Malawi Government has fired warning shots to journalists saying that as much as it understands the emotions that the elections period comes with, journalists are expected to work beyond such emotions and practice their trade cautiously without being derogatory to President Joyce Banda.
President Banda’s adviser on communication and political affairs Elias Wakuda Kamanga speaking at a news conference in Blantyre singled out Joy Radio journalists Lloyd Zawanda and Henry Haukeya, saying the President has noted that in enjoying their rights, some journalists, have ignored the responsibilities that have to go with it.
“They (journalists) have tended to think that, for example, freedom of expression is the same as freedom to tell lies, freedom to misinform, freedom to be ignorant, freedom to distort information, freedom to fabricate information,” said Kamnga.
He said a case in point on the concern is a ‘press review’ programme aired on Joy Radio on the morning of Monday, January 6, 2014 where the hosts, Zawanda and Haukeya “blatantly called the Head of State ‘arrogant’.”
During the programme the two journalists were ‘reviewing’ a story in The Daily Times, which said some members of the family of Senior T/A Kapeni had sought a court injunction allegedly restraining the President from promoting the T/A.
Kamanga said Joy Radio’s handling of the matter was blatantly unprofessional and a stunning case of disrespect for the Head of State.
“Although Joy Radio have the right to freedom of expression, their utterances on that morning possess the danger of misleading people in terms of how they perceive their leader and administration,” said Kamanga.
He said it is imperative that at all times, journalists must make sure they have their facts before communicating to their audiences arguing that giving misleading information to the public, either deliberately or due to ignorance, is not one of the tenets of good journalism.
“If Joy FM was a subscriber to good journalism they should have familiarized themselves with details regarding chieftaincies. They would have discovered that the President does not choose chiefs; it is the people themselves who recommend who must lead them.
“The President simply endorses the recommendation if it satisfies expectations. Thereafter, an installation ceremony is conducted. This process was already done. It is this process that probably would have been the subject of a court injunction,” said Kamanga.
Explaining further on the chieftaincy wrangle, the Presidential aide said that it was not President Banda who installed T/A Kapeni as such she cannot be held responsible for violating a court order to prevent the installation.
“Last Saturday, President Dr. Joyce Banda simply promoted an existing chief. To her knowledge, there was no court order restraining her from effecting the promotion. If there was any, the promotion would not have taken place. President Joyce Banda has always demonstrated her commitment to the rule of law,” said Kamanga.
The Presidential aide also raised concerns that in the same programme, the two journalists made derogatory remarks against Banda over her declaration that she will not be intimidated by threats on her life in her fight against corruption.
Kamanga said that President Banda recognizes the need to guaranteeing enjoyment of people’s rights as provided for under the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi and will at the same time remain resolute to protect the freedoms of all citizens of the Republic, regardless of whether sometimes such freedoms are or may not be exercised in her favour.
“The President may not agree with some of the things that are said against her, but undertakes to defend the right of such people to say them. The appeal that the President makes, though, is that the right and freedoms must be expressed responsibly,” said Kamanga.
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