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MCP for legal action against Macra

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The main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has said it will gives the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) up to 30 days for it to respond to the grievances that the party raised against State broadcaster Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).

Beyond the said period the party says it will seek relief from the courts.

On February 1 2018, the MCP raised concern over MBC’s programming which they say aims at scandalising the party while promoting the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

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In the letter signed by acting general secretary, Eisenhower Mkaka, MCP asked the regulatory body to use its mandate to put MBC in check for its programmes such as Chindunji, Manifesto Yanu, Ndikati Chete and the newly premiered Sapita Kawiri.

Fourteen days after Macra was served with the letter, it is yet to respond or act on the matters raised, a development which has not pleased MCP.

Speaking in an interview on Monday, Mkaka said they hope that Macra will be professional and forthcoming in ensuring that the State broadcaster, which runs on taxpayers’ purse, remains objective and professional in all its undertakings.

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“We will give them a chance, say another 30 days, before we decide on the next course of action. We trust Macra will not want to be pushed legally or otherwise,” Mkaka said.

He reiterated that MBC has a special mandate as a public broadcaster and must be guided by its own Act of Parliament and that it should not promote partisan interests.

Macra Communication Manager, Clara Mwafulirwa, asked for time to consult her seniors who she said were attending a meeting in Lilongwe.

But social commentator Moses Mkandawire said Macra’s failure to respond to MCP within reasonable time is cause for worry and smacks of bias.

He said, as a regulator Macra ought to demonstrate high level of neutrality and professionalism, arguing lack of that raises suspicions.

“Macra should level the playfield. MCP was right to raise concern with them because they feel aggrieved. It is up to Macra to rise above partisan politics and serve taxpayers prudently. As we approach 2019 elections, Macra should be as accountable as possible to Malawians. It is a fact that MBC has always favoured the ruling party, which should not be the case,” Mkandawire said.

He further cautioned MBC to avoid inciting violence and hatred in its content, saying lessons should be drawn from the Rwandan genocide during which a state radio took centre stage in broadcasting hate messages.

In the past, Macra has cracked its whip on private broadcasters such as Times TV and Zodiak Television for various reasons but has ignored concerns against MBC.

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