European Union wants MBC Macra, freed


The European Union (EU) Election Follow up Mission to Malawi has called for the independence of the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) as one way of enhancing democratic processes.

Similar calls have been made by other quarters before, accusing the two institutions of bias despite them being public institutions that operate on tax payers’ money.

Briefing journalists on what the follow up mission has found on the implementation of the 2014 election observer mission recommendations in Lilongwe yesterday, the mission leader, Birgitte Markussen, said the mission observed state media bias in reporting during the 2009 and 2014 general elections and that there is need to enforce the law which provides for fair and balanced electoral coverage.


“In addition, independence of the State broadcaster [Malawi Broadcasting Corporation] and the communications regulator Macra should be further enhanced,” Markussen said.

The mission has also faulted draft Political Parties (Registration and Regulation) Bill for falling short of party funding disclosure requirements.

The Bill, which Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu tabled during the last meeting of the National Assembly and was immediately referred to the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament for further scrutiny, seeks to regulate how political parties are registered and get finances for their operations.


In 2014, the EU Election Observer Mission recommended the introduction of requirements for parties to disclose sources of funding and provide details on campaign expenditure.

Markussen said the mission appreciates that some aspects of party funding controls have been proposed but the draft bill does not contain adequate disclosure requirements or private funding of parties nor any requirements for disclosures on campaign spending, which could help increase transparency and accountability.

“We note that there is no clear mechanism to enforce the ban on misuse of State resources,” Markussen said.

This comes against the backdrop of recent reports that the ruling Democratic Progressive Party got money from city councils and other parastatals. Since attaining democracy, past regimes have all been faulted for abusing State resources for party use.

Markussen, however, said election campaigns in Malawi have been generally peaceful, and it is critical that in future all contestants are able to campaign freely without intimidation or hindrance and that there is a level playing field.

Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Chairperson, Jane Ansah, said the recommendations that the electoral follow up mission has made are in line with what the country’s electoral stakeholders are pushing for and implementing.

“What we are waiting for are just legal reforms but we are already implementing the administrative reforms in the forthcoming by-elections,” Ansah said.

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