MACRA, Police contradict on radio shut down

An Official from Malawi Police Service has distanced the law enforcers from claims by Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) that it was the police who were responsible for the shutting down of about three radio station during the July 20 pro-democracy demonstrations last year.

Deputy Director for Broadcasting Kelton Masangano, made the claim on Tuesday in response to an avalanche of questions from probing journalists who are attending the four-day MACRA sponsored workshop on Broadcasting Ethics and Conflict reporting at Kanjedza Lodge in Blantyre.

The journalists quizzed him on why MACRA shutdown only the private radio station leaving out state broadcaster Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) which  had played a bigger role in misinforming people about the aim of the demonstrations.

Masangano: Police can shut down a radio station on national security concerns

Masangano said it was not MACRA officials who shut down the radio stations but the police.

He said the police even did that without seeking permission from MACRA. Asked why the police never informed MACRA, he said the police have the mandate to shut down radio stations if they feel they pose danger to national security.

But George Kainja of the Malawi Police Research Planning Unit, who made the presentation on Conflict resolution on Wednesday, categorically denied claims by MACRA saying the police have no mandate to close down radio stations at their will.

“Police have no mandate to close down radio stations. This is the responsibility of MACRA which is the broadcasting regulator body. But since you are making reference to another person [Masangano] who is not here at the moment I can’t comment any further”, he said.

However the story which was aired on Capital Radio on the same later in the day seemed to have irritated MACRA officials.

MACRA’s Communications Manager, Zadziko Mankhambo contradicted Masangano when he told journalists later in the day that it was in fact MACRA employees who shut down the radio station not the police.

“The police only came to us expressing their concern that what some private radio stations were doing would likely incite violence. So MACRA people shutdown the stations after the broadcasters in question ignored warnings we sent to them earlier,” he said.

On why leaving out MBC, Mankhambo said no one complained about the conduct of MBC on that day.

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