Minister of Information, Tourism and Civic Education Kondwani Nankhumwa on Friday told parliament that Malawi government will be sending journalists to its diplomatic missions abroad to work as press attaches and also end the culture of ‘press rallies’ which the Presidents have been conducting.
Nankhumwa said this when he presented r a ministerial statement on the status of Access to Information Bill to be presented in the next sitting of parliament.
The Minister said his ministry recognizes that there is great need for Malawi to embrace some other reforms for betterment of media professionalism in the country hence the proposal for policy reforms which include mainstreaming Presidential Press Conferences without party zealots.
The Malawi chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Malawi) has been appealing to government to restrict presidential news conference to journalists and not party officials and hoodlums, who in one way or the other, found their way into these press rallies.
The Minister said there will be sanity as reporters will be given a conducive environment.
Nankhumwa told parliament that another proposal in the bill is on press attachés where the government will be sending reporters to work at various foreign mission for the country to improve Malawi’s public relations in the international relations.
The Bill, the ministers said, will also propose reforms that will deter ‘cashgate journalism’.
Once enacted into law the Access to Information Legislation will among other things be a practical tool to fight corruption because people have access to records of how certain decisions have been arrived at.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Malawi chapter, one of the groups leading the campaign for a bill, believes it will pass.
A constitutional provision gives Malawians the right to access information held by the government.
Nankhumwa also disclosed that consultations are underway to re-engage Misa Malawi in signing the Table Mountain Declaration to ensure more media freedom.
The declaration is an appeal to all Africans, particularly those in power, to recognise that the political and economic progress they seek flourishes in a climate where the press is free and independent of governmental, political or economic control.
“The DPP-led government feels that by signing the declaration, media freedom would be enhanced to lead to a vibrant democratic society where there is rule of law, accountability and transparency in service delivery,” he said.
Meanwhile, Misa Malawi chairperson Anthony Kasunda said his organisation is “pleased with this development” and they are look forward “to an opportunity to provide the President [Peter Mutharika] with information on what this declaration is all about.”
MISA Malawi Chairperson, Anthony Kasunda, said the media watchdog with support from the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa and Tilitonse, a multi–donor foundation, was involved in the whole process of formulating both the Policy and the draft Bill.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :