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Rights activists decry MBC conduct

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Human rights activists have decried the conduct of State broadcaster, Malawi Broadcasting Cooperation (MBC), in the run up to the 2019 Tripartite Elections.

The activists– Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation Executive Director Timothy Mtambo, Youth and Society Executive Director Charles Kajoloweka and Centre for the Development of People Executive Director Gift Trapence— raised the concerns in a letter dated April 22 addressed to MBC Board Chairperson, Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) Board Chairperson and chairpersons for Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) and Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec).

The activists said MBC’s immunity to Macra’s regulations is a threat to national peace and stability as the country approaches the 2019 Tripartite Elections.

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“It is a fact that MBC does not give fair airtime to opposition parties and the critics of the government, while the ruling party gets extensive coverage of its functions and advertisements. Furthermore, MBC has all along been immune to regulation by both Macra and Malawi Electoral Commission— during the electoral period— while private broadcasters are extensively monitored and regulated regardless of whether there is an election or not,” reads the statement in part.

MBC violates a number of the country’s laws including Section 87(1) of the Communications Act (Act No 41 of 1998), Section 87(2) of the Communications Act and Section 63 of the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act.

“We would like to bring to your attention [the fact] that MBC’s deplorable behaviour has been in contravention to the following provisions of our laws [including] Section 87(1) of the Communications Act (Act No 41 of 1998) which requires MBC to provide public broadcasting services in accordance with a number of principles, including ‘the encouragement of free and informed opinion on all matters of public interest (and) respect for human rights, the rule of law and the Constitution of Malawi’,” reads the letter in part.

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