Court stops MBC merger, staff redeployment

High Court has granted an injunction to employees of the state broadcaster, the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), stopping the merger of the television and radio stations, retrenching and redeploying staff to other government departments until the judicial review.

The order was granted by Justice Rowland Bvundula in Blantyre on Tuesday.

“It is ordered  that leave to move for judicial review, of the decision of the respondents  (state) to implement the restructuring and merger of Malawi Broadcasting Corporation and Malawi Television Limited, be and is hereby granted,” reads the order..

“It is further ordered that an order of injunction, be and is hereby granted, restraining the respondents, through themselves, their servants or their agents from implementing the decision to restructure Malawi Broadcasting Corporation and the merger of Malawi Broadcasting Corporation and Malawi Television Limited, until the determination of the Judicial review, or a further order of this court to the contrary,” it added.

Malopa: Court stops MBC merger until judicial review

Electronic Media Workers Union (EMWU) took the matter to court after government demoted staff while others have had their salaries slashed by more than half, arguing it is “unreasonable”.

“The first respondent (Director General of MBC, Bright Malopa) acted ultra vires in implementing the merger of the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation and Malawi Television Limited, the latter of which is a company duly incorporated under the companies Act, whose absorption into the former requires compliance with Parts XI and XII of the Companies Act, 1984 requiring it to undergo liquidation or follow principles for takeovers and mergers,” reads an affidavid by EMWU lodged in court.

Letters to the employees were indicating, for instance, a former principal editor whose salary was in the ranges of K70 000, had his salary reduced to K15 000 after his redeployment to the Ministry of Education headquarters where he will work as a clerical officer.

Out of approximately 700 employees at MBC only 413 still have their jobs, while others have been redeployed to ministries of Information and Civic Education, Science and Technology; departments of the Auditor General and Statistics. Others have been retired.

EMWU members who joined the case included its chair Augustine Lubani, Godfrey Mhango, Richard Banda, Chawera Nyirenda , Chimwemwe Tsisi, Blessings Mapinda, Glads Gandali, Morton Kalefya, Elisha Gazamiyala and 141 others.

The MBC employees  were represented by Bob Chimkango, managing partner in the firm of Robert Lexis, Law Consultants.

“TVM is a limited company and for it to stop its operations, it must be liquidated in accordance with the Companies Act. The director general Bright Malopa cannot act as a liquidator because it is beyond his authority,” said Chimkango.

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