President Lazarus Chakwera this morning hosted journalists at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day.
The President together with the First Lady Madam Monica Chakwera had a breakfast treat with journalist at Kamuzu Palace in celebration of World Press Freedom Day which falls on May 3 annually and this year is under the theme “Journalism Under Digital Siege.”
This is the first time in the history of the country for the President to host members of the media for breakfast on WPFD.
Speaking at the event, President Chakwera committed to uphold the constitution which protects freedom of the press by defending and guarding rights that provides a safe working environment for journalists.
He said he will defend Section 36, which says that “the press shall have the right to report and publish freely, within Malawi and abroad, and to be accorded the fullest possible facilities for access to public information.”
He added in the digital age where many people access information through social media, it is necessary and prudent to regard Section 36 as the identical twin of Section 35, which guarantees every person the right to freedom of expression.
“Our first step in that task relates to our own behavior, especially as it relates to how we react to someone who exercises these rights. We must each regulate ourselves to ensure that any time a journalist publishes something or a social commentator says something, we never react in a manner that infringes on their freedom to do so. This principle of self-restraint applies to me, every public official, every agency of the state, and every citizen,” said Chakwera.
He then asked journalists to guard and protect their profession by resisting corruption while at the same time refusing to be used by certain individuals for selfish reasons.
He said journalists do difficult and dangerous work which is often misunderstood and poorly imitated by those who have not had any training or are not subject to the same ethical standards journalists observe.
“Those who seek to corrupt you or weaponize your work to settle personal scores and even to disrupt social order are many. And so it is important for us to celebrate your courage to continue informing the public as well as your efforts to resist the attempts so many make to see your work corrupted or attacked to suit their agendas. Because although I took an oath to preserve and defend your freedom and even invoked the power of heaven to help me do so, I ask you to make my task easier by ensuring that you yourselves are never the first to allow your noble work to be corrupted or left open to attack,” said Chakwera.
In her remarks, MISA-Malawi Chairperson Tereza Ndanga applauded President Dr Lazarus Chakwera for opening up State House to journalists to probe several issues affecting the country and for introducing ‘Government Faces the Press’ where ministers clarify to the media on government undertakings.
She then congratulated Chakwera for assenting to Access to Information (ATI) law which has helped journalists to access information without hurdles.
World Press Freedom Day is observed on 3rd May each year to emphasize the importance of a free press.