Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communications Technology Mark Botomani has said the President Peter Mutharika administration will continue to be a listening government in order to provide a conducive environment for the media.
Botomani made the remarks during the official opening of the Regional Conference on Media Freedom and Democracy at Bingu international convention Centre in Lilongwe.
He said the government will remain a friend of the media and claimed that the government has demonstrated its steadfast belief in human rights and freedoms.
“It is for this reason that all freedoms, including those relevant to this conference namely freedom of expression and freedom of the press are jealously safeguarded,” he said.
He, however, expressed concern over abuse of freedom of expression saying members of the media are promoting hate speech, promoting divisions and disunity, promoting fake news and disinformation.
Botomani said the situation is not helped by the absence of the Media Council of Malawi which died naturally a few years ago.
“I must emphasise that an environment where an arbiter to adjudicate over media related disputes is non-existent incentivizes those with grievances to take unwarranted and extreme measures against the media.
“I am not encouraging the aggrieved to take matters into their own hands nor am I pleased with the impression, which seems to be enduring, that the media is not concerned that a media council does not exist to regulate excesses from newsrooms,” Botomani said.
He then encouraged the participants to discuss issues like countering fake news and disinformation, professional and ethical reporting, and media regulation.
Speaking at the event, British High Commissioner to Malawi Holly Tett said the United Kingdom remains committed to supporting media freedom and protecting democracy in Africa.
“We thought of bringing together inspirational voices and media freedom advocates at one place like this to discuss how you can ensure that the media steps up its role of building healthier and well-informed democratic societies in both Malawi and neighbouring countries, especially at a time when we are seeing a new and dangerous trend of journalists being targeted simply for doing their jobs,” she said.