journalist (sic). Your story is talking about cracks please you can please Nasa as much as you want.”

In the series of texts, Mr Mugonyi said that the DP was in Eldoret on December 23, before he flew to Nairobi and onwards on a trip out of the country.

“You are not to continue this path. The Nation owners have a responsibility to the truth and must ensure journalists practice the truth not spew bar rumours and innuendos and untruths,” Mr Mugonyi warned.

“And if you guys continue with this nonsense we’ve options. You are not to continue this path,” he warned.

On Sunday at 3.24pm, the DP tweeted using his verified Twitter handle.

“Kenyans, more so Jubilee should avoid useless political debates about positions including 2022 and focus single-mindedly on delivering our manifesto voted for by the people while allowing the President the space to perform his constitutional duty to assemble the team for us,” the DP said in the tweet.