Malawi media bites back at President Mutharika

Malawi private media owners and managers fear the State House and President Peter Mutharika plan to silence the independent media once and for all but have vowed to fight on as public’s watchdog.

Things fall apart now: Mutharika posing with media managers (flashback)

Things fall apart now: Mutharika posing with media managers (flashback)

The media gurus met at Mount Soche Hotel on Monday  November 7, 2016 and deliberated on the worrying trend by the Mutharika regime with a view to limit the media space in the performance of its duty enlighten the public on how it is being governed.

The meeting was conducted following remarks Mutharika made in Mchinji during campaign for by-elections about Zodiak Broadcasting Station and Times Group, publishers of Malawi News, The Daily Times, Sunday Times and operators of Times Radio and Times TV.

The media houses and managers at the meeting included those from Zodiak, Capital Radio,  MIJ FM, Chanco Radio/TV Station, BETA TV, Nation Publications Limited and Times Group.

Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi chapter and  Media Council of Malawi also attended the meeting and endorsed a statement issued thereafter.

The media managers expressed concern with  what they called  “the highly belligerent attitude”  that the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government has taken against the independent media “to silence it from telling Malawians the truth.”

They accused President Mutharika for championing the media attacks  by  blaming the gossiping and speculation surrounding his health on the media when Mutharika himself took the blame that he did not have his Staff with him in the US after the United Nations General Assembly because he sent them home.

“As if the above was not enough the President threw all caution to the wind and called the media, Times Group and Zodiak Broadcasting Station – ZBS in particular, in Mchinji as disgusting and that they write nonsense and garbage,” the media houses statement noted.

The media have also threatened to boycott news conferences by the President, poining out that what happens at the State House is not a press conference but a “press rally.”

“All this happens despite the fact that the independent media through National Media Institute of Southern Africa – NAMISA and Media Council of Malawi – MCM have complained against such a practice but nothing has changed as exemplified by the harassment that journalists suffered during the last press conference the President addressed at State House on his trip from the US,” the statement said.

The media made declaration that they will not be attending news conferences at State House by the President  “in an atmosphere of intimidation”.

They also press for passing into law the Access to Information Bill.

“We therefore declare our rights to pursue all lawful means in our efforts to perform our roles as news media houses.  Such rights shall include:

  • Respecting and implementing guidelines and decisions of our watchdog organisations, the Media Council of Malawi, MCM and NAMISA
  • Recourse to the Courts of Law of the Republic of Malawi
  • Boycott of Press Conferences of the Head of State
  • Black-outs of all news of the Head of State and Cabinet Ministers
  • Move the courts to seek interpretation on the role of the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority –MACRA which behaves as a Policeman, Prosecutor, Juror and Judge in regulating and policing private electronic media.
  • We will present a united front as a media and regard attacks on one as an attack on us all.
  • We will reject divide and rule machinations by the State and we will only negotiate through our mother bodies, Media Council of Malawi and NAMISA
  • We will ensure that we stick to professionalism and be above board in the execution of our duties.”

But the State House has declared the media “  cannot bully the Head of State with propaganda and false reports.”

President Mutharika’s director of communications, Bright Molande, told a weekly paper that: “ The trouble we have is that there are media houses that want to criticise everybody, but they don’t want to be criticised.”

Media Council  executive director Vales Machila had written State House offering to mediate between President Mutharika and the media but their intervention was dismissed.

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Thinktank
Guest

If this administration is so arrogant it’s because it has some stupid citizens defending these mafias disguised as “leaders”..How can any sane person defend the attitude of this govt towards free press.

Mseuwaboma
Guest
Boycott of presidential press rally is long overdue. The agreement should have been that from now onwards private media organisations will not attend these “rallies”. Have a front page that covers other news. The problem has been, as DPP trolls below are suggesting, that media houses believe that they are going to lose sales if they do not cover these pressers. Why not try it out? Next time APM comes back from his beloved USA, don’t put him on the front page. Instead lead with a story about an elephant stomping on a poacher, for example. 64% of Malawians did… Read more »
gototo
Guest

George Kasakula and Brian Banda are too personal on the issue of president.Media is responsible for criticizing and mus accept criticism as well. Dont be selfish.

Siphokazi
Guest

@eduardo I hope you are writing from American…which certain good things are happening in this fucked up country?…kadziko kosayaka magetsi kopanda madzi…..iwe usandilakwitse

gototo
Guest
This is foolish media ever lived in Malawi. Listen to George Kasakula and Brian Banda talking rubbish on the 92.8 radio, you would that these headless chickens are MCP remaining mercenaries. Listen to radio programme aired out on Times by Brian Banda on Sunday, 7th November 2016 from half 12 to half 1 and again listen to another programme on the same radio held on Monday 8th November from 12 noon to 1pm. You would conclude that these so called journalists if they are, are typical MCP die hard. And they are also ignorant of voting behavior of Malawi. Yes… Read more »
Maunits
Guest
Can you please tell us which false and sensational news did Zodiak air out. Mthalika admitted that he was sick and got injection. Who paid for that stay in America and whose money is that very stupid this guy is going and can not stand up with a younger blood Chakwera come 2019. He will be the first president to govern Malawi for five years and let alone Mthalika to return back to US if he will have clean record failing which wakundende plus his cronies we need money back. Media please that is a good stand without media government… Read more »
Mjomba
Guest

A Maunits zanuwache izi osamatha mau mudzangogwanazo ndi BP. inu bambo wanu moti zonse ankakupangirani zabwino. dziwani kuti even a manager ako ngati uli pantchito ndi munthu mmodzi mwa anthu omwe agwetsa dziko, moti ngati iwenso unaphulira ndipo umayang1anira anzako upeze munthu wapadera akufufuzire ngati anthu onse pa officepo amakufunila zabwino komanso amakondwera ndi uchitsiru wakowo. ndiye yambani mwachotsa chitsotso chili mdiso lakolo mpamene utayambe kunyoza mzako.

Banda
Guest
The media must continue to be the true voice for the people, Attending news conferences does not mean it has to be reported It is the media’s job to report all ill government behavior from all parties and members of parliment to be the people’s watch dog whether critical or fair the people will decide. Do not let Parliament forget they work at the mercy of the citizens of Malawi. That government is to work for all the people rich or poor to ensure a better place to live and grow as a nation. Not just for a few politians… Read more »
Gogodasi
Guest

You can never see any tangible results as long as Molande, a Poet heading the Communications Diretorate at the State House. The man was completely misplaced.

be humane
Guest

This is very interesting media. The moment you stop writing about DPP and its government the more you are not exposing their shortfalls and the more you make people not know the evils of this government and the more you are giving it chances to win the next elections. Try it and see the damage you will make

ANALYST
Guest

The media is not saying they will “stop writing about DPP and its government” – what they have said is “they might stop attending press conferences organised by State House and/or the President” if the present set up of such Press Conferences continues. Please, understand the meaning intended by the communicator, not what you have in your mind

be humane
Guest

So they will not attend but report? Mr. Analysts is that what you mean?
then does it make sense. They have said and all cabinet ministers activities. I’m I right?

Mfana odzisata
Guest

Blackout does not mean they will stop writing about DPP and Govt. They will simply write without being invited to functions or seeking clarification. I support the move, esp on MACRA.

Chemwali chimwene
Guest

Give peter andhis govt ablack out, no coverageoftheir blahblah

mgoloso
Guest

“No coverage” is better than “Non-sense coverage”.

mgoloso
Guest
Your so called “Black out” was needed yesterday. What impact will that black out bring to Malawians. We were tired of your non-sense reports – reports based on rumours. Shame on your lecturers or tutors who taught you how to spoil your profession. What kind of a reporter are you – happy with someone’s death including that of your own grand mother. I thank God for not being a Reporter – who always looks around for non-sense things to say about others when you have a lot of too stupid stories of themselves and their families. Malawian reporters have turned… Read more »
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