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Chapter Five 1999 Post-Elections Period - Leicester Research ...

Chapter Five 1999 Post-Elections Period - Leicester Research ...

263 for a detailed

263 for a detailed discussion). The media failed to push for a definitive media position that could enable it to function as a democratising force in Malawi‟s Second Republic when the transition to democratic rule was being negotiated. The over-riding desire to get rid of the MCP regime justified its unprofessional and unquestioning trust of the opposition politicians before 1994. The fear of a return of the MCP justified the “government” journalism model observed in this study which was a feature of the NPL newspapers before the 2004 case study. As this study has demonstrated, the politicians grip on the press, eased somewhat before 2004. However, this was mainly due to factors exogenous to the press. For example, Rob Jamieson‟s, activist position with ARTICLE 19 ensured that the Chronicle‟s position was going to be adversarial towards the predatory and violent tendencies adopted by the UDF after 1998 in the run up to the 1999 election and the UDF‟s second term in power. The BNL newspapers were only freed from the clutches of the MCP by the Chayamba family‟s challenge of the late Dr. Hasting Kamuzu Banda‟s will. Without the challenge, the BNL newspapers would have remained mere mouthpieces of the MCP. Aleke Banda‟s departure from the UDF opened up opportunities for freedom for the NPL newspapers. However, his departure had nothing to do with press freedom. It had everything to do with his dissatisfaction with the lack of transparency in the UDF‟s leadership succession process. The NPL newspapers‟ liberation from UDF influence was a mere by-product of Aleke Banda‟s dissociation with the UDF. Evidence suggests that things are taking a turn for the worse. The Chronicle has gone into oblivion and is no longer on the market. Since 2009, the government of President Bingu wa Mutharika has withheld advertisements from the NPL newspapers depriving them of essential revenue. As 2010 came to a close, things were again in legal

264 limbo at the BNL newspapers. On 8 November 2010, the High Court ruled that the late Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda‟s will is valid. This, in turn, will definitely mean that Cecilia Kadzamira, confidante of the late dictator, will gain more leverage at the BNL newspapers (Mwanza, 2010; Wezzi, 2010). Kadzamira is a niece to John Tembo, the current president of the MCP. John Tembo was the Chairman of the Board at the Blantyre Print and Publishing at the height of the BNL newspapers‟ practice of “opposition” journalism. The High Court ruling could open the door for the MCP to regain control of the BNL newspapers. Extensive press freedom is ensured in the Malawian constitution. The constitution not only contains articles for freedom of expression and for freedom of the press but also – as one of the few countries in Africa – an article with an explicit provision guaranteeing access to government held information (Cooney 2001). It would appear that the legal framework for the press to operate freely is in place. How can the press in Malawi take advantage of the existing legal framework to work freely in the national interest? Is there a way the press corps can ensure that they continue to provide quality commentary and coverage for newspaper readership in Malawi? How can partisan interests be kept out of newspaper coverage and commentary? Is there a model of press operations that can be implemented in Malawi? 8.5.2 Ethics and Good Professional Conduct Both statutory and voluntary mechanisms exist. However, both appear to have some structural problems that prevent them from functioning properly. The statutory mechanisms are dominated by the state while the voluntary mechanisms are weak. Ever since 1994, there have been some attempts to formerly regulate and enforce ethical practice among members of the press in Malawi. Most of these efforts have

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