Malawians have bashed the much touted first ever live presidential programme aired on Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) claiming President Joyce Banda’s lecture offered no hope to the citizenry.
Snap interviews Nyasa Times conducted immediately after the programme, revealed that most people who listened to the President were not satisfied with her speech.
They observed that the President’s talk had nothing new to address the current economic hardships affecting Malawians.
Others have also questioned the private broadcasting house claiming the programme was somewhat “staged” in order not to embarrass the President.
They wondered why only one text message was read and only four telephone calls were attended to.
“We heard from Pilirani Phiri himself [anchor] that he had lots of text messages but surprisingly he only read out one text message. We have had phone in programs where more people have called and texted, but this one has been so disappointing,” observed Gryson Chapita, a Blantyre based social commentator.
He added: “She [president] was also given more time than necessary to answer a question. I expected Pilirani to at least take charge and ensure that more people were accommodated. Still more I wouldn’t want to look at the symbolism but rather the substance. To me there was nothing new presented, and no hope given to Malawians.”
Throughout the programme which took 75 minutes, the anchor read out only one text message and responded to four calls only.
According to our calculations, the President was given 68 minutes out of the 75 minutes to repeat issues that she has always been telling Malawians since she took over government on April 7, 2012.
The remaining period was left to the programme anchor (Pilirani Phiri) who asked 10 questions.
While describing it as a positive development, a seasoned journalist, Frank Jomo, thought the Head of State could have focused more on the country’s economy and what her government is doing, with practical examples, to fix the ailing economy.
“Otherwise most of what she said is what we have heard her say the whole year. But all in all, this was a welcome development and I think we should give much credit to Zodiak,” Jomo said.
Human rights activist Billy Mayaya said it was “good initiative that promotes direct democracy.”
Mayaya added: “This should be extended to Parliament so that MPs can also question her on various matters of the State.”
A school leaver, Emmanuel Muhango from Manja in Blantyre, also had her opinion on the matter.
“For sure, to me it was a blank rant. There was nothing fresh I got from her because everything she spoke is what I have been hearing from her on political podiums. It was more of a political address than public discussion with Malawians as claimed by the radio station, personally, I am disappointed,” he explained.
Another commentator who did not want to be named but resides in Lilongwe said the programme was turned into a platform for the President to seek public sympathy from Malawians.
“What happened was a mockery to listeners and Malawians at large,” she said.
She called on ZBS management, the brain child behind the idea, to explain better why they “lied” to Malawians that the President will be taking phone calls and answering text messages which did not happen.
“Nevertheless, the president should be highly commended for her courage to face the people live. It shows she is courageous and has the welfare of the people at heart. As Malawians we should be thankful for her acceptance and humility to do the live programme,” she concluded.
Some people commenting on social network said they expected the anchor to give the President more hard hitting questions such as the over expenditure of the state residences budget.
During the so called public discussion, among others, the President drummed her government cure of the fuel shortages, forex and drugs availability.
Banda, who appeared calm throughout the programme, also defended her global and domestic trotting, floatation of the kwacha and devaluation, among others.
The program was initially set to start at 09:00 hours and tipped to take two hours but instead started 58 minutes later.
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