Civil society organisations (CSOs) are demanding immediate suspension of the provision of broadcasting services by public broadcaster Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) for beaming on the its TV swearwords against State Vice President Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima in its evening prime news bulletin on Monday.
Private practice lawyer Nicely Msowoya, Youth and Society (YAS), Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), Church and Society of the CCAP Livingstonia Synod say MBC is caught up in breach of its public service obligations under the Communications Act and that it has demonstrated a lack of respect for human rights and rule of law and the Constitution as required of it under Section 109 of the Communications Act.
They concerned individuals and CSOs have since engaged George Jivason Kadzipatike to file a case against the taxpayer-financed broadcaster, which has now become a mouthpiece of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Kadzipatike, in a letter dated 12th May, 2020, and addressed to MBC Director General and copied to the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA), says his clients were shocked to notice during its new bulletin whose broadcast started at 7pm on 11th May, 2020, MBC Television beamed vulgar expletives against Chilima.
He adds his clients have noted that MBC has gone overboard in contravening its statutory duties under the Communications Act.
“We are aware that MBC is a creature of Parliament and that its broadcasting licence is statutory, per Section 108 of the Communications Act. Although MBC is a statutory licencee under the Communications Act, this statutory licence is revocable by MACRA under Section 43 of the Communications Act in circumstances like the one in question herein where MBC has breached its obligations,” reads the letter in part.
Kadzipatike observes that through this and other actions, MBC is denying his clients, and the nation at large, their right to credible information and it is leading the country astray, yet MACRA does not appear to take any efforts to enforce the Communications Act against MBC.
“It is on the forgoing grounds that our clients demand the immediate suspension of the provision of broadcasting services by MBC until such a time that the unprofessional members of staff, including its secretariat and Board are replaced by competent and professional individuals.
“If MBC Television and radio are not taken off air by Friday, 15th May, 2020, we shall immediately file for an order in the High Court, compelling MACRA to close MBC until the unprofessional personnel thereat are flushed out and duly replaced,” warns Kadzipatike.
Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) which has been asked to discipline MBC and ensure the station is professional and operates according to the provisions of the Communications Act, says it will follow up the issue.