A true friend will tell you the truth even when you don’t want to hear it. All indications are that someone at State-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) is not telling the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) the truth.
It sounds like a never-ending song to continue repeating that MBC should really be a public broadcaster, a status given to the likes of South African Broadcasting Corporation (Sabc) and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). But the greed of our politicians, from Dr Kamuzu Banda’s time to-date have not made this possible.
There is a marked difference between private broadcasters—apart from close scrutiny from the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra)—and that is one is funded by taxpayers through subventions which Parliament following a request from the Minister of Finance appropriates to MBC on a yearly basis.
It is, therefore, a slap in the face to the taxpayer, whose earnings go to government in the form of Value Added Tax on basic goods as well as salaries, for MBC to be used as a politician’s propaganda tool.
Attempts at turning MBC into the public broadcaster that it should be have failed dismally. Those who hold the power know the folly of letting go of the institution; they abhor professionalism because they know it will not work in their favour.
Malawians forget easily but one would expect journalists to know better. But that has never been the case at MBC. Paramount chief Lundu has been adequately rewarded for his senseless rantings at the request of journalists to supposedly drill into the minds of MBC TV viewers. He is now a board member.
This just tells you something about the calibre of people at MBC, from the board chairperson who is a man of the collar, he should know better, to the director general whose journalism record is nothing to write home about.
To parade civil society organisations friendly to the government with their unoriginal thoughts and opinions every morning and night is an insult to the intelligence of Malawians who are forced to watch the cartooning on MBC, especially when they remember they pay taxes for the sort of issues that are discussed there.
The latest being the dodgy Muslim Supreme Council of Malawi being used to waste taxpayers money on issues masquerading as news.
Imagine the kind of coaching that occurs before airing of these so-called interviews or analysis. Who really puts words in these analysts’ mouths, is it MBC journalists or the DPP propaganda machine? Does the DPP and those journalists who have returned from the wilderness to continue doing what made them fall out of favour realise the folly of their actions?
What is clear however is that the former president Joyce Banda and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera are the smart ones in all this. By remaining quiet, they do well not to dignify this with a response.
But the blame here should go to all Malawians to allow this abuse of a public broadcaster to go on to this extent. The blame should especially be heaped on those institutions tasked with reforms, those working on the Communications Act but being too cowardly to remove the Minister of Information as overseer
The politicians who allowed Macra to become their cash-cow and a toothless bulldog that only grows teeth when a minion radio or television station is involved in transgressions have a lot to answer for.
We should all blame ourselves for the parade that we are seeing before us on MBC-TV and listening to on the radio.
Politicians will never change MBC, it is the taxpayers whose millions are used to fund airtime for propaganda that can turn things around. n