Journalists must be able to cover Chaponda case
MISA Malawi would like to condemn the barring of journalists from covering the case of former Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, George Chaponda, who is accused of abuse of office in the procurement of maize from Zambia.
MISA Malawi has learnt that Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters insulted and barred journalists who wanted to cover the case when Chaponda appeared before Blantyre Magistrates Court in Blantyre for his bail application on Thursday, July 21, 2017.
Chaponda, who is ruling DPP vice president for the south, was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Wednesday, July 19, 2017 and appeared in court for his bail application Thursday afternoon.
MISA Malawi is deeply concerned with the behaviour displayed by the DPP supporters. Barring journalists from covering the case is retrogressive and detrimental to media freedom which includes the right to be ‘accorded the fullest possible facilities for access to public information’ as provided under section 36 of the Malawi Constitution.
MISA Malawi believes that barring journalists from covering the case is an attack on media freedom and would like to call on the DPP leadership to ensure that the party’s supporters do not continue with the behaviour.
Court sessions are public and the media has a duty to cover and inform
Malawians on developments around the arrest of Chaponda and how the matter in unfolding. The case in question has generated nationwide interest and the behaviour of the DPP supporters denies Malawians access to information on what exactly happened in the procurement of maize from Zambia.
Barring the reporters from covering the case is therefore not only a direct breach of the provisions of section 36 of the Constitution but also an infringement on Malawians right to know.
We therefore appeal to the President as leader of the DPP and defender of the Constitution to ensure that the party supporters do not continue barring journalists from covering the case. Such action will safeguard and protect constitutional guarantees on media freedom and freedom of expression as provided for in the Constitution.
Chairperson, MISA Malawi
Teresa Ndanga, MISA Malawi Chairperson on +265 999 247 911
Aubrey Chikungwa, National Director on +265 999 327 311 or firstname.lastname@example.org