Members of Parliament (MPs) in July 2016 reduced presidential powers of appointment for board members of MBC and the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) by subjecting presidential appointments for the two bodies to a Parliamentary screening.
The Act is now in force effective June 1, 2017 following publication of a ‘notice of commencement of the Act’ by Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi.
Commenting on the commencement of the Act, MISA Malawi Chairperson Teresa Ndanga said MISA Malawi will ensure that the new legislation is effectively implemented to ensure that ‘MBC and MACRA are free to operate in the best interest of Malawians without any political interference.”
She said MBC is one of the best broadcasters of development programs on health, culture and agriculture but leaves a lot to be desired on political news due to political interference. The new law is expected to reduce political pressure and provide space for free and independent decision making at the two institutions.
Government tried to block revision of the Communications Act by reversing stakeholders’ proposals to remove the Head of State as the sole appointing authority for the boards and management of MACRA and MBC.
The independence of MACRA and MBC was central in the review of the legislation. Maintaining the state president as the sole appointing authority for the boards of the two institutions meant cabinet had effectively rendered the review process futile.
Parliament however amended the Bill when it was tabled for debate in the August House in July 2016 following an appeal from MISA Malawi, which spearheaded a 10 year campaign for the review of the law.