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MISA Malawi Chairperson Golden Matonga Speech at 2023 Media Awards Dinner

7 May, 2023
One of the ways we seek to protect the media further is to operationalize a Legal Defense Fund for Journalism

Delivered on Saturday, May 6, 2023 at MISA Malawi Annual Media Awards Gala Dinner, Crossroads Hotel, Lilongwe

Honourable Minister, a few months ago, I presented myself to MISA Malawi members for the position of Chairperson in the National Governing Council (NGC). It was a huge step in my journalism career and a very bold step looking at what MISA Malawi has achieved during the tenure of my sister Teresa. It is a very big shoe that I am wearing and I promise to maintain the momentum for the sake of media freedom, freedom of expression and access to information in Malawi and across Southern Africa. Together with my colleagues Vice Chairperson-Elect Chisomo Ngulube and Executive Member-Elect Nathan Majawa, we are determined to ensure that Malawi media is free and independent from political and commercial interests.

Let me take this opportunity to thank MISA Malawi members for entrusting us with this huge responsibility of steering our big ship in the next three years. It is an honour that I will cherish by working very hard and smart for a free and independent media landscape. To our colleagues in the recent race for Mtolankhani House, Wonder Msiska, Alick Ponje, Blessings Kanache, Joseph Mwale, Steve Zimba, Cathy Maulidi and Luciano Milala, we expect to embrace their ideas and work with them in achieving our common goal – media freedom.

Honourable Minister, I am happy that during the Breakfast Engagement that we had with the President on Press Freedom Day you made a commitment to work with the media sector and other stakeholders in ironing out the dents on media freedom in the country. Myself, Chisomo Ngulube, Nathan Majawa and the incorporated members of the MISA Malawi National Governing Council will work to ensure that such a commitment comes to fruition.

We have economic challenges rocking the media sector which we need to face head on by coming together. We need to embrace sustainable media business models. We have an ongoing media and freedom of expression law reform process that we need to complete. We have Mtolankhani House project that we need complete. We have journalism education project that we need continue implementing for specialization and professionalism. We have disinformation and misinformation creating issues of trust in the media that require huge investment in fact-checking training.

We also need to continue our advocacy for the effective implementation of Access to Information (ATI) Law. For two consecutive years, government has not allocated resources to the Malawi Human Rights Commission for the implementation of Access to Information law and many Malawians are still in the dark on this law. It is one thing to have this good law and another to effectively implement it.

Honourable Minister, the issue of some laws that continue to restrict journalism in the country is an issue that has been discussed for a long time. We need to get to the conclusion by repealing all bad laws.

If we are to improve on our transparency and accountability, we need a free environment for the media and freedom of expression in general. So, this is one of the things that we need to discuss with you and your ministry and see how we can end the challenge.

In the next three years, we aim to sustain the gains made by the outgoing NGC and other NGCs before it and make strides in improving media professionalism and independence. One of the ways we seek to protect the media further is to operationalize a Legal Defense Fund for Journalism. We will hence engage traditional and new partners, media houses and other stakeholders to ensure that we turn this vision into a reality. If media solidarity is to be effective, we cannot just leave matters at advocacy and diplomacy. Legal redress must be an option and we must create a war chest for it.

I would like to urge you all to join us in this journey of media freedom, freedom of expression and access to information. Congratulations to those to win awards later tonight.

Enjoy the rest of the evening!

 

About MISA

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) was founded in 1992. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.

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