Hon Folks, for once APM has found some common ground with his nemesis, JB—a pathological hate for Malawian newspapers.
At a public rally in Lilongwe last weekend, APM announced he stopped reading the papers on February 1.
Reason: not very clear save that he made it appear like the newspapers published TB Joshua’s purported prophesy that APM and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe would die this year. Quite depressing news, I must admit, especially after you‘ve happily hummed “Nilibe pulobulemu.”
But here’s where the crunch is, Mr President: You should’ve hated the newspapers for falsifying what TB Joshua actually said, not for telling the truth you consider unpalatable.
To stop reading newspapers for reporting the depressing truth is like shunning the mirror just because it exposed a ripe pimple on your nose. The puss-filled swell won’t disappear just because you don’t want to see in the mirror how ugly your pimpled face is.
You press the pimple or seek help from health providers, then look again in the mirror. If you like what you see then you can sing happily in the shower: “Nilibe Pulobulemu.”
The Nigerian prophet might be controversial but his association with Malawian presidents makes him too prominent to be easily ignored by the local media. By his own admission, APM acknowledged TB Joshua prophesied the demise of Bingu in 2012.
But even back in the days of Bingu’s “zigubu” economy, the nosy media here would report about the president sneaking out of the country early in the morning through the cargo section of Kamuzu International Airport.
Later, the Nigerian media would report about our president in the presence of their Goodluck Jonathan or TB Joshua. It was the same with JB. Now, probably without realising it, APM has again just elevated TB Jushua’s profile.
It’s amazing the number of stories, from various parts of Africa and beyond, posted on the social media after APM trashed TB Joshua’s purported prophesy!
Impugning TB Joshua’s prophecy is one thing and demonising Malawian newspapers at public rallies is another, what’s APM up to? How come the pathological hatred for newspapers has made APM acknowledge for the first time the one area where he agrees with JB, his predecessor and political nemesis?
Mr. President, what became of the love for free press you expressed by dishing out K50 000 handouts to journalists you feted at Sanjika at the dawn of your presidency?
There’s no denying that JB too hated the newspapers with a passion. So too did Bingu and Bakili Muluzi before her.
As for Kamuzu Banda, journalists were equated with spies and threatened to be arrested so they could rot in jail or worse unless they exercised “responsible journalism” as defined by his dictatorial regime, namely to rally Malawians behind their beloved Ngwazi, the might Malawi Congress Party and the government.
My take is that it’s not a mere coincidence that the media bashing is coming at a time the civil society and political analysts have noted “dictatorial traits” in APM (The Nation of March 15, 2016). The old saying that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” seems to hold true here.
On free press APM, just like all his predecessors under the multiparty system of government, agrees with Kamuzu Banda; it’s a mistake enshrined in the Constitution.
Malawian leaders love the kind of “lap-dog” journalism they’ve imposed on the state–run broadcaster, MBC where news is about the success stories of the President, First Lady, Cabinet Ministers and ruling party cadres.
No room for dissenting views, no interrogation of policy, no exposure of skeletons in the cupboard.
Is that what Malawians want to read in newspapers? Since 1994, people in government have tried to establish their own newspapers. In the case of DPP, they even tried to coerce the public sector to place adverts in its propaganda tabloid of the Bingu era. All that to no avail!
What we see out there is a craving for newspapers that are truly independent, taking their watchdog role to a higher level.
Simply put, whether APM reads or shuns newspapers is neither here nor there. It’s the public that “vote” daily for the newspapers with their money. If they decide to shun a newspaper, editors have a reason to sob, sob, sob.