Najib Balala goes into media

Posted on February 3, 2011

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Najib Balala becomes the latest politician to acquire a media unit as the race for the 2012 General Elections shapes up.

Tourism Minister Najib Balala

Balala, current minister for Tourism, has acquired Mombasa-based Sheki FM as part of his 2012 strategies for the coastal region. He is currently the Member of Parliament for Mvita.

The deal has been closed although the tune of the transaction is still sketchy as to how much he paid for the outfit.

The late Tony Msalame previously owned Sheki FM. Mr Msalame, who passed on last year, ran the radio station from his residence in Mombasa.

The acquisition by Balala of the FM station is likely to seen as a counter to Abdulswalmad Nassir, the son of the Mombasa political supremo, the late Sharif Nassir, who owns Radio Rhama also operating in the coastal town.

The younger Nassir has indicated his intentions of vying for the Mvita parliamentary seat that his father held for eons until 2002 when Balala trounced him.

In 2009, Deputy Prime minister and minister for Finance Uhuru Kenyatta acquired both K24 (a television station) and The People newspapers. The acquisitions are said to be key to his 2012 presidential bid, although the strategy there in seems a closely guarded secret.

Another influential politician, William Ruto has also been linked with Express TV, but has since been rumoured to be on its way down.

Media in Kenya is big business especially ahead of elections when most revenue is generated from advertisement. During last years referendum, media houses raked in hundreds of millions from both the ‘Green’ and ‘Red’ camps fighting out on the constitutional debate.

The same is set to be repeated in the 2012 elections which is currently taking shape as more people throw their hats into the ring. Whether Mr Balala has bought out the outfit for commercial or political reasons remains to be seen.

The Kenyan scenario of politicians acquiring media outlets is not unique as world over, the same plays out.

Read more on Kenyan politicians who have acquired media outlets ahead of 2012 here

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