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United States envoy for free press

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The United States Ambassador to Malawi, Virginia Palmer, on Wednesday bemoaned the antagonism between the media and government in the country, saying the situation is not good for democracy.

Palmer was speaking in Blantyre when she visited Times Group premises.

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She said the role of the media needs no emphasis in any democracy and called on the media to continue putting government on its feet to ensure that there is transparency and accountability in the management of government affairs.

“I don’t think that antagonism is healthy. The role of the media is to keep the state on its honest toes. As a government official, I know it’s hard to be kept on my toes like that. But the current antagonism isn’t necessary and proper. I know it is hard for the media too but keep up doing the good work without fear or favour and Malawi will be stronger for [doing] that,” Palmer said.

She further says the media in Malawi has earned the respect of the international community, adding that such credibility needs to be safeguarded.

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“The media is incredibly important to everything in Malawi. To accountability, to donor funds being spent well, and to ensuring that there is good follow up on all that. I have a lot of trust in the Malawi media. And it needs to be protected because it is precious,” Palmer said.

Times Group has been under siege from Government of Malawi, after the biggest media house in the country exposed the dubious purchase of maize from Zambia by the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation.

The story has culminated in a scandal that has seen President Peter Mutharika fire Agriculture Minister George Chaponda after the commission of inquiry questioned his involvement into the deal, and the subsequent seizure of K166 million in the minister’s house.

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