The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi Chapter would like to regrettably inform the general public that President Joyce Banda has formally declined to sign the Declaration of Table Mountain as part of the 2013 celebrations to mark World Press Freedom Day.
As you are aware, Misa Malawi held an audience with President Banda at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre on April 22, 2013. The main purpose of the talks with the President was to request her to consider signing the Declaration of Table Mountain on May 3, 2013 as part of the celebrations to mark World Press Freedom Day.
We have, unfortunately, received an official communication from State House that the President has declined to sign the Declaration. No reasons have been given.

Misa Malawi Chapter believes strongly in the fundamental role that the media plays in building and sustaining democracy, but we are mindful that this can only be achieved in tolerant and democratic societies that cherish and respect local and international protocols that uphold the freedom, independence and safety of the media and media practitioners.
When media leaders across the globe gathered in Cape Town, South Africa in June 2007 under the auspices of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers and the World Editors Forum, they made an urgent call to African leaders to consider press freedom as a key to sustainable economic, political, social and cultural development, prosperity and peace in Africa by repealing colonial laws that restrict press freedom.

 

This call is what has come to be known as the Declaration of Table Mountain. As an organisation and the media in the country, we take the refusal by President Joyce Banda as a lost opportunity on her part because she could have registered her name on the world map as a President who is committed to promoting and defending democracy in the country.

We are disappointed that the President has declined to make that commitment by refusing to sign.

However, President Joyce Banda has in the past demonstrated that she is a true defender of media freedom and that she is committed to seeing democracy flourish in Malawi by impressing on Parliament to repeal Section 46 of the Penal Code and also removal of VAT on news print and newspapers.

We still have hope that she will find it necessary to sign the declaration. Misa Malawi Chapter would also want to take this opportunity to thank the President for granting us an opportunity to engage with her. We look forward to continued engagement for the good of our country.

Anthony Kasunda

Misa Malawi Chapter Chairperson

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