The Regional Governing Council of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) says it recognizes the positive actions by the new government in Malawi led President Mrs. Joyce Banda in facilitating the work of the media particularly the repealing of repressive media laws and the opening up of the airwaves.
The Malawi government recently awarded 15 broadcasting licenses to private companies and Churches.
The Council said this in a statement signed MISA Malawi Chairperson Anthony Kasunda, who is alsoChairperson Regional Governing Council following its annual general meeting (AGM) held on July 29, 2012, at the Indaba Hotel and Conference Centre in Fourways, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Kasunda had six votes against two that Alec Lushaba, chairperson of MISA-Swaziland, polled.
According to MISA secretariat, Kasunda will continue to serve as MISA-Malawi chair based on 2011 Constitutional amendments that abolished the Executive Council.
“In Malawi…Of importance is the repeal of Section 46 of the Penal Code and other laws that threaten the existence of independent media in that country. We also applaud the leadership’s commitment to ensure that no media outlet is denied access to government advertisements,” the Council said.
Apart from Malawi MISA also noted positive developments on the media landscape in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Swaziland saying such improvements are evident in the positive engagements in dialogue between Governments and media policy lobby groups, as well as greater recognition of the watchdog role that media is required to play.
MISA then clarified that access to information is not a right of the media only, but a basic right and necessity for all citizens.
The media watchdog also reminded governments that the deadline imposed by the international Telecommunications Union to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting is approaching saying there is need to take concerted efforts to formulate policy and to be technically ready.