The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Malawi) has expressed its sadness with a growing trend of Phalombe district council officials of barring journalists and the media from covering public functions.
This is according to a press statement released on Friday, signed by, the Chapter’s president, Tereza Ndanga.
Last week the Chapter received reports that the Phalombe District Council had banned reporters from private media houses from covering Council proceedings.
The media was also awash with reports that the media had been banned from covering the public sector reform meetings which were taking place at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in August.
Ndanga said the Chapter would like to remind individuals and organizations that the media has a constitutional obligation and right to inform Malawians and any attempts to block the sector from performing that function is unconstitutional and retrogressive.
She said the Chapter has received several reports of public bodies and individuals banning the media from covering public deliberations and functions.
“These developments are unconstitutional and retrogressive for Malawi and ought to be condemned in the strongest manner possible.
“Section 44 (2) of the Malawi Constitution is clear that limitations on the exercise of any rights and freedoms provided for in the Constitution should be those prescribed by law, which are reasonable, recognized by international human rights standards and necessary in an open and democratic society,” reads part of Misa statement.
The Chapter further says none of the cases at hand justify the actions by authorities to ban or bar reporters and the media from performing their duties.
Ndanga in the statement said MISA Malawi does not support sensational, malicious and half-baked reporting and would appreciate being engaged to deal with such cases.
“Banning or barring reporters is not an answer or remedy for cases where a journalist or media outlet has misrepresented information or facts,” reads another part of the statement.
In July this year, MISA Malawi issued a statement over reports that the media had been barred from covering the infamous maize gate case involving former Minister of Agriculture George Chaponda.