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Peter Mutharika asked to produce evidence of media corruption

Parliamentary Media and Communications Committee has asked President Peter Mutharika to come in the open and prove to Malawians on accusations he made recently that the local media are corrupt.

The committee’s demand comes after Mutharika made allegations that media practitioners in the country are corrupt.

Speaking during the elevation ceremony of Traditional Authority Ngongoliwa at Chonde in Thyolo on Sunday, Mutharika attacked the media for publishing stories that come out “because they have been bribed”.

However, the committee says it is unfortunate that the President has scandalised the journalism profession by saying that stories are usually published after money exchanges hands.

Committee Chairperson Sam Kawale told The Daily Times Tuesday that it is sad that the Head of State has made such remarks.

He said the sentiments have potential of misleading Malawians who may lose trust in the media.

“He knows that the media, especially private institutions, work professionally in the country. But he chooses to look at such media houses as trash. He sponsors Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), which in my opinion and without fear or favour, is the most biased media house [in Malawi]. How should people trust his sentiments?

“The next time, sentiments made on the [political] podium should be censored. This is hypocrisy at the highest level. We do not want such remarks [to come] from the Head of State,” Kawale said.

Chancellor College media studies lecturer Jimmy Kainja said Mutharika should bring out evidence of such assertions towards corrupt journalists.

He said Mutharika’s allegations are damaging.

“In fact, whoever can speak such sentiments needs to produce evidence. Journalists should be told when and where they were bribed to write stories. Reporters have never said the President is corrupted without evidence. The President cannot just say that out of the blues because nobody will ask him. Maybe it was out of frustration,” Kainja said.

Kainja added that the public cannot be fooled to listen to the allegations because they already know that the President is not known to be friendly to the media.

Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa- Malawi) Chairperson Thom Kanje said Mutharika’s remarks were aimed at demolishing and frustrating the media industry.

“We take this as a serious allegation considering the high office of president. We could not expect such allegations from the Office of the President. Therefore, we take it as his intention to demolish the media in the country,” Khanje said.

But Director of Communications at the State House Bright Molande said the stakeholders should first ask Speaker of National Assembly Richard Msowoya who also made similar allegations.

“Can the Parliamentary Committee on Media and Communications and the Misa-Malawi ask for evidence from the Speaker and come back to us, because he was the first to say that. Nobody must be in denial if we are to fight corruption successfully in the country,” Molande said.

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