Union demands pay hike for Malawi journalists

Malawi’s media owners have been asked to raise perks for journalists in view of the soaring cost of living impacted by the recent devaluation of Kwacha.

The call has been made by the Journalists Union of Malawi (JUMA), a body that advocates for welfare of scribes in the country.

In a statement made available to Nyasa Times, JUMA chairperson George Mhango while commending the country’s President Mrs. Joyce Banda for engaging the media and also repealing draconian laws, urged media bosses to have human heart by revisiting what he called scanty salaries.

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The union has since threatened to take unspecified action if the media owners refuse to cooperate on the issue.

“While we appreciate positive developments being undertaken by the new regime, JUMA wants to bring to the attention of all media owners and those operating advertising agencies, to take heed of cost of living which has gone up in recent weeks and the devaluation of Malawi kwacha by 49 percent has added soup to the already choked lifestyle on media practitioners. The result of high cost of living and devaluation has is increased rentals on houses, water and electricity bills among others,” reads the statement in part dated June 28, 2012.

In the statement, Mhango therefore called on media owners to adjust the salaries as soon as possible saying life for journalists in the country is becoming unbearable by the day.

He further condemned the tendency by some media institutions, he did not mention, he said are hiring journalists on attachment for over six months, saying such practice is illegal and an abuse of human rights.

The statement further reads: “JUMA is also aware that some media owners pay less than K30 000 to employees, we wonder as to what kind of lifestyle will such a media practitioner live with the day to day skyrocketing of goods and services? We’re also aware that some institutions still keep people on attachments for more than six months, this is violation of rights…..failure to comply to what we are calling for, will lead to unspecified action……..”

Malawian journalists are ranked among the lowest paid professionals in southern Sahara region and this has partly contributed to the scribes indulging in corrupt practices in order to survive.

In recent years, there have been widespread allegations of reporters receiving kick backs from news sources a development some analysts believe is killing development of journalism in the country.

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