Malawi President Peter Mutharika has assured journalists in the country of government’s support for freedom of press so that media practitioners are working in a conducive environment.
Mutharika hosted Malawi media practitioners to a dinner at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre.
“As such, I must, therefore, assure you that my government will not arrest anyone who executes his or her task within the principles of law of the land, fairness and honesty,” Mutharika said.
He then commended media practitioners for the good work they do and pledged to continue supporting and promoting freedom of press in the country which he described as a catalyst for nation building.
“I have seen, heard, read your articles though sometimes I get frustrated with some commentary columns. However, I encourage you to criticise me when I am wrong and support me when am doing well because I believe that no person can be right all the time,” he said.
He added: “It is, therefore, necessary to note that though media, civil society organizations, religious leaders and government have different roles to play, we must work in collaboration to spearhead national development.”
President Mutharika also shared a number of reforms which his administration was undertaking aimed at unlocking various challenges being experienced in the country.
“Let me take this opportunity to inform you that my government has increased ministry funding to 168 per cent, maintaining lean cabinet which is likely to save money amounting to K20 billion after five years and cutting travelling costs, among others,” he stated.
On his part, Media Institute for Southern Africa-Misa Malawi Chapter Chairperson, Anthony Kasunda, described the meeting as a clear indication that government recognised the significant role the media play in all spheres of development.
He commended the DPP-led administration for promoting and upholding freedom of press by strongly condemning police officers who assault journalists while on duty.
Kasunda, therefore, appealed to the government to consider opening up national broadcaster, MBC, and speed up the enactment of Access to Information Bill as well as endorsement of the Table Mountain Declaration.
In his response, Mutharika pleaded for media practitioners’ patience assuring that he would look into all the issues that were raised.
According to the Secretary for the Ministry of Information, Tourism and Culture, Chimwemwe Banda, the Access to Information Bill was a preliquisite for maintaining and promoting democracy and nation building.
She then said her ministry is doing everything possible to ensure that the bill is enacted into law.
This is the first time in the history of Malawi for a sitting President to interact with media fraternity in an event that attracted journalists from different media houses across the country.
—Reporting by Memory Kutengule, Malawi News Agency