Calls to free the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) so that it services everyone regardless of their political affiliation resurfaced last week in Parliament, with opposition lawmakers charging that the broadcaster is failing to advance the interest of the public.
However, while admitting that MBC has shortfalls in its operations, Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Nicholas Dausi, claimed that MBC does its work without government or anyone interfering with its operations.
The response did not convince opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) who accused government of failing to adhere to legal provisions like the Communications Act which seek to free the state broadcaster.
The discussion emanated from a question last week from Kasungu South East MP, Khumbize Chiponda, who wanted Dausi to explain why MBC is apparently biased in the way its programmes are crafted and presented.
In his response, Dausi claimed that what comes out of MBC has nothing do with the government because the state broadcaster has its own editorial policy which is never enforced by government.
He also claimed that MBC may indeed not be successfully fulfilling its mandate but that this is not deliberate or out of ill will.
“A free media is an important tool in any democratic dispensation. We need a free media to check the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. We need a free media to even check the operations of political parties and the civil society.
“…It is not the duty of government to decide how MBC operates because government does not take part in MBC’s editorial operations. When we remain neutral, we will appreciate the role MBC plays in national building,” Dausi said.
In an interview later, Dausi said MBC, like other media house is developing and “will continue doing better” so that it reaches out to everyone in the country.
“MBC is developing like any other media house and I hope it will make sure it leverages and gives equitable time to all stakeholders in society,” he said.
During the discussion in the chamber, lawmaker for Salima North West, Jessie Kabwila, said she expected Dausi to outline government’s policy in dealing with the “continued miscarriage of justice at MBC”.
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