Malawi President Joyce Banda has for the first time personally commented on why she declined to sign the Declaration of Table Mountain, a statement on press freedom in Africa.
The President cited lack of adequate time on the presentation of the Declaration of Table Mountain by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa), Malawi Chapter.
She also said her team of advisors such as the Attorney General Anthony Kamanga and Minister of Justice Ralph Kasambara had not read or seen the Declaration of Table Mountain.
“And no one has signed in the Sadc region. The British have not signed. I asked myself why the Presidents in Africa refused to sign,” said the president when she addressed a rally at Utale 2 in Balaka.
The Declaration of Table Mountain was issued by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (Wan-Ifra, and World Editors Forum (WEF) at the 60th meeting of the World Newspaper Conference and 14th World Editors Forum Conference in Cape Town, South Africa, 3–6 June 2007.
It is named after Table Mountain, at the southern tip of the African continent.
The African press is crippled by panoply of repressive measures, from the jailing and persecution of journalists to the widespread scourge of ‘insult laws’ and criminal defamation.
As the start of an intensive campaign to improve this appalling situation, Wan-Ifra adopted the Declaration of Table Mountain on 3 June 2007 in Cape Town, South Africa, during its annual meeting.
Meanwhile, Malawi has been named as the most improved on the global Press Freedom Index after it moved from 146 to position 75 in this year’s ranking as released by the Reporters Without Borders.
This means that the country has moved 71 steps from among the worst countries in the world in as far as press freedom is concerned to be among those whose media enjoy its freedoms.
Both Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa), Malawi Chapter and government yesterday welcomed the improvement as a right step forward.
However, Misa national chairperson Anthony Kasunda said it was his hope that government would maintain the rise and keep on improving.