……MACRA still wanting Rainbow TV closed despite settling its arrears

By Falles Kamanga, Senior Political Correspondent

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)-Politics! Politics! It has emerged that the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) still wants Rainbow Television closed despite the station settling all the license fees arrears it had with the regulator.

Embattled MCP operative Daudi Suleman is politicizing MACRA

Some sources within MACRA have confided in us that Rainbow cleared its outstanding arrears amounting to MK10.3 million on 20th June 2022.

“Surprisingly, the MACRA Director General,Daudi Suleman instructed the accounts guys not to withdraw the money because the cheque had unresolved issues. This was quite unusual realizing that we have several broadcasters with huge arrears to settle with us,” says the inside source.

Earlier, Rainbow TV Station Manager, Aubrey Kusakala told the local papers that they had paid in full the MK19 million they owed MACRA.

“However, our license remains revoked. We are still waiting for the MACRA board communicate to us,” Kusakala is quoted by the Nation newspaper.

He added they had made the first payment of MK4.5 million in December 2021 and the second of MK4.2 Million in February 2022 and settled the remaining balance on June 20 this year.

In his letter dated 8th June 2022, the MACRA boss indicated they had revoked Rainbow TV Content License “for a substantial breach of a condition of a license, namely, failure to pay annual license fees set under the license.”

This was to be effective 9th July 2022.

We have further established that the MACRA board, which was to examine Rainbow’s issue, met on 24th June 2022, but did not have this issue on its agenda.

“Basically, it is the MACRA boss, Mr. Suleman and Information Minister, Gospel Kazako who wants Rainbow closed and they will do anything to ensure it goes. They think it is being too critical of the current administration through the hard-hitting governance programmes such as Katsukuluza and Ndale Pa Malawi,” added the source.

What is raising more questions is that other broadcasters owe MACRA close to K880 Million but continue operating with no letters of license revocation or any warning; adding more to suspicions that Rainbow is being punished for its critical voice on how government is managing state affairs.

Another source at the Ministry of Information says the whole issue with Rainbow TV is beyond mere license fees but largely politics.

He adds MACRA wants to capture broadcasters so they drum up support for the current regime ahead of the 2025 general elections.

He explains: “Authorities think Rainbow is attacking them. Have you observed that Angaliba TV and Radio was engaged, summoned and warned without a mention of license revocation despite owing MACRA?”

This is coming at a time President Lazarus Chakwera has repeatedly pledged to protect media freedom and freedom of expression because his government is a beneficiary of media independence. It also looks contrary to Tonse Alliance’s promise of creating more jobs for Malawians.

Closure of Rainbow TV would affect over 400 families financially as the fast growing entity is an employer of around 80 personnel.

The institution suffered the similar treatment by some politicians who were plying their trade at MACRA offices during the DPP era.

Embattled Suleman whose job at MACRA still hanging is said to be handpicked as MCP IT officer, he wants to continue politicizing the agency the way DPP abused the institution.

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