The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has been faulted for stopping private broadcasters from beaming live an address by the country’s estranged Vice-President Saulos Chilima.
Macra interfered with Times Media, Zodiak Broadcasting Station and Luntha Television against broadcasting the speech by Chilima and there was loss of television signals during the live address.
Legal experts have said Macra violated Section 36 of the Constitution which guarantees the media “the right to report and publish freely, within Malawi and abroad, and to be accorded the fullest possible facilities for access to public information.”
In its editorial comment on Tuesday April 28, 2020 , the leading daily newspaper The Nation said Macra – which is led by Godfrey Itaye – should act as a the regulator it is supposed t be and serve the best interest of Malawians to whom the institution is accountable .
“It [Macra] should desist from being used as a political weapon to thwart alternative views. The institution is not anybody’s political or personal estate – it is a public entity,” reads the comment in part.
The paper’s editorial also reminded people holding public offices that they do so “on trust” as stated in Section 12 (ii) of the Constitution, hence they “shall only exercise such power to the extent of their lawful authority and in accordance with their responsibilities to the people of Malawi.”
University of Malawi dean of law Sunduzwayo Madise also said in quotes reported by the paper that Macra and other public institutions should rise above petty partisan politicking, saying as a regulator “they are abusing their powers.”
In his address, the vice-president only outlined facts on critical issues affecting the country, the paper pointed out.
“There was nothing treasonous, seditious or obscene in the address. Thus, one tends to wonder what the fuss was all about and the proverb ‘An old woman is always uneasy when dry bones are mentioned’ quickly comes to mind,” reads the editorial.
Chilima has dared President Peter Mutharika to demonstrate leadership in the fight against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic bringing on board all stakeholders to be part of an inclusive national response.
In a 10-paged address titled Remarks by the Right Honourable State Vice- President of the Republic of Malawi on the National Situation and Response to Covid-19, he said to win the fight against the pandemic it is important that the response should be owned by the nation.
The Vice-President, who fell out with President Peter Mutharika and quit the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in June 2018 to form UTM Party and challenged his political mentor in the disputed May 21 2019 presidential election, is also set to be on the presidential ballot paper during the forthcoming fresh presidential polls.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :