Representatives of the media on Monday presented the Table Mountain Declaration which proposes the abolition of insult laws in Africa to Malawi President Joyce Banda at Sanjika Palace ahead of the World Press Freedom Day, May 3.
The declaration, made in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2007, calls for the repeal of criminal defamation and ‘insult’ laws across the African continent. It was adopted at the World Newspaper Congress.
President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger became the first sitting Head of State to sign the declaration in November 2011. Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, signed the declaration on July 21 2012.
If the President signs the declaration, she will become the third Head of State on the continent to subscribe to the ideals of pushing forth a free press in the country.
In presenting the matter to the President, Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) regional chairperson Anthony Kasunda, who was also leader of delegation and chairperson of the Misa Malawi Chapter, commended the President for repealing Section 46 of the Penal Code and removing value added tax (VAT) on newspapers when she came into office.
In her response, Banda assured the media that she will look into the matter and hailed the media for the commendable work done in the continued fight against corruption.
“In as far as press freedom is concerned, you have a friend in me,” assured the President.
The media representatives also presented to the President the concerns over the delay of pushing the Access to Information Bill and the fact that new television licence holders are complaining about the excise and duty charged on equipment to set up the new stations.
The President assured that she will take up those issues with the relevant ministries.