Management at one of Malawi’s biggest retailer shops, Peoples (sometimes known as Peoples Trading Centre – PTC) must have learned their lesson well when the Journalists Union of Malawi (Juma) came out last Saturday to criticize the chain store for abusing journalist Gregory Gondwe.
The institution was trying to curtail giving its side on concerns raised by its employees which Gondwe who works for Blantyre Newspapers Limited (BNL), a media conglomerate wanted to have a fair public ‘awareness’.
In a statement signed by Juma Central Region Chapter, Charles Mkula, on behalf of the union president, says Juma would like to condemn in thestrongest terms the actions of harassment undertaken by the management of PTC …on Friday 5th July 2013 as he was fairly trying to give the company an opportunity to be heard over allegations of workplace unfair practices.
“The threats and harassment of Mr. Gondwe are to say the least damaging to the reputation of PTC, one of the leading economic forces in Malawi and the SADC region. PTC has thus failed in its leadership role and
damaged its much espoused reputation as the “People’s” retail shop at both the national and international platforms,” charges Juma.
The union, further reminds the nation that the right to know just like the rule of natural justice which demands a subjects’ right to be heard are some of the hallmarks of Malawi’s democracy.
“It is only when spirited and informed discussions take place that the society moves forward while a stagnant and unprogressive society basks in cloaks of
secrecy and evasiveness such as the one exhibited by the management of PTC who do not want the public to know what is going on in its workplace and the conditions of its workforce.
Juma also requested government and the National Assembly to hasten the enactment of the Access to Information Bill into law for the benefit of national development and not only the media as some quarters would like the citizenry to
“We believe the law will stimulate social, economic and political growth as the public will access information to be used for the upliftment of their livehoods while businesses will use relevant information for investment and trade thereby spurring growth and development,” reads part of the statement. Government has been dillydallying the passing of the law which will open up awareness and also provide for adequate public sector accountability access.
PTC workers are demanding better working conditions through the Commercial, Industrial and Allied Workers Union who have taken up the PTC matter and are investigating the plight of the workers.
Juma, which is about to hold its annual general meeting by end of the month of July, is also setting up a Juma Alert (JA!) initiative which will give media employees an exclusive opportunity to voice out their work rights grievances for possible ‘naming and shaming’.