Minister of Information Mark Botomani has said government appreciates the role the media plays in informing, educating and entertaining the country’s citizens.
He released a statement yesterday as Malawi joined the rest of the world in celebrating World Press Freedom Day under the theme ‘Journalism without fear or favour’.
Botomani said while journalists are not supposed to fear governments, this year’s theme calls upon the same journalists also not to favour the opposition.
“Sometimes we wonder if the media is indeed working without fear and favour. It is easy to attach the fear and favour to government. However, journalists ought to remember that they are not supposed to fear or favour anyone,” Botomani said.
He added that Capital Hill remains committed to ensuring that the Access to Information Act is operationalised, adding that tremendous progress has been made towards that.
Media Institute of Southern Africa Malawi Chapter chairperson, Teresa Ndanga, reminded the government, political parties, media users and other stakeholders that journalists and the media in general need to be free from political and commercial interests to effectively do their job.
“As we celebrate this day, we would like to commend media managers and our partners for the resuscitation of the Media Council of Malawi to drive media self-regulation and ensure a professional, independent and accountable media sector in the country.
“We would also like to commend the media for adhering to professional standards of practice and implementing the code of conduct for reporting the 2019 Tripartite Elections. Media outlets in the country developed action plans on how to report the elections and adhered to their plans during the electoral period except for few individual journalists and media outlets,” Ndanga said.
She also said the Access to Information Act is a key component of media freedom and freedom of expression and that Malawians cannot effectively enjoy free expression without access to accurate and credible information.
World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1993.
Since then, May 3, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day.
It acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom. It is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics.