Malawi journalists remain concerned that President Mrs. Joyce Banda has not departed from the culture of ‘press rallies’ which late president Bingu wa Mutharika was conducting.
Banda has been addressing news conferences in the presence of political party cohorts who would heckle journalists whenever they ask probing questions.
The Malawi chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Malawi) chairperson Anthony Kasunda observed that the situation at the news conferences attended by party members was hostile to journalists and was “disturbing”.
“It’s disturbing that the same thing happened on Sunday when we wrote the President two weeks ago advising her on how she would conduct the conference,” Kasunda said on Daybreak Malawi program on Capital FM aired Tuesday.
He said the media asked President Banda to hold news conference when arriving from abroad at the VVIP lounge at the airport or at State House without party zealots.
“So we want to appeal to the president and government officials to spare time and talk to the media in the absence of party people,” the media watchdog head said.
Kasunda said the ruling PP officials may not have harassed the journalists but that the presence of “hand clappers” at the presser intimidates reporters.
Newspaper columnist, Raphael Tenthani, writing in his ‘Muckraking on Sunday’ published in the Sunday Times recently advised new press secretary Steve Nhlane and a band of press officers to bring sanity into the president’s office in the way they conduct the news conference.
But government spokesperson Moses Kunkuyu was defensive, saying the presser have always been conducted in appropriate areas.