MISA Malawi condemns in strongest terms the attack on journalist Brian Banda by alleged Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters at Sunbird Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre on Thursday, May 7, 2020.
Banda, who is currently working for Times Group, was roughed up outside Mount Soche Hotel when DPP Presidential candidate Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika and his running mate in the July 2, 2020 election Atupele Muluzi were presenting nomination papers to Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) officials.
Banda was rescued by Malawi Police Officers, who we believe helped Banda survive the attack without any injuries.
Banda’s attack is barbaric and retrogressive for Malawi. It is even appalling coming 5 days after World Press Freedom Day when the world celebrates the importance of a free media in society.
A free media is key to democracy and its importance during elections cannot be overemphasized.
We would therefore like to appeal to all stakeholders to ensure that the media is ‘accorded the fullest possible facilities’ and support to access and disseminate information to help Malawians make informed decisions during the upcoming elections as well as the fight against Covid-19.
Violence has no place in a democratic society. This cuts across the board regardless of whether the victim is a journalist or party supporter.
As we approach the elections, we appeal to all political parties to ensure that those responsible for violence are disciplined and held accountable for their actions.
Law enforcers should also take action and arrest all perpetrators of violence and attacks on journalists. We acknowledge and applaud the Police for their timely intervention which saved Banda but they should have apprehended the attackers and taken them to court for assault.
Assaulting journalists for simply doing their work is barbaric and unconstitutional. Journalists are key during the upcoming elections as well as the on-going fight against Covid-19.
Let us protect media freedom and democracy.