The photo caption story, which appeared on Wednesday in the front-page of Malawi’s flagship newspaper, the Daily Times, depicting governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) youth who are painting their faces and bodies in party colours and main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) youth in berets in revolutionary red has triggered a debate on social media.
Making a splash on the front page, the paper titled the caption story : ‘Sport the difference between the two groups’.
At political rallies, it is common to see a majority of youths painted from head to toe in sweltering heat, and sometimes drenched in rain, showing their unwavering support to party leaders.
Commenting on Daily Times front-page, United Democratic Front (UDF) spokesman Ken Ndanga wrote on his Facebook page that the newspaper has given its readers a “raw deal.”
“We just have to be fair,” he wrote.
Ndanga, who once worked as a newspaper journalist, stated that “The Spot the difference” caption in Times’ Wednesday edition “does not tell a fair and balanced story on the ground. I have seen MCP youths in very decent party regalia and seen the same in the DPP camp.”
“Equally I have also seen some overzealous youth from both camps in paint. Secondly the class of the two pictures on their front page depicts youths of evidently different classes and can not be compared,” he argued.
According to Ndanga, the best the newspaper could have done was to do an article that condemns the exploitation of youths by political parties.
“This should not be an attack on the Daily Times but demonstration of my personal respect for the Daily Times being the oldest media organisation which has groomed so many professionals on the land,” he wrote.
Writing on his Facebook page, writer and renowned literary icon Stanley Onjezani Kenani wrote: “Dear Daily Times, Are you having a slow news day? This is blatantly partisan. We expect independent news coverage and analysis from you.Yours faithfully.”
Journalist Deguzman Kaminjolo, who once worked at Times,added his voice to the debate.
He wrote: “So many ways to skin a cat, everyone chooses a means that works for them. Why should we judge the DPP youth when they paint themselves blue? Why isn’t it a big deal when Bullets or Nomads supporters smear paint on their skin? Or Brazil or France soccer team supporters when they paint their faces in their national colors? If I have to spot the difference between the two, on the right, I see dedication and loyalty to ones party.On the left I see teenagers who couldn’t resist a selfie opportunity. In 2019, One group here will be swiping on their smartphones updating statuses while the other group braves the queue to actually vote.”
An MCP supporter Frank Gondwe advised the media giant Times not to practice gutter journalism like tax-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corportaion, saying “in the end people will not differentiate.”
Gondwe wrote: “Times group and MBC they should be professional . Leave partisan politics to Facebookers not you big media houses. MBC stopped professional reporting in 1994, so we are used to their mediocre reporting style. Don’t hit back , we are MCP inside out, no one would go to DPP now.”
In Malawi, parties have been using youth as objects to fuel violence and to disturb opponents’ political rallies.Now is time for the youth to take active participation in politics in order to become decision-makers as that is the only way youth-related policies will find their way on the national agenda.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :