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

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

47 Reviewing this

47 Reviewing this particular aspect of the press is not relevant to this study as it does not deal with that particular epoch of Malawi‟s history. However, it is important to mention the broad subject of this literature as noted in the paragraph above. This is necessary because it provides a contextual background from which to begin discussing the second set of scholarly literature on the media in Malawi. This second set of literature broadly deals with the performance of the media in general during the multiparty era starting from 1994. Some broad features of the literature include discussions on the broader political economy of the media including ownership, the general economic climate, professional journalism, the political climate and the legal framework in which the press operate in Malawi. Perhaps, the most comprehensive of these studies is Diana Cammack‟s study on the state of the media in Malawi (2000). Cammack observed that even though there is freedom of expression in the country, the press continues to deal with legal and ownership issues that constrain its practice. Cammack (2000, p.4) notes that the ownership structure with its linkage to political parties is worrying because editorial policy can be easily influenced by party politics. Further, Cammack (2000, p.5) also observes that certain unpopular legislation including the Print Publications Bill require printers, editors and reporters to be named in the publications. This requirement has been selectively enforced on newspapers seen to be critical of the ruling elite. Other pieces of legislation that continues to hamper press activities are the Censorship and Control of Entertainment Act, 1968 (Act 11 of 1968), the Official Secrets Act, and a set of other Public Security Regulations. According to the African Media Barometer (2006, p.6-7) these pieces of legislation have been applied against the mass media from time to time since 1994.

48 Within this strand of literature is the generally laudatory research that came in the wake of the transition from single party to multiparty democracy. Scholars such as Chimombo & Chimombo (1996, p.47-74) and Chimombo (1998, p.217-236) were filled with hope at the future of journalism. Drawing from a discourse analysis study and two content analysis studies, they concluded that journalism practice was evolving from the narrow parroting of powers-that-be in the single party system to an able contribution to the democratic debate: These „new‟ journalists have moved way beyond the rumours and allegations of their colleagues writing under the previous government. In fact, they are on the way to becoming expert investigative journalists in a democratic Malawi. . . . already, the MCP press in its role as opposition press is learning to write more „democratically. (Chimombo & Chimombo, 1996, p.59). In her 1998 study, Moira Chimombo (1998, p.236) tempers this optimism by cataloguing some of the constraints on the media that are still in place. These, including censorship and ownership alliance with political forces, have been discussed above in this section. The same set of literature also documents what Chiyamwaka (2009) has called the second loss of freedom which occurred between 1994 and 2004. This second loss of freedom occurred following the regeneration of freedom in the period between 1993 and 1994. Characteristic to this loss of freedom was the continued government stranglehold on the MBC and Television Malawi (TVM) as propaganda tools against political opposition and critics. This is apart from the selective use of legislation mentioned above. Cammack (2000) documents instances of press suppression during this period including acts of violence against the Daily Times and the Malawi News, two

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