The Association for Community Radio Stations in Malawi says it is concerned with what happened during a political rally in Nsanje where a community radio reporter was assaulted by Democratic Progressive (DPP) cadets.
According to the association’s secretary Luciano Milala, the incident happened when President Arthur Peter Mutharika conducted a political rally in Nsanje on Saturday, 14th October, 2017.
In a press statement, Milala said some DPP youth cadets assaulted Gaka Community Radio reporter Fabiano Moyenda for alleged biased coverage against the ruling party.
The secretary said such acts of violence and intimidation by DPP cadets towards the media run contrary to the spirit of the Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression and opinion and the media freedom to disseminate information within the confines of the law.
“The mandate of community radio stations is to complement government efforts in its development quests and to disseminate information without being influenced by politics. Acts of violence and intimidation by the DPP cadets hardly appreciate such a role played by community radios in the country.
“By their very nature, community radio stations operate in communities and programming is designed to suit their views and needs irrespective of their political affiliations. They work with anyone who has a development agenda to change society,” reads part of the statement.
The statement adds that for this reason, the ruling party should not view community broadcasters as a threat, but rather as a partner in development, especially at community level.
It says such acts of violence against the media hearken back to the one party dictatorship when media space was limited and holding contrary opinions was criminal.
“The political dispensation agreed on in June 1993 enjoins us to appreciate our differences in our unity and guarantee us freedoms, such as those of the media,”says the statement.
Milala in the statement blames the Malawi Electoral Commission and Malawi Police Service for not acting on the matter despite that the assault of the reporter took place in full view of their officials.
“Such indifference does not bode well for the country as it marches towards the 2019 Tripartite Elections,” reads another part of the statement.
Meanwhile, the association has requested the Malawi Police Service to investigate and arrest people who manhandled Moyenda at Bangula trading centre.