The Media watchdog, MISA Malawi has described the six months period that the Tonse administration has been in power as a mixed bag.
In a statement released today, the Institute`s Chairperson Teresa Ndanga says much as the media fraternity celebrate some achievement, MISA Malawi is concerned that the administration and its supporters have taken actions that are aimed at reducing media space and freedoms in the past six months.
MISA Malawi has cited the operationalisation of access to Information law (ATI) as highly commendable and that government should work on finalising the process to gazette the ATI regulations.
Ndanga says the introduction of the presidential weekly press briefings has allowed the media more access to the highest office in the country as well as fulfilling the proactive disclosure requirement under the ATI regime.
However, MISA Malawi has faulted the administration on cyberbullying of some journalists and the tendency of some cabinet Ministers threatening journalists after publication of stories deemed to be critical of the government.
In additional, Ndanga described the closure of privately owned Galaxy FM by Lilongwe City Council and prior approval by state house of questions for the weekly press briefings as uncalled for.
“Malawians voted the new administration into office on trust that it would deliver on its promises, including being more tolerant to the critical voices, empowering citizens with information with which they can use to hold power to account and championing media freedom,” reads the statement.
And reacting to the statement, Government`s spokesperson Gospel Kazako said the Tonse administration will engage the media body towards ensuring that journalists execute their duty freely.
“We will invite MISA Malawi and then talk a little more so that the other things they have raised on what happened in 2020 should not happen 2021.
Because we have one the very best we could have done to make sure that we are ensuring that journalists are free and are operating in the spaces that are very conducive to their work,” pledged Kazako.
Meanwhile, MISA Malawi understands that the year 2021 grants the Tonse Administration another chance to demonstrate that the campaign rhetoric is to be translated to demonstrable action.