Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) – Malawi Chapter, operating as Registered Trustees of National Media Institute of Southern Africa (Namisa), has dragged Malawi Communications and Regulatory Authority (Macra) to court over its blanket ban of phone-in programmes on radio stations.
Misa, which has been joined by Times Media Group, Zodiak Broadcasting Station and Capital Radio, is seeking an order of interlocutory injunction pending judicial review.
The media houses have since submitted their sworn statements through their Managing directors Leonnard Chikadya (Times), Gospel Kazako (Zodiak) and Arlene Osman-Grimes (Capital).
Misa Chairperson Tereza Ndanga and the organisation’s lawyer John Suzi Banda confirmed the court action.
In the court documents that we have seen, the applicants argue that Macra’s June decision to ban the phone-in programmes was unlawful and violated the applicants’ right to press freedom.
“The said decision violated sections 30, 34 and 35 of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi. The said decision does not stand the test under Section 44 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi,” the application reads.
The applicants thus are asking the court to quash the decision.
“If permission to apply for judicial review is granted, an order of interim relief of injunction directing the respondent either by itself or by its servants or agents or whosoever to immediately reverse the decision suspending all phone-in programmes on all broadcasters and a further order restraining the respondent either by itself or by its servants or agents or whosoever and howsoever from further suspending phone-in programmes in total disregard of the rules of natural justice,” the application adds.
The High Court has since set September 16 2019 as the hearing date for the application.
Ndanga, in a subsequent telephone interview, asked for collaboration from all players in the media industry in an effort to create an environment that fosters robust debate among citizens.
Macra Director General, said he had not yet seen the application.
Macra placed the ban on June 7 2019 citing unethical and careless reporting of post-election events as the main reason.