Alhajj Jean-Philippe Le Poisson, SC, is back in Malawi. He has since met up with our leader of delegation, Professor Dr Joyce Befu, MGA, Nganga Maigaigwa, PSC (RTD) our head of security, the Ichichi of our team. In conformity with Malawi’s anti-Covid-19 guidelines, we are now working virtually together, preferring reasonably cheap and easy-to-use platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp.
Early this Covid-19 year, Jean-Philippe had left Malawi for France via Saudi Arabia but could not get back in good time to witness Malawi’s most scandalous, shameful, shambolic, and Tippex May 2019 tripartite election as lockdowns internationally made air travel impossible.
He was also unavailable to directly witness the campaign for fresh presidential elections when some of our leaders dismissed Covid-19 as a hoax. He was absent, too, to witness the Tonse Alliance triumphantly enter Kamuzu Palace and pull down banners advertising the former President, Peter Arthur Mutharika, who like his brother, the great Ngwazi Prof Bingu wa Mutharika, ruled Malawi for six years only.
But, Jean-Philippe is here to witness the new administration deliver on its promises and vision for the country’s mostly poor citizens, renew depilapidated infrastructure, and reform the institutions of government.
In this post-journalism era, when everybody passes for a content producer, reporter, and audience, it is very difficult to believe anything being posted on social media in the name of pastors, imams, jailors, prisoners, physicians, and politicians.
In this post-journalism era, fact and fiction cannot be easily discerned. Information, misinformation, and disinformation are often inadvertently or deliberately blurred.
However, we trust that what circulated recently on social media and was attributed to Malawi’s Vice President, Saulos Klaus Chilima is not fake.
In the post, enjoying likes and kkkkks on social media, the Vice-President is reported to have directed or advised the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) to change and reform so that it attracts advertisers who should turn around the state corporation’s financial misfortunes.
We agree with the Vice-President that as much as possible state companies must make their own money and forget about state bailouts. And MBC does make money. And does not need bailouts. This we say because MBC has the lion’s share of advertising in Malawi if the number of advertisements it flights is anything to go by.
Even a cursory content analysis reveals that nearly 60 percent of MBC’s programming is paid-for plug and play. Orgnisations and government departments produce programmes and pay to have them broadcast.
Further, MBC enjoys income from the State, appropriated through Parliament.
Why is it in tax and pension arrears? Where does it find money to even donate to charity organisations and buy new vehicles for its directors? Has it collected all money from advertisements flighted by the UDF, PP, and DPP since 1994?
Studies indicate that MBC has been so commercially oriented and politically polarized that it has ignored its legal mandate of providing public service broadcasting to the people of Malawi.
Section 109 (1&2) of the (Malawi) Communications Act of 2016 characterises public service broadcasting as comprising, among others, a) the provision of programmes that educate, entertain and inform; b) the encouragement of free and informed opinion on all matters of public interest; c) the reflection of the wide diversity of Malawi’s cultural life; d) the respect for human rights, the rule of law, and the Malawi Constitution; e) the functioning without any political bias and working independently of any person or entity; f) the support for the democratic process; g) provision of balanced coverage of any elections; and (h) the operating with regard to the public interest.
MBC does none of the above.