Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Concerns raised over free press in Malawi

Samuel Okocha, AfricaNews reporter in Lagos, Nigeria
A freelance journalist has described the recent accreditation of journalists operating in Malawi as a way to limit press freedom in the southern African country.
“They say they are accrediting journalists but it is like man hunting,” Malawian Chancy Namadzunda said of the accreditation exercise the Media Council of Malawi, MCM recently embarked upon.

Namadzunda said journalists had been told that Malawi School Certificate of Education and a certificate in journalism or mass communication were the minimum qualifications required to get accreditation. On the alternative, “three years experience is required,” to get accredited.

“But they are denying people whose certificates were obtained from 'un-recognized colleges' but have worked for more than three years,” Namadzunda said.

Government hand

The freelance journalist said the government had started the accreditation of some private colleges two years ago but some colleges were not accredited and added the government was using the MCM to fight the press.

“I think the government is remote controlling them. The president has for many times said we who writes for international media we want to bring shame on his government.”

“And MCM recently applied for funding from government…You see?”

Malawi was in the media spotlight in May following international criticism of a 14 years sentence of a gay couple who were eventually pardoned by the president.

Accreditation and possible implication

Namadzunda, who has refused to submit himself for accreditation, said journalists without IDs would be denied access to any information, once the accreditation phase ends.

Asked of the penalty for a journalist seen operating without accreditation, the Malawian freelance journalist answered: “They have not talked of that one yet...but I think they may have impostering to be a journalist as a possible crime”- Source: Africa News

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