National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE), Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), and Public Affairs Committee (PAC), who form an election Consortium, have asked stakeholders to rescue Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) from the political grip of the ruling party so that it becomes a true public broadcaster.
The Consortium’s chairperson, Boniface Chibwana made the call as a recommendation to stakeholders on the conduct of the media during the fresh presidential election in its preliminary report on Thursday.
“Media coverage of the electoral process was robust especially by private and faith-based and community media houses. However, despite improving the policy and legal framework through amendments to electoral laws (2015), Communications Act (2016) and Electronic Transactions and Cyber Security Act (2016), the state broadcaster, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation persisted in its biased coverage in favour of the ruling party.
"In addition to conventional bias, the media House sank as low as it engaged in modification of facts, fabricating counter narratives, misinforming the nation and being uncouth and obscene in their language and publications on opposition politicians. Mention of opposition parties and candidates on MBC outlets was mostly for negative publicity and ridicule.
“Stakeholders should find ways of reforming the state broadcaster and ensure that it becomes a true public broadcaster serving all Malawians not just a particular political community. In particular, the state broadcaster should be rescued from the political grip of the ruling party and made more autonomous in its operations,” reads the statement.
In the report, the Consortium also commended president Peter Mutharika for swiftly appointing MEC Commissioners soon after the expiry of contracts for the former Commission.
“The Consortium would like to commend the Electoral Commission for promoting transparency in vote counting and tallying and displaying of results at appropriate places for the general public to see.
"This goes a long way in mitigating fears of rigging that are making rounds on social media. The CSO consortium would like, therefore, to appeal to the general public to take note that the results they are accessing at this stage are not official and should be treated with caution,” he said.
MEC is yet to announce official results of the polls.