State House statement on conduct of media and civil society


The State House has yet again noted with grave concern the continuing habit by some civil society organizations and sadly too, media houses to insult the Head of State, His Excellency Ngwazi Professor Bingu wa Mutharika. Deliberate attempts have been made to distort statements and actions by the State President with the intention to misinform the nation thereby stirring unnecessary panic among Malawians and bring anarchy in this country.

The State House has further observed in disbelief the unbecoming behavior by the same group of people to ridicule the Head of State on matters of governance. The intention is to create an impression that Malawi is a failed state on governance issues and that the purported situation is worrying Malawians and donors.

It is a pity that some civil society organizations and media houses find demeaning, insulting and accusing the State President as a scoop to merit themselves. It should be obvious that such insults, accusations, derogatory statements and ill comments about our Head of State are but a shame in the eyes of the international community.

The State House finds it laughable that civil society organizations who should partner government in development can receive donor money to work against their own Head of State and government. This is despicable shame. How wicked can a child be to work towards the divorce of his / her own parents.

Some print and electronic media houses have found solace in misinforming their audiences on actions and statements by the State President.

The State House has further observed that certain papers refer the Head of State as the ‘big kahuna’ or ‘Moya’. This is demeaning our own Head of State and no sensible and sound journalist would propagate such reportage. This MUST stop forthwith.

Most recently, just to mention but a few examples, the State House noted with dismay and concern a lead story on the front of the Nation Newspaper of Friday 2nd March 2012, captioned ‘Bingu’s Sneaky Fuel Strategy’. The article did not only carry misleading information about facts on the ground but went a mile further with a cartoon that mentioned the name Mutharika to illustrate a point. We all know that ‘Mutharika’ is the current Head of State and to portray him through such a demeaning cartoon is deliberate provocation and stretching the State President beyond any acceptable limits.

The laws of Malawi provide for the total respect and protection of the Head of State. Section 3 (2) of the protected Flag, Emblems and Names clearly states that; Any person who does any act or utters any words or publishes any writing calculated to or liable to insult or to show disrespect to or with respect to or with reference to the President…shall be liable to a fine of 1000 pounds and to imprisonment for two (2) years. His Excellency Ngwazi Professor Bingu wa Mutharika is therefore protected by that law. The State House believes that such insults are a violation of the law that protects him.

Stories and headlines like ‘Bingu gets grilled, Government barks at nothing, An arrogant Bingu’, are nothing but sensational and irresponsible writing that is only designed to provoke certain quarters of the society.

Some social networks carry articles and comments that openly insult and ridicule His Excellency the State President. The State House monitors carefully such networks that are hostile and probably careless in demeaning the State President.

The State House wishes therefore to make it blatantly clear that it will not standby and condone this impudence.

His Excellency the State President has made numerous important statements at different fora, but certain media houses and civil society organizations have deliberately chosen to distort the President’s statements.

The State House is also aware that certain editors and reporters are offered money by opposition political party leaders, donors and even civil society organization leaders to deliberately distort information, insult the Head of State and cause panic in this country.

Certain phone in programmes designed by some media houses have offered a platform for callers to castigate or insult the Head of State. Anchors of such programmes have often found fun as the Head of State is being ridiculed in public. This too is unacceptable and the State House is not amused at all.

The July 20/21 demonstrations that turned out ugly and left several innocent people dead and huge property lost through burning and looting were even aggravated by some media houses who intentionally sensationalized their reporting.

The State House therefore, wishes to reiterate and remind civil society organizations and the media houses that even against all this arrogance, bickering and naivety, His Excellency the State President has never ordered the arrest of any of these so called human rights defenders or media practitioners in this country.

The State President is, and will continue to be a true and practical democrat who swore to defend the constitution of Malawi and has ensured during his reign that his people including civil society organizations and the media enjoy their inherent freedoms on a rostrum that is shared by rights and responsibilities.

The State House further wishes to ask civil society organizations and media houses to stop demeaning the State President and using falsehood as a means of advancing personal agendas. Peddling of falsehood and insulting His Excellency the State President is not the kind of behavior expected of leaders, media houses that pose to be knowledgeable and responsible enough to be at the helm of institutions that are expected to be reputable.

Those who are familiar with the demeanor and character of His Excellency the President will testify that the Ngwazi has made intellectual engagement and sound persuasion as the only tools for propounding his ideals

When His Excellency the State President ascended to power in 2004 he inherited a government that had no political and economic direction or ambition. He found Malawi that had been reduced to a beggar. People could not afford a meal. Women died while queuing for maize husks at maize mills. Only a few could afford the then expensive ARVs in hospitals. HIV/AIDS related deaths shook the Malawi nation. Theft and murder was the order of the day. Women continued to be brutally hacked, assaulted and raped in broad day light. Roads and infrastructure development were mere political rhetoric.

Countless innocent Malawians like Sheikh Burgudhadi, Mr Waya, Evison Matafale, Kalonga Stambuli mysteriously lost their lives due to their utterances and political differences with that regime. Many were arrested on political grounds including the first Head of State, late Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda. During that regime, no civil society organization stood up to speak about these basic human rights and abuses. No civil society organization spoke about regime change, referendum or impeachment. No media house wrote or spoke about this dark side of events. No civil society organization or donor spoke about poor governance or rule of law.

Today, every honest and peace loving Malawian will bear true testimony that His Excellency the State President has transformed Malawi from what it used to be eight years ago. He is working tirelessly to ensure that Malawi gets out of the current economic woos. He is a leader who knows what he is doing, how the challenges facing Malawi can be resolved and the direction that the country should take.

May we all endeavor to give our Head of State time and space to work things around. Insults, derogatory language, demonstrations, threats of regime change may not work to our advantage. The adage goes; Rome was not built in a day and blessed are those who wait for they shall be rewarded handsomely. Let us all remember that united we stand, divided we fall.

Finally the State House wishes to warn in the strongest terms civil society organizations and media houses to stop equating themselves with the State President and / or insulting him. His Excellency the State President deserves respect and protection as provided for in the laws of Malawi.

Further, the Holly Bible on Exodus Chapter 20 v 12 teaches us to honor our fathers and mothers so that we may live long in the land, the Lord our God gave us.

Once again the State House will no longer standby and watch His Excellency Ngwazi Professor Bingu wa Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi being ridiculed and insulted.

Albert Mungomo

State House Press Officer

Sanjika Palace


08th March, 2012

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