Rights activist tells friends ‘you are a shame’

Renowned outspoken and veteran human rights activist Emma Kaliya has admonished her fellow activists for chasing Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC TV) crew from their news conference held in the capital, Lilongwe Tuesday.

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) chased from their function two state journalists, cameraman Gerald Ntaba and reporter/news analyst Chawezi Banda whom they accused of lacking objectively in their news reports which are aimed at tarnishing the image of CSOs.

The CSOs leaders said the action was in line with government recent action whereby journalists from the private media have not been welcomed to state functions especially those that are conducted by President Bingu wa Mutharika.

Kaliya: Unacceptable

But the candid Kaliya has condemned her fellow activists who were present during the “journalists chasing operation” saying she was embarrassed with the action.

“Surely, I am embarrassed with this conduct, I wish I was there. What message are we sending to the world, that was really bad,” Kaliya said Wednesday in Mangochi during an orientation of training manual on gender mainstreaming, human rights based approach to HIV and AIDS and advocacy for journalists.

The seemingly annoyed Kaliya could not buy explanations for her fellow activists’ actions saying the fact that the said reporters work for MBC should not become enemies of the civil society.

Voice Mhone, Chairperson of the Council for Non Government Organisations in Malawi (CONGOMA) and leader of the CSO side on the ongoing dialogue with government to resolve the 20 issues presented in the July 20, 2011 petition, said what made CSOs  to be uncomfortable was the fact that the MBC TV team arrived at Crossroads
Hotel, the venue of the presser, much earlier before the members took their seats a sharp contrast to their tradition.

At any function MBC TV journalists are the last to arrive, sometimes they even come after the event is finished, unless it involves a very senior government or Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) official.

And Kaliya said: “I have spoken to the chairperson and he says they are discussing the issue. What is it that they are discussing because the message has already gone to the public that CSOs have chased journalists?”

However, Kaliya, who is Programme Manager for the Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre (MHRRC) who organised the training and also Chairperson of the country’s Gender Coordinating Network (GCN) told
the journalists she believed there were few people who were not comfortable with MBC TV who masterminded the whole operation.

One of the journalists attending the training, Kondwani Munthali of Nation Publications Limited also commented saying the action had a very bad reflection on the CSOs because people will interpret the issue differently.

“The international media will not be saying CSOs chase MBC journalists but they will write Malawian CSOs chase journalists which will create a very negative perception on the country’s CSOs,” he observed.

During the conference, the CSOs faulted PresidentBingu wa  Mutharika’s administration for executing executive arrogance in his approach to serious issues that are affecting the country.

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