Mpinganjira laughs off Makiyolobasi: ‘MBC to remain open to all’

Minister of Information and Civic Education, Brown Mpinganjira says he will be a fool to close-up the public broadcaster, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) from opposition parties.

Mpinganjira, veteran journalist and politician, has also laughed off MBC’s a political satirical program Makiyolobasi which was introduced by former MBC director Bright Malopa during Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) era.

In an exclusive interview with Nyasa Times, Mpinganjira hailed his predecessor, Moses Kunkuyu for taking bold step to open up MBC, both radio and television, arguing such move could not be reversed.

Mpinganjira’s comments came amid reports within the public broadcaster that senior officers have started tightening up screws, scrutinizing and censoring programs and news materials.

Mpinganjira : MBC to perform as a public broadcaster

Some of employees at MBC told Nyasa Times that they are now been forced to seek consent from their superior officers on the people to feature in news and programs, especially from opposition parties and other institutions that hold opposing against government.

But Mpinganjira said it was not strange for people to have fears especially his coming in as minister, arguing “when you starting something new, everyone becomes afraid as you are usually regarded as a sell-out”.

“I have respect for honourable Kunkuyu to having been this bold enough to say no, let’s allow MBC open up. That’s something that has been started and can never be reversed. Even if I want to reserve it, it’s not possible,” explained Mpinganjira.

He said with advancement of technology and mushrooming of radio stations in the country, it would be a folly to close-up MBC as that will only kill down its listenership.

MBC remains the only brand that reaches every rural household in Malawi transmitting through satellite, FM and medium wave.

Mpinganjira assured the nation of free-MBC. He was, however, cautious enough to warn people from using the public broadcaster as podium for character assassination.

“Life is dynamic, things have changed. We cannot afford today to restrict MBC, it’s not possible. People have alternatives of obtaining information.

“We shall continue to open up, but all we need is responsibility. If we open up and ending having programs like Makiyolobasi, then we are all fools. People should not think MBC is something they can use to destroy others names and characters for no apparent reasons. We all need to work together forward,” added Mpinganjira.

Under Kunkuyu, opposition parties and government critics had been given platform on MBC, for the first time in the history of multi-party democracy.

Meanwhile, National Media Institute of Southern Africa (Names) Malawi Chapter says it expects Mpinganjira to continue opening-up MBC and make environment conducive for all journalists.

“We hope we will work together to ensure the environment remains conducive for the enjoyment of media freedom in the country. Our expectations are that he will embrace the programs and initiatives that we started with his predecessor (Kunkuyu),” said Anthony Kasunda Mesa-Malawi Chairperson.

But Kasunda  was quick to point out that the new minister should not expect an easy ride and favours if he fails to act professionally, arguing the media-watch dog was ready to criticize where deemed necessary.

“As Names, we are ready to work with any Minister that is responsible for information as appointed by the powers that be. Where that Minister is not performing in the interest of media freedom, we will not hesitate to offer constructive criticism. Where we see challenges, we will offer advice”

Meanwhile, MBC has  emerged among the top five institutions drawn from across Africa and selected from 67 entries at the 35th Africa Association for Public Administration and Management (AAPAM) Annual Roundtable Conference held at Serena Hotel in Kigali, Rwanda from November 18 to 22 this year, according to the corporation’s commercial director Levee Nkunika.

MBC submitted a project called ‘Barefoot Journalists’ which Nkunika said is another name for MBC Radio Listening Clubs (RLCs) that seek to facilitate dialogue between the rights holders (rural marginalised communities) and the duty-bearers (government agencies and non-governmental organisations) to ensure sustainable development.

The state broadcaster has about 122 RCLs spread across the country.

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