The first 20 minutes of a meeting involving donors under the joint Development Partner Emergency Drug Procurement Project and MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s drug manufacturers in Lilongwe on Thursday was spent on a debate on whether to allow reporters into the meeting.
There were only two reporters from Nation Publications Limited and Capital Radio.
Leader of the local drug manufacturers David Bisnowaty told the donors to let the reporters into the meeting but Department for International Development (DfID) head Sarah Sanyahumbi said letting reporters into the meeting would prevent participants from speaking what they would have loved to say.
But Bisnowaty charged at Sanyahumbi, wondering why she was not comfortable with the reporters in the meeting.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You [donors] preach democracy. Where is the democracy if reporters are not allowed in? What are you hiding?Ã¢â‚¬Â he charged while threatening to walk out of the meeting.
But Sanyahumbi asked if the meeting was private or public and Bisnowaty said there was nothing private about the meeting.
Sanyahumbi also said she was not told in advance that there would be reporters at the meeting. And Bisnowaty hit back at Sanyahumbi, saying the manufacturers were not told that some donors would not be available at the meeting like Usaid.
As tempers rose, Sanyahumbi consulted representatives of other donors and the consensus was that the reporters walk out of the meeting.
Bisnowaty accepted on condition that the reporters would be invited into the boardroom after the meeting for a briefing.
The reporters walked out of the room and were later invited for a news conference.