The State broadcaster Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) has lost credibility as Parliament say it is now a propaganda outlet for the governing party as it continues to use traditional leaders and the clergy to demonise the opposition.
Member of Parliament (MP) for Lilongwe Rural Central, Lobin Lowe (Malawi Congress Party-MCP) saidgovernment was using MBC—television and radio—to vilify those holding dissenting views.
He said in his contribution to a private member’s motion to compel the tax-funded broadcaster to move away from operating as a DPP station to a public service provider, as stipulated in the Communications Act of 2016.
The motion which was approved was moved by for Dowa North Constituency, Enos Chatatanga.
Lowe said MBC is mandated by Communication Act of 2016 to operate as a public broadcaster, to be a public good funded by tax payers’ money and operated in the interest of all Malawians.
“Unfortunately, the MBC has lost credibility. It is now a liability at a time it is supposed to be an asset to the country. The MBC has turned to be a thorn in a fresh of all opposition parties,” Lowe said.
He added: “It is disappointing to consider that there are professionals at the MBC, but they have decided to go ahead with primitive kind of propaganda which is run by both the MBC Radio and TV.”
The legislator said the MBC could win any award when it comes to bias in its political coverage.
“ It is giving wrong information to people. The important point is to give correct information. The MBC is feeding Malawians with lies. It is failing to come to its senses to realise that it was supposed to serve the people,” he said.
He said MBC should be reminded that the MCP was out of power in 1994, which is 24 years ago.
“And most of the would-be voters in 2019 are around 24 years. Which means basing propaganda on old MCP, is a waste of time.
“Mr Speaker, Sir, MBC is looking at MCP where everybody here belonged to. We were all under MCP. It has to be stated that an institution like MCP, was being operated by its own people. The question is where are those people who were operating MCP then? If they are somewhere, are they angels now? “
The MP said MCP has new leadership under Dr Lazarus Chakwera, who does not have any traces of the old ways.
“Mr Speaker, Sir, that is why the son of late Honourable Chiwanga has joined no other party other than Malawi Congress Party. That is regardless of the false and unfair MBC coverage.
“The current MCP is clean and fresh and has managed to rebrand to the point of achieving wonders of the landslide victory in the 5 to 1 by–election in October, 2017 And that one has seen the arrival of Honourable Msungama, Honourable Sosten Gwengwe, and Honourable Sitolo all the way from Lower Shire, Nsanje to be specific,” he said.
Lowe warned MBC to stop gutter journalism and start to perform as professionals.
“We are known as God fearing people, peaceful people and we should move just like that. The case study of Rwanda is a bad one. In 1994, Mr Speaker, Sir, Rwandan Genocide represents one of the most tragic episodes of political violence in recent history. Estimates suggest that in just 100 days, conflict between Hutu majority and Tutsi minority resulted in the killing of between 500,000 to 1 million citizens because of poor coverage of their radio station. Mr Speaker, Sir, we do not want that in Malawi,” he said.
In moving the motion, Chatatanga said Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) is supposed to hold broadcasters accountable but the regulatory authority is good at attacking private media houses, leaving MBC scot-free.
In 2007, the opposition successfully defunded MBC and then Television Malawi by giving it a nominal K1 allocation for the financial year.
At the time, the opposition legislators also claimed that MBC and TVM were propaganda tools of the government being used to discredit the opposition.
At the time, there were programmes on the radio such as Mizwanya and Makiyolobasi.
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