Friday, August 30, 2013

MISA-Malawi appeals to the Muslim community in Mangochi to return confiscated MBC TV camera

…Condemns Attack on Journalist

Statement for Immediate Release: Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Malawi) would like to appeal to the Muslim elders in Mangochi to return the Television Camera confiscated from Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Television crew on Sunday, August 25, 2013.

In the same vein, MISA Malawi would like to condemn in the strongest manner the conduct of Minister of Economic Planning and Development Honorable Ralph Jooma for assaulting Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) journalist, Raphael Mlozoa, who had filed a report of the Mangochi incident. The minister accused Mlozoa of publishing false news. ZBS editor, Pilirani Phiri, confirmed the assault on Mlozoa and said the journalist suffered soft tissue injury and was treated at Mangochi District Hospital.

Some members of the Muslim community in Mangochi reportedly confiscated a television camera belonging to the State-run national broadcaster in the aftermath of what appears to be a misunderstanding between the religious actors and television crew. The Muslim community accused the television crew of taking footage of the Mosque and prayers without seeking necessary permission from the religious leaders.

Our investigation indicate that MBC crew were working on a documentary on family planning with support from Health Population Project (HPP) and assigned producer Linda Gombera, editor Tsoka Gausi and cameraman Hamilton Mwachande to work on the program. The three members reportedly sought permission from the Traditional Authority (T/A) in the area who also happens to be a sheikh at the Mangochi main Mosque but was not present during the shooting as he had reportedly gone for other errands in Namwera.

MISA Malawi acknowledges that a Mosque is a sacred place and appropriate direction and guidance ought to have been obtained before shooting the video and we respects the decision of the Muslim elders to protect the sanctity of the Mangochi main Mosque.
MISA Malawi, however, believes that the media has a right to report and gather information freely without fear or intimidation and that confiscating the camera and threatening the lives of the journalists in question was rather unwarranted. We therefore appeal to the men of God to reconsider their stand and return the camera to MBC.

Malawi has relevant and responsible organizations such as the police to enforce laws and ensure the protection of every citizen and taking the law into one’s own hands is an offence.

It is on this basis that we find the conduct of the Minister of Economic Planning and Development unfortunate and retrogressive.
MISA understands that Mlozoa’s assault followed a report he filed, which said that minister Jooma had himself been assaulted by members of the Muslim community at Mangochi’s main Mosque. Refuting the story that he had been assaulted, minister Jooma unleashed his bodyguards on Mlozoa, who insists that his story is factually correct.

We condemn the conduct of honorable Jooma’s bodyguards for assaulting Mlozoa for merely doing his job and call upon those in authority to lead by example and be the custodians of the law.

Lastly, we would like to appeal to Malawians to respect the journalists’ right to information and the public’s right to know. Fear and intimidation should have no place in a democratic Malawi.
MISA-Malawi would also like to implore journalists to be more responsible and very professional in order to protect our noble profession.

Anthony Kasunda
MISA Malawi Chairperson

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