Mw Free Media under Threat—MISA
The Regional Secretariat of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) says it strongly disagrees with the suggestion that the media in Malawi demeans and insults president Mutharika.
Misa says it has noted with profound distress the growing intolerance of media freedom and freedom of expression in Malawi saying a free media is a prerequisite to development.
Misa regional secretariat’s statement concurs with its local arm Misa Malawi which described Friday’s state house press release the most serious threat to the Malawi media.
The statement from MISA regional secretariat comes following a State House press release that claimed some civil society organizations and media houses were ridiculing and insulting President Muthurika for their own publicity.
“It is also our hope that the government of Malawi, president Bingu wa Mutharika in particular, will be able to consider our point of view on the same issues. We strongly disagree with the suggestion that the media in Malawi are making it their vocation to demean and insult president Mutharika.
In a democracy, the media should be concerned with ‘shaping public opinion, mediating the debate between the state and civil society, but also acting as a watchdog over public process, against private gain,” reads part of the statement.
MISA says that a relationship between the government and the media would be beneficial for both sides, saying this would enable an environment for freedom of expression.
The media body also said it is concerned that the Malawi government may be conducting some illegal surveillance of Internet-use based on their perception that social networks are hostile.
“Our concern also extends to the mention made by the statement regarding social networks. The statement reads: ‘The State House monitors carefully such networks that are hostile and probably careless in demeaning the state president.’ We are extremely worried that the government of Malawi may be conducting some illegal surveillance of Internet use in Malawi based on their faulty perception that social networks are inherently hostile.
“This, in itself, reveals a profound lack of understanding of what the Internet is and its role in a democracy. We will continue to pay close attention to the tone and language directed at Internet use in Malawi as we believe, based on the statement, that there exists a significant threat to Freedom of Expression in Cyberspace in Malawi,” said Misa Regional Secretariat in its statement.
On his part, MISA Malawi Chairperson Mr. Antony Kasunda said the media fraternity in the country is shocked with the statement and will consult to find the way forward. —Zodiak Online