Al Osman says ruling DPP ‘ afraid of public opinion’: Malawi broadcasters criticize call-in shows suspension

Supporters of press freedom in Malawi are denouncing a government order suspending all radio and television call-in programs. Malawi’s Communications Regulatory Authority issued the order on Friday, saying it is concerned that the programs could trigger more post-election violence.

Florence Mwale, host of Business Today show at Capita Radio, presses the profanity-delay button to block obscene and offensive language. (L. Masina for VOA)
apital Radio Director Alaudin Osman (R) cross checks news bulletin content with editor Wezi Nyirongo before going on air. (L. Masina for VOA)
Yusufu Daisa is a presenter at Radio Islam, which is pushing for exclusion from the suspension. (L. Masina for VOA)

Malawi’s privately-owned Capital Radio station is known for broadcasting lively chat shows about politics and society but has been forced to engage with listeners via social media.

On Friday, Malawi’s Communications Regulatory Authority, MACRA ordered all broadcasters to immediately and indefinitely suspend call-in shows.

Capital Radio’s director Alaudin Osman says the suspension has dealt a blow to their normal programming.

“We are quite angry and disappointed about this,” he said. “In fact, our immediate reaction was to send MACRA message that this is unfair because most of our programs on Capital Radio are talk programs, now the blanket suspension affects all us.”

MACRA said some broadcasters had engaged in “careless and unethical coverage” of unrest that followed the disputed May elections, and expressed concern the chat shows could inflame further violence.

Last week, Malawi opposition supporters angry about the re-election of President Peter Mutharika clashed with police, who used tear gas to break up the protests.

Two opposition leaders launched a legal challenge against the results, claiming Mutharika’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party and the election commission rigged the vote. The DPP and election commission have denied the accusation and say the election was free and fair.

Osman says suspending the chat shows suggests there is panic in the ruling party since they “don’t want anybody to discuss the aftermath of the election.” He said it looks like “somebody, somewhere, seems to be afraid of public opinion.”

When asked by a reporter Monday by phone why the ban was needed, MACRA’s Communications Manager Clara Mwafulirwa said she “will come back later” and then promptly ended the call.

Malawi press freedom group Media Institute for Southern Africa says the government’s order violates freedom of expression.

The group’s chairperson Tereza Ndanga said, “We are asking them to reverse that decision and we do expect that they would respond in the best interest of Malawians. We will see after what action will be taken depending on the outcome of engaging that we are having.”

Broadcast managers are planning to meet with the Communications Regulatory Authority this week to discuss the matter.

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Madando
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Madando

ANTHUWA NDI ZITSIRU ZEDI OSAPHUNZIRA ABULUTU TAWONENI ETI MITU KUNYASA

Lego
Guest

We told you that this APM is a dictator but you could not understand.Just look at the way he is clinging to power though he did not win tells the volume how he is.Its high time to get lead of this an educated fool APM

Gerald
Guest
Gerald

At any cost public opinion should not be barred in anyway, by anybody and anyhow. MACRA must not be used and abused. We need diverse opinion even if it goes against the government or opposition. Since we accepted democracy we need to accept the associated discipline. MACRA the organisation does stands for Malawi and please take away your suspension and let broadcasting houses use their professional judgement and not your political guidance

Nelson Ngwira
Guest

Please you Dpp and your friends stop this madness you are killing the country, people will start killing each, like in south cause them also they will have there on way so, please

Nelson Ngwira
Guest

well I believe my home my country is free let people be free to say what’s in there heart if you continue what you are doing you DPP and your members where you will crick time boom people will start killing each other like in south-Africa mob justices and alike

Bonney Phiri
Guest
Bonney Phiri

This is Malawi the home of every Malawians, what we know is there freedom, nde inu a MACRA ndi a DPP musapusitse nzika ngati kuti dzikoli ndilanu nokha nanga tidandaule a MEC ndepanoso tizikamba za inu a MACRA ngati ndani? ufulu uwoneke ponseponse zimenezo zinavomerezedwa 1993-4 osamaponderezana

Kanyimbi
Guest
Kanyimbi

APM taking us back to Dr Banda’s MCP, Malawians let us guard our 1994 democracy & demostrate same way we did in 1993 with the backing of our Mighty PAC until APM gives us our freedom. Freedom is coming tommorow!

Sekulu
Guest
Sekulu

Whether one likes it or not, Malawi is on fire. We are sitting on a ticking berm. Malawians are tired of the self afflicted poverty and there about the explode. Not even the heavy handed police will be able to control them. Its is soon. they are waiting for the conclusion of the court case.

Mutharika runaway from Malawi and he found a heaven in America. Only to come to ruin our hard worn democracy and steal our resources. What a shame!!! I am sure he will pay twice the price.

Jemusi
Guest
Jemusi

Get an injunction to stop this nonsense from Macra

Maunitsi
Guest
Maunitsi

MACRA is one of govt agents that has messed up. It is too political and let me assure MACRA nkhanga zaona very soon you will see how God’s power pushes things to happen it is remaining with short time.

Christopher Tchayatchaya
Guest
Christopher Tchayatchaya

Thats bad to our democracy