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Inadequate resources stifle Censorship Board

The Censorship Board has said it is working hard to meet some of its operations but inadequate resources have kept it down in some instances.

Chief Censoring Officer, Anganile Nthakomwa, said among other things, they have been having civic education programmes on what is expected when holding a public performance.

She said this is not adequately done due to capacity issues in terms of personnel and financial resources.

Nthakomwa said, as a body responsible for regulating public entertainment, they would love to be there and follow each and every performance taking place throughout the country.

“Due to limited financial resources, we are unable to reach out to many,” she said.

Nthakomwa also said Censorship Board is highly centralised, with offices in Lilongwe and Blantyre only but was quick to say there is hope since they have a devolution plan in place as well as management guidelines.

“We are awaiting further guidance and approval from relevant authorities on this but once approval is granted there will be officers on the ground at district level to monitor public performances and related issues,” Nthakomwa said.

On monitoring public performance structures, some of which leave a lot to be desired, Nthakomwa said almost every month they carry out inspections.

“We issue licences to those who comply in the cities and the districts where indeed some of the structures are not of the expected standards,” she said.

Nthakomwa added that they have found makeshift grass structures being used as video showrooms as well as found school children patronising video shows during school hours.

“We have issued warnings to operators and have talked to traditional leaders to talk to parents in their communities about this,” she said.

Nthakomwa said in such cases they give owners/ operators time-for instance six months-to adhere to the required standards before re-inspection.

“In case of non-compliance after that, the Board has the authority to confiscate the equipment used and have the place closed and revoke their licences,” she said.

Nthakomwa also said the owners/operators could be taken to court where the confiscated equipment is tendered as evidence in court.

Nthakomwa said the operations of the board are aligned to democratic statutes where the board is not expected to “bite” but is there to regulate public entertainment by giving advice.

“We are instrumental in the development and promotion of arts and culture instead of suppressing it and also helping the citizenry make informed choices when accessing public entertainment,” she said.

In this digital era, Nthakomwa said a big percentage of entertainment articles are accessed online and that some challenges have arisen out of this.

Meanwhile, Nthakomwa has said the delay in having the Classification of Public Entertainment and Publications Bill made into law is also affecting the board’s work.

“The entertainment landscape has changed so much over the years which has rendered the 1968 Censorship Act not relevant in certain instances,” she said.

The board recently stepped up the song review process when it came out to appeal to the general public to make submissions of any song that is of doubtful moral rating for assessment and formal decision

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