The president and State House Press Officers remarks follow after media reports criticized the president on his return from the United Nations General Assembly. Mutharika’s trip included a large entourage, chartering of a private jet and high levels of expenditure, all of which was questionable in tmes of economic difficulties that the country is faced with.
The Malawi Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Malawi) has since condemned the remarks by the President and State House Press Officer.
We find the remarks by the President and State House Press Officer retrogressive and a threat to media freedom and freedom of expression. Attacks on the media and civil society and human rights defenders in general are attacks on democracy and should not be condoned. MISA Malawi would like to appeal to the President and State House Press Office to desist from being in the forefront in attacking the media for doing its job. The media have a duty to report and inform Malawians on matters of national importance.
Media outlets are part and parcel of any democratic state worth the name and have a watch dog role in any such society. This noble activity is guaranteed and protected by the Constitution of Malawi.
We believe the President’s concerns could easily be addressed by ensuring that government is proactive in disseminating information and enacting the Access to Information Bill (ATI) to make sure that Malawians have accurate and relevant information to make informed decisions. Secrecy and lack of accurate information creates room for speculation and rumor mongering.