PP hits at Misa-Malawi over Galaxy journalist arrest: No gagging media

Malawi’s ruling People’s Party has reacted to the statement from Misa-Malawi over the arrest of Galaxy Radio journalist Sylvester Namiwa arguing the Joyce Banda administration is not bent towards gagging the media  but warned the media that the freedom and democracy in the country are not an open cheque for unprofessional journalism.

Police nabbed Namiwa on Tuesday after broadcasting names of people allegedly implicated in the Capitol Hill cash gate including Vice President Khumbo Kachali who was linked to a company said to have pocketed from government coffers but without supplying anything. Kachali distanced himself from the company in the National Assembly.

PP deputy spokesperson Ken Msonda called on Misa-Malawi to put its house in order by ensuring that professionalism is upheld among its journalists.

Said Msonda: “The arrest of a Galaxy FM journalist should not be viewed as gagging media. Journalists can write anything correctly researched and balanced, not lies who do so for political or monetary gains to dent the reputation and image of innocent citizens.

Msonda:  Few rotten fishes in the media
Msonda: Few rotten fishes in the media

“We concur with the MISA Chairperson’s sentiments that irresponsible and unbalanced reporting have no room in a democratic setup. We are mindful that in every profession, there few ‘rotten fish’ who are bent to dent the good image and reputation of their profession. We would therefore like to appeal to MISA Malawi to put its house in order to avoid denting the good reputation and image of our professional journalists in the country.”

Msonda said the PP government would at all times respect and adhere to democratic values and principles as enshrined in the Republican Constitution.

“Peoples Party believes that in a democratic dispensation, freedom of the press is a Constitutional Right and have to be respected and protected. The party and its leadership recognise, respect and appreciate the noble and important role our professional media continue to play since the dawn of multiparty democracy.

“Suffice to say that our respected and professional journalists need to be reminded that democracy and freedoms is not an open cheque; it comes with responsibility and maturity. Every citizen is entitled to such freedoms and rights in spite of ones political, regional, tribal or religious affiliations,” said Msonda.

Meanwhile. Journalists Union of Malawi (JUMA) joined Misa-Malawi in condemning the arrest of Namiwa and the irresponsible kind of journalism.

“The Journalist Union of Malawi (Juma) is concerned with the conduct of government through its law enforcing agency over the questioning and arrest of Galaxy FM radio journalist Sylvester Namiwa, who also happens to be the Union’s Vice President.

“We understand that Mr. Namiwa was cautioned and charged with publishing content likely to incite violence on Tuesday, October 22, 2013. It is the view of Juma that the government should have followed civilized and proper channels as an aggrieved party to the purported offensive broadcast by Galaxy FM by either lodging an official complaint with the Media Council of Malawi (MCM) or MISA Malawi or Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra),” reads the statement signed by JUMA president Fred Ndala.

Ndala said the use of state machinery like the Police when clear and appropriate channels of resolving media grievances are available is tantamount to gagging the press and suppressing freedom of expression and media freedom as such practice instills unnecessary fear in people that the government is entrusted to govern.

”Although Juma does not condone  professional misconduct by its members in the execution of the noble profession, we do not think the arrest of a journalist over professional misconduct when there are appropriate channels for lodging media-related complaints is the right thing for government to do,” said Ndala.

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