It was a game of numbers in Parliament yesterday as the government side defeated a motion to reduce to K1 the K1.8 billion allocation to taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) over concerns of biased coverage against opposition political parties.
With 74 votes against the opposition’s 40, the government side defeated the motion.
Dowa North East member of Parliament (MP) Samuel Kawale (Malawi Congress Party-MCP), standing on notices on motions under the parliamentary Standing Order 74, said MBC had deviated from its mandate of informing, educating and entertaining the nation to promoting hate speech.
Moving the motion, he said: “I beg to move that the money to vote 275 be reduced by K1.8 billion and let MBC be given K1 because instead of it serving the nation it has turned out to do a disservice by promoting hate speech. We have witnessed the failure of the institution… Why should we continue giving them money when they can sustain themselves?”
But the motion was defeated when it was presented for an open vote. Out of the 193 MPs, 115 were present and 77 absent.
In total, vote 275 subvented organisations has been given K84.6 billion.
In an earlier interview, Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi said programmes MCP has been complaining about as propagating hate speech are historical in nature. He claimed some private media houses have similar programmes.
During an interface meeting with officials from MBC on their 2018/19 budget outlook, MPs under the parliamentary budget cluster on communication and trade expressed dismay over propaganda programmes that attack opposition leaders.
In his response, MBC director general Aubrey Sumbuleta, while acknowledging that there were problems with some of their programming, said they were working hard to improve the approach.
The broadcaster requested for an extra K1 billion for elections coverage.n