JB puts democracy, press freedom under threat – Malawi News

President Joyce Banda has been accused of threatening the thriving democracy and press freedom  according to an editorial comment in the Malawi News following the lawsuit which Joyce Banda Foundation has filed against Blantyre Newspapers Limited (Times Group), the publishers of Daily Times, Malawi News, and Sunday Times newspapers.

The newspaper publishing house has been sued for allegedly trespassing at the foundation’s property, Green Corner in Blantyre following publication of the pictures.

However, the newspaper company is challenging the lawsuit and an injunction restraining the publication to “trespass” at the Foundation’s properties, arguing it is an attempt to muzzle the Malawi press.

President Joyce Banda: Paper says she is unable to handle any criticism

Roy Kachale Banda, managing director of Joyce Band Foundation and son to the President in his sworn affidavit is worried that the paper may enter the Green Corner property or any other address of the Foundation.

The Presidency is also demanding compensation for the newspaper’s two cartoon strips Puludzu and Abwana which appears in the Daily Times.

In its editorial on Saturday November 30, 2013, Malawi News criticised the President for seeking court redress, saying the action which the First Citizen and her family has taken is “retrogressive to say the least.”

The editorial faulted President Banda’s family on “the reasoning” behind their decision “in taking to court matter that have a bearing on democracy and press freedom.”

The paper argues that “it is common knowledge that the President was very reluctant to declare her assets and it took the nudging from the press and possibly donors for her to do so. And even then, whatever she has declared has been kept under wraps.”

In the editorial, the paper notes that President Banda seems unable to handle any criticism.

Anthony Kasunda, the chairperson of the Malawi chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Malawi)  commenting on the matter, said the honourable thing for President Banda was to make her assets known.

“By going to court we don’t know what precedent they are setting. Anyway we respect the court and we hope media freedom will be upheld,” he is quoted saying.

With the cashgate scandal and reports of previous leaders’ accumulation of unexplained wealth, Malawians are now wary of political leader’s unexplained wealth and are demanding that President Banda should come clean.

According to the current law, in the context of the presidency, the declaration of assets is done through the office of Speaker of the national assembly which Banda deposited her declaration.

The Green Corner houses of Joyce Banda Foundation. The photo which has landed Blantyre Newspapers limited a legal suit

But there has been a new bill to address the gaps.

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