Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has condemned Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) for summoning Zodiak Broadcasting Station for airing an advert by Civil Society Organization (CSOs) encouraging Malawians to patronize the demonstrations slated for April 27, 2018 across the country, saying this is interfering with press freedom.
The advert which highlights some of the challenges rocking the country including persistent power cuts, drug shortage in public hospitals and corruption in government departments and other issues.
But the advert has not gone down well with MACRA and the government under President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika hence the summon.
In a statement released by CHRR Executive Director Timothy Mtambo made available to faceofmalawi reporter said the tendancy of MACRA is regrettable.
“We, Human Rights Defenders Forum (HRDF), have learnt with ineffable disdain for the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) the ongoing unprofessional conduct and selective justice being demonstrated by this body in summoning Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) and interfering with press freedom. We seriously condemn this sick conduct as it does not even speak to the spirit of the Malawi Communications Act which establishes this unprincipled institution.
“There is completely nothing wrong with Zodiak airing our patriotic messages for the coming April 27 Nationwide Demonstrations. As citizens, we are entitled to hold duty bearers accountable and to freely demonstrate as we exercise our right to freedoms of expression, assembly and association. It pains that MACRA takes no action against the taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) which airs uncountable hate messages and programmes against opposition political parties and any dissenting views despite that it’s a public broadcaster and not owned by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP),” said Mtambo.
He added: “We are aware that MACRA is indeed hell-bent to frustrate any of our efforts as organisers of the coming April 27 Nationwide Demonstrations. Again, we are aware that it’s the government which is behind all this unjustifiable conduct. But we want to inform you that as HRDF we will not relent and that come what may we will successfully hold our peaceful demonstrations slated for the coming April 27 because this is our right and for the good of Malawians.
“As we have said before, MACRA is never independent as it would want Malawians to believe. This institution has totally been reduced to a mere folk of the ruling DPP full of nothing but unprofessionalism, biasness, incredibility and insensitivity with no heart for the whining 17 million Malawians. These are the reasons among many as to why Malawians must come to this anti-corruption and vote of no confidence peaceful demonstration.”
CHRR has since warned the ruling DPP to stop fooling Malawians.