The High Court in Lilongwe sitting as a Constitutional Court has ruled against the ban of phone-in radio programmes which Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) imposed.
Reading the ruling, High Court Judge Chifundo Kachale, who was presiding over the case alongside judges Annabel Mtalimanja and Charles Mkandawire, said Macra flouted procedures when it issued the directive in June last year.
Macra effected a ban on phone-in programmes aired by radio stations which are not using gadgets that relay a delayed feedback.
But Media Institute in Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi Chapter and a number of radio stations that include Times Radio, Zodiak Broadcasting Station and Capital Radio applied for an interlocutory injunction to restrain Macra from effecting the ban until the court makes its determination.
On Friday in its judgement the court said Macra’s ban was “illegal” and lacked basis.
The court agreed with Misa- Malawi that the ban was an infringement of freedom of expression.
Misa Lawyer John Suzi Banda said that the ban was not in line with the law, particularly the Communications Act of 2016.
“The court has also said that legislation is a preserve of Parliament and if subsidiary executive or any public authority, it has to follow procedures under section 58 of the constitution and has to be read before Parliament using the current standing orders in Parliament. It has, therefore, been found that Information Minister didn’t follow that procedure,” he said.
Apart from dismissing the ban, the court has also slapped the regulator with costs.
“The court is for the people. Therefore, the claimant is going to organise the charges, which will duly be covered by Macra,” said Kachale
Macra effected the ban on June 7 following Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) one million march held in the country’s cities to force Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah to step down for allegedly mismanaging the May 21 presidential poll results.
The demonstrations were covered live by several radio stations, with some giving an opportunity to listeners to make phone calls to give their views on the issue.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :