Malawi’s former minister of Information and Civic Education Patricia Kaliati on Monday told Parliament that Malawi Television (TVM) which, since its establishment in 1999 was operating as a public broadcaster despite being registered as a private company, was operating in the country illegally.
Kaliati, who was the last minister to head the information portfolio during the administration of the late Bingu wa Mutharika, said this during debate on a bill seeking to dissolve TVM and merge it with the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).
Parliament has since passed the bill into law, effectively dissolving TVM.
Speaking as DPP spokesperson on information matters, Kaliati commended her successor, Moses Kunkuyu, for bringing the bill into the House.
Presenting the bill, Kunkuyu said the piece of legislation was part of the process of legal formalisation of MBC operations since the law that established the public broadcaster already provided that the institution will operate both a radio and a television station.
“This bill seeks to provide for the dissolution of TVM, and to transfer any of its property, assets, funds, liabilities, obligations, agreements and other arrangements to MBC,” he said.
In his winding up speech to the bill, Kunkuyu said although most MPs bemoaned the situation at MBC, it was the same politicians suffocating the public broadcaster.
He said political parties, notably DPP, owe MBC huge sums of money in unpaid for advertisements.
During debate, most MPs also raised concerns on the gaps and disparities in the salaries and conditions of services at the two institutions.
TVM was initially incorporated as a private company under the Companies Act in 1999 before the Mutharika administration made attempts to merge it with MBC radio, an institution which was established under an Act of Parliament.
Contributing to the debate, MCP spokesperson on information Jolly Kalero, a former employee of MBC, said the change of status of TVM will mean that government will easily control its resources at the public broadcaster.
He said to MCP “the bill has been brought posthumously” considering that the merging process already started.
Kalero asked the current administration to check political interference at the public broadcaster and that it should be wary of employees who are geared to work as politicians rather than professionals.
“If not properly nurtured, this [vicious] circle will continue,” said Kalero. He said the practice started with the MCP and through the years the other parties have been emulating the same.
Dowa East MP Bauleni Manna also called on government to review the merger process to rectify the problems that arose following the process which he said victimized most workers.