The Malawi Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) says it is disturbed with repeated threats from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) top brass on media outlets deemed to be critical of President Bingu wa Mutharika’s government policies.
Barely two days after State House issued a statement warning the media and civil society organizations against ‘insulting’ the country’s leadership, DPP Director of Youth, Frank Mwenefumbo, has called on all government departments and the civil service to stop buying, reading and advertising in newspapers critical of the DPP led government, singling out The Nation.
And Minister of Health, Jean Kalilani, who is also DPP vice president, speaking at Malawi Embassy in London on Saturday attacked Nyasa Timesonline publication, urging Malawians not to read it.
“We find the recent order to stop advertising in [The Nation] as well as threats on journalists in general very strange and retrogressive for Malawi’s nascent democracy,” Misa-Malawi chairperson Anthiny Kasunda said in a statement on Tuesday.
“ Attacks on the media and civil society and human rights defenders in general are attacks on democracy and should not be condoned,” he added.
The statement said media outlets are “part and parcel of any democratic state worth the name” and have a watch dog role in any such society.
“Malawians are also rational and capable of deciding what media outlet to read and listen to. It is sad and retrogressive that any individual should decide for Malawians which media outlets to read,” the watchdog said.
MISA Malawi is, therefore, requesting President Mutharika to personally distance himself from threats issued by DPP cadres on the media in the country and the Constitution he swore to defend.
The media watchdog said it expects the President to ensure that his administration remains “the guarantor” of media development and press freedom as enshrined in the Malawi Constitution.
MISA Malawi maintained that it does not condone biased reporting and neither does it encourage irresponsible journalism.