The Malawi Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Malawi) has said it dismayed by the conduct of ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters who on Friday beat up Times Group photographer Douglas Banda while on duty within Parliament premises in Lilongwe.
The journalist was assaulted while filming DPP rough necks as they were being evicted from Parliament for disturbing proceedings and they ordered him to delete the pictures he had taken.
“It is saddening that Banda was beaten up in full view of the police and DPP Secretary General Gresselder Jeffrey,” Misa amalawi chairperson Tereza Ndanga said in a statement.
Banda was rescued by fellow journalists who whisked him away to safety.
“It is important to also note that the assault happened while President Peter Mutharika was within Parliament premises.
“It is also disheartening that while journalists in Malawi joined their colleagues across the world on May 3 to celebrate Press Freedom, there are still some people in Malawi who are creating a hostile environment for journalists,” the statement reads.
MISA Malawi condemns in strongest terms the conduct of the DPP cadres and demand that the police should arrest and prosecute Banda’s assailants.
The commandeering cadets have been identified as Dyton Mussa – who even challenged police as he harassed legislators – and another Diagras Banda also flamboyantly showed he is above the law.
“We also demand that the DPP should publicly condemn this act to demonstrate its commitment towards press freedom in Malawi. As the legal process takes its course on the matter, we further expect the DPP to discipline those who were involved in this heinous act,” Misa Malawi said.
DPP leaders including the party’s Secretary General Greiseder Jeffrey desperately tried to plead with the party’s supporters to adhere to the Parliament protocol as President Mutharika, remained seated waiting for calm to reign again.
When Mutharika resumed his State of the Nation Address, he made no single reference to the chaos that had just ensued in the House.
Minister of Information and Government spokesperson Nicholas Dausi conceded that the scenes inside Parliament were embarrassing in full view of diplomats and foreign diginatiries.
Dausi said the ugly scene were “not acceptable”.
DPP cadets have a history of abductions and killings.
Human rights defenders led by Timothy Mtambo, Gift Trapence and Charles Kajoloweka, who last week also petitioned government over socio-economic and governance issues, said in a statement that the violence is a manifestation that the DPP tolerates violence as a tool to stifle dissenting views.
They said the assault on Banda was not only an attack on media freedom but also an insult to Malawi’s hard–earned democracy.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :