Thursday, 10 October 2013
For Immediate Release
The Malawi Editors Forum (MAEF), a body of senior print, magazine, broadcast and other electronic media editors and media educators in Malawi, has followed the press conference which Her Excellency Dr Joyce Banda, President of the Republic of Malawi, held on Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre and would like to:
1. Commend the President for resuming her press conferences on return from her foreign trips after failing to do so on previous occasions.
2. Applaud the media for attending the press conference in their large numbers and for, by and large, asking pertinent questions without fear.
3. Deplore the continued flooding of government and party officials in what is supposed to be a meeting between the President and country’s media. It is our feeling that these cadres have several other opportunities to interact with the President and the atmosphere in such press conferences is intimidating with the potential to inhibit the media from asking some questions.
4. Condemn the clapping of hands and interjections by the President’s support cast as journalists asked questions. This can be seen as an attempt by the political activists to influence the nature of questions that the journalists can ask.
5. Implore the President to desist from disrupting questions from journalists and engaging herself in a duel with them. She must always keep in mind the unfair advantage she has in those situations given her position in society and refrain from exposing herself to situations that may embarrass the high office she holds.
6. Express regret that what was supposed to be a press conference was dominated by statements from the President and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and only little time was provided for questions. This was a case of giving with one hand and taking away with the other and we feel the President lost a golden opportunity to clear the mist surrounding several issues of the day.
As a body committed to the nurturing and deepening of media freedom as a democratic value in Malawi, MAEF would like to commend the political operatives present at Sanjika Palace for exercising restraint despite their clear discomfort with some of the questions raised by the media. This gives us hope that together we can work towards building a tolerant society where those seeking answers from powers that be are not seen as adversaries but partners in serving the Malawian public.
MAEF would like to inform government, political parties, civil society and media practitioners that it is committed to constructive engagement with everyone with a view to ensuring transparency and openness in the conduct of public affairs while defending media freedom through all available institutions.
CLIFTON KAWANGA, Chairperson
GRACIAN TUKULA, Secretary General