Malawi Government on Monday said the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration’s decision to ban public institutions from advertising with Nation Publications Limited (NPL) was uncalled for and regrettable.

Minister of Information Moses Kunkuyu in an interview after touring NPL Ginnery Corner offices in Blantyre said such “an unthinkable action to arm-twist a critical private media will never happen again under People’s Party (PP) administration.”

The late president Bingu wa Mutharika’s administration banned government institutions from advertising with NPL in an apparent attempt to force it to shut down.

Kunkuyu said visiting NPL was a good learning page as the media house has taken Malawians through the transition from the one-party system of government to multipartyism.

Said Kunkuyu: “As we try to put the good image of government and develop Malawi, there is a need to regard private media houses as partners. We may not agree on other issues, but we have the same interest to serve the people of Malawi.”

Kunkuyu said government has shown commitment to creating a conducive media environment by removing 16.5 percent value-added tax (VAT) on newspapers and repealing Section 46 of the Penal Code which empowered an information minister to ban a publication deemed not to be in the public interest.

The minister commended NPL for its interest to tackle maternal mortality issues and for coming up with Fuko, a biweekly edition that is distributed for free and focuses on development activities.

NPL managing editor Edward Chitsulo said in an interview that they discussed with Kunkuyu operational and policy issues.

Chitsulo said there has always been suspicion between government and media, but what should be understood is that the two serve the same people. He said Malawians deserve information to make right decisions, which should be well-managed.

Said Chitsulo: “We discussed a variety of issues, notably NPL’s history, objectives, operational and policy issues; all geared at serving the nation and the greater democracy, not private interest.”

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