Minister of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Henry Mussa, has taken on the public broadcaster, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), encouraging it to open up to opposition candidates and electoral stakeholders especially as the county heads towards the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
Mussa h reassured the general public that the MBC will remain open to serve all Malawians in accordance to its mandate as a public broadcaster and will not be announcing one-sided issues.
The minister who doubles as government spokesman made the commitment Wednesday when he visited the public broadcaster in Blantyre.
“I have appealed to MBC as a public broadcaster to rise above petty party politics and serve the nation sincerely in a professional and accountable manner,” said Mussa.
He said with the advent of social media where “fake news” trend more with sensational issues which are not accurate and balanced, the nation depends on the public broadcaster as a credible source of information.
“I have also asked MBC to share content of national interest with other media houses so that the entire nation is equally informed and educated on matters of national importance,” said Mussa.
In response, MBC Director General, Aubrey Sumbuleta, said that MBC provide fair coverage to all players in the forthcoming tripartite elections.
Governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali said the MBC should be opening up to alternative views beyond the ruling party.
He said it is important for any democracy to allow plurality of views and information, especially this election year, so that people make informed decisions.
Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa said in an interview on Sunday the commission cannot force MBC to open up until March 19 when the official campaign period starts and ends on May 19.
“We can only force them once the campaign period officially starts and that is on 19 March,” said Mwafulirwa.
But constitutional lawyer Associate Professor Edge Kanyongolo says MBC is required by law to open up to all political parties not only during elections.
“If MBC does not open up, they are infringing the law and this will catch up with them in future,” said Kanyongolo.
Rights activists state that it is vital for the MEC to reassure candidates and voters that the presidential, national assembly and local council elections will be free and fair, and that the new government will be legitimately elected.
This will be Malawi’s sixth democratic election.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :