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I’ve Never Ordered Journalists’ Arrest - Chakwera

Chakwera; never ordered journalists’ arrest Chakwera; never ordered journalists’ arrest Pic Courtesy of Malawi Statehouse

President Lazarus Chakwera says he has never ordered law enforcers to arrest any person, including journalists, for expressing or writing stories against his administration.

Chakwera said this today at the Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe where he hosted journalists in the country to a presidential breakfast in celebration of World Press Freedom Day which falls on May 3.

President Chakwera has been in office in the last four years, and said his decision to host the presidential breakfast for the third consecutive time manifests his high regard for media freedom and media independence.

He says he considers media freedom as the cornerstone for the country's development and urged media practitioners to exercise their role with professionalism.

“I know that in the past year some misguided law enforcement agents have tried to damage Malawi’s international reputation as a place where the press is free to

publish what it likes, and some of you have fallen for the lie that such misguided police abuses are meted out with orders from here…

“... but I can assure you that I have never once issued orders to the Police to arrest anyone, much less a journalist, because such an order would be a violation of the very Constitution I swore an oath to protect.

“So, I want to say it again today, Malawi is a free country and its freedom includes that of the press, which is enshrined in the highest laws of our land,” added the president.

Chakwera stressed the need for journalists to write stories that preserve national pride, inspire and woo support from other development partners.

This year’s theme for World Press Freedom Day is “A Press for the Planet”, and the president said it could not be more fitting as Malawi is on the frontlines of a war against climate change disasters.

He added, “In telling the world Malawi’s story of affliction, it is important to do so by emphasizing our agency as a nation. It is important to avoid portraying Malawi as a nation without means. We must not imagine that giving the world the impression that we have no capacity to do anything for ourselves in this crisis will be in our nation’s best interest, for after four years of being president I can assure you that the world is not governed on sympathy. Sympathy is a currency whose value has long been lost due to too much circulation.

“The story we must tell, the story our nation’s press must help to tell the world, is the inspiring story of how Malawi has stood up to this giant monster of climate change…The story we must tell the world is how even though I am the first President in the history of Malawi to be forced to declare a state of disaster every single year I have been in office thus far, the Malawian people have been resilient, our collective response has been remarkable, and our economy is back on the recovery path.”

The local theme is "Guardians for Democracy; Championing Media Independence for Credible Elections."

President Chakwera has donated K5 million towards the finishing of the Mtolankhani House, the headquarters of Misa Malawi.

Speaking earlier, Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) Malawi Chapter Vice Chairperson Chisomo Nguluwe asked the president to ensure that he avails himself to the media to respond to different questions from Malawians.

Nguluwe, while commending the government for opening up in the provision of information to the masses, she bemoaned the lack of funding at the Malawi Human Rights Commission for the implementation of the Access to Information Law.

Golden Matonga, the Misa Malawi Chapter Chairperson acknowledged that the press in Malawi enjoy some freedom compared to other countries.

However, he has emphasized the need for improvement. Specifically, he suggests that the president should be more available to the press for questioning, and there is a necessity to repeal some anti-media laws.

World Press Freedom Day falls on 3 May, and this year the celebrations will be held in Mangochi on Saturday where outstanding journalists will be given awards.

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Last modified on Thursday, 02/05/2024

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