Leader of Opposition Kondwani Nankhumwa says President Lazarus Chakwera and his Government should avoid taking Malawians back to the one party era where Journalists were arrested for reporting the truth.
Nankhumwa released a statement yesterday, 3rd May, which is World Press Freedom Day.
He noted that the 2022 Freedom of the Press Index published by Reporters Without Borders, show that Malawi has slipped in ranking from 62 in 2021 to 80 in 2022 in terms of promoting freedom of the press and access to public information by journalists.
He said he is not surprised by this huge fall in ranking because it appears that the Tonse Alliance government, under President Lazarus Chakwera, has brazenly gone full throttle in muzzling press freedom, including harassing and arresting journalists for merely doing their job and Malawians for social media posts
“A case in point is the recent arrest of social media commentators, including a nurse, Chidawawa Maine, and Mr. Joshua Chisa Mbele, as well as that of Director of Platform for Investigative Journalism (PIJ) Gregory Gondwe, on 5th April, 2022.
“As journalists commemorate this very important day, I would like to call upon President Chakwera and his government to resist the temptation of taking Malawi back to the one-party totalitarian practices where journalists were arbitrarily arrested and detained for many years for reporting the truth. Under that one-party oppressive regime of the late Ngwazi Dr. H. Kamuzu Banda, journalists were forced to toe the party line and to always glorify the ‘Ngwazi’ as a demi-god,” said Nankhumwa.
He added that as Leader of Opposition in Parliament, he will not watch the Tonse Alliance government take away various freedoms that Malawians gallantly fought for in 1993 and 1994, including the freedom of expression.
“We shall, therefore, continue to push for the removal from our statutes archaic laws that impede media independence, and the safety of journalists in Malawi in conformity with our democratic dispensation,” he said.
This year’s theme for World Press Freedom Day is “Journalism Under Digital Siege”. The theme is intended to highlight the multiple ways in which surveillance and digitally mediated attacks endanger journalists and journalism.
In Malawi, freedom of the press is enshrined in the Republican Constitution under section 36.