Joy Radio has protested to the Malawi Editors Forum (Maef) the conduct of State House regarding the manner in which it handled its press conference last week at Grace Bandawe Conference Centre in Blantyre.
The station views the approach as intimidation “of the highest order” and claims to have information suggesting that “party zealots” are planning to harass Joy Radio journalists whenever they meet them.
The radio station feels it was wrong for State House to personalise its press review programme by mentioning names of the presenters because that exposed them to danger.
Maef in a statement signed by chairperson Clifton Kawanga and secretary general Gracian Tukula has cautioned State House, saying messages from State House, and government in general, need to be presented carefully and with a lot of sensitivity to avoid sending the wrong message to the public.
“In an election period like this one when emotions are bound to run high, government must avoid any suggestions that it is targeting some media houses or individuals because that exposes such people to danger and government may be held responsible for any mishap befalling those people,” reads statement released on Sunday.
Maef has emphasised that the country has several media bodies where people, institutions or organisations can refer their grievances to if they are offended by the conduct of any media house or practitioner.
“There are functional structures within the media which have the capacity to help correct errant media conduct and these should be explored at every opportunity,” adds the statement.
In reaction to Joy Radio complaint, Maef engaged the presidential adviser on communications and politics Elias Wakuda Kamanga, who held the press conference in question, to get his side of the story and he reportedly pointed out that Joy Radio was only cited as an example and not necessarily targeted.
The statement said Wakuda Kamanga also reiterated the stand he presented at the press conference that State House and, indeed, government has no intentions to intimidate or frustrate the media because it is regarded as an important organ in furthering democracy and promoting government programmes.
Maef stands for both professionalism and media freedom as a democratic value in Malawi and says it is ready to mediate where there are differences between media houses and any member of the public, including State House.