New British High Commissioner Holly Tett on Wednesday paid a courtesy call to former president Bakili Muluzi who governed Malawi from 1994 to 2004 and also toured private news organisations Times Group and Nation Publications Limited.
During a coutesy call with Muluzi at his private home, BCA Hill in Blantyre, the former president thanked the British government for the continued assistance to Malawi, including the recent £43million which Her Majesty’s government has given Malawi for humanitarian response covering food purchasem cash transfer, agriculture anf education.
Muluzi also informed the British High Commissioner that President Peter Mutharika government is pursing two important programmes namely Public Finance Management and Public Sector Reforms.
The British envoy assured her government’s committement to work with the people of Malawi in a number of sectors.
Meanwhile, two daily newspapers – The Nation and Daily Times – reported on Thursday that Tett visited their newsrooms.
The Nation reported that the British envoy toured Nation Publications Limited head office at Ginnery Corner and held discussions with Managing Editor Ephraim Munthali, Weekend Nation Editor Steven Nhlane, Nation on Sunday Editor Emmanuel Luciano and Marketing Officer Vanessa Mdala.
In his address, Munthali, who is a beneficiary of the British government Chevening Scholarship, registered the publication’s appreciation for the support the British government has provided to its journalists over the years and to Fuko, a fortnightly free vernacular publication that targets rural masses .
The Daily Times reported that Tett visited Times Group offices also at Ginnery Corner in Blantyre and called on government to ensure that the media is free to operate in the country without interference.
Tett said a free media is important for the consolidation of democracy and as such, the government should strive towards making the media free.
But the Times published an editorial comment in which it said Malawi media is under siege, agreeing with the diplomat’s remarks that a robust and free media is necessary for the flourishing of democracy which in turn spurs development.
“On the surface, those who are not conversant with what is happening in the country can easily think that there is freedom of press in this country. But the truth is, no. The only reason there appears to be freedom is that the Malawi media have been resolute in their pursuit of justice and the fight against corruption regardless of the intimidating environment they operate,” the paper stated.
Times claimed the government is trying to intimidate the media house into towing the government’s line.
“As we are speaking now, the government is playing all delaying tactics in the book so that the recently-passed Access to Information Bill should not see the light of day. This bill has received vigilant opposition from governments past and present. The reason behind this is to choke the public, and particularly the media from putting to light government’s shady dealings,” reads the editorial.
The paper pointed out that there is a regime crusade against the media simply for the media’s resolve to fight corruption and many other vices.
“Even presidential press conferences are not free. Ruling parties, including the current one, resolve to intimidate members of the press by inviting party supporters at press briefings that could otherwise have provided the media to freely engage the president on behalf of the citizenry.
“We have cases of media personnel being beaten up by party supporters’ right in front of the police and other security agents. At some point, members of the press are even banned from state functions for reasons that can best be explained by the government,” reads the editorial.
The paper stressed that media in Malawi is under siege.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :