British High Commissioner to Malawi Michael Nevin has lashed out at Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) for being bias towards the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in its programming which hugely focus on discrediting opposition political parties.
Nevin has since demanded that MBC should open up to opposition and stop acting like a political party with an agenda of misleading Malawians by offering biased programming that most of the times attacks leader of opposition Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and former President Joyce Banda’s Peoples Party (PP).
“I encourage MBC to avoid the mistakes of the past in reverting to bias rather than delivering a service for all in the Malawi nation,” said Nevin.
Nevin said Malawi needs a free media which has ability to improve performance and dealings of government and the observance of people’s rights; he then welcomed the increased liberalizations of the airwaves for media houses.
He then called on government to stand by its commitment to table the Communication and Access to Information Bills in Parliament to help Malawi achieve greater liberalization, protect media independence and promote transparency.
The British envoy has also strongly stressed on the need for a review of working conditions for journalists and enhanced credibility around the practice coupled with accreditation.
Nevin said this in a personal statement issued in Lilongwe on Tuesday, May 3rd on the commemoration of World Press Freedom.
The High Commissioner, nonetheless, acknowledged that “sometimes” the media operates in “challenging environment” but that the media still does a commendable job meeting deadlines, highlighting ideas shining the spotlight on concealed realities.
He repeated his conviction and that of his government that the media is pivotal in ensuring good governance and meaningful development hence the need to safeguard it at all times.
“Through you (the media), many in authority are able to understand how their actions are being perceived by those they are meant to serve. Through you, we achieve greater accountability and the injection of ideas that drives better policies,” said Nevin.
Information Minister Patricia Kaliati in a press statement said government recognizes fundamental roles the media plays in the fight against corruption, exposing crime and agenda setting such as on fighting food insecurity, gender imbalances and reduction of Gender Based Violence (GBV).
“We believe that the media will celebrate press freedom as a fundamental right that must be exercised with responsibility and professionalism. It is in reflecting where we could have done better that, together, we can make Malawi do better.
“We believe that the media can only participate meaningfully in supporting development if they are given press freedom. It is for this reason that Government supports press freedom and joins the media in the country as we commemorate this important day,” she said.
The media in Malawi will officially commemorate the day on Saturday May 7th at an event organized for the lake district of Mangochi.