Media advocacy body, Misa Malawi, on Saturday petitioned President Joyce Banda to, among other things, sign the Table Mountain Declaration and guarantee the safety of journalists during her press conferences.
Throngs of media practitioners from across the country converged in Blantyre and marched from the Town Hall via Masauko Chipembere Highway to Civic Offices where they delivered the petition to Blantyre City Council assistant director of administration Robert Grevulo who assured them that he would deliver it to the President.
In an interview, Misa Malawi chairperson Anthony Kasunda said President Banda might have refused to sign the declaration because she did not take time to read it properly.
He expressed hope that the President would respond positively to the issues raised in the petition, saying in the past she demonstrated that she is a friend of the media.
But Kasunda said if things do not change in terms of party supporters being at press conferences, Misa would ask journalists to stay away from presidential media conferences.
“We are here to deliver this four-point petition to ask the President to first sign the Table Mountain Declaration. We are asking her to sign as President, not as Joyce Banda. Secondly, we want her to free MBC so that it serves the interests of all Malawians who pay tax, not just a section.
“Thirdly, we want the Access to Information law so that we should not beg for information when we ask for it from government offices and, lastly, we want her to make her press conferences remain press conferences. We don’t want party supporters present so that the media should be free to ask questions,” said Kasunda before presenting the petition.
After presenting the petition, the journalists went to the Malawi Polytechnic campus at Chichiri for a public debate on the relevance of public service broadcasters in elections.
Saturday’s events were part of World Press Freedom Day commemorations which culminated into a dinner and media awards at Sunbird Mount Soche last night.