Media rights watchdog MISA- Malawi has condemned the arrest of Galaxy Radio journalist Sylvester Namiwa for broadcasting contents of a document that implicated Vice President Khumbo Kachali in the Capital Hill cash-gate scandal.
Misa-Malawi has also, at the same time condemned overzealous reporting from journalists urging them to stick to professionalism.
Police arrested Namiwa on Tuesday and charged him with publishing content likely to incite violence.
“MISA Malawi does not condone professional misconduct and parroting of lies and half-baked stories. But we at the same time consider the arrest of a journalist over professional misconduct retrogressive and attempts to stifle critical voices and opinion,”reads a statement from Misa Malawi signed by its vice chairperson Thom Khanje.
“It is important to note that in any democracy, free speech is paramount and affords the citizenry, including the media, a chance to debate and shape public opinion. Without free speech, the media cannot effectively perform its watchdog role and check abuse of power and safeguard democracy. That is why MISA Malawi has been in the forefront campaigning for repeal and review of laws that restrict free speech, such as Criminal Defamation and other insult laws, which continue to be used to arrest and instill fear and trepidation in journalists and the citizenry.”
Khanje appealed to people concerned and aggrieved by the programme aired by Galaxy FM to use appropriate channels of resolving their grievances such as lodging a complaint with the Media Council of Malawi (MCM) or indeed MISA rather than using the police to instill fear and trepidation in people.
Misa however urged media houses to be professional.
”We, at the same time, appeal to radio stations and the media in general to safeguard journalism as a profession and to conduct thorough research before publishing stories.
”We have hope in the Police and the media to collaborate in safe guarding Malawi’s nascent democracy and to thoroughly investigate the looting at Capital Hill for the benefit of the tax payer and Malawi as country.”
Khanje warned that overzealous reporting on the part of the media or indeed arresting journalists on the part of the police will not help the investigations and Malawi as a nation.