Lilongwe, May 3, Mana: Malawi President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera has emphasized his commitment to preserving and defending the country’s constitution and freedom of the press.
Dr. Chakwera made the remarks on Tuesday at the Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe, when he hosted journalists and media practitioners to a breakfast, as part of the celebrations to mark the 2022 commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day, which falls on 3rd May every year.
The President said that his government is more committed to ensuring that journalists in the country are protected at all cost as required by the constitution especially in the digital age where many people access information through social media saying it is necessary and prudent to regard Section 36 as the identical twin of Section 35, which guarantees every person the right to freedom of
“I am, of course, referring to Section 36, which says that the press shall have the right to report and publish freely, within Malawi and abroad, and to be accorded the fullest possible facilities for access to public information,” said Chakwera.
The President also highlighted on the need to restraint in the way people react to news saying it has to be done in a manner that does not infringe upon the freedom of the press.
“This principle of self-restraint applies to me, every public official, every agency of the state, and every citizen.
Freedom of the press and freedom of expression means that from time to time someone will write or say things that offend or
embarrass us, but that does not give any of us the license to deal with them,” said the President.
“We too can write and say something to defend ourselves, and if we feel our name and
reputation has been unjustly defamed, we can even complain to regulatory bodies and the courts that follow strict rules of justice, but we must never seek to harm those who offend us in this way or try to deprive them of their freedom through illegal searches, seizures, arrests, or invasive acts like hacking, harassment, and cyber-bullying. These things have no place in a free country,” he explained.
He has since urged journalists to take charge of their work and never allow their noble work to be corrupted and left in the open for attack.
Speaking earlier, Minister of Information and Digitalization, Gospel Kazako urged journalists in the country to exercise their media freedom with diligence.
Kazako commended President Chakwera for the operationalization of the access to information act saying despite the present challenges, there is hope for free media.
Kazako further said that transparency and accountability are on the top list of the Chakwera administration.
While commending government for being media friendly citing the operationalization of the ATI, weekly state house briefing and government face the press as good platforms for journalists to probe more of what is happening in the country, MISA Malawi chairperson Teresa Ndanga said there are still some grey areas that the government needs to improve on.
She said media censorship is an infringement of press freedom saying it defeats the whole purpose of having the ATI in place.
This is the first time in the country’s history for a sitting President to join journalists in the commemoration of the world press freedom day.