I haven’t instructed anyone to arrest journalists- Chakwera


Malawi President, Lazarus Chakwera, says ever since he assumed power, he has never issued any order to the Malawi Police to arrest or detain any journalist when executing his/her duties, saying such orders are a violation of press freedom in the country.

Chakwera made the remarks when he hosted journalists at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe to commemorate the annual World Press Freedom Day under the theme “A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the Face of Environmental Crisis.

Speaking at the event, the president committed to upholding the constitution which protects freedom of the press by defending and guarding rights that provide a safe working environment for journalists.

The Malawi leader said issuing such orders would be a violation of the constitution, saying Malawi is a free country and its freedom includes that of the press, which is enshrined in the highest laws of the land.

“The reason you can confidently present me with recommended areas of improvement in our press freedoms as the leadership of MISA has done this morning is that you know of my commitment to the ideals of press freedom, not only expressed in words, but with actions such as the operationalization of the Access to Information Act, the removal of primitive laws that criminalized insults against the President, an open door policy that brings the press into the inner sanctums of Government, and a posture of great displeasure against any public servant who presumes to abuse his office or misuse my name to induce police officers to act on their behalf instead of acting under the law,” said Chakwera.

He then described the tendency of arbitrary arrests of media practitioners in the name of orders from above as wayward.

MISA Malawi vice chairperson, Chisomo Ngulube
MISA Malawi vice chairperson-Chisomo Ngulube

He has appealed to the media to use the freedom of the press to tell better stories that advance national interests, stories that add value to the pursuit of prosperity, stories that preserve national pride, and stories that inspire the world to support the fight against the monster of climate change in the country.

“I believe that the reason you have chosen the theme of A Press for the Planet is because you as journalists all over the world, have come to realize that climate change is the biggest story to tell, and in that quest, you have my full support,” said Chakwera.

Meanwhile, Minister of Information and Digitalisation, Moses Kunkuyu, has assured the media that the government will continue providing maximum protection to journalists while executing their duties.

Kumkuyu also described the media as key in information dissemination and advancing the Malawi development agenda.

On her part, MISA Malawi vice chairperson, Chisomo Ngulube, challenged the media fraternity to level the playing field during the election campaign and the actual elections to ensure that all candidates are heard by all potential voters.

Ngulube has also called for the full implementation of the Access to Information as many public institutions and officers continue to refuse to give information to the media despite the law in place.

Despite Chakwera’s claims that Malawi is a free country and its freedom includes that of the press, recently former Malawi24 journalist, Macmillan Mhone was arrested over an online story published last year exposing fraudulent activities involving a corruption suspect Abdul Karim Batatawala who was charged with conspiracy to defraud the Malawi government.

On the other hand, Journalist Gregory Gondwe went into hiding following his investigative report on the Malawi Defence Force’s dealings with a businessman Zuneth Sattar who is under investigation for corruption.


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