Journalism truly still alive in Malawi

The news conference that President Joyce Banda addressed on arrival home from her sojourns abroad had some interesting issues to note. First journalists were probing the President without fear or favour and the leadership should be applauded for guaranteeing free expression and freedom after that.

But it should be noted that the presser pathetically fell way below expected standards.

For starters, Malawi has been on fire since the President left it for the US about three weeks ago after which the Capital Hill turned itself into the looters’ den since the shooting of Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo some four weeks ago.

Most of this looting, which has enraged the taxpaying public of Malawi, reached its zenith while Banda was abroad. editorial

Malawians, therefore, were pregnant with expectation to see and hear how the President will tackle the crisis and restore people’s confidence in their elected officials.

We, at Nyasa Times, would have thought a free press conference, where journalists were to be given a fair chance to ask questions on behalf of Malawians would be an ideal situation for the President to get her message across and lay out the steps that her government would take to root out this problems once and for all.

To say we were disappointed together with many Malawians is an understatement. The press conference, as others have noted before us, was a rally and the ruling PP faithful were at their best element to frustrate the pressmen as they attempted to seek answers from the President on issues that are of grave concern to Malawians.

We would like to remind the President  that she came to power on the wave of serious anti-Bingu wa Mutharika feeling among Malawians who felt that after the former late president won the 2009 elections, he was becoming more undemocratic and dictatorial by the day.

What Malawians wanted of President Banda was not more of the same but is to change the way things were being done including the disdain and low esteem in which the late Mutharika held journalists culminating into press conferences being turned into rallies where journalists were harassed and hounded in an attempt to intimidate them from asking the hard questions on behalf of Malawians.

Today seeing PP officials hijacking the Presidential news conference it is disappointing and disheartening for our democracy. But glad even though journalists who quizzed President Banda and at times she was sounding angry, have not been harassed afterwards and no stories of burning Zodiak vehicles as it were under DPP regime.

As for the brave men and women of the press who defied a rabid PP audience to force the President to give the answers Malawians wanted to hear, we say bravo!

Against all odds of those who wish to see it dead by interfering with it, journalism is truly alive in Malawi and Wednesday’s Sanjika press conference bears testimony to that.

Well done men and women who live by the pen.

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