For immediate release 29th April 2013
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Malawi Chapter would like to
regrettably inform the general public that President Mrs Joyce Banda has
formally declined to sign the Declaration of Table Mountain as part of the
2013 celebrations to mark World Press Freedom Day.
As you are aware, MISA Malawi held an audience with President Banda at
Sanjika Palace in Blantyre on 22nd April 2013. The main purpose of the
talks with the President was to request her to consider signing the
Declaration of Table Mountain on 3rd May, 2013 as part of the celebrations
to mark World Press Freedom Day.
We have, unfortunately, received an official communication from State
House that the President has declined to sign the Declaration. No reasons
have been given.
MISA Malawi Chapter believes strongly in the fundamental role that the
media plays in building and sustaining democracy, but we are mindful that
this can only be achieved in tolerant and democratic societies that
cherish and respect local and international protocols that uphold the
freedom, independence and safety of the media and media practitioners
When media leaders across the globe gathered in Cape Town, South Africa in
June 2007 under the auspices of the World Association of Newspapers and
News Publishers and the World Editors Forum, they made an urgent call to
African leaders to consider press freedom as a key to sustainable
economic, political, social and cultural development, prosperity and peace
in Africa by repealing colonial laws that restrict press freedom.
This call is what has come to be known as the Declaration of Table Mountain.
As an organisation and the media in the country, we take the refusal by
President Joyce Banda as a lost opportunity on her part because she could
have registered her name on the world map as a President who is committed
to promoting and defending democracy in the country.
We are disappointed that the President has declined to make that
commitment by refusing to sign.
However, President Joyce Banda has in the past demonstrated that she is a
true defender of media freedom and that she is committed to seeing
democracy flourish in Malawi by impressing on Parliament to repeal Section
46 of the Penal Code and also removal of VAT on news print and newspapers.
We still have hope that she will find it necessary to sign the
MISA Malawi Chapter would also want to take this opportunity to thank the
President for granting us an opportunity to engage with her. We look
forward to continued engagement for the good of our country.
MISA MALAWI CHAPTER CHAIRPERSON