Malawi has improved in the area of press freedom rising from position 146 in the 2011-2012 report to position 75 in 2013, according to the Press Freedom Index 2013.
The Press Freedom Index is an annual ranking of countries compiled and published by Reporters Without Borders. It is based on the organisation’s assessment of the countries’ reported press freedom records in the previous year.
According to the Press Freedom Index 2013 report, Malawi has registered the biggest leap in the whole index, jumping up by 71 positions.
The report says the country has almost returned to the position it held before the end of the late president Bingu wa Mutharika’s administration.
Part of the report reads: “After a dreadful year in 2011, marked by the dictatorial behaviour of the late president Mutharika, a violent crackdown on demonstrations and the murder of a Polytechnic engineering student Robert Chasowa, Malawi [75th] recorded the biggest jump in the entire index, up 71 places, close to the position it held in 2010.”
Chairperson of the Malawi Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa-Malawi), Anthony Kasunda, described the development as a move in the right direction in as far as press freedom is concerned.
Kasunda said while the current ranking showed that the present government was providing freedom to the press, more needs to be done.
“Both government and media need to show professionalism so that we can have better press freedom. Government should also provide the press with a wider playground to ensure that information gathering and expression is not tampered with,” said Kasunda.
Some of the countries that have improved include Côte d’Ivoire, which has gone up by 63 places and is 96th on the index. Burma has gone up the ladder by 18 places to 151 and Afghanistan is ranked 128 from 150 in the previous report.