Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has accused Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA) for treating state broadcaster—Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) — with kid gloves for airing obscene and disparaging content to vice president Saulos Chilima last week and their continued gutter journalism.
MHRC chairperson Reverend Patrick Semphere said this after a closed door meeting between commission and officials from the Ministry of Information which took place in Lilongwe.
Semphere wondered why it is taking time for Macra to act on MBC TV‘s recent unprofessional conduct in which the station used swearwords towards Chilima in its 7 pm Chichewa Bulletin of Monday, May 11, 2020.
In the report that was narrated by journalist Henry Haukeya, the station used a screenshot of Facebook comments with swearwords targeted at the Vice President.
“It is important that Macra be fair the way it deals with other broadcasters [Private owned]” said Semphere.
“MBC is more lenient on MBC and harsh on private entities” added Semphere.
Commenting on the pending meeting in which Macra has summoned MBC bosses, Semphere said: “As a commission we hope that justice will take its course”.
He therefore assured all Malawians that MHRC will continue playing its role of protecting the rights of Malawian citizens.
“MHRC has an obligation to protect and promote human rights in the country and investigate any violation of the same” he said.
Macra refused to take MBC off air with its director general Godfrey Itaye said taking such action against the public broadcaster will be going against rules of natural justice.
Itaye said Macra has already summoned MBC to appear before the Election Broadcasting Monitoring and Complaints Committee on preliminary findings of breaches of the Communications Act.
Some citizens and rights groups such as Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), Youth and Society (YAS) and Church and Society of the CCAP Livingstonia Synod, wrote Macra to suspend broadcasting of MBC by last Friday or face legal challenge/
Through lawyer Jivason Kadzipatike, the CSOs argued that MBC is a statutory licencee under the Communications Act, and that through the same Act, under Section 43, Macra can revoke the said licence.
Reads the lawyer’s letter: “Our clients have noted that MBC has gone overboard in contravening its statutory duties under the Communications Act.
“MBC is perpetually in breach of its public service obligations under the Act and the broadcaster has clearly shown the whole world that it has no respect for human rights, rule of law and the Constitution as required of it under Section 109 of the Communications Act.”
Meanwhile, Kadzipatike has said he is engaging his clients on the way forward, but maintained that he is of the view that MBC should have been suspended pending hearing, and such suspension would not infringe on principles of natural justice in any way.
Media Council of Malawi (MCM) chairperson Wiseman Chijere Chirwa described its conduct as “below any standard of morality”.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :