Malawian President Joyce Banda is continuing the culture of ‘press rallies’ which late president Bingu wa Mutharika was conducting.
President Banda held a news conference at Kamuzu Palace in the capital Lilongwe on Monday, on return from visits to the United States and Britain in the presence of political party cohorts, who created a hostile environment to journalists that attended the event.
Journalists were coy to ask critical questions to the Head of State in the presence of zealots.
At the peak of his reign, former president Mutharika shuffled venues for the holding of news conferences between State House and the airport, especially when returning from abroad.
Some argued the development left media practitioners exposed to ridicule and insults from party officials and hoodlums, who in one way or the other, found their way into these press rallies.
The Malawi chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Malawi) vice chairman Thom Khanje is on record saying reporters need to have a conducive environment “in order to discharge their duty professionally and in a diligent manner when handling presidential functions”.
President Banda has been urged to hold news conference when arriving from abroad at the VVIP lounge at the airport or at State House without party zealots.
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.