by Richard Kayenda
Mzuzu MaraviPost: Media Institute for Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi Chapter has weighed in on the gains and losses of the Tonse administration in the just ending year of 2020.
In a press statement issued on January 1, 2021, the media body has clapped hands for the Chakwera–Chilima government for tossing the Access to Information (ATI) law into action, though it is yet to be gazetted.
“As we close the year 2020, we applaud the administration for having operationalized the Access to
Information law, whose advocacy work last for as long as 17 years. The operationalization in September, barely three months after the Tonse Administration took office is highly commendable and government should build on this to finalize the process to gazette the ATI regulations.
“We would also like to applaud the new administration for opening up the state house and introducing
the weekly press briefings which we believe have allowed the media more access to the highest office in
the country as well as fulfilling the proactive disclosure requirement under the ATI regime?,” reads the statement in part.
However, the media institute has not spared any words for the government and its supporters for conversely taking actions which are aimed at squeezing the media space and freedoms. In particular, Misa has criticised the violation of freedom of some media practitioners.
“In our ongoing media monitoring project, we have sadly recorded the cyberbullying of Nation Publications Limited (NPL) journalists: Suzgo Chitete and Ephraim Munthali following a story by the newspaper on EU’s budget support to Malawi and Munthali’s opinions in his weekly column ‘Cut the Chaff’ which appears in the Weekend Nation.
The attackers, who have not hidden the fact that they are supporters of the Tonse Alliance Administration, have cowardly launched their onslaught of the journalists under pseudo Facebook accounts.
“Some MCP insiders have been writing Chitete to warn him of what was being planned against him for writing articles deemed critical of the administration; some cabinet ministers have also been calling and threatening journalists after publication of stories deemed to be critical of the Tonse Alliance Administration,” expressed Misa, among other concerns.
Meanwhile, the institute has assured the current administration of its unwavering support, saying it is not immune to criticism so long as such is done through proper procedures and without bruising the existing cordial working relationship between the two. As the year 2020 drew to an end, various commentators came to the limelight to register their comments on the Tonse government performance since its ascendancy to power on June 23 in the