Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya has called on the media in the country to expose and rebuke those who abuse their power and threaten the country’s peace.
Msowoya said for the media to remain a relevant player in both the development and democratisation processes of this country, it is important that it resolves to take sides with the vulnerable and marginalised.
In his keynote address during 2017 Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi Chapter World Press Freedom Day Commemoration gala dinner in Lilongwe on Saturday, Msowoya said the media must speak out without fear or favour whenever the country’s resources are not being used properly or shared equitably.
“It must also go beyond rebuking by providing a platform for seeking solutions to the problems that are dogging the country,” Msowoya said.
He said Parliament is committed to working with the media towards ensuring that all laws that impinge on press freedom are replaced by statues that make press freedom the right that ought to be.
“Even where there is reluctance by the Executive to take certain decisive steps, we have proven that we can take responsibility by coming up with private member motions and bills that can take us forward. This is an opportunity the media should seize because we cannot continue shouting in the wilderness with no tangible action on the ground,” he said.
Msowoya said one of the most deficiencies of the country’s democracy is that not many people know their rights, power and their limits.
“That is always a recipe for underdevelopment and political patronage. You should not sit by and watch these negative developments because, need I remind you that before you are media practitioners, you are citizens first and you should have its welfare at heart,” Msowoya said.
The Speaker also said he gets an impression that some media practitioners do not read as much as they ought to and have no passion for the absorption of more knowledge as reflected in the coverage of some stories.
Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi said the government will remain open to criticism and conversation to deliver better.
“We believe we can only improve if we are frank with each other,” Dausi said.
He, however, said while the media expects the government to listen, government also expects the media to be open to criticism too.
“As friends, we will continue to point out areas where the media can do better to ensure they are a useful partner in service to the people,” he said.
According to the minister, when government speaks out, it is not trying to gag the media.
Misa Malawi Chairperson Thom Khanje called on government to repeal the archaic laws of the colonial era which are currently being used to suppress media freedom.
Khanje also said government must remove some taxes on media products including Value Added Tax (VAT) on newspapers.
This year’s World Press Freedom Day commemorations were under theme ‘Critical Minds in Critical Times, Media’s Role in Advancing Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies’.
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