Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) says it will not shield any of its employees found sexually harassing their fellows.
In an interview on the sidelines of the launch of the State broadcaster’s sexual harassment policy at Kwacha Television Centre on Friday, MBC board chairperson the Reverend Vasco Kachipapa said they want to make the working environment at the institution conducive; hence, “there will be no sacred-cows in dealing with issues of sexual harassment”.
He said: “Everyone involved in this malpractice will face the consequences alone and MBC will not shield anyone. If anything, we will expose him or her.
“I must say that when the policy was being developed, there was cooperation, and everyone who was consulted was participatory so I would like to believe that we have owned this policy right from the beginning.”
The launch of the policy comes against a background of a recommendation the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) made on March 29 2021 in its report on sexual allegations at MBC, which found former director general Aubrey Sumbuleta guilty of numerous alleged sexual harassment offences.
As a result, the corporation was ordered to compensate Sumbuleta’s victims due to lack of a sexual harassment policy in the workplace.
But Kachipapa said the board is hopeful that all MBC employees will adhere to the policy since each one of them has been given a copy, and that it is not only limited to the employees but also to other stakeholders that conduct business at the institution.
According to Kachipapa, MBC has set up regional committees to monitor, enhance and enforce the policy.
He said the board wants a clean MBC, which is possible if employees have respect for each other, stressing that no form of sexual harassment will be tolerated.
Pointing out that MBC is among few parastatals gradually complying with the country’s laws in providing a safe and conducive working environment, especially in relation to the Gender Equality Act (2013), Kachipapa appealed to employees to read and understand what constitutes sexual harassment.
In a separate interview, Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati, who presided over the launch, hailed MBC for developing the policy, saying it shows that the country is moving in the right direction in providing a conducive working environment, where sexual harassment is outlawed.
“It tells us that we are moving in the direction we want by implementing all pieces of legislation that we have like the Gender Equality Act of 2013.
“And so, we hope that this policy protects both men and women because there are some women who also provoke men. So we must also warn women because this is a two-way thing,” she said.
While appealing to other government institutions to come up with sexual harassment policies, Kaliati also underscored the need for the private sector to do the same as issues of sexual harassment affect the sector as well.
The minister said a survey her ministry undertook recently shows that 96 percent of perpetrators of sexual harassment in workplaces are men, a majority of them being managers.
The launch started with a solidarity march from MBC Broadcasting House at Chichiri to the Television Centre where there were several performances, including music played by the Malawi Prison Service Brass Band, poetry and comedies.
MHRC recommended to MBC to finalise the development of the sexual harassment policy by July 31 2021 and that the board should ensure that management and all staff receive training on sexual harassment in the workplace.
In its report MHRC also recommended that Sumbuleta be prosecuted under the Gender Equality Act, which he allegedly contravened through his actions.
The rights body established that at least eight women were allegedly harassed by the former MBC boss. The MHRC’s probe was compelled by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition Women’s Chapter through a petition in July last year.