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After blasting media ‘you irritate me’, Pres. Banda refuses to endorse free expression declaration

After saying she has no time to read newspapers and watch state-run television, Malawi President Joyce Banda has declined to endorse the Declaration of Table Mountain, which calls for the repeal of laws which undermine press freedom in Africa.

The Table Mountain Declaration which has already been endorsed by two presidents on the continent including the Africa’s first female head of state, Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was presented to Pres, Banda at Sanjika Palace last week ahead of the World Press Freedom Day, May 3.

Presidential Press Secretary Steve Nhlane confirmed the development but didn’t give reasons why the president turned down the request to endorse the declaration.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) regional chairperson Anthony Kasunda, who is also chairperson of the Misa Malawi Chapter, told ZBS radio that they were disappointed with Pres. Banda’s apparent change of heart.

When she met a Misa delegation last week, she said she would consider the request. But during the same meeting, Pres. Banda raised eyebrows when she bluntly told the delegation “you irritate me” for what she considered negative reporting on her administration.

“You irritate me,” said Pres. Banda who wondered, “Now you want me to sign what?”

She said when “I became president I thought the media were my partners.”

The president said she’d stopped reading newspapers because they hated her and they could kill her just as they did to her predecessor who died from a heart attack in April last year.

“Bingu [wa Mutharika] tried to fight the media and you killed him,” she said.

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