Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi Chapter has urged political parties to guarantee the safety of journalists when covering political rallies.
The remarks come after a couple of journalists were subjected to political violence as the country prepares for the fresh presidential polls.
Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) and Times Group reporters were recently caught up in acts of political violence when thugs on May 29 attacked a Tonse Alliance convoy in Phalombe.
ZBS cameraperson Hezekiah Namonde suffered hand injuries during the assault, while reporters Emmanuel Chibwana of ZBS and Jameson Chauluka and Lazarus Nedi of Times Group escaped unhurt.
The reporters were travelling with Malawi’s State Vice President and Tonse Alliance running mate Saulos Chilima, who was on tour in Mulanje and Phalombe.
On Saturday, May 30, another group of hooligans assaulted Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) journalists Dick Shumba, Isaac Jali and William Zare with metal bars at Mponela in Dowa.
The three were part of an MBC crew on assignment to cover political rallies addressed by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) Alliance running mate Atupele Muluzi.
The mob stole Shumba’s money and broke Jali’s mobile phone. They also reportedly threatened to torch Shumba.
Misa-Malawi said in a statement signed by chairperson Teresa Ndanga that the institute expects the perpetrators to be arrested as soon as possible.
Reads the statement in part: “The song for the need to arrest such criminals has been sang for far too long. Impunity cannot be tolerated in a democracy. We, therefore, reiterate our call that the police should not allow this to continue.”
Ndanga further reminded journalists and media houses of the need to report in a manner that helps build the country.
She advised media houses to continuously assess risks before sending reporters on an assignment.
“We urge media houses to also take all precautionary measures that would guarantee the security of reporters. No story is bigger than the life of a journalist,” she said.
Ndanga further said the institute has directly engaged political party leaders to urge them to commit to ending political violence and protecting journalists during and after the election.
MISA is also engaging the Malawi Police Service (MPS) to take serious steps in addressing the
“This trend should not be left unchecked. It is shameful, criminal and retrogressive as Malawi seeks to build on the gains of democratic rule. Malawi is slated to hold fresh presidential elections next month and the importance of … accurate and credible information for Malawians during this period cannot be overemphasised.
“We therefore find the attack on the journalists not only a violation of media freedom, but citizen’s right to know and effectively participate in the electoral process,” the statement reads.